OK, here it is, chapter 2 at last! Sorry it took so long!
A/N Everything Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, of course. Only Cassie and the Abrouillius spell are mine. The chapter title, 'Have you met Miss Jones?' is from the song by Rogers and Hart, sung by Frank Sinatra (and recently Robbie Williams).
Big thanks to my beta, Abforth, and to Lady Laura, hellsong and Lady Rien from Morg for their reviews!
Have You Met Miss Jones?
Fifteen-year-old Cassandra Jones blew a lock of night-black hair out of her eyes and tried to get a better grip on her trunk.
"Why do I have to have so much damn stuff?" She thought as she attempted to heave the large wooden chest onto the train. It was September the first, and Cassandra was at Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters, boarding the Hogwarts Express for the first time. Unlike the other new students, however, she would not be in the first year – she would be a fifth-year, doing her O.W.L.s. The thought scared her somewhat – having been at a Muggle secondary school since she was eleven, Cassandra had only learnt magic at home, safely hidden by the Abrouillius spell. She'd had no contact with any witches or wizards, except for her father and Professor Dumbledore.
"Dammit!" Cassandra swore as the trunk slipped from her grasp and crashed down the steps of the train. At the last minute someone grabbed it and prevented it from hitting the platform. Cassandra looked up into a pair of startlingly green eyes framed by round spectacles. They belonged to a handsome boy, about Cassandra's age, with messy dark hair.
"Thanks," Cassandra said, smiling shyly.
"No problem," the boy answered, grinning back "I had the same problem when I first came here,"
"What's the solution?"
"Wait till your friends show up so they can help you,"
"Oh, well, I'd be waiting for quite a while, then! I don't have any friends. Yet. I'm new," Cassie explained. Her heart was beating madly – nerves, she told herself. The boy had a very nice smile.
"New?" He said, surprised "You're not a first-year?"
"No! I'm a fifth-year – I've transferred from an American school because my parents moved back here,"
"So you lived in England before?"
"Yeah, until I was eleven. I got the letter for Hogwarts, but my parents had already arranged to move to New Jersey because of my dad's job. So I went to school there instead," Cassie cringed inwardly at the blatant lie. The boy seemed so nice – but nobody must know the truth about who she was.
"My dad's job again – he was promoted to be the head of the office here," This, at least, was partly true – David Jones had indeed been promoted.
"What does he do?"
"Something to do with computers – software maintenance or whatever – I never really understood it," she smiled "and my mum is a teacher – she got her old job back at the local primary school."
"So they're both Muggles then?"
"Yes – why?" Cassie asked warily "That's not a problem, is it? 'Cause-"
"No, of course not!" The boy said quickly "I live with Muggles too – one of my best friends is Muggle-born. I know some people have a problem with it, but-"
"Yeah, I know. Sorry, I wasn't accusing you or anything. Really," Cassie smiled again.
"It's OK," He said, smiling back, his green eyes meeting her lavender ones. Cassie felt herself beginning to blush. She was saved from embarrassment, however, by a voice shouting:
The boy she was talking to turned around.
"Ron!" He shouted back, grinning, as a gangly redheaded boy approached them, carrying a cage with a tiny owl inside.
"Hermione's just coming – she's saying goodbye to her parents," Ron said, "Shut up, Pig!" This last remark seemed to be directed at the owl, which was hooting madly.
"I see Pig's as barmy as ever," Harry said.
"He's been driving me up the wall!" Ron admitted "Speaking of owls, where's Hedwig?"
"She's taking a letter to S-my godfather," Harry explained, glancing at Cassie. Ron raised his eyebrows, about to ask who she was, when a girl with bushy brown hair came up to them and stood next to Ron.
"Hiya!" She said brightly. She was wearing her school robes, and had a silver letter 'P' pinned to the front of them.
"Hermione, you're a Prefect!" Harry said, noticing the badge.
"Yes!" She said proudly "I got an extra letter with my supplies list and it had this inside!"
"Don't congratulate her!" Ron warned "She's already starting to sound like Percy!"
"Oh shut up, Ron!" Hermione said. She noticed Cassie, and added "Hello! I haven't seen you before. Are you new?"
"She was just telling me – she's moved back here from America," Harry told them "but I'm sorry - I never asked your name!"
"Cassandra Jones," She said "everyone calls me Cassie."
"Harry Potter," He replied, and in the same instant, Cassie spotted the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead. So this was the boy her father detested so much. She could have kicked herself – why hadn't she realized who he was before?
"…and this is Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger," Harry continued.
"Nice to meet you," Hermione said politely.
"Same here," Ron smiled.
"We'd better get on the train," Hermione pointed out "you'll sit with us, won't you, Cassie?" Cassie nodded her agreement, and as they looked for an empty compartment, Harry filled Ron and Hermione in on everything Cassie had told him about herself.
"My parents are both Muggles too," Hermione said as they sat down "it's not exactly the best time to be moving back to England – not with everything that's been happening these last few months. I don't suppose you've heard, living in America, but-"
"I've heard," Cassie told her quietly "bad news like Voldemort gets around."
Ron winced as she said the name "Not another one! You're as bad as Harry! Why can't you say You-Know-Who?"
"Sorry, I didn't know," The truth was, Cassie did know. She knew all about Voldemort and his return, and that was why she was moving to Hogwarts – to be protected. After Voldemort's downfall, she had remained in hiding, in case someone still loyal to him decided to come after her. But with his return, she was no longer safe in the Muggle community, and her father had insisted upon the transfer to Hogwarts. There she would be under the protection of her godfather, Albus Dumbledore, and of course her father himself. They had invented the "American school" cover story in the hope that the majority of students, at least, would not be suspicious. She could not hope to hide from Voldemort forever, but once she was at Hogwarts, he couldn't get to her.
"It's OK, ignore him. There's nothing wrong with saying Voldemort's name," Harry assured her. He was sitting opposite her, and Cassie noticed again how good-looking he was. She suddenly felt very self-conscious about her appearance. She knew she had flat, lifeless hair and a little too much puppy fat, but it had never bothered her before. She found herself wishing she had taken more care choosing her outfit, instead of just throwing on her flares and her lucky pink t-shirt.
They spent the journey chatting about their holidays. Harry, Ron and Hermione told her about Hogwarts and the four houses, explaining that they were all in Gryffindor. Cassie was asked a great many questions about America, which she answered by making stuff up, using things she'd seen in films and American TV programmes. She threw in a few American phrases for good measure, and when the witch came round with the trolley at lunchtime, she made sure she bought 'chips' and 'cookies' rather than 'crisps' and 'biscuits'. She was doing very well until the late afternoon, when Ron asked:
"So, what's your favourite subject?"
"Oh, Potions, definitely," Cassie replied.
Harry and Ron looked at her as if she was mad.
"Why?" Ron asked
"Because…" Cassie began, unsure. How to explain why she loved Potions? How to explain the thrill she felt as she stirred the cauldron as the shimmering fumes filled the air, swirling and coiling about her like an escaped genie. How to describe the sensation of pleasure as she trickled the ingredients through her fingers, knowing they would be changed into something else, something knew, something more. Because that's what potion-making was – a method of changing something ordinary, mundane, into the extraordinary. With Transfiguration and Charm-work, all you did was use the magic inherent in the core of your wand, in the phoenix feather or unicorn hair. You were simply borrowing magic. By mixing a potion, you were creating it. What came out of the cauldron was greater than the sum of the parts that went in.
"…because, it's like the potion is part of you, you know, it's sort of coming from inside you, and you can, like, feel it taking shape. Um. I just like it," she finished lamely.
"Well you aren't going to like it much longer, I can tell you," said Ron "if anyone can put you off Potions, it's Professor Snape."
"Really?" said Cassie cautiously "Why?"
"He's just nasty," Harry told her, "he hates everyone, except the Slytherins. He's head of Slytherin house."
"Nasty! That's putting it mildly," Ron exclaimed, "he's a nightmare! He lets the Slytherins get away with murder, but he's really mean to everyone else. Honestly, he's so horrible, and that's not all, he used to be-"
"Ron!" Hermione hissed, a warning look in her eyes.
"He's just really mean," Harry finished quickly.
Cassie looked at each of them in turn. She was a little worried – she knew her father was a very strict teacher, but she hadn't realized he was so unpopular. And did they know he used to be a Death Eater? She had thought no-one knew…
At that moment, the door of the compartment slid open, and in stepped a thin boy with pale blonde hair, followed by two boys who looked like thugs. They were already wearing their black Hogwarts robes. The blonde boy was also wearing a silver Prefect's badge and a disdainful expression.
"Had a nice summer Potter?" The boy said nastily "The Dark Lord keeping you on your toes is he? I see you're still hanging around with Weasley and his Mudblood girlfriend…"
At this Ron raised his wand angrily to hex Malfoy, but Hermione held his arm back.
"…and who's this?" Malfoy suddenly noticed Cassie sitting in the corner of the compartment. His eyes flicked over her appraisingly, taking in her long dark hair and generous curves. He smiled, and Harry could practically see him moving into Smarm Mode.
"Allow me to introduce myself – Draco Malfoy,"
"I'm sorry," said Cassie, leaning forward
"Draco Malfoy," he repeated
"Oh no, I heard you, I'm just sorry," Cassie replied, smiling sweetly.
Malfoy's smile disintegrated. "And what did you say your name was?"
"I didn't," said Cassandra "well, it was nice meeting you and your…henchmen," she added, looking at Crabbe and Goyle "have a nice life." With this she turned to Hermione, and said, "I can't believe you've never read Pride and Prejudice. I'll have to lend it to you,"
Malfoy was speechless – he couldn't believe Cassie had just switched him off like that. Harry and Ron were trying not to laugh. Suddenly Cassie looked back up at Malfoy.
"Are you still here?" she asked with a politely puzzled smile. Malfoy scowled and snapped his fingers at Crabbe and Goyle. They left without saying anything.
"I can't believe you said that! Did you see Malfoy's face?" Ron said excitedly
"Did he actually snap his fingers at them?" Cassie asked incredulously, still watching the door.
"What was all that about his name?" Hermione asked "Have you heard of the Malfoys before?"
"Heard of him? I've never seen him before in my life. He was just so rude – I can't believe he made that "Mudblood" comment! Who says things like that?" Cassie hoped Hermione wouldn't notice that she hadn't actually answered the question. Thankfully, Harry changed the subject.
"Malfoy had a Prefect badge," he pointed out "How the hell did he pull that off?"
"Probably got his dad to buy it for him," Ron said
"Nope! He really is a Prefect. I was told in my letter," Hermione assured him grimly.
"Oh great!" Harry exclaimed, "He'll be even more insufferable than usual!"
"Yes, and I have to share a carriage with him when we get off the train!" Hermione groaned.
"Speaking of which…" Ron said, "we're nearly there. We should hurry up and get changed."
Ten minutes later, dressed in her new robes, Cassandra Jones stepped off the train onto the platform of Hogsmeade station.
~ ~ ~