Blood Ties and Betrayal

BY : burynr08
Category: HP Canon Characters paired with Original Characters > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 1360
Disclaimer: I do not own JK Rowling's world of Harry Potter or make a profit from this story.

The only reason that Cassie was able to muddle through the next two days of classes was because she knew the holiday break was going to be starting soon. She was certain that she was headed for some sort of break down, her emotions seemingly on constant edge. No matter how much she meditated, how many times she tried to clear her mind and forget about what she had learned in the Forbidden Forest only nights ago, she couldn't seem to shake a sense of foreboding. She found herself lost in thought often, searching introspectively when instead she should have been paying attention in class and copying notes. Other students would speak to her, or brush past her, and she would startle dramatically. If she would have been keeping tally of people asking her if she was okay or looking at her like she had lost her marbles, she would have lost count.

The last three years she had spent the entirety of her holiday break at the Burrow, but since Molly and Arthur would be going to Romania this year to see Charlie, she would be spending the majority of it at Hogwarts. She would have been glad to have a reason to leave the castle and have a change of scenery, but was also thrilled to have a valid reason to stay there and be around Snape. Right then, he was her anchor, the only thing keeping her from spiraling out of control, and they both knew it. So when Cassie was done with her very last lecture before holiday break actually started, she went straight to his office. But he wasn't there, so she took out her Transfiguration textbook to review the chapters McGonagall had just gone over, and waited for him.

Within minutes, Cassie was reading the same few sentences over and over, not taking any of it in, and once she realized it, she slammed the book shut and sighed in frustration. She knew trying to be productive at the moment was useless. So she waited for Snape to come to his office, not knowing what he was doing at the moment or when he would be back, and when she realized she had didn't have the patience to just sit there with nothing but her tortured thoughts about what her future might hold, she abruptly got up and left.

She stormed through the dungeons, not sure where she was headed, not making eye contact with any of the students that were happily chattering away about the upcoming break. "Cass!" she heard suddenly, and tried to ignore it whomever the voice belonged to, but then felt a hand tugging on the sleeve of her robes.

"What?" she snapped, intending to unfairly intimidate the rude person who had dared interrupt her aimless jaunt, but saw it was Draco.

"I called your name three times," he grumbled, as if her inadvertence was the most cumbersome thing in the world, and Cassie rolled her eyes.

"I was distracted," she said, folding her arms over her chest, trying to show him that she was not in the mood to deal with his usual egotistical attitude. "What do you want?"

"It's about Christmas," he said. "Mother wanted me to ask you if you wanted to stay over for the holidays - "

"I've already replied to her letter," Cassie said, "and the answer is no." It was true that Narcissa had invited her to spend the break at Malfoy Manor; why, Cassie had no idea, as they hadn't exactly left things on good terms. But Cassie had zero interest in seeing her aunt or uncle any time soon if she didn't have to.

"But she said it would mean a lot to her and Father," Draco said, and Cassie looked at him in slight surprise, as there was a small change in his demeanor, his usual aloof drawl sounding somewhat sincere.

"She actually said that?" Cassie asked, sounding as skeptical as she felt.

"Yes," Draco insisted. "She told me that you said no, but she kept pestering me to ask you again, wrote me three times in the last week in a half."

"And you're just coming to me now, the day before you're heading out?" Cassie said, shaking her head. "Well, the answer is still no, Draco. I'm staying here, and I'm going to Andromeda's on Christmas Day."

"Father won't allow it - "

"He doesn't have a say!" Cassie snapped, her temper flaring as she glared at her younger cousin. "Now, leave me the hell alone, Draco." She started to walk away from him.

"Please?" she heard him say, although somewhat quietly, and she turned to look at him, not believing that she heard the word uttered from his lips. "At least for Christmas Eve, Cass? Grandfather's going to be there, you know how much of a prig he is." He was referring to Lucius' father Abraxas, and Cassie was well aware how much of a contemptible person the older Malfoy was, especially towards his only grandson. Cassie sighed, her heartstrings suddenly pulled as she saw the earnest, pleading look on her cousin's face.

"Fine," she said, sighing. She hated herself for agreeing to it, because she hated being at Malfoy Manor and everything that it stood for. But at the same time, she couldn't deny that there was always at least a very small soft spot for her eleven-year old cousin, if for only the reason that he was not yet completely ruined. "I'll be there to buffer for you. But only Christmas Eve."

The usual smug quality returned to his features then, and Cassie felt a twinge of regret as she bade him farewell and continued on her way. But even with the distraction of knowing she had the displeasure of seeing the Malfoys on Christmas Eve to look forward to, her usual worries came flooding back.

Maybe she shouldn't be around Lucius and Narcissa. They'd only influence her negatively, help push her towards the wrong side, make her want to go to her father when the time came.

When, not if, he came back. Cassie shuddered as that realization went through her mind for the hundredth time since she had spoken to Firenze. Her feet continued to carry her through the castle of their own accord as her mind churned along, making her question whether she should continue on with her Hogwarts education or quit now, perhaps flee the country, get away from all of this and everything she knew, so there would be no temptation, no opportunity for her to fall completely into the Dark Arts and contribute to the deaths of innocents.

She was pulled out of her soul-searching for a moment when she found herself at the base of the Astronomy Tower, and when she realized where she was, she began to climb it without hesitation. The higher she went, the clearer her mind seemed to become in the cold winter air, and then she came to the top. She took a deep breath, going to the edge of the balcony to take in the sight of the grounds. Students that looked like tiny black specks from up there were moving about, spending some last minute time together before the holidays began. Most of them were in groups, friends that loved and supported one another, who would miss each other over the break. It made Cassie wish she could have a life like that, something that simplistic where all she had to worry about was grades and friends and dating. Instead, she was up here alone, anticipating a war that she knew would come some day, that her father would be responsible for, that she wish she could stop but had no idea how to do so.

"It's a view like this, that can make one feel so small and insignificant," came a soft voice, and Cassie gasped in surprise, pulling away from the balcony. She turned to see Dumbledore standing behind her, looking calm and collected like usual, adorned in rich cherry colored robes that looked much warmer than what she currently had on.

"Headmaster," Cassie greeted, giving him a meek smile and feeling quite awkward, as the last interaction they had shared had been when she had looked into the Mirror of Erised.

"You came up here seeking clarity, Miss Black?" he asked, slowly coming up beside her, seemingly looking out at the grounds as she had just been doing not moments before.

"Yes, sir," she said. She wanted to leave, as she was still very much in the mood for solitude, but didn't want to be rude to the older wizard.

"Have you found it?"

Cassie scoffed. "No. Not in the slightest."

Dumbledore nodded, leaning forward slightly as if to get a better look at a group of students that were starting to partake in a snowball fight down by the Black Lake. Cassie felt a pang of jealousy at their effervescence. "Miss Black, I'd like to discuss with you the other night, what you saw in the mirror," he started, and Cassie instantly felt her guard go up, wanting to flee from him again.

"I don't."

"But at times, we must do what we don't want to," he said, turning to look at her, and she knew there was no use trying to argue with the great wizard. "Will you have this conversation with me, Miss Black? And then I will let you start your holiday break, along with the rest of the students."

"Yes, Headmaster."

"Thank you for your cooperation," he said kindly. "I just want to reiterate to you, that I don't necessarily believe what you saw, is actually of your own subconscious - "

"Professor Snape already ran that theory by me," Cassie said, trying to keep herself calm as they approached the sensitive topic. "And I'm glad that you have confidence in me, Headmaster, I really am. But I'm not so sure."

"Yes, Severus has informed me that you are doubting yourself, and your ability to stay true to your convictions. But I believe that whoever was going through your memories at night, and whoever was trying to use Legilimency on you during the day was trying to make you feel this way, to make you question your heart."

"Well, they were successful," Cassie said, "Because they got to me, and here I am, confused as all hell! I must be a lot weaker than you anticipated!"

"But you're not, Miss Black," Dumbledore countered, "You're not weak, not at all, and it's important that you don't let yourself feel that way."

"Why?" Cassie asked quietly. "Why is it important?"

Dumbledore observed her for a few moments before responding. "You must have assumed by now that Severus has informed me of what you learned from the centaurs the other night."

"Yes, of course," Cassie said, her voice still calm, but feeling her exasperation flare. "I'm well aware that the two of you discuss me behind my back and I only get to hear what you decide to divulge."

He raised his eyebrows slightly as he looked at her, obviously surprised at her boldness. "Then it is common knowledge among the three of us that Lord Voldemort will rise again, Miss Black. Part of the prophecy that you heard from the centaurs, while alarming to hear, I'm sure, was not new information for Severus and I. Even from the night that he lost his powers, I have been anticipating his return to power, and with it another war. So what we must prepare for, then, is that you will have a vital role in it."

"A vital role in it," Cassie said, "But for what side, Headmaster? That's still up in the air! What if he returns, and I go to his side, and then you're having to fight me on top of everything else?"

"You say it like you have no choice in the matter, Cassiopeia," Dumbledore said gently, and Cassie wondered how he kept his cool during conversations like these. "Like you'll just be a passive bystander when you decide what to fight against, when that won't be the case at all."

"Maybe it would just be better if I'm not a part of the equation," Cassie replied dully.

"Alright," Dumbledore said, looking at her over his half moon spectacles, "Then what do you suggest? How do we solve that problem?"

"I'll leave the country," she said. "To another continent, go across the globe."

"Who's to say that would stop your father from coming there to fetch you?" Dumbledore challenged lightly. "And then you'd be alone, much more likely to sway to his influences."

"Erase my memories," Cassie said. "I'd have no opinions of any of this, no one would have any clue who I was, I could get lost in a big city - "

"And then he'd find you, brainwash you, and you'd have the same powers you have now. He'd use you to do all of his bidding," Dumbledore countered. "Sticking your head in the sand is not the answer. Your memories make you who you are and remind you why you believe what you believe, Cassiopeia."

"If you knew what I've seen," Cassie said through gritted teeth, and she barely knew that she was starting to pace in front of the Headmaster like a caged animal, "You wouldn't be saying that. And since the mirror, I've been reliving it all in my dreams, all the horrors I saw as a child!"

"Then use it!" Dumbledore said, stopping her pacing by placing his hands on her shoulders. "Use those emotions, channel them, realize that you aren't weak, but you're strong, Cassiopeia! That when the time comes, you'll remember the pain and suffering that your father and his followers inflicted, and you'll want to return it to them!"

Cassie closed her eyes, trying to keep herself calm, because now she had images of a nightmare from the night before flashing through her mind. It stemmed from the memory of her father torturing a Muggle in front of her, something that had been intended to be 'educational' for her; he had been using a curse to slowly, agonizingly burn skin from the man, inch by inch, and he was screaming, pleading for death as Voldemort moved from his limbs, to his torso, to his face. The nightmare had seemed to last for hours, just as it had in real life.

She inhaled slowly, exhaled, then was able to push the image from her mind. When she opened her eyes again, meeting her Headmaster's gaze, she said, "You don't understand. That day in Hogsmeade, Headmaster, I was about to lose control...I don't know what I was about to do to that man that tried to use the Unforgivables on me, I don't know if I was about to just hurt him, or kill him, but I was so angry! If the professors hadn't intervened - "

"Then you'll learn to channel it," Dumbledore said. "Keep the outrage, but direct it to where it would be the most useful."

Cassie looked at him, astounded at his bluntness. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were grooming me as a weapon, Headmaster."

She wanted him to deny it, to get offended by the suggestion, because even the very idea was atrocious. But to her dismay, he nodded.

"It's what you were put on this earth to be, Cassiopeia," he said, his tone reverting back to one of tenderness, but it didn't soften the blow at all. She looked at him in utter bewilderment, shocked that she was hearing his from the Hogwarts professor.

"Can I leave now?" she asked, nearly at a whisper, and tears started to fall freely from her eyes.

"There's one more thing," he said. "I know you still have your heart set on training to be an Auror. But in the spirit of this topic, I feel I must tell you I have been pursuing your enrollment into another type of advanced education."

"What?" she whispered, now glaring at Dumbledore, not believing what he was telling her further.

"It's out of the country, specializing in dueling and combat training. Nothing is set in stone, of course - "

"Of course not, considering I haven't agreed to anything of the sort!" she growled. "How dare you plan my future, without even talking me to first!" She headed towards the staircase, not willing to hear anything else from the older wizard.

"Cassiopeia, I don't mean to upset you - "

"I don't want to hear it!" she said, and she descended the tower without another word. She was glad that Dumbledore didn't chase after her, because she was in such a foul mood now that she was at risk of trying to hex him right then, and really didn't need that on her record.

She headed back towards the dungeons, going straight to Snape's office, and this time, she was pleased to see that he indeed was there, seated at his desk.

"Where the fuck were you?" she demanded as soon as she saw him, and she got the reaction she wanted out of him, because he looked instantly antagonized, his black eyes flashing dangerously, his brows furrowing and making a telltale crease, letting her know that he was ready to fight.

"I beg your pardon?" he asked silkily, placing his hands on the desk and scooting the chair back in one smooth motion, going to stand. He was looking to be in a position of intimidation to match her aggression, and being seated would not be conducive to that. Cassie smirked, pleased that he was reacting the way that she predicted, wanting someone to spar with at the moment.

"I came here after my last class," she continued, "I fucking needed you, and you weren't here. So where the fuck were you?"

"I don't need to answer to you, little girl," he snarled back. "You have some newfound valor, coming in here, speaking to me this way!"

"Did you know?" she asked suddenly as she glowered at him, and she could tell that the question caught him off guard.

"What?"

"You heard me, Severus!" she snapped. "Answer the question! Did you fucking know?" He was silent for a split second, and his hesitation spurred on her anger, making her round the desk in a few hurried steps, coming to slam her hands into his chest, making him stumble back a step. "Answer me, damnit!"

"Cassie, what has gotten into you?" he demanded.

"Dumbledore, trying to send me off to some mercenary training!" she spat angrily. "Tell me you didn't know, that you weren't keeping it from me, Severus!"

"I didn't!"

"Liar!" she yelled, shoving him again, and he grabbed her wrists in his hands to stop her from doing it again, because her assault was making him lose it, and they couldn't risk both of them going ballistic in the tiny office.

"Cassie!" he shouted, just as he felt the ground underneath him start to rumble. Glass vials on the shelves around him started to clink and clatter, and he pushed her back into the wall, pressing his body into hers, hoping his proximity would start to calm her. "Get a hold of yourself! I didn't know! You need to calm down before you break everything in here!"

A flask fell from the shelf, shattering on the floor, then another, and the noise made Cassie realize that she didn't want this, that smashing her lover's possessions wasn't going to solve her internal anguish. So she looked up into his face, locking onto the coal black eyes that were searching for hers, and she felt him roughly pull her away from the wall and wrap his arms tightly around her. With his close embrace, she felt her breathing start to slow, and the rattling and groaning of the floor below them started to lessen.

"I'm sorry," she said, feeling her tears replace the outrage again. "I'm so sorry." Snape buried his face into her neck, trying to pull her to him tighter still.

"Stop apologizing," he said, and they didn't speak until the room around them was still again.

"Severus," Cassie whispered, "I'm so tired." He released his hold on her, taking her by the hand, and then led her to his quarters once again. Once they were settled on the loveseat next to one another, they approached the subject again, this time with much less intensity. Cassie started from the beginning, telling the Head of Slytherin of the entire conversation that she had with Dumbledore, and then allowed Snape a few moments of contemplation.

"I'll admit that he didn't approach it with much tact," Snape started slowly.

"But?" Cassie questioned, feeling aggravated and weary at the same time. "What, Sev, you agree with him? That it's something I should consider?"

"I don't know, Cassie," he replied. "I don't know enough about it to say either way."

She leaned forward, burying her face in her hands. "So that's what I am to you, too? Just some vessel for destruction?"

"I didn't say that. And he didn't, either, Cassie."

"Stop defending him!" She stood suddenly, wanting to get away from him, from anyone and everyone. He quickly followed her, going to grab her arm to stop her, but she wrenched her limb from his grasp.

"You want to be an Auror. This wouldn't be all that different - "

"Being a dark wizard catcher for the Ministry, and playing a part in a war a two very different things, Severus!" she said, turning on him, but she saw that he was growing angry, as well.

"So what do you think will happen, Cassie, if you choose not to partake in this war? That you can ignore it? That you can just go about your business and pretend it doesn't exist? The dark wizards you'd be catching would be your father's followers anyway!" he said, and she stopped short, his words ringing true. But she wasn't in the mood to hear reason right then; rather, she was in the mood to be stubborn and difficult, and to just have someone tell her that she had the right to do as she pleased, rather than what everyone else was telling her what she needed to be doing.

"God damnit, Severus Snape!" she snapped, and she shoved him again, watching the bitterness flash on his pale features return.

"What now, you brazen, asinine girl!" he snarled at her, taking a few threatening steps towards her, his height towering over her as he approached.

"Why do you have to be so fucking logical all the time?" she asked, exasperated. He was about to retort, when suddenly, she closed the gap between them. She reached up, pulling his face down to hers, and smashed her lips into his, letting it be known that for the time being, this conversation was closed and she had another agenda in mind.

As both parties had combative energy to expel, they spent the first few minutes of their necking trying to wrestle for control; Cassie started by biting and tugging at his lower lip, and he responded by tucking a hand into her hair, gripping a fistful of dark locks so he could pull her head back and start nipping at her collarbone. In unison, they slowly side-stepped their way back towards the loveseat. They landed on it with Cassie on her back, and Snape slowly started to crawl over her, Cassie reaching up to pull him down to her, not wanting to break their contact for longer than they had to. She continued to place hot kisses on his lips, across his jaw, down his neck, and then she flicked her wrist, making the buttons on the front his jacket burst open so she could push the garment off of him without pause. She got his shirt off his next, and he started to work on getting her clothing off at a frenzied speed, resorting yet again to ripping her shirt rather than taking the time to unbutton it.

He yanked her bra over her head just as she had pushed her hand down his pants, making him growl at her warm touch, and he lowered his head to her breast, not hesitating to take her nipple into his mouth and suck. They were pawing at one another like they hadn't seen each other in months, like they were starved for touch and had been isolated. In reality they just wanted each other, sharing a mutual need for the other's affections. She needed his closeness, his very presence a constant reassurance that everything would be alright. He would never admit it, but he was in constant awe that someone as passionate and adept as her, would be enthralled with someone as icy and melancholy as him. He was terrified that someday she would wake up and realize that he was all wrong for her, closed off and broken.

But right then, as they were wrapped up in one another and engrossed in each other's bodies, neither worried about whether or not they were right or wrong for each other. All they knew is that when they were together like this, that the rest of the world fell away, and nothing or no one else mattered. Being with Snape was one of the few things that made Cassie feel at peace, like she could just be her, and not all of these things that the rest of the world expected her to be. It healed her soul, made her feel like she might be able to deal with the rest of it.

Cassie placed her arm around Snape's neck, simultaneously trying to pull him closer to her as he kissed her again as well as pull herself on top of him, and she giggled as they tumbled onto the stone floor in a tangle of limbs and torn clothing. Regardless, she maneuvered her now naked lower half over his thighs, guiding his engorged cock inside of her, and started to grind her hips. He gripped her haunches roughly, holding onto her for the contact but allowing her to dictate the speed and depth at which they went. She started slow, relishing in feeling every inch of him moving against her tight walls, but then her movements started to become more brisk, erratic.

"Severus," she panted, and she leaned forward, wrapping her arms around his neck like a drowning woman, and he let go of her buttocks, tightly embracing her, and starting to thrust up into her quickly, over and over again, making her cry out until she started to quiver in her orgasm. He followed soon after, groaning her name as he spilled his seed inside of her, and they laid together, tangled together on the dungeon floor until they had the energy move again.

Cassie's mind was blissfully vacant for the first several minutes after their climaxes. But as she laid on top of Snape with her face nestled in the crook of his neck, she started to lightly trace up and down his arm with her finger, and for the first time in a while, she took notice to the faded Dark Mark on his left arm. It was something she had grown so accustomed to that it barely registered to her anymore. Right then, it made the worries about the inevitable conflicts to come rushing back to her, pulling her right out of her euphoria.


The next few days were a solace for Cassie, for she was able to spend as much of it as she wanted to in solitude in Snape's apartments. He spent some of the time out patrolling the corridors, as Quirrell still needed to be watched and Potter needed to be monitored, but then he would go right back to see her. Much of their time was spent in bed, or rolling around in front of the fire place, although Cassie knew she should probably devote some time to actually catch up on studying.

While Snape was gone following Quirrell, Cassie did decide to hang out on the grounds with Fred and George one afternoon, and had intended to maybe see Ron and Harry as well, but was surprised to learn that they were choosing to study a lot in the library for some reason. What they were doing was a bit of a mystery to Cassie, but at least she knew Harry was safe under Madam Pince's watchful stare and Quirrell wouldn't be able to do anything.

She knew that Snape went to Dumbledore at least once to discuss the conversation that had taken place at the Astronomy Tower, and he had bought it up to her one evening. She had tried to shut down the discussion immediately. This was her holiday break, after all. She was well aware that reality didn't stop just because of it, but for now, she wanted to pretend like it did. They argued about it, and she had shut him up by grabbing his jaw in her hand and kissing him deeply, while concurrently snaking her hand down his magically loosened pants; she had discovered that being brash while seducing him was rather lethal.

Soon, Christmas Eve was upon her, and Cassie was having to make plans to travel to Malfoy Manor. She briefly considered cancelling, but Snape would have none of it.

"You told Draco you would attend," he said curtly, and she scoffed. "Not going would only disappoint him."

"You have such a soft spot for him," she mused. "Why is that?"

"And you are unfairly callous with him," Snape countered.

"The little shit - "

"Is not his father!" he snapped at her, and she folded her arms over her chest. They had had this argument many times, and in lieu of the holiday, she didn't intend to have it yet again, knowing neither of them would budge.

"Why don't you come to dinner with me?" she asked, knowing the answer even as she said it, as she had asked him the same question multiple times already.

He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, an eccentricity that told her that he was growing annoyed but trying to contain it, and she stifled a giggle. "We've been over this, Cassie. I would be more than willing to, but as I've told you, I don't feel comfortable leaving Potter here with Quirrell."

"Lucius will be disappointed."

"Yes, as he's already informed me of, as well. So glad I can dissatisfy both of you in one go," he muttered. Cassie sighed, walking up behind him and wrapping her arms around his torso.

"You don't dissatisfy me," she said, and this time she openly let her giggles out. He turned around, reaching around her to land a sharp pinch on her behind, making her laugh even harder.

Even with the mass hysteria around her seemingly quieted, no one wanted to risk Cassie going into Hogsmeade yet, so the fireplace in Snape's office was granted access to Malfoy Manor by the Ministry of Magic. Cassie stood in front of it, dreading going but ready to get her visit over with, and gave Snape a kiss.

"Wish me luck," she said, and he raised an eyebrow at her.

"You'll be fine," he said, and she pretended that it was a warm sentiment that he left her with before she threw her Floo powder into the fireplace, stepped in, and dully but clearly stated her destination.

She arrived in the manor's entry hall, and as she stepped out, she was fine with the fact that it was currently deserted. She considered going straight to her room and staying there until she was summoned for dinner, until she heard approaching footsteps.

"Cousin!" came the enthused voice of Draco as he stepped into the room. He was adorned in a dark green bathrobe, his normally slicked back platinum hair strewn about, likely having been lounging about the place as he normally did unless they had visitors. "You're late!"

Cassie rolled her eyes. "Dinner is at seven tonight, and it's noon. How am I late?"

Ignoring her, Draco continued on. "Well, come on then, Mother let me open some of my gifts early, let's go see them!" With nothing better to do with her time, Cassie followed him into one of the estate's many recreational rooms, and he showed her his new miniature Quidditch set, where you could set up little players and command them to do certain plays or recreate past matches. He showed her some new books, which he seemed rather disinterested in, and she watched in fake interest as he went through pack after pack of Chocolate Frogs, crumpling and throwing away any cards that he already had or didn't care for. After an hour or so of that, they ended up playing several rounds of Exploding Snap. Only when he grew hungry enough to leave the room and wander into the kitchen for a snack, did Cassie follow him and end up running into Narcissa.

"Aunt Cissy," she said, giving her a slight nod.

"Hello, Cassie," she said, looking her niece up and down. "So kind of you to join us for the holiday. Draco tells me he practically had to beg you."

Cassie looked away from her aunt and around the room as house elves busily prepared the evening's meal, which looked like it would be roast, potatoes and various vegetables and desserts. Draco was hovering around Dobby, pestering him for something to eat.

"Draco, for God's sake, make yourself a sandwich," Cassie snapped, and Draco scrunched up his nose at her.

"Don't talk to him that way!" Narcissa scolded her, but Cassie wasn't going to put up with it.

"Someone ought to teach him some self sufficiency," Cassie said lowly, and she started grabbing ingredients to put one together herself.

"What do we have servants for?" Narcissa said shrewdly. Cassie glared at her as she slapped the haphazardly made snack on a plate and handed it to her cousin, ushering him away from the swamped looking house elves.

"If I never have to step foot in this house again, it will be too soon," Cassie replied. She turned to leave the room, and almost ran right into Lucius, who was now standing in the doorway, looking as smug as ever.

"Now, now," he said, eyeing her coldly. "What's this, I hear? You've been home less than two hours, and already my girls are fighting?"

"Excuse me," Cassie said, and her uncle moved out of her way, but followed her as she made her way to the staircase that led to the second floor.

"Such a cold greeting," he drawled. "You don't seem grateful at all that we invited you here for the holiday, when no one else would."

Cassie barked out a laugh. "You act as though you did me a favor, Uncle Lucius, when in fact, the only reason I came is because I know your wonderful father will be here and I didn't want Draco to have to deal with him alone!"

"You're a disrespectful little thing, considering what I did for you at the Ministry," he said, and Cassie turned on her heel to face him.

"Don't!" she said, walking towards him, feeling her blood begin to boil. "I don't know what your play is, Uncle, but I don't want any part of your little game. I'll come to dinner, and then I'm gone."

Lucius looked like he was about to say something, but didn't, and she could see that he was clenching his jaw to refrain himself. Cassie smirked at him.

"Go ahead, Uncle. I know you want to say something about me visiting my blood traitor aunt, or my mudblood uncle. Please, do it. See how it ends for you," she said, and then he stopped following her. She went into her room then, and was left alone for the next few hours, left to lay on her bed and reminisce about how much she hated this place. For every good memory she had of it, she had horrible memories to outweigh it by the dozens.

Draco came in much later, this time in neatly pressed dress robes, his hair neatly slicked back, and she knew it would be almost time for dinner. She had put on her own set of silvery dress robes that had been in her wardrobe for occasions such as these, knowing that if she didn't that it would just cause another argument.

"You ready?" she asked, noticing that he looked a bit nervous, and he nodded. For as much as the younger Slytherin was a slick little bastard, she had to remind herself that he was still an insecure child inside.

They made their way downstairs and into the formal dining room, and Cassie noted right away that Abraxas was seated at the head of the table at Lucius' normal spot. Lucius and Narcissa were sipping some red wine, looking as elegant and poised as ever in their finest dress robes. Had anyone looked in on the little family, they'd think they were about to entertain the Minister himself, rather than just having Christmas Eve dinner with each other.

"Hello, Grandson," Abraxas said, and Draco bowed his head.

"Good evening, Grandfather," he replied rather politely as he took his seat.

"Miss Black," Abraxas then said to Cassie, but his delivery was pompous, and he looked her up and down, much like the way his daughter-in-law had done to her earlier, as if he were examining a head of cattle up for auction.

"Grandfather Malfoy," Cassie said, imitating the bow that Draco had given him. She tried not to show that she was gritting her teeth the entire time.

"Don't we make a handsome gathering," Abraxas said as the house elves entered through the servant's doors, starting to place the first course in front of them. "And tell me, Draco, how is your first year at the wizarding school going?"

"Rather well, Grandfather," Draco answered. "I'm making rather good marks."

"And sorted into Slytherin. Not that anyone is surprised," the elder Malfoy said, and Lucius raised his glass at the statement.

"Yes, Slytherin's Head of House is rather fond of him," Narcissa said warmly. "He's a friend of the family, and speaks rather highly of Draco, says that he does well in all of his classes."

"Isn't the current Head of House that half-blood?" Abraxas asked, taking a sip of wine. "I'd be a bit uncertain of what one of those says, wouldn't I?"

Draco looked crestfallen, and Cassie instantly wanted to stab her fork into the elderly wizard's hand, but refrained from doing so. "Professor Snape is a brilliant wizard and the best Potions Master that Hogwarts has ever seen, so I'd believe every word he says, Grandfather Malfoy," Cassie said, and she gave Draco a wink.

"Nonsense, Black," Abraxas countered, waving his hand at her, "Horace Slughorn is the best Potions Master Hogwarts has had, and the title will remain with him until a pureblood witch or wizard can compete for the title."

"Yes, I agree," Lucius said, and Cassie shot him a glare.

"Uncle Lucius," Cassie said, folding her hands neatly in front of her, pretending to look rather interested as she addressed him. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you, or did you not, insist that Professor Snape join us for dinner tonight, but he declined? So do you find him worthy of your company or not?"

Lucius returned her glare, and then Abraxas started to look between the two.

"He declined knowing that you would be here, with what wonderful company you are, my precious niece," he sneered.

"Now, now," Abraxas said. "No need for abrasiveness at this table. It is Christmas Eve, after all."

"No, of course not," Narcissa said, and she kicked Cassie's shin under the table.

"My apologies," Cassie said.

"Now, I hear that the Potter boy is in Draco's year," Abraxas said, and Cassie felt a flush rise to her chest. There was no way that this dinner was going to remain peaceful. She might as well just leave now. "How are things going with him? Do you get along with him?"

"He's a dunce, and full of himself," Draco said a little too quickly, taking a large bite of his food. "I hate him!"

"But he's the Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, I hear," Abraxas said. "So there must be some reason for his vanity, eh?" Draco looked like he was about to choke on his food.

"Yes, I've told Draco to at least try to get along with the boy, but he's failed miserably," Lucius said, sounding sorely disappointed. "Apparently he's incapable of controlling himself."

"It's incredibly rare for first years to make the Quidditch teams," Cassie said, trying to take the pressure off of her younger cousin, as that was the reason why she was there. "But maybe next year he could try out - "

"Speaking of talented Quidditch players," Abraxas said, turning his gaze from Draco's miserable face to Cassie's, "Are you still seeing the Weasley boy, tainting yourself with the blood traitor?"

"No," Cassie said, seething now, "I"m not."

"I see," the Malfoy grandfather said. "So who ended it?"

"He did," Narcissa piped up rather quickly. Well, at least the attention was off Draco.

"So, Cassiopeia, daughter of the Dark Lord and the Noble House of Black," Abraxas started, and Cassie raised her eyebrows at him, clearing her throat, readying herself for what was about to come at her. She felt equal parts amused and appalled at this point, although that was pretty much expected when Abraxas came to visit. "With all of that grandeur flowing through your veins, you can't even manage to keep a dirty Weasley interested in you? Where exactly has my son gone wrong with raising you?"

"Father," Lucius started, looking defeated, but wanting desperately to defend himself, "I assure you, we have tried every means necessary to ensure that she has aligned her viewpoints with ours - "

"Don't bother!" Cassie snapped, cutting her uncle off, who was sounding rather demure in his attempts to convince his father that he was indeed, not pathetic. "I'll just have to remind your dear father, Uncle, that I am, in fact, a half-blood, and maybe that's why I've been unable to follow the rules this entire time!"

Both Abraxas and Narcissa gasped as though she had spoken some sort of atrocious obscenities. Draco, who had been about to place a bit of roast in this mouth, had his mouth hanging open, and was staring as the scene in front of him unfolded, and Lucius had accidentally knocked over his wine glass, the red liquid now slowly oozing its away across the table towards the rest of its occupants.

"Blasphemy!" Abraxas yelled, pushing his chair back and standing up, pointing his arthritic finger at her as he shook from head to toe. "How dare you speak such words against the Dark Lord! You should be branded just for uttering such absurdity!"

"Oh, should I?" Cassie said, casually taking a bite of her food. "Then why don't you come over here and try?"

Cassie was ready for the dinner to be over, but she had given Draco her word that she would stay for its entirety. Luckily for her, Abraxas pretty much wanted to go home quickly after that. Once he was out the door and on his way, everyone's true feelings came out.

"You're an ungrateful brat!" Narcissa declared. "Speaking to Lucius' father that way, in our home!"

Cassie started to laugh darkly. "You're priorities are so ass backwards, it's insane! Don't worry, I'll be out of your hair soon. I think I'll go to Aunt Andromeda's a bit early."

"If she'll have you!" Narcissa snarled.

"Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean? Did you threaten her?" Cassie asked shrilly, and then her aunt looked a bit taken aback.

"No!" Lucius said right away. "But it seems like a pattern, doesn't it, my dear Cass? That you threw our affections for you away, instead giving your loyalty to the Weasleys, and now here you are with us again because they don't want you!"

"You've got it all wrong," Cassie said, gritting her teeth. "They're in Romania, visiting Charlie, or I'd be at the Burrow - "

"Visiting the son that rejected you!" Narcissa said haughtily.

"Yeah, sometimes teenagers break up!" Cassie said, exasperated. "Sorry that I didn't feel like going out of the country to see my ex-boyfriend! God, you two are bat-shit crazy! What was the point of inviting me here, exactly?"

"Because we're family," Lucius said, raising his chin, his arrogant face making her want to hit him. "And even though we had a fight, it doesn't just make that go away."

"No, there's something more than that," Cassie said, looking between her aunt and uncle. "There's always something with you two, isn't there?" She wished Draco hadn't been in the room to hear all of this, that he had gone somewhere else to play with his miniature Quidditch set or God forbid, pester the house elves. Anything but witness the animosity between she and his parents once again. "Did you want to make sure I wasn't going to turn you in? Is that it?"

Lucius suddenly looked at Draco, obviously thinking the same thing then, and ordered his son out of the room. When he left, he took a few steps towards her, looking as angry as ever. "Turn me in for what?"

"Don't play stupid, Uncle!" Cassie said, rolling her eyes. "For threatening Andromeda, for offering to fund me to be the next Dark Lord - "

"Don't you ever speak of that in this house again!" Narcissa said suddenly. "The audacity, to accuse us of those things, when all we did was want you home for Christmas!" To Cassie's horror, her aunt actually started to shed a few tears, and she couldn't tell if they were sincere or not.

"Believe it or not," Lucius said quietly then, placing an arm around Narcissa's shoulders, "We actually care about you, my niece."

Cassie was silent for a few moments, her emotions working against her as her aunt continued to cry, and her uncle looking as though he was attempting to comfort her. She almost apologized then, wanting to make some sort of amends, because it was Christmas, after all.

She said her goodbyes to Draco, and then she made her way off the grounds, intending to apparate to the Tonks' for the remainder of Christmas. She was rather looking forward to spending time in a household where she could be herself and not have to worry about talks of pureblood superiority. But she couldn't shake the feeling that she had somehow failed a test that she didn't know she had been taking.



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