A Cassandra (and Sethos) story the Potter-verse.
A Day at the End of July, Tinker's Alley, Visby, Sweden.
Although Cassandra wished intensely for three more pairs of eyes stuck to her skull she had no immediate way of achieving that as of now. Instead she tried to use the single pair she was equipped with as extensively as she possibly could. While turning and twisting herself in all directions Sethos laughed each time he glanced at her. It was a bit like watching a puppy chasing its own tail.
So this was the place they called Tinker's Alley. Witches and wizards were milling about on all sides in robes of all types and colours. Everywhere she turned she found new odd-looking boutiques, quirky shops and anything else a vivid sense of imagination could ever conjure up into a single hidden away town inside a town. Sethos had made a halt just in front of her which caused her to absentmindedly walk straight into his back and rebound a step before finding her balance again by grabbing a hold of the closest thing in range. It turned out to be Sethos' jacket.
"Oops" Sethos chirruped while smiling from between his curtains of black silky hair. He was wearing his usual old-fashioned attire; the black Victorian suit with his silk tie neatly tied around his neck with the tie-pin in place, completed with white gloves covering his elegant hands. However, as Cassandra had learned and funnily not been all that upset about was that Sethos was in fact not quite alive or dead. He was a vampire and thus fell under the category of 'Undead'. Even though Sethos took precautions whenever he stepped outside the front door during the sunlit hours of the day he wasn't impervious to the rays of the sun which of course was why they chose today out of all days to go to Tinker's Alley. It was cloudy and rainclouds hung heavy in the sky above them. Heavy drops of water waited impatiently for their mark to rush earthwards. Sethos' dark Egyptian skin did him no good after death which meant that he carried around a black umbrella everywhere he went during the day after taking his Sun Resistance Potion.
Sethos had assisted her weeks ago to change her muggle money into galleons, sickles and knuts, the currency widely used in the magical world, and they had bought most of the things she needed already. Several sets of the sleek silver grey uniform she was required to wear, loads of stationary, a cauldron and a huge variety of books were already taken off the list. Sethos carried most of it in different bags dangling from the hand not holding the umbrella. The weight didn't bother him, yet the sun was weakening him considerably for each minute that passed. He couldn't let her know that.
"Sorry" she said beaming up at him holding on to the part of the back of his suit with one hand and struggling to keep a grip on the bag filled with inkbottles, parchment and quills with the other. Sethos' heart filled up with a warmth that flowed through his veins and filled his entire body. He might not have a beating heart to circulate his blood yet felt ready to burst into a cry of joy but held it back. Cassandra's little voice broke through his strain of thought.
"I thought vampires didn't go out during the day."
"We generally don't" he answered and put down the bags he held in his left hand. He clenched and unclenched it a few times to get rid of the cramps and squinted up at the aggravated clouds past his umbrella.
"Does it hurt you?" He peered down at his granddaughter who had her concerned gaze fixed on his dark face. There was something there that seemed to worry her otherwise so calm child brain. The darkness that lived in him begged for a shadowy corner to furl up in. To get some rest. Sethos' wondered if that was what see saw.
"No darling, not at all. But you've got to remember that I'm an old man and old men get tired" he informed. It was close to the truth when in fact he was struggling. The sun burned his skin even though it was hidden behind thick grey veils. At this moment, it was more important to him that she had one of the best days of her life than seeking for much needed shelter. Sethos figured that if he treated every day like their last one together, she'd remember him even after the Ministry had taken her away from him. Time for some quick thinking.
"Tell me Cassandra... do you like ice cream?"
Sethos sighed silently with relief as they took cover in the ice cream parlour to leave his skin a little time to regenerate before they continued their hunt for all the objects on the list Cassandra had received by owl from Valhalla of the North; the magic school for young witches and wizards.
Once Cassandra had licked her way through one of the biggest bowls of ice cream the small parlour had to offer, Sethos turned to nod toward a dusky boutique across the street from where they were standing. Its windows were filled with an assortment of animals.
"Our next stop" he pointed out. "You'll need an owl where you're going." Cassandra stared in disbelief at him as they pushed their way through the throng of people, all seeming to be going somewhere in particular but in a serpentine fashion. Cassandra almost got caught in a beard on the way. The small boutique was dark and dust performed ballet twirls in the air rushing in from the door as the two customers entered. Not only that but then came the trouble of choosing just one owl out of the many sitting perched among the ceiling bars high above their heads. She finally settled on a Pharaoh Eagle-Owl that stared extra suspiciously at her. After Sethos had stubbornly insisted on paying for the owl and give it to her as a gift they stepped out in the now gloomy afternoon. There was a low disgruntled hoot from under the sheet that hung over the bird cage as soon as they re-entered the dampness outside. Cassandra giggled and peeled the sheet away a little to get a glimpse of her new feathery friend.
"What are you going to call him?" asked Sethos curiously.
"Hallam" the girl answered swiftly.
"Hallam?" The undead Egyptian did his best to hide his perplexed expression.
"Yes. Hallam. Old English, it means 'valley'" explained Cassandra. It took Sethos a moment before he had the same epiphany the girl had probably had years back. Her name from her mother's side was Dahl; 'valley' in an old Germanic language.
"An excellent choice" he concluded.
It was getting late and they had at last collected all the items they required so Sethos suggested that they should head home. Cassandra's first look was of disappointment followed by plenty of groaning about how not tired she was. However, by the time they reached the fireplace from where they were to travel by floo powder to Sethos' home in England where she'd spent almost a week now, her feet were sore and her brain was so mushy from exploring that her groaning had come to a stop. She looked exhausted. Sethos watched her worriedly.
"Do you want me to carry that for you?" he asked pointing at the bag and cage she was still hauling around. Looking tiredly down at her luggage she heaved a sigh, glanced at Sethos' overburdened arms and gently declined the offer. They snaked their way to the front of the cue to get into the fireplace. Sethos let Cassandra go first to make sure she got the adress right and then followed suit. He met her at home by his own fireplace, brushing some ashes off his front. His skin almost sang with relief when it met the dusky room and its enchantments. It almost sang for a long sip of fluid dinner too.
"Well then, are you as hungry as I am my little one?" he asked. The girl swayed a little on the spot when she shook her head.
"Then I guess we're done for today. Off to bed with you, darling. Shoo!" he said, gesturing for her to let go of the bag and leave for the guestroom where she was temporarily living. Smiling sleepily she set off out of the room, up the stairs and through the many corridors. Paintings mumbled comfortingly to her as she passed them. The room she'd been given was painted in a deep forest green and the curtains hanging around the high windows and the four poster bed was in heavy velvet matching the walls. Little did she expect that Sethos had a room prepared for her in another part of the mansion for the day when she decided to live with him permanently and not with her foster family. It was part of a masochistic trait the undead Egyptian relished - none of the Forbidden Curses could hurt as much as dreaming of things that perhaps would never happen. Blissfully ignorant as she was of this, Cassandra changed into her pyjamas and then tossed herself on to the bed and was soon asleep, dreaming passionately about books, beard tentacles and horned owls.
Sunshine made sure to wake Cassandra up the next morning to find that someone had snuck in during the night and left a big trunk just inside the door to her room. Frowning she moved over to the trunk and kneeled beside it to open it. It was a worn old thing with brass hinges and the squiggly letters "C.D." in brass on the lid - Cassandra Dahl. Mad curiosity made her work faster with the locks. Tucked neatly within were all the things that she and Sethos had bought the previous day and more. It brought a huge beam to her face that threatened to split her head in two. If her tummy hadn't rumbled with a sudden and powerful anger she wouldn't had left the room in another few hours. Instead, she rediscovered the cupboards in the kitchen with all its hidden treats. She was deep inside a big top cupboard looking for biscuits when a chilly voice interrupted her search. Colour drained from her face and the digits around the biscuit jar lid went rigid with fear.
"And exactly what do you think you're doing...?"
Very slowly, she turned around to meet the pair of auburn eyes that belonged to the voice. Not Sethos' chocolate brown eyes. Not Sethos' purring voice. Something completely different.
It was well over ten in the morning when Sethos slid into the kitchen for some sort of morning meal. Since last night when he had bid Cassandra good night he'd spent most of his time in intense conversation with the Ministry of Magic to try and sort out the last of the documents for his guardianship of the girl. They were being uncooperative again and Sethos wondered if there was anything in this world that could save this day from going straight into the gutter. Maybe Lucas could pitch in with some of his sizzling sarcasm about the inadequacy of people whose behinds are stapled to desks all day. With a pinch of guilt he remembered that he'd sent Lucas out of the house for the duration of time that Cassandra would be visiting. Not everyone got how the bronze-haired man's mind worked and sometimes even Sethos had troubles anticipating his actions beforehand. And besides, the undead Egyptian considered it was more important right now that Cassandra felt safe and at home with him and wasn't confused or scared off by the boyfriend.
Arriving in the kitchen, Sethos was met with food chaos. On the kitchen table were all the different brands of cereal he had anxiously bought before his granddaughter's visit. Like a blind man he had fumbled through one store after the other hunting for all the things he'd heard that ten-year-olds devour. There were also four different kinds of yogurt, milk and several different kinds of bread with various spreads. It was a buffet where there was only one person who could actually eat any of it. And speaking of the devil...
"Your boyfriend made me breakfast!" Cassandra chirped at Sethos. She was dangling her legs wildly off the chair while chewing her toast cheerfully. Leaning gallantly against the kitchen counter at the other end of the kitchen, sporting a coffee mug with the words "World's Best Lover" on it, stood the auburn-eyed Lucas Mayfair overlooking the whole situation with a wide white grin. Detecting Sethos, Lucas raised the mug in his direction to salute him.
To this sight, Sethos decided that it might be a good morning after all.