Chapter Two - The Pain
Chapter Two - The Pain
Ten Years After "Heir Of Voldemort" – Chapter One
"Hi Xander's mom!"
"Hi, Mrs. Harris."
Cassandra looked up from the dishes she was washing and smiled at the three youngsters who had just entered the kitchen. "What have you three been up to, today?" She looked from the timid red head girl, to her son and his tawny-haired friend.
"Will just came over to do my homework for me." Alexander grinned broadly from her to his fire-haired friend. "Didn't you, Will?"
"Help you with your homework!" Willow protested weakly.
Alexander turned large, puppy-dog eyes to her. "Aww, c'mon, Will." He whined.
"Yeah, Willow." Jesse added his pout to the combination. "After all, you're so good at it and we're so...well, not."
"Mrs. Harris," Willow turned hopefully to the only sane person in the house with a pleading look, begging her to intercede. Cassandra raised a golden eyebrow in expectation. "Will you tell them to do their own homework?"
"You could always let them copy yours." The golden-haired woman suggested with a small mischievous smile.
Alexander's wide, bright smile lit up the room, so like her brother's had been, and Cassandra hurriedly stifled the urge to grab him and hug him. Already as tall as she was, he was going to be as tall and broad as...his father.
"Thanks mom!" He laughed triumphantly.
"But don't make it look like you actually copied it, boys. I want to see at least one or two mistakes of your own." She gave them both a stern look, that barely hid a smile. "Am I making myself absolutely clear?"
"In other words, don't let 'em see how smart we really are." Alexander nodded furtively. "After all, one of the main weapons of a Spanish Inquisition is surprise, cos nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition..."
"Don't even think about starting that, my boy." His mother cautioned, looking around sharply as she heard something crash into their rubbish bins at the front gate. "Your father's home early." She gasped. "Quick," Motioning them to the stairs, she peered out of the window. "Get upstairs and don't make too much noise."
The trio nodded, Jesse and Willow racing up the stairs. "Will you be okay, mom?" As always, her son's first priority was for her.
"I'll be fine." Pressing a kiss to his forehead, she forced a smile. "Just go."
With a reluctant nod, Alexander squeezed her hand then followed his friends up the stairs to his room. They had learned the hard way not to get in the way of Robert Harris when he got home from work.
Cassandra had ended up married to the thuggish and much older man when she had been in America less than a year, living in a cheap hotel on the edge of Sunnydale, the Hellmouth Ethan had found for her, far enough away to prevent any Death Eaters finding her easily.
She had needed some kind of stability and someone who would be willing to support her and her infant son and when Robert Harris suggest that she marry him, she had not stopped to think of the consequences.
However, after less than six months, his treatment of her made her wish that she was back in Voldemort's grasp. At least there, the Death Eaters had known to keep their hands to themselves, but because she already had a child, Harris' friends considered her 'easy'.
When – four years into their marriage – a few of his high school buddies decided to take advantage of the pretty, petite blonde woman, Robert had been drunk out of his mind and given his permission for his friends to 'have some fun with the slut'.
Unfortunately, said friends had been on the High School Football team with him and there were four of them and only one tiny, terrified and defenseless Witch against them. She had spent hours the next day crying in the bathroom.
From that day, she maintained a constant repulsion charm on herself, so any male that looked at her apart from Harris, thought she was unattractive, overweight and generally worth avoiding.
Only Harris saw her as the small, lithe nymph he had married.
There had been no more trouble since then, although little Alexander had often seen 'daddy' striking mom in a fit of temper. He was as scared of his adoptive father as she was and avoided him when possible.
Recently, the rough American had taken to drinking on the way back from work as well, which usually meant he was roaring drunk by the time he got home. If anything was even a little wrong when that happened, she would know about it.
She would have left him long ago, but he did take care of Alexander, which was more than she expected from any other man. He had accepted him as a son and treated him with care and affection, or as much of either emotion as he was capable of, considering his very nature and demeanour.
Returning to the dishes, she could feel her hands shaking beneath the water and she kept her eyes down as the door opened beside her. "Hi, honey." She mumbled, rinsing the bubbles off a white plate.
Her husband cast his eyes over her briefly, before stomping through to the living room with a growl. "Bring me a beer."
Drying her hands on her jeans, Cassandra hurried to the refrigerator and pulled a can free from the pack there. A chilled glass waited in the freezer and she quickly poured the foaming liquid into it.
Carrying it through, she gave Robert a smile. "Here you are."
"Sit down, Cassie." He patted his lap and Cassandra reluctantly sat herself on his broad thighs. While he was no longer a sporty man, he still carried the bulky weight of a footballer, with the added appeal of a pot belly.
"How was work?"
Picking at the nail of her little finger, she chewed on her lip, wondering what he would want this time. He was apparently in a decent mood, which was a good sign, and he wasn't too drunk, which was something.
She found out soon enough when he pulled her mouth down on his. The scent of stale beer made her gag and she felt the cool beer spilling from his glass onto her bare forearm that was holding her upright against the arm of the chair.
"Take your pants off." He muttered, fumbling with his belt.
Ah yes, this was why she disliked it when he was semi-sober.
"But honey, the kids are..."
Dark eyes narrowed. "I said," He repeated in a low, dangerous voice. "Take off your pants."
Standing, Cassandra looked down at him uncertainly. "But Jesse and Willow..."
"Damn it, you ungrateful little bitch!" His voice rose to a bellow and was on his feet, towering above her. Large hands gripped her upper arms, shaking her violently. "You're my damn wife and I can do whatever the Hell I like to you in our home, kids or no kids!"
"Robert!" She cried out as he back-handed her.
"Y-you're hurting me." Tears of pain sprang to Cassandra's dark eyes. She could feel her skin bruising under his callous fingers.
He smashed his mouth bruisingly down on hers, crushing her lips in a savage kiss. "Then do what you're damn well told next time." He snarled, his own hand undoing the button and zipper of her jeans.
Forced down onto her back on the couch, Cassandra could feel tears streaming down her face as her husband violated her body in ways more painful and humiliating than anything Voldemort had ever done to her.
As he finished with her, his huge body sagging on hers, he stroked her cheek, not even noticing that she flinched from his touch. "You had to learn who was in charge, Cass." He muttered. "Next time, do what I tell you first time."
"Y-yes, Robert." She whispered, almost sobbing in relief as he rolled off her and stumbled to his feet.
"I'm going to meet the boys. I'll be back late."
"Yes, Robert." She repeated mechanically.
She distantly registered the front door slamming closed and the sound of the car tyres screaming on the road as her husband reversed out and sped off to join his friends at some pub or other.
Curling up in a ball on the couch, she hugged her knees to her chest, sobbing softly.
She didn't hear the sound of her son ushering his friends quickly out of the back door, or his whispered apologies, or even when he finally came around the couch until he knelt down beside her and touched her shoulder.
"Mom?" She started in fright. "Mom, its me..."
"A-Alex?" Struggling to sit, she gasped in pain, but still forced herself to sit upright and embrace her son, his arms going around him as tears continued to pour from her eyes. "I-I'm sorry if I-I scared you...your friends...they must have been shocked..."
Hugging her tightly, the ten year old shook his head. "Its okay, mom." He whispered. "I was worried about you." Drawing back, his expression older than his years, he gently took her hand in his. "Are you okay?"
"Just a little sore." She lied. Her husband had pulled her pants up before he left her, but she could feel sticky blood on the inside of her thighs and the pain was throbbing in her lower body as if she were on fire.
"You're lying, mom." His gentle fingers touched her cheek. "You wanna go to the bathroom?"
How well he knew her.
When 'daddy's friends' had been allowed to play, he had found her in the bathroom and, even at the age of five, knew something wrong had been going on. He had also worked out that the bathroom was her one sanctuary.
Nodding weakly, she let him help her up and both of them made the slow journey up the staircase to the big bathroom. Letting her stop by the mirror, he crossed the floor and turned the hot water on to fill the bath for her.
Cassandra stared mutely at her beaten reflection. She had to admit that Robert had done a quality piece of work on her with one blow. A large bruise spread from her cheekbone to jawline, dark and black.
"Do you need any help, mom?"
Still fingering the bruise, she started to shake her head, but didn't manage to form any words, before the choking sob escaped her. She sank to her knees on the bathroom floor and Alexander was beside her in a second, gathering her up in a hug, crying with her.
"I...I think you'll have to help me undress, Alex..." She whispered shakily, lowering her eyes. Her lower body was burning agonisingly, while her upper body was aching unbearably. "I don't want you to be embarrassed, though..."
He shook his head. "I won't be, mom...I want to help."
Forcing a smile, she motioned to her T-shirt. "Can you..." He quickly helped her peel it off, the bruises on her upper arms more extensive than she expected. The skin was dark black from just below her shoulder to just above her elbow.
"Mom, you can't let him do this to you anymore." Alexander said, staring at the ugly bruises.
"I know, Alex." She said quietly. It was times like this that she wished she had been able to stay with Ethan; black-magic-loving, insane, exiled, demon-worshipping, safe Ethan. The paradox of her best and closest friend made her laugh softly.
"Mom? What is it?"
She raised her eyes to her son. "I was just thinking about your God- father." She said softly. "I think he would probably kill me himself rather than see me living like this, you know." A sad smile crossed her face. "I miss him sometimes, Alex."
"I know, mom."
Drawing him into her bruised arms, Cassandra sighed. She had never been able to tell her son about his heritage, lest there be anyone of that persuasion at his school, who would reveal his whereabouts to Death Eaters.
In addition to that, the Fidelius charm had been placed to keep Alexander's magical abilities as the secret, so he would not develop them unless Ethan revealed the secret to him, when the time was right. If she said anything about them, she could ruin all that her friend had done to save her and her only remaining pure family member.
More than anything, she simply wished she could go home, back to her family home and find them all alive and everyone happy.
"Mom, what's that?"
Tilting her head to look at him, she asked. "What's what, honey?"
"This." He tapped a spot on her left shoulder and her eyes widened in shock. In the reflection on the side of the ceramic bathtub, he had seen the outline of the Dark Mark that his father had left on her shoulder.
Turning her body slightly to look over at it, she still shuddered when she actually saw it. "That was a little gift from my first...boyfriend." She gave Alexander a weak smile. "You can tell I don't have much luck with men, can't you?"
"What was he like? Did he hit you?"
Cassandra bit her lip. She could tell him that. It wouldn't ruin the Fidelius charms protection... would it? "He didn't hit me, Alex." She replied quietly. "He did kill my family, though." She gave her son a bleak smile. "I've got great taste, haven't I?"
"Its not your fault, mom." Alexander cuddled close to her, his arms going around her waist. "Y'know what I sometimes wish?"
"What's that?" She asked, her lips pressed against his brow.
"Sometimes, I wish I could magic dad away...just wave my hand and poof!" He made a gesture with his hand. "He'd be gone." He looked up at her. "Not dead, though. Just gone away. Not here anymore."
Cassandra laughed softly. "I know the feeling." She murmured. "Now, you go and find your friends and do your homework, okay?" She managed to stand up. "I'll have a bath and I'll clean myself up."
"Will you be okay, mom?"
A small, wicked smile crept onto her swollen lips as a thoroughly naughty and illegal idea came to her. "You know, Alex," She said, dropping a light kiss on his head. "I think we're going to be fine."
Hugging her once more, Alexander darted off out of the bathroom and down the stairs. His mother closed the door behind him and locked it, pushing her pants down her body and stepping out of them.
As expected, there were dried blood stains on her thighs and on her jeans.
Looking around at the bath, she was relieved to see it was nearly full. Stripping off the remainder of her clothing and dropping it to the floor, she stepped into the hot water and submerged herself up to her neck.
Closing her sore eyes, she thought of the wand she had hidden in the base of her case. A memory reached her of the unforgivable curses and the lectures that her teachers had given her at Hogwarts.
None of them said if it was actually illegal to use such a curse on your husband after he had raped you.
She would have smiled if the situation hadn't been so serious. Her husband was upsetting her son. Her son was the one she loved and the one she protected. If she had to stop her husband doing something by illegal means, she would.
And she was a witch, after all.
"Is your mom okay, Xander?" Willow was sitting at the bench in the park, doing Jesse's homework for him, while he lay on the ground turning ants into mini-flaming-infernos with help from the sun and a magnifying glass.
Alexander nodded grimly. "Dad hurt her real bad." He replied. "She had bruises on her arms and face and she was crying again." He was sitting on the bench next to Willow, shredding a twig to nothing with a pen knife.
"She in the bathroom?"
"What about your dad?"
"Went out with friends, I guess."
Willow cast a sidelong look at her friend. "Are you okay?"
"I dunno, Will..." He blew out a huge breath. "Why can't my family be more like yours?"
"What? Never here?"
"At least your dad doesn't hurt your mom." Alexander said bitterly.
Reaching over, Willow patted his hand. "I wish I could help." She murmured.
"Wouldn't it be cool," Jesse looked up. "If you turned out to be some kind of weird superhero guy and then you could," He made a wild punching gesture that succeeding in bruising the air very badly. "Kick your dad's ass!"
Alexander grinned weakly. "I wish." He said.
The front door crashed shut.
It was a sound assurance – literally – that Robert Harris was home and drunk.
Thumping steps sounded on the stairs.
Sitting calmly on the covers of their bed, wearing an oversized T-shirt and reading a cheesy Mills and Boon romance, Cassandra looked up as her husband stumbled into their bedroom, already reaching for his belt.
"Good evening, Robert."
That made him pause.
She never called him by his name.
"Get on your back." He grunted, fumbling with his zipper.
That also made him stop, staring across at her fuzzily. "Didn't you learn something from this afternoon, you stupid whore?" He growled. "I'm your husband and I can have sex with you any damn time I want."
"Not anymore." She said. Her voice was cold, crisp, frighteningly calm. "Now, I get to do the choosing. No more of your friends sneaking in to rut with me in the middle of the night. No more beating me up. No more scaring my son."
Robert laughed, a harsh, booming sound. "You think you can stop me?" He took a step towards her threateningly. "I have every right to do whatever the hell I want to you and that bastard brat of yours."
"I don't think so."
Her calmness was unnerving.
Normally, she would be pleading and whimpering, but not this time.
Reaching behind her as he took another step towards her, she withdrew a long, slender wand of mahogany. "I wouldn't come any closer, Robert." She said quietly, her eyes cold. "You've hurt me enough."
"What are you gonna do?" He sneered. "A spell?" He stumbled forward, reaching for her.
"Actually, yes." She smiled, then said. "Petrificus totallus." Robert Harris froze, going as stiff as a board. Only his eyes could still move as he plummeted forward and landed flat on his face on the floor.
Crawling to the end of the bed, Cassandra leaned down and rolled him onto his back, giving him a broad smile.
"How do you like being the helpless one, Robert? Not so nice, is it?" She asked. "In case you're wondering how I managed to do that, I should probably tell you that you're married to a fully graduated Witch."
A gurgling sound escaped his throat.
"Why am I doing this to you?" She tilted her head, as if deep in thought. "Well, lets see... one, you beat me up weekly. Two, you let your friends gang bang me. Three, you rape me." Her eyes were darker, more dangerous than he could remember. "Four, you rape me when there are three scared children in the house. Five, you treat me like I'm an animal instead of your wife. Six, you act like I'm nothing more than a shag pillow." She paused to take a breath. "And seven, most importantly, you scare my son, which isn't a good thing to do, since his father was the most powerful Dark Wizard in the world and would kill you for even looking at his Heir's mother the wrong way." She paused for a moment, then added. "Actually, he would just kill you cos he could. He's like that."
Another sound escaped him.
"What? You don't believe that his father's a powerful Wizard? That's your loss." She gave her husband an angelic smile. "All that matters at the moment is that I'm a very good witch and in five minutes time, you're not going to remember a second of this conversation."
He snorted at her.
"Why?" She cheerfully interpreted his noises, much as she had when he was talking to her normally. "Because, my dear husband, you are going to literally be under my spell." She leaned down and dropped a kiss on his nose. "Perhaps I should explain... Witches have power. I have power. I neglected it, because I thought you might change from being an arrogant, self-righteous son of a bitch. You scared and upset my son. The balance changed. Now, I'm the one wearing the pants in this relationship."
Before he could make another futile sound of protest, she casually waved her wand and murmured. "Imperio."
In the wake of the casting of Cassandra’s imperio spell, life in the Harris household was somewhat more peaceful. Robert was allowed to be as loud and foul-mouthed as he liked, but he couldn’t touch her.
Even if he tried to tell someone else what she had done to him, the words would never make it passed his lips.
Alexander didn’t seem to have noticed that his adoptive father was suddenly much gentler, but that was only because he still avoided Robert as much as he could without incurring his fury.
Standing at the kitchen door one afternoon, nearly a fortnight after the spell had been cast, she watched her husband sprawling on the sun chair on the veranda, snoring loudly, his mouth open.
She couldn’t recall ever seeing him look quite so repulsive.
Wearing plaid shorts and a beer-stained yellow vest, his beer-belly was peeking out from between the two items of clothing, the sun glinting off his sweat-sheened, his receding hairline more prominent than ever.
The trill of the telephone ringing caught her attention and she sighed, turning away from the grotesque lump of muggleness that was her husband.
Making her way back into the cool, dark house, she picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Ethan!" Sinking down on the arm of the chair beside her, she could feel her heart pounding against her ribs. "Is that you?"
"Yeah, its me." Something in his voice was unnerving. "Cass, things are going on. I need to see you."
"Your old motel room." His voice was terse. "Come in disguise. If anyone asks, you’re visiting Elenor Brody."
"As soon as you can."
"No. See you there."
The phone went dead and Cassandra shakily placed the receiver down. She knew exactly what he had meant when he said to go in disguise and immediately ran for the stairs, heading to her bedroom.
Alexander was already safe, out with his friends at the park or somewhere. It was summer vacation, which meant he was out of the house a lot more than he usually would be.
Pulling her trunk out from the wardrobe, she found her keys and undid the third lock, revealing a pile of bottles and potions. Reaching down, she found the bottle of Polyjuice Potion that she had stored in case of emergencies.
Shaking, she lifted the bottle out, unscrewing the cap.
Several weeks before, she had managed to get the hairs of one of the neighbours, when their washing machine had ‘accidentally’ broken and Cassandra had offered to let them use hers.
Their clothing had been delivered and she had managed to snag a stray hair from the pillowcases before they had been washed, adding it to the potion when her husband was under a magic sleeping spell.
Trying not to inhale the bitter fumes of the potion, she quickly swallowed several quick mouthfuls of it and screw the lid back on, before it started to take hold, closing her trunk and locking it.
As soon as the pain hit, she grimaced and waited for the change
A short, plump, purple-haired old lady stepped quickly out of the cab, hurrying across the open car park of the motel that had been her home for nearly a year of her life in America.
Reaching the right door, she knocked quickly.
"Who are you hear to see?" A male voice asked.
The mould-spotted door opened wide enough for her to edge in. Sidling in, she heard the snib lock in place and she looked around in time to see her best friend descended on her, gathering her in his arms.
"Cass..." He whispered, hugging her tightly. "Christ, I missed you."
The voice that came from the wrinkled lips was laced with emotion. "You could have come and visited me sooner, you git." A gasp escaped her and she gripped his upper arms, her vision blurring as she shrank back into her own slender form. "God, I hate polyjuice."
"Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?" Ethan had already scooped her up and carried her over to the bed to sit her down on the mattress. Kneeling at her feet, he squeezed her knees. "How’s life been for you, Cass?"
"Don’t ask..." Lifting her face to his, she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him, her cheek pressing against his shoulder. "I don’t want to talk about that now. Just shut up and keep me safe, okay?"
The Wizard nodded, stroking her back gently. "That bad, eh?"
It was several minutes before she could form the words to reply to him. "I’d rather be Voldemort’s again, Ethan..." Her tears were scalding against his neck. "At least it was only him there..."
"Christ..." She didn’t even have to say anything more than that to him, knowing that he understood. "Do you want me to kill him, Cass? I’m an exile. They don’t even keep tags on me anymore, so I could do it."
Cassandra laughed faintly. "No, Ethan..." She drew back from him, cupping his face in her small, shaking hands. "I don’t want you in any more trouble than you already are." Pressing her brow to his, she forced a smile. "I have it under control now."
"Cass...what have you done?"
She lowered her eyes, then looked back up at him awkwardly. "Just a little imperio... nothing big..."
"Just as long as you don’t get hurt, Cass." He cradled her head gently in his large hands. "Promise me you won’t let yourself get hurt..."
"I promise, Ethan." She pulled him to her in another hug, his broad arms sliding around her, the first genuine embrace in months that didn’t make her want to flee or burst into tears.
"You know I’m here on business, don’t you, luv?" He murmured against her temple.
"Just tell me."
Ethan nodded grimly. "He’s coming back." Cassandra went rigid in his arms. "They had the Philosopher’s Stone at the school...Old Dumbledore was meant to be able to protect it..."
"Please tell me he didn’t get to it..."
"No...the Potter boy...James and Lily’s son...he stopped him." Cassandra shivered against his chest. "The stone was destroyed, but if Voldemort was strong enough to get into the school..."
"Oh God..." A shuddering sob escaped her. "I had hoped...wished...maybe he would be gone forever..."
Ethan hugged her tighter. "You’re safe here, Cass." He whispered, rocking her tenderly as he had when she was a child at Hogwarts. "The Fidelius charm...they’ll never find you..."
"I don’t care if they find me, Ethan...its Alex I’m worried about."
"He’s safe to, luv. As long as the charms in place, you’re both safe. I promise and this is one good thing I’m not going to ignore, even if Chaos doesn’t approve." He sank back on his heels. "How is the little bugger anyway?"
Cassandra smiled weakly. "As good as he can be in a place like this." She reached down into her pocket and withdrew a packet of photographs. "I thought you might want to see..."
"This kid with the big ears is him, right?"
"I was joking, Cass." He laughed, taking the photographs with a smile and looking through them. "He’s got your eyes..." He continued through the pile and finally said softly. "He’s a beautiful kid."
She nodded with a weak smile. "I know."
Ethan looked up at her. "I won’t let anything happen to him, Cassie." He took one of her hand, bringing it down to kiss her palm. "I swear on everything I believe in that I’ll give my life for this kid."
"I know you will." Cassandra said softly, leaning forward and putting her arms around his neck. "But, just now, I want your attention, just for a little while..." That said, she tentatively kissed him.
Ethan’s hazel eyes widened marginally, before he gathered her to his chest again and returned the kiss. "I loved you when I left, Ethan." She whispered against his cheek, weeping softly once more. "I didn’t want to leave you and I...I still love you now..."
Lifting her chin with his hand, Ethan nodded. "I know, luv." He said softly, before kissing her again and letting things follow their true order and the way he wished they had gone since his little lover had become a woman.
By mid-afternoon, they shared one last kiss, then he was gone and she had to go home to her beloved son and loathed husband, but with the words of love and strength to continue now.