The Sugar Quill
Author: Other Girl  Story: Different  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A/N: As this is my first completed fanfic, I would like to thank LadieNite, Tom, and CallieStarr* for helping me figure it all

A/N: As this is my first completed fanfic, I would like to thank LadieNite, Tom, and CallieStarr* for helping me figure it all out.  I would also like to say I think this is a great contest idea(of course, that might just be because I am completely obessed with the environment…).  Obviously, everything except Cassie is JKR’s.

 

Different

 

            It was a hot afternoon in early July but the sun would set soon and it would cool off then.  No one was out except for an old lady in her mid-60’s with grizzled gray hair, which was escaping from an old hairnet.  She known by the neighbors for her extreme love of cats and her talkative manner.

            Today she was walking home from an emergency trip to the store for cat food, which she carried in a string bag.

            She looked down to make sure her carpet slippers wouldn’t fall off, and noticed an empty can a few feet away.

            “Now that won’t do, will it?” she muttered to herself. “Humph.  How are we supposed to keep the neighborhood clean when people won’t take the time to throw their garbage away? Probably that Dursley kid again. Really, the way people act, you’d think…”

            But she never finished her sentence, for the moment she touched the Coca-Cola can, she felt a hook behind her navel jerk her irresistibly forward.

            After what seemed like an age, she slammed into the ground and fell over; the can flew from her grasp as soon as she landed.

            She gasped, standing up, as a man with a long silver beard and glittering half-moon glasses approached her.  She dimly noted it had suddenly gotten darker and there were trees all around her.

            “Ah, there you are, Bella.  I was just starting to get worried.”  The man smiled at her.

            “Who-who are you?”

 

*          *          *

 

            Albus Dumbledore paused, surprised, then looked carefully at his old friend Arabella Figg and saw that it wasn’t Bella after all.

            He continued as if he had been expecting this all along.  “I am Albus Dumbledore.  Might I ask your name?”  He smiled, but she did not look at all reassured.  Indeed, she looked positively terrified.  The poor thing must be a Muggle.

            “My…my name is Ashley Jones.

Albus looked into her eyes and decided she was lying.  “Come, now.  There’s no need to be afraid.  I promise not to harm you.”

“Cassie Norton.”  She refused to look at him, but he decided to trust her.

“Well, Cassie, why don’t you come with me?  The Forest is not the safest place for a person such as yourself to be.”

            “Wh-what do you mean?”

            “Well, let’s just say some of the animals here aren’t entirely friendly.”  Just the then a unicorn foal walked over to them.  “Unicorns, however, are very friendly, if a bit mistrusting at times.”

            At the sight of the unicorn she looked petrified.  “Oh, no.  No, no, no.  This can’t be happening.”

            “And why not?”

            She stared at him as if he was crazy.  “Unicorns aren’t real.  Everyone knows that.”

            “Indeed.”  Albus looked very hard at her, his eyes twinkling.  “Well, I can assure you this one is quite real.  You may pet him, if you wish.  He won’t bite.”

            Skeptically, she reached toward the unicorn with one hand while tightly clutching her shopping bag with another.  As soon as she touched the foal, she gasped, dropping the bag.

            Without thinking, Albus levitated the bag just before it hit the ground, and offered it to her, smiling.  But instead of taking it, she stared at him, looking even more frightened than before.  He faltered, realizing she must not like the idea of magic.

            “How did you do that?”

“Well, you see-“

“I…I think I’ve seen that before-yes, my grandson Mark did that once, when he dropped a wineglass!”

            “Did he now?”  Curious.

            “Yes, he’s always doing strange things, very unnatural-he’s almost as strange as that crazy Potter boy,” she spat.

            “Indeed.”  And now his voice had a harder note to it.

            “I’m sorry.  Did I…say something wrong?”

            “No, it is a simple misunderstanding.”

            She looked at him curiously, but when he didn’t supply an explanation she asked, “Do you always dress like that?  Don’t take this the wrong way, but not many people I know would ever wear that type of clothing.”

“No, I don’t imagine they would.  However, I think you would do well to learn that what you consider to be the norm is not always ideal.  Things that you consider strange are not always bad.”

            The walked in silence for a while.  Suddenly Albus asked, “Cassie, do any of your books have magic in them?”

            “Of course there is, but that’s fantasy, pure imagination.”

            “So it’s not real?”

            “Well, obviously.  If it was real it wouldn’t be normal.”

            “Ah, but it’s normal to have the fantastic in your imagination?”

            “Of course it isn’t.  I don’t approve of imagination, although some people like to read about magic.”  She sniffed disdainfully.

            “Why don’t you approve of imagination?”

            “It’s not normal.”

            “But don’t most people use their imagination?”

            “Yes, but that doesn’t make it a good thing.”

            “But how is it not normal if most people use their imagination?”

            “Well…Oh.”

            “So therefore, you are not part of the norm, but that does not make your beliefs wrong.  Do you understand now?”

            “Yes, I…”

            Just then, they both heard the sound of several twigs snapping.  Albus looked around quickly, hoping the centaurs would not try to attack Cassie, which would cause complications, to say the least.

            “Let’s hurry along, shall we?  As I said before, the Forest isn’t safe.”

            Cassie looked around nervously, then continued.  “As I was saying, I think I understand now.  The abnormal isn’t always bad, is it?”

            “Quite correct, Cassie.  In fact, obsessing about normality is not normal, and so defeats its own purpose.  People should always be more accepting of what they don’t know about.”

“Yes…yes, I suppose you’re right.”  She still sounded skeptical, but it would have to do.

“Ah, here we are.  Safely out of the forest.  Hello, Hagrid.”

“Hello, Professor Dumbledore, Sir.”  He peered curiously at Cassie.

“Hagrid, this is my guest, Cassie Norton.  She stumbled into the Forest, and it is time I sent her home.  Might I borrow a tea kettle?”

“Of course yeh can.  I’ll go an’ get it.”

“Now, my dear, I am going to send you home.  When you touch the tea kettle, it will take you back to Little Whinging, and I will also come to make sure you arrive safely.”  He wished he wouldn’t have to put a Memory-Charm on her, but it was his duty to protect the wizarding world.  Anyways, it would be better for her to find out about magic from her grandson, and she might even accept it one day.  You just never know.

*          *          *

            A week later, Cassie’s grandson received a letter delivered by an owl, telling him he had been accepted to a school of magic.  Although she would normally have thought this unnatural and condemned the idea, she simply smiled and congratulated her grandson.  None of her family ever understood why she had changed, but they all decided the change was for the better.

//
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