Daria Ravenclaw: The Year of the Owl. Chapter One: A New Year

DISCLAIMER: Daria is the creation of Glen Eichler and is the property of MTV Viacom. Harry Potter is the creation of JK Rowling and is the property of JK Rowling, Warner Brothers, and Wizarding World. I own neither franchise, nor do I expect or deserve any financial compensation for this work of fiction. I am writing for my own amusement and ego gratification, not for financial remuneration.

Daria Ravenclaw: The Year of the Owl* Daria Ravenclaw: The Year of the Owl* Daria Ravenclaw: The Year of the Owl

It was very early New Year's Day. Another year had started for the young witches and wizards of Highland, Texas, a year rung in by eating black-eyed peas for good luck. It wasn't the way Daria Morgendorffer expected to ring in 1990, but on the other hand old Mrs. Johnson had made it a surprisingly powerful, meaningful ceremony. And now it was time to go home.

She and Raven Caswell walked out to Jeanette Johnson's car. Jeanette would drive them home. Outdoors some people were celebrating in the crazy, destructive ways all too many people in Highland marked certain holidays: with alcohol, drugs, fireworks, and gunshots fired into the air and occasionally at each other. They got in, Daria buckled her seatbelt, and Jeanette started her car. Their drive was relatively short and mercifully uneventful. Other people's weren't: Daria and Raven saw the flares on the road and the red and blue blinking lights of the police and emergency rescue vehicle and were sobered. Someone's year was off to a horribly bad start.

Jeanette dropped Daria off at her door at River Run Cove. Her Mom had given her a key so she could let herself in when she got back from Mrs. Johnson's and Daria felt very grown up about using it. She let herself in, then closed the door and locked it behind her.

Her parents were still up. They'd been watching a movie and sharing a bottle of champagne.

"Hey, Smidget," said Jake. "How was your party?"

"Fine, Dad," said Daria. "It was OK."

"Nobody did any drugs or anything, did they?" said Helen.

"No, Mom," said Daria. "No drugs or alcohol."

"No wand-waving?" said Jake. "No magic spells?"

"No, Dad," said Daria. "We each got little cups of black-eyed peas and ate them for good luck."

"Black eyed peas?" said Jake.

"Black eyed peas?" said Helen. "I haven't thought about black-eyed peas for years." said Helen. "Germaine used to ask me and my sisters if we had any black-eyed peas for good luck each New Year's Day back when I was growing up. If you and your friends were quietly eating black-eyed peas at midnight instead of going hog-wild like some people around here, I definitely approve."

Bemused, Daria retired and went to sleep shortly afterwards.

The Morgendorffers got a phone call that afternoon from Edgar. The Fink-Nottles had not only returned to the UK but had bought a house not too far from Edgar's employers' main office. Cuthbert now had a limp, but in spite of his injury, he remained about as cheerful as ever. Edgar and Camille wished them all a happy new year, then hung up.

School started a few days later. Ellen Bowden stopped by briefly and told Daria that she should try to study as hard as she could between now and the end of her school year at James Ferguson Elementary School.

"It might not seem this way now, but you'll find your arithmetical and composition skills of great help at Ilvermorny and possibly even more so if you do get into Hogwarts," she said.

Her mother concurred with Ms. Bowden's opinion and added that what she was learning now were the foundations of what she'd need to learn if she wanted to go on to college after she graduated from Ilvermorny or Hogwarts.

Late that month, Helen was surprised to find Mrs. Gonzalez, Mrs. Ocampo, and the Aldrete twins at her door. She stared at the delegation, then invited them in. She called for Daria and her eldest came out of her room and stared in surprise at the older women. Helen offered coffee for Mrs. Gonzalez and Mrs. Ocampo and hot tea for the Aldrete sisters.

She then sat down, wondering why they'd come by for a visit.

"I'm sure you're wondering why we stopped by," said Mrs. Gonzalez. "We came by to tell your daughter about our potion-making class. Potion-making is an important part of our education and Marta here teaches rookies like your daughter how to make them properly." Sarita and Connie grinned at Mrs. Ocampo calling Daria a rookie.

Helen thought that early instruction was a good idea but silently wished Jake was here so she could make it look collegial, but Jake and Quinn were out and she and Daria were alone with Veronica, so she had to make the call by herself. Before she could say anything, Veronica came out of her room and saw the visitors.

"Hi!" she said.

"Ah, la niƱita!" said Mrs. Gonzalez. "This is your youngest one?"

"Yes, this is my youngest daughter Veronica," said Helen.

"Ronnie, could you say hello to these nice ladies?"

"Hi," said Veronica. "I'm Veronica."

"Veronica, this is Mrs. Gonzalez, Mrs. Ocampo, and these two girls are Sarita and Connie Aldrete," said Helen. "Sarita and Connie go to school with Daria." Preoccupied with watching Veronica's reactions to her guests, Helen missed Connie raising her eyebrows at Sarita and Sarita looking back at her sister and shrugging.

Helen then turned her attention to her oldest daughter. "Daria, there's nothing like having a good start for your education. I think you ought to enroll."

Daria wanted to say no. She would have preferred to put off potion-making until school started that fall, but she looked at the adults in the room and realized that the odds were stacked against her.

"How could I refuse?" she said with less than total enthusiasm.