Welcome to my first venture in novel writing. Thank you for reading it. Please R./R. Within these pages you will read about an unlikely heroine, a malicious enemy, unspeakable acts of violence, an unexpected love, unendurable heartache, and hopefully a bit of humor. The action takes place within the timeline of the fifth book (I'm counting the days until it's finally here!). Remus Lupin is a major player here, as well as Sirius Black. And Moody's back as DADA professor. What belongs to Rowling is easily recognizable. The rest is mine.

Chapter one: The Will

Somewhere in America, a British solicitor dropped a thick green file on a fold-up table. The table sat in the middle of a tidy kitchen. A woman with a nasty scowl on her face hovered over a sink full of soapy water nearby. She threw disgusted looks across the room at her husband who sat at the table in a high-backed chair that was badly in need of a new coat of paint.

A few feet to his side, in an identical chair, sat a woman a few years younger than he, and enough like him to obviously be his sister. He threw disgruntled looks at her, as if relaying his wife's displeasure. The sister did her best to maintain a certain aloofness, giving her attention to the fat green folder and a large black trunk that sat on the floor beneath the table-this the solicitor had brought as well.

The solicitor-Mr. Orcrist-peeled back the top flap of the folder and sat, perching a pair of silver-rimmed reading glasses on his long, thin nose, then sliding his chair forward with a screech over the cheap linoleum tile.

"Miss Stewart, Mr. Stewart," he said, nodding to each in turn, "I wish to express my deepest sympathies at your father's passing. I am honored to have had the opportunity to help my old friend put his affairs in order."

Mr. Stewart nodded curtly and glared toward his sister who remained perfectly still, her eyes still fixed on the folder. Mr. Orcrist waited for a moment, his gaze focused upon Miss Stewart, waiting for a response. But there was none, so he picked up the document at the top of the file and began to read.

"I, Lorenzo Arriman Stewart, being of sound mind and body. . ."

***********

"A TRUNK! That old Bastard left me a lousy trunk?!" Miss Stewart was standing now, the will, which had been snatched from Mr. Orcrist's hand waving angrily in his face.

"And its contents, Miss Stewart," he replied calmly.

"I don't suppose it contains a load of cash?"

"No, Miss Stewart, I assure you it contains no money."

Mr. Stewart, still sitting in his chair, chuckled quietly with his hand over his mouth, doing his best to suppress a fit of laughter. He and his wife, it seemed, had just inherited everything of worth their father had owned-the house and furniture, the money, the investments.

Miss Stewart rounded on him. "Shut up, Allan!" she spat.

But that was all it took to break his restraint, and he laughed out loud. "I guess the old man decided you'd stolen enough from him, Roxanne." The look of triumph on his face was more than she could take.

"SHUT UP!" she yelled louder, her chair squealing over the floor as she stood, the back of her hand raised over her shoulder poised to strike. But the motion was unnecessary. Allan's chair tipped over and spilled him onto the linoleum. He scrambled up, hurling expletives and storming towards her with clenched fists.

His previously silent wife flew to intercept him. She placed one hand roughly on Allan's chest, and with the other she pointed a threatening finger close to his chin. "Leave her alone, Allan!" she hissed.

"You saw what she did!" he spat, gesturing wildly at the still- unrighted chair.

"I didn't see anything. She never touched you-or the chair. You've gotten what you wanted. You won. It's all yours. Now leave her alone!" She stared him down, feet planted firmly on the floor, her jaw set in determination. A thick, tense silence hung over the room.

"Miss Stewart," said Mr. Orcrist, "perhaps you should let me help you out with your trunk." And he grasped one trunk handle, looked her straight in the eye and nodded slightly. Taking the hint, Roxanne gripped the other handle and strode for the door, dragging the solicitor along behind.

It wasn't until they'd reached her car that she had calmed down enough to realize that the trunk was not very heavy. In fact it was extraordinarily light; lighter than it seemed it should have been even if it had been empty. Puzzled she asked, "Is there anything in there?" as she hoisted it easily into her trunk.

"Oh, yes. I assure you it is quite full."

"With what, helium?"

Laughing, Mr. Orcrist handed her a large manila envelope he'd retrieved from his briefcase. "Take this. There's a letter from your father in there. It will make everything quite clear." And extending his hand, which she shook lightly, he bid her good day.