Disclaimer: I do not own any part of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe, nor do I have permission to use any of her characters or places. Its just all in good, creative fun.
However, all original characters and story lines are mine....all mine.
Chapter 1: The Richards Family
It was a cold, quiet morning in Little Whinging. The digital alarm clock on the bed side table changed from 6:29am to 6:30am, and the alarm went off.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
A long slender arm reached out from amongst the blankets and fell like a dead weight on the clock, turning it off.
"That has got to be the most annoying sound in the world." Eleanor Richards thought to herself.
She slowly cracked open one of her eye lids and peeked at the clock which was now reading 6:31. Eleanor groaned at the thought of leaving her comfortable, warm bed and remained motionless for a few more minutes. Finally she reluctantly sat up and swung her feet around to the floor. Needless to say that Eleanor wasn't a morning person, but she would find herself more awake once she was upright. When Ellie was finally dressed in her school uniform, which consisted of a white button up dress shirt, a stone grey cardigan, a burgundy plaid kilt and a pair of grey knee high socks, she drew back her curtain and gazed at the rows of houses below. The sky was gradually becoming a paler blue, but it would still be another hour until the sun would peek over the roof tops.
Eleanor made her way downstairs to the kitchen where she found her mother, as she had for the past five years, sitting at the breakfast table engrossed with the daily newspaper.
"Morning mum!" Eleanor managed to get out her greeting before she let out a huge yawn.
"Morning Ellie." Karen Richards replied, not bothering to look up from the paper.
The next step in the usual morning routine was for Ellie to make her way to the cupboard, pour herself a bowl of cereal, and sit at the table in the seat to the right of her mother.
Ellie munched on her Frosted Flakes as her mother continued to read in silence. Eleanor was never quite sure why her mother, who was a receptionist at a small dental office, would be so fascinated with the news. The only reason she could think up was that her mother needed to be aware of current events in order to provide decent small talk with the endless line of waiting patients.
Ellie glanced at the newspaper's front page and read the head line: Another mysterious bombing rocks London. Death toll now at 19.
"That's the fourth bombing in three months." Ellie thought to herself.
Everyone in England knew about these odd bombings that were occurring in London and surrounding area. Most people weren't sure what to think about the attacks, while others criticized Scotland Yard for not providing enough information for the public to protect themselves. However, Ellie was starting to believe that Scotland Yard only knew what they had already released to the public.
There seemed to be no evidence pointing to anyone, no pattern as to where or when the next attack would take place, no terrorist groups taking responsibility, and absolutely no witnesses stepping forward with any information. The lack of witnesses puzzled Ellie the most, especially since the last bombing took place in Piccadilly Circus in the middle of rush hour, and killed four people. It was as if the bombings took place and everyone around suddenly forgot that it had happened. Something definitely wasn't adding up.
The sudden sound of creaking floorboards over head indicated that Eleanor's brother, Dennis, was just climbing out of bed. Ellie never did think it was fair that her brother got to sleep in an extra half hour just because his school was closer. There were other schools in that area that Ellie could attend, but her parents, for some reason, didn't like any of them.
Eleanor was rinsing her dishes off in the sink when her brother entered the kitchen.
"Its amazing how refreshed you can feel with an extra half hour of sleep." Dennis smugly commented.
Dennis's gloating about sleeping for thirty minutes longer was also part of the morning ritual. Ellie hadn't been bothered by Dennis's remarks for the past four years, but her brother was too dense to realize that. The best words Ellie could use to describe her brother, with out saying anything that would get her grounded, was big oaf. Dennis was seventeen, two years older than Ellie, but was only one year a head of her in school. Ellie was never quite sure how her brother managed to fail grade two, but leave it to Dennis to find a way.
Dennis's large hand forcefully pushed Eleanor to the side, and he began to rummage through the cupboard, looking for food.
"You know, civilized human beings say 'excuse me' when they want someone to move out of their way." Ellie firmly informed the big oaf.
A low grunt was the only reply that Dennis gave her.
Eleanor glared at her brother for a moment before turning away. She could never stare at her brother for long periods of time when he was in his school uniform before bursting into hysterical laughter. The maroon tailcoat, orange knickerbockers, and flat straw hat of the Smelting's uniform looked more comical on a seventeen year old than it did six years ago when Dennis first wore it.
Ellie took a quick glance at the clock on the wall and saw that it was twenty after seven.
"Bye mum." She quickly pecked her mother on the cheek.
"Bye sweetie." Karen replied without lifting her eyes from the article she was reading.
Ellie briskly walked into the hallway and grabbed her winter coat that was hanging on a hook by the door.
"Hi dad! Bye dad!" Ellie said quickly to the tall, round, dark haired man who was half way down the stair case.
"Have a good day at school dear." Robert Richards groggily said to his daughter, still wiping some sleep from his eye.
Ellie's father worked in an office downtown London as an accountant for several large businesses. Ellie always thought that it had to be the most boring job in the world. All her father did was sit behind a desk, punch up numbers on a computer, and make sure that every thing balanced at the end. Although her father tried to tell her numerous times that his job was much more than that, Ellie was never able to stay awake for the entire explanation.
Eleanor snatched her book bag from its resting place on the floor and headed out the door.
The crisp, cold November air gave Ellie's senses an extra wake up, and she was now feeling more alert. Ellie quickly buttoned up her winter coat and began to walk to the corner where Magnolia Rd. and Magnolia Crescent met. This was the spot where the bus to Pileforth Academy picked up Eleanor every weekday morning. Pileforth Academy was an all girls school on the other side of London. The bus ride took an hour alone, and that was on a good day, not including the nine stops the bus made after picking up Ellie. The bus ride was always so boring, especially since the driver had little tolerance for talking while she was driving. It was possible to get away with talking at a light whisper, but it wasn't very enjoyable to constantly watch the volume of your voice.
After five minutes of waiting, a large burgundy coloured bus with "Pileforth Academy" in grey lettering on the side came rolling down the street. The bus made an abrupt stop where Ellie was standing, and the doors squeaked open. Ellie slowly climbed up the three large steps.
"Good morning Mrs. Coach." Ellie pleasantly greeted the bus driver.
The plump woman with bright red lipstick and short grey curly hair gave a low growl and promptly shut the school bus doors.
If there was anyone who hated mornings more than Ellie, it was Mrs. Coach, although Mrs. Coach seemed to loathe each part of the day as much as the next. The tires made a short screeching sound as the bus took off. Ellie would have fallen flat on her face if she hadn't caught her balance just in time. The bus was fairly empty since there were only three stops before Ellie's, making it very easy to find a seat. Eleanor took a seat in the middle of the bus and crawled over towards the window, placing her bag beside her. The first half of the bus ride was always the worst. Ellie would stare out the window at the exact same scenery the bus would drive by to and from school. It wouldn't be until the bus stopped at Lambeth when Ellie would perk up. She watched as five girls filtered on to the bus one by one. At the sight of a medium height, fifteen year old girl with thick glasses and black-combed hair, Ellie gave a small wave. After getting the girl's attention, Ellie moved her book bag onto her lap, and the girl sat down next to her.
"Morning Jo. How was your weekend?" Ellie asked in a whisper.
"Boring as usual, but I did finish my book." Jo replied, also whispering.
"You mean the one you've already read twelve time before?" Ellie asked in a belittling tone.
"And I'll read it twelve more times if I want to." Jo said defensively.
Ellie was, of course, referring to Jo's favorite book, Jane Austin's Emma. Although Jo loved it, Ellie just didn't find it that interesting. Ellie was more into si-fi, fantasy, and mystery genera books herself.
"How was your weekend?" Jo finally asked in return.
"Same ole, same ole. Finished my homework, got harassed by Dennis and his friends, barricaded myself in my bedroom, eventually ate dinner.... you know, the usual."
Jo gave a small chuckle, trying not to exceed Mrs. Coach's noise limit. Of course she didn't have to worry about being bothered by an older brother. Jo's only sibling was a sister named Dianne who was two years younger, so the only thing she had to worry about was the occasional disappearance of her favorite articles of clothing.
Ellie and Jo had been best friends since their first year at Pileforth Academy. They first met in Mrs. Bunsen's science class. The students had been seated in alphabetical order, and the two girls wound up sitting right next to each other. Jo, who was never good at science, had difficulty with the questions that were assigned in class, but Ellie was right there, willing to help. It was their shared love for reading, vivid imaginations, and casual daydreaming that ensured Ellie and Jo's lasting friendship. Both girls always achieved high grades in all of their classes. Jo's grades always seemed to be a percent or two higher than Ellie's (except in science), but Ellie didn't mind, and was always proud of her best friend's accomplishments.
The school bus finally began to slow its speed as it passed through a wide rod iron gate. Beyond the gate was a long, narrow driveway which lead to a small seventeenth century stone castle.
The castle was originally owned by the Coville family, but the last of their blood line had died out in the late 1950's. In 1961 the castle went up for auction, and was purchased by Charles Pileforth II, who's wife had always dreamed of starting a private all girls school where only the best and brightest would attend.
The castle had gone through many transformations over the decades, and was now looking and feeling more like a school than anything else. The entrance hall was covered with team photos of the various clubs, sports and activities from every single year since the school had been established. The rest of the corridors were filled with thin steel, burgundy lockers, one for each girl. Ellie never found the decor of Pileforth to be very appealing, and was thankful that she was one of the lucky few who lived close enough to be bused to the school, unlike the foreign students who had to live in the damp, musty dorm rooms for ten months.
The bus finally came to a complete stop in front of the large stone archway, and the squeaky doors swung open. Each of the girls carefully stepped off of the bus, and made their way to their first class. Ellie and Jo's first class of the day was English. The mundane ritual of attending another day at school had begun. Ellie swore that each day would be exactly the same as the last if it wasn't for the different homework assignments they got every night.
The school day dragged on, and Ellie was very thankful when the final bell of the day rang enthusiastically. The bus ride home was even more dull than the journey to school since there wasn't any significant events that occurred in the classes.