Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter okay?! Stop rubbing it in!
A/N: Not gonna leave a long author's note because it's just the first chapter so there's not much to say. Just that this is not going to be R/Hr romance, so it's not listed under romance. Hope you like the story anyway! Happy reading! (ppsssst… review!)
Update: I'm currently in the process of updating the chapters of both this story and its sequel at the moment, so if you notice any weird errors or anything in the next few chapters, don't worry! They'll be fixed soon. :)
Chapter One: Another School?!
She's my life; my everything. I love her more than life itself. I'd die for her. She's the world to me. My daughter. My sweet, beautiful Aria. In two days she'll turn eleven years old – and I'm dreading it more than anything. Don't get me wrong. I love my daughter. It's not that I don't want her to grow up or anything (well, to a certain extent, I don't want her to grow up, but what parent really wants that for their kids?), and eleven isn't exactly old, but it's just that once she turns eleven, she's eligible for Hogwarts, and then she'll leave.
I don't want you to take this the wrong way. It isn't that I don't want her to learn magic, I do, I really do. And I know she can – she's no squib. I've seen vegetables disappear from meals; I'll look out the window to see the lawn perfectly mowed even though she hadn't gone outside all day; her room would suddenly be clean just seconds after I threatened to restrict her computer usage – so I know she can do it. Whether she does it consciously or not is a question, but that's not really important.
The real reason I don't want her to go to Hogwarts has nothing to do with any lack of confidence in her magical ability, because I hold no such opinion. I know she can do it – she'll probably be one of the best in her year. No, the real reason is that I don't want her to meet anyone who has any relation to a certain red-headed family by the name of Weasley. Not after what happened between Ron and me. Not after I ran away. I just don't want her to associate with them.
"Mum?" she asks, coming through the doorway with a squirming Crookshanks clutched tight to her chest. The big ginger cat is looking about ready to die from lack of air.
"Yes, dear?" I answer, gently prying her hands away from my poor cat's middle. He looks up at me with what appears to be a grateful look, but one can never tell with cats.
"Do you think Meghan and Jessica could sleep over tomorrow night?" she asks hopefully.
"Well…" I start off hesitantly. It's not that I don't like Meghan and Jessica – they're my daughter's best friends and all, but their mothers are extremely nosy people and they also happen to be Muggles.
"Please? My room's clean, I promise it is. Plus, it's my birthday in two days," she begs, looking up at me pleadingly with those blue eyes she inherited from her dad. I sigh in defeat. She had to play the birthday card.
"Sure, if it's okay with their mothers," I say, stroking her curly auburn hair back. She smiles.
"Thanks so much, Mum! You're the best!" She hugs me and runs up to her room to make a phone call, I'm sure. I smile fondly after her before setting Crookshanks down gently. He meows loudly and rubs against my legs, looking up at me pointedly. He's hungry.
After feeding Crookshanks I head to my study to get some over-due work done. Once there, I find, to my extreme annoyance, that my "thoughtful" daughter has once again closed the one and only window in the den. I've been trying to teach her for years to just leave it open, but she doesn't understand why, since I've never told her that owls deliver my post. Lucky for me she only comes in here about once a month.
I find three unopened envelopes sitting on my desk. One's from work – undoubtedly Carl, the man who works in the next ward over from mine at St. Mungo's. He's been trying to convince me to invite him over for dinner for years. I open that one first. It reads:
Dear Ms. Granger (he insists on calling me that in every single letter he writes, even though he calls me Hermione in person and absolutely refuses to call me Healer Granger like everyone else does),
I am once again writing in hopes that you will reconsider your choice. Hosting the "Healer of the Year" banquet at your home would not only be a good thing for your image, but could very possibly be the first step to a big promotion. Please reply a.s.a.p. with your response.
He never gives up. With a frown I take a fresh sheet of parchment and a quill out of a drawer.
Carl – I've told you a thousand times, NO! I don't want a hundred Healers charging around my house when my eleven-year-old is trying to sleep, so please stop bothering me! Also, please stop recommending me for these functions in hopes that I'll invite you over to dinner because I won't! And one more thing – if you really wanted me to host the "Healer of the Year" banquet, you would have put your thoughtful letter in my mailbox at work, or left it in my office. It is very unprofessional to owl me at home, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't do it again.
P.S. Do you seriously think I need a big promotion? I'm already Head of my own ward!!!
Satisfied, I put that in an envelope and scrawl Carl Hendersoughn across the front. Putting it aside, I look at the second envelope. This one is from my good friend from the office, Evalyn Jorgansin. We've been working together since I first applied for a job at St. Mungo's. I pull her letter out.
Just thought I'd drop a note to tell you I won't be at work Thursday or Friday this week. My mum's cousin's daughter's best friend's boyfriend's sister's best friend (or something like that) is getting married and she insisted I be there. It's apparently a big deal. Well whatever. How's Aria? You know, eventually you're going to have to tell her she's a witch, Hermione. It's kind of inevitable, don'tcha think? Well, I'm not going to tell you how to raise your daughter, because you've never told me how to raise mine (even if she's only three months old).
I should probably get going. I'll see you at work on Monday, but I thought I'd give you a heads up now about Thursday and Friday in case we didn't have a chance to talk this week (you know how St. Mungo's can be sometimes). Hope you had a wonderful weekend, and I hope Carl hasn't tried to con you into dinner again. Love you, Mina!
I smile. She knows me way too well. Not bothering to write a letter back, since I'll most likely just talk to her tomorrow at work, I turn to look at the third and final letter.
Slowly I flip it over. Oh, no. Not this. Anything but this. I stare at the Hogwarts crest, willing it to disappear. I turn it back over, looking at the name written neatly on the front.
Miss Aria Granger
It goes on to list our address, right down to the room she sleeps in. I sigh. Eva is right. Telling her is inevitable. With a deep breath I stand up and turn around. Standing in the doorway is my overly curious ten-year-old daughter, looking slightly confused.
"Why are you writing with a feather and an ink jar?" she asks, cocking her head. I can't help but smile at her. She looks so cute when she does that.
"Just because," I tell her. "But that's not important. I need to talk to you about something," I say, putting my arm around her shoulders and directing her toward the living room. She sits down on the couch and looks at me expectantly. I sit down beside her, playing with her Hogwarts letter distractedly.
"What's that?" she asks, pointing to the letter. I look down at it, then back up at her. She looks real curious and slightly confused.
"It's… it's for you," I say tentatively. She looks at it eagerly, and starts to reach for it. I hold it out of her reach. "Before I give it to you," I say, interrupting her protests, "I need to talk to you about a few things." She nods impatiently.
"Aria," I begin cautiously, "First off, I want to say that I've raised you to be an honest person whenever you can."
She cocks an eyebrow in an almost unbearable resemblance to her father, but she remains silent.
"And you don't lie very often, unless it's to protect your friends."
She gives me a confused look.
"And I want to say I'm sorry I've been keeping something from you all these years."
"Keeping something from me?" she questions, looking pointedly at the envelope.
"Aria, honey, you're a… well… you can do… you can do magic," I say hurriedly. She looks at me like I'm crazy and I sigh. This might take awhile.
"Magic? Like… card tricks?" she asks.
"No, like, well … like spells and things," I say.
She laughs. "Like Sabrina the Teenage Witch?" she jokes. I try hard not to scowl at her reference to the stupid American TV show.
"No, not like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. You can't do wandless magic."
"Wandless? So you have to use like, a wand?" Now she's starting to look at me like I'm a crazy person. Figures.
"Yes, a wand," I reply.
"Can you do magic?"
"Show me," she says eagerly. "Please show me?"
I smile at her. "Alright, come along," I say, heading back to the office where I keep my wand. I stand on tip-toe to reach the top of the many bookshelf. After scrabbling around with my fingers for a few seconds, I finally catch my fingertips around a long thin piece of wood. I manage to grab it, and I bring it down for her to see.
Aria looks at me skeptically. "That's a pretty cruddy-looking wand," she comments. I smile at her lovingly.
"It's also about twenty years old," I inform her. She looks at me with a mixture of awe and that same old skepticism – I assume she got that from me (the skepticism I mean).
"So are you going to show me some magic?" she asks. I nod.
"Let me close the curtains first," I say, pointing the wand at the window. The curtains close, seemingly of their own accord. She looks at me in disbelief. "Okay, do you want to see some magic now?" I joke. She gives me one of her 'are-you-crazy?' looks.
"That wasn't magic?" she asks. I just smile at her and point my wand at her favorite charm bracelet. She shrieks when it disappears and she looks as if she's going to cry.
"It's GONE!" she screeches, looking at her wrist in disbelief.
"It's still there," I assure her soothingly. "A simple invisibility charm."
She feels her wrist and looks up at me with a grin on her face. "That's so cool," she says. "But could you make it visible again? Meghan might think I didn't like it anymore if she doesn't see it on me." I smile and reverse the charm.
"So I can do that?" she asks eagerly.
"Eventually," I answer with a smile. Telling her is much easier than I had thought it would be.
"Wait till I tell Meghan and Jessica!" she exclaims, starting toward the hallway. I grab her arm, and she looks back in confusion.
"You can't tell them," I say gravely. She glares at me.
"Why not?" she asks indignantly. "They're my best friends!"
"Because, if you tell them, they'll tell their mothers, and then they'll tell everyone else, and the whole town will think we're freaks. Trust me. Just keep it to yourself. You'll have plenty of friends at school who you can talk to about magic," I say, handing her the letter. She looks at it in confusion.
"Open it," I encourage her. She does so and reads it over twice before looking up at me incredulously.
"I have to go to another school?!" she exclaims, looking mad now.
"Well, you can't exactly learn magic in science class, can you?" I inform her.
"I don't want to go," she says, crossing her arms stubbornly. "I'm not leaving my friends just to learn stupid magic at this dumb school."
One tiny little part of me is absolutely jumping with joy to hear this, but I know I can't let my own problems interfere with her education. Aria comes first. Which is why it's my turn to play the mum card. And Hogwarts is not stupid!
"Aria, you will go to Hogwarts, do you understand me? On September first, we will go to King's Cross, and you will get on the Hogwarts Express, and you will spend the next ten months at Hogwarts, learning magic, making friends, doing whatever else you feel like doing there, but you are going whether you like it or not. If you want to come home for Christmas, I'd love to have you here, but if you'd rather stay at school with your friends, I'd understand. Aria, I'm not doing this to be mean, I'm doing it because I love you, and your education is very important to me. Learning magic was the best thing that ever happened to me," I tell her. Angry tears well up in her eyes and she glares at me.
"I hate you," she whispers fiercely before wrenching her arm out of my hand and stomping up the stairs angrily. She slams her door, shaking practically the whole house.
I try not to let her words get to me. I know she's just upset that I'm making her go to a new school when she has so many good friends at her current one. But it hurts nonetheless. Oh well. I can't be a good mum and my daughter's best friend at the same time all the time. Life just doesn't work that way.
ariacutie04: i hate her meghan! i absolutely hate my mum!
cupcakecream38: wat did she do? u and ur mum never fight!
I glare at the computer screen. That isn't true! I fight with my mum plenty. Just because I don't tell my friends about it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I decide to ignore that last comment from my best friend and continue typing.
ariacutie04: she's making me go 2 boarding school! i'm SERIOUS!
cupcakecream38: ur NOT serious!
ariacutie04: i AM! megs this is AWFUL!
cupcakecream38: wen do u leave? and WHY?!
ariacutie04: i leave sept. 1st and i dunno why! she sed sumthin about 'my education is very important to her' and 'this is a good opportunity for me'. go figure
cupcakecream38: this SUCKS
ariacutie04: you and jess r still sleepin over 2morrow tho rite?
cupcakecream38: DUH! we wudn't miss ur b-day 4 the world
ariacutie04: gud, cuz i'm gonna miss you sooooo much wen i leave :'(
cupcakecream38: i g2g, aria, srry – ttyl, k? cya 2morrow!
ariacutie04: mkay – bye megs
cupcakecream38 appears to be offline and may not reply.
I stare at the computer screen awhile longer before closing the instant messaging window. Slowly I spin the chair around and face my bedroom. It hasn't changed much in all the years I'd been living in it. My bed isn't a crib anymore, and most of the baby toys and stuffed animals now live in the closet – with the exception of Dribbles, the only stuffed animal in the room. I got Dribbles as a fourth birthday present (hence the cheesy, babyish name). He's a handsome golden brown Great Horned Owl. I don't know why I'm so attached to him – I have a whole bunch of stuffed animals that I've had a lot longer than him. The only way I can explain it is that I feel like he's sort of magical – not the kind of magic I'm going to Hogwarts to learn, but a different kind of magic. He's like my best friend. I can tell him everything. And he never judges me.
Dribbles looks down at me from his perch on one of the curtain rods. I put him up there a few months ago, because I figured a real owl wouldn't really like sitting on a bed.
There are a lot of photographs in my room – most of them are of my mum and me. Some of them are of Crookshanks. There's a lot of me with Meghan and Jess too. I look around and sigh. Not one of them is my father though. I don't even know his name. Mum won't talk about him. She says I have his eyes and his smile, but her ears, nose, and chin. I'm not sure how she can figure that out because when I look in the mirror, I don't really see anyone there but me. Maybe that's because I don't know who else I can look like, other than Mum.
A 'ding' from my computer makes me swivel around again. Jess is online.
jessiegurl723: aria, tell me wat meg said isn't tru! ur not really goin to boarding skool r u?! u CANT LEAVE US!
ariacutie04: sry, jess, it's true :'( i don't have a choice. its so not fair!
jessiegurl723: not fair at all! we're gonna miss u sooo much! u cant go! me and megs r gonna hav to start jr. high w/o u :(
ariacutie04:( not my fault
jessiegurl723: wat a horrible birthday present from ur mum, huh?
ariacutie04: lol :)
jessiegurl723: sleepover/b-day partys still on rite?
ariacutie04: whose birthday is it again :s
jessiegurl723: haha very funni – im still not telling u wat i got u :P
ariacutie04: darn it
jessiegurl723: hehe aw i g2g mums calling me 4 lunch ttyl lylas
ariacute04: lylas too – ttyl
jessiegurl723 appears to be offline and may not reply
I log out of instant messenger and shut down the computer. I walk over to my window and take down Dribbles. Meghan and Jess don't know how much he really means to me. They don't really pay attention to him because he sits up on the window.
"Well, at least you can go to Hogwarts with me," I whisper to him, squeezing him tight. I sit down on my bed with him and just hug him to me. He's very comforting.
A reproachful meow from the foot of my bed makes me look toward my feet. Crookshanks is jealous of Dribbles. Silly cat. I set Dribbles on my pillow and pull the cat toward me. He purrs and rubs against my chin. I laugh and stroke his thick ginger fur lovingly. What would I do without Crookshanks?
A/N: Okay, it's not the longest, but it's not terribly short either! Please review! And don't worry if it seems kind of confusing. It'll all make sense in chapters to come. Cheers!