Disclaimer: Don't own it, so don't sue me.
Note: Due to Rowling's developments in Deathly Hallows, my story was no longer canon. I don't really like writing AU, so I finally bit the bullet and revised my entire story. This has actually made "Let Music" a lot longer, adding something like five chapters. PM me to let me know what you think!
It was a dismal day, worthy of its purpose. Rain came down like a silver curtain from the sky, and not even a breath of wind could break its monotony and add voices and mystery to such a melancholy scene. A small group of people stood around two gravesites, while one tiny figure stood alone at the foot of the holes. The child held two red roses, and as the caskets were lowered into the wet ground, she tossed one into each yawning abyss. As people walked up one by one and shook her hand or offered her hugs, she stood unmovable and unchanging. She did not yield to the pressure of the caresses, and did not even seem to notice those around her. Her eyes remained focused on the graves. All of her hopes, her dreams, and her concentration were on the two muddy holes that held all that remained of her family-her beloved parents.
Unbeknownst to the mourners, another figure stood silently in the shadows. Unnoticed, he watched the little girl, and observed her actions and features. A small child, her delicate features were almost overpowered by her mass of ruddy red hair. Someone had obviously attempted to tame it by tying it about in a black satin ribbon, but the hair won the battle, partly in thanks to the moisture of the sopping day. Under her fringe of bangs, emerald eyes peeked soullessly out at the world and pale cheeks with a dimple hidden in the lines of her frown. She was small, but her watcher knew her to be eleven years of age and extremely intelligent. But there was something else about this child, something that only a few other people in the world knew about her. It remained hidden to most, and only those that could see what the world couldn't would know her secret.
As the mourners slowly trailed off, only one man remained at the graveside with the child. The watcher noticed that he seemed to be trying to persuade her to leave the cemetery, but no matter how vehemently he asked or pleaded, the girl only shook her head and remained where she was, as solid as a statue. Eventually, the man attempted to pick her up and forcibly carry her from the graves, but the girl began to noiselessly protest and beat her small fists against the man's chest. However, he took no more notice of her flailing arms than he would a mosquito, and he carried her away to his car.
The watcher stood where he was for a few more minutes while the black car slowly pulled away with its two occupants. Then muttering a few unintelligible words under his breath, he became visible.
For this watcher had not just been standing in the shadows. No, he was capable of making himself invisible. This man was Albus Dumbledore, and he was present at the funeral in order to make sure the little girl was all that his school required of its students. He had only needed a few moments of observation to ascertain that little Olivia Marie Price was indeed a witch.
However, this did present a problem to the teacher. This was his first pupil to invite to come to his school, and he did not wish to let the headmaster down. Beginning to stride back and forth, his navy robes and auburn beard and hair swaying from side to side, he pondered his problem. The problem was that Olivia Marie Price could not speak. She was completely mute, and had been since birth.
It is possible, the teacher surmised, that Madame Galen could heal her. She is perhaps the best nurse that Hogwarts has ever had…she's old enough to be the only nurse that Hogwarts has ever had. A brief smile crossed the young teacher's face, but seriousness soon returned. However, that is beside the point. Perhaps Miss Price will not wish to come to Hogwarts, which would make worrying unnecessary. Having never taken divination, I wouldn't profess to know about the future. However, something tells me that she will wish to come. Her guardian did not impress me favorably. She will need a home, and perhaps Hogwarts could give her that. I know it did me.
If anyone had been around to notice, they would have been astonished to see what the bizarre looking man did next. He took a step forward, gracefully turning on the spot, and disappeared completely in a swirl of his robes and a small flash of red light.
Olivia Marie Price sat upon the edge of her bed in her new home with her guardian. Though her face remained expressionless, her thoughts went flashing back and forth in her mind like lightning. Mummy and Daddy are gone…………my home is gone, and I shall never return…Mr. Williams is only my fourth cousin, I know he isn't happy to have me……I'm just a burden, an orphan that's underweight and speechless. I can bring no joy and laughter into his home, as an ordinary child could. I can have no hope of winning his heart. If Mummy were here, she'd tell me to trust in my music and let fate work on its own, but I can't. I can never play again, not without Mummy. I have no reason to anymore. The music is all about joy and happiness, a way to express myself without a voice. I have no joy anymore. I'm so cold, like a frozen child waiting to freeze in the wilderness………they say it's just like falling asleep, dying in the cold. Oh Mummy, Daddy, I miss you both so much………
A sound broke into her frozen reverie, a single note. The doorbell was ringing, almost courteously. She laughed sardonically at the thought that the doorbell respected her problems. Olivia hoped that they were there to just see Mr. Williams. She wished to see no one. However, her wish was not granted.
A knock sounded at her door, and Mr. Williams stuck his head in and peered at her. "Olivia, there's a man at the door. He wishes to speak to both of us. Do try and perk up some, won't you?" Without waiting for an answer of any kind, he opened the door wider in order for her to pass. Sighing inwardly, Olivia got to her feet and walked soundlessly by her guardian, more like a ghost than a child.
Her stoic face showed its first expression since the death of her parents when she beheld the visitor. A man in a strange navy cloak was sitting on her guardian's leather sofa, humming to himself while staring through his interlocked fingers. Although he did not make a sign of it, Professor Dumbledore noted the surprise on her face, and took pleasure in it. It meant that she was aware of all that went on, and simply chose not to show her emotions most of the time. It took a rare intelligent child to conceal such powerful emotions, but also a stubborn one. She would be interesting to teach.
"Miss Price, it is a pleasure to meet you," the tall teacher said, as he got to his feet and bowed solemnly to the little girl. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Albus Dumbledore, Professor Dumbledore of Hogwarts School. First, may I offer you my most ardent sympathy at the loss of your parents? I image that the loss is overwhelming." The girl's eyes brimmed with tears, but she nodded woodenly. "Secondly, I am here to offer you a place at my school, which I do hope you will accept."
Olivia did not quite know how to react. She could not ask the questions that she wished. Mummy and Daddy could always look into her eyes and face and know what she wanted, but how was this stranger to understand her? She decided to do her best with facial expressions. Putting a quizzical look on her face, she held her arms away from her in a questioning gesture. She needed to know more about the school before she accepted or rejected the offer.
"Ah, but I think you wish me to say more about my school and myself." Nodding her head violently, the girl suddenly ceased her exaggerated expression and seated herself primly on the opposite sofa's edge, her guardian sitting beside her, but on the opposite end of the couch. This Professor Dumbledore seemed to be quite astute; perhaps she wouldn't have to make motions in the air for him to understand her questions and comments.
"Hogwarts is not the full name for my school. It is actually Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Surprise exploded in the little girl's face, and Mr. Williams leapt to his feet.
"What, man! There are no such things as witches and wizards! You're just a lunatic, aren't you, trying to take innocent children away from their homes for some strange purpose? And Olivia's not like the rest of us, she's practically an invalid! How dare you insult us in this way, and on the day of our bereavement?"
"I'm afraid I must correct you, Mr. Williams, on several counts. Miss Price is by no means an invalid or unintelligent; rather, she is just not able to express everything in the same way that most of us can. I would never take innocent children away from their families; it is an honor and a privilege to attend Hogwarts. For many it becomes a home when no other one is available. Finally, there are such things as witches and wizards. I am a wizard myself, and you are standing in the presence of a witch, granted untrained, but probably a very fine one once she's completed her magical education. Let me prove it to you."
Turning to a vase of funerary flowers that stood on a nearby table, Dumbledore pulled a long wand out of his cloak. He nonchalantly flicked its tip at the flowers, and they suddenly became a flock of butterflies, circling the room. Dumbledore smiled inwardly when he saw a sudden rush of joy spasm its way across Olivia's face. The butterflies soared toward a nearby open window, and vanished into the gloomy day, adding color to the air as they went.
Although Dumbledore could read expressions easily, he had no way of knowing the thoughts that were rushing through Olivia's mind. All of those awful mums and carnations, Mummy always loathed them. I hated it that people sent them. But this strange man could turn the things that made me sad into something that made me happy, if only for a moment. How could he know that I love butterflies so? Daddy always said that they reminded him of me. Could this Professor turn all of my vile things into objects of beauty and joy? Nay, even he cannot be such a marvelous magician as all that, to turn my frozen land into a place of spring.
Mr. Williams stood for a moment staring at the window and the empty vase. Professor Dumbledore sat back calmly in his seat, waiting politely for Mr. Williams to resume the conversation, as though nothing unusual had happened. Once the stunned guardian sat back down, albeit as far away from the two other occupants in the room as possible, Professor Dumbledore returned his attention to Olivia.
"Hogwarts is a boarding school, where our students can stay from September first until the start of summer vacation in late June. The school is placed in a marvelous old castle in the countryside. It is filled with secrets, and even I do not know all of them. There is a Great Hall where we have feasts, an enormous library filled to the brim with scrolls and books, and a myriad of classrooms where all of the wonders of magic can be unlocked. Did you never wonder at things you made happen, Olivia, when you were scared, frightened, or unbelievably happy? That was the magic, your magic awakening in you. At Hogwarts, we can teach you to harness these powers and how to use them for the good of others.
"You'll sleep in a dormitory with the other girls of your house, and attend classes with them, and spend your leisure time as you please. The classes are not easy, and sometimes they are dangerous, but I always thought that they were stimulating. I myself teach the subject of Charms, where you could learn to perform the spell that I just demonstrated. Should you choose to accept my offer, I can give you all the information you need, and help you prepare yourself for the school year."
Mr. Williams stood up and began to pace. Abruptly, he stopped and looked Dumbledore straight in the eye.
"You're not lying."
"Most certainly not."
"You want her. You want her at that school."
"The school wants the honor of teaching Miss Price. However, let me make one thing perfectly clear. No one is sent to Hogwarts-they choose. If you wished to put Miss Price into Hogwarts without her approval, we would be unable to take her. By the same token, if she wishes to go, you cannot stop her. This choice is completely her own. Are you financially capable of providing her with a sum of money each year in order to acquire her school supplies and needed wardrobe? If you are unable, the school has a fund for needy students that would be quite able to provide for her. However, there must be a need."
Olivia's guardian swallowed hard before answering. "To be perfectly honest, I was planning to send her away to school, anyway. My house really isn't a place for children; I have no one to watch out for her while I am at work or away on business trips. Yes, I am willing to provide for her financial needs. Her parents left a fund for that express purpose in any case. Olivia has full access to it, although her withdrawals would have to be approved by myself until she is of age."
Olivia tried hard not to mind that her cousin seemed positively relieved at the way this visit was going. All he had to do was dole out her money once a year, and she was out of his hair. His conscience would be clean. Of course, a witchcraft school was probably not what he originally had in mind, but she was merely grateful that it wasn't a school for the insane, for what other than a demon could make her mute in his eyes? At least, she was fairly certain that was how he saw her condition.
"Of course, Miss Price would have to leave Hogwarts during the summer vacation. She would have to either return here, or if invited, she could visit her schoolmates. I merely wish you to understand that that responsibility as her guardian still remains."
Mr. Williams nodded. "It's better than nothing. I can probably arrange for a governess of some sort to look after her during those months. It's not an insurmountable issue. Yes, I suppose I give Olivia permission to attend your school."
"Then I shall now appeal to Miss Price." The professor looked down his crooked nose at the quiet little girl, who appeared to be simply taking everything in. "It is entirely your choice, Olivia. We will abide by your wishes. What is your decision?"
Olivia swallowed hard. Not being able to speak, she had never placed too much confidence in what voices told her. Instead, she had always watched the face and body language to tell her what she needed to know about a person or situation. Albus Dumbledore portrayed nothing but kindness, and an unfathomable wisdom. She also realized with a start what his voice had said, but what hadn't sunk in until now. Hogwarts wanted her. Not just as someone with magic, but to also to give her a home. She turned and considered Mr. Williams. He didn't want her as a complication. For a brief moment, Olivia allowed the child within her to match her appearance-young and frail. She didn't want to be where she was unloved and unwanted. Perhaps at Hogwarts, she could belong.
Standing, she went over to the professor. His kind blue eyes twinkled merrily down at her as he awaited her answer. Olivia placed her small hand in his, and allowed a tiny smile to lift her lips, revealing her dimple, and nodded quickly. Yes.