Disclaimer: I do not own any of J.K. Rowling's characters or settings by any stretch of the imagination.
Note: It is essential that you read the predecessor to this story, "Let Music Be My Magic" before you try and read this. It tells about Olivia's beginnings at Hogwarts. I will now welcome you to Olivia Price's second year at The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I hope you enjoy her journey as much as I have, and continue to stay with me as I tell her story. Believe me, once I get through with Olivia, you'll probably understand Harry, and Dumbledore, a lot better. It's all going to fit in, I promise. Big hugs go to Legalien and WanderingAnariel, as always. Thank you, my friends. You are my stars.
August had always seemed like the most miserable month of the year to Olivia, and while her summer had been fun, it was definitely true today. It was August 24th, and she and her friend, Millie, were sitting in the back yard of Olivia's guardian's house, Mr. Williams.
They were swaying back and forth on a brown wooden swing, both with their noses buried in books. Every once in a while, they would come across a funny passage or thought-provoking quote, and read it aloud to each other. But for the past hour, Olivia's book had been lying in her lap as she stared off into the distance.
Millie looked up from her book and frowned at her friend. "Olivia, are you there?" There was no reaction. "Olivia, yoo hoo! Remember me, Millie?"
The voice finally cracked through Olivia's stupor, and she started and looked up, saying, "What? Huh? Did you say something, Millie?"
"Yes. I said 'welcome to earth, stranger.'" Olivia laughed a little and smiled at her friend in apology.
"I'm sorry, Millie, I didn't mean to get lost on you there."
Millie leaned forward, her brown hair swinging across her face. "Anything wrong, Livie? Anything I can do to help?"
There was no answer for a few minutes as Olivia thought. It had been a good summer. She and Millie had become best friends, almost like sisters as they shared a room together, ate together, and spent all their time together. During the first week of Millie's visit, she had started calling Olivia Livie, and Olivia loved having the nickname. Mr. Williams wasn't often at home because of his business travels, so an industrious housekeeper by the name of Begonia Fidgetworth had been keeping an eye on them all summer. It had been quiet and peaceful, and both girls had been given a chance to recover from the busy school year that they had had, and prepare themselves for the next term that was fast approaching.
It was hard to decide who had changed the most during the summer, Millie or Olivia. For the first time in her entire life, Millie was completely free of her family, who had been ugly to her and prejudiced against anyone who wasn't a pureblood wizard. While the year before she had looked too large for her age and overweight, over the summer she and Olivia had been running around all over the parks of the village, becoming brown and healthy. Almost all of Millie's excess weight was gone, and there were roses in her cheeks from the sun's kisses. Her dull and listless brown hair had thickened and become shiny, and she had stopped growing. Olivia often thought that Millie was going to be beautiful one day.
Olivia's red hair had lightened under the sun and become frizzy from the moisture in the air. Still, it looked like a pale fire that prettily framed her face, and her enormous green eyes sparkled with its old fierce light. Olivia could never appear beautiful, but she could and did appear cute, with an inner strength shining through the strong angles of her face and in the dimple of her smile. Mr. Williams had bought his ward a piano to play, so she practiced every day while Millie napped, read, or sat quietly beside her friend and listened. Olivia's voice was now completely under control, and while she still remained quieter than the average twelve-year-old, her laughter and songs often rang through the air with its musical grace. She found that she far preferred singing to talking, and still allowed her face to say much of what she was thinking.
Olivia had also grown several inches, and had almost caught up with Millie, which was a relief because Olivia had always been so small. The two girls looked healthy, happy, and well-rested, which was a good thing, especially for Olivia.
Every once in a while, Olivia would speculate on how lucky she was to be alive. She still lived in some fear that Grindelwauld, the dark wizard that had been imprisoned in Azkaban on her testimony, would one day find her again, if he hadn't been killed. During his time at Hogwarts as Professor Everett Emelius, he had attacked Olivia out of hatred, and eventually revealed himself to be an evil wizard. During his trial, he had effectively destroyed an entire courtroom and captured all of the witches and wizards in it, and then attempted to kill Olivia's beloved friend, the Hogwarts school nurse, Madame Galen. Olivia, who had been disarmed and injured, was the only one left, and couldn't allow her friend to die. She had only one thing to do. She threw a phoenix feather at her former professor and screamed an incantation, which just happened to be the first word that she had ever spoken audibly.
The feather ignited, and a wild fire flew up and burned both Olivia and Grindelwauld. Burned, scarred, and perhaps dying, he had managed to send a wicked curse at Olivia and Disapparate into thin air at the same time.
Olivia had been horribly injured by the fire, the curse, and her own exhaustion. Near death, her favorite teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore had put her into a trancelike coma, and whisked her off to St. Mungo's Hospital. After a few days there, she had been good as new, and freed from the curse of muteness that had followed her all her life after her first encounter with Grindelwauld.
The Ministry of Magic was still searching for Emelius/Grindelwauld, and Olivia wished them luck. It would not be easy to find a man so steeped in Dark Arts. Many hoped that he had died from his wounds, but she didn't think that they would be so lucky. He was still out there, which meant that the world wasn't safe by any stretch of the imagination.
"Livie! You did it again! I just asked you what was wrong. Are you going to tell me or do I have to guess?"
Olivia shook her head, shaking away all of the thoughts and memories that had assailed her. "I'm sorry, Millie, I don't mean to ignore you at all. It's just not a happy day for me. One year ago today, both of my parents died."
Millie gasped. "Oh, Olivia, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to hurt you. Are you all right? What can I do to help?"
The tears started to rain down her face as Olivia couldn't answer, remembering the dark day of the year before. She leaned her head onto her best friend's shoulder, and cried. Millie stroked her shoulders and whispered softly until Olivia cried herself to sleep.
Olivia woke up a few hours later, still sitting on the swing with her head cushioned on Millie's shoulder. Millie was the one staring off into the distance now, watching the sun set.
"Millie! How long have I been asleep? Why didn't you wake me? Your poor shoulder must be so sore."
Wrinkling her nose at Olivia, Millie just laughed and said, "You snore, you know."
Olivia started to grin, and then laughed heartily. Millie joined in, and their laughter rang out as the sun went to its bed. "That's what I needed," Olivia gasped. "Thank you so much, Millie."
"Oh, shut up," Millie scoffed. "You gave me a home for the summer away from my family; I'm your slave. Now, why don't we go in for dinner? I bet Old Fidget has something nice fixed. Wasn't Mr. Williams supposed to be home this evening?"
"Gosh, I forgot! Come on, Millie, we don't want to be late! Fidget will positively murder us!"
The two girls grabbed each others hands as they raced up the hill towards the flat. Mrs. Fidgetworth, or "Old Fidget," was waiting at the door for them, her mouth a straight line as she frowned. "Where have you girls been? Dinner's on the table; run and wash yourselves! Hurry up, now!"
She acted strict and looked worse, but Olivia and Millie both knew that underneath the no-nonsense exterior, Mrs. Fidgetworth was a kind and gentle woman. The girls rushed to do her bidding as they washed their hands and retied hair ribbons in the bathroom. They excited, looking like little ladies rather than the wild children that they had appeared to be at the door, and Mrs. Fidgetworth sniffed her approval. They sat down to the table, and after saying grace, began to eat the roast chicken, rice, buttered rolls, and garlic corn that the housekeeper had prepared. Olivia looked up at Mrs. Fidgetworth as she came into the room carrying the girls' dinner glasses of milk. "Mrs. Fidgetworth, is Uncle Peter going to be coming in tonight from his trip?" Mr. Williams had requested that Olivia call him Uncle Peter, even though he was only a distant cousin. The name made them seem more like family, and while he was away most of the time, they had become much more affectionate with one another during the little time that they had. Uncle Peter would often call on the telephone when he was away, and when he was home, he loved to listen to Olivia play the piano after supper, while he read the newspaper and Millie knitted.
"No, Olivia, I'm afraid he isn't. He telephoned while you two were still out in the garden; he was unavoidably delayed. He said that he would call again later on this evening to speak to you."
Olivia nodded. She found that she missed Uncle Peter when he was gone, and she had been looking forward to his return.
Mrs. Fidgetworth saw the disappointment on her charge's face, and shook her head. Stupid man! She thought to herself. Olivia's only going to be a child for a few more years; she's already much more mature than many adults that I know. He can save his business until after she is grown and gone, he'll have plenty of time for it then. He needs to enjoy the time he has with her now. When he's home, she's off at school, and when she's home, he's traveling for work. It's a shame, a crying shame.
Shrugging these thoughts away, she said in a voice that was much more cheerful than her wont, "Which of you would like some chocolate pudding for desert? There's whipped cream for the top, and cherries too."
Both girls squealed in delight, and ate their dessert with relish. After helping Mrs. Fidgetworth clean up (which she tried and failed to discourage), the phone rang. It was Mr. Williams for Olivia, and they had a short, but cheerful conversation. He undoubtedly knew what this day was, but he seemed to be trying to divert her from the fact. It succeeded somewhat, and Olivia hung the receiver back on its holder slightly happier than she had been.
The girls went into the drawing room where Olivia's piano stood, as well as a few armchairs and some brightly shining lamps. She sat down at the bench, and began to play. Hymns, marches, waltzes, and moody sonatas flowed one after another while Millie quietly worked on a knitted sweater to wear at school, in the Ravenclaw colors of blue and bronze. Olivia didn't know that her friend was worried; would Hogwarts give her money out of its needy students fund to buy some new robes and the required garments for the school uniform, now that she had lost so much weight? She was knitting stockings and sweaters as fast as she could, so that she wouldn't have to ask for as much money. She sighed. If only her father didn't drink away every Knut that they had!
Then, a tap at the window caused both girls to turn around. To their delight, not one but two owls were flapping their wings and waiting for the girls to let them in. Millie hurried over, and threw open the catch just in time to keep the two owls from breaking the glass in their enthusiasm.
One was a gray hoot owl, and Olivia recognized it as the Goshawk family owl, which was named Pan after one of Mattie's favorite books. Mattie and Mary had both written regularly all summer, and had even sent Millie a package of Chocolate Frogs on her birthday. The other owl was a large, brown barn owl, and they both knew that it was one of the Hogwarts owls.
Both winged messengers dropped one letter each into Olivia and Millie's laps, and then flew back out the window. Ripping open the letters that were postmarked as being from Hogwarts first, the girls found the same letter inside. Olivia felt a thrill as she realized that the letter had been signed by Professor Dumbledore. It listed him as the Deputy Headmaster, which was a surprise. He must have been named as such over the summer; last year the deputy headmaster had been a Professor Gilliam, the Ancient Runes professor, who appeared to be as ancient as the runes. The letter read:
Dear Miss Price,
Please note that the new school year will begin on September the first. The Hogwarts Express will leave from King's Cross station, platform nine and three-quarters, at eleven o'clock in the morning. You are respectfully requested to be prompt, and prepared with the objects that are named on the enclosed book list.
Hoping that you are well,
Professor Albus Dumbledore
There was something else in each girl's letter that made them both very happy. A postscript was at the bottom of Olivia's letter, which was written in Professor Dumbledore's thin, loopy writing.
P.S. Fawkes has missed you. I think that he will be very glad to see you return. Perhaps you can convince him that it is time to start a new life. I certainly cannot.
Millie's letter contained money for her to buy her school supplies, and there was enough there to buy everything she needed: books, clothing, ink and parchment. Her face lit up with happiness as she ran to girls' shared bedroom to put the Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts safely away in her trunk.
The book lists didn't contain anything extraordinary, merely just the upgrades of all the books that they had used last year. However, a trip to Diagon Alley would be necessary. Olivia turned to Millie as she returned to the drawing room. "I'll ask Uncle Peter to take us to London a day early, and have him drop us off outside Diagon Alley. We can do our shopping, go to Gringotts, and stay at the Leaky Cauldron. Surely someone can help us get to King's Cross the next day to meet the Express, or I can pay to have a taxi take us there. Is that all right with you?"
Millie shrugged her shoulders. "It's fine with me. It would be fun to stay at the Leaky Cauldron and do our shopping by ourselves. I'm looking forward to getting back to school, aren't you?"
Olivia nodded. "Yes, very much. Won't it be lovely to be second years? I'm also looking forward to seeing everyone again. I've missed Bertie, Anita, Viola, Mattie and Mary. I've also missed the classes, and Madame Galen. It hasn't been easy to keep from practicing magic this summer, either. I want to perform charms on things, and then I remember that I can't."
"Me, too. A Freezing Charm would be especially appreciated during these hot days. Speaking of charms, when you get back to school, Livie, what will you do? I mean, are you going to keep to nonverbal spells, or are you going to switch over to verbal ones? It'll be easy enough for you in our sixth year, because you've already become proficient at nonverbal spells. It wouldn't be a problem for you to switch, even if it was just for now."
Pondering the answer to Millie's question, Olivia sighed and finally answered. "I've thought about that all summer, Millie, and I think I'm going to stick with nonverbal spells. Yes, they're harder right now when I'm young, but being able to do magic without speaking gives you a huge advantage against enemies, or if you've gotten a Silencing Charm placed on you. I don't know if Professor Dumbledore will continue to help me with private lesson or not, now that I've gotten my voice. Still, even if my teachers make me learn the spells verbally in class, I can work on them nonverbally on my own if I have to."
Millie nodded. "Sounds smart to me. I know when we're all moaning and complaining in sixth year about how hard it is to perform nonverbal spells, you'll be sitting back and laughing behind your hands."
"I'd like to think that I'm not that rude….well, maybe I would giggle. A tiny bit, anyway." Millie laughed. Then they both picked up their letters from Mattie and Mary. Olivia's told her that they would be going to Diagon Alley on August 31st to do their shopping as well, and would meet Olivia and Millie there if they liked.
"Excellent!" Millie cried. "They can help us get to King's Cross. That works out beautifully. Well, I suppose I'm going to go to bed now. Are you coming, Livie?"
"I'll be along in a minute. I think I'd like to do a little bit more work on the piano before I go to sleep. If I start to bother you at all, come out and tell me. I don't mind in the least."
Millie nodded. "Good-night then, dear." She left the room, and Olivia read her letters again. She did miss Hogwarts, and her friends, but on this particular night, she missed her parents most of all.
She stepped over to the piano, and began the gloomy "Moonlight Sonata" that her father had always loved. Millie listened from her bed as her friend expressed her sorrow in the best way that she could; speaking was still new and foreign to Olivia, but she could always express herself through her music.
Each note stood and glistened in the air like a shining tear on the cheek of time, and when Olivia finished the piece, she felt cleansed and whole. Her parents were dead, but she, their daughter, was not. Her life was there to be lived, and she was going to do it, especially that she now had so many true friends to share her experiences and hopes and dreams with. Last year, music had been her main focus; it had kept her sane when her world kept turning upside down. Music was still Olivia's heartbeat, but this year, she was going to be working on the friendships that still waited to be developed, like a composition that just needed a few more notes of harmony added to make it truly unique and beautiful.