Chapter 1: The Last Thing I Need


My bedroom was one of those rooms where anyone could walk in and feel right at home.

You know what I mean: simple but sophisticated furniture, pretty wallpaper, and that whole overall cozy feeling.

If I had had a sibling, we probably would have fought over it (Doesn't everyone want a round room in a tower?), but I didn't, so my parents let me have it without even needing to beg.

The window looking out into the front yard featured a comfy window seat complete with pillows and a homemade blanket, and the walls were hung with seven framed pictures.

Seven large versions of the cover art on each Harry Potter book, linked together with fake gold chains.

It doesn't sound like it, but the whole Luna-Lovegood-inspired display made the pale blue walls of my room even homier. Sort of like Ravenclaw tower…

"Susan? We have something to tell you, honey," my mum (British terms are prettier than American words) called up the stairs.

I leaned over the banister. "What?"

"Could you come downstairs?"

"We're not moving, are we?"

"Please get down here first."

"Oh, Merlin," I mumbled. "We're moving."

"No, no, nothing like that," my dad boomed. The first thing people usually think when they see my dad is "big" and "friendly". Personally, I think he's Hagrid's Muggle equivalent. He kissed me on the forehead and headed out the door whistling cheerfully, his briefcase swinging.

I sat down and poured myself some orange juice. "Well?"

My mum pulled up a chair next to me. "Your great aunt called this morning, and-"

Spwoosh.

I choked on my orange juice and accidentally sprayed some all over the table.

The last time my great aunt called, I was tortured through a month of ballet lessons, which she had insisted would make me be "more dignified and ladylike."

Ladylike, my arse. All the other girls in the class were about five years younger than me and the teacher was too much like Fleur Delacour for my taste.

"Your great aunt called," she repeated, giving me the evil-mother-glare-of-death, "and apparently she sprained her ankle."

"What a pity."

"She's staying with us for a few months while she recuperates."

I stood up. "What?"

"Sit down, Susan," she said tiredly. "It's only a few months."

Easy for you to say, I thought. You're not the one who's used as a bossy old lady's punching bag/doll/torture victim/personal servant.

In the words of the great Rupert Grint: bloody hell.


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