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Chapter 1: The Letter That Never Came
The sun was shining in through the window, making the dust particles in the air dance and shimmer in the light, casting an orange glow on the wall opposite. Outside was peaceful, perfectly peaceful; dew lay on the grass and the birds were slowly beginning to quiet their dawn chorus. The chill of early morning hung in the air, slowly giving way to the warmth of the coming day.
At a roughly hewn table in the kitchen sat a girl.
It was her birthday today; her eyes were bright with expectation. Presents, a birthday dinner, a cake, her parents spending the day with her, and the letter…
Her parents came out two hours later, two hours where Arabella had sat in the kitchen, idly writing in the condensation on the window—Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin— and waiting anxiously for them to wake up. They smiled at her, wished her happy birthday, her mother beginning to cook breakfast.
“How does it feel to be eleven, Bella?” her father asked, smiling.
She grinned at him in response. “I hope my letter comes today.”
Her father turned around, exchanging glances with her mother. Not a word was spoken.
Arabella didn’t notice; her eyes were once again glued to the window, watching the dew dry on the glass, leaving the smudges of the house names behind. She pictured herself sitting on the stool in the Great Hall, the Sorting Hat on her head. Which name would it shout?
The morning owls came in, a copy of the Daily Prophet for her father, the latest issue of Transfiguration Today for her mother. Nothing for her.
But it was okay, owls didn’t always come at the same time. Maybe the Hogwarts owls were later than the Daily Prophet and Transfiguration Today owls. The ones her parents got from the Ministry often didn’t come until ten or even later.
Morning stretched into afternoon and still she did not move, her bright eyes beginning to cloud with doubt, the silence of the house punctuated by the hushed whispers of her parents in the next room.
But still she waited, sure in the knowledge that her owl was just delayed, maybe Professor Dippet had forgotten, or maybe there were a lot of owls going out today, and he was waiting for one of them to come back before he could send it to her.
Afternoon dragged into night, and still she sat at the table, and still the owl didn’t come. Her parents were telling her to go to bed, but she didn’t want to. No, she would wait for the owl. Maybe something had happened to it, maybe it had gotten lost and injured.
The sun shone through the window, casting an orange glow on the wall opposite. She could hear the fading sound of the dawn chorus, see the dew on the grass as she looked through the names still smudged on the glass. Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin.
A single tear slid down her cheek as she traced the words with a shaking finger.
The letter would never come.