A/N: Thank you very much for reading! Reviews are much appreciated. And thanks to Kewii for her incredible comments... I realize that it takes a few chapters for Susan to get to Hogwarts, but hey, it's the same for Harry, isn't it? --Scarlet Crystal
Mum went out to get it. “Go take a bath,” she said.
“Okay!” I said, happy to do whatever she wanted me to do. I loved Mum so much. I went upstairs, skipping almost. That was when I heard it.
I nearly fell back down the stairs. Something was hooting outside! I went to the hall window. A gasp escaped me as I took in the sight of the window. Outside was a large brown owl, sitting on Mum’s flowerbed and looking right at me. I was immediately curious as to why there was a large beaked creature at our window. I approached it, not minding too much that it was there. I liked animals, and so did Mum. Besides, I had seen several other owls flying around our neighborhood before, even though they weren’t supposed to live in our area.
It had sharp eyes, and was staring at me severely. I moved eagerly but carefully towards it, not too afraid because there was a window between us. Soon, I was standing right before it. It looked me in the eye and hooted, softly this time. I looked back at it. Feeling amazed, I pressed my pale face against the glass, my palms and nose making little clouds on its surface. Suddenly, the owl stuck out its leg. I jerked myself back, away from the window, and grabbed at the door handle to my room, which was close behind my on my right. It pecked the window impatiently with its beak. Wondering why it was behaving so strangely, I let go of the handle and moved slowly back towards the creature.
Finally, I had the sense to look at its outstretched leg. Clutched in its talons was a parchment envelope. All I could see on it was a dark red seal of sorts with a strange H encrusted into it. Suddenly, a weird urge came over me. I wanted to open that window. I knew I shouldn’t. Only Misty was allowed in the house; other animals were restricted to the backyard. However, I couldn’t overpower the strong feeling of desire to wrench it open. I stared at the window, contemplating, when suddenly it flew open, as if it had waited long enough and finally opened itself like it had read my mind. I let out a shriek. The owl flew into the hall and into my room, just as if windows normally opened themselves just like that.
“Susan? Is everything all right?” Mum said from downstairs. Acting on a whim, I called out to her.
“Come quick!” I said, fully knowing that I would get in trouble for letting an animal in the house. But an owl! It was in my room and I wanted to get a closer look. I dashed into my room and saw it sitting, appearing to be bored, on top of my dresser. Soon, Mum was beside me. I beckoned for her to come into my room and shut the door behind her as soon as she had obeyed.
“What is it?” she said, looking at me, confused. I pointed soundlessly at the dresser. She followed my finger with her eyes. The owl looked at her and hooted.
I braced myself for a gasp or a reprimand, but none came. She only walked over to the dresser and reached for the envelope. I was so surprised, I stood rooted to the spot, unable to decide on how to react. The owl took off and began to fly in lazy circles around my room, looking as though it was waiting for Mum to open the envelope. She looked at it, and turned it over. Reading the address, she looked at me quickly, and seemed to beam with pride momentarily. Then, the owl let out an annoyed hoot and pulled her focus back to it.
“Let him out,” she said. I blinked. “Do it, love. Before he gets fidgety.” I mutely strode over to the door to the hall and let the bird out. He flew out the door and out the window, and on to some faraway destination. I went back to my room, but Mum was leaving already through the door, so we nearly collided. Her face was unreadable.
“What is that?” I asked, meaning the envelope. Mum seemed to consider for a moment.
“I’ll tell you after dinner,” she said finally, and left me standing there, nearly bursting with curiosity.
Dad came home, looking sober, and I was glad to see him. Sort of. He was tired and hungry, so Mum put dinner on the table surprisingly quickly and we ate. She looked uncomfortable, so I didn’t feel right. Dad didn’t seem to notice. I felt it then. He didn’t know his own family. He chatted away about Business and Progress and I tuned out, pondering the envelope. I was dying to know what it meant. I was patient, though, and decided not to bring it up until after dinner.
We didn’t have dessert, so I just helped Mum clear the plates away as Dad sat back to relax for a moment. We were putting away the milk when I finally couldn’t wait any longer. “Mum?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. “Can you tell me about the envelope now?” I looked at her out of the corner of my eye. She shut the refrigerator, then turned to me.
“I need to… talk with your father first, but when I finish, I promise I will tell you all about it,” she said, looking sincere. I nodded, wondering if she was putting it off or if she really needed to talk to him. Still, I had faith in her. Mum didn’t break promises. She gave me a quick hug and went back into the kitchen.
So I took Misty up to my room and pulled out a book. It had a smooth, green cover, and smelled like new pages. I opened it up and began to read, rubbing Misty’s neck and taking in the words. It took me a few minutes to realize that something was wrong.
Dad was starting to shout. I soon found out that he was bellowing so loudly that I could hear part of what he was saying. It was probably one of the worst of their fights. I tired to ignore it and go on reading, but I couldn’t. Dad’s voice carried easily up the stairs and into my room. “She’s not going anywhere!” he exclaimed. “I won’t let you cart her off to some madhouse! You and your freak community can stay away from her!” There was a short pause. Mum must have spoken, because Dad started up again: “I don’t care if she’s your daughter, too! She’ll be raised like a normal girl in my house. Here!”
I felt awful. They were fighting about me… Was it the envelope? I was pulled from my thoughts by a sound I didn’t hear much. Mum was yelling back. I didn’t have to go downstairs to hear her, either. She seemed really mad. Furious, in fact.
“Susan is my daughter! Every woman in my family for centuries has gone to this school. It’s a tradition, and whether you like it or not she’s going!” Mum said, hatred in her voice.
“I don’t care about your stupid family! I never liked them all that much from the start. I had a hunch that they were out of wack, and look! I was right!” Dad seemed almost triumphant. My insides churned, waiting for Mum’s response.
“If you don’t want her to go, you’ll just have to leave, because she’s going,” Mum said, this time just loud enough for me to hear. All was silent for a minute. Then Dad spoke, his voice venomous, saying, “Maybe… maybe I will.” Moments later, I heard the front door slam. The sound of a car being started sounded outside my window. Slowly, it became quieter and quieter until I could no longer hear the engine.
I was frozen, mid-word, mid-pet, for a long time. I hardly dared to breathe. Dad was gone. It didn’t really sink in until Mum trudged into my room, looking sadder than I had ever seen her before. The envelope was clutched in her right hand. For a moment, I only felt upset, but then all my curiosity came rushing back to me, and my gaze fixed on the envelope. That strange seal marked with an H looked so official. I could only wonder what it meant.
“Do you still want to talk about the letter?” Mum asked me. I didn’t have any doubt.
“Please, Mum,” I said, trying not to sound too eager. She sighed and looked at me. She seemed suddenly heavy with the night’s events. However, she made an effort to shake it off, and composed herself. I waited, giving her a moment. I could feel my heart pounding. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so eager anymore. Whatever that strange envelope was had made Mum upset and caused Dad to leave the house. I didn’t miss him, but the months of sadness welled up inside me, and I wanted to cry. Before I could tell Mum I had changed my mind and didn’t want it anymore, she turned over the envelope and handed it to me. I looked down at it, half expecting it to explode at any moment.
“Open it,” she said quietly. Mum’s voice was just louder than a whisper. I felt torn. What did this all mean? It was too much at once. Still, I knew that I would have to open it eventually, so I fingered the seal and slowly worked the envelope open. Wondering if I would be chastised for being so suspicious, I lifted the flap of parchment and reached inside. I quickly looked up at Mum, and caught her eye. I could tell she was sending all of her strength to me. If only I’d known how much change that envelope would bring.