With a sigh, sixteen-year old Agnes dropped the novel she had been reading. She assumed that her mother was going to scold her again for not unpacking her school things. It's not like I need to, she thought. Salem only ended a few weeks ago.
Salem Institute of Magic had been Agnes's school since she had been eleven. Agnes knew that she was lucky to be at Salem. Her mother had seriously considered home schooling Agnes but after Agnes had repeatedly lit the curtains on fire during her practice lessons, her mother finally made the choice. It had been a very difficult decision, though. Her mother, she knew, hated being alone while Agnes was gone. If my good-for-nothing father hadn't left her, I wouldn't have to worry about her.
Of course, Agnes knew nothing about her father. Her mother avoided any conversation about him, except to say that he was "a very kind and loving man". He can't have been very loving if he left you with me, she always thought.
True, her mother had never actually said that he had left her, but what other option was there?
Agnes opened her bedroom door and headed down the hallway. It had been her mother's over-protectiveness that was going to keep her in this house all summer. Away from her friends.
Timothy, her longtime crush and friend, had invited Agnes and Greta, Agnes's bubbly, beautiful best friend, to stay at his house for part of the summer. Of course, Agnes's mother had put a stop to that idea immediately, saying, "I know what young men are like at your age. Timothy may be a nice boy, but even nice boys have ulterior motives."
No amount of pleading or whining could change her mind. And so Agnes had been confined to their small apartment in Boston, while Greta was undoubtedly hooking up with Timothy. That's how it's always been, thought Agnes gloomily, entering the kitchen.
On the kitchen table was a slightly crinkled edition of the Toadstool Times, the daily newspaper for her region. As she walked around the table, she glanced at the headline. It read: Is their war ours, too?
Underneath the title was a picture of a man with a long, crooked nose and silvery hair and beard. Albus Dumbledore, read the caption.
Slightly intrigued, Agnes slipped into the chair to read the article. After the disturbing events that took place at the British school, Hogwarts, resulting in the death of headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, America must ask itself: Are we obligated to fight the war against You-Know-Who?
Agnes stopped for a moment. She had heard enough of You-Know-Who to know who they were talking about.
The answers of those interviewed were varied. "I don't care either way," remarked Jane Kelly, of Boston. "As long as it stays off my doorstep." On the other hand, some believe it is their duty, "I've lost family to it already," said Edgar Prewett, of Sudbury. "To fight for their memory would be an honor for me." But even the British themselves have their misgivings. The British Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, has assured the Times that he has everything under control. This may not, however, be the case, as Remus Lupin, friend of the late Dumbledore, seems to-
"Finally, Agnes!" exclaimed her mother, snatching up the newspaper. "I thought your room had swallowed you up."
Surprised, Agnes merely shook her head, as her mother continued speaking hurriedly, "I need you to pack your things. We're going to leave in less than an hour."
"Why?" asked Agnes suspiciously.
"Just do it," snapped her mother.
Not feeling up to an argument, Agnes returned to her room and began throwing things into her duffel bag.
"Mom, can you please tell me what we're doing?"
Agnes was feeling very anxious as she followed her mother outside. Normally, her mother wasn't impulsive at all. She led her life by carefully checking for every possible blunder before doing anything. "Look before you leap," she always said.
And now she was standing on the sidewalk, holding a bag, waving her right hand, and muttering, "Calling the bus."
Agnes knew that by this, her mom meant the Knight Bus. Sure enough, moments later, the triple-decker midnight blue bus appeared. "Train station, please," said her mother, as the bus help grabbed their bags. "The underwater train."
And, much to Agnes's surprise, there really was an underwater train. "Where are we going, mom?" asked Agnes for the umpteenth time.
"Europe," muttered her mother. "We're going to London."
She placed their bags at the foot of the two beds, which they were to use for the train ride. "It'll take all night to get there," said her mom, closing their door.
"But the Knight Bus moves so fast," said Agnes. "Why doesn't this?"
"It's underwater, traveling to another continent, Agnes," snapped her mother, slipping into her pajamas. "Figure it out."
Agnes sat on her bed, feeling slightly hurt. Her mother never usually snapped at her but she seemed to be doing a lot of it today. "Why are we going to London?"
"Stop asking questions," said her mother shortly. "I'm tired and am going to sleep."
Agnes watched her mother crawl into bed and smiled slightly.
As annoyingly overprotective as her mother could get, she really did love her. She didn't understand why a man wouldn't stay with her mother, who was so kind and beautiful in her own way. But her daughter looked nothing like her. Agnes was fairly tall, already more than a few inches taller than her mom, and had sandy colored hair that reached just past her shoulders. She also sported bright blue eyes, which were the only things she could say that her father had given her. And she had freckles, just like her mother.
Stupid spots, she thought, laying her head down on the musty smelling pillow.
And with that thought, she drifted off to sleep.
"Agnes, sweetheart, wake up."
It seemed like only moments later that her mother was shaking her. "We're in London. Time to get off the train."
Agnes nearly fell out of bed. She still felt exhausted. Her mother had already gotten dressed, but Agnes had fallen asleep in her jeans and so only needed to pick up her bag and head out the door.
Her mother rushed off the bus, only to raise her arm into the air. A purple blur came whizzing to a stop in front of them. "The Knight Bus is purple?" said Agnes, looking very confused.
"Yes," said her mother, hurriedly. "Now get on."
A pimply boy, who gave Agnes a interested look, threw their bags onto the bus. "Leaky Cauldron," Agnes's mom told him.
"What is going on?" asked Agnes, when they had sat down.
"Hush," snapped her mother.
Agnes rolled her eyes and sighed. As the bus whizzed through town, her mother finally said, "Agnes, do you know who Albus Dumbledore is-was?"
"I read about him," said Agnes, slowly. "But that's all."
Her mother took a deep breath. "Well, he was the only sure defense we had against You-Know-Who," continued her mother. "You know about him, right?"
After Agnes nodded, her mother continued. "No matter what the papers say," she said darkly. "If he were to take over Europe, he would soon turn to America. The Muggles would know everything. It would not be safe."
"So, we're going straight into where the problem is?" asked Agnes skeptically. "That's smart, mom."
"No, I have to-"
Her mother was cut off as the train came to a stop. Without finishing her explanation, she dragged her daughter off the train and into a grubby looking pub. She went to straight to the bar and began speaking to the bartender. "Do you have the latest edition of the Quibbler?" she asked.
The toothless bartender pulled a magazine out from underneath the counter and handed it to her mother. She paid the man and took the magazine over to a table. Agnes followed her mother, starting to feel really annoyed at the lack of information.
She watched as her mom shifted through the magazine. "Here he is," she said, finally, smiling to herself. "Their home address."
"Barney Lovegood," said her mom anxiously. "I need to find-"
She looked up and spotted a woman coming in the door. There was no mistaking the woman's blue hair. "Sharon!" cried Agnes's mother, leaping up. "Sharon!"
The woman looked up, her bright blue eyes looking around anxiously before she spotted Agnes's mother. "Did you call me?" she asked, looking curious before a look of recognition passed over her face. "I know you," she gasped.
"Yes," said Agnes's mother, nearly in tears as she threw herself on the woman in a hug. "You do." She pulled away. "And I need your help."
About a half an hour later, Agnes and her mother were boarded on the Knight Bus again.
"My niece, Luna, is staying at the same house as the Order," Sharon Vasa had told her mother. "I have a letter from her, in case my brother-in-law and I wanted to visit her. It's a note written by the Secret Keeper."
Agnes had watched her mom take the letter from the blue haired woman and read it. "I would recognize that handwriting anywhere," she whispered. "This will let us find the house?"
Sharon nodded and gave Agnes's mother a hug. "Good luck," she said.
Her mother smiled and said, "You've changed, Sharon."
"The war changed all of us," said the woman, with a bitter smile. "It was good to see you."
And Agnes was still aggravated by the fact that her mom had yet to tell her what was going on.
As the bus rattled to a stop again, Agnes threw her mother an annoyed look. Unfortunately, it was ineffective since her mom seemed too preoccupied in her own thoughts to care. They stepped off the bus in front of a row of dingy houses.
Agnes glanced at the paper in her mother's hands. The neat writing read: The Order of the Phoenix is located at 12 Grimmauld Place.
As her mother read it out loud, Agnes saw a door appear in front of her. It was black and had a silver knocker in the shape of a twisted serpent. The house itself looked grimy and disgusting, as if no one had ever bothered to try a spring cleaning.
Her mother stared at the door with an almost fearful expression. "Will you knock?" she whispered.
Giving her a strange look, Agnes reached forward and knocked softly on the door.
A few moments later, it opened to reveal a tall, thin boy sporting round glasses and extremely messy black hair.
Her mother stared at him in disbelief for a moment before throwing herself on him, saying, "James! James, they said you were dead!"
The boy looked extremely unnerved by the fact that a strange woman was crying into his shoulder. "Um, ma'am," he said, his voice deep. "I...I'm not James."
Agnes's mother let go of him and, immediately, her face flushed. "Of course not," she said, wiping her eyes. "You must be...Harry."
He gave a wary nod and stood there awkwardly for moment. He glanced at the girl at the woman's side. She was very pretty. And her eyes...her eyes seemed so familiar. He was about to say something when he heard a voice behind him. "Harry, who's at the-"
Remus Lupin stood behind him, his normally pale face turned completely white. He was staring at Agnes's mother, with the most shocked expression.
There was a moment's pause before he finally said, "Elle?"