Chapter 1 : Prologue
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Author's Note: Everything you recognize belongs to Jo.
Around the middle of November, just before dinner, a gray owl flew into the Hufflepuff common room and landed on the arm of an occupied sofa. On the sofa, surrounded by several volumes of books and parchment, sat a young girl. For several moments she paid no heed to the owl. And then, as the creature moved forward to nip at her fingers, she snapped her head in its direction, her expression fierce.
"Easy," she said in a clipping tone. Then, with surprising calm, she untied the letter attached to its leg. "I don't plan on replying," she told the bird, glancing at it meaningfully. Bowing its head slightly, the owl took flight, disappearing out the window.
Turning her attention to the letter, the girl sighed. She knew that had her mother known magic, she would have received a howler instead of a letter. Not that the letters were much better. They were always a reminder that she had done something wrong. She turned the envelope over and stared at her mother's practiced calligraphy.
Then, with a lack of proper patience, she tucked her finger into the side of the seal, ripping it open. A folded sheet of paper, the sort of paper that was common place in the muggle world, floated out of the envelope, sliding into the girl's lap.
I miss you, dear. Why haven't you written back? Is everything alright?
I know that this year is very difficult for you. You mentioned studying for final exams this summer. What were they called, again? It was a reptile name of some sort, I remember. I hope you aren't studying too much. You should be having fun too.
I hope this year you do something different. I really hoped that you would become a prefect. Or at least, that you would finally join a team. I know your school has a sport. You should join.
Also, I hope that you are taking proper care of your belongings. Every year, when you come to visit, I notice that your clothes look disheveled. You know, dear, when I was your age, I kept my skirts and tops properly folded. Please, learn to put your things away appropriately.
Christmas is rapidly approaching. I cannot wait to see you in December. I know that you, your brother, father, and I will have a wonderful time. We miss you very much. And hope to hear about your adventures and studies soon. With love,
Closing her eyes for a moment, the girl tried to shrug off her irritation. It was typical for her mother to deliver backhanded compliments. This didn't mean that her mother didn't love her. The two were close and their love was mutual.
But her mother, despite her love for Ophelia, often pointed out the girl's short comings. And seldom appreciated her attributes. Often, Ophelia's intelligence, determination, and kindness were ignored. Instead, her mother would only discuss her daughter's untidy closet, stubbornness, and lack of social experience.
Ophelia was not unpopular. She was, in her own right, well known. Perhaps the Gryffindors did not know about her and perhaps the Ravenclaws did not care about her. But in her own house, amongst her own year, she was respected and liked. So what if she wasn't a prefect or on the Quidditch team? She was a fairly bright girl with, as Professor Flitwick had put it, "a lot of promise."
She knew what she wanted to do in life. She wanted options. She had already arranged for plans after Hogwarts. While she was a witch, she had been raised in the muggle world. She had attended a muggle school and, even though she attended Hogwarts, over the summers she took several courses. After Hogwarts, she would attend University. She would major in accounting and after receiving her degree, she would decide if she would want to severe ties with the wizarding world or if she would want to remove herself from the muggle world.
Because to Ophelia, it was all or nothing. And this was another thing her mother fussed over. "Why", the older woman would ask often, "can't you find a middle ground?"
And Ophelia would simply ignore the question. She had no answer. There was no reason to be this way, to be such an extremist.
But she was. And this was exactly how, at that precious moment, Ophelia realized how much she immensely disliked her mother.
Which, as some would say, was the reason behind, well, everything.