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An Apology to Azaleas by Pretty Purple Pelican
Chapter 1 : An Apology to Azaleas
 
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My name is Hedda Scamander, I am nine years old, and I am exceptionally intelligent for my age. I hope you don't my telling you, but if I'm not the one to do it, I can guarantee that someone else in my family will do the honors. My older brother, Rolf, is the proudest of me by far. He's not technically my brother, you know, since we don't have the same mother, but we don't really see the difference.

His mother divorced our father when he was sixteen, and I was born only two years after that so he is a great deal older than me. Still, like most of the adults I know, he treats me as an equal, which is probably better for him because I still pinch when I have the need. Just because I know better doesn't mean that I've grown out of my violence streak. How else am I going to get anything done around here?

I hope that counts as an introduction, because I don't really feel like speaking about my hobbies or the fact that I lost my final baby tooth last Tuesday and no one said 'boo' about it. That tends to be the norm since Rolf moved out of the house; my mother ran off with some Ministry official (though I was told that she was simply 'taking an extended vacation in Maui'), and my father spends all his days cooped up with his saliva specimens and an ancient typewriter. He writes pieces on the weird parts of animals, like what their hair can be used for or, as previously mentioned, the intricacies of their spit. I guess he makes a lot of money selling them to magizoology journals, but I wish I could've lucked out and had a travel-writer for a father. At least then I wouldn't be bored all the time.

Anyway, he's a writer, and my Papa Newt was a writer, and Rolf's going to be a writer as soon as he finds a job that doesn't involve a mop, and I guess they want me to be a writer. That's the only conclusion I can draw from the fact that my punishment for my antics this weekend is to write a narrative apology. That's what this is, by the way.

So, I guess to start, I'll just say:

Rolf, I'm sorry that I ruined your weekend, even though you brought another girl into the house and were going to ignore me completely if I didn't do something about it.

Luna, I'm sorry that I made you feel unwelcome in our home and called your dried lizard eye headband repulsive, even though it is.

And Dad, I'm really, really, really sorry about the azaleas.


"&"&"&"


Hedda awoke to her father throwing up her curtains and exclaiming, "Wake up, sleepy head! It's past ten o'clock!"

The nine-year old grumbled and tried to hide her face underneath the pillow. She heard him cross the room, and, before she knew it, he was tickling her toes violently. "Stop it!" she whined, retreating her precious feet towards her stomach. "I finished all my studying for the next three days yesterday. There's nothing you could possibly want me to do!"

"How about say hello to your brother?" tempted Alvin Scamander, not even bothering to hide his grin.

It was as if someone had lit a fire beneath Hedda's sheets; the girl threw herself out of bed and ran down the hallway, hollering at the top of her lungs, "Why didn't you wake me up sooner? Rolf! ROLF!"

She came to a dead halt in her brother's doorway, gaping at the figure standing there. "Who are you and what are you doing in my brother's bedroom?"

The young woman turned to face her with a pleasant smile and friendliness in her big blue eyes, but Hedda was not deceived. Here she was, a woman to ruin the one weekend that she had with her brother every three months. She almost gagged in disgust when the intruder spoke, "Oh, hello. I'm Luna. Your brother has a wonderful collection of dust on his ceiling."

Hedda's mouth fell open. Not only was this Luna barging into their lives, but she was clearly quite simple. Hedda opened her mouth to tell this bizarre strange off when two arms laced around her waist, and she found herself lifted into the air.

"How's my favorite genius?" said Rolf, hugging her tightly to him. When no response came, he set her down, confused. "What's the matter? Manticore got your tongue?"

"Don't be silly. A manticore could never survive here," commented Luna, her eyes lighting up at Rolf in a way that made Hedda squirm.

She turned her back on Luna, hands on her hips, and glared up at her brother. "Who is this?" she demanded.

"I told her my name already," said Luna, looking back up at the clearly fascinating ceiling dust.

"No one asked you," snapped Hedda.

"Woah!" interjected Rolf, striding over to Luna and taking her hand. "What's the matter with you? Can't you see that she's a guest here?"

Hedda glowered at their interlocked hands for a moment, her shrewd mind calculating all of the facts very quickly. "You've always written about your girlfriends before," she said. "This is the first time you've brought one here."

"She's very well-spoken, isn't she?" asked Luna, with gentle admiration. "How old are you?"

"Nine," said Hedda curtly, waiting for Luna's surprised reaction.

"Oh, that's nice," responded Luna, squeezing Rolf's hand. "I remember when I was nine."

There was an awkward pause before Hedda asked, "Yes? What exactly do you remember?"

"Nothing in particular," said Luna, seeming confused as to why Hedda needed more facts. "I just remember when I was nine."

Hedda opened her mouth, presumably to say something quite rude, but Rolf cut her off immediately. "I brought you a present from Diagon Alley," he said, diving into his suitcase and pulling out a small wrapped parcel. "You can go ahead and open it, if you like."

She narrowed her eyes at her brother but still couldn't resist taking his peace offering. When she carefully tore the brown, flimsy paper off, a decent sized book title Magically Musical Muggles was revealed. She concealed a smile of delight; it really was a peace offering then, some kind of entreaty to her to keep her mouth shut and not offend this unwanted house guest. "Thank you," she said finally, though she was sure Rolf understood her intention to be 'Well played'.

Yes, this would do for now, but if things started going too far, no book in the world was going to stop Hedda Scamander.

"&"&"&"


Only a few hours later, Hedda was sprawled out on the couch reading about the intricacies of Beethoven's 9th Symphony when she heard the shower upstairs turn on. She cocked her head, listening to the running water with a mixture of confusion and suspicion. It wasn't like Rolf to take showers in the early evening; he had always been first thing in the morning or not at all.

Shutting her book eagerly, she made her way up the stairs. This must mean that Rolf's new girlfriend was taking a moment to clean herself up before dinner, leaving some much needed alone time for her and Rolf. She had been dying to tell him about the new training techniques she'd been working on with Frankfurt, their pet Kneazle.

She was nearly bursting with excitement when she pushed open his bedroom door. To her dismay, it was deserted. There was no sound at all except for the shower in the bathroom and the light breeze blowing in through the open window. She hurried to the sill and peered outside. Maybe Rolf had gotten sick of Luna and had tried to make a getaway, leaving his family to pick up the pieces?

But the only one in the yard was her father, setting up a table in front of his precious azalea bush. She pulled her head back in through the window and was just about to shout out her brother's name when she heard voices coming from the bathroom. No, she thought, panicked and angry. They can't actually be in the shower together. That's revolting.

Sure enough, though, closer inspection proved that Rolf was indeed bathing with that vile woman. Fury surged through Hedda's young blood at the thought of this seductress playing her tricks in her very home. Without warning, two startled screams came from the bathroom. "Oh, it's too hot!" cried Luna. "Turn it off!"

Knowing that she was the cause, Hedda sprinted out the door, trying to hide her grin. Despite her grand intelligence, she had only had magic pop out of her three other times in her short lifetime. It filled her with glee to know that she was powerful enough to cause this intruder pain.

Yes, it was time for Luna to leave. Hedda would make certain of that.

"&"&"&


Later that evening, after Luna and Rolf had recovered from their harrowing plumbing "malfunction", the family gathered in the backyard for a nice welcome home dinner. Though the table was set and the food ready to be served, Hedda was nowhere to be found.
"I bought her a new book," said Rolf, chuckling nervously. "She's probably buried in it somewhere around the house."

Hedda surprised a laugh at this comment, knowing that her brother was worried and that he certainly had a right to be. In fact, she had already joined the family, even if it wasn't in the way they had intended.

She was crouched in a nearby bush, holding tight to Frankfurt until the proper moment came. He was purring contentedly in her arms, all the while watching the table with frightening intensity. Hedda had made sure that he had seen her place a large amount of catnip over the chicken that her father had roasted. She had no qualms about ruining their meal; she didn't even like chicken anyway, and Frankfurt could never resist that amount of his special herb.

She watched as the dish was passed around the table, feeling a tinge of annoyance that they hadn't looked harder to find her. The catnip would have blended right in with the mint that her father had scattered all over the chicken, and she knew they were all too polite to take a bite until everyone had been served.

Finally, the dish was passed to Luna. As she started to scoop some of the meat onto her plate, Hedda threw Frankfurt forward, knowing that he would take care of the rest. No one had expected a flying animal to come tearing out of the bushes, least of all Luna, and so within moments the dinner was in an uproar.

The serving dish splattered all over Luna's face and dress, causing Frankfurt to go into a complete frenzy, trying to get a the catnip. As Rolf leaped up to help his girlfriend, the table toppled over, crushing a nearby plant. Hedda flew into a fit of giggles as she watched her father helplessly try to detach Frankfurt from Luna's person, all the while trying to mop up the mess from the chicken.

Suddenly, as quickly as the hubbub had started, it ceased and all eyes turned to Hedda's hiding place. It was then that she took a moment to notice that the table hadn't destroyed just any bush, but the azaleas that her father spent his only free hour a day tending to. Before she knew it, her two family members were standing over her, hands on their hips.

She looked up at them, knowing the jig was up, and tried to make herself look as innocent as possible. "Welcome home, Rolf," she said meekly.

"Young lady," growled her father. "You have some serious explaining to do."




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