Chapter 1 : Life is Good!
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"Is that it?" Mrs. Adams asked her daughter Rachel. Katherine Adams and her husband were Muggles, and they were still adapting to the whole new world that their daughter Rachel had opened up to them since the day Hogwarts Deputy Headmistress McGonagall had visited their house, explaining to them that Rachel was a witch. Floo transportation was definitely one of those new things that she didn't understand.
Rachel nodded, "That'll have been the Ministry of Magic connecting our fireplace to the floo network. Alara said it's a lot easier now that You-Know-Who has fallen and all the war trials are done. It used to be really hard to get a connection to a Muggle house." Indeed, nearly everything was easier since little baby Harry Potter had defeated You-Know-Who the previous Halloween. Rachel, being Muggle-born, and only having just completed her first year at Hogwarts had only known the fear of You-Know-Who for a short time. Rachel's best friend and fellow Ravenclaw Alara Ayoni was what was known as a Pure Blood Traitor, and had known the fear for much longer.
Moments later in a flash of green Alara spun to a halt crouched down with her head between her knees inside the small fireplace. She tumbled out sideways onto the carpet in a flurry of ash.
"Sorry our fireplace isn't any bigger." Mrs. Adams said looking inside at the floo to see if there were anything visible from the magic. "We only use it for... well, fires oddly enough..."
Alara burst into a fit of giggles. "THAT WAS AWESOME! I've never traveled by floo powder curled up in a ball like that! I could barely see where I was going!"
Rachel burst into giggles with her as she brushed the dust and ash from Alara. "Too bad we can't take the floo network to Germany! We could roll the whole way there!"
"Yeah.....No." Alara shook her head, but still smiling broadly. "I've always seen planes up in the sky, I'm glad I actually get to ride in one. I've always wondered what it feels like to fly in a metal tube like that. Hi Mrs. Adams."
"Hello Alara," Mrs. Adams said as she continued to look in the fireplace. "Are your clothes coming next?
"No, I've got them here." She motioned to a small rucksack she was holding. "Mom put an extension charm on it. And I've got my Muggle Portpass in here too."
"You mean Passport." Rachel corrected her friend digging in to Alara's rucksack and pulling out several books before finding the burgundy booklet. "Wow! This looks like a real passport! How did you get it?"
Alara shrugged. "Muggle Liaison Office in the Ministry of Magic. Dad says they've got loads of fake documentation. It took really long to get my picture right though. The old wizard there didn't know how to work the camera."
The fireplace clicked again, and the floo connection was gone. Mrs. Adams looked slightly exasperated. "You couldn't leave your books at home? Alara, this is supposed to be a vacation!"
Alara looked sheepish. "Mr. Adams told my dad there'd be time to read."
"We're going to Germany to SEE it, not READ about it. And we're only going to be gone for eight days, outside of on the airplane we won't have that much time to read." Mrs. Adams shook her head as she grabbed the rucksack and peered into it. She had never seen anything like an extension charm in all her life. "How much did you bring?"
"Mum said too much?" Alara smiled hopefully. "But I've got this Mrs. Adams. Really." She started picking up her books from the floor.
Mrs. Adams shook her head as she gave the rucksack back to Alara. "Go. Upstairs you two. Rachel, grab one of your brother's old suitcases. I don't think luggage that's larger on the inside than it is on the outside will pass muster with airport security. That means you'll have to choose what to bring Alara, no extension charms allowed." She shook her head. The wizarding world was very strange, indeed. "Oh, I'm not cooking a mound of food the night before we leave, so as soon as Mr. Adams gets home we're all going out for fish and chips. We'll catch breakfast at Heathrow tomorrow morning. That all right by you Alara?"
"Yes, ma'am." Alara said politely as she grabbed her rucksack. She was very excited for the chance to live like a Muggle for a week, she was sure it was about to be a whole new adventure she'd never imagined before. She just hoped she wouldn't make too big of a fool of herself when handling Muggle money.
"Did you bring your wand?" Rachel asked excitedly as they began to climb the stairs to Rachel's bedroom.
"Yeah, I got your Owl last night. But why? We aren't allowed to do magic outside of Hogwarts, and last I checked, Germany was outside of Hogwarts."
"You don't have to use it, you just have to show it. It's like an entrance ticket, it shows that you're a witch." Rachel explained as she stopped at the hall closet and grabbed her brother's old suitcase.
They passed her older brother's bedroom. Rachel's brother was named Tristan and he was a Muggle too. From behind his closed door Alara could hear Tristan playing on his electric guitar. She didn't understand why a guitar needed electricity. Then again, she didn't understand electricity at all. "Shows that I'm a witch to who?"
They entered Rachel's small room and Rachel threw the suitcase in the corner where it landed with a thud, then she walked over to a small table and picked up a magical magazine. "You didn't read the latest issue of The Journals of William the Wandering Wizard, did you?"
William the Wandering Wizard was Alara's favorite author. He wrote biographies of ghosts everywhere and he was the world's foremost authority on them. She had learned more about magical history in reading his journals than she had in a whole year of listening to Professor Binns' History of Magic class at Hogwarts.
Alara shook her head. "No, it just arrived this morning. I didn't bring it along because Mum said pictures that move wouldn't be a good idea on a Muggle plane."
Rachel smiled and handed Alara her copy. "Read it and weep sister. Page 4."
Alara sat down on the bed and opened it to page four. "Appearance schedule... HE'S GOING TO BE IN HEIDELBURG WHEN WE ARE?" Alara couldn't believe what she read.
Tristan banged on the wall next to them. "Keep it down, will ya twerps?"
"Sorry!" Alara shouted back as she looked further at his appearance schedule. She couldn't believe it.
Rachel smiled as she sat down on the bed next to Alara. "He's going to be at Heidelburg Castle holding a signing for his new book, and three of the castle's ghosts are appearing with him. I pleaded with mum and dad, and they said that as long as we behave and don't constantly act like a couple of giggling twelve year olds, they'll let us go."
"Merlin..." Alara whispered, unable to believe what she was hearing. She would get to spend a week living just like a Muggle, seeing Germany, AND she was going to meet William the Wandering Wizard.
Rachel lay back on the bed, resting her hands behind her head. " Das Leben ist schön my
bestie. Das Leben ist schön." She smiled.
"Translation?" Alara asked.
"Life is good!" Rachel smiled. "I mean it is, isn't it? Last year at this time everything was so scary. I had no friends because all these weird things kept happening to me. I had just found out I was a witch, and I didn't know what that meant other than leaving my family to go away to school. Then there were all the stories about You-Know-Who targeting people like me... I was a mess when I got to Hogwarts! But now? You-Know-Who is gone, and not only am I going to go to Germany with my best friend ever, but I get to show her what it's like to be a Muggle and I get to meet a famous wizard while I'm there. Das Leben ist schön."
"Das Leben ist schön," Alara laid back on the bed and smiled too. "Hey, did you hear Professor Slughorn has retired?
"No way!!!" Rachel startled. "Awww man, I hope whoever replaces him is just as nice...."