Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or anything else that may be referenced in this chapter.
Chapter 1: Friday the Thirtieth
Eleven-year-old Rachel Belby awoke with a start as her alarm clock buzzed into life. Lifting her head from her pillow, Rachel squinted in the direction of her beside table, straining her eyes in a rather fruitless effort to see through the fuzzy blur of colour that was her natural vision as she fumbled groggily along the table for both the button that would silence her alarm clock and her glasses.
Her alarm clock fell silent abruptly as Rachel found the button and pressed down, switching it off. Sighing inwardly with relief that the noise was gone, Rachel continued to search along her beside table for her glasses, narrowing her eyes further in an attempt to catch a tell-tale glimpse of the wire frames amongst the blur, and remember roughly whereabouts she had placed them on the beside table the night before, after she had turned out her light.
Rachel fumbled across a large black blur that felt like the face of a book. Halfway across it, her fingers closed over something cool, thin and wire-like with a slightly bent piece of plastic covering one end. Recognising the shape, Rachel picked up her glasses and slid them on to her nose, sitting up properly and looking around her bedroom as the world came into focus.
Sunlight streamed into the room from her left, through the bedroom's window; though it was slightly patchy thanks to the simply enormous tree that stood before the window, facing the street outside. Light bronze-coloured curtains framed the window, pulled open to allow for the light summer breeze. Rachel's brown owl, Artemisia- who had been a present from her parents to celebrate her eleventh birthday and receiving her Hogwarts letter-, slept in her cage atop a small round wooden table painted bronze in the corner of the room, to the left of the window; a wooden wardrobe with drawers painted bronze like Artemisia's table stood directly opposite Rachel's bronze-painted-framed double bed, to the right of her bedroom door; two wooden bedside tables painted the same bronze colour as the wardrobe bookended her bed covered with light blue bedclothes; and a bookshelf of the same wooden material and colour as her bedside tables against the wall directly opposite her bedroom window. Her plain wooden desk stood a little way to the right of the bookshelf; a corkboard with a Weird Sisters calendar and her Hogwarts letter pinned to its front hung above it. Her bedroom walls were painted royal blue and Rachel had stuck an old Ravenclaw scarf of her Mother's rather lopsidedly to the wall above her corkboard with an unnecessary amount of Spello-tape when she was seven.
Rachel's gaze passed from the scarf down to her Weird Sisters calendar. A picture of the band sunning themselves on a tropical looking beach somewhere announced the month to be August, and the date, according to the rows of large, black crosses marking the passing of the month, was Friday the thirtieth.
Friday the thirtieth…
"Today's the day!" Rachel squealed, leaping out of bed, stumbling and hopping around in circles to regain her balance as her leg got caught in the bedclothes. Artemisia awoke with an indignant hoot, and surveyed Rachel beadily as the girl recovered her balance, beaming excitedly.
"What are you doing in there?" the curious, slightly amused sounding shout of Rachel's older brother, Marcus, echoed through her bedroom door from the landing outside.
"Today's Diagon Alley day!" Rachel shouted back, running across her bedroom to feed Artemisia and make sure she had enough clean water and food in her tray.
Marcus laughed. "I wouldn't get too excited," he shouted, his voice slightly fainter as though he was walking away. "You never know, Ollivander might've sold out!"
"Yeah right!" Rachel rolled her eyes, turning her head as she slid a full tray of food into Artemisia's cage and poking her tongue out in the direction of her bedroom door on principle as Marcus's footsteps sounded quickly and heavily down the staircase, as though he was running. Once she had ensured that her owl had enough clean water for the day, Rachel crossed to her wardrobe, wincing slightly as she pulled open the doors and caught sight of herself in the narrow mirror on the inside of the door. Her short brown hair, normally rather flat and hanging to just past her jaw, stuck up at all angles in a tangle of knots courtesy of sleep; her face was unusually pale and her brown eyes were slightly red and tired looking behind her square glasses. Turning away from the mirror, Rachel pulled a change of clothes from her wardrobe and drawers and left her bedroom for the bathroom across the landing, passing Marcus' bedroom door, which was on the wall adjacent to Rachel's, and her parents' bedroom, which was on the wall opposite Marcus', with its en suite bathroom as she did so.
She emerged from the bathroom some fifteen minutes later, turned to her right and raced down the stairs to the kitchen in search of breakfast, her stomach growling. On her way down, Rachel passed several Muggle-style oil paintings of her ancestors that lined the staircase, all of with the same blue and bronze stripped background, emblazoned with the Ravenclaw Crest.
The Belby family had been in Ravenclaw for as long as most of the magical community could remember. Indeed, no one in the family had been sorted outside of Ravenclaw in two hundred and fifty years- the last person to do so was one Dorothy Belby, who had been sorted into Gryffindor in 1741, but no one in the family really liked to talk about her. The Belbys' were a pure-blooded family, though blood-status was not something that really mattered to the family, unlike their Ravenclaw pride. The Belby family was as proud of their Ravenclaw heritage as the Malfoy family were of their Slytherin and pure-blooded heritage, and the Weasleys of their Gryffindor; and though in pubic they did not make much of a show of their pride, like the Weasleys, with the exception of the well known connexion between the family and the house; in private, they were rather similar to the Malfoys; something that was evidenced by the inside of Rachel's family's four bedroom, detached home in the Muggle area of Heathgate, Hampstead on the outskirts of London. Situated on the end of their particular street, Gloriana Street- a part of a four cross of roads lined with both detached and semi-detached houses, with a Muggle church at the end of the longest of the roads- the Belby family home looked identical on the outside (save for the curtains) to that of their Muggle neighbour, Edith Dawson; a nosy and rather spiteful elderly woman with grey hair and a constantly pinched expression. On the inside, however, it was quite a different story. Every room in the house, save for the bathrooms- which were white- was painted some shade of blue, and much of the furniture, including the sofas and armchairs in the sitting room and the curtains in all the rooms, were made of a bronze coloured cloth. Several moving pictures of her parents from their schooldays hung on the walls, too, one or both of them wearing some form of Ravenclaw memorabilia in a great many.
"Good morning," Rachel's mother Susanne, a short witch with long, curly blonde hair, bright green eyes and round glasses, smiled at her daughter as Rachel entered the dining room and sat down opposite Marcus and beside her father, Flavius Belby III, a tall wizard with brown eyes and neat, straight brown hair who sat at the head of the table, reading the Daily Prophet as was his custom at breakfast.
"Morning." Rachel replied with a smile, pulling a dish of pancakes towards her.
"Merlin, Rachel, save some for the rest of us." Marcus raised his eyebrows across the table at her as she filled her plate with pancakes. A year older than his sister, Marcus had inherited their father's tall build as Rachel had their mother's short one. Both siblings had their father's brown hair and brown eyes, too, and though they both had their mother's slightly pointed bone structure, Marcus had no need for glasses and his hair was full and curly, like their mothers; while Rachel's was reminiscent of their father's, flat and straight.
"I could say the same to you," Rachel raised her eyebrows back at him, gesturing to the pile of bacon on her brother's plate.
Marcus smirked back, gesturing to the family's House-Elf, Ceesy, as she set a fresh dish of bacon on the table. "Oh, would you look at that- more bacon."
"That's enough, you two," their mother admonished, frowning at them both, her frown turning into a smile as she turned to Ceesy. "Thank you Ceesy, I'll let you know when to clear."
"Yes Mistress," Ceesy curtseyed and Disapparated with a loud CRACK!
"Load of rubbish in the paper today," Rachel's father announced, closing the newspaper and turning his attention to the plate of bacon and eggs in front of him. "Only thing that's even remotely newsworthy is the news that they still don't know who broke into Gringotts on the thirty-first of July; and even then, the only new thing they think is that it was likely the work of a dark wizard or witch- and if you ask me a six-year-old could have figured out as much. Good article for you in there, though, Rachel," he said, pushing the newspaper towards her. "Page one hundred and twenty-four - Fudge's made another speech defending his decision to continue the practise of informing the Muggle Prime Minister of any major crisis in the magical community."
"Well, of course he has to tell the Muggle Prime Minister," Rachel said, rolling her eyes as she pulled the newspaper towards her. "It's only fair that the Muggles are looked out for- they're people too."
"That going in your speech when you're in the job?" Her father asked with a grin.
"Possibly." Rachel grinned back, finding the article and pouring over it as she ate her pancakes.
Since the day she and Marcus had gone to the Ministry of Magic with their father when she was nine, Rachel had been fascinated with politics and harboured a desire to be Minister for Magic herself one day. Her mother had a bout of Scrofungulus at the time, and while she was being treated in St Mungo's, Rachel and Marcus had gone to the Ministry with their father for the day so that they could all go straight to the hospital to visit her when he finished work, and, if the treatment was successful- which it proved to be- take her home. While they had been at the Ministry, Rachel and Marcus's father had been rather at a loss as to what do with them- he worked as a senior official of the British seats of the International Confederation of Wizards in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, something that involved a lot of paperwork, speeches and was none too interesting to a nine-year-old girl and a ten-year-old boy. Thus, Flavius had told his secretary, a red-haired witch called Lillian Riley- who had been a Ravenclaw herself in her Hogwarts days- to give Marcus and Rachel a long and detailed tour of the Ministry so that he could do the work he need to.
Marcus had been rather bored throughout the tour- his interest had only been spiked when they had visited the Beast Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures; but the more Lillian talked about the different departments, how they all worked together and how they changed under different Ministers of Magic, the more fascinated Rachel had become, and the more appealing the idea of being Minister of Magic became, and then was, to her. Her then-newfound ambition had taken a step forwards when they had bumped into Cornelius Fudge on his way back from a meeting in very good spirits; so good, in fact, that he had let them have a quick peek into his office, and the five second glimpse of the large and luxurious room with its indigo coloured walls, large, highly polished mahogany desk, comfortable looking dark dragon hide swivel chair, roaring fireplace framed with a white mantelpiece, large bookshelf filled with heavy tomes, neatly organised pigeonhole of interdepartmental memos and general atmosphere of elegance and authority had been enough to firmly imbed Rachel's desire to hold office into her mind, hopes and dreams. From that day on, Rachel strived to learn everything she could about the role of Minister for Magic, those who had held the position, how they had come to do so and the way in which they had run the government. Such was the extent of her research and ambition to hold office that she named her owl Artemisia, after the first ever female Minister of Magic Artemisia Lufkin- even though she was a Hufflepuff, not a Ravenclaw- and had devised a twelve step plan that would theoretically get her the job of Minister for Magic; a plan that she had written down very carefully indeed on the first page of the brown leather bound notebook she received from her brother for her birthday, and intended to keep as a diary and planner of sorts.
"Right, we're meeting the Boots and the Turpins for lunch in the Leaky Cauldron at half-past twelve, so we should probably get a move on if we want to get some of the shopping done," Susanne said as the family finished breakfast, as well as, in Rachel's case, reading Fudge's speech. "Ceesy- come and clear, please!"
"Aren't the Boots coming with us?" Marcus asked, sounding disappointed as Ceesy Apparated into the room and started to clear the dining table. The Boot family lived across the street; they had two sons: Oliver, who was Marcus's age, and Terry, who was Rachel's. Being the only two Wizarding families they knew of in the area, the two families had always been on friendly terms. Marcus, Rachel, Oliver and Terry had all been tutored together in English comprehension, writing and mathematics by Oliver and Terry's mother Sally Boot, who had taught Arithmancy for several years at Hogwarts before Oliver was born. Their parents had decided against sending any of them to any Muggle school beyond pre-school as a precaution, following Oliver and Marcus's getting into a fight with a Muggle boy on their first day of year one and turning the boy's hair blue, and made his skin break out in large, painful boils with accidental magic. Though they themselves did not remember the boys' name, the Muggle children in the area had been so traumatised by the sight of the incident that they all shunned the Boot and Belby children- with the slight exception of one girl around Rachel and Terry's age, who lived on Jude street; the street that faced the church in the cross of roads. All the two knew of the girl was that she lived nearby, had thick, bushy brown hair, brown eyes and rather big front teeth, and spent a lot of time alone reading in the local library. The extent of their interactions with the girl was small- she had helped them find a book on basic English literature in the library once; and though her bossy, know-it-all attitude had been rather annoying, she had been very helpful indeed- that is, until Terry and Rachel had thanked her and introduced themselves. The girl's eyes had gone very wide indeed, and though both Rachel and Terry agreed later that for a moment, the girl looked very much as though she wanted to say something, a second later she had turned and hurried from the library, her arms filled with books, and had avoided them ever since.
"No- they're going to visit Sally." Susanne said to Marcus; Sally had recently been hospitalised with a particularly nasty case of Dragon Pox. "They're hoping for some good news."
"Hopefully they'll get it… are you on call today?" Flavius asked his wife as they all got up from the table.
"When I'm not in the office I'm always on call, my dear," Susanne replied with a wryly smile. "Sometimes I think I'm the only Obliviator in the entire Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes."
"Well, you are the best- in my eyes, at least," Flavius said, slipping his arm around her waist and kissing her cheek softly, to a chorus of disgusted protests from their children.
"Oh, go and get ready to leave, you two," Susanne rolled her eyes.
"Alright- just don't start snogging." Marcus said.
"Yeah," Rachel agreed, "it's gross."
Susanne rolled her eyes again. "We're leaving in fifteen minutes!" she called after her children as they left the dining room and ran up the stairs.
Despite her disgust at her parents display of affection, Rachel couldn't help but feel a fresh wave of excitement as she got ready to leave for Diagon Alley, and remembered that today was the day she was going to get her wand. She had been waiting for her turn ever since Marcus got his wand the previous year, before his first year at Hogwarts; the entirety of the day ahead of her, in fact, made up the second step of her plan to become Minister for Magic. The plan had stalled somewhat after she had fulfilled step one- getting her Hogwarts Letter- on her eleventh birthday in February, but, at last, after months of waiting; it could finally advance.
A/N: Please review! :)