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    Life continued as it usually did in the rather stuffy neighborhood, with practices with Harry coming less frequently now that they had to get ready for the upcoming school year. It was the second week in August, and Jane had promised Margie that they could go shopping together. Margie’s owl had just come back that morning, saying that they were headed to Diagon Alley the following day. Jane cleared this idea easily with her parents, for they were excited to meet her friends from Hogwarts. “Just make sure that you two include us in the fun!” her mom had joked. Now it was nearly dark out, and Jane couldn’t wait until the next day. In her letter, Margie had rambled on about Floo Powder, which Jane had never even heard of before.  There was something about traveling through a fireplace, an idea that came across as wildly absurd. That was how Margie’s family was getting to Diagon Alley, while Jane’s was taking the Leaky Cauldron entrance that had been shown to them by a Ministry employee the year before.

    Her mom was coming into her disorganized bedroom just now, and Jane turned around from her seat at the window. It was obvious that she had something to say, the way she was wringing her hands with her apron.

    “Jane?” her mom asked. Looking up at her mom, her eyes filled with concern, she awaited her announcement, which she was sure wouldn’t be a good one. “I… er… we have a bit of a problem.”

    “What sort of problem?”  Jane was looking a little worried herself by now, for she was nervous that this would affect her upcoming year at school.

    “Well, last year your school books and robes and the like were all pretty expensive, and we did just get that new car.” She was referring to the shiny new sports car that was currently sitting under a blanket in the driveway. “I know I should have thought this out more, and at an earlier time, but your wand and robes were both really expensive, and I know how much some of those things can cost…”

    Jane nearly laughed aloud at this, but she refrained particularly well upon looking at her mom’s hands. If this was the cause of her worry, she had nothing to be scared about. “Don’t worry about it, Mom. Remember all that money that we put into Gringotts last year? I didn’t take out any more than that first shopping trip, so I’ve still got around 20 galleons in there. And I haven’t grown that much, plus we got the robes a little big last time. So I don’t need new ones of those. I’ve just got a few more books I need to get, which I can get second hand, I’m sure, and a couple of things from the apothecary. And maybe a few more owl treats,” she said, looking over at Smudge. “So really, I won’t need all that much. In fact, I don’t think I’ll need any more than what I’ve already got,” she told her very relieved mother.  “Are you sure?” asked her mom, playing the part of the concerned parent very well. “I’m sure.”

    Her mother left after a brief discussion on departure time tomorrow, and Jane was left to ponder about the upcoming school year. Switching from her window seat to her twin-sized bed, she slumped against the pillows and picked up the picture next to her bed. It was the only magical picture that she owned, and it was a picture of Margie, Georgia, and her on the school brooms one sunny Saturday. The picture was taken by an exuberant fourth year, who had gladly given the picture to Jane when she asked. The  They were all waving from a point about 20 feet above the ground, and each wore a smile as big as the golden hoops standing 50 feet tall behind them. Looking at the picture now, it triggered a wave of nostalgia, a feeling that she wasn’t really used to. She had written to both Margie and Georgia, her other best friend, several times during the summer, but it wasn’t the same as seeing them in person. Both of them were raised with magic, as Margie’s mother and father were both muggleborn wizards, and Georgia was a pureblood.

    Rising to her feet, Jane set the picture back on her bedside table and switched off her light. As she sat in bed, she found herself reliving the ups and downs of last year, secretly hoping for some more to come her way soon. It would all start with the meeting of one friend, possibly two tomorrow, and she could feel a smile rising to her face even in the absence of company in her dark room.

    12 hours was a long time to wait.

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