“Aberforth, the funeral is over.” The voice of his older brother brought Aberforth out of his reverie. Albus stood over him and Ariana, who were both still seated. The lack of a response, prompted him to continue, “I need to discuss something with you.” Albus shifted his gaze to Ariana, who was still clutching her brother’s hand tightly. “Ari, why don’t you go say hello to Aunt Caroline whilst I talk to Aberforth?” Aberforth hated the condescending tone that his brother adopted whenever he spoke to their sister.

     Ariana reluctantly let go of his hand and made her way over to their snobbish Aunt Caroline who was studying their mother’s casket as the final preparations were being made to bury it. After a couple moments silence, Albus moved to his brother’s right and took the seat that Ariana had previously occupied. “Aberforth, I have come to the conclusion –what with mum’s death- that I will cancel my traveling plans with Elphias and stay home to care for Ariana.” Albus said reluctantly, cringing at having to cancel his plans.

     Aberforth bristled at his brother’s statement and narrowed his eyes. “That won’t be necessary, Albus. I have already decided to drop out of school to care for Ari.” He bitterly added, “We both know how I consider her to be my sister, not a complication in my wondrous adventures”.

     Despite his hopes of raising some sort of annoyance out of his brother, Albus remained calm. “It is my duty to care for Ariana as much as it is your duty to finish school. You will be continuing into your sixth year in the fall, whether you find it necessary or not.” Aberforth glared silently at his brother but said no more; Albus’s decision was final.

     “It’s getting dark, we best get home.” Albus noted, standing up from the flimsy white chair. The two brothers walked over to their sister who looked incredibly frightened at their Aunt’s pinched, disapproving face. The sun was slowly making it’s decent upon the horizon, casting an orange hue over Albus’s face as he pulled his willing sister away from their aunt.

     No one spoke as the trio walked home, which wasn’t too far away. Albus was walking a couple steps in front of his younger siblings, who were walking side by side. Ariana shot Aberforth a questioning glance, but he refused to look her in the eyes. Once the rose bushes that sat in front of Bathilda Bagshot’s house came into view, Aberforth knew they would be almost home and could go their separate ways.

     As soon as Aberforth breathed a sigh of relief over his imminent escape of the tense silence between him and his siblings, something caused his older brother to stop immediately, causing Aberforth to stumble into Albus’s back. Once he regained his balance, Aberforth turned in the direction his brother was facing to Bathilda Bagshot’s large brick house. Outside of tall wooden door stood Bathilda and a curly haired, blonde boy who looked to be slightly younger than Albus.

     “Ah! Those are the children that live in the house next door.” The short woman cried excitedly, running up to greet Albus. Their mother hadn’t cared much for the short, middle aged woman, but Albus and Bathilda got on quite well, unlike Aberforth, who avoided her as much as he possibly could. Aberforth had nothing against the woman, he just wasn’t that social; even at Hogwarts he only had a small handful of acquaintances and an even smaller handful of actual friends.

     Albus on the other hand was social, “Good evening, Bathilda.” The three children smiled rather wearily.

     Bathilda’s eyes widened at the expressions of the siblings and at Ariana’s presence; understanding dawned on her, “Oh, my dear children.” Her face softened considerably and patted both Albus and Aberforth comfortingly. “I am so very sorry about Kendra; she was such a sweet woman.” Bathilda’s confusion over Ariana’s presence led her to ignore her completely; Ariana hardly ever went out and people just assumed that something must have been wrong with her mentally.

     Aberforth struggled to not say something to the woman to express his anger over her disregard towards his sister, who was shuffling her feet awkwardly. The boy she had been speaking to cleared his throat heavily and walked down the porch steps to greet the others. “How rude of me” Bathilda said, turning around and motioning for the boy to quicken his pace, so she could introduce him.

     “This is my great nephew, Gellert. He’s staying with me for the summer; I thought I ought to introduce him to you, Albus. After all, he really is missing the company of lads his own age.” Bathilda chuckled at her own comment and motioned for Gellert to step forward.

     “Nice to meet you, Gellert.” Albus said shaking his hand, Gellert responded with a similar greeting, nodded at Aberforth, and glanced curiously at Ariana who was desperately avoiding any eye contact and had shuffled behind Aberforth in an attempt to hide herself. Aberforth studied the boy; his wild, gleeful look about him led him to be oddly suspicious.

     After a couple moments of silence, Aberforth said “Well, it’s about time we should head home.” He started towards their house, but Albus was still standing in front of Bathilda and Gellert.

     “You two can go on without me. I’d like to stay and get to know our new neighbor.” Albus spoke, not turning away from Gellert and his great aunt.

    Aberforth walked away bitterly as Ariana struggled to keep up with his swift pace. He didn’t know why, but he did not trust this new neighbor. There was something about him that made Aberforth very uncomfortable, and when Ariana asked what he thought of Gellert, he did not reply.

AN- Gah! Another short chapter. I just felt like I needed to end this chapter at that spot. Gee, I really need to practice writing more than 1,000 words for each chapter. Oh well. I really hope you liked this! I spent a lot of time trying to get it just so. I would love for you to review and let me know what think (be it good or bad). Thanks in advance for those who choose to review! :)

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