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CHAPTER ONE

A Wake-Up Call

 

 

Tabitha’s eyes darted around the Great Hall. Hundreds of scowling faces stared back at her. Students muttered in hushed voices,

 

“Is that her?”

“Did you hear?”

“Her mother was killed.”

“I heard she killed her.”

“Might as well have.”

 

Making her way to the front of the hall, she sat on the small stool beside Professor McGonagall, doing her best to avoid anyone’s eyes. Thankfully, her view was quickly replaced by the inside of the Sorting Hat. She held her breath for the Hat’s call.

 

“GRYFFINDOR!” It bellowed after an excruciating pause.

 

But the Gryffindor table was silent. Instead of applause, there were only glares. Mutters grew to shouts as students yelled to the front of the hall.

 

“Surely there’s some kind of mistake!”

“She’s not one of us.”

“Couldn’t even save her own mother!”

“So much for bravery!”

“You’re treacherous Tabitha!”

 

This call became a chant.

 

“Treacherous Tabitha! Treacherous Tabitha! Treacherous Tabitha!”

 

The chant grew until the entire hall had joined in. Tabitha turned to Professor McGonagall, only to hear her hiss “Treacherous Tabitha.”

 

McGonagall’s face contorted, changing shape before Tabitha’s eyes. Her cloak gripped to her arms, forming large draping black wings. McGonagall’s new bat-like form dove towards Tabitha, smothering her in total darkness.

 

Within the darkness, glinted two ruby eyes. From somewhere far away, came the screams of Rachael Helder as the life was drained from her.

 

“Tabitha! Tabitha!”

 

“Tabitha?” Her mother’s cries were replaced by the gentle voice of her father, knocking on her bedroom door.

 

Tabitha wearily opened her eyes and grunted in reply.

 

“Honey, you’ve got to get up. You don’t want to miss the train.”

 

She grunted again. She could hear her father quietly sigh before continuing down the hall. Despite her better wishes, he was right.

 

Yawning still, Tabitha pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweater. Her attempt to force her wild silver hair into a large bun was mostly successful, ignoring the few strands that still flew in various directions.

 

At the foot of her bed laid her truck, which her father had kindly already packed for her. He must have known that if he hadn’t, Tabitha certainly wasn’t going to. Opening her trunk to throw in a copy of The Standard Book of Spells Year 3, Tabitha was met by her Gryffindor robes, neatly pressed and folded on top of her things. The eyes of the roaring red lion bore into her.

 

Even after two years at Hogwarts, Tabitha still shivered at the sight of those robes. Bravery certainly wasn’t something she was experienced in; especially not today.

 

Quickly she threw the textbook on top of the pile, and slammed the lid closed.

 

In the kitchen, her father was finishing a cup of tea while reading a newspaper entitled, Richmond and Twickenham Times. Tabitha trudged into the room, dragging her trunk behind her.

 

“Okay, let’s go.”

 

“You’re don’t want to eat anything first? You know what they say, breakfast is the most...”

 

“Important meal of the day, I know,” she interrupted flatly.

 

She grabbed a banana from the countertop and began shovelling it into her mouth.

 

“Happy?” bits of banana flying from her mouth as she spoke.

 

“Extremely.” Her father said with a twinkling smile. “Okay we’ll go.”

 

He stood up and started patting his pockets. “Just as soon as I remember where I left my keys.”

 

“Dad,” she said swallowing the last piece of banana, “You know I can find those for you in two seconds.”

 

She pulled her wand from her pocket, to which her father wagged his finger disapprovingly.

 

“Hey now, I might not know everything about magic but I do know you’re not allowed to use that outside of school. Wand away missy.”

 

Rolling her eyes, Tabitha shoved her wand back into her jeans.

 

“I’ll find them the old-fashioned way.”

 

After 15 minutes of searching the house, Mr Helder found his keys wedged into the back of the couch, along with 2 pounds, which he happily pocketed. By the time he had found them, it was almost half past ten, and they had to rush to the station. They arrived at Kings Cross with little more than a few minutes to spare.

 

Mr Helder pulled into a parking spot and turned off the engine. The two sat in silence for a second.

 

“Are you right if I just leave you here? You know I don’t like the...I don’t like getting onto the platform.”

 

“That’s okay, Dad” Tabitha said softly.

 

He turned to look at her. “I think you’re going to have a great year this year. I’ve got a feeling.”

 

“I hope so.”

 

He placed his hand on hers. “Whatever you do there, I’m proud of you,” he said with a squeeze.

 

“Thanks Dad.”

 

“I know your Mum would be too.”

 

“I’d better go.”

 

Breaking their hands apart, she hurriedly opened her door, and stepped out. As she hauled her trunk out of the car and towards the station, her father called out.

 

“Hey! I love you!”

 

Blood rushing to her cheeks, Tabitha blushed bright red.

 

“Dad!”

 

“Come on!”

 

“Fine! I love you too!”

 

A small smile on her face, she turned and hurried into Kings Cross.

 

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