September 3rd, 1891
“Albus! Where are you?” a sharp woman’s voice demanded.
Albus sighed and closed his book. He stacked the book with the others on his carefully organized desk and stood, smoothing down his horribly uncomfortable robes. Rather reluctantly, he headed downstairs. “Yes, mother?”
“Have you seen your sister?” she asked. “We are to leave for dinner at the Walchesters’ in just a few minutes.” Albus’s mother strode dramatically to the window. “Oh, I hope she’s not out playing in the garden again. That dress of hers has had so many cleaning charms upon it that I am surprised it has any color at all! Go find her, won’t you, Albus?”
“Yes, mother,” Albus said. He almost went to pass the job off to Aberforth, but it would be easy enough to find his sister. Albus knew where Ariana would be. There was a little spot down over the hill in their little village of Mould-on-the-Would that was her absolute favorite. She would spend hours there at a time, sometimes playing with Aberforth, sometimes alone. Ariana never seemed bothered to be alone.
Albus headed for the door, passing his father who had just come in.
“Kendra!” his dad called. “Where’s Aberforth? That boy is never ready on time, I swear...” he muttered under his breath. He looked upon Albus. “And where are you going?”
“To fetch Ariana,” Albus replied.
“Where is she?”
“Out playing, probably,” he said. “We are going to be leaving soon and she needs to get cleaned up,” Albus added pointedly.
His father patted him on the shoulder absentmindedly. “Yes, well, she has a few minutes, let her play. Have you seen your brother?”
Albus shook his head. With a huff, his father took off in search of him. Albus winced inwardly, feeling a twinge of sympathy for Aberforth. He always seemed to bear the brunt of Percival’s anger, while Ariana and Albus got off easy. Albus tried to tell his brother that if he straightened up and acted more respectably, it wouldn’t be that way. That is to say, if he acted more like Albus, he wouldn’t be yelled at quite so often. That is to say, he wouldn’t be yelled at because he wouldn’t be noticed. But no, Aberforth couldn’t seem to act properly for the life of him. His shirt was always untucked and he would make Ariana laugh at the most inopportune times. No wonder their father was always scolding him.
As for Ariana, she was Percival’s crown jewel. The girl could do no wrong in his eyes, no matter how dirty she got her dress, no matter what precious heirloom she accidentally destroyed whilst learning how to control her inherent magic. Even now she was right about to get away with being late.
Albus trotted down the hill, pulling up the hem of his robes to prevent them from getting grassy. Even at age ten, he cared enough about his clothes to take good care of them. The same couldn’t be said for his younger siblings.
“Ariana!” he called from halfway down. “We are leaving in a few minutes. Come get ready.”
“But I am growing a garden!” she said cheerfully. “Look, I just started.”
Three daisies poked out of the green grass.
“You can finish when we come back. Come on, Ariana,” Albus said commandingly.
“Just a few more, Al!” she said, bubbling with excitement. “Please?” Ariana whined.
“Pleeeasseeee,” she whined, louder.
Albus sighed. “Fine. Two minutes. We will be waiting at the house.”
“Okay!” Ariana replied.
With a disapproving shake of the head, Albus trudged back up the hill. Why couldn’t his siblings be more like he? Albus tried so hard to shape them into what he wanted them to be, but they just wouldn’t listen. Alas, perhaps in a year or two.
Albus closed the door quietly, slipping into the house without a sound.
“Where’s Ariana?” Kendra demanded.
“She will be along in a moment,” Albus replied. “You know how hard it is to get her to stop playing.”
Albus’s mother wrung her hands. “Yes, I really wish she would just play inside. It makes it so much easier to keep an eye on her.”
Albus nodded quietly. It was not his place to disagree with his mother, even though he thought she was better off playing outside where he wasn’t forced to make sure she didn’t blow up the house.
“Come, Albus, your brother and father are waiting out front. Hopefully Ariana will come along quickly so we can get her cleaned up.”
Albus trailed after his mother to the front of the house where a fancy buggy with two harnessed horses sat waiting. Percival was fussing over Aberforth’s appearance, brushing dirt off of his robes and scolding him for not washing his hair that morning. In other words, everything was going as normal.
That was until the screaming started.
“Ariana!” Albus’s father sobbed, cradling the girl’s limp figure in his arms. “No- please, Ariana...”
Albus skidded to a stop, almost tumbling the rest of the way down the hill and into the field of daisies, now dead and dry. Ariana’s brown hair partially obscured her unresponsive face, so serene and calm as Albus stared upon her in shock.
With a shout, Aberforth came barreling down the hill at a run, ending with a slide through the grass on his knees to stop at Ariana’s side. “Ariana?” he asked in a small voice. At only a year older, she and Aberforth were very close.
“What happened?” Kendra asked, picking her way down the hill with as much speed as she could, given her age and cumbersome garments. Her voice shook, trembling with worry and horror.
“The muggles,” Albus’s father Percival gulped. “They attacked her.” His eyes glistened with tears that were most unlike him. He was known for his dignity, pride and, above all, backbone. Percival looked up, eyes pained but flickering with anger. “They attacked her!” he repeated. “All she was doing was growing a few flowers and they attacked her!”
Albus noted with an odd sort of detachment that his father was near hysterics. Kendra joined in, crying and dabbing her eyes ineffectively with a handkerchief. Aberforth was stroking her hand gently, whispering to her.
“Is she dead?” Albus asked, as if in a daze.
Everyone looked at him. His father blinked and checked her pulse. “No- no, she’s not dead. She’s not dead. We have to get her back to the house.”
He scooped her up in his arms and carried her small form back up the hill. Albus followed with the others, mind blank but for thoughts of Ariana. He glanced back over his shoulder. The daisies were gone.
Ariana died on the way up the hill. However, with some quick wandwork and healing spells, Kendra had managed to revive her before her body fully shut down. Albus watched his mother work, handing her the herbs and towels she needed for the healing magic. By the time she was finished, Ariana lay asleep, battered and bruised, but alive.
The healing had taken more out of Kendra than she was willing to admit.
“Sit down, dear, please,” Percival said offering her a chair. She was too tired and weak to protest. “You have saved her. Our Ariana will be just fine.”
“I will send a message to the Walchesters and tell them we are not coming,” Albus offered.
Percival hardly seemed to hear. “Yes, Albus, do that.”
Albus walked from the room, trying to fight the jealousy and resentment welling up inside of him. Sure, he was concerned for his sister’s well being, but she brought it upon herself. She should have checked her magic, or not been practicing it where the muggles could have seen. And now, their parents weren’t even mad at her for ignoring their rules about hiding magic, but instead they were fawning over her, ignoring Albus and Aberforth. Aberforth didn’t seem to mind, but Albus did. Oh, Albus did.
Albus cared about his sister more than almost anything; anything except the system of right and wrong. Even at such a young age, he was well acquainted with the topic. Both Ariana and the muggles were wrong in what they had done, but so were Percival and Kendra in failing to acknowledge Ariana’s part in it. Why did she get so much attention for doing something she should not have when Albus got nothing for always doing right? That wasn’t fair.
Filled with bitterness, Albus continued on his way to call off the dinner party. He could not help but think, yet again, that if only his siblings were more like he, this would not have happened. None of this would have happened.
For, unlike his brother and sister, Albus strived to be perfect.
AN: Yes, yes, I know everyone hates author's notes, but I think they will be almost neccessary for this story. See, this is my entry for District 10, HP fandom of the Writing Games #2 - Catching Paper. Therefore I'll need anyone who reads this and likes it to favorite it in order to count as a vote and allow me to proceed to the next round. If I get eliminated, chances are this movella will end. If you don't want that to happen, please favorite (if you consider this deserving, that is)! Also, I'd like to note that this is written as if I were Rita Skeeter. Therefore, the characterization of Albus is going to be a bit negatively skewed. I'll try to do my best to prevent character bashing, but Rita's difficult to write from, so it'll be tricky. Please bear with me!