June 1st, 1899
“Mother?” Albus called, levitating his trunk through the doorway and into the foyer. “I am home.” He looked around for Aberforth, but found no sign of him other than the muddy boots in the hall. If all went as planned, Aberforth should have returned two days before Albus, who had stopped for a few nights in London along the way.
Kendra appeared at the top of the stairs, looking older and even more beaten down than she had when Albus had left last fall. “Oh, Albus dear! Welcome home. Finally, you are here to stay,” she said with a wan smile. “Did you do well on your N.E.W.T.s?”
“The scores will take a little while to come back,” Albus replied. “But I am certain I‘ve done well. Mother, there is somethin-”
“Oh, come to the kitchen, Albus. I think Fendril just baked a fresh batch of biscuits. Where is he? He ought to start some tea,” she said absently, looking around for the house elf.
“Oh, I suppose I will just start it myself,” Kendra said, bustling off towards the kitchen.
“Mother!” Albus said, grabbing her arm before she got out of reach.
She looked at him in concern. “Is something wrong?”
Albus let go of her. “I’m not staying for long. I have decided to do the Grand Tour with Elphias. We are leaving in two days.”
Kendra looked stricken. “But... I thought - Ariana and...”
“I’m sorry, mother, but I want to go see the world. I have to make my own way,” Albus said insistently.
His mother frowned. “Well, if that is what you have to do. How long will you be gone?”
“A year,” Albus replied, gauging her reaction carefully. She simply nodded, looking distant. He decided to change the subject. “How is Ariana?”
Kendra hesitated. “Alright. There has not been much change since you last saw her. I ought to bring her down, yes?”
“I would like to see her,” Albus agreed. “Is she sleeping?”
“No, no...” she replied. “I will get her presentable. Would you start the tea?”
Albus nodded. “Of course.”
As Kendra disappeared upstairs, Albus headed for the kitchen. He felt bad for disappointing his mother by leaving so soon, but it was what he needed to do. After caring for Ariana last summer...Well, he wasn’t sure that he could handle it again. He didn’t have the patience to deal with her. And though he was certainly feeling guilty for leaving his mother and brother to care for her, Albus had to keep his priorities straight. His own life came first. He had to do what was best for himself.
Albus filled the teapot absentmindedly, stopping just before it overflowed. He set it on the stove and turned it on to heat. Without thinking, Albus opened the china cupboard and got out some teacups and saucers. He set them on the table and turned his back to them, looking out the window.
At first, the sound of clinking china didn’t seem to register in his mind. Albus turned, confused to find the teacups rattling on their saucers. It was almost as if the ground was shaking, but nothing else seemed affected. In a bizarre move, the teapot suddenly started squealing a high pitched moan, even though there was no way that it could be done heating already.
Albus shut off the fire just as the china cupboard behind him exploded. He spun that way, throwing up his arms to shield his face as shards of porcelain flew through the air. Without warning, the teapot burst, spraying Albus’s back with boiling water. Even through the thick layers of his cloak and robes, he could feel the heat.
As a scream sounded from upstairs, Albus suddenly realized what was happening. He sprinted from the room, crunching china beneath his feet heedlessly. Albus pounded up the stairs, his legs moving without conscious thought. He burst into Ariana’s room and felt his heart catch in his chest.
Ariana lay sprawled across the bed, chest fluttering up and down ever so slightly. Albus’s mother, however, was on the ground, neck twisted at an unnatural angle. She showed no sign of movement. The room was in tatters. THe window had been shattered, the lamp lay in a pile of broken glass, the wooden nightstand was splintered and tilting. The air hung heavy and charged.
Albus sank to the floor, overcome with sudden emotion. His mother was dead. His sister was at fault, but nobody could know. His plans would have to be canceled and funeral arrangements made.
In essence, Albus’s dreams were crushed.