“Raven Chronicles” Chapter 4: Eeylops and Owls – Part 1
I thought we’d be done for sure, that after getting our robes, supplies, books, etc., we’d be off, catching the 6:00 to Edinburgh. What I did not expect was Mother sitting down beside me as I looked at my new wand, two parcels in each hand. I could tell immediately that books were concealed beneath the brown wrapping paper and twine. My eyes drifted to the tags attached at the top. Each tag read “To Alice and Raven.” I sighed.
Mum looked down at me. She had adjusted her hair – pulled even tighter into a bun inside her hat. Where’d she’d gotten the books I didn’t know; though, I eyed her purse, wondering if Father had put an Undetectable Extension Charm on it.
She split the two parcels between me and Alice. I held what felt like the larger of the two books. “These are gifts from Dad.” She looked at Alice and continued. “And I don’t know what they are, so no whining about who gets to open what.” She looked back to me. “Got it?” I nodded fervently. “They are to share.”
Alice took that as a cue to rip open her package. But Mum intervened quickly.
“No, Alice stop.” She put her hand on Alice’s arm. Alice shot her a look of disgust but rescinded back to a look of innocence as Mum seemed ready to snatch the present back. “There’s a card first.” From her purse, Mother produced a folded piece of parchment and handed it – as she always did – to Alice to read.
“Bet I can guess the first five words,” I said, rotating the new wand in my hand. “Sorry I’m not with you.”
Mum slapped my knee, her eyes growing ever sharper. “Don’t be cheeky.”
Alice cleared her throat. “’Dear Raven and Alice, Sorry I can’t be with you’ – you were wrong, Raven!”
“Knock it off, children.”
Alice suppressed her giggles. I had more trouble hiding my smirk, so I bent my head low.
Alice continued to read, “May you find entertainment and knowledge in history, discovering that which sport and school cannot convey. Love, Dad.” She looked at Mum for an explanation.
“History books,” I whispered to Alice – though Mum heard.
Mum leaned back and looked down her nose at me. “Do you have to ruin all presents? All right, open them up.”
Alice continued to tear hers open, but I waited for her to finish before touching mine. Under the wrappings of her gift was a large green leather-bound book. Embossed on the front cover were the words Quidditch Through the Ages: The Extended Addition and the author’s name Kennilworthy Whisp. There was a special forward by Ginevra Potter inside.
Alice’s blue eyes opened to the widest they could get, and she let out a happy gasp. Throwing her arms up in the air, she hugged Mother. As she thanked Mum profusely, the book slid out of her lap and fell towards the street. I snapped my wand towards it, and the book zoomed towards me. It hit me rather hard in the chest.
There was a pause when both Alice and Mum looked at me. Mum struggled to find her words for a moment, but soon, a strong rebuke followed with Mum reminding me not to use magic outside of school. I didn’t bother trying to explain that I hadn’t meant to and that – even if I had – a nonverbal spell would be exceptionally difficult for a first-time wand-er. I just apologized, thumbed through the book for a moment, then handed it back to Alice.
I pried each sealed section of the wrapping open and carefully slid out the book before Mum tutted and crumpled the paper up. “Honestly, Raven, be quick. We have to travel all the way up to Crail.”
Underneath the wrapping was a brown leather book, cracked and musty smelling. In the middle of the book was a crest with a lion, a serpent, a badger, and an eagle. The letter “H” sat in the middle of them. The Hogwarts crest, which meant this was the book Hogwarts: A History – a book I’d searched for multiple times in my father’s study and never found.
“There’s an inscription,” Mum said, leaning over to see.
I opened the book, which cracked. On the immediate page behind the cover were three inscriptions. Two were in black ink and both addressed to Charles and signed by Charles as well. They were the inscriptions of my great-grandfather, Charles the Ninth, giving the book to my grandfather, Charles the Tenth, and that same grandfather giving the book to my father, Charles the 11th. My father’s inscription was beneath those and written in silver ink.
“’To Raven and Alice,’” I read, “’This copy of Hogwarts: A History has been passed down from generation to generation since my paternal grandfather, Charles IX, purchased it from Flourish and Blotts on their opening day, just before he started at Hogwarts. It’s a book I read so often. I’ve brought it with me on all my travels – though now, having memorized most of it, I gladly pass it on to you both to celebrate your start at this most beloved school.’”
This was a much better send off than his little riddle note. I smiled at it. “’Love, Charles (Dad).’”
My mother pointed beneath his signature. “There’s a postscript.”
I read it aloud. “’P.S. Plus, I can get myself a new copy now.” Very funny, Father. And another postscript beneath that read, “P.P.S. You’ll need to check out another copy from the library if you want to know anything past 1882.” Thanks. At least I had the book though.
I gave Mum the obligatory hug and tried to hand Alice the book, but she was already looking through Quidditch Through the Ages and only looked up when Mother said, “One more thing before we go.”
How many surprises could she have planned? But my heart leapt. Was she going to allow us to go into Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes?