On the drive to the Dursley's house, Anne broke one of her own time-honored rules: she used the time spent commuting in the car to actually talk. When she first began to speak, George was so startled, he momentarily forgot to steer, making it necessary to veer sharply to avoid hitting a school bus. However, he soon relaxed slightly, when he discovered that she was not holding a real conversation, but imparting instructions.
"Now, Isabella, Mrs. Dursley is a dear friend of mine, and Mr. Dursley is an important associate of your father's. Because of this, I want you to be on your absolute best behavior, understood?" She said it so sweetly that Isabella knew without the merest shadow of a doubt that if she somehow messed this dinner up for her parents, she would live to regret it even more so the day they had taken her away from Sir Milton's Boarding School for Problem Children. Milton's Misery Emporium, as the locals had called it, was the school of choice used by the orphanage Isabella had grown up in, as it boarded the children free of charge, creating much-needed space at the orphanage. No matter how much at times Isabella might wish that the Snickleys hadn't been the ones to adopt her, she knew that even their worst was not as bad as Sir Miltons', and she had the scars to prove it.
Mentally counting to ten before answering, knowing how angry their reactions would be if she simply spoke her mind, Isabella drew in a deep breath and opened her mouth.
"I wouldn't dream of misbehaving, Anne. But will you please tell me who I am supposed to be tonight?" Depending upon who she was meeting, Anne and George would introduce Isabella as a different character in relation to their family. She had been known as anyone from daughter to their orphaned niece to their impoverished charge, to the truth.
Letting loose one of her tinkling little laughs that never managed to reach her eyes, no matter how much she practiced, Anne looked Isabella right in the face, as if to warn her.
"Dearest, but of course you are our dear, treasured daughter, and as such, I think it really would be best if you would call me 'Mom,' or 'Mother.'" Certain that she had properly informed Isabella of her role for that night, Anne turned away, looking out the window, and effectively ended all further conversation.
Glancing sharply at Isabella in the rearview mirror, George turned on the radio, to ensure that no one would speak, wincing as the singer hit an exceptionally high note. Oh, yeah, Isabella thought, disgusted, you would have to be blind not to see the familial love we share. Resigned in her task of pretending that which was supposed to be a reality, Isabella closed her eyes and thought back on the afternoon she had spent under the trees. She carefully recalled every last detail, saving the memories for the next time she was feeling particularly upset.