Chapter 1: The Mysterious Letter

Bhaavya chewed her lunch intently. As always, she was eating on the floor in front of the auditorium. She had few friends, so she spent her lunch period reading instead of socializing. Suddenly, Bhaavya slammed her novel shut and opened her backpack. Retrieving the letter that she had received the night before, she pondered the meaning of such an invitation. The absurdity of the note made her figure that a particularly mischievous friend was playing a prank on her. Smirking slightly, Bhaavya decided that she would play along with the joke, just for fun. She had always wanted to go to London anyway.

Thinking back to the day before, Bhaavya remembered the moment when she had first read the letter. Her younger sister hardly ever got mail, but everyday she brought it in from the mailbox anyway, always hopeful that she would finally get something. Bhaavya, too, rarely got any mail, but she did not care very much about it, so when her little sister came stomping into her room, complaining about how unfair it was for Bhaavya to get mail, while she was the one always expecting something, Bhaavya just shrugged it off as her little sister being weird.

"Hmmph! Why do you always get mail and I don't?" Her little sister whined, barging into Bhaavya's room. She plopped down next to Bhaavya on the bed, still clutching the envelope.

"Um… but I never get mail," Bhaavya sighed, "sisters are so annoying!"

"You do realize that you're a sister too, right?" The younger sister rolled her eyes, "You know what? Fine. Next time you get something in the mail, I'm not giving it to you!" She left, flinging Bhaavya's mail on the ground and muttering about how strange her older sister was.

Bhaavya moved to retrieve the flung letter, and as she picked it up, she noticed a strange purple wax seal holding it shut. She was able to distinguish four shapes from the intricate seal that were perhaps animals, but too difficult to for her to see. Huffing, Bhaavya knew that she needed a stronger prescription for glasses. As she smiled at the sealed envelope, she felt oddly excited to have received something in the mail. She understood her sister just a bit more at that one moment. After spending about ten minutes just smiling eerily at the envelope, Bhaavya finally decided to open it to find out what was inside. Ripping off the purple wax thing, she pulled several pieces of paper out.

"Parchment?" Bhaavya questioned out loud, "It's written on parchment?" She spread the several pieces of parchment out on her bed so that they were all facing up for her viewing pleasure. Taking a moment to survey them all, she picked up the one that she decided would tell her all she needed to know. The top of the paper said, "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," and underneath, there seemed to be a strange list of school supplies. She realized that they were magical school supplies, to go along with the heading of the paper. She giggled, wondering who would go to such trouble to try and fool her into believing such a thing existed. As an avid reader, Bhaavya recalled reading fantasy books and actually believing in the magic as a young child, but as a high schooler, she was way past such immature behavior. But bothering to age the paper to the perfect shade of yellow, making up the nonsense books and equipment on the list, she could not believe that any normal person would go to all that effort…

"Oh," Bhaavya cracked up spontaneously, "I get it now. It's all an elaborate prank. A giant would-be hoax. But I get it now." Narrowing her eyes, Bhaavya pictured each one of her few friends in her mind, trying to think of the one responsible for the letter. She could easily think of several that were devious enough to try something like this, but it was stupid to think of this now. Stacking the papers, she put them to the side. It was nearing 11 o'clock at night, and Bhaavya realized that she had just wasted a lot of time. She had studying to do for her final exams. She was finishing up ninth grade in the United States, and then she would stay for tenth grade too, before heading off to yet another country. It was June of her ninth grade year, and her departure seemed to be imminent, but suddenly she had an idea.

"Ha. Wouldn't it be funny, ha, if I were to go to school in England next year?" Bhaavya giggled between words. At the moment, Bhaavya was definitely enticed to turn the joke back on the perpetrator.

"Shut up! Why are you even talking to yourself? I know there's no one else in there, it's so late at night! I'm trying to sleep!" Her little sister's voiced boomed from the other room.

"I'm, uh, talking on the phone!"

It was then that she decided to whisper softly to herself, "I'll retaliate with a prank of my own, by making the person responsible for this prank think that I actually fell for her prank, while really the joke is on her!" Bhaavya kept her evil laughter to herself for the time being. She would have time for silly things like that after she enacted her revenge prank. All thoughts of finals and school work vanished as she thought about how she would get to London to go this "Diagon Alley" and how she could present it to her parents to get their approval.

The sound of the school bell ringing, signaling the end of lunch, shocked Bhaavya out of her reverie. Looking down at her unfinished lunch, she frowned and refolded the letter inviting her to Hogwarts, carefully sliding it into its envelope. She wondered how she could have possibly been so engrossed in her recollection of the night before that she completely missed the clean up bell that rang five minutes before lunch ended. Packing up her backpack and shoving the rest of her lunch in her mouth, Bhaavya grumbled at the thought of the three more periods before the start of the weekend, as she made her way to fifth period.

Bhaavya shot out of her seat as soon as the final bell of the day rang. Darting past and weaving through the mass of students charging for the exits, Bhaavya was the first one to board her bus. As per usual, she sat alone, and when her bus stopped in front of her house, she darted off as quickly as she could. She was almost bursting when she got to the front door of her house. After retrieving her key from her bag and unlocking the door, she flew into her house, blurting, "Mamma, papa, I want to go to school in England for next school year!" Her announcement was met with silence, and Bhaavya both mentally and physically slapped herself on the forehead. She had known that her parents would not be home yet, and her little sister was still at school. She grinned broadly at that, taking solace in the fact that she was at home doing absolutely nothing, while her sister was still doing school work at middle school. Yawning, she made her way upstairs to her room, where she could take a nice nap.

Hours later, Bhaavya was woken up by the sound of the garage door opening. She tiredly pulled herself out of bed, and went downstairs, where her younger sister was watching cartoons at a low volume. "Thanks for putting the TV on low," Bhaavya acknowledged her sister's considerateness.

"Shhhhhh! I'm trying to watch TV!" The younger girl glared at her older sister, "I was quiet for you!"

Their dad chose that moment to walk into the living room, smiling at his daughters' antics, "Girls! Behave!" Their mother soon followed him into the room, and the entire family was united in one room. Bhaavya realized that this was the perfect time to tell her family about her plans for the following school year and ask for permission, but she was still fairly nervous.

She finally decided that it would be best to get it over with as soon as possible, so she said, "I want to go to school in England next summer."

Her family's eyes bulged out in shock, and the living room was suddenly eerily quiet. Her father was the first to recover, "Why?"

"I have been invited to a prestigious magic school!"

Her father blinked several times and scratched his head, "And you believe in magic?"

"No. It's obviously not real magic. It's obviously just the kind of magic that you can see in magic shows. I think that it would be fun and a good experience!"

Looking into her family's faces, Bhaavya could understand their disbelief at her words. She knew that she sounded crazy, and she honestly did not believe in magic. Giving her father the Hogwarts letter, she started again, trying to gain some ground, "Look at this letter! It's the real deal. School starts on September first, and I can stay with grandma in London before I go off to school. That's where the special shopping area where I have to buy my supplies is anyway. So, can I go?" She stared deeply into her father's eyes. Her mother and sister had been quiet through the entire discussion, so Bhaavya knew that he would be the one to make the final decision. By gazing into his eyes, she could tell that this was going to be the turning point in her life, where her father would either say yes, and let his eldest daughter go on a grand adventure, or say no, and ship her off to an insane asylum because she sounded crazy.