Chapter 2: Howlers, Letters and Sandcastles
A/N: To everybody that reviewed ch 1, a big thanks and an SQ cheer!
(What is an SQ cheer? Do we have one? If not, then why not?) Now
if only I could get people to read/review me over at FF.N (what is it
w/ that place that people never review? Or maybe [horrors!] people aren’t
reading me there?) Oh okay, I’m done whining. Much appreciation to my
beta, Z, (who remembered that Veelas shriek), and my British beta, Soupytwist
(who provided much needed British geography assistance).
Petra made her way through the Great Hall, heading towards the Gryffindor
table for breakfast. Her book bag was heavy and kept tugging on her auburn
plait. She reached the table and plunked herself down next to Mauve who
was sitting across from Billy. Mauve was snickering as she watched Billy
“What’s up?” asked Petra, staring across the table at Billy. He was
looking up at the enchanted ceiling anxiously. Petra followed his gaze
but saw nothing unusual about the ceiling, which today was reflecting
a semi-gloomy sky. She looked back at Billy and noted that he was extremely
pale under his coppery freckles. She glanced at Mauve questioningly. Petra
had noticed that although Mauve teased Billy unceasingly, she always seemed
to be extra giggly when he was around. Petra wondered if it was Billy’s
heritage working on her or if it was just the fact that Mauve was silly.
She shrugged and calmly reached for her napkin.
“He’s waiting for the post,” explained Mauve finally after she saw that
Petra was not going to ask again.
“Yeah, thanks a lot cousin,” said Billy, glancing briefly at
Petra. “Longbottom gave me a detention and wrote to Mum and Dad about
me putting Petrificus Totalus on myself.” Professor Longbottom
was their Head of House and the Herbology professor. Although he was very
kind, he was also very strict. Billy had spent much time in his office
since the start of term. It was common Weasley knowledge that Billy already
rivaled his uncles Fred and George for most mischief caused in the first
month of school.
“That’s my third detention this month! Mum’s going to send me a Howler
for sure,” said Billy with a shudder.
“And how exactly is this my fault?” asked Petra disinterestedly, reaching
for the orange juice.
“If you had just stayed still so I could curse you…” muttered Billy.
He attempted to shove a forkful of food in his mouth without taking his
eyes off the ceiling. He ended up with scrambled egg on his left cheek.
Mauve snorted. “Idiot boy!”
Petra sighed heavily. “Have you ever had to put up with one of these?”
she asked Mauve in an afflicted voice.
“Four of them,” said Mauve matter-of-factly. “I call them brothers.”
She looked over Billy’s shoulder towards the Ravenclaw table. “Oh look,
there’s one of them now. Look who’s sitting next to him.”
Petra spotted Michael Finnigan and saw that Damien Thomas was sitting
next to him. Almost as if he sensed Petra’s gaze, he looked up from his
plate and gave her a cheery wave. Petra smiled at him, but looked away
quickly, irritated with herself as she felt her cheeks grow hot. It was
just Damien. They’d known each other all of their lives. She didn’t know
why Mauve had to act so silly about them being friends, after all, Mauve
had known Damien for a long time as well, their fathers, Seamus Finnigan
and Dean Thomas, were best friends. It was only recently that Petra got
a funny, fluttering feeling in her stomach every time she thought of Damien
and it annoyed her to no end. She nudged Mauve roughly. “Don’t do that!”
Petra hissed. Mauve merely smirked.
Billy broke his ceiling vigil to glance over his shoulder. He turned
back to Petra with a Cheshire cat grin. “What? Damien Thomas?” he asked
innocently. “Oh we’ve always known they’d get together. Ever since they
were ickle babies and their mums made them share a crib.”
Mauve choked on her orange juice. “You shared a crib?” she sputtered.
“We have pictures,” said Billy helpfully.
“Shut. Your. Mouth. You. Warty. Little. Toad!” Petra punctuated each
word with a kick to Billy’s shin.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” yelped Billy through his laughter. “That hurts! And here
I thought I was your favorite cousin.”
“What ever gave you that impression?” asked Petra acidly. She cast a
furtive look across the room at Damien. Luckily he was talking to some
of his housemates. She felt relieved, yet slightly disappointed.
“You shared a crib?” repeated Mauve incredulously. Petra gave her an
icy glare that made her turn back to her toast hastily.
“Well, I should be your favorite cousin,” said Billy, returning to his
“And why is that?” asked Pedtra with an arched eyebrow.
“Because,” said Billy, glancing briefly at Petra. His tone turned soft
and serious. “I owled Dad last night about you needing information on
Uncle Percy. I figured he’d be able to give you some good stuff for your
“You did what?” asked Petra, going the color of Billy’s glass
Billy didn’t answer however as the post owls swooped in at that moment
in a rush of wings and feathers. His light-blue eyes widened in panic
as he spotted a pristine, snowy owl makings its way towards him with a
scarlet envelope in it’s beak.
“Mum’s owl,” he croaked weakly.
“Don’t just stand there, you prat,” said Mauve as the owl delivered
the Howler to Billy. “Take that thing outside!”
Billy took the envelope and sprinted out of the Great Hall amidst snickers
and catcalls. In a few seconds Petra heard a tremendous explosion followed
by the sound of her Aunt Fleur’s shrill voice. “William Albus Weasley!
What is ze meaning of zis? Third owl in a month!”
Aunt Fleur’s high shrieks went on and on with threats of removing Billy
from Hogwarts and transferring him to Beauxbatons where, “Zey don’t put
up with zis nonsense!”
When her Aunt Fleur’s tirade was over, Petra was surprised to hear her
Uncle Bill’s voice. “Er…yeah! Everything your mother said Billy!” His
tone turned conversational, although his voice still reverberated throughout
the hall. “Oh yes. Son, please let Petra know that she’s chosen a great
hero. I’ll send her some information soon. Take care.”
Petra sank down in her chair, humiliated. People were looking her way
with bemused smiles. “I’m going to die,” she whispered to Mauve. “I am
seriously going to die.”
“You might want to save your owl first,” said Mauve helpfully, pointing
at the table where their ancient owl, Hermes, lay passed out on a platter
“Hermes!” cried Petra, giving the owl a tiny shake as she pulled the
letter from his talons. The owl opened one bleary eye and gave a tired
sort of ‘hoot’. “Honestly! Dunno why Mum keeps using Dad’s owl for post.
We have Thor, he’s much more reliable.” Petra’s own owl Chudley, was currently
in the owlery with the school owls.
Hermes drew himself off the platter with stiff dignity and regarded
Petra in a sour, reproachful sort of way.
Petra rolled her eyes. “Sorry Hermes,” she said, offering him a strip
of bacon, which he took in his beak before flying off with one last sulky
look at Petra. She didn’t notice as she was already opening her mum’s
How are you? I miss you very much. I got an interesting fire call
from your Uncle Bill last night. I’m happy to hear that you’re writing
an essay about your father. I’ll let all of the Weasleys know. I’m sure
they can give you some wonderful information as well. Do you need anything
from me? Just send me an owl. I’m really looking forward to the A.D. Ball
The ball her mum was referring to was the Albus Dumbledore Halloween
Charity Ball, an event held at Hogwarts for the past twelve years. Students,
staff and alumni gathered on that night to raise money for war widows
and orphans. Petra and Penny themselves had been recipients of one of
the first awards. Petra’s mum and stepfather, Dave, came to the ball every
year, as did most of the Weasley family.
I finally developed those pictures from summer holiday, so I’ve enclosed
one for you. Don’t Jake and Rachelle look sweet? Owl me when you get a
chance. I’ll see you on Halloween.
Petra looked in the envelope and pulled out a photograph. It showed
her mum, her stepfather, her three-year-old brother Jake and her one-year-old
sister Rachelle. Her mum and Dave always spent a month in Cornwall with
Dave’s parents on summer holiday. Petra spent the month at the Burrow
with her grandparents, usually accompanied with various Weasley cousins.
She could’ve gone with her Mum and Dave. Dave’s parents had always been
fond of her. But the Weasleys always looked forward to having Petra and
she had a feeling that it would break her grandmother’s heart if she didn’t
spend summer with her.
In the picture, her mother had to reach out every few seconds to stop
Rachelle from putting a chubby fist full of sand in her mouth. Dave was
building a sandcastle with Jake despite the fact that he kept trying to
kick it down.
Petra liked Jake and Rachelle very much although she felt more like
an aunt than a sister due to the age difference. They didn’t look much
alike either. While Petra had curly, auburn-colored hair, her brother
and sister had straight, blond hair like their father’s. Petra had light
brown, honey-colored eyes. Jake had their mother’s gray, Rachelle her
father’s blue. Petra was also lanky and tall for her age, a trait everyone
attributed to her father. Although Jake and Rachelle were still little,
Petra doubted they’d be tall as both her mother and Dave were of average
As Petra looked at the happy little scene in the photo a familiar, wistful
longing stirred within her. She wondered what if would be like to be a
part of such a scene. Petra tried to picture herself there with her father
in Dave’s place. She wondered if he would help her build a sandcastle
like Dave was helping Jake. Unbeknownst to her, Petra gave a little sigh.
“What’s wrong?” asked Mauve, shattering Petra’s daydream.
“Nothing,” said Petra quickly, shoving the photo and the letter into
her book bag. “Let’s get to Potions.” Petra shouldered the bag, which
felt somehow heavier than when she had first walked into the Great Hall.
“Are you sure nothing’s wrong?” asked Mauve, uncharacteristically intuitive.
“I’m too old for sandcastles,” whispered Petra sadly and marched on,
leaving a confused Mauve behind.