Arabella hung her coat on a hook, set her satchel at the foot of the stairs, then followed the squawking cat back to the kitchen to feed her. Mum would be home from work soon. She’d get supper ready for her on the old gas cooker: eggs, toast, a tin of beans. Arabella was glad her mother had decided against getting a fully charmed cooker, which would be more difficult for her to use.
Just as Arabella was setting the table, her mum popped into the hallway with a crack.
“Mmm, smells good.” Doreen Grant said, sending her cloak and hat flying to the cloak rack. “I’m famished.”
“How was work?” Arabella asked as they sat down to eat.
“I had to Obliviate a few Muggles up near Loch Lomond. Some centaurs decided to go walk-about. I’m going to pop up to Hogwarts tomorrow to see if Dumbledore could have a word with the chief centaur. Dumbledore seems the only one any of them will speak with. How was school?”
“Okay. Mr Bird says I should continue with English literature for A-levels, but it doesn’t seem very practical.” Arabella sighed. “Nothing does.”
“I’d take his advice. I haven’t a clue, and he seems a decent sort.”
“Will you see Barclay tomorrow?”
“I thought I’d try to take him out for lunch.”
“Maybe I could take the day off school, and we could—”
Doreen shook her head. “I’m Disapparating straight from the Ministry and Apparating straight back.”
Arabella shoved her eggs about with a bit of toast. “Bring him some of those biscuits he likes and say they’re from me?”
“Ask if he’s coming home for Easter. It’s so long since Christmas.”
“He owled me yesterday. He’s staying to revise for his OWLs. Sorry, love.”
Arabella’s heart sank.