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Cassandra Cooper

Letter Day at Willow Way Hollow Farms

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Cassandra Cooper

LATE JULY; 3 WEEKS BEFORE HER BIRTHDAY

 

Living in the middle of nowhere meant that the post (muggle or owl) was a bit erratic. Sometimes, it would come early in the day, just after the sun fully peaked over the horizon. Other days the sun had traversed across the sky and was getting ready to set when they finally got their normal post. Nobody ever rose early in hopes that the mail would be there. It came when it came, and that was that.

 

This particular day, Cas had been up just before the sun. She had sat up, leaving her plaited hair alone in its slightly messy state from sleeping with the braid in,  quietly slipped her shoes on, leaving the laces mostly undone, and tiptoed her way downstairs, trying desperately not to wake her adopted sister, Skyla. Since they shared a room, Cas knew just how often the younger girl had trouble sleeping, and nobody could blame her; while young, she knew what had happened to her parents. All Cassandra could do some times was just try to make her smile or laugh to bring her mind away from it, but now that she was sleeping soundly the last thing she wanted to do was wake her prematurely.

 

Her grandfather was already awake down in the kitchen, making himself a cup of coffee with a flick of his wand. "Can I try some coffee?" she asked. Grandpa just shook his head with a laugh, stating it would stunt her growth. Although, was that really a bad thing? She was already taller than most girls her age by a few inches. She sighed, and instead busied herself with an English muffin and some raspberry jam, doodling on one of the pieces of paper her mother had left on the table the night before as she apparently had been struck with the muse to write for a while. Grandfather sat down across from her and drank his coffee, flipping through an old book that Cas never really paid much attention to.

 

She had finished her muffin, and he his coffee, when he suddenly said, "How about we go check out the young mandrakes, eh? They were still part of the curriculum when your parents were at school; think it'd be a great idea for you to get a head start."

 

Mandrakes? The plant with a cry that was fatal to anyone who heard it? She was out the front door before her grandfather could say anything else. Finally, something that wasn't apple picking, or potatoes, or sugar beets. With her grandfather at her side, a man who had dealt with mandrakes for decades now, she knew she'd be in no danger.

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Cassandra Cooper

The mandrake she had been holding was gone. She was laying flat on her back on the cold ground, protective earmuffs haphazardly resting with one below her left ear, and one just above her right. Her grandfather was standing a few feet away from her, and as her vision cleared up better she saw that he was laughing hard enough there were tears in his eyes.

 

Things with the mandrakes had not gone so well. She had used the protective gear for her ears just like she had been told to do, her grandfather assuring her that these were much too young to have a fatal cry. He had, however, neglected to mention that their cries would knock a person out, if they didn't take enough precaution. Whether or not she had been set up with lack of protection was yet to known.

 

She groggily asked what had happened. "You ever plan on growing mandrakes, Cherry Laine, you're gonna have to be more careful than that!" he said as she slowly sat up. She brushed the earmuffs from her head, and blinked a few times as she tried to regain her bearings to fully assist the situation.

 

"NEAL RONALD COOPER, WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?"

 

She glanced back, wobbly, towards the house and saw her grandmother stomping towards them, wand brandished in her hand and pointed directly at her husband. "What have I told you about letting her near the mandrakes? You're lucky they're all young enough they didn't do any serious harm to her."

 

"What happened?" Cas asked, louder this time, starting to give her grandfather an irritated scowl.

 

"Oh, the cry knocked you out," he said, waving it off as if it was nothing before turning his attention to his angry wife, drawing his own wand out. "Ester, you put your wand down before you do something silly! She just ended up seeing first hand what a mini-mandrake can do. No harm done."

 

"YOU'RE LUCKY THERE WAS NO HARM DONE!" Her grandparents continued to argue for a few moments, an insult or two being thrown towards her grandfather, before Ester threw one quick "Aspergo" at him, showering him with water and ending the argument before they both ended up laughing at the whole situation.

 

Cassandra, meanwhile, wasn't as amused. 

 

"I didn't know it could knock me out!" she groused, folding her arms across her chest after she finally got to her feet. "Why wasn't I warned about that?"

 

"First hand experience with them," Grandpa said. "Of course, now, when you experience them at Hogwarts, you'll be super careful with them."

 

"I believe just telling me that it could knock me out would have prevented that," she said, dusting the back of her pants off. "I'm going to go feed the chickens."

 

"Nah, you're too cocky!" he called at her retreating back. "I know how yah are! You'd think it'd never happen to yah, then bam! Flat on your back in front your whole class." His words only caused her to stomp harder towards the coop, away from them and the stupid mandrakes.

 

"Neal, you've probably ruined mandrakes for her," she heard her grandmother say, a small laugh invading her voice as she spoke. The chuckle in her voice made Cas turn around and add:

 

"I never want to see another one ever again!"

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Cassandra Cooper

"Dottie, Macy, Lexa, Caroline, Buttercup, Peanut Butter, Lynn, Fae..." Cassandra was counting the chickens as she fed them, like she always did, realizing after a bit she was missing one. "Where is Daisy?" She check inside the coop, to see if she was inside, and saw nothing.

 

After a brief moment, she realized Daisy had gotten herself stuck in the apple tree. Well, maybe she wasn't stuck, but she always took her sweet time getting down, so Cas would try to hurry her along. It wasn't abnormal for her to find most of the chickens in the tree. "You miss out on the feed this morning, its your own fault, you egg!" she said, trying to shoo the bird from the tree. She finally fluttered down to the ground and hurriedly went back to the coop.

 

It was then she realized she had another visitor on top of the coop; a strangely large owl sat perched on the roof, gazing down at the chickens below. Never having received owl post out there before, she was suddenly nervous that the owl was after their chickens.

 

"Oy, no! No meal for you here with these chickens!" She knocked the feed bucket over in her attempt to get back inside the coop, causing the chickens to stampede toward her. Peanut Butter, the biggest hen of them all, got directly underfoot and sent her tumbling to the ground, her cry of frustration mixing with the frantic clucking of chickens rushing to food, upset hooting from the owl, and the flutter of its wings as it began leave its perch.

 

Instead of flying away, it landed on the ground next to what Cas was sprawled, hooting loudly at her. "Not my chickens!" she said, trying to bring herself to her feet, but she realized that it wasn't after the chickens. Instead, it's gaze was directly on her. "What, you want to eat me, you bloody sky-rat?"

 

"HOOT!" The owl hopped a few feet, then nudged an envelope towards her that had fallen to the ground at some point. So it really was a post owl, and not some overgrown barn owl looking for a big meal. Cas snatched up the letter, flipping it over to see her name written on it.

 

"You know, you could have delivered this at the house and I would have found it," she said, shaking her head. It hooted loudly at her once more as it slowly walked over towards the spilled bucket. "I better have not just gotten sassed by an owl," she groused, picking herself up off the ground once more. "If you want some real owl food, there's a barn that's got a mess of mice in it. Help yourself; the cats sure don't."

 

With that, it fluttered off towards the barn, leaving her to open her letter. Her heart started thumping in her chest as she finally got back onto her feet; she knew what this was. The wax-stamped seal on the backside confirmed it. Her Hogwarts letter. After everything that had happened, the speculation that it was the end of the school. She held in her hand, her letter.

 

Chicken pic source

Edited by Cassandra Cooper

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