The letter had come on a rainy Friday afternoon when Katniss was helping her mother prepare supper. The day had gone on like any other; hunting with Gale, going to the black market to eat and trade, watching Prim milk her goat, and then cooking. This mostly consisted of her mother staring off into space after she got the water to a boil, and Katniss taking over the job.
She hadn’t been the same since five years ago, when Katniss’ father was killed by a dark wizard. An old follower of Voldemort, a death eater, had escaped Azkaban and had been said to be wandering a nearby muggle village. Katniss’ father was an auror of ten years, and was sent to investigate. He never returned, and though it should have been comforting when his killer was captured, Katniss’ mother went into depression. She never talked, barely ate, and spent most of her time staring blankly at whatever she happened to be facing.
Five years didn’t make much of a difference. Now she cooked a bit, tidied up the house every few days, and occasionally joined in on Katniss and Prim’s conversations, but other than that, she was as unresponsive as she was on the day they got the terrible news from Cornelius Fudge.
Now she sat staring at the constant run of the rain down the window, closed off from her daughters as her mind traveled to times of happiness and the love of her husband. Katniss turned away from her mother and went back to chopping up the carrots for tonight’s stew. She knew it would be so much easier to just use a wand- many daily tasks would be less tiresome. The problem was, her father’s death was caused by a wand, and though Katniss reminded her mother that it was ‘a wand in the wrong hands’, she no longer allowed magic of any sort in the house. After a year or two, Katniss stopped trying to convince her.
Katniss lived in a family of witches. This should have been a good thing, and to Katniss it had always appeared to be. But witches without magic isn’t so spectacular, and so she began to feel quite ordinary. On her eleventh birthday, Katniss had received three acceptance letters for wizarding schools across the globe. One was on the other side of the continent, another in Germany, and the final, the most exciting, was located in London- Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Finally, Katniss had felt that she had a purpose. She could imagine the hours she’d spend sitting up in her house dormitory, talking to other witches her age and eating all of the treats her father used to bring her and Prim when they were little. But her birthday was a month after her father’s death. Her mother forbid her to go. She felt it unfair that her mother could keep that from her; it was such an amazing opportunity for her. But she hadn’t dared argue. Her mother was unstable, and arguing only made her worse.
And so, each year Katniss received a letter from Professor Minerva McGonagall offering her a chance to enroll in the school. Her trip would be paid for and any supplies provided. It was some sort of charity system for children of dead aurors, and though usually Katniss didn’t like people’s pity, she wanted this more than anything.
She hadn’t bothered to show her mother the letters since the second time; she knew what the answer would be. It was pointless, and it would only make her mother upset. Prim had gotten her letter the year before, and she followed Katniss’ example with discarding the invitation.
Supper was ready. Katniss set the pot of steaming broth on the table, and set three places at the table. Prim came in the front door and removed her boots from her feet, setting them on the floor beside Katniss’. She followed her nose to the table, and sat, eyeing the food hungrily.
“Mom, supper’s ready,” Katniss said. She tried to make her voice gentle, but it wasn’t natural. Prim had always been the sweet one. Katniss still held a grudge against her mother for with-holding the use of magic from the family because of her own fears. She tried to feel sorry for her, but she couldn’t. The feeling felt forced. Katniss pitied no one- except maybe muggles, who couldn’t use magic even if they were allowed to try. There were always opportunities as squibs, but only if the muggle knew about the existence of magic, which was rare.
“Mom,” Katniss repeated, her voice harder now.
Katniss’ mother looked up at her, surprised. She looked over to the pot, and understood. She moved her chair to the table, where she sat and tried to focus on the bowl in front of her.
Katniss took a seat herself, and smiled at Prim, who looked at the pot with longing.
“Are you waiting for an invitation, little duck?” she asked her blonde little sister. Prim grinned at the use of her nickname, and reached for the ladle to serve herself some food.
“I got some strawberries from the market,” Katniss said when it was her turn to dish herself.
Prim was overjoyed, and practically knocked her bowl off the table in excitement.
“Strawberries? How? They must have cost you a fortune!” Prim babbled, her face brightening. Katniss would do anything to make her sister smile.
“Can we have some tonight?” Prim asked eagerly.
Katniss smiled knowingly. “I don’t see why not,” she replied. “As long as you finish your-”
“Done!” Prim interrupted through her final mouthful of soup. “So where are the strawberries?”
Katniss couldn’t help laughing. “Not so fast. Why don’t you help me with the dishes first?”
Prim sighed, but nodded. “Okay,” she said, standing up from her seat. “Mom, are you going to help? You can dry while Katniss and I wash.”
Her mother blinked a few times, before turning to Prim in confusion. “Sorry, honey... what?”
“Oh. I was just asking if you want to-” Prim started, but Katniss put a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s not worth it,” she murmured. “Let’s just go get it done.”
Prim nodded slowly, and her eyes became glossy as they usually did when her mother didn’t understand her. They both missed her, even Katniss, beneath all of her anger and abandonment.
Prim and Katniss went to the sink, and began washing the dishes side by side, listening to the sound of the rain outside, thinking of how things could be if magic could once again be a part of their lives.