A stout owl by the name of Laertes II glided silently through the school. Upon reaching the Diner, he circled the room until locating the young lady he sought.
Scraping a thin layer of cream cheese onto a toasted bagel, Claudia barely glanced up at the rustle of wings. She received mail at school with medium regularity, although was not particularly expecting a delivery that morning. When a small parchment envelope dropped expertly onto the table beside her plate, the sixth year looked up to see Laertes II: her mother’s owl.
Laying down her bagel beside the poached salmon still to be added to her breakfast, Claudia decided to open the letter before continuing her meal.
My darling Claudia,
I’m so very sorry to correspond this to you in writing, but I want you to hear it from us first. Your father’s parents have elected to disown the family. Try not to be too concerned at this point. Your father and I are trying to establish what this means for us socially, financially, and as a family. I will arrange to meet you at Pearl Street as soon as I can. Until then, your time at school should remain unchanged. If you need support, please speak to Garen Tennant, I know his door will be open to you.
I love you, sweetheart. I’ll write again soon.
Claudia read the letter over twice in quick succession, then deftly refolded it and sat motionless, the letter in her lap, the bagel and salmon still yet to be united on the plate in front of her.
The content of the message was inescapably succinct: Her father was disowned, and, with him, his whole family.
Claudia knew her family had made precarious alignments, and she knew, too, that her brother’s secret would now be circulated among society, thanks to the bruised ego and ill conceived machinations of Jordan Williams. She had also known that her paternal grandparents would vehemently disapprove of his controversial union (which, the longer it prevailed, the more likely it seemed rather more permanent than Claudia had first imagined, Merlin help them all). Nevertheless the confirmation that this shocking news had reached the rest of her family at last provoked a profound realization: things would never go back to the way they were. Scenes flooded her mind, of being turned away from gatherings and events, of being barred from parties and soirées, of being asked to leave her favourite shops and restaurants.
Then, as quickly as it had filled to the brim, her mind cleared. It was only as Claudia looked up, her expression blank, her mouth closed and eyes focused, that she took stock of the person sitting opposite. She sorely desired to act as naturally as possible, giving no indication her missive contained life-altering news, yet she could not complete a coherent thought, let alone execute a premeditated action. She remained motionless and silent for longer than was considered normal by any rational standard.