Saturday, 25 September 2010
07:48:14 PM (GMT)
The girl was perched on one of the highest branches in the tree, gazing down at the
yellowing grass and humming quietly to herself. For an 11 year old, Emillia was
extraordinarily clever and beautiful. Her waist-length, straight black hair floated
about in the cool breeze, blowing in her face and hiding her bright green eyes. She
stretched out one slender, pale arm and plucked a thin twig from the end of the
branch she was sitting on. Waving it about slowly, she imagined bright white sparks
shooting out of the end and falling, glittering to the ground, but nothing happened.
Angrily, she snapped the thin stick of wood in half and launched it as far away from
her as possible. On the verge of tears, Emillia climbed back down the tree and sat on
the bench beneath, bringing her knees up to her chest, bowing her head and hiding her
white face from view. She’d just finished reading the ‘Harry Potter’ series for
the first time, and wanted to be a witch so bad.
“Hey, look! It’s that freak, Lewis!” Shouted a boy, leading his gang over to
where Emillia was sitting and standing over her. “Why are you crying, Lewis?
Finally realise what a freak you are?”
“Leave me alone.” She mumbled to her knees.
“Or what, Lewis? Going to get Mummy on me?”
“Oh sorry, I forgot. You don’t have a Mummy, do you? Or a dad.”
“I said, shut up.” She’d raised her head by this point, and was glaring at the
boy through wide, tearstained eyes.
“Or what? You’re hopeless. Skinny and pale and weird. That’s what you are,
Lewis. Weird. No wonder no one likes you.” Emillia stood and confronted the boy. He
was about a head taller than her- despite being the same age and in the same year as
her in school. His messy blonde hair stuck up in all directions, and almost invisible
eyelashes surrounded his dark brown eyes. His skin was paler than hers- almost grey,
and he was just as skeletal as her too- with a pointed chin and deep-set eyes. If
anyone was weird, it was he. “Ooh, scary. The little emo’s going to tell me
Emillia’s deep green eyes flashed blood red, her fists clenched at her sides and
her gentle face contorted with rage. She felt so angry she thought she might explode.
Turning her back on the boy, she let a single salty tear trickle down her cheek and
She hated Gary- the boy. He and his gang had managed to make her life a misery,
simply because she was different, but she was too small and too powerless to do
anything about it. Her parents had died shortly after she was born, and ever since
she could remember, she’d been forced to live with her awful aunt and uncle. Gary
was their son, the apple of their eye. They couldn’t see how he could be so mean,
and thought Emillia was making up these tales to get him into trouble and gain some
attention. No matter how upset she was, how hurt she was inside, she had nobody to
turn to. Her aunt and uncle hated her, because she wasn’t the same as other
children her age: she preferred to read rather than play computer games or watch TV,
and she spent most of her time locked up in her tiny room doing work intended for
much older children than herself. Strange things always seemed to happen around her
whenever she was angry or sad- and these things often managed to make her much
happier, but lately they’d stopped happening, and she couldn’t understand why.
The street on which she lived was quiet- and not too far away from the park. There
were many other children living on the street, but they were all on Gary’s side,
because he was tall, handsome and easily the oldest and toughest of them all. The
other children all knew that should they fall out with him or be nice to his freakish
little cousin, they’d be likely to get beaten up- which was mostly the reason
Emillia had no friends. She trudged along, kicking at a small round pebble, and
crying quietly to herself. Reaching her home, Number 6 Hazel Lane, she pushed open
the creaky iron gate and walked slowly up the crunchy gravel path. Wiping her eyes
and nose on the sleeves of her jumper, she opened the door and closed it quietly
behind her, before kicking off her dusty old trainers and climbing the stairs to her
A single bed with a thin mattress and bobbly blankets filled half of her room, and
the other half contained a cardboard box and a small, dilapidated desk. She was
forced to keep her few belongings in this cardboard box- as there wasn’t enough
room for a chest of drawers or a wardrobe. Her clothes, all of which had come from
second hand shops or had once belonged to Gary, were scattered messily about the room
and piled on the end of her bed. She hated having to wear boys clothes, as she was
laughed at something rotten, and it wasn’t even as if her aunt and uncle couldn’t
afford to buy her new clothes once in a while. They were both lawyers with extremely
large salaries, and could easily afford to buy Gary anything his heart desired, but
as Emillia wasn’t actually their child, they never saw reason to be even remotely
nice to her.
Several hours later, after tidying her room a little, she heard the front door slam
shut, and knew instantly that Gary was home, and would most probably be climbing the
stairs soon to take part in his favourite hobby- beating up his cousin and making fun
of her for no reason whatsoever. She dropped the pile of dirty clothes she was
carrying and crawled under her bed to hide- Gary wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the
box. Her evil cousin burst into her room and looked around, rooting through her
belongings for anything of remote value, before sniffing loudly and stalking out to
go and play on his computer.
Emillia crawled out from her dusty hiding place and tiptoed over to the window. She
stared longingly outside at the dark blue sky, gazed up at the moon and sighed,
realising how much like Harry she actually was. Neither had parents, both were forced
to live with people they hated, unsure about everything, treated like dirt- and they
even looked alike. The only differences seemed to be that he was actually a wizard,
whereas she could only dream. Things turned out ok for him, but Emillia highly
doubted that things would ever get better for her, or take such a dramatic turn. She
blinked and squinted in the direction of the moon- a tiny black dot had appeared in
front of it, and was slowly getting bigger, appearing to be coming towards her.
Risking a glance away, she checked the time on one Gary’s old alarm clocks- that he
didn’t want because he had a much better alarm on his phone. It was almost
midnight- it was mere minutes before she turned eleven. Turning back to the window,
she stared back up at the moon, but the dot had gone. Seconds later, she heard
something tapping the glass by her fingers. Looking down, she saw a beautiful brown
owl perched on the windowsill. The owl stuck out its leg- upon which a yellow
envelope was fastened. Emillia untied the note and stroked the owl gently as she
broke the green wax seal on the back of the parchment. Her mouth dropped open as she
read and re-read the note.
The Hogwarts crest was printed at the top of the page, in the centre. Beneath it,
written in shining green ink, the letter read:
Dear Miss Lewis,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Emillia gasped with shock and dropped the front page of the letter. She began
reading through the list of requirements for books and uniform, wondering how on
earth she was to get hold of all these things, and then how she was to pay for them.
Her mood then dropped- surely this was just a sick prank? She’d kidded herself for
so long that magic was possible, and now proof was here, she refused to believe it.
It was too good to be true- it was a reasonable explanation for all the strange stuff
that seemed to go on, and no matter how much she wanted to believe it was all true;
she couldn’t help but think it was some sort of strange prank. Harry Potter,
headmaster of Hogwarts? Sure, it was certainly believable, and nobody, not even her
cousin, could have managed to write the letter so realistically. Remembering the owl,
she decided it must be real, and had to sit down on her bed to stop herself
collapsing in shock. The bird tweeted and flew across the room, landing on the bed
next to her and holding out its leg for her reply. "Ok, just let me go ask my aunt
and uncle- they have to sign this first, right? And they need to take me to London to
get my stuff. They’ll probably be glad to get rid of me- and only have to see me
for 6 weeks a year until I’m 17. Stay here, I’ll be back in a minute."
Rising from the bed and clutching the letter tightly, she walked towards the door
and opened it, stepping out onto the landing. Checking her alarm clock, she saw that
she’d been 11 for almost 10 minutes, but with all the excitement, she hadn’t
realised. Walking along the landing, her bare feet sticking to the laminate flooring,
she knocked on her aunt and uncle’s door. Hearing a grunt from within, and
recognising that as permission to enter, she pushed the door open and approached the
bed. Her aunt and uncle were sitting up, leaning against their pillows. Her aunt was
slim, and reading through some court notes, whereas her uncle was rather fat and
typing away on his new laptop. “What on earth do you want at this time of night?
Can’t you see we’re trying to sleep?” Emillia had to bite her lip to stop
herself from retorting and held out the letter. “An owl just… appeared on my
windowsill and gave me this. I need you to sign it, so I can go to Hogwarts.” She
said, very quietly. The room was dark, but by the dim light from the bedside light
she could see her uncle’s face turn pale. Emillia thought he was going to shout,
but he laughed. “Hogwarts? I told you those books would fill your head with
rubbish. Now go back to bed, right now, and don’t even think of waltzing in here
again to tell me more stupid tales of owls on your windowsill.” And with that, he
shredded the letter into many tiny pieces and dropped them into the bin beside his
bed. Emillia’s face dropped, and she walked out of the room crying, closing the
door softly behind her.
When she walked back through her door, the owl hooted softly, flew across the room
and perched on her shoulder, nibbling her ear affectionately. “Don’t… just…
I’m not going.” The owl tilted its head to one side and bit her ear again, quite
sharply. “I’m sorry! My uncle… he… Look. He’s not going to let me go to
Hogwarts. He thinks it’s some sort of joke.” The owl, seeming to understand, flew
back across the room and sat on her desk, tapping a crumpled piece of paper and blunt
pencil with its beak. “You want me to reply?” The owl hooted happily and stepped
aside to let Emillia write.
Dear Professor Weasley,
My ghastly aunt and uncle do not understand the magical world, and they have ripped
up my letter. They think it’s some sort of joke, and I want to learn magic, because
I’m tired of not being able to control the things that happen when I’m angry or
sad. I don’t know how to persuade them to let me come to Hogwarts, and I don’t
know what to do. Having been friends with someone in the same situation as I for some
time, I’m sure you understand, and know what to do.
She folded the paper up and used the string from the other letter to tie this one to
the owl’s leg. The owl hooted happily, gave Emillia one last peck, flew out of the
window and away over the horizon. Emillia followed it to the window and watched the
black speck get smaller and smaller until it has vanished altogether.