It was cold. Lea wasn't surprised, she was used to the cold; the orphanage where she grew up was almost always cold. She couldn't sleep when she was cold, which was probably the reason for her pallid face and the blueish shadows under her eyes. She tossed and turned, but failed to fall into sleeps' clutches.
She sighed in resignation and drew herself to a sitting position. If she wasn't going to fall asleep, at least she could do something, like reading, to fill her time until it was time for breakfast. She glanced out of the window and saw that the sun was just rising above the skyline, which meant that the matron would be knocking on her door in about an hour or so.
She grabbed the rumpled book from the small desk by the window and walked back to her bed, where she settled comfortably and opened her much beloved book. It was surprising when Lea took such a liking to reading English classics. Not only was she really bad at concentrating on anything, but she was also supposed to be very young to fully understand the concept of some of the books.
But she loved them, and they were her only escape in the grim orphanage. She had a few friends there, but none of them were really close. Everyone there was so miserable, so resigned to their faith. She had she just couldn't stand to spend a lot of time around such dark people.
Even thought she'd been in the orphanage since birth, she still had underlying faith and optimism in her bright future. It might sound arrogant, but she always thought something greater was waiting for her out there. She couldn't name it, but she had had the feeling since she was five, when she accidentally turned the matron's hair purple when she insisted Lea ate her peas.
A smile pulled at her lips at the memory. A lot of strange things happened around Lea, especially when she felt some kind of strong emotion, like anger or happiness. The other children thought she was odd, and some feared her, but others thought she was very cool, and most of the time they tried to persuade her do some more of her cool tricks. She did once or twice, but most of the time it came accidentally, sometimes in the most inconvenient of times.
She chuckled softly when a memory floated in her mind; she was nine, and she had to serve punishment for pushing Betty Vaught from the swing – hey, it was all Betty's fault – and the matron was explaining to her how to clean with the mop, and Lea hadn't been paying attention as usual, which made the matron angry. She started to shout, and the bucket of soapy water had somehow floated in the air and turned over the matron's head, pouring all its contents over her.
The matron had been so startled and angry that she lifted Lea's punishment and had let her go. Since then, the matron had been more cautious around Lea, and had started to watch over Lea personally in case she showed any signs of doing anything unusual again.
A knock startled her out of her thoughts and she looked at the door curiously. It couldn't be time for breakfast.
The door opened and the matron, Ms Higgs, walked inside. She was a tall, bony woman with shrewd blue eyes and blonde hair always pulled into a tight, stern chignon bun.
"Hello-" But Lea's greeting was interrupted when another person walked inside her tiny room. She blinked once, not sure if what she was seeing was real. The elderly man was certainly odd. He had very long silvery white hair and beard, and was dressed in the most eccentric piece of clothing she had ever seen. His striking, twinkling light blue eyes peeked at her from behind his half-moon glasses and she suddenly felt at ease.
"Lea, you have a visitor. This is Mr. Dumbledore." Ms. Higgs said as she gestured to the man at her side.
"Hello." Lea said, setting side her book. She crossed her legs Indiat-style, ignored the matron's glare at her "inappropriate" choice of sitting, and gestured at the desk chair. "Have a seat."
Mr. Dumbledore smiled pleasantly and took a seat on the rickety chair.
"I'll leave you two alone." Ms. Higgs muttered, giving Mr. Dumbledore a suspicious glance before leaving the room.
"How do you do, Lea?" Mr. Dumbledore asked.
Lea shrugged. "Just reading. What can I do for you, Mr. Dumbledore?"
Mr. Dumbledore smiled and his eyes twinkled even more. "Please, call me Professor Dumbledore. I work at a school called Hogwarts. I am here to offer you a place at my school."
Lea's eyebrows raised to her hairline. "Really? Why offer me a place in your school?"
"I knew both your parents-"
"You knew my parents?" Lea asked eagerly, her light grey eyes filling with interest and excitement. "Who are they?"
Mr. Dumbledore smiled sadly, and Lea's heart dropped a little. She had suspected they were dead; she had been found in a wreckage of a house, after all, but Dumbledore's smile confirmed her worst fears.
"Let me rephrase that." She said quietly. "Who were they?"
"They were very bright, some of Hogwarts' best students." Professor Dumbledore smiled. "They loved you very much, Lea. Do not forget that."
Lea swallowed and nodded. "Yeah…"
"Hogwarts is a very special school." Professor Dumbledore said, his smile lightening slightly. "It is a school for people with special abilities." Lea's eyebrows raised once again. "It is a school for magic."
There was silence as Lea processed it. "Is… is magic what I can do?"
Professor Dumbledore's face darkened slightly, confusing Lea. She hurried to explain. "I mean, a lot of strange things happen around me and, well, I once floated to the top of the tree to take the football ball. That is magic, isn't it?"
"Yes, Lea, this is magic." Professor Dumbledore said, his pleasant, light demeanour back. "You will have the chance to study it if you choose to accept your place at Hogwarts."
"Of course I accept." Lea exclaimed, laughing happily. "I can't believe this is happening! I always knew I was different but this…"
"This is your letter. You will find the list of books and everything else you will need for school inside." He handed her a yellowish envelope.
She looked down at it, and bit her lip. "I don't have any money…"
Professor Dumbledore continued to smile. "Worry not, child. Both your parents have left you more than enough."
"Oh…" Lea smiled softly. "Thank you, Professor." She told him sincerely, clutching her letter tightly in her hands.
"There is no reason to thank me, Lea. Professor McGonagall will come tomorrow morning to collect you and help you find everything you need." He stood up, and Lea stood up with him. "I expect to see you on September 1st."
"You will." Lea said confidently, her eyes twinkling happily.
"Until then." He nodded, smiled and left.
"Goodbye." She said softly as she closed the door after him and leaned against it. She looked at the letter in her hands and pressed it to her chest.