Chapter 1 – The Whites
The White family lived in a small cottage that looked like it was falling apart. Mr White was thirty-four years old. He wore his dark brown hair pushed back, and he regularly shaped his moustache so that it there was always one third of a centimetre of flesh between his nose and moustache, and there was always one third of a centimetre of flesh between his moustache and lip. He had a perfectly proportioned, heart-shaped face. His large eyes were a dark brown in colour, accentuated by his dark eyelashes. Mrs White was thirty years old. She had long red hair that was parted in the middle and naturally curled at the bottom. Her hair formed a triangle on her forehead where it fell slightly onto the front of her face and then curved out towards the sides. She had high cheekbones and a tidy nose. Her blue-grey eyes turned down just a little at the corners, and she surrounded them with lots of make-up that matched her clothes. She wore fancy dresses that her husband bought for her, in bright colours but never any shorter than just below the knee. On her legs, she wore stockings and, as she spent most of her time at home, caring for her daughter, her feet usually bore a pair of fleece lined slippers. Mr and Mrs White had only the one child. Penelope White was ten years old. She shared the same hair colour and eye colour as her mother, but her face was heart shaped and perfectly proportioned like her father's. Her pale skin was covered in freckles, and she had dimples embedded in her soft, round cheeks. Penelope was a happy child, and lived a happy life. Her father had a good job; he was the manager of a factory. He bought her lots of toys, and cared for Penelope and her mother very well.
It was the day of her eleventh birthday when Penelope's life was turned upside down. Penelope and her mother were sat at their kitchen table eating porridge when a tapping noise at the window came to their attention. Penelope looked at Mrs White and said, "Mother, can you hear that peculiar noise?" Penelope's mother had turned even paler than usual, and her lips were tightly pursed. At Penelope's words, Mrs White looked at her daughter and slightly opened her lips, as if to speak, then frowned and stood up. Pushing her chair back from the table, she carefully approached the window as the tapping started again. She pulled back the curtain and jumped back, grabbing the back of a chair for support. She put her hand on her heart, bit her lip, and looked at Penelope once more, still frowning.
"Mother, what is it?" Penelope asked. Mrs White leaned forward and unlatched the window. An owl, large and brown in colouring, hopped onto the windowsill. In it's beak was an envelope. It looked at Mrs White, then scanned the room, and it's eyes found Penelope. The owl flapped it's wings a little, and half flew, half hopped, to the table. It dropped the envelope in front of Penelope, then left through the open window. Penelope's mother closed the window again, and swayed as she made her way back to the table. Her cheeks were now a funny shade of pink, and she looked like she was about to pass out. She carefully lowered herself back into her chair and rested her head in her hands, as Penelope held the envelope gingerly, waiting for her mother to speak. Mrs White sighed.
“Penelope, dear,” she began, “there are things I haven't told you. Heavens, there are things I haven't told your father. I have many secrets from my past, that I tried to escape, but, no matter what happens, somehow your past always catches up on you.
“When I was a girl of your age, I received a letter. It was a letter I was expecting, and had been expecting from a young age, due to my upbringing. My mother and father... were not the most normal of people, you see. They had certain... talents. They knew that, because of this, I would also possess these... talents. When my letter arrived, I was so proud. The letter changed my life, as I had expected it to, but then, when I was just eighteen, I met your father, and everything changed. See, your father did not possess these talents, but I fell in love with him all the same. Being with your father, I was ashamed to be my true self, as I was afraid he would not want to be with me if he had known. Just a year after meeting him, I fell pregnant with you and, after that, my parents no longer wanted anything to do with me.
“My parents believed, and they were not the only ones, that people who were of this particular upbringing should not love those who were not.” Mrs White sighed. Penelope looked at her blankly, having not thoroughly understanding her mother's ramblings. Her mother had closed her eyes and mouth, and was swaying where she sat. Penelope stood up and went to the sink, to get her mother a glass of water. She took her time, turning the tap very slowly, and waiting for the water to run extremely cold. She felt awkward, seeing her mother, who was usually such a strong, confident woman, quivering and unhappy. She glanced back at the table and saw that her mother looked a little more healthy, so she turned off the tap and took the water back to the table.
“Mother--” Penelope began, but her mother interrupted her.
“Penelope,” Mrs White addressed her daughter. “You, like me and my family before me, possess magical blood. You are a witch.”
Penelope almost laughed. She would have done if she wasn't so afraid that her mother may be ill. A witch? Witches were things of fairy-tales, not of real life. She should telephone her father at the factory, but they weren't supposed to use the telephone when he wasn't at home, except for real emergencies. Was this a real emergency? Penelope sucked on her index finger, as she usually did when she was nervous.
Mrs White looked at her daughter. “Penelope, Penny, I know you don't believe me, it is a lot to take in. Just, stay here one moment. I need to fetch something from my room. Don't open that letter yet and, please, honey, breathe!” Penelope's mother rushed out of the kitchen and Penelope heard the muffled footsteps as her mother's slippers hit the stairs in quick precession. She let out the breath she had been holding and her right hand reached for the telephone receiver and rested there. Not two minutes had passed when her mother's footsteps again sounded on the stairs, clearly taking them at pace,
and she appeared once more in the kitchen. In her right hand was a long wooden stick. Clearly, Mrs White had lost her mind. Penelope went to lift the telephone receiver and Mrs White's eyes opened wide with shock.
“No! Penny! Honey! Don't do that!” Mrs White shouted. She held the stick high and quickly yelled “Lumos maxima!” A bright light erupted from the tip of the wand, and Penelope dropped the telephone in shock. “Mother! What was that?!” She enquired, in shock.
“Expecto Patronum!” Mrs White shouted, and a large cat appeared, almost ghost-like in appearance, surrounded by light. The cat prowled around for a minute or so before it faded away. Mrs White continued waving the stick, pointing it at things and shouting words that sounded like a different language to Penelope, words that were making things happen; the porridge bowls that had been sat beside the sink jumped into the wash bowl and the dish brush started washing them. The hands on the clock started spinning around. The cloth from beside the sink flew across the room and started wiping the table, whilst the objects on the table took it in turns to jump out of the way so that it could clean beneath where they had been. Mrs White waved the stick, and everything stopped instantaneously. She moved her hair from in front of her eyes, which today were heavily lined in black Kohl, and looked at her daughter, who was astounded.
“Penelope, dear, I know this is a lot to take in. Please, forgive me for not telling you and your father for all of these years and, please understand why I didn't do so.” She lowered the stick and came to stand in front of Penelope. She put her hand on her daughter's shoulder and looked into her eyes. “I love you, Penny. I truly do. I love your father, but I'd hate for him to not love me for what I am. I am going to settle this though, dear, I will tell him the truth. Now, open your letter.” She smiled at her daughter encouragingly.
Penelope smiled back, still slightly confounded. She picked the letter up from the table, and turned it over. It was sealed with red wax, in which an emblem was imprinted. The emblem was shaped like a shield, which was separated into four smaller, equal sections and, in each of those, there was a picture of an animal. In the centre of the shield was a “H”, and under the shield was what looked like a banner, adorned with words. She carefully slipped her finger under the seal, opening the envelope. The envelope was made with a thick, expensive feeling paper, as was the letter inside. She pulled out the letter, which consisted of two sheets, and unfolded it.
“Dear Miss White,
“We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...." Penelope couldn't help herself; she grinned as her eyes took in the words. It seemed too real to be true, but she trusted her mother, she had seen the proof. She turned her attention to the other sheet of paper, which, true to the word of the letter, contained a list of things that she would need for her first school year. There were titles of books that she was definitely not familiar with, and items that she almost giggled at. A wand? A cauldron? She looked at her mother, still in almost disbelief.
“What are we going to do?” Penelope questioned, suddenly serious. “What are we going to tell father? I honestly can't go to this school if he disapproves. And what if he leaves us?”
Mrs White looked troubled for a moment, and then smiled a thin smile at her daughter. “Penelope, my darling, let me talk to your father. We can handle whatever consequences and, if he loves me as I believe he truly does, he shall forgive me.”
Right on cue, Mr White walked through the door. He smiled a practised smile at each of them in turn. He then walked to his wife, wrapped his left arm around her, and pulled her close in an embrace. He then kissed her, on the lips, and pulled a bunch of yellow gerberas from behind his back; Penelope's mother's favourites. “Thank you Philip!” She beamed at her husband, for a moment obviously forgetting the situation, and he sat her back down in her seat. Then he turned towards Penelope and set down his large bag on the table, right on top of the letter. Penelope and her mother looked at each other briefly. Philip White opened the bag and pulled out an expensive looking tan coloured leather satchel, with a decorative gift tag, attached by a star-shaped bow. Penelope grinned and, without thinking, she hugged her father and said “Oh father, oh daddy! That's perfect, it will be perfect for when I start Hogwarts!” Her father smiled, and then furrowed his brow.
“Hogwarts?” He asked, looking between Penelope and her mother. “What's Hogwarts?”
Mrs White looked at her husband, her cheeks filled with colour. “Philip, my darling,” she began, “there is something I need to tell you.”
Author's note: I do not own the idea of Hogwarts or the Hogwarts letter (obviously!) those are ideas from the mind of the marvellous Joanne Rowling! Please let me know how you find the first chapter in the comments section :) Thank you!
Hogwarts letter from p.39, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K Rowling (1997)