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Disclaimer: Hagrid belongs to the great JKR. Mrs. Smith, Polly, Liza, and the girls at the orphanage belong to none other than ME!
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Lost. In a sense she had been feeling this way ever since she was born, but it was impossible to ignore how much more lost she had been feeling ever since her special place had been taken away. The anger was still there, as dry as ever, and even more bitter. She was lost, forcing herself out of bed each day; lost, speaking even less than she usually did; lost, just barely getting by.
Liza usually had trouble falling asleep at night, but this time it was her thoughts, not her roommates, who kept her awake. She had never known who she was or where she fit, but the uncertainty had been gnawing at her even more prominently now. It was the thought that kept returning to the surface of her mind, even before thoughts of her biological parents snuck in, and the thoughts that scared her most of all. She could live with feeling unwanted; she had been feeling that way for the past eleven years, and she could deal with being an outcast too, but never before had she felt so utterly and completely…alone. She knew she was still welcome there, but Liza couldn’t deal with facing her library again after all that had changed. She was afraid that Julia and her friends would taunt her there again. She wanted to keep the remaining memories of her library special and was afraid she had already ruined that.
Today, she looked out the window, wishing she were a different person. It was as though she had been changed so deeply by the experience at the library that she didn’t know where she fit now. It was terrible, really, how very badly she wished she was someone else besides her. If she could have one wish, that would be it.
She stayed there in her room, looking out the window, deep in thought or reading books, for pretty much all her spare time. Sometimes she would come out for meals, to get dressed, or for her daily hour of fresh air, but she mostly stayed in her room. She had no idea why she was so depressed and how something as little as Julia’s snide comment could trigger it, seeing as she had to deal with snide comments all the time. For the first time, she couldn’t wait until school resumed and was only looking forward to the yearly trip to the country because she couldn’t wait to get away.
Liza turned back to her book. If only she lived in the world of fairytales. It would only be there that her story would be guaranteed a happy ending.
It was Polly who saw the owl first.
She had been eating breakfast when she noticed a faint tapping at the window. Polly looked closer, and to her surprise, she saw that an owl was waiting outside, a letter tied to its legs.
“It’s an owl!” Polly exclaimed, and everyone immediately stopped ignoring her and turned to stare. Liza was usually the only one who paid her any attention; none of the other girls her age really liked her, so it was strange that everyone was looking at her now. The last time they had paid her so much attention was on her birthday, and that had been a couple of weeks ago now.
“Look!” Polly told them, and she pointed outside, where the snowy white owl was waiting. Everyone began to stare and chatter at once, thinking the same thoughts. What was the owl doing, and why was it carrying an envelope? Finally, an adult noticed all of the excitement and came in.
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Smith asked in a stern voice, and everyone pointed at the owl. “What the…” Mrs. Smith muttered under her breath, and her eyes opened wide in fear. She turned to face the curious girls. “I don’t know what that owl is doing,” she told them, her voice shaking slightly, “but I’m not going to let it in. It could contain rabies-or-or far worse and you’d have to get a shot for that…”
“But it’s got a letter!” Polly cried, wondering what on earth “rabies” were. “We have to let it in! It might be for one of us.”
Mrs. Smith sighed. “Polly, I know you’d like to believe in fairytales, but I’m sure someone merely tied the letter to its legs of their own account. It couldn’t be bringing it for any of you; owls aren’t smart enough.”
Everyone else seemed to agree with Mrs. Smith, and a few went back to talking amongst themselves, but for a reason she couldn’t explain, Polly was indignant. Although she knew not everyone believed in fairytales, she just knew the owl was begging to be let in. “But-but…Mrs. Smith…”
“That’s quite enough, Polly. Girls, go back to eating. I’m sure the owl will go away of its own free will.”
Everyone had returned to their conversations and food by now, glancing at the owl every now and then, but Polly couldn’t.. It was as though the owl’s eyes were pleading with her, Let me in, let me in, let me in…
And, without thinking, without even knowing why, Polly grabbed a chair and put it near the window.
There were gasps hear around the table. “Polly!” cried Mrs. Smith in terror, but she could not catch Polly fast enough. Trembling, Polly stood on the chair and struggled to open the window. Quicker, they’re going to stop me if I don’t… Just as Mrs. Smith had almost reached her, Polly opened the window. She was surprised no one fainted in alarm; that always seemed to happen in stories.
The snowy white owl was so close to her now that Polly could feel it. Smiling slowly at her victory, Polly carefully untied the envelope from the owl’s claws. Somehow, the owl was smart enough not to go inside.
Mrs. Smith was nearly hysterical as Polly closed the window. “Polly…who knows what condition you’re in now, it could have bit you…never, never do that again…”
Polly began to tremble even harder. The girls were looking at her as though she was crazy- crazy, but a hero all the same. She wished Liza had seen it; Liza would have been proud of her.
That was when she noticed the emerald-green words on the envelope. Liza Minerva James…
Mrs. Smith opened her mouth to tell Polly to wash her hands; they would see a vet or a doctor to make sure she was all right later, but Polly didn’t even stick around to hear what she had to say. Smiling triumphantly, she ran. Suddenly, she knew why Liza ran away so often; it felt good to be free. She heard people calling for her all around. Some were probably running after her too, but she didn’t care. She had to show Liza. She had to.
Perhaps Mrs. Smith had finally told the girls to give up, because no one caught up with her. She rushed in to see Liza on her bed, looking out the window, with a wistful expression on her face. She stared at Polly, surprised, looking a little annoyed as well, but Polly hardly noticed. She was so excited, she could burst.
“Liza! Guess what?” Without waiting for Liza to ask, Polly jabbered on. “There was this owl who knocked on the window at breakfast, and it has a letter for you! Go on, read it.” She shoved the letter toward Liza excitedly, and Liza took it with a confused expression on her face.
Polly watched as Liza slowly opened the letter. She was so excited and proud of herself, she could have done a dance right then and there. To her surprise, Liza’s face turned from confused to even more confused to bitter. When she spoke, her voice was shaking slightly with anger.
“All right. Who did it?” When Polly didn’t respond, Liza looked as though she could have shaken her. “Who did it? Come on, Polly, I know you were there, you must have seen, you must have…”
Polly felt shocked at Liza’s reaction. The last thing she had expected was this- why was Liza so angry? Her voice came out very high and squeaky and scared sounding. “N-no one did,” she stammered, wondering why Liza was so angry. “Th-there was an owl, I told you; i-it was the one who delivered it to you…”
Polly had never seen Liza so angry before. “Polly, they told you to give me this, didn’t they? They told you to play this trick on me-it’s okay, you don’t have to play along, it really is okay…”
“But I’m not!” Polly exclaimed, and she realized she was crying now. She had expected Liza to believe her. “I-I’m really not, I wouldn’t lie to you, I wouldn’t play along…y-you’re the one who reads m-me fairytales. I thought of all people, you would believe me!”
She didn’t even let Liza respond. Although she knew Mrs. Smith and the girls were waiting for her, probably about to make her wash her hands and maybe even go to the vet for a rabies shot (whatever that was), she couldn’t stay in the room with Liza any longer. So she ran out, tears streaming down her face, awaiting her fate.
It turned out that that wasn’t the only letter Liza ended up getting. Though the rest were delivered in the mail, not by owl, the letters never stopped. They kept increasing, too. A week after the original was delivered, at least fifty were delivered to the orphanage.
Though the gang of girls who had made the snide comments at the library began to tease Liza about having a secret admirer, Polly made an effort to keep out of Liza’s way. She still liked Liza as much as ever, but she didn’t want Liza blowing up at her again. The only time she saw Liza was in their dorm room at night, covering up her face with her blankets, trying to block out the world.
In truth, everyone at the orphanage was more than confused about the various letters. Had Liza attracted a stalker? Mrs. Smith had looked especially paralyzed after she read one of them.
Polly still wondered what the letters said. She had gotten a hold of one of them, but she had trouble concentrating on all the words. Why was someone writing Liza letters about a “hog wart?”
It was a few days over a week after the first letter when Hagrid arrived.
Liza had been making an attempt to ignore everyone. In truth, the letters were scaring her. It wasn’t the possibility that she had attracted a stalker that was scaring her so much, but the fact that she was-well-special. After all, she couldn’t be. She just couldn’t! These letters were a joke-they had to be! They just had to.
She was eating her breakfast in her dorm, all by herself, when she heard a voice, that sounded suspiciously like Mrs. Smith’s, scream, shortly after a loud crash.
“Stalker! Murderer! Someone call the police-someone-someone-”
“I’m not a murderer, yeh big muggle,” came another voice that Liza had never heard before. It was very big and loud, yet kind sounding. “Shush, calm down- I’m only here to explain a few things to one of yer girls, about this Hogwarts she’ll be going to-”
“Oh, so you’re the one who’s responsible for all the letters? Well, I really do need to call the police then-if this isn’t stalking, I don’t know what is-”
“Yeh call the police, and I’ll show you my-err-wand then, yeah,” said the voice easily, but his words only made Mrs. Smith shriek louder and more hysterically. Liza couldn’t resist any longer. She slowly crept out of the room to where she was sure the screams were coming from.
Liza’s eyes became very big when she saw the giant. He had eyes as black as a beetle and a long mane of brown beard and hair. Everything about him was enormous, including the huge hand that was clutching a very pink umbrella.
“LIZA, DON’T GO NEAR HIM!”
Mrs. Smith had noticed her come into the room. Liza jumped back in surprise at Mrs. Smith’s word. The giant’s wary smile disappeared as he looked at Liza.
Maybe he’s realized I’m not supposed to be going to that school, Liza thought to herself, but she had a feeling that wasn’t it, exactly. It was something about the way she looked. She fingered her shoulder length red hair nervously and repositioned her thin glasses over her emerald green eyes. The giant’s face had turned white, staring at her.
“This is Liza?” he asked, and Mrs. Smith nodded. “Well…” the giant began, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say. He just stared at her, as though he was seeing a ghost or- something else, since if magic really did exist, maybe ghosts did too.
“Yeh say she’s an orphan?” the giant asked at last, and Mrs. Smith nodded. Her voice was still shaking, but it was the calmest it had been since she’d seen the giant.
“She’s been here her whole life. Well, I’m not sure if both of her parents are dead, but I know for a fact that one of them is-mother or father, can’t remember which. I can get her records out, if you like,” she added quickly, but the giant shook his head.
“That’s al’right,” he said, looking Liza over one last time, and then tore his gaze away from her and looked at Mrs. Smith. “So, I- I suppose yeh’ve looked at her Hogwarts letter?”
“Yes, and I won’t have you taking her away,” said Mrs. Smith immediately, the desperation and fear returning in her voice. “I-I’ll call the police, I’ll call the authorities, anything to keep you from taking her…”
“Well, yeh’ll have a lo’ of time to get used to it then, term doesn’t start till September first.” He looked again at Liza, as though he still couldn’t believe his eyes-or didn’t want to, Liza couldn’t help thinking.
“Something’s not wrong with me, is it?” Liza asked anxiously and, looking at him again, Liza could see the giant was forcing himself to smile. He even chuckled slightly.
“No, there’s nothing wrong with yeh-just my eyes, maybe.” It looked as though he was forcing the thought aside. “So, I suppose yeh have read one of yer letters too?”
“I’ve read one,” Liza admitted, the bitterness sinking in again, “but I don’t believe it. I mean-I’m not special, I can’t be a witch.”
But even her voice came out small and doubtful.
“Where would yeh have gotten that idea from?” the giant demanded, turning to Mrs. Smith. “You! Have yeh been teaching yer girls that they aren’t special enough?”
“I’ve been doing nothing of the sort!” Mrs. Smith cried indignantly. “It’s not my fault Liza feels that way! Liza-she’s always been an exception, she’s always been different. She’s been planting her own ideas in her mind, ever since she was born!”
“Sure sounds like it,” the giant muttered a bit sarcastically before turning to Liza again. He stared at her for a few more minutes. “I’m sorry,” he said, perhaps realizing he shouldn’t be staring. “Yeh look so much like-like-”
“Who?” Liza said curiously and was surprised to see tears swimming up in the giant’s eyes. She decided not to press the issue any further.
“Anyway, call me Hagrid. I’m the gamekeeper, Keeper of the Keys, Care of Magical Creatures teacher, whatever yer little heart desires at yer new school,” Hagrid said. Liza could tell he was still trying to blink away the tears that were swimming in his eyes.
“She’s not going!” said Mrs. Smith, obviously trying to sound stern, but her voice still came out shaky. Both Liza and the giant-Hagrid-ignored her.
“But I’m not special,” said Liza again, trying desperately to hold on to the words. “I’m not, I’m not…I’m just ordinary…not special like anyone with-with parents or f-families or anything…I’m not special like them…”
“Well, yeh’ll be special where yer going to, if yeh still don’t believe you are now,” said Hagrid, still shaking his head. “Gallopin’ gargoyles, maybe most of the other wizards an’ witches yer age have parents, but at least they’re in yer world…”
He was staring at her again. Liza was beginning to get annoyed. “What?” she asked crossly. “Can’t you concentrate on anything better in this room, but me?”
“Sorry,” said Hagrid, but it looked like it was hard for him to tear his eyes away from her.
“Yeh still don’t believe it, do yeh?” Hagrid asked, and Liza shrugged. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe him exactly, but it was impossible. It was impossible with the knowledge she had and the way she’d always viewed herself.
“Then-then-strange things haven’t happened before to yeh? When you were scared or angry…”
Feeling her cheeks redden, Liza nodded slowly. She felt strange admitting it.
“We’ll need a place to sit down,” Hagrid told Mrs. Smith easily, as though knowing she would obey. “Maybe a sittin’ room or somethin’. Anyway, that’s yer powers showing. Better learn to control them, the Ministry doesn’t like witches an’ wizards doin’ magic before they’re seventeen. That’s the Ministry of Magic,” he added, to Liza’s confused face. “Every country has one.”
Mrs. Smith had led them to the staff’s lounge. Liza, who had never been there before, looked around it curiously.
“There are all kinds of witches an’ wizards,” Hagrid explained to her. “Some are muggleborns: their parents were muggles, non-magic folk, like yers. Though come to think of it, yer parents might have been a witch and a wizard or maybe one of each, after all.” Liza flinched at the mention of her parents and noticed Hagrid had a hard time saying it, too.
“Anyway, they’re a lo’ of ways people get magic in them. Some even have magical parents and no magic in them at all. Yeh’ll be meeting a lot of combinations of people at Hogwarts. Some will tell yeh that they’re better than yeh are cause they’re purebloods-they don’t have any muggleborns or muggles in their lines, or so they say. But that’s a lot of hogwash, if I ever heard it. Yeh’re special, no matter they say.” He emphasized the word “special," probably just for her.
Then why was I abandoned like that? Liza wondered to herself, but she didn’t say this aloud. Maybe Hagrid was right, but she still had trouble grasping on to the idea. It was much easier to accept that she wasn’t special than that she was. After all, she had been telling herself she wasn’t special her whole life.
Mrs. Smith made a grunt, as though she was about to say something, but when Hagrid and Liza looked at her she quickly covered up with a cough. Hagrid turned back to his speech.
“Anyway, like I said, yeh shouldn’t listen to them. Yeh’ll be going to Hogwarts for seven years. Yeh’ll need to deal with it; yeh can’t let them get to yeh. There are a lot of classes yeh’ll be taking at Hogwarts-Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Potions, Herbology...yeh’ll be sure to find your knack somewhere. That reminds me,” he said suddenly, as though remembering right then and there, “I brought yer school list, in case yeh’ve lost it. If yeh had parents, I’d just give yeh directions, but as it goes…” His voice sounded reluctant, as he trailed off, for some reason. “I’d better be taking yeh to get them at Diagon Alley. Have anythin’ goin’ on today?”
“You won’t be taking her anywhere,” said Mrs. Smith immediately, the strength back in her voice again. “Under my demand…nowhere…”
“Maybe it’s time I show you an’ Liza what will happen if yeh try to disagree with me,” Hagrid suggested, and he waved his pink umbrella. Liza watched in anticipation, curious as to what would happen next.
There was a picture on the table they were sitting at, and Liza and Mrs. Smith watched in awe as the photo’s, which looked like a picture of Mrs. Smith some years ago, hair changed from dirty blonde to pink. It was rather like Serena’s hair had-though hers had been blue, not pink, of course.
“And of course,” added Hagrid cheerfully, as Mrs. Smith continued staring, “I really can change yer hair like that if need be! Maybe it’d be best if we did the shopping today. I can tell Liza a few more things while we do it, and I have a few more people I have to tell in the next few days. It’d be best that we get it good and over with.”
She could tell he was trying very hard not to look at her again as he asked Mrs. Smith, “Yeh’re sure yeh don’t know anything about her parents? Yeh’re sure?”
“Nothing,” said Mrs. Smith, shaking her head, a little frightened. “I’d never even heard of the hospital that she came from before.”
Hagrid simply nodded, taking this in. Liza wasn’t sure why, but she felt even more indignant than ever.
“It’ll only take a coupl’ of hours,” Hagrid assured Mrs. Smith, as he got up, nearly taking the chair he had squeezed himself into with him. “Liza, you coming?”
The indignation had built up. Liza couldn’t stand it any longer.
“No,” she whispered, but was distressed to find that her voice sounded weak and helpless, in place of angry. “I’m not special…I’m not a witch…I’m not- I’m not…”
Her voice caught on a sob, but she would not cry. Liza was a lot of things, but a crier wasn’t one of them. She had never really just let loose and cry before. She’d trained herself not to.
“It’s okay,” Hagrid said, looking at Mrs Smith. “Let her cry. It’ll do her some good to cry once in a while.”
But Liza couldn’t. She could force herself to believe that she was special if she really wanted to, but she couldn’t get herself to cry, no matter how very badly she needed to.
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