If you had asked me at age five if I wanted to play dress up, I would have replied, “No, Dwagons!”
If, at age nine, I had been asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered, without even a second’s hesitation, “I want to be a dragon tamer.”
When, in my fifth year at Hogwarts, I had to have a career discussion with head of Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall looked down at the “Work with Dragons!” brochure I had brought with me with a look of barely suppressed resignation.
“Should I even bother showing you these?” She asked, gesturing to the other pamphlets, in that mildly amused/ annoyed voice that she had reserved just for me, ever since Filch caught me preparing to rappel down the Astronomy Tower at three o’clock in the morning on the first day of term in my third year.
“Well,” I answered carefully, not wanting to give her yet another reason to send a letter home to my parents, “Probably not.”
Her nostrils flared as she raised her head to stare at her favorite spot on the ceiling.
“Very well, Miss Ramsey.” She finally responded, staring at me in a way that suggested she didn’t know whether to applaud me, or lock me up in the lunatic ward at St. Mungo’s.
In truth, that was a look that I often received. I wasn’t like other girls, from my beat up combat boots to my love of adventure; I’ve never been one for convention, and so what others thought has never mattered to me.
Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t exactly of the same mindset.
“Ileana,” my mother would scold in her native Romanian. “Please don’t wear those ratty shorts out in public. It isn’t proper.”
For someone born and raised outside of Bucharest, Romania, she sure used the word “proper” a lot.
My mother, Marilena Stanescu, fell in love with my father, William Ramsey, as soon as she laid eyes on him (or at least that’s how she told it.). But, before you start thinking, “Hmm, that’s a little odd,” let me explain:
My father is a curse breaker. Yes, a full out adventurer- long, black hair tied back with a piece of hemp, both ears pierced, with bright amber eyes; my eyes. To a pretty bookstore clerk in the wizarding district of Brasov, my dad must have seemed like a walking myth.
Well, honestly, my dad probably took one look at her unruly mane of chestnut brown hair and violet eyes, and fell ponytail-over-dragon-skin-boots.
Anyway, back to me. That story is only important as it explains my eccentric upbringing (Summers with my grandparents and billions of cousins in Romania, and winters wherever my dad’s job took him- usually to South America or Africa), and my love of adventure- more specifically- my love of dragons.
The first time I saw a dragon, I was with my dad in the mountains of Romania, and I had to be physically restrained; I wanted to ride it.
“Whoa there, Ili,” my dad laughed, scooping my little three-year-old butt into his arms.
“I want dwagon!” I said, clawing at his strong arms.
“When you’re older, Ili.” He assured me, and carried me, like a sack of potatoes, kicking and screaming back to my Grandmother Ema’s
I had grown up around adventure, and, at age eleven, when my parents enrolled me at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I was in no mood to let that adventure go.
On the train to Hogwarts, I was hauling my trunk, trying to find an empty compartment, when I heard voices directly on my right, talking about my favorite subject.
“But, the Norwegian Ridgeback had the most tail spikes.” A short, red haired boy was telling his friends, who were gazing at him, awestruck.
I couldn’t help it, I threw open the door and promptly said, “You’re wrong! Everyone knows the Hungarian Horntail has the most spikes.”
The boy stared at me, open-mouthed. I guess I was sort of scary looking; knobby-kneed with huge, amber eyes, and crazy, flyaway hair shoved into a braid.
“What do you know?” He said smugly. “You’re just a girl!” His friends laughed and, furious, I slammed the compartment door shut.
What did I know? Plenty. I knew enough to realize that I didn’t like him, not one bit.
Two hours later, he was sorted along with me into Gryffindor, and our rivalry truly began.
I’m talking, of course, about Charlie Weasley, and this is the story of how much I hate him.
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