amazing ci by kaylo ren @tda!!
Today, Marissa thought blearily somewhere in the deep recesses of her consciousness, did not go as routinely as planned.
She had wanted to go meet up with her friends, as outside of school they were hard to meet up with. It was mostly a mix of ‘oh, I can’t make it’ to ‘I’m so sorry an emergency came up’, and it was frustrating. Marissa couldn’t be classed as an extrovert by any means, but she did have extreme bouts of loneliness if she doesn’t see her friends every so often.
She had first met them when she was a mere five years old, just around when her parents had just moved from Mexico to Britain. Their meeting was not as tactful as ‘hi my name is’ and ‘oh it’s nice to meet you I’m’. It was more of paint fight, with splashes of colors going everywhere, not even missing an inch of the classroom Marissa had been in. By the end of the messy (albeit extremely fun) paint fight, the two girls approached her and said boldly that they liked her, and that she was now their friend. Being rather new to the city—or rather the whole country—she accepted their hypothetical outstretched hand of friendship, not knowing anything else to do. The rest, as they say, was history.
Marissa now liked them quite a bit, but it was hard to ever meet up with them, as she had previously said. The three of them lived quite far apart from each other, so playdates, as she liked to call them, had to be planned meticulously and carefully.
Everything had gone as planned: she and her parents had woke up around the right time, and got ready in about an hour. They went out of the house (after locking it to prevent intruders) and then proceeded to drop off her little sister, Sonrisa, at a friend’s house, her parents citing that they wanted to at least walk and talk with her if not anytime else. Marissa was nothing short of flattered at that; at the time, her two year old little sister took up so much of her parents’ time that she had started to feel neglected. It was hard having a little sister seven years younger than you, and not three or four years younger.
All three had walked the route perfectly, and yet the day still diverged from the plan. She was crossing the street that was close to the pastry shop where she was to meet with her two friends.
Marissa dutifully looked both ways, and not seeing any oncoming cars, she crossed. But she didn’t see the car that had so unexpectedly came into view, and not able to move out of the way in time, she was hit with the brunt of the sheer force of the car with a sickening crunch, considering the speed it was going in. Her body flew into the air and landed on the road with a dull thud that seemed to echo in every outsider’s ears. Her parents were much more fortunate—as in trying to push their daughter out of the way, they did not make it quickly enough. Well, fortunate for their bodies. They had retained minimal injuries.
Marissa, on the other hand, was lying on the road without as so much as a twitch in her fingers, and she could hear the sharp wail of an ambulance quickly rushing her way to save her. It pounded in her head, and made her feel like her brain would bleed out of her ears. She wished repeatedly that it would stop.
She doesn’t remember much after that, as she had passed out from the loss of blood.
And now she was lying in a hard, cold, and unwelcoming bed that lived in a teaching hospital Marissa vaguely remembered as being named London Grace. Her major injuries had been or are being taken care of, but there was talk of surgeries to correct her internal damage.
Doctors were talking soothingly to her parents, as their loud cries had dulled down into soft, almost inaudible, sobs and sniffles.
Marissa could barely make out ‘found,’ ‘perfect,’ ‘blood match,’ and ‘donor.’ She could easily tell that it was good news, because firstly: it meant that she’d live, and secondly: her parents had burst into tears again, which Marissa had assumed were happy ones. She hoped.
After that, she’d found it extremely hard to find a grasp on the extremely thin threads of consciousness, and fell asleep into a mercifully calm slumber.
When she was woken up, she was met with bloodshot eyes and tired faces of her parents hovering above her.
Marissa was told that she was going to be meeting her donor, a task for which she wasn’t sure she had enough energy for. She was being kept on much life support, and even that only did so much for her.
But she agreed nonetheless.
In came a dark skinned man, with brown eyes as warm as melted amber. To her, they showed much compassion and caring, but also an ingrained tiredness, and she’d immediately decided that she liked him. He can’t be that bad if he’d be saving her life. He adorned the strangest clothing, a likely result of trying to fit in with the hustle and bustle of the crowds. The bright colors made sure that possibility was dead.
The man, she soon learned, was named Dean. He came in because he wanted to meet the person who he’d be donating blood to, and Marissa was touched. She hoped he thought she was still a good enough person to still save her by the end of it.
It turned out that he had in fact followed through with his promise.
A week—or perhaps it was a month, Marissa had lost the concept of time in her head—later, she was in post-ops, recovering. Marissa had never felt so energized before in her entirety of years she’d been alive. It was as if the blood flowing through her veins was not in fact blood, but a highly potent energizer.
Marissa rather liked the new feeling it gave her, especially because it gave her more patience to deal with her little sister.
She went home not long later, having been deemed fit enough.
Not much was different in her life after the accident. At least that was what she could say for the first month after being released.
The months and years that came after just seemed to spiral downwards into a pit, depending on how one looks at it.
The energy she had felt that had never worn off. It swayed with her emotions, and somehow made things happen that expressed these feelings. Or sometimes it would try to placate them, but this only happened with unpleasant emotions like annoyance or anger. It tried to get rid of the cause or make happen what would make the emotion ebb away.
Like, for once, when she was trying to reach a book that was high up on a shelf. It was one of her favorites, The Series of Unfortunate Events, and she wanted to reread them for a lack of something better to do. After having had trying many different maneuvers and tricks, nothing worked. One of them was just short of working, but instead of tipping the stack of books downwards to fall, it merely wobbled for a few tantalizing seconds and then steadied at its spot.
Marissa became so angered for she had spent a good portion of her hour to the task, she nearly kicked a wall. Instead she just let out a scream of frustration, knowing it was a better way to vent out her feelings, and that it would hurt significantly less.
Not even a few seconds later, the books were perched comfily on her bed. This rendered her speechless, and the next few hours were spent trying to figure out how that happened. Was she hallucinating the whole time, and they were really on her bed and not on that obscenely tall shelf?
As time went on, Marissa wrote it off as a fit of deliria or perhaps a frighteningly real hallucination of some sort.
She didn’t like to think about it, because she hated the idea that she might even be a little unhinged.
Another instance was when another girl was bullying one of her two friends so horribly; throwing insults at her, picking at her every physical flaw, commenting on her lack of having a normal family, and it made her angry to the tips of her fingers and to the ends of her every hair. So much so that she could almost see the energy become tangible and reach out its tendrils to wrap around the girl bullying her friend and throw her back on to the hard ground.
The girl on the ground had immediately started crying, and Marissa couldn’t find it in herself to feel guilty for what happened. She knew for a definite fact that it was her that was the cause of her friend’s bully’s tears, but she still hadn’t figured out yet how. She couldn’t be bothered to figure it out, not when one of her good friends was so distressed.
It was an unspoken decision to never speak of this again between all three girls, the participants, and the audience, because it turned out that the girl told the teacher that she took a hard fall.
Marissa knew that the girl didn’t have to lie, but she was thankful anyways.
An answer came years later in the form of a letter.
It was long past the events of the car crash, when she was eighteen.
She was in her room drawing mindlessly; the contours of her room, the blank faces of a person she once thought to be pretty, and the particles of dust that had made themselves visible through the rays of sunshine, which had given her room a sort of earthy but heavenly feeling. Feeling the rays of warm sunshine on your face was always a bit of an emotion that just reminded you of home, regardless of the person.
She wanted to draw the feeling, so she was.
When Marissa started to draw, everything dulled down to be a bit like tunnel vision. She could only focus on what was in front of her. So unsurprisingly, it was a while before she heard the incessant tapping at her window.
Annoyed, she turned her head to see as to who it could be, because if she found it was one of her friends trying to make it all Romeo and Juliet by trying to throw pebbles at her window just because they don’t see—oh. It wasn’t quite her friend. Not even close, actually. It was more a Great Horned Owl looking her right in the face with its beady round eyes. Marissa couldn’t even begin to comprehend how the owl managed to radiate an aura of extreme annoyance.
Marissa opened her window cautiously, but admittedly a bit curiously too.
The owl immediately flew in, flying a few short rounds around her room before perching on the edge her bed.
Marissa shrieked and ducked her head under her hands (her sister told her to calm down—how rude). When she felt like she wasn’t going to die by attack of an owl, she slowly lifted her head up.
The owl was now looking, well, owlishly at her. It resorted to pecking at her hands, and for the life of her she could not figure out what the hell it wanted.
When it finally gestured its head down toward its clawed feet, she finally got the message the owl was trying to send.
The owl was holding a rolled up piece of—was that actual parchment? Marissa didn’t think that existed in this day and age anymore. That was curious.
Marissa gently took the roll of parchment from the owl’s tight grip, and it flew off, out of the open window.
She closed the window; she couldn’t imagine how many bugs had already gotten in.
Turning her attention back to the letter, she took it in her hands and opened it carefully, so as to not rip it.
Upon unfolding the letter, she saw the first sentence.
Dear Ms. Vasquez,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Marissa reeled back in disbelief.
What the hell even was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? It sounded like, quite frankly, Hogwash. The name itself rolled off the tongue as if it was a mishmash of words that a child put together, with a few ‘big girl’ words to make it sound smart. It seemed too unreal for it to be a true letter of acceptance. She figured that she would have been happier receiving an acceptance letter from Cambridge, or Oxford, since that was where she planned on going anyways.
Marissa read on.
Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
Curious about the list of necessary items and equipment, she looked behind the letter. She found a perfectly inked list and she read some of them.
The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5 by Miranda Goshawk, Defensive Magical Theory rewritten by Hermione Granger-Weasley, co-written by Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley… and the list went on. The names bounced and swirled around in her head until it was all a mix of incoherent sentences and words.
Marissa leaned back on her wooden bedpost and thought.
The letter in all honesty seemed to be sincere in its invite. But Marissa could not get that through her head, as the idea of magic even existing was unbelievable. Surely, if she went out and said that magic was real, she’d be classified as a certifiable nutter.
Perhaps it was a prank. A well planned and elaborate prank, with much effort put into it. Was this by chance a prank letter from one of the boys from down the street? It seemed likely, given the fact that they took immense pleasure in calling her names, and on occasion, actually hassling her.
Like an ‘ah-ha!’ moment, she suddenly remembered the one instance where she literally flung a girl off her feet and threw her onto her back.
Doubt suddenly walked in to her mind, unwelcomed.
She glanced warily at the letter as if it might spontaneously burst into flames or something of the like. Marissa reluctantly took the letter and reread it, thinking that it may have acquired some answers in the time she left it alone. After all, it was delivered by an owl, and delivered her this news. It wasn’t at all impossible for it to have changed the contents of the letter by itself.
Nope. Not a sliver of belief.
Shaking her head to rid herself of thoughts of the letter, she set it aside on her lampshade table to ponder on later.
Marissa resumed drawing.
There was a knock knock knock on the front door of her house. Assuming that it was telemarketer trying to advertise another one of their strange or useless products, Marissa stayed where she was and continued eating her English breakfast. Her parents glanced at the front door briefly and did the same.
Sonrisa was the only one of them who looked curiously at the door. She frowned and then asked her parents whether they were going to answer the door, to which her parents answered no.
But the knocking didn’t cease. It continued, and Marissa eventually got the point that the person behind the door was not just some useless advertisement from a telemarketer. She went up and opened the door. She was met with a strange woman wearing equally strange clothing.
Said strange woman sent her a practiced smile, tucking a strand of pin-straight hair behind her ear. “Hello. May I speak with Marissa Vasquez?”
“This is she,” Marissa said warily, too aware of the person’s severe unfamiliarity to herself.
“Well, hello then,” the woman said, her smile transforming into one with more genuineness, “you might have gotten a letter yesterday? And a rather strange one at that?”
Oh, finally an explanation, Marissa sighed, relieved to herself. But another part of her was justifiably suspicious.
“Yes, I did," Marissa answered, moving her body out of the way of the entrance, allowing the woman to come in.
“I’m terribly sorry, it seems that I forgot to introduce myself,” the woman said apologetically. “I’m Cho Chang.”
“The headmistress of Hogwarts,” Marissa said plainly, as if to confirm the fact.
“Yes,” Miss Chang said delightedly, “you recognized the name.”
“I did,” Marissa replied with an assuring nod.
Miss Chang stood in front of the door for a bit, before getting the sense to move to the living room and ensconce herself in one of the sofa seats.
Marissa followed and made sure that she didn’t do anything out of place; after all she was still a stranger to her home.
“Why are you here?” Marissa asked curiously.
“To explain the letter to you; it must have been a bit of a nasty shock when you received it,” Miss Chang said, smiling slightly at what seemed to be an inside joke.
Marissa accepted this answer. “Go on.”
“First things first: magic is real. It is essential that you know this,” Miss Chang said firmly.
Marissa raised her hand to stop her. “It would probably be best to have my parents present as well.”
“Of course,” Miss Chang said, nodding politely.
Marissa made the short walk to the kitchen briskly. She called out, “Mama! Papa! There is someone here for us!”
Sonrisa looked up hopefully. “Me too?”
Marissa shrugged neutrally. “Sure, I guess.”
Her parents were confused but they followed their daughter into the living room nonetheless, Sonrisa tagging along behind them. They immediately tensed at the sight of Miss Chang, but they ultimately trusted their daughter’s judgement.
“Hello,” Miss Chang said, introducing herself once more to the parents and younger sister, “I’m Cho Chang. I was just about to get started on my explanation to Marissa. It’s great you could join us. So, yesterday, your daughter received a letter; a letter inviting her to join us at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
“Witchcraft and Wizardry?” Marissa’s Mama repeated, sounding just as skeptical as Marissa would have expected. Her Mama looked at Marissa accusatorily, and Marissa smiled sheepishly, as if to say ‘Sorry.’ No one could really fault her for not telling her parents; how could she when even she didn’t believe the letter in the first place?
“Yes,” Miss Chang said, nodding. “Magic is real. Your daughter here was given the gift of magic, and in order for her to get a better grasp of controlling it, it’s strongly recommended that she attend.”
Sonrisa’s eyes twinkled merrily, clearly excited at the existence of magic.
Marissa became intrigued at this prospect as well. She could use a change of scenery from her droll neighborhood. The people were rather boring and uninteresting.
“And where is this Hogwarts?” Her Papa put a hand on Marissa’s shoulder guardedly as if to prevent her from going.
Miss Chang hesitated for a split second, barely noticeable. She quickly regained her composure. “Scotland.”
Sonrisa tugged at her Mama’s hand, looking up at her and saying, “That’s so cool,” but her Mama was having none of it. “Scotland! That’s very far away, especially for just a school!”
“Well, not exactly. It’s a boarding school, with dormitories and uniforms and such provided. And for students such as Marissa who are late to mature, an introductory program can be arranged.”
Mama still seemed skeptical. “Late to mature?”
“Yes,” Miss Chang answered, directly looking at Marissa, observing her. Marissa looked anywhere but her. “As per wizarding tradition, your daughter should have gotten her letter at eleven. But some rare cases are documented where the magical abilities don’t develop as quickly as they should, and as a result, receive their letters later in their years. Marissa is one of those cases.”
“Why do things like that happen?” Mama begrudgingly asked, her curiosity winning over.
“We’re not really sure,” Miss Chang answered, “we just know that they do.”
“It would be helpful to know,” Sonrisa chipped in, rather shyly.
“It would be,” Miss Chang said, directing a sad smile towards Sonrisa, “but unfortunately I’m not in any position of power to persuade citizens of the wizarding world to find out.”
“That’s sad,” Marissa said, rather disappointed. She rather thought that that small piece of information wasn’t much to learn about the wizarding world, but it said a lot for it. She’d love to take it by the neck and force it to learn, but alas, she was just one person. Besides, such a sudden change would shock the wizarding world into a sort of paralysis.
“Now back to track,” Mama said, hasty to learn more about where her daughter would go. “Will she be safe? Can you reassure us of that? It’s crucial that we know; the place you’ve mentioned already sounds crazy enough.”
Miss Chang relaxed a bit. Now, that was something she could answer, and truthfully as well. Hogwarts was much safer than it was in the past few decades, a fact she was most certainly grateful for. “Yes, it is. Hogwarts will take care of your daughter very well.”
Marissa’s Mama shared a glance with her Papa, and this seemed to set in stone their ultimate decision.
“Well, all seems to be in ord—”
“No, it doesn’t!” Marissa quickly cut in, and both her parents gave her surprised looks, though Sonrisa seemed as if she knew exactly what was coming. Marissa let out a sort of breathy laugh, and explained, “Come on, Ma, I know this all seems very real, but we need proof, yeah?” Marissa turned her head towards Miss Chang. “Would you mind showing us a bit of magic? But nothing that could easily be a trick of the eyes.”
Miss Chang nodded and smiled at her quick wit and observance.
She took out a thin piece of cherry wood from the inside of her robes, holding the wand by the end of it. She took a glass that was on the table to her side, and set it in front of her. With a few swishes of her wand, the glass transformed it into an ornate and detailed goblet, with a wide opening.
Immediately, Sonrisa picked it up, scrutinizing the details.
Marissa couldn’t believe her eyes, and it definitely wasn’t a trick of the eyes, as she had specified. A glance to her right told her that her parents were just as gob smacked.
Marissa asked of her sister, “May I see it?” The goblet was dropped into her hands, and she examined it, marveling at the intricacy. It was tangible and real, and enough for her. She set it back down and nodded.
“Okay. This looks really cool,” Marissa said, gesturing to the goblet. “Can you turn it back please?”
Another few swishes and it was back.
“Is that all you need?” Miss Chang questioned.
Marissa nodded. “For now, this is fine. So will there be books I need to pick up from somewhere? Anywhere we need to go?”
“Yes, there is a place called Diagon Alley. There you can find most of what you need.”
Marissa’s parents were rather confused. “Er… Where do you suppose we can find that place, Diagon Alley?” Mama questioned.
“Oh, well, I can take you there, and show you around,” Miss Chang offered, cocking her head to the side.
“Um, yes, that would be great, if you don’t mind too terribly,” Marissa thanked, anxious at the prospect of visiting a place that literally sounded like the word ‘diagonally.’
“I don’t,” Miss Chang said pleasantly. She dusted off some seemingly invisible dust off of her robes and stood up briskly. “I’ll arrive here at an arranged time. Ten, perhaps?”
“Of course,” Marissa’s parents both answered in sync.
Miss Chang smiled politely, and said, “Well, it’s time I get going. Thank you for having me.” Then she did a little bow—perhaps a cultural quirk? Marissa thought. The woman seems to be Chinese from her last name.
She saw herself out the door and closed it behind her with a soft click.
A Series of Unfortunate Events belongs to Lemony Snicket, and Romeo and Juliet belongs to Shakespeare. The Hogwarts letter was from the Philosopher's Stone, chapter three, I believe.
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