ci by callisto @tda!!

Marissa was justifiably nervous. After the morning’s proceedings, the first thing that came to her mind was that she had to inform her friends. She didn’t want them to think that she had fallen off the face of the earth for a year or three and then came back suddenly without preamble. That would get her a punch to the arm, maybe two. And then a thorough talking to, and possibly hands flying in the air, if they weren’t satisfied with the first two punches. Really, it would depend on their mood. Of course, they might not even notice, considering that they lived so far away, and didn’t see each other that often, but it would be nice to get a heads up.

So, she promptly asked her parents to visit them. They were caught off guard, but since nothing she asked was too out of line, they agreed. And luckily for Marissa, they lent their car to her since they had nowhere to be of particular importance. 

As soon as Leiko climbed into the car, she took this as her chance to bug Marissa as to what this was about, but Marissa was a brick wall. She wouldn’t budge until she had Chie. 

One long car ride later, she knocked on the door of Chie’s home, and once she got her parents’ permission, she dragged Chie inside of her car.

Finally, they reached a small corner café hidden away from London’s busy commuters and passers-by, and took a table that was far away from usual regulars of the café. It was a café that was hard to find but easy to love because of its relaxing atmosphere. 

The three girls sat down and ordered small drinks just for the sake of it; it would be unfair to the café if they had just come here for only the purpose of talking. Besides, nursing a warm drink kept still wandering hands. 

Leiko was the first to talk, as Chie was the quieter of the two, and preferred to look at Marissa curiously. The look of innocent curiosity was only made more prominent by the waves of pastel pink hair surrounding her face. Marissa often wondered why she dyed her hair when her parents were so abhorrent against her hair being any other color other than its natural shade. 

“So, what’s this about?” Leiko asked demandingly. “This was kind of unexpected.” 

Normally, Leiko would ask Marissa how things were at home, and how her sister was doing, but not this time it seemed. Marissa wasn’t given any buffer time, something that made her stutter over her answers. 

“Yeah, I know,” Marissa said apologetically. “I’m sorry. It was just…” She thought over what she would say, but nothing came up. How do you tell your friends that you’ve been accepted into a magic school that has a name just as ridiculous as the concept of there even being a magic school? 

“Just what?” Leiko asked, her face morphing into one of impatience. 

“Calm down, calm down, let me think,” Marissa said, waving her hands dismissively.

Thinking of no nice and neat way of saying it, Marissa said rather bluntly, “I’ve been accepted into a boarding school.” 

Their response was delayed. Leiko’s and Chie’s faces were blank for a moment before they turned into ones of cheer and happiness. 

Chie responded first, “That’s amazing, Marissa. Where is it?” 

“Far away in Scotland,” Marissa replied carefully, deeming the piece of information not too incriminating. She figured this kind of thing to be kept secret. Magic doesn’t seem to be commonplace in the world, or Marissa figured that magic would be much more casually used and wands would be twirled lazily as wizards walked. Even so, it would probably be better to ask before she told anything about magic to her friends. 

Chie frowned. “That’s so far away…” 

Leiko added on, “We already don’t see each other often, you want to add a whole country in between us?” 

Marissa averted her eyes from their stares, and mumbled quietly, “Sorry.” 

Chie jumped in, throwing a warning glance to Leiko, “No, no, it’s fine. Will you at least call us? Or texting’s fine too.” 

Marissa was thrown off her balance, not knowing whether phones would be allowed or not. She could almost kick herself for all the questions she forgot to ask Miss Chang, which were namely all of the important questions. There was so much she would ask and do if she could just go back in time for a few hours. Marissa did the next best thing, and speculated. 

The use of owls already told Marissa what she needed to know: Hogwarts was not caught up to the likenesses of the modern world. Why else would they use owls (other than to scare Marissa out of her skin) to send an acceptance letter? Of course, colleges and universities send their letter by post, or if they really wanted to, by email. Marissa could only assume that sending letters by owls was tradition, or it was the only way they had. 

“I’m not sure,” Marissa replied, hanging her head slightly. “Letters, maybe. I might do that. Don’t be afraid if an owl or two drops by your guys' house.” 

“Is there not any good cell phone reception there or…” Leiko questions, throwing a bemused glance to Chie. 

Marissa shook her head and looked up, and was met with Chie’s scrutinizing look. It looked as if Chie was trying to pry the truth out of her, and with its intensity, Marissa was just about ready to spill. Why was it always the quiet ones? 

“I’m sorry,” Marissa said. “I’ll literally go through hell to keep in touch with you two; after all, you girls are the only people who’ve stuck with me. Apparently, all of the others were too scared by me to befriend me.” 

Leiko cracked a smile, but Chie still wore the same scrutinizing stare, and Marissa squirmed underneath its intensity. 

“I need to drop by the bathroom,” Marissa said suddenly, giving Leiko and Chie a half-grin. 

Leiko nodded, and took a sip of her caramel coffee, and gestured with her hands to go. Chie turned her head to talk to Leiko, quietly so that Marissa couldn’t make out the words she was saying.

Marissa asked the barista where their restrooms were, and went in. She turned on the tap, and let the water run over her hands, cooling her somewhat sweaty body. 

She sighed, and stood for a bit, thinking. Marissa absolutely hated lying to her friends like this, as it made her feel cheap. 

The unmistakable sound of the door to the bathroom opening brought Marissa out of her reverie, and she curiously turned her head to see who it was. 

And it was Chie. The one person she intended on escaping when she went to the bathroom followed her. 

Chie observed Marissa, although this time not with scrutiny but rather a sort of understanding. Or something like that. Marissa wasn’t sure. 

Chie walked to the sink next to hers and washed her hands the same as Marissa. A moment passed but then Chie broke the silence with a casual, “So.” 

“So,” Marissa responded, her tone wary. 

“I know where you’re going,” Chie stated, not mincing words. 

If Marissa was supposed to feel her blood going cold, she didn’t. It was just slight nervousness, relief, and immediate suspicion. Marissa had to inexplicably wonder how Chie knew. 

“How?” Marissa questioned carefully. “Or rather where am I going?” 

“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” Chie said in hushed whisper.

“Right,” Marissa said, a sort of dread setting still in her stomach. How hypocritical; she was scared her friends were keeping secrets from her when she was obviously doing the same. 

“Have you ever wondered about my last name?” Chie asked casually, her eyes focused steadily on the sink. 

Marissa thought about it for a second, and drew a blank. How could she forget her own friend’s last name? But it wasn’t uncommon for Marissa; she often had stupid moments where on occasion she forgot what day it was or even how old she was. It made for a funny little comment to tell her friends later on though. 

“I’m sorry, no,” Marissa replied. “It slipped my mind.” 

Chie grinned and quipped, “Typical.” 

Marissa gave out a short laugh and a half smile. Trust Chie to break the tension so easily. “Shut up, you.” 

Chie shook her head, still smiling. “Anyways, it’s Chang. Ring any bells?” 

Finally, it clicked. Marissa recalled that the headmistress’s last name was Chang. 

A moment later, Marissa said, “You’re related to Cho Chang?” 

Chie nodded. “I am. I’m her niece. She’s got a brother and that brother is my dad. Xiang Chang.” 

“Then how come you’re not…” Marissa trailed off. 

“How come I don’t go to Hogwarts?” Chie asked sardonically. 

“Yeah, that,” Marissa said, giving a weak smile. 

“That’s not a long story at all,” Chie murmured, as if to herself. She said louder, “I was born a squib.”

At Marissa confused face, she went on to explain, “I wasn’t born with magic, so I never received a Hogwarts letter. I had written you off as a squib and I would have believed it to be true until today.” 

Marissa furrowed her brows. “That must mean at one point you must have thought I was a witch.” 

“Yes,” Chie said, “I did. You remember that day. When I was being bullied.” 

Marissa merely blinked to indicate she remembered. “I do.” 

“I thought for sure a few months later you’d be telling me that you were off to some boarding school. Is it bad that I was relieved that that day didn’t come?” Chie asked sadly.

“No, no,” Marissa said, attempting to comfort her, “not at all. I understand.” 

“I wish.” Chie shut off the flow of water from the sink, and turned around to perch herself on the counter. 

Marissa stayed quiet for a moment before she asked, “What do we tell Leiko?” 

“That’s your choice,” Chie said, shrugging her shoulders in a show of neutrality. “Tell her the truth, or keep it from her. Either one would be the right choice.” 

“That’s helpful,” Marissa said sarcastically. 

Chie only smiled angelically in response. 

Marissa let out a breath of air. “I suppose I could tell her. I mean, she can keep a secret, and especially if it’s for me.” 

“That’s presumptive of you,” Chie commented, “but true anyways. I’d do the same I suppose.” 

“Thank you,” Marissa said gratefully, feeling a bit touched, but had to roll her eyes at the ‘being presumptive’ comment. 

Marissa finally walked out of the bathroom, ready to tell Leiko, and feeling much more confident than she was before. It was nice, to be able to sure of your actions beforehand instead of just half-assing and doubting yourself every step of the way. 

“Hey,” Leiko said to them as they both took their seats, “you guys sure took your time.” 

“Sorry,” Chie said, “we were talking.” 

“Without me? Bullshit,” Leiko scoffed. 

“Believe it or not, we can get along without you there,” Marissa said amusedly. “That has always been a thing.” 

“So. You’re going to boarding school,” Leiko said, straight to the point. “You’ve been avoiding telling me the school’s name. Why’s that?” 

“I just wasn’t sure if I was allowed to tell you,” Marissa explained. “But now, with the help of Chie—” she gestured to Chie “—I’ve figured out what to do now. Now, please don’t interrupt me until I’m done. Okay?” 

Leiko merely raised her eyebrows. 

“Okay? Like I need physical confirmation, say yes, nod your head or something,” Marissa stressed, leaning forward with her palms pressing into the table. 

Leiko rolled her eyes and says, “Okay, fine, yes.” 

“Okay, so, the school’s name is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and its way up in—”

“Hold up, witchcraft and wizardry, what kind of bullshit name is—”

“I literally just told you not to interrupt me, why would you do that after I literally—” 

“—that? Like for real, I need answers,” Leiko said, looking Marissa straight in the eye. 

Wow, I wonder what it feels like—”

“Literally answers now Maris—”

“Wow, I wonder what it feels like to live in a world where you’re not interrupted a dozen times each sentence,” Marissa said loudly over Leiko. 

In the midst of all of this, Chie sipped her hot chocolate—in the middle of the summer, yes, no fucks were given—and her eyes volleyed between the two bickering girls, a fond smile pulling at her lips. It was not uncommon for the two girls to get into small, insignificant fights like these.  

“As I was saying,” Marissa said, throwing a disapproving look at Leiko, “the school is pretty far up in Scotland. And yes, despite the unbelievable name, it teaches students about magic, and how to control it.” 

“That sounds farfetched,” Leiko said skeptically. “How can you prove it?” 

At this, Marissa’s mind blanked. She really wasn’t sure how to prove it to her because she had no idea how to do magic without it causing some form of… chaos. Marissa’s mind suddenly flashed like a light bulb. 

“Do you remember that time when we were like ten, and I flung a girl onto the ground?” 

“No, I wasn’t there, but you told me the story,” Leiko informed her. “I know that you don’t know how you flung this girl so far away. Are you telling me that that was magic?” 

“I think so,” Marissa admitted. “But please, don’t tell anyone about this. I’m not sure what the policies are on divulging this kind of info.” 

“Of course,” Leiko agreed immediately, Marissa couldn’t help but smile at her loyalty to her. “I guess we can’t do anything about it except tell you good luck and give you our well wishes,” she sighed. 

“Yeah,” Marissa said, frowning. Although Marissa was initially nervous for this, having gotten this over with was a hefty weight off of her shoulders, and she had never been more grateful. 

“Sorry, about the…” 

“Yeah, yeah, no worries,” Marissa immediately said. Even without hearing Leiko’s words, she knew what she meant. Apologies had always been a point of difficulty for Leiko, and Marissa generally did not make her go through the process of painstakingly getting the words out unless she was feeling particularly hurt and petty.

Marissa was genuinely excited, once her anxiety wore off. The kind of excited kids are for something they’ve been looking forward for ages, and they can’t sleep because the jitters are keeping them awake. That kind of excited. She was eighteen years old, and yet, she had never felt like this, like a little kid, in such a long time. It was a refreshing feeling. 

It was only a day after Miss Chang had come to explain her Hogwarts letter, and today would be the day she goes shopping in Diagon Alley. Such a mundane and frankly boring task to do, but add in a new world, and it suddenly becomes the most exciting thing. 

Marissa glanced out the window every couple of seconds, almost jumped in the air when she saw Miss Chang outside, just about to ring the doorbell. 

Marissa made it to the door not one second after she had rung, and Miss Chang wore a surprised expression. 

“Excited are we?” Miss Chang asked, smirking slightly. 

“Apologies,” Marissa said, but not really meaning it. She couldn’t help it. 

“Its fine,” Miss Chang said, sending a smile to her. “Notify your parents, and let them know we’re going now. If they want to come, they can.”

Marissa nodded, and quickly padded up the stairs to get her parents. They were in their room, but she knew that they were both ready. Sonrisa was already downstairs, just as excited as her. For someone who wasn’t going to Hogwarts, she was being a surprisingly good sport about it all. 

After bringing her parents down and informing Sonrisa of their departure, Miss Chang lead them to Charing Cross Road, where she seemingly went to a shop between the record shop and the book shop. 

In between was a pub, worn down and dirty, which confused Marissa.  

Why a pub specifically, and why one so dingy? 

Her questions were soon answered when they entered behind the pub, which is now known to Marissa as the Leaky Cauldron, where there was a small courtyard. 

Then, Miss Chang approached the brick wall blocking their way and did a strange pattern of knocking and moving bricks on the wall, where they suddenly moved out of the way. 

Beyond the brick wall was presumably Diagon Alley, the shopping center of Wizarding World. 

Marissa tried not to look like a little girl in a toy store, but it was so hard not to. She could imagine Sonrisa was the same, all wide-eyed wonder.

There was just so much to look at: the way people dressed, the way shops filled with the clamor of families and their children, the way Diagon Alley seemed to buzz and thrum with life, unlike the barren way Charing Cross Road looked. 

Miss Chang didn’t turn around, but instead said, “First thing’s first: we’re going to Flourish and Blotts to get your books for schoolwork. In addition to getting the necessary books for your fifth year, we’re also going to be buying supplementary books that will teach the basics of years one through four.” 

As excited as Marissa was, she was bogged down by the idea of just how much she would be spending on these books. Of course money spent on books is money well spent, but still. 

“And if you’re worried about expenses, they are all covered by Hogwarts. The committee of teachers and governors understand that you’re entering school rather late, and buying so many books will be money added up.” 

Marissa blinked. That was a problem solved very fast. Not to mention, how did Miss Chang know she was worrying about it at all? 

Miss Chang led Marissa through the crowds of people, and some parted for her. She supposed being the headmaster of such a well-known school would make her famous, not to mention respected. 

Marissa looked behind her to check whether her parents and sister were still following her, and they were. Somehow they hadn’t gotten caught up in the crowds. 

Finally Miss Chang, Marissa, and her parents, approached a shop, with a rickety old sign adorning the faded and paint chipped words ‘Flourish and Blotts.’ They all entered, and Marissa was in awe of how much it was reminiscent of an old library, with the scent of old and new books alike. There were stairs to reach the higher up books, and ultimately resonated a feeling of being back in the twentieth century, where libraries were not so modern and much more traditional. 

Marissa felt inclined to part from the group, but she knew that she had to stay with Miss Chang. Sonrisa, however, did not feel the same, and bounded off to a close by bookshelf. She took note to keep an eye on her. 

Miss Chang walked up to the counter, and showed the clerk standing behind it a piece of paper. The clerk read it, and went behind a door, possibly where the stock was. 

The clerk brought out a satchel that had Marissa surprised; how could a satchel hold books five years’ worth of schooling? 

Miss Chang spun on her heels and was met with Marissa’s confused look. 

“You’re wondering how a satchel could hold so many books, yes?” 

Marissa wore a surprised look, and said a little wonderingly, “You always seem to know what I’m thinking. Might you be a mind reader?” 

Miss Chang laughed. “No, not at all—by the way, those mind readers you refer to are called ‘legilimens’. After meeting with many new muggleborn witches and wizards, I’ve sensed a pattern between all of them. Logic is a magic on its own.” 

Marissa smiles rather weakly. “Right.” 

“Anyways, this satchel holds all of the books you’ll need in addition to supplementary ones. We can go to get your robes for school now.” 

“Hogwarts has a school uniform policy?”

“Nearly every boarding school does. The shop for clothing is not so far away.”

Her parents gathering Sonrisa from the bookshelf, they all walked to the clothes shop.

Once they arrived, they entered a rather dark shop names Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where a wizened witch was flitting around in a flustered manner. Marissa supposed she was busy tending to all of the other first years in need of robes in addition to her. 

Said wizened witch caught sight of her, as soon as she finished her business, she made her way over quickly and said haughtily, “You’re here for new robes, I presume?” 

Marissa wasn’t even granted a chance to answer as she was suddenly smacked in the face by the tail end of a yellow measuring tape. The tape, with a seeming life of its own, measured her, and when necessary, the haughty witch raised her arms for her, and occasionally took notes on her measurements. 

And just as quickly as she arrived, she left to a nearby rack of robes and uniforms and chose accordingly to Marissa’s measurements. 

The witch threw them into her arms, and commanded, “Try those on. They should fit you. The dressing rooms are over there in the back.” 

“Um,” Marissa said, looking down at the robes and uniform in her hands.

But the witch had already, moved on to her sister, seeming to think that she was a student at Hogwarts as well. 

The sight of Sonrisa becoming an unusually shy and stuttering mess would have amused Marissa, but she instead looked around helplessly to Miss Chang, who gave her a weary smile, and put a hand on her shoulder. “Sorry about Madam Malkin. She’s high-strung like this, as it’s a time of booming business. She hasn’t changed a bit even from when I was here. Anyways, the dressing rooms are over there.” She pointed in their direction. 

Marissa let out a slow sigh. “Thank you,” she breathed. 

Miss Chang simply smiled. 

She made her way to the dressing rooms, and took the nearest unoccupied one. She quickly undressed and wore the uniform and robes on top, as she saw the other tiny first years do. She looked in the mirror in front of her, examining herself. 

“Well, someone looks like a proper witch,” a pitched voice purred. 

Marissa’s face whitened, and took a few steps back. 

“Oh, don’t worry darling, it’s just me,” the voice purred again. 

“Who is ‘just me’?” Marissa questioned warily, her face still not rid of its paleness.  

“The mirror of course.” 

“Mirrors can talk?” Marissa asked incredulously. 

“Why of course darling, why wouldn’t I? Ah, well, you must me one of those muggleborns that often come around here. But you are a bit older than them… Anyways, it’s nice to meet you darling.” 

“Uh, well, it’s nice to meet you too,” Marissa greeted back, and changed out of her clothes and put her original outfit back on. She hastily made her way to where her group was. 

“All done?” Miss Chang questioned. 

“Yes,” Marissa said. 

“Well, let’s pay for them, now,” Miss Chang said, making her way to the counter. 

Was everything pre-ordered? Or was this for the fact that she was a new student? Possibly. 

“What’s next?” Marissa questioned.

“Personally, my favorite part,” Miss Chang informed her, a happy smile taking over her face. “Getting your wand. The wand chooses the wizard based off of your traits.” 

“Sounds interesting. Like one of those personality quizzes except likely much more accurate,” Marissa commented. 

Miss Chang laughed softly. “Perhaps.” 

The wand shop was known as Ollivander’s, as she found out as she was entering the darkly lit shop. Honestly, what was it with wizards and their need to purposefully make themselves blind when they could perfectly have light with a simple swish of the wand? 

Unlike what the name of the shop suggested, Marissa was not met with an old wizard with centuries old knowledge of his profession, but rather with a young apprentice. Or what she assumed she was. 

The young witch made her way over to Marissa’s family, and went over to Sonrisa. “Hello,” she greeted, “I’m Francesca Longbottom. If I may lead you this way for your wand?” 

Sonrisa, not used to so much attention, turned her gaze to Marissa. “Um…”

Marissa stepped in, saying, “I’m so sorry, but I’m the one her for the wand, not her…”

Francesca jumped. “Oh! I apologize for my mistake. Well then, right this way.”

She went behind a counter, where many slender boxes stacked one on top of another resided. She took a long look at Marissa, a finger to her chin in thought. 

She promptly turned around and picked a box. 

“Vinewood, dragon heartstring,” Francesca murmured to herself, as she handed the wand to Marissa. “Just wave it around once.” 

Marissa did so as asked. Sparks flew, and a light flickered off violently as it fell to the floor. She jumped back, surprised, and Sonrisa grabbed Marissa’s arm in fright.

“Okay, so not that,” Francesca said kindly, smiling. “Let’s try another.” 

And so, a variety of wands followed. Cherry, apple, aspen, blackthorn, etc. along with a variety of cores such as veela hairs, dittany stalk, kneazle whisker, and coral. 

Marissa was becoming disheartened as each wand rejected her, and it was easily seen to any person nearby that Francesca was becoming frustrated, not to mention flustered. It must be humiliating to go through so many wands on one person. 

Her parents thankfully placed a hand on each of her shoulders to give some semblance of comfort. 

And luckily for Marissa, Francesca had a sense of basic human decency, and did not let her emotions bleed into her actions. 

Finally a decent wand made its way into the mix, one made of acacia wood with a unicorn hair core. 

Marissa waved the wand around tiredly, but was met with a pleasant scent, and the light that had fell onto the ground as a result of the first wand had fixed itself back up. 

Marissa felt relief bleed through her veins, and thanked her lucky stars that this wand-chooses-the-wizard affair was over. 

Francesca let out a loud sigh, exclaiming, “Finally!” 

Marissa flushed, sorry to have caused Francesca so much trouble in one day. She escaped outside, shaking her arm of Sonrisa, and waited a little ways from the entrance of Ollivander’s. 

Her family followed, and Miss Chang came out right after. 

Miss Chang smiled sympathetically at Marissa, and decided she would give her a break. “Do you want to explore now?”

“We’re done?” Marissa asked, surprised. She didn’t think getting school supplies would be so easy, and done so quickly. She remembered with slight bitterness how stressful it was to gather what she needed from each teacher and then organizing everything according to subject. Not to mention labeling her supplies as well. And if a teacher had wanted it a certain way, she had to start all over again. 

It was frustrating business. 

“Yes. Other than to remind you to pack your things for Hogwarts, nothing else. All else should be provided to you as a general student,” Miss Chang said reassuringly. “It will be a while before you can come back here, so today is definitely your chance to check out any shops you find interesting. Unfortunately, anything you might want won’t be covered by the school so…” 

“So, we’ll just stick to window shopping,” Marissa suggested. 

“If that’s what you wish,” Miss Chang simply said. She looked behind Marissa to her parents. “You are fine with this?” 

Her Mama and Papa smiled, but only her Mama answered, “Of course.” Sonrisa gave an enthusiastic ‘yes.’ 

“Well, then, lead the way."

Marissa strolled through the streets absentmindedly, taking in the sights. She assumed that Miss Chang and her family was keeping up with her. 

Each and every shop stood out to her, but none like the one she stood in front of now. 

The color scheme of the shop emanated a warm feeling through her, as well a sense of listening to a bopping beat, or generally a happy jolliness. 

Marissa looked at the sign and saw it was named Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Anything with that much alliteration must have purposely done it for a chuckle from passers-by. 

She entered, walking in slowly, taking in what she could. 

The outside may have been warm colors, but the inside was a cacophony of them. 

She moved on into the aisles and looked closer at the boxes. 

One of them was labeled ‘Extendable Ears,’ and interested, she read the description on the back. 

Have you ever found yourself in need of listening to a conversation (which you’re obviously not supposed to be listening to, naughty children you all are) but you don’t have anything to do it with? Say no more! Extendable Ears are here to save the day! Just take one end of the string and insert it into your ear, and the other end near where the conversation is happening! There! It’s that easy. It’s like its magic! 

Marissa snorted. Everything about the description felt like a readable version of one of those life insurance ads you see on television, where the actor are absolute shit, and comically calling for help: “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” 

They’re the funniest, honestly. To this day, those ads still get a small chuckle out of Marissa. She went to show it to her sister, but stopped when from the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a small, fluffy object. 

In any case, Marissa likely would have written it off as a ball to play with, but this was the Wizarding World, and nothing was ever normal here. 

So, she left the Extendable Ears back where they were and observed them.

Suddenly, one of them shifted and she took a step back, but the pastel green fluff ball that had shifted jumped into her chest, and she caught the… thing with her arms. 

Marissa looked at the label next where all the fluff balls resided, and learned they were called Pygmy Puffs. 

Strange name. 

She looked down at the ball of fluff in her hands, the fluff ball looked back up with big black eyes. 

Slightly unnerved by the blackness of its eyes (it was like looking into the void, honestly), she put the poor thing back to where it was from. She may have thought the fluff ball to be cute, but she was in no position to buy it. Nor did she want it. 

So, off she goes to find the next interesting thing. Well, she would’ve, if she didn’t bump into a strange man with red hair and kind eyes. 

Frazzled, she said rather dumbly, “Oh, uh, hello.” 

The man chuckled. “Hello. I’m George Weasley. And you are?” 

She blinked. Weasley. “You must be the shop owner.” 

“Yes, but it could’ve been any Weasley you could have met. Three of my brothers are in the aisle right next you. Lucky guess, eh?” George said to her, chuckling once more. “Anyways, your name madam?” 

“Madam is too formal don’t you think?” Marissa wondered aloud. “I’m Marissa Vasquez.” 

George whistled. “That’s one hell of a last name. You’ve got all of the letters in it.” 

“It’s Spanish,” Marissa said, as if it offered an explanation.  

George hummed in response. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around before? And believe me, even if you’d been here once, I’ll remember you. I know all my customers by heart.” He patted his heart to emphasize his point. 

“Um, yeah, I’m new around these parts. Miss Chang was showing me around for school supplies,” Marissa explained, nodding her head towards the general direction of her family and Miss Chang. 

George glanced behind her. “Ah. I see, you must be a new student? Well then, welcome! I’m glad you chose to visit my shop then! You’re welcome here any time. I saw that you were checking out our Pygmy Puffs?” 

“I was,” Marissa affirmed, “but I don’t have money to buy it.” 

“Well, as a first customer I could give it to you for free,” George suggested happily.

“Nor do I want it. The things are kind of creepy.” 

“That’s harsh man. They’re cute! They sell like hot cakes. I just had to restock them for the second time today.” 

“It’s just something about the big, all seeing, black eyes. I don’t like them.”

“Understandable,” George said, nodding sympathetically.

“Anyways, I think I’ll go and explore for a bit,” Marissa said to him, jabbing a thumb behind her, somewhat apologetic. “It was nice meeting you. Maybe I’ll see you again?” 

“You might, if you get tangled up with one of my crazy children, or nieces,” George quipped dryly, a wry smile in place. As a second thought, he added, “Or nephews. Them too.” 

“You have so many?” Marissa said, eyes widening. “I’ve only a few cousins, most of whom I don’t even see unless I visit Mexico.” 

“Ah, that’s unlucky. My lot’s a crazy lot. If you meet them, you’ll be lucky to even have your sanity intact,” George said cheerily. “Good luck with that! I’ll see you… whenever.” He waved goodbye, a walked over to the next customer. 

Marissa reciprocated the gesture, and signaled for her family to come too, as they were in the middle of discussing some product or another. They looked like children, and Marissa could imagine that’s how she looked too. 

As soon as she was out of the store, she went in the same direction and stopped in front of a store named ‘Quality Quidditch Supplies’. She was about to keep walking, but Sonrisa dragged her in, interested by the name of the store. 

They both entered as unsuspecting as ever when she saw a family of black haired and red haired people. 

It didn’t go unnoticed to Marissa that the family had some sort of regality around them, and they carried themselves elegantly, as if they were royalty. 

Marissa didn’t know whether they were snobbish and arrogant or legitimately wizarding royalty. Considering near everybody was sneaking glances at them, she’s suspecting the latter. 

Marissa banished the thought out of her mind and took a look at what this particular store had to offer her. And from the looks of it, not much. 

She walked closer to one of the on display product and analyzed it. 

It was literally a broom. 

Marissa was expecting more. 

What could a bloody broom have to do anything magical? 

As always, she took a look at the little card stationed in front of it. 

The Firebolt 3.0! New, and improved, as well as selling hot! This broom is agile, and is as quick as a snitch! You’ll be able to fly with ease, and land with ease too. Despite its thin illusion, it is very much sturdy, and could handle a few crashes with the Whomping Willow. 

Marissa snorted. How could words on a paper sound so arrogant? They were advertising for god’s sake, not trying to expel people away from it. 

She took a closer look, and saw that it really did look thin. This was supposed to carry a person—an actual human being—up into the air without them falling down? 

And from the looks of it, it looked like it was meant to be pretty damn fast. 

“What the fuck?” Marissa muttered to herself, a little loudly. And then glanced at Sonrisa, hoping she didn’t just hear her swear. “It’s a bloody cleaning implement; this is supposed to be safe? I’m never getting on one of these.” She shook her head. 

She heard a small giggle to her right, and spun her head to see one of the black haired people from the so called ‘royal’ family. 

He glanced over to Marissa, and seeing that she had caught him laugh, he flushed. But instead of moving away, he moved closer to her.

“They’re actually pretty solid, even if the advertising sounds a bit… sketchy,” he said in a soft, fruity kind of voice. The perfect voice to read someone a book aloud to. 

Now that she had a closer view of him, Marissa rather thought he was pretty cute. Black hair that she could easily run her hands through, and emerald eyes. He was a bit shorter than her, and that only added to his sense of innocence, for lack of a better word. 

“Really? Wouldn’t believe it until I see it,” Marissa replied. 

“Hmm, that’s too bad,” he said, still softly. “Um, hey, what’s your name?” 

“Marissa,” she replied, holding a hand out to him. 

He stared at for a mere second and took it. 

“Nice to meet you, I’m—”

“AL! Come on, we’re leaving, James is done here!” 

A pretty redhead took Al by the arm and dragged him along. He looked helplessly behind him and when he didn’t move as quickly as the girl wanted to, she barked, “Get a move on!” 

The black haired boy sent an irked look and said to her, “Honestly, Lily, chill. Can’t you see I’m in the middle of something? And stop holding my arm like that, it hurts.” 

“But we’re leaving.” 

“And you know I can get home fine by myself.” 

“I’m not supposed to let you out of my sight, if you’ve forgotten. Lord knows I can’t knowing what a right bastard you’ve been this whole summer.” 

“You know that’s not it at all, Lily, so stop calling it that.” 

Lily simply glowered at him, and sniffed. “Finish up then.” 

Marissa was uncomfortable watching the whole situation unwind, and slowly backed away. Those two obviously had something to work out, and she wouldn’t get involved in such a mess if she could help it. 

The boy now known as Al turned around and seemed surprised that she was backing away. His features resonated apology. “Er… I’m sorry. I haven’t made a very good impression on you have I? Anyways, as I was saying, I’m Al. It’s nice to meet you, and hopefully I’ll see you at school.” He sighed, and turned back to Lily, and gave her a dry smile. “Done. Now we can go.” 

Lily rolled her eyes. “Finally.” 

The two walked away together and they both disappeared out of Marissa’s sight as soon as the turned a corner at the end of an aisle. 

“Goodbye… to you too,” Marissa said weakly, half-heartedly moving her fingers in a way that could be classified loosely as a goodbye. Sonrisa looked curiously at them, and then said, “That was weird.”

“You can say that again,” Marissa muttered in response. 

She was taking a nap as soon as she got home; the day had definitely seen too much.

The title is a reference to Alduous Huxley's Brave New World.

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