I was eating breakfast when it came, pancakes with syrup and chocolate chips. Yum. I love food.
A lazy Saturday morning. It was a nice day, with a cornflower blue sky, and fluffy white clouds like spun sugar. And a dark brown fleck bobbing in the west- wait, what?
I crossed over to the window, peering out at the thing. It came closer and closer, and got larger and larger- an owl! With a sudden dip, it landed in my window. I saw the owl had a letter attached to its leg, and gently tugged it off. I opened it to find a yellow piece of paper, much like the pretend "historic" ones I used to make with the help of my friends and some tea or coffee.
Dear Miss Williams,
We are pleased to announce you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 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.
I looked at my father. "Why did I get this letter?" I asked. I raised an eyebrow at him, but he appeared unconcerned. I made a list in my mind of all the classmates that could have faked this letter. Hogwarts? Perhaps a made-up name? And gosh, that signature of Minerva McGonagall's looked similar to the signature of my classmate, Katie Alberry.
I ran up to my room to start my own trick back, but Dad said "Are you going to accept it?"
I rolled my eyes. "Why, to give them a laugh?"
Dad smiled. "You never know, it could be real."
I laughed. "Yeah. Totally. I get a letter from a magical - ooh- school, and you say it's- real?" I had to admit though, the trick was rather well done. I stifled a scoff. If you had given it to a kindergartener. Then it might have worked.
I jumped. Someone at the door? I walked down the neat, shiny hall of our little cottage to answer the door. When I opened it, I gasped.
There was a very tall man standing in front of me, with a beard, a giant coat, and black eyes. He was also holding a bright pink umbrella. He gave a little jump when he saw me.
I tried to cover up my gasp and gave a bit of a cough. Then I cleared my throat. "Er, sorry. Hi. Do you have an appointment with my father?"
He guffawed loudly. "That's alright." He said with a smile and twinkly eyes, referring to his appearance, I think. "Gives most Muggle-borns a fright- eh? I'm Rubeus Hagrid. Gameskeeper at Hogwarts. Ye can call me Hagrid. Actually, I'm here for a meetin' with ye. Sorry I arrived a little after the letter. Bit late." He continued, motioning to the letter on the table, and the owl that was starting to peck my father. Dad stroked it and gave it something and it flew off.
I turned back to Hagrid. "Me?" I gulped. Could this person be from my school? Had I done something wrong?
"Oh. Well, hi. I'm Arina. Erm." I started. "So, the letter- it was real?"
"Was? Is. Real as can be."
"Really? Can you prove it by showing me these books?" I held up the list of books needed to start the year at "Hogwarts".
"Come with me."
I looked to Dad. He nodded. I began to feel suspicious, what was with all this nodding? Did Dad know beforehand of this? Was it really Dad? I still didn't completely believe Hagrid. I whispered to Dad. "Don't you want proof or something?" But Dad motioned for me to go with Hagrid.
Hagrid took my arm. "Don't worry, I'm not a kidnapper or anythin'."
This, if anything, made me more suspicious, but I had no choice in the matter, for Hagrid took my arm and bore me off. I couldn't help trusting him.
"So Hagrid, where are we going?" I asked, as we walked out the door and down the drive. I decided to stay with him, he didn't seem dangerous, though he kind of looked like it. But if he tried to do something to me, I'd bolt. Unfortunately, I'm not the fastest.
People bustled here and there on the road and sidewalk, but with Hagrid there, everyone gave us a wide berth.
"A place called Diagon Alley."
I nodded foolishly, for I had no idea where Diagon Alley was.
"Is magic inherent?" I asked, when the silence had taken a toll on me.
"Most times. We have many Wizardin' families in our world. But even members o' Wizardin' families might not turn out to be magical, that's called a Squib, but it's pretty rare. Then there are Muggle-borns, people who're from Muggle- that's non-magic- families and turns out, are magical." Hagrid replied.
"Am I a, um, Muggle-born? My mother-?"
Hagrid made a funny noise, sort of like a gasp/cough/hiccup, but said nothing.
So I let it be. My mother has always been a painful subject for Dad. She died when I was a baby. My dad brought up my sister and I alone.
When we got to the train station, Hagrid turned to me. "Er, we need tickets for that train, the one to London." He whispered. "Could you pay, here's the money? Can't unnerstand Muggle money." He shook his head sadly, as if he was thinking about how confusing our money was.
I nodded, and got us tickets for the next train to London, which left in half an hour.
In the meantime, Hagrid and I sat down. He asked me if I wanted a burger. I shook my head. I'm more partial to hot dogs.
I got him a burger, and some fries for me. I love fries, but I hate ketchup. I like fries with mayo though, or garlic and cheese.
While we eat, I asked Hagrid if he can show me some magic- as proof of wizards. I like proof. It makes me certain and sure. He looked around nervously. I realized we were in a crowded area. Everyone was seeated far from us, but they would still be able to see, probably.
"Later, Arina. At Diagon Alley." He said quietly. I nodded.
We took the train. Hagrid wasn't happy about the size of the seat. ("Much too small!" he complained.)
We exited onto an old-fashioned looking street. "There's the Leaky Cauldron, the entrance to Diagon Alley." Hagrid pointed to a place I had not noticed before. By the looks of everyone else, they had not either. It was like a pub.
When we got inside, Hagrid spoke to the bartender: "Hey Tom, got me a firewhiskey?" I looked at Tom, wondering what a "firewhiskey" was.
"Hagrid! How are ya?" Tom cried. "And a butterbeer for you?" he asked, addressing his question to me. I shrugged, and asked what a butterbeer was.
"Yeh, ye'll like that, 'rina." Hagrid nodded.
A moment later Tom handed me a mug of something that looked like beer. "You sure this is legal?" I said nervously.
Tom grinned. "It ain't real beer, don't worry."
I slowly pulled the mug to my lips and took a sip. A warm, sweet, creamy drink flowed down my throat and into my stomach, warming my whole body. I wasn't sure about the flavor, but it was a rather cold day for June, and I welcomed the butterbeer.
"Who's this?" Tom asked Hagrid, referring to me.
"Arina. Williams' kid."
"What?! Really? I thought there was-"
I looked up quickly. "You know my father?"
Hagrid looked at Tom. "Erm, we'd better get goin', gotter lot to do, bye!" and pulled me outside.
We exited into a small sort of courtyard. There were some trash cans against the red brick wall, and Hagrid started counting and tapping bricks above the cans.
In a moment, the wall shifted and shaped into a huge arch. Hagrid and I walked under it, and suddenly I saw busy streets, with people rushing everywhere.
So this was Diagon Alley.
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