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‘WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN HERE?’


Harry and Ron’s faces scrunched up at the utterly sour different-accented tone of voice issued from one of the girls that had just entered the room.


‘Chloe Rover!’ exclaimed the other girl, looking extremely disapproving.


Harry surveyed the two Muggle inhabitants of the place they had unwantedly violated. The girl who swore at the sight of them was…impressively tall. She was at least three inches taller than Harry, and just half-an inch shorter than Ron. Her short red hair was done in a hip pixie, gelled wisps framing her tanned, pointed face. Besides being bare-foot, she was wearing a glittering diamond-studded V-neck dress that reached just past her knees, deep red in color. As she took a step towards the boys (Ron took one backwards), Harry could see that her eyes were a beautiful electric blue, her nose was pierced and her full, rouge lips sparkling. Harry looked sideways at Ron – he looked dazed.


The other girl was a lot smaller, but even though Chloe looked old and big enough to be her mother, Harry could tell that they were blood-related sisters. Her eyes were also a dazzling blue, but her hair was dark brown, falling all the way down to her waistline in elegant waves. She was only about up to Harry’s chin in height, and he uncomfortably noticed her transfixing gaze circling the scar on his forehead. She was wearing a flowery turquoise nightdress and purple furry slippers.


‘You two can start explaining yourselves,’ Chloe said dangerously. ‘And how the bloody hell did you manage to get in?’ She turned to the other girl. ‘Esmeralda, didn’t I tell you to lock the door the instant I leave?’


‘I did,’ said Esmeralda simply. Her eyes were still fixed on Harry, who felt uncomfortable and pleasant at the same time for unknown reasons.


Chloe rolled her eyes and turned back to face Harry and Ron. ‘Well?’ she growled.


Ron whimpered in his throat and stuttered. ‘We’re sorry, w-we never meant to trespass. But…w-we’re from – ouch!’


Harry had just elbowed Ron in the ribs. ‘W-we entered the wrong house.’


Chloe’s left eyebrow disappeared behind her bangs. ‘Then you probably need new glasses.’


‘N-no, all the houses in this neighborhood basically look the same both inside and out,’ lied Harry. ‘Me and my friend Ron just, g-got back from a party you see, and we walked right into this house.’


‘I see, you’re both mean drunk,’ said Chloe. She flopped down on the bed and spread herself comfortably across the sheets, closing her eyes. Esmeralda walked over and sat down beside her on the bed.


Chloe’s fiery attitude had somewhat evaporated the instant her body hit the bed, and Harry could tell he wasn’t the only one watching in awe at the beautiful girl lying there peacefully. There was silence. Harry and Ron didn’t dare move a muscle, waiting for somebody to speak up or even shove them right out the door.


Chloe’s chest moved up and down as she breathed steadily, her gelled hair loosening itself gradually and blowing slightly in the soft breeze from the opened window. After another half a minute, it was unmistakable – the girl was fast asleep.


‘Tired, poor thing,’ Esmeralda broke the silence. She stood up gently, walked towards the closet beside the bookshelf and took out a blanket and covered Chloe’s body with it. Chloe’s body’s now letting off a strong smell of alcohol. ‘Clubbing every single night now that she hooked up with that down-right creep Jason Walters. Oh, geez – ’ She pinched her nose. ‘This stink’s gonna stay in here for a week.’


Harry was pretty sure all the words though seemingly directed at him and Ron, Esmeralda was talking to herself, because then she looked up from the sleeping Chloe to Harry and met his eyes. His stomach did a somersault – her eyes were so beautiful…


‘Well, what are you two doing standing there gawking?’ Esmeralda said curtly, though the tone of her voice wasn’t cold but strangely soft and soulful. Harry’s heart skipped a beat as she walked over and laid a hand on his forehead, gently brushing his hair away to reveal the bold, lightning-shaped scar.


‘Funny accident that must have been, for you to receive a souvenir shaped like that,’ she said, and Harry thought he saw her eyes sparkle under the impression that she knows more than what she said.


Esmeralda lowered her hand – Harry wished she hadn’t – her hand had felt so soft, so loving, so full of the feel Harry had lacked ever since the death of his loved ones.


‘Are…aren’t you going to kick us out?’ Harry asked softly. Ron nodded.


For the first time, Esmeralda’s plum-accented lips curled into a soft and friendly smile. ‘Do you want me to?’


‘Do we really have a choice?’ Harry said, and he wasn’t being sarcastic. Esmeralda just turned around and walked to the door.


‘If you choose to leave, then the front door’s not locked – ’, Harry and Ron looked at each other, remembering what she had answered when Chloe had asked her if she had locked the door. ‘ – if you choose to remain in this mouse hole of an apartment, then there are two spare sleeping bags in the closet. There’s only one bathroom, so if you two don’t mind I’ll be obliged to use it first.’


Harry and Ron stood there, slightly stunned. Esmeralda entered the bathroom located near the front door, closing the door behind her. Then they heard the sound of running water.


The boys stared at the spot in front of the bathroom, then at each other.


‘Well?’ said Harry. ‘What now, Mr. I-love-shiny-muggle-things?’


Ron stared at the shattered CD player on the floor and whimpered. ‘We can’t get back by using that, that’s for sure.’


Harry rolled his eyes. ‘First step of getting back – we need to find out where WE are at the moment.’


Harry looked around the room, walking slowly over the piles of junk on the carpeted floor. A small travel guide half-buried under a pile of laundry dumped beside the writing desk caught his eye. He picked it up, and flipped through a few pages. Ron looked eagerly over his shoulder, reading along a few words, and gulped.


‘We are so dead, Harry,’ Ron said quietly.


‘What makes you think so?’ said Harry, turning back to face Ron, hot irony flowing out of his mouth. ‘We’re in Calgary, Canada, which is half-way across the globe, what’s so bad about that?’


Ron’s face drooped. ‘M-maybe, we could try and find an owl, a-and write to Dumbledore…’


Harry let out an exasperated sigh. ‘What’s done is done, all we can do now is think of a way to contact Hogwarts. Wonder if there are any wizards or witches in a country like Canada. How are we supposed to find out?’


Ron piped up. ‘Dad has a colleague in the Ministry of Magic who was born in Canada, his name’s Will-Williamson, I think.’

‘Gee, that’s really helpful. Thanks, Ron.’


Harry flopped down onto the floor, staring at the travel guide. Ron sat down beside him and observed the room. They both stared out at the window – the blinding sunlight was maximized by the unreal whiteness around in the streets. Everything was covered in snow.


CLICK


Harry and Ron both jumped and turned their heads so fast their necks cricked.


Esmeralda was standing beside the closed bathroom door, gazing intently at them both.


‘How long have you been standing there?’ Harry asked urgently. Ron gaped open-mouthed at the dark-haired slender figure now crossing her arms.


‘Long enough to know you two aren’t normal people,’ she said softly. Harry stood up so quickly that Ron looked up him alarmingly. ‘Harry, don’t – ’


‘Now listen here,’ Harry said slowly. ‘You musn’t leak a word to anybody else, please don’t. Things will get really ugly if you do, its breaking the wizard law revealing about the magical world to Mug – to normal people like you.’


‘Muggles?’ Esmeralda said with a smile, her eyes sparkling strangely.


Harry’s jaw dropped open.

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