Petunia Evans walked along the dark paneled corridor in her parent’s house with excited, quick steps. Her socked feet made her slip a bit on the polished floor, but she didn’t care.
Today was her eleventh birthday and grandmother had rang late last evening to remind Petunia to watch for her birthday card in the post.
Petunia had waited until after breakfast. Surely the postman would have come by then. She hated waiting for things and if she had seen the floor bare the first time she came near the kitchen she would have checked it half a dozen times by now.
There’s a time and place for everything, and the time for her birthday card was after breakfast, she reasoned.
She smiled in a satisfied manner as she approached the small pile of letters at the end of the hall. The only light was coming through the mail slot, sunlight illuminating bits of dust and giving off small gold sparks.
“Did you get a letter from gram?”
Lily, Petunias younger sister, was standing in the doorway leading to the kitchen. Her footed pajamas were getting worn and the legs were getting too short. Her red, uncombed hair was sticking out in all directions.
“What do you think?” Petunia asked sarcastically, not really knowing herself because the light was so dim. Lily shrugged and plodded upstairs to get dressed.
Petunia strode into the kitchen and sat heavily at the kitchen table, smiling as she spotted one of the pink heavy envelopes that her grandmother used religiously. She pulled it out and opened it.
The card had a picture of a kitten on it and a short poem on the interior. A five pound note fluttered out, but Petunia was more interested in the card.
“Gran says she might come for a visit on Easter,” Petunia called out to her mother, who was washing the breakfast dishes.
“That would be nice,” her mother said as Petunia heard her father ‘harrumph’ behind his newspaper. Petunia giggled to herself. Her grandmother was always entertaining to have around.
Petunia folded her card back up and went to place it into its envelope when she spotted a second letter. Who else could be writing her? Her father and mother always told her not to talk to strangers, but what about a letter from strangers. They might take it away without ever letting her read it.
The writing on it was swirly and in a brilliant emerald ink. Neither her father nor mother had noticed it.
It certainly wasn’t the sort of think she thought they would want to encourage. It looked official. Perhaps it was from the Prince.
He had recently ridden with his mother through the streets the other day in a carriage. Perhaps he had seen her and become smitten. Her father already expressed his displeasure with her at her fascination with nail polish. He certainly wouldn’t want any boys writing to her, prince or not.
She reached out and quickly slipped the cream colored envelope into her robe pocket.
“I’m going to write her a thank you note,” Petunia said as she slipped out of her chair.
“That’s a good girl,” her mother said, turning around to give Petunia a small smile.
Petunia smiled back and scurried upstairs to her room. When she reached her door she could hear her heart thumping in her chest.
Petunia swung around to see her little sister, nearly leaping into her bedroom door with fright.
“Happy birthday!” Lily was holding out a small box.
“Oh,” Petunia said, feeling stupid. “Thank you.”
She opened the box to find a new record in it. Something called My Bonnie, by a band she had never heard of.
“They’re supposed to be really something,” Lily said. “I heard some older kids talking about it.”
“I’ll be looking forward to hearing it,” Petunia said.
“Put it on now,” Lily said, walking back to her room. “I can hear it through the wall.”
“Of course,” Petunia said, practically yanking her door open and flinging herself inside. She turned the lock and put the little record on her turntable. At least Lily would be occupied for awhile.
Petunia pulled the letter with green writing out of her pocket and turned it over. A seal bearing a coat of arms was on the back. A badger, a snake, a raven, and a griffon were displayed in the gold wax.
She looked suspiciously at the door of her room. The record seemed quite loud, even though the volume was low. Lily could be doing any number of things, prowling about. It was amazing the things that girl could get into.
But nothing gave any indication that Lily was anywhere but in her own room, getting dressed.
Petunia broke the seal. It most certainly was not from the prince.
Dear Miss Evans,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…
Petunia felt her blood run cold as her eyes scanned the rest of the page.
This had to be a joke. Or a nightmare.
It was that horrible Margaret Peters. She had been calling Petunia a witch for two terns now. It was obvious these people had heard Margaret at one point and had taken interest in Petunia.
Petunia ran to her window and peered out. The only thing she saw was her street as it always was. The sky was grey and a steady drizzle was blowing around in a brisk wind. Mr. Owens was running out to retrieve his wife’s small terrier after the small beast had run out into the rain while Mr. Owens had retrieved his morning paper.
Petunia pulled her curtains shut and reread the letter.
They wouldn’t make her go! They couldn’t make her go! She would not go!
Petunia felt tears slide down her cheeks and she violently shredded her letter. She went back through the pieces and made sure none of them were bigger than her pinky nail.
No one would ever have to know. She could slip the pieces into the fire when no one was looking.
Her! A witch!
It was unthinkable.