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Chapter 1: Prologue
Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me except the plot, some of the characters and anything you don’t recognise. The Hogwarts acceptance letter is taken from JKR’s first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Name: Marcia Sparks
Blood Status: Half-Blood
Place of Birth: Manchester, UK
Hair: Hazel brown
Eyes: Chocolate Brown
Broom: Firefly 2.2
Wand: 8½ inch Mahogany, Thestral tail core.
I was never great at sport as a child. It’s not that I was clumsy or lazy or anything, I was just out of practice. I guess it’s the same for most unpopular kids, especially when your only chance of playing sport is at school, and the other kids are so bitchy and immature, never picking you for their team in netball because you wear glasses, or because you have ugly, clumpy, sensible shoes. Or maybe it’s because you’re the chubby, shy, lonely kid that has no friends because you somehow happen to be see through, whatever the case, once you’re on somebody’s team you’re immediately shoved in the corner, told to stay out of the way, never having the ball passed to you, because you’re pretty much invisible. I spent seven whole years being bad at sport, never having the chance to become better, having to stand on the sidelines being jealous of every single on of the players who everyone was cheering for. I knew no one would ever cheer for me, because I was a nobody, the unpopular, wimpy kid, who was invisible save for the times someone wanted a scape goat, or were just really bored. I was a freak, a weirdo, and there was nothing I could do to change that.
Once labelled, you’re labelled and the only way to change that label is to leave and create a new label with new people, leaving your old life behind. I was sure this would never happen for me, I attended a local primary school and was set to start at the nearby secondary school in September 2016, but at the beginning of March, a day before my eleventh birthday, my life was turned upside down, and I was given a chance. A chance to change.
Tuesday 1st March 2016
“MARCIA!” Mum yelled up the stairs.
I peeled my eyes open, looking groggily around the dark room. A small beam of light slithered in through a crack in the curtains, illuminating a strip of the messy, unkempt floor. Having glanced at the blue-green glowing digits of the clock across the sea of clothes and shoes, it became apparent that I was very late.
It wasn’t unusual for me to be late, in fact it happened almost every day of the week, but that didn’t make it any less embarrassing as I had to walk to my seat with every single pair of eyes staring at me.
I remember scrambling down the stairs, pulling on my polo shirt and forest green jumper. Mum had laid my cereal out for me, and I hurriedly scooped a spoonful. It never reached my mouth. There, on the table, was a letter. A letter addressed to me.
It wasn’t that I never got letters, I did, well, a few; mostly from my Building Society and my local library to inform me of my outstanding books. This one was from neither, it was a thick envelope, a sort of off-white colour, with green swirly writing, as though it had been written with one of my calligraphy pens. Dropping my spoon I’d snatched it up, the intrigue ripping me apart. Turning it over I noticed the strange wax seal, but I couldn’t quite make out the emblem. I didn’t care. I tore open the envelope and pulled out the parchment like paper inside.
My jaw dropped as I began to read, eyes widening a little with every word, ‘Dear Miss Sparks,’ it read, ‘We am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,’ I could almost hear my mother’s face creasing into a frown over my shoulder. I didn’t turn round, but instead continued to read. ‘Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl no later than 31 July. Yours sincerely, Septima Vector, Deputy Headmistress.’
My mouth still hung open in the shape of my cheerios as I turned round slowly to look at my Mum, she just gaped at me, still a little shocked.
“I – it’s a joke, right? I mean,” she took the letter from my hands and read aloud from it, “School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Who would even think up this crap?”
“Pretend you didn’t hear that,” she said hurriedly, scanning the paper in front of her, “what do they mean ‘await your owl’? This is ridic-”
Knock, knock, knock.
We both looked up towards the slim, cluttered hallway, I glanced at Mum expectantly.
“Just, eat your cereal,” she exhaled deeply before turning on her heel and heading towards the grubby white front door, swinging it open she stared at the stranger on the step.
“Ah, good morning Ma’am, Neville Longbottom, Head of Gryffindor House and teacher of Herbology at Hogwarts, is Miss Sparks in?”
Mum didn’t answer, but the man stepped through the doorway and past her anyway, rounding the corner into the kitchen where I was sat waiting, one hand still poised on my spoon handle.
There was something odd about him, and it wasn’t just the strange name, but the strange clothes. He was wearing a long black dress type thing, like the professors at a posh university or Eton College might wear, and underneath were suit trousers and shiny black and white shoes. They were the type of shoes that men wore in 1930’s gangster films.
“Ah, Miss Sparks, you’ve read your letter I see,” he said, pointing at the torn open envelope next to my elbow, “now, since you don’t live with a magic parent, I’m here to help you understand,
Hogwarts is a school for very special people, like yourself, who possess magical abilities. You will be taught how to use and control your magic, and will be living amongst children around your own age, who also have magic.”
Mum had come back into the kitchen now and was frowning, “what do you mean, magical abilities? Is this some kind of sick joke?”
“It’s not a joke ma’am, Marcia is a witch, and I am a wizard. Here,” he fumbled in the pocket of his cape-thing and finally retrieved what looked like a long, smoothed stick, and pointed it towards the kitchen sink.
Last night’s curry stained plates and coke glasses started wiggling, the cutlery, standing vertical, began to hop, and as water began filling up the sink, the crockery and cutlery wiggled and hopped into the water and began to wash themselves.
I gaped at the scene, mouth open wide, “cool!” was all I could manage.
“Quite,” he nodded in agreement, “but it takes a lot of time to learn all this, Hogwarts is one of the top schools in the world, it has raised some fantastic witches and wizards in its time.”
I still couldn’t believe it. In fact, I didn’t believe it. Me? A witch, how could he be so sure? What if he’d got the wrong house? I looked at the envelope on the table next to me, then at the letter that was still in Mum’s hand. It had my name on it, mine. I couldn’t be – could I? I suddenly found myself thinking of all the strange and unexplained things that had happened in my life; the whiteboard rubber that kept throwing itself at evil Miss Perkins, the bone dry ground that was weirdly icy whenever Janice Baker walked – and slipped – on it, the snow day in the middle of May.
Bit by bit my life started to add up, to equal this. Except for one thing.
“Was my dad a wizard?” I asked, somewhat out of the blue, causing Mum to jump and a flicker of fear crossed her face. Not because of the idea of him being a wizard, but because I’d asked about him. It was something I’d learned never to do, because not only did she refuse to give me answers, but it always put her in a sour mood. Suddenly I wondered why.
“It’s possible, but I’m afraid cannot say,” he smiled gently, and I nodded, a little dismayed. I’m sure Mum noticed this, because she stepped forward to change the subject.
“This list of yours, where exactly are we supposed to find any of this stuff? Nowhere will sell this, except perhaps a fancy dress shop and a crazy antique book shop.”
“Ah,” Neville smiled at her, “I believe I will be able to help you with that, the only place you can find everything on that list is Diagon Alley.”
He nodded in confirmation, smiling broadly, “You won’t have heard of it, we’re wizards you know, very capable of magically hiding things.”
“Oh, well of course,” Mum’s forehead creased again, “am I meant to be able to afford all this?”
“Not a problem Ma'am, Hogwarts has a bursary fund for students who can’t meet the financial requirements, especially if they're only living with one parent.”
“Well,” she nodded slowly, “that's nice of them, so will you be able to give us directions to this, Horizontally place, then?”
“Diagon Alley,” he corrected quickly, before answering, “and no, like I said, it's well hidden. Only people with magic can see the entrance, and even then, they have to be looking out for it, it's harder for muggles, they literally have to be introduced to the place the first time they visit.”
“I'm sorry, muggles?”
“Ah yes, non-magical folk, like yourself.”
“Oh, okay. I guess,” Mum sighed deeply, obviously having difficulty taking it all in.
“So,” started Neville, “when do you want to go? I suppose you'll want to finish your breakfast.”
I jumped up from my stool, “No, no! That's okay,” I looked over my shoulder at the swollen cheerios, “they're all soggy now anyway.”
“Marcia!” exclaimed Mum, “You have to go to school, you're already late!”
“Could I not have the day off?” I pleaded, “I won't be needing that school anyway, I'm a witch, and anyway, this important so that you'll know where to take me shopping in future.”
Mum pursed her lips thoughtfully before answering, “Okay-” I whooped, “but, only the morning off, I'll ring in and say you have a dentist appointment that we forgot about.”
Squealing with excitement I had skipped to find my shoes and jacket, all thoughts focused on the fact that I knew that it was positively the best birthday gift I could ever have been given; freedom and a fresh start.
It was on Diagon Alley where I first saw it, Quality Quidditch Supplies emblazoned in gold letters across the sign. I had no idea what this Quidditch was, so I had moved closer to the shop window, gawping at the posters that sat inside it. They were moving. Not only that, but the figures in them were dressed in what could only be sporting gear, astride broomsticks. All those stories about witches and cauldrons and broomsticks, were true.
I'd asked Mr Neville about Quidditch, and he'd explained that it was the most popular sport in the Wizarding world, including at Hogwarts, where the four different houses competed each year for the trophy. There were also teams all over Britain and the rest of the world, and a World Cup was held every four years. It was the biggest event in the wizarding community.
From that moment I was inspired. I had been given a fresh start, and I intended to make the most of it.
AN: So, another first chapter for me, eek! I hope you like it, and any comments are hugely appreciated. This is just a really long introduction, basically into Marcia's life. The following chapters will take place roughly six years later. Hopefully the time jump won't be awful!