It had happened almost exactly one year before I had received my letter of acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The evening was cold and misty, and the fog was so thickset that it was almost impossible to see. My parents had left me, confident in my well-behaved manner that I would be able to take care of myself for a few hours, to go to dinner with my father’s boss and his wife.
I was bored, and there was nothing on the television – a Muggle contraption that my mother insisted on having. While it was amusing to watch the Muggle fret about without magic to aid them, the things it played didn’t really interest me overmuch. Instead, I decided to go outside and play with my quaffle.
I wasn’t particularly bothered by the cold, the dark, nor the lack of visibility. Mother always ensured I wore plenty of warm clothes, so the nippy air was not a problem. The sensor lights attached to house guttering solved the little visibility problem also. The fog, however, proved to be quite bothersome.
I was throwing the quaffle about in an attempt to amuse myself until my parents came home, when I heard a loud rustling in the bushes. I turned to look at where the noise had come from, and the ball slipped from my fingers, damp with the fog as they were, and rolled away without my noticing. I stared hard into the darkness for several more minutes, my brow furrowed in concentration as I listened for any further commotion.
Finally, I concluded it had been a trick of my hearing, and turned to pick my ball back up.
It was no longer there.
By this time, the fog around the house had become insanely thick, even making it hard to breathe, as if I were sucking in cotton wool, I could almost feel it settling in my throat and constricting my airways.
I knelt down, feeling around with my hands for my abandoned ball. All I got was wet grass and mud. I crawled around on my hands and knees for a few more minutes, the cold wetness creeping from the soaked knees on my pants, down my legs to my feet and up my thighs. Finally, my numb fingers fumbled against the slick side of the quaffle, and I grabbed it and stood up.
I moved to go back inside the house, only to find that the fog had become near impenetrable. I could barely see the nose on my face, let alone discern which way I had come from or where the house may be, small as our backyard was.
I was starting to get slightly frantic by this point – it was cold, dark, I couldn’t see the house and something had made a noise in the bushes. To say that I was panicked was an understatement. What I needed to do was find something, anything, that might give me a clue as to where the door to the house may be.
I started walking, my quaffle discarded and forgotten, and my arms outstretched and waving in the air in front of me. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t even see my outstretched fingers.
Behind me leaves crackled, as if they’d been stepped on, and my already precarious self control snapped. I lost my nerve and ran, arms waving in front of me in a blind effort to recognise where I was going. I bolted straight into the bushes at the side of our backyard, skidding in the thick wet mud and hitting something solid and warm. I was rendered completely breathless, sprawled in wet, cold grass and mud, with leaves tickling my face and arms from the bush above.
The large hard thing that I’d hit moved, and I froze. I could feel its breath upon my neck and the soft growl within its throat. Somehow, I’m still not sure how exactly, I managed to roll out form underneath it. I scrambled to my feet and ran blindly, through the forest behind the house, trying to get away from the thing in the bushes.
My lack of visibility heightened all other senses, and I could hear the thing tearing after me, roaring through the bush and catching up quickly. I dodged and navigated my way through trees that appeared out of nowhere in the fog, looming ominously before me in the darkness. It was amazing that I wasn’t simply rendered unconscious by running into one.
I was losing my breath fast, and the thing was catching up ridiculously fast, it would bowl me over at any moment. Well, it would have, if I hadn’t tripped over a tree root, invisible in the thick fog, and hit my head.
As I lay there, stunned and breathless, I felt a puff of air on my face.
I could feel its breath, fast and tired.
I could hear its heart, tripping erratically as it stood over me.
I could smell wet dog and saliva.
I could feel its fur, soft and silky, upon my skin as it moved closer still.
I could feel the pain as its teeth sunk savagely into the tender skin on the underside of my elbow.
After that, all I remember was the distant howling of a wolf.
And I opened my eyes, one last time before collapsing in a dark world of nightmares full of howling wolves and disappearing quaffles, I saw the moon.