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Chapter 1 : My Other Relatives
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I’ve always know about them. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve known about my other relatives. That’s what Dad calls them, our other relatives. For the longest time I learned about them in snippets and bits of news my parents sometimes let slip when I was around. The most common being birth announcements. Just around my fifth birthday I remember Dad mentioning that he had another one, a girl this time. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, but when I accidentally turned my mum’s hair purple two years later I heard him say that I was going to be just like his kids and all those other relatives. That was when I realized my other relatives were different.
After the hair incident, my parents stopped being so secretive about the more distant members of the family. When it was just the three of us Dad would sometimes talk about him. He never said his name, but it wasn’t hard to figure out that he was talking about his cousin. After all, he was the only member of the family that I had never met.
Dad never really said much about him though, at least not intentionally. Generally I would end up doing something that reminded him of his cousin and the words just seemed to slip out. Like the time when I was ten and playing in the cupboard under the stairs. I had set it up as a kind of fort, with small toys and knick knacks I had gathered from outside and around the house, but when Dad caught me going in there once he exploded.
His face turned a strange purple color and he balled his hands into fists. I knew I was in trouble but I was expecting the usual lecture and dismissal that followed my antics; I nearly fell over when Dad started yelling.
“YOU WILL NOT BE SHUT UP IN THERE LIKE HIM!” he shouted, “YOU ARE NOT TO GO NEAR THAT CUPBOARD AGAIN, IS THAT UNDERSTOOD YOUNG LADY?”
I nodded and bolted up the stairs to my room. I had never seen my dad so angry, not even when I accidently levitated dinner and lost control causing it to crash to the floor and break mum’s nice china (although he did say at least I didn’t hit anyone like he did). But like many of the other hints my dad began dropping, I learned that the cupboard under the stairs had something to do with his cousin and I filed it away in my head for future reference.
But these snippets weren’t much to go by, and truth be told they didn’t interest me overmuch until a strange woman dressed in sapphire blue robes showed up on our doorstep the summer after my eleventh birthday.
I had answered the door and was about to tell her that whatever she was selling (she must have been selling something to be dressed so strangely) we didn’t want, when my dad asked who it was from the kitchen. The woman ignored me and shouted that she was Hestia Jones and that the Ministry had sent her. Her words meant nothing to me but they had some sort of impact on my dad because the next thing I knew he was standing behind me with a hand on my shoulder.
Turns out Dad knew this crazy lady from a long time ago though they clearly hadn’t kept in contact and the Ministry that sent her was in fact the Ministry of Magic who were doing their routine visits to the homes of muggle-borns to explain something called Hogwarts. Everything she said went over my head until she called me a witch. I bristled at the term. I was an odd child and I knew that but I wasn’t mean or evil and certainly did not merit being called a witch.
When I told her as much she merely laughed and explained that ‘witch’ merely meant that I had magical powers and that she was in fact a witch too. As if to prove her point she pointed a stick at the coat tree in the corner and made it dance. Dad didn’t seem too happy about it and muttered something about wizards and ton tongue toffees, but I ignored him and focused on the woman in from of me as she stopped the dancing coat tree. Needless to say she had me sold after that.
Dad eventually invited her in and she explained about witches and wizards and the International Statue of Secrecy, as well as Hogwarts, the magical school I would now be attending and Diagon Alley where I would go to get all my things for school. I was enthralled by it all. I couldn’t believe something like this was happening to me. It felt surreal, like something out of the fantasy books I loved to read. I couldn’t wait for summer to end so I could catch the train (which Ms. Jones explained how to get to) that would take me to Hogwarts.
As we walked her to the door and said our thank-yous however, I was yanked back into reality by her question to my dad.
“Before I go, I was wondering if you had talked to Harry recently. I haven’t seen him since his birthday last year and since I switched departments at the Ministry I don’t see him all that often anymore.”
“Er… no,” my dad had answered, “I haven’t talked to him in a good while.”
“Oh, pity,” she had said, turning her attention to me, “Well then dear, have a good summer and—oh my goodness.”
“What?” my dad had sharply asked.
“Oh nothing, I just noticed she has the same eyes as Harry and his son, looks like the Evans eyes have popped up once again,” she said, “Anyways dear, have a good summer and enjoy Hogwarts next year.”
Then she turned on the spot and disappeared with a pop right before my eyes.
Although I had already put two and two together in my head, I had to know if I was right. I turned to my dad as he shut the door and asked who this Harry was and how he knew him. Dad had sighed and said Harry was his cousin and they had grown up together, but that since becoming adults they had gone their separate ways. After that he wouldn’t say anything else about the matter despite my constant badgering.
His silence didn’t bother me, if anything it made me more determined than ever to find out more about him. Hestia Jones’ visit had confirmed the one thing I wanted to know most, the other relatives Dad always talked about were magical, and the him I always managed to remind Dad of was a wizard. She had also given me two names to go by, ‘Harry’ and ‘Evans’. It wasn’t much, but now I had a starting point.
Learning more about cousin Harry consumed the rest of my summer. My dad and grandparents remained silent on the matter, but didn’t stop me as I went rifling through attics and boxes of old photographs and papers. It didn’t help much, but as I boarded the train for Hogwarts I had learned that Harry’s surname was Potter, his mother had been Lily Evans, my great aunt, and that he was currently married with three children roughly around my age.
Getting to Hogwarts didn’t stop my search for the man who I believed would understand me. Being a true Ravenclaw, I scoured the library, asked friends, teachers, ghosts even for any information they had on Harry Potter. What a can of worms the whole thing turned out to be.
Everyone knew Harry Potter. He was famous, the ‘boy who lived’, the ‘chosen one’, the one who had defeated an evil wizard called Voldemort not once, not twice, but five times! I was convinced they were wrong. How could no one at home have told me about this or even mentioned it? I convinced myself that they must have been talking about another Harry Potter, but as I continued to search I felt my conviction vanishing.
When I finally learned at the end of the year that Harry Potter the ‘boy who lived’ had been born to James Potter and Lily Evans, I knew that the boy who lived and Dad's cousin Harry were one in the same. I’d seen the invitation for Lily Evans’ wedding in my grandparents’ attic, and really, what were the chances that another Lily Evans and James Potter had married and had a son named Harry? Slim, that’s what.
I thought of nothing else that summer and battled with myself constantly about how to ask about Harry. I knew I couldn’t go to my grandparents, while they knew I was a witch they largely ignored it and I didn’t talk about it. So that left Dad. I spent up until the night before school agonizing over how to approach the subject, when Dad surprised me.
After dinner that night he called me into the lounge and sat me down across from him and began to talk.
He asked me what I’d learned about Harry while I was away and school and laughed when my jaw dropped. Before I could ask how he knew he simply told me that it ‘was a Dad thing’ and then waited in silence for my reply. It took me a moment to collect my thoughts, but once I did everything I learned just came tumbling out. Dad seemed surprised at most of what I said, but remained quiet until I had spilled out everything I knew about mysterious cousin Harry. Once I was finished, he took a deep breath and told me that until now, he knew very little about his cousin. When I asked why Dad had told me that in truth, he had made growing up miserable for Harry and that he hadn’t wanted anything to do with his strange cousin. Eventually they had managed something of a civil relationship and while the two didn’t hate each other anymore, they had both moved on with their lives. He told me that in all likelihood, Harry and his family probably wanted nothing to do with us and that I should respect that and leave them alone.
When I started to protest Dad quickly shushed me and admitted that the Potter’s knew of my existence. Out of courtesy, Harry and my dad had sent each other wedding and birth announcements for all their kids, usually clipped from newspapers, and that if Harry or his children wanted to seek us out then they knew where to find us. The fact that they hadn’t contacted us proved that they weren’t interested and I needed to accept that.
Angrily I had asked him why things had to be this way, and he gave me the saddest, most apologetic look I have ever seen in my entire life. Because of how Harry had grown up and how he had been treated when he was living with my grandparents and dad, I was told we didn’t have the right to interfere in the lives of the Potters.
We stayed up all night after that, talking. Dad told me what he knew of Harry in the muggle world and I repeated stories of his adventures in the magical world that I’d heard at school. By the time we stumbled upstairs to shower and change before leaving for King’s Cross I knew the whole story. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t easy to accept, but my dad was right; I needed to leave the Potters alone. And so I promised that I would leave them be, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t keep an eye on them as well. After all, I was the oldest one in the ‘family’, according to dad; it was my responsibility.
In my Second year I spent a lot of time learning about the Potter family as a whole, mainly focusing on the younger members. I knew Harry had three children, what I didn’t know was that they would eventually be at school with me, and very soon. James would start next year, Albus the year after, and Lily, the youngest, two years after that. By the time I was sixteen they would all be at Hogwarts with me. It was a surprise to say the least and a temptation as well. All it would take was a casual little slip in conversation and I could finally be apart of this magical family I envied. But I had promised I wouldn’t do that.
I began insisting that all my friends call me by my middle name, ‘Marjorie’ or ‘Margie’ for short (I wouldn’t let them get away with just ‘Marge’ it reminded me too much of my Great Aunt Marge who was a foul woman) in order to make myself standout less. It took some getting used to, but by Third year I was just Margie, another face in the crowd and James Potter never looked my way; neither did Albus or Lily when they arrived. But true to my word, I kept an eye on them.
Despite my promise to Dad, I ended up tutoring Albus in Potions and James in Transfiguration. I know I shouldn’t have, but when I heard they were looking for homework help I just couldn’t resist and before I’d really though it through, I’d volunteered to give them a hand. Slowly, as we poured over textbooks in the library and read over essay assignments, I began to earn their friendship. But I never told them who I really was. In the end I tried to convince myself that weren’t even that closely related. Our dad’s were cousins which made us all something like second cousins once removed, or maybe it was first cousins twice removed, either way, we could barely claim a blood tie anymore.
But I always saw them as my family. As the years passed I never lost that feeling of wanting to know them as a family. The closest I ever came to revealing myself was accidentally letting my first name slip. But they didn’t see the significance and carried on as if nothing had happened. I was relieved, but at the same time I felt like crying. Despite knowing them now, this isn’t the way things are supposed to be. Now that I’m out of Hogwarts and about to start the next phase of my life I’m finally ready to break the rules.
I glance down at the invitation and brief letter of explanation sitting on my desk. I don’t know if James, Albus, and Lily will remember me or if Harry will be even remotely interested in the daughter of his hated cousin, but this is an important moment for me and whether they realize it or not, the wizarding half of my family shaped it just as much as the muggle half.
I pick up the invitation and let my eyes skim over the gold embossed letters before tying it and the letter to my owl, Freya’s, leg.
Derek Roland Thomas
Lily Marjorie Dursley
On the Twenty-Second of August Two-Thousand and Twenty-Four
We hope you will celebrate this joyous occasion with us
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