The story of how I met my father would probably be considered by some a fairytale. In fact the story seems so fantastical that even I believe it never happened. Some nights I go to bed wondering if I will wake up to find that it was never real. And yet it is nights like those that I will pull out his old letter’s and stare at the only photograph I have of us. I often wonder if circumstances had been different what my life would have been like with him. A life without all the magic, and the war. What my life would have been like if he hadn’t been Sirius Black the murderer, but just Sirius Black, my father.
It all began the day Albus Dumbledore visited my mother and I in our tiny house near the post office. I was eleven (turning twelve in a few short months), and was home alone. My mother worked at the local pub down the street and very rarely had time off so often I next door with Ms. Crawford. That day, however my mother had been forced to leave me home alone when she was called in to cover someone’s shift. Ms. Crawford was away visiting her sister, and there was no other person to sit me. It was just after five when the bell rang, and I tensed instantly. Peeping out of the kitchen window I spied a tall white haired man in long peculiar looking clothes. His blue eyes twinkled in the dwindling light, and before I could hide he caught me looking at him.
My mother had told me not to answer the door to strangers, and now I had made the grave mistake of giving myself away. I hoped that maybe he would go away, but after waiting a minute I checked the window again and saw that he still stood there waiting for me to answer. Not knowing what else to do I quickly came up with an excuse that sounded plausible enough to get rid of the strange looking man. Gingerly approaching the door, I summed up all the courage I could find in my body and unbolted the door and opened.
“Hello Ms. Green,” said the man.
I kept the chain lock on so that I could only open it enough to talk to the man. Peeking my head through, I looked up at the old man with twinkling eyes. “Sorry sir, my mum is in the loo.”
I cringed inwardly at my excuse. It sounded rather obvious.
“That’s all right, I am here to speak to you.”
“I’m sorry?” my voice constricted.
“But if your mother is not in, then I should come back later. I best tell you the news with her present,” continued the man. There was a small smile pulling at the edge of his lips, and I could tell he found this all rather amusing.
“Who did you say you were?” I asked, sounding a little accusing.
The man chuckled. “Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts school.”
“Hogwarts?” I repeated. I had never heard of it.
“Yes, I am here to offer you a place at my school.” The man, Dumbledore explained.
“You are?” I was curious.
“Your name has been on our list since you were born.”
Eyeing the him carefully, I wondered if the strange clothing he wore were some kind of uniform. Part of me wanted to let him inside so he could explain further, but I knew better. My mother wouldn’t be home for another two hours and I doubted that she would want to even speak to him when she did. I already had a place at the public school outside of town – that’s why my mother worked so much, to afford to send me there in the fall.
“I’m sorry you’ll just have to come back-”
“Excuse me,” said my mother’s voice. Behind Dumbledore I spotted my mother, still wearing her uniform, her expression betraying her. She was staring at Dumbledore in scrutiny – distrust dancing in her eyes. “Why are you talking to my daughter?”
She did not look at me, though I was thankful she didn’t. I knew she would be angry for opening the door. I wasn’t supposed to.
“Ah, so glad to see you Mrs. Green, I am here to speak with you. Your daughter was simply explaining that you were busy,” explained Dumbledore, extending a hand to my mother.
My mother took his hand and shook it. She didn’t move; she needed more explanation.
Dumbledore sensed this. “I am here to extend to your daughter a place at my school.”
“I am sorry sir, I already have her enrolled in Prep.” My mother said in a firm voice.
Dumbledore nodded his head. “Please give me the chance to tell you more.”
My mother’s eyes narrowed, but with a glance at my pleading face she decided to give the man a chance. “Give me a moment to change and then we can talk.” She decided and passed Dumbledore to the door.
I shut it quickly and unlatched the chain, and opened the door for my mother and the Headmaster. After a moment to remove their shoes (in the case of Dumbledore he removed what looked to be slippers from his feet) and my mother excused herself upstairs to change from her uniform. I led the Headmaster down the short hall into the sitting room. Our house is small, seven rooms total; the kitchen, sitting room, dining room, the den, the loo, my mother’s bedroom and my own. It had been my mother’s childhood home, and we moved here from London when I was a baby and my Grandmother had to be moved to a seniors home. It had changed little since inheriting it, the odd piece of furniture moved to suit my mother’s mood. We had a small gated garden where I spent much of my summers.
The Headmaster sat in one our sagging chairs that we had inherited from my Grandmother. The presenter on the telly was talking loudly about the warm weather we should expect for the week and I rushed to turn it off and clear the coffee table of the clutter I had spread out. I enjoyed photography and had been going through my mother’s old films and photo books. Going into the kitchen I sat the photos on the table and rushed to turn the kettle on. Going back into the sitting room I attempted to straighten the pillows before my mother returned knowing that if she saw she would be embarrassed for inviting Dumbledore in.
Dumbledore sat quite comfortably in the chair, watching me tidy up through his half moon spectacles, a delighted smile on his face. It unnerved me to have him so quiet, especially when he seemed to be watching me so intently. Finished, I could hear the kettle begin to steam in the kitchen and excused myself.
Pulling three cups from the cupboard, I heard my mother enter the sitting room and begin speaking with Dumbledore. Distracted, I poured the hot water into each cup, placing a tea bag in each and placed it on a serving tray along with milk and sugar just the way my Grandmother had taught me years ago. Something about the way Dumbledore looked made me want to impress him. Picking up the tray I carefully re-entered the sitting room.
My mother had taken a seat on the sofa diagonal from Dumbledore, and gave me an approving look when she saw that I carried a tray of tea. Setting it on the table, I looked to Dumbledore. “Milk or sugar?”
Dumbledore smiled graviously. “Two sugars if you please.”
I nodded and did as I was told. Just as I was about to pick up the cup and hand it to him the most peculiar thing occurred – the cup rose into the air, floated almost, and soared into Dumbledore’s open hand. My mother gaped, while I blinked attempting to clear my visions. Clearly, I was seeing things.
“My mind must be playing tricks, I thought I just saw that cup float into your hand.” My mother chuckled nervously.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “No tricks ma’am, a simple act of magic.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Isn’t magic just a trick?” I interrupted. My mother gaped at Dumbledore again. Meanwhile I had stood up straight, my eyes fixed on his.
“Ah, but this was no illusion. I am no magician, I am a wizard.”
“I think it’s time for you to leave,” my mother began to get up, her face quickly reddening. She seemed a bit flustered.
“A wizard? You’re lying.” I accused.
“Monica, you know I speak the truth. You, yourself know that you too can perform magic like I just did,” said Dumbledore.
I blinked, while my mother froze in place. Her face was growing redder by the second but seemed unable to say anything. But I wasn’t paying attention, my mind was hard at work to understand Dumbledore’s words. Thinking back I could count on my fingers the number of times strange things seemed to happen around me. There was the time when I was in primary school and had become upset, wishing to be with my mother. All the papers in the classroom had flown in the air as if an invisible tornado. Then there was the time when I was nine and my mother and I had been in a car crash. My mother had three broken ribs and had been severely concussed. Meanwhile I had been unscathed, not a single scratch on my body. The paramedic’s couldn’t believe I had survived – I had been on the passenger side where the other car had hit. Suddenly my head filled with the many small occurrences throughout my short life that strange and unexplainable things had happened.
“And your school, it’s for people like you and I?” I guessed. My mother made a sound, but fell back onto the sofa.
Dumbledore nodded, a look a pure happiness on his face. “Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry is for any young witch or wizard in Britain who has reached the age of eleven. I have your school letter here for you.” He said, and from his pocket he handed me a letter, a important looking scrawl written in green ink read:
Ms. M Black
The smallest bedroom
Looking up at the Headmaster, my eyes widened. How did they know I lived in the smallest bedroom? Turning the letter over my hands paused as I looked at the waxed seal on the back; a crest with four animals and the letter ‘H’. Turning it over I read the address again. Ms. M Black. That had to be a mistake, my last name was Green.
“There’s a mistake, my last name is not Black.” I said, showing him the address.
“Perhaps your father’s last name,” suggested Dumbledore. I glanced at my mother, but did not wait for her agreement. She never spoke of my father, only telling me once the story of how she had met him and how he had disappeared shortly after she became pregnant with me. This did not distress me in any way, if Dumbledore said it was my letter I wasn’t going to wait for her approval. Opening it, I quickly read:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Ms Black,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
My lips moved soundlessly as I read and re-read the letter. In disbelief I looked up at the Headmaster having the distinct feeling that this couldn’t be real. This was some kind of joke. This man had to be mad.
“I should have known this would happen.” My mother seemed to have found her voice.
I tore my eyes from my letter and fixed my eyes on my mother. She was paler now, holding her hands in a fist to keep from shaking.
“I knew he was different... he even joked that he was a Wizard. And then after Monica was born, I noticed the strange things, but I chose to ignore them. I didn’t want to believe.” My mother looked from me to Dumbledore. “But he never told me his last name – Black you say? All I put on her birth certificate was Sirius, the only name he ever gave me.”
For a moment the three of us were silent. I was shocked to hear that my mother had known so little about my father. Perhaps that is why she never talked about him. Suddenly the excitement of learning that I was a witch had turned sour.
“Sirius Black is a criminal.” Dumbledore finally spoke. My mother’s eyes grew dark.
“I don’t understand.”
“He is in prison for crimes he committed in our Wizard’s war that ended ten years ago.” Dumbledore explained.
“Is he alive?”
I looked at my mother in surprise. She sounded so desperate.
“Yes, but they say he has gone insane. I must suggest, Ms. Green – and this is something I have discussed with my colleagues – that if you wish your daughter may attend Hogwarts using your name, Green.” Dumbledore finished looking quite serious.
My mother didn’t seem to understand. But I picked up Dumbledore’s meaning. Whatever my father had done to end up in prison was something so serious that it was likely to follow me as well. He was making this suggestion for my protection.
“But he wasn’t... he was a good man. I know he disappeared, but we were never anything serious. I just thought... he always seemed to be escaping something. There was always something greater on his mind.” I believed that my mother’s idea’s of my father all began to slowly unravel in her mind at this moment. Her mouth began to droop into a frown and a crease appeared on her forehead.
“Mum, I want to keep your name. I’ve always been Monica Green, I like it that way.” I touched her arm.
Shaking out of the memories that had filled her mind she looked to Dumbledore. “Tell me more about this school. How much is tuition? What will she learn?”
The twinkle returned to Dumbledore’s eye, and at once he began to explain to my mother and I of the world I was to be a part of. He explained that there was a whole community, around the world of individuals, families, and mythical creatures full of magic. He explained there were various ministries and magical districts throughout the world, and that Britain’s ministry was located in London. Then he went on to explain Hogwarts, and it’s four houses. He answered every question my mother and I threw at him, and by the end of it I could hardly wipe the smile off my face. Things like this only existed in the books I read.
“But you said there was a war ten years ago? I Wizarding war?” my mother sounded concerned. She knew Dumbledore was hiding something.
“As with the Muggle world there are those in the Wizarding world who wish to challenge the way we live. Magic has it’s many positive qualities but comes with dark as well. An evil man, like many before him gained followers to expose the magical world to the Muggle. He believed that the Muggle world was dirty and that they are of a lower species than those with magical ability.” Dumbledore had a dark look in his eye. I felt, that he was being more honest with my mother and I than he had with any other student before.
“And there was a war?” my mother asked.
Dumbledore nodded. “Yes. Many died in the years that I and many other worked to defeat him, but eventually the leader, Lord Voldemort, was killed and the threat of exposure was over. His followers were sent to prison and the magical world has remained hidden amongst the Muggle world.”
“My father wasn’t one of the followers, was he?” I asked. I wondered if this is why he was imprisoned.
Dumbledore seemed to take a moment to choose his words carefully. “No, I do not believe he truly was. Simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
My mother made a pained noise, and I looked at her in surprise. It disturbed me to see her so upset over something that had happened years ago. Taking her hand in mine I gave it a light squeeze. These were answers she had been waiting twelve years for.
“Now, it is getting late,” said Dumbledore, rising from his seat. My mother quickly got to her feet as well and took his hand to shake.
“Thank you, you don’t know how much I appreciate this evening,” said my mother.
“So I expect Monica in September?”
“Yes, definitely. Granted, I’m not sure where I should find these supplies?” My mother picked up the list of school items I needed for next year.
“Ah, yes, I will be sending Professor Charity Burbage to help you with that task. She should be contacting you soon to arrange a time to meet within the week.” Dumbledore assured.
Standing now I held out my hand for him to shake. There was a smile playing at his lips as Dumbledore took my small hand in his long fingered one and gave a firm shake. “Thank you, sir, for this opportunity. I won’t let you down.”
“No, I don’t believe you will.”
I grinned, and my mother and I walked Dumbledore to the door where he returned his slipper like shoes to his feet. He preformed one last act of magic. “If you excuse me, but this is the quickest form of transportation. I shall see you in September Monica, good night.”
I watched in amazement with a small ‘pop’ as the professor seemed to disappear before my eyes. After a few seconds I stepped forward and stood in the spot he had been standing moments before, and looked at my mother who wore a similar expression as mine.
“What a marvellous man!”
My mother reached for me and pulled me into a tight hug. “You’ll be all right darling? Won’t you?”
Hugging her back, I shook my head. “I’ll be perfect mum, this is the best thing that could’ve ever happened.”