"Mum, who could that be?" Izzy was holding on to Mrs. Taylor’s arm as the whole family went to open the door for the midnight visitor.
"I don't know honey. We'll have to open the door to see."
"Do you think it’s thieves coming to rob us?" Izzy asked all scared.
"If somebody wanted to rob us, I think they wouldn't ring the door bell," Alex snorted.
They arrived at the front door.
"Who is it?" Mrs. Taylor asked.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, at your service."
They all looked at each other in awe. Something triggered in Alex's mind, that name was definitely familiar. Now she remembered. It was written on the top of her letter from Hogwarts. This was the headmaster of the so-called wizard school. So it definitely wasn't a prank. If this man was here now, then it must be true; she really must be a witch. Then another thought crossed her mind; maybe the reason he came was to tell her there has been a mistake and that she shouldn't have received that letter.
Mr. Taylor was the first to move as he went to look through the peephole.
"It's an old man, he looks harmless enough," he shrugged and opened the door.
"Good evening. I'm very sorry to have arrived so late in the night, but I got held up at the ministry," he peered down at them through a tiny pair of spectacles.
The entire Taylor family just stared at this strange man. He was old but he had a sort of childish innocence about him. His eyes were full of wisdom but filled with kindness and hope as well. He had gray hair and a long beard that sparkled in the moonlight.
"How long did it take you to grow that beard...sir?" Isabelle blabbered.
"Izzy!" Alex nudged her.
But Dumbledore just laughed.
"My dear, that's a very interesting question. I must say I don't know the answer to it. But it has definitely been there from before you were born, before Alex was born even.
"How do you know when I was born and how do you know my sister's name?" Izzy demanded.
"I know a lot of things my dear. Now if you and your family would be so kind to invite me into your lovely home, it's a dangerous time to be standing on the doorstep."
As nobody reacted he just let himself in.
"I take it the living room is that way?" he pointed in the right direction.
The entire family followed him and they sat on the sofa, while Dumbledore took the chair next to the fireplace.
"Excuse me, but who are you?" Mrs. Taylor finally asked.
"I am professor Dumbledore, the headmaster at Hogwarts," he smiled as if it were the most obvious thing.
"Excuse me, but that still doesn't really tell us who you are. And what is Hogwarts?"
"Hogwarts is the school for witchcraft and wizardry of course."
"A school for what?" Mr. Taylor was losing it by this point. A strange man had appeared in the middle of the night and said he was the headmaster of a wizard school. And the way he said it, like it would be the most normal and mundane thing.
"For wizardry. Your daughter will be attending it in September. If she wishes that is," he added and apologetically looked at Alex as if to say he's sorry for assuming she would just take her place at Hogwarts.
"With all due respect sir, I have absolutely no idea what is this nonsense you’re talking about or what this Hogarts or Hogwarts school is. And frankly, I have enough of this mumbo-jumbo, so I'm going to sleep," Mr. Taylor said and started to get up.
"Alex, did you not tell them anything?" Dumbledore turned to her. He looked like he was enjoying himself.
"Well...I wasn't really sure if this was true...so I didn't really know what to do. You've got to understand this is very confusing for me; I got a letter saying I'm a witch. No sane person would believe it!" she defended herself.
"What? What letter? Did this man send you a letter?"
"Not I personally, but my school did. You see your daughter here is a witch."
"What are you talking about?" Mrs. Taylor asked.
"Alex dear, why don't you go and get the letter?"
Alex already started standing up but then Dumbledore stopped her.
"Wait! Maybe we can kill two flies at once. Accio letter!"
The letter flew into the room.
“Wow! That was awesome!” Izzy yelled.
“What is this madness!?” Mrs. Taylor screamed.
“It’s magic,” Dumbledore explained calmly.
“You need to go and see a mental health professional. Hell, I need to go and see one. I’m imagining flying letters. This is getting out of control.”
“Mrs. Taylor please calm down and read your daughters letter,” Dumbledore said.
After a few minutes of persuasion both of Alex’s parents calmed down enough to read the letter, but as soon as they did they shot up again.
“Is this some kind of joke?!”
“No, m’am. It’s totally serious.”
“Do you expect us to believe this shit?”
“Didn’t I just prove a few minutes back that magic is real?”
This didn’t convince them and they were still screaming and asking questions. Dumbledore pulled out his wand.
“Lumos!” It light up.
“You expect us to believe that this is magic. Any idiot can see that this is just a stupid gadget bought in a joke shop.”
“Accio paintbrush.” It flew from under the table into Dumbledore’s hand.
“Do you believe me now?” he asked clearly amused by the entire situation.
They didn’t say a word but sat down apparently prepared to listen. Dumbledore explained everything. What they teach at Hogwarts and how the whole system works.
“But how am I a witch if none of my parents are?” Alex asked.
“It’s quite a common thing actually. A lot of witches and wizards are muggle-born.”
“Muggle born?” Alex asked.
“Meaning that they don’t have wizard parents.”
He smiled at her.
“Yes, my dear?”
“I didn’t quite understand the part in the letter about the owl having to arrive by the end of August.”
“Ah, that. You see in the wizard owls deliver mail,” he explained and got puzzled looks from the Taylors.
“It’s faster. But you can’t imagine the mess we have in the owlery,” he chuckled to himself.
“But there will be no need for that. I have personal confirmation of you attending Hogwarts in September have I not?”
Alex nodded enthusiastically. She then looked at her parents.
“May I go? Please?” she made her begging face with the big round puppy-dog eyes.
“Well…” her parents looked at each other.
“Ok.” They said at last.
“Yeeey!” Alex sang and embraced them in a huge bear hug.
“I want to be a witch to!” Izzy said.
“We’ll see my dear, we’ll see,” for the first time that evening Alex spotted that Dumbledore was uncomfortable. He covered it up by standing up and heading for the door.
“Oh and one last thing, there is wizard family that lives in your neighborhood,” he told them the address.
“They have a little boy, about your age, Alex. James is his name. You should pay them a visit, they’ll help you sort your stuff out. You’ll need to get your books for Hogwarts. Until next time then, Alex, Mr. Taylor, Mrs. Taylor, Isabelle,” he waved and in the next moment he was gone.
“Oh my god, mum! Did that really happen?” Alex was so excited.
“You tell me,” her mother sighed.
“Off to bed girls. It’s been a rough night,” Mr. Taylor said.
“Oh dad, I couldn’t possibly sleep now! I’m far too excited!” Alex was jumping up and down.
Her father laughed: “Well then you’re just going to have to lay in bed wide awake.”
“Oh but dad!” Alex whined.
“No buts, it’s after two.”
“Can I go yet?” Alex asked for the tenth time that morning.
“Not yet honey, it’s only half nine. You’ve got to let that family sleep. I know you’re excited about meeting a fellow wizard but you’ve got to be patient.”
Finally it was twelve, the earliest hour her mother would let her go and meet ‘the wizards’, as they were referring to them. Alex walked the few streets that separated their houses and when she arrived she gasped. She was standing in front of a mansion. It had a huge garden and Alex spotted a tree house in the back garden.
“Wow,” she thought to her self “I really need to make friends with these people.”
She suddenly felt nervous. What if these people were rich snobs? They certainly had a house that was big enough. She straightened her t-shirt and took a deep breath then rang the doorbell. A woman opened the door.
“Yes dear? Are you lost?” she asked, her eyes filled with warmth.
“No. I’m very sorry to bother you on a Saturday,” Alex apologized.
“Not a problem dear. So, how can we help you?”
“Well the situation is quite complicated. You see yesterday I got a letter from Hogwarts.”
“Oh a little witch. My son is going to Hogwarts this year. Come in, you can meet him. Come dear,” she stood aside so that Alex could pass. She was very happy about the turn of events. These people, or at very least the mother, seemed very un-snobbish.
“I’m so sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Alex Taylor.”
“Very nice to meet you. I’m Eleanor Potter and this is my husband Mark,” she said as a man walked into the living room where they were sitting. He had pitch-black hair and glasses. Even Alex, who wasn’t even 11, could see that he was very handsome.
“This is Alex Taylor. She’s going to Hogwarts this year,” Mrs. Potter explained to her husband.
“Oh, very good.”
“So Alex honey, tell us why you’re here. Uh, wait, first let’s get you a cup of tea.”
“That’s really not necessary,” Alex said politely.
“Don’t be silly darling,” Mrs. Potter waved her wand and a pot of tea with cookies appeared on the little table.
“Help yourself to sugar, milk and the cookies of course.”
“This is very kind of you. So as I was saying I received my letter yesterday and later that day professor Dumbledore arrived to explain everything in detail. You see, my parents are muggles,” she said and wasn’t sure how they would react to this news. They didn’t seem to take notice.
“Oh lovely, lovely,” Mrs. Potter said.
“So before he left, he told me your address and said I should pay you a visit and that you could help me with the preparations for school. But I don’t want to in bark on your life any way.”
“Oh, darling, it would be a pleasure. We always wanted a big family, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be, we only have one child, James. Where is he? We should call him, so that he can meet Alex.”
Alex felt sad. These lovely people who almost welcomed her into the family and they couldn’t have more kids. Life just wasn’t fair.
“James!” Mr. Potter called.
“Please come downstairs. There’s someone here we want you to meet.”
Alex heard thudding as James walked downstairs.
“So, this is our son James. James, this is Alex Taylor, she’s going to Hogwarts this year,” Mr. Potter introduced them.
“Hi,” Alex said and they shook hands. James looked exactly like his father; the same hair, the same eyes, they even wore similar glasses.
“Alex, honey, how would you like to stay for lunch? James can tell you anything you want to know about Hogwarts,” Mrs. Potter offered beaming down at the little girl.
“That’s very generous, thank you. Could I just ring my parents and ask them if that’s ok?”
“Of course you can. The phone’s right over there,” Mr. Potter showed her.
She called her house and her mum said it was fine to stay for lunch.
“Alex, I have a tree house in the back garden. Do you want to see it?” James offered as she hung up the phone.
“I would love to see your tree house. It sounds awesome.”
They went to the back garden and climbed up the tree.
“This is the coolest thing ever,” Alex said staring around the little house. She always wanted a tree house but they didn’t have a big and sturdy tree in their back yard.
“My dad and I built it,” James told her.
“This is seriously fantastic.”
“We can have Agnes bring us some tea and cupcakes up here.”
“Our house elf.”
“You have an elf? Like the one in Lord of the rings? With pointy ears, good eyesight and everything?”
“I don’t know what kind of elves there are in Lord of the rings but I can tell you Agnes doesn’t have good eyesight. She’s really old already,” James told her.
“Ok, firstly: I still can’t believe you have a house elf. What for? Do all wizard families have one? And secondly: You don’t know what Lord of the rings is?”
“Well Agnes does most of the house work and no, not all wizard families have one. Sorry, I’ve never heard of this Lord of the rings. It must be a muggle thing.”
Alex was glad she at least knew what a muggle was.
“You have to read Lord of the rings. It’s the best book ever.”
“Yeah, I’m not really big on reading. Except for Quidditch magazines.”
“Yeah, I’m not big on reading either, except for Lord of the rings. You’ve got to read it, I tell you. And what is Quidditch?”
“You don’t know Quidditch?” he was appalled. Then he went off into explaining the rules of the game. Alex was fascinated. Flying on brooms? She wanted to try it out as soon as possible.
“Do you have your own broom?”
“Yes, I do. My dad was a seeker when he was at Hogwarts. I’ll show it to you later, you can try it out.”
“Oh my god! Are you serious? I love you!” she said and hugged him. After she let go they were both a bit embarrassed. James was looking a bit flushed and Alex thought she’d better change the subject.
“So tell me about Hogwarts.”
“Well when you get there, you get sorted into one of four houses. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin,” he cringed at the last.
“Is there something wrong with Slytherin?”
“Well, I don’t want to turn you against them but they are known to be very stuck-up and even evil. Almost all the evil wizards were in Slytherin.”
“Evil wizards? I didn’t know they exist. Now that I think of it, it’s logical. If the muggle world has evil people, so does the magic one. So tell me more about the other houses.”
“The Ravenclaws are the smart ones, the Hufflepuffs the nice ones and the Gryffindors are the brave ones.”
“Wow. In which house were your parents?”
“In Gryffindor,” James said proudly.
“You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart, their daring nerve and chivalry, set Gryffindors apart. I want to be in Gryffindor,” James told her.
“Wow. I like Gryffindor. How do they decide who gets put in which house?”
“The sorting hat. They put it on your head and it decides.”
Alex started laughing. Then she saw James was serious.
“You’re serious? A hat decides?” she asked and James nodded.
“So, what are the classes like? Is Quidditch a school sport?”
“I don’t really know about the classes. We’ll have to wait and see. Well it is, kind of. First years aren’t allowed on the team, but we have flying lessons.”
“What about the teachers?”
“I’m not really interested in the teachers. I just want to know what kind of pranks I can play on them,” James grinned.
“I love pranks. My friend Ed and I used to prank all the teachers at our old school.”
They spent the next twenty minutes talking and laughing at previous pranks they’ve pulled.
“You know what, I like you Alex Taylor,” James said to her and smiled wide.
“I like you too James Potter, I think we’re gonna get along very well.”
“Yeah, except if you’ll get put into Slytherin,” he joked.
“I will not!” she said and playfully punched him in the arm.
“Aw! That hurts,” he laughed.
“You’re strong…for a girl.”
“Oh really? I bet I’m stronger than you!” she grinned.
“I don’t think so.”
Before they could do anything to prove who was stronger a voice was heard from the house. It was Mrs. Potter calling them to lunch. They quickly climbed down the ladder and headed for the house.
Agnes the house elf served them lunch and for the whole time she was in the room Alex just stared at her.
“So that’s a house elf,” she whispered to James when Agnes left.
“Yes,” and then in the same breath he said: “Mum, can we have some cupcakes and tea in the tree house?”
“Yes, I don’t see why not. You can have them at teatime. So Alex, has James told you all about Hogwarts?” she smiled.
“Yes, he has. He’s told me all about the houses and Quidditch. And he’s going to show me his broom later.”
“Ok, just be careful you two. We don’t want to send Alex home with a broken skull.”
As promised after lunch James took Alex to their broom shed. There were three brooms in there.
“So this is my broom. It’s a Comet 260,” he said proudly.
“Are these your mum and dad’s?”
“That’s dad’s,” he said and pointed to the newer shinier one.
“My mum doesn’t fly. That’s my old one.”
He took it out and handed it to Alex.
“It’s yours for today.”
“Thanks, I hope I’ll return in it one piece,” she smiled.
“So Alex Taylor, are you ready for your first flying lesson?”
“Oh please, I was born ready,” she said and pretended to flip her nonexistent long hair. They both laughed. Alex mounded her broom and James showed her how to hold it correctly. When he touched her hand she thought she saw sparks flying. They kicked off the ground.
“Hey! I’m doing it!” she said excitedly when she didn’t fall off the first second. James laughed and did a flip in the air.
“Now that’s just showing of.” She said and he gave her a cocky grin.
“Alex, dear please we would love to have your parents and you for dinner sometime this week,” Mrs. Potter said to her as she was leaving.
“Thank you so much for the invitation. I’ll ask them and give you a ring. James gave me your number.”
“That’s lovely. And I almost forgot, if you would like you could come with us to buy everything for Hogwarts. You probably don’t know where you would get everything.”
“That would be a real help, thanks.”
“We can discuss everything if and when your parents come to dinner,” she smiled sweetly and surprised Alex by giving her a goodbye hug.
Alex walked happily back to her house.
“Hi honey. How were the wizards?” her father opened the door for her.
“Oh they’re great. They invited us all around for dinner sometime next week. And they have a huge house and James has a giant tree house oh and I rode a broom and they have a house elf. They also invited me to go with them to get everything for school and they’re really nice and…”
“Calm down child. You’re blabbering. You’ll have plenty of time to tell us everything over dinner,” Mr. Taylor said.