Chapter One:


Let's not waste each others' time. I don't know what you're hoping to find here: justification, insight, entertainment … It doesn't matter. Just know that this story is not designed to cater to your sensibilities. I haven't the time nor the inclination to be delicate.

Throughout my life, I have refined the art of deception. Lying comes more naturally to me than breathing, but there will be no falsehoods here. I'm too old, and I'm too tired, and the truth is more important. However, if the truth is too much for you, you know the way out.

If you wish to know a bit more about the story I'm going to tell before casting your vote, I shall take the next few minutes to explain it to you, and you can decide then whether or not I am worth your time.

I come from a long line of witches and wizards. My family is the half-blood offshoot of the Goyles, one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight (i.e. the twenty-eight British families that are the purest of the pure-bloods). My mother and father both had magic as well as very successful careers with the Ministry of Magic. I have an older brother named Conor who's a gigantic prick, and who is also, unfortunately, very magically gifted, and a little sister named Aileen who was instrumental to my getting into Hogwarts.

I'm the middle child, which is the worst child to be in any family, and most middle children will agree with me.

My 'middle child' status was made that much worse, though, when it became evident that I was magically impotent.

I ought to explain what a Squib is, in case you don't already know (it'll save you the trouble of nodding along while pretending to know what I'm going on about but really not having a clue and rushing home to look it up later). A Squib is a person born into a wizarding family but who doesn't possess any magical powers. It is the opposite of a Muggle-born.

I'm not sure who coined the term. All I know is that it's been around for a long time and that it's an ugly little word. Try it. It doesn't matter what inflexion you give it, it will never ring nicely. It is the least sexy word on the planet. Even 'phlegm' sounds sexier than 'Squib'. That was probably the point. Wizard-kind looks down on Squibs—and I do mean all of wizard-kind, even the more open-minded ones, because if it isn't disdain that they look at us with, it's pity or something equally as patronising. I kind of like the word, though. It's either that or hate it, and I won't give them the satisfaction.

I suppose that's how my little scheme started: out of spite.

You see, when I was growing up, and for much of my adult life, schools of magic did not accept Squibs. They claimed to have nothing to teach us. I'm living proof that they were mistaken, but I'll get to that later.

The wizarding community does not officially recognise Muggle education; thus, if you are not educated in a magical school, in their eyes, you are not educated at all. It was a conundrum for people like me. The only way for us to become fully-fledged members of the community we grew up in was to attend a magic school, like Hogwarts, but such schools did not tolerate our presence. It didn't leave us with very many options: either poverty and destitution or self-imposed exile from the only world we'd ever known, neither of which is terribly appealing, you'll agree.

So, here's the thing: I'm a Squib, and in Hogwarts' long history, there has never been a single Squib who's been taught there. The furthest a Squib has ever got was to the Sorting Hat, and then that old rag went and exposed him.

Well, I didn't let that happen to me. Hogwarts was the gateway to the future I wanted, a future that did not include my total erasure from my family tree and my community's memory. I wanted more than the world was willing to give me, more than the scraps thrown to the dregs of society, and I was ready to fight for it (not literally, obviously, I'm very short and have all the physical strength of Pomeranian, but there are always other ways).

This is the story of a world where inequality thrives, and ignorance breeds eternally. It is the story of a system of privilege that perpetuates itself by hiding behind fantastic beasts and brilliant feats of magic. Because who wants to look at the bad side of a world that is so beautiful? Who would willingly remove their rose-tinted glasses to take a look at all the murky browns and dull greys of the universe? I'm not sure I would have done if I'd been giving the choice.

But here you are, prepared to take your first unadulterated look at the world. I'd congratulate you if I didn't think you were insane. Trust me, the saying is correct: ignorance is bliss. To be aware of the problems of the world is a terrible and painful thing. Perhaps your eyes have already been opened. That would make this easier, I suppose, but not by much.

It can take a lifetime to unlearn all the toxic things we've been taught. It's good that you're starting so young, and, my dear, at my age, anyone under ninety is young.

So, are you still interested in hearing the ramblings of an old woman?

All right then.

My name is Cassidy Doyle, and this is how I bullshitted my way through seven years of magical education with no magic to speak of.