Chapter One:


I sit staring out the window, my mind running over and over the dream I had last night. In the dream, I got a letter that said that I was a witch, and was accepted into a school for witches and wizards.

And although there is no way that was real, I can't help wishing it was. After all, in that dream, I could get away from my bratty brother, my abusive father, and my spying mother. Seriously, you know you have nothing better to do when you sit at the window spying on the neighbors.

Ugh. Today's Dudley's ninth birthday. My brother, Dudley, is a horrible person. He loves throwing tantrums that tend to end with a lot of destruction. Tables get broken, chairs get chucked across the room, and everyone's eardrums get shattered by Dudley screaming at the top of his lungs.

And then there's his habit of picking on my cousin. My eight-year-old cousin, Harry, is more like a brother to me than Dudley will ever be. The fact that my father beats him up so often makes me mad. I keep a first aid kit in my room now, so that I can help patch him up. And Dudley doesn't make things any better for Harry; punching and kicking him at every turn.

It's raining; huge drops pounding against the windows. It's the kind of rain where it seems like it will never stop. I've always liked the rain; it's the best time to curl up in bed with a book and a cup of sugar-free hot cocoa. Reading has been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember. My books provide a solace away from the hell of my home life, and the highs and lows that seem to define me, at least in the eyes of the rest of the world.

I sigh and head down the steps to the large kitchen. Harry is standing at the stove, swishing eggs around in a pan. Mom is fawning over Dudley, while Dad ruffles his hair. Both of them are ignoring Dudley's protests.

The table is loaded down with presents; so many that the table audibly groans under the weight. I hate my parents, and I hate my brother. Harry's birthday's in two weeks, and the only thing that will happen is that I will sneak him one of Dudley's chocolate cupcakes, leaving the wrapper on the table so I could say my sugar was low. Dudley'll throw one heck of a temper tantrum about one of his cupcakes getting eaten because She wants one, but Mom and Dad won't really punish me for it. Hopefully. They've never liked me as much as my brother.

That's partly because I'm a diabetic. It's not a big deal to me anymore, and I pretty much handle it okay. I wear an insulin pump, and a glucose monitor. I count my carbs, exercise every day, and take my insulin. I'm a lot healthier than everyone else in my "family."

The other reason they don't like me is because I'm not like them. I don't take any pleasure with bullying others like Dad or Dudley, and I don't care enough to spy on people like Mom. Also, I treat Harry like a family member, and not a slave. They've always hounded me about that, saying that freaks don't deserve basic respect. Well, I know who the real freaks are, and they aren't my cousin.

Heck! I don't even look much like them. I've got my father's blond hair, but it falls in loose curls. I'm tall and thin, and I have my mother's green eyes. But I have no idea where the freckles across my nose came from, no clue why I have crooked teeth, and no clue where my bad eyesight came from. The hair, eyes and height are the only things I've inherited from my parents, except for my last name, which I can't wait to change.

My father looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. He's extremely overweight, and has absolutely no neck. Mom looks like an anorexic: stick thin, with way too much neck. And Dudley, well, how to put this delicately? Okay, well, I'm just gonna rip off the band aid. Dudley is fat; extremely so. How this kid hasn't developed at least insulin resistance by now, I do not know.

While I've been lost in thoughts, Dudley's birthday morning has continued in a typical fashion. Everyone except for Harry ate Dudley's favorite breakfast: chocolate chip pancakes (Dudley's weighed down with about an entire bottle of syrup), scrambled eggs, and bacon. And now Dudley is opening his presents. Or, more like destroying the wrapping paper to get to the presents inside. The wrapping paper rains down around him like multicolored snow. Not that Dudley Dursley notices such things.

"Not enough!" he screams, punching the table. I resist the urge to roll my eyes.

I run out to greet the mailman, hoping that my dream might actually be a reality. After all, my dreams (when I remember them), are almost always accurate. But this one was too delusional to be true, right?

Apparently not. I grab the mail from the mailman with a hurried thanks, and flip through it. Bills for Mom and Dad, a boxing magazine for Dudley, Diabetes Forecast for me, a postcard from Aunt Marge (she's sick again... what a shocker), and at the bottom, a letter for me.

"M Dursley.

Bedroom facing the street.

Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Winging, Surey."

I drop everybody else's mail on the kitchen table, and make my way up the stairs to my bedroom to read the letter.

"Dear Miss Dursley:

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term starts on September 1. We await your owl by no later by no later than July 31st.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress."

Owl? Wizardry? My thoughts swirl in circles, spinning and spinning like a whirlpool. Where, what, huh?

Ding dong! I move down the flight of stairs to check the door. Mom and Dudley are watching something on TV, Dad is drinking his third beer today, and Harry is scrubbing the floor in the kitchen.

"I've got the door." I call to the rest of the family. I pull open the door, and stop to stare at the person standing on the other side. Again, what in the world is going on here?