Marcia Christabelle Rumsey was a very ordinary girl leading a very ordinary life. Mr. Rumsey worked for the Home Office. Mrs. Rumsey was headmistress of Clarendon Day School. Marcia had two older brothers; Richie was in his last year at Gordonstowe and Robbie in his first at Cambridge. They lived in a 19th c. terrace house in Mayfair and had a rambling half timbered cottage in Essex for weekends and holidays.
Marcia was going to be eleven this coming September and Mummy and Daddy couldn't agree on where she was to go to school. They were arguing about it again, over breakfast while Marcia read Letters to the Times.
"Evelyn and the twins were very happy at Fairfield." Daddy was saying.
"You know how I feel about boarding schools, dear." Mummy interrupted. "I let you send the boys away for the sake of their future careers but I really think I should be given my way with Marcia."
Daddy's eyebrows went up. "You don't expect our daughter to have a career?"
"Richard! That's not what I meant at all."
Hope came in with the morning mail and Mummy sorted quickly through it. "Mine, yours, mine, mine, yours -" her hands stopped and her mouth fell slightly open.
Daddy looked up from his letters. "What is it?"
"It's for Marcia." Mummy kind of croaked, getting her daughter's full attention for the first time that morning.
"For me?" Mummy handed it over. It didn't look like any letter Marcia had ever gotten in her life. The envelope was thick and yellowish, not paper but parchment, and the address, written in green ink, was downright bizarre:
Miss M. Rumsey
342 Cardington Crescent
The contents, also written in green ink, were even stranger:
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 Miss Rumsey,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Yours sincerely; Minerva McGonagall
By the time she finished reading all this Marcia's mouth was hanging open just like Mummy's. She handed the letter to Daddy and he joined them in befuddlement.
"It must be some kind of joke." he managed at last.
The door opened and Hope reappeared, eyes round. "A lady to see you ma'am."
The visitor was right behind her, a very tall and slender lady in a sweeping buttercup yellow gown with dark, reddish hair coiled beneath a yellow witches hat decorated with a band of flowers. She swept forward to shake Daddy's hand then Mummy's "Mr. Rumsey, Mrs. Rumsey, a pleasure to meet you." she turned a beaming smile on Marcia. "And this is your daughter of course. I see you've gotten your Hogwarts letter, my dear."
None of the Rumsey's could get out a word in reply.
"My name is Grunnion-Ffitch, Helaine Grunnion-Ffitch. " the visitor continued brightly. "May I sit?"
That brought Daddy at least partially to his senses. He half rose with a little bow. "Please do, Miss - er."
"Mrs. - Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch." the lady said settling in the fourth chair at the breakfast table. She bestowed a reassuring smile on the stunned family. "I understand how surprising and bewildering this must be for you."
"Yes indeed!" Mummy said with emphasis. "You know something about this letter, Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch?"
Another brilliant smile. "All about it. You see my dear Mrs. Rumsey your daughter is a Witch."
"I beg your pardon?" said Daddy.
"A Witch." the lady repeated. "As of course am I." She pulled a short, polished stick of wood from her flowing sleeve. "Allow me to demonstrate." waved it and the centerpiece turned into a cauldron filled with a pretty lilac purple liquid. A gold and glass goblet appeared in Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch's hand and she dipped out some of the liquid and sipped it.
"Ah, excellent. Do have some." three more goblets appeared in front of the Rumseys and filled themselves.
Marcia took a swallow of hers. It was delicious, tasting of apples and orange-blossoms. Immediately she felt less confused and not at all frightened. Mummy and Daddy too relaxed visibly after drinking some of theirs.
Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch smiled. "Good. Now you can listen calmly can't you?" All three Rumseys nodded agreement. "Of course you know all about Witches and Wizards from old stories but you thought we no longer existed, if we ever had, isn't that right?"
The Rumseys nodded again.
"In fact Britain has a fairly large Wizarding population living secretly alongside you Muggles - Muggles being what we call non-magical people. The power is hereditary of course but sometimes, for reasons we don't quite understand, it appears in people of Muggle heritage like young Marcia here.
"When this happens we customarily offer the child a chance to develop her powers and join our world. Hogwarts is the premier school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Europe," she flashed a smile, "though I say it as shouldn't being a graduate. Marcia will learn how to use her gifts there and be prepared to pursue any one of a variety of careers in the Wizarding World. Are you interested?"
Daddy cleared his throat. "Er, what happens if we're not?"
"Nothing at all." Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch said calmly. "I will perform a simple spell to erase this entire incident from your memories and you go on with your lives as before, if that is what you want."
"I can do magic?" Marcia burst out, a bubble of excitement growing in her chest.
"Indeed you can." the lady smiled kindly at her. "Haven't things happened to you? Things you can't understand?"
They certainly had. "That's why, why birds talk to me?"
Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch's eyebrows went up. "An Avismouth eh? Very impressive. Yes, my dear, that is exactly why."
Mummy cleared her throat. "We thought it was just imagination."
"Of course you did. But it's not."
Marcia was almost too excited to talk. "Can I go?"
Daddy asked; "Exactly where is this Hogwarts?"
"In Scotland, outside a Wizarding community know as Hogsmead."
"I want to go." said Marcia.
Mummy said; "We'd like to visit the place and talk to her teachers."
"Of course." said Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch. "Very natural. We have a special orientation for Muggle parents July 25th." a roll of parchment and a quill appeared on the table in front of her. "Shall I put you down?"
"Please." said Mummy.
Marcia sighed in relief and hoped Hogwarts would measure up to her parents' standards.
Mummy and Daddy came back from their visit decidedly bemused.
"Very odd place." was all Daddy would say about it. "Very odd indeed!"
"Still the teachers seemed quite satisfactory on the whole." said Mummy. "Very sensible and responsible in their way."
"I was impressed by the Headmaster." said Daddy, cracking a faint smile.
Mummy smiled too. "Oh yes indeed!"
"So I can go?" Marcia asked, wanting to get things quite clear.
"Yes, dear, you can go."
"So," said Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch cheerfully over her own breakfast table, "it's all settled. We'll take Marcia shopping with us tomorrow. Her parents will drop her off at the garage."
"Sounds like they took it very well." her husband, Frederick Ffitch, observed.
"The potion of peace helped of course but the Rumsey's are also very sensible, intelligent people." said Mrs. Grunnion-Ffitch approvingly. She turned to her daughter. "You and young Marcia will be in the same year. Maybe you can be friends."
"I hope so." Rowena Grunnion-Ffitch said politely. She already had friends of course, Wizarding friends, but as Great Gran'ther always said you could never have too many and Muggle-borns generally did need a bit of help fitting in, at least at first. Daddy had, and no doubt Marcia would too.