1. The Great Bad Thing
When I was nine my sister got her letter, envelope via owl, and I didn't. And, yeah, I don't mean to sound self-pitying here, but we did everything together, me and her, and now she was a part of this great magical destiny and I wasn't.
This isn't going to be one of those stories of a family torn apart by jealousy, by the way. Ours was torn apart by something else.
I'm Mal. My sister is Roseanna. Mal is short for Malory, but it never worked for me. Roseanna's the witch. Got her letter when she was eleven, was so excited, ran off into a world that cut people open and ate their souls.
But anyway, if you're reading this, witch people, you know how it all went down. This is just what happened to us, my the grand scheme of things it's not important, but who cares about grand schemes anymore? It was grand schemes that got all of us into that mess.
Grandad. First name Jeremy. Grandad always came first, he was the rock, the glue, whatever. He kicked arse, Grandad did, was so old and lost his wife before I was born but kept kicking.
Roseanna. You know her.
Mum. Always wanted to be a mum, got pregnant at nineteen, and after Dad died (I was eighteen months old) she threw herself into it like the Queen and President all in one. School letters were always read, forms always signed, school lunches packed. We never had much money but she'd work and work and take us to Disneyland for a weekend and one time, to Spain.
I had a damn good childhood, for the most part. The day the letter came it was over.
So, Lord Voldemort...
Actually, you know, he wasn't our main problem, he was too much like something fictional. He was a dark lord, and he was doing what a dark lord was supposed to. He was like Sauron from Lord of the Rings, or something, his reach extended all over the place but hewas barely real.
Fuck yeah, I've read Lord of the Rings.
It was the people who weren't dark or lords who were the problem. Who were the worst. The ordinary people, who happened to have magic, who wanted to kill everyone who didn't. Everyone related to everyone who didn't. Those people with cloaks and wands and furious eyes, I'd like to say I see them in my nightmares, but I don't actually.
They weren't us, those ordinary wizards, not at the beginning, they were like...okay, I'm gonna Godwin's Law my own story here, but they were Nazi Germany. You know, they stood by while horrible, horrible things went down. And they ended up being a lesson to the world, and everyone knows that history as the Great Bad Thing, and if it hadn't happened, you know what, we'd have made it up. And to me it was like all the witches and the wizards who knew what happened and did nothing were just characters in some history book. Not real. Not us. Like the Nazis.
Nope. They were totally us.
I should begin at the beginning.
Roseanna got her letter. Mum and Grandad thought it was a joke and kept thinking that until the witches and wizards turned up, a bunch of robed bearded weirdos (and that was just the women) on a Milton Keynes housing estate. Even then Mum and Grandad took some convincing, and it was a demonstration what did it. They made our dishes wash themselves, made the lamp play music and the radio light up, and through it all I watched and fought my real feelings, thought about being superhuman but my sister was instead. I cried that night. Hey, I was nine. And Superman and Spider-Man adorned my bedroom wall.
Anyway, that was a strange time in my life, let's face it. I got to see the hidden platform at King's Cross, but that was as far into the magicland as I got. Before Roseanna got on that train Mum pushed me forward with the present I was holding. It was some of my things I didn't want, toys and shoes and a make-up set given to me by a friend who didn't know Mum wouldn't let me wear make-up til I was thirteen. Mum had spent our money on everything Roseanna needed for her education, you see, and there was hardly anything left, except the money still set aside for my education. So we cleaned out our cupboards and repainted and polished and wrapped, and presented this to Roseanna before she stepped into her new life. She took the parcel, we smiled, she smiled-
She was sixteen when Dolores Umbridge started killing people. One year younger than Harry Potter, who I knew everything about at this point. And I knew about the Dementors. It was them in my nightmares. Those things that sucked out your soul, that seperated you from loved ones forever and not just for a lifetime.
Yeah, she died, did Roseanna. She wasn't all human and she wasn't all witch, so they killed her. They almost did worse.
They gave her and many others a trial, I know that much, a joke of a trial. Accused them of stealing magic, told them they would die for it. And Dolores Umbridge gave the orders, sitting up there in a little box, and all the people I talked to told me no-one stopped her, no-one spoke out, no-one did anything. All that magic, all those superpowers, and no-one even moved.
My sister, before her arrest, had grabbed a few things. Stuffed them into her pocket- a picture of Mum and Dad's wedding day, a ring from Grandad, a small make-up mirror that was all that was left of the make-up set I'd gifted her when I was nine. One of each of us, and it didn't save her.
She fought, though, my sister. Her wand had been taken, so she fought like a regular human. But she couldn't win, not against so many, and she was forced into the room where they removed the souls, where breathing but dead bodies littered the floor.
And she had fallen on the way, you see, as she was dragged through the building on her hands and knees, still fighting. The glass mirror in her pocket broke and it dug into her leg, and she tried to reach for it, so she could slash and stab, but she couldn't get to it...
And there was so much screaming in that room...
And my sister looked up, and saw what was above her, what was about to swoop down and take her soul. My older sister, that clever girl, forced to her feet-
-she took my broken mirror from her pocket, slit her own throat, and fell down dead before they got her.