I went over the contents of my suitcase for the hundredth time. Just like the other times, everything was in place. I looked around the small room I shared with another girl in the orphanage. It passed my mind that this might be the last time I saw this room. That's stupid, I thought, I'll be back for Christmas break.
Truth be told, I was more nervous about all of this than I probably should've been. I mean, this is what I'd wanted for years now. I didn't want to be scared of losing my temper anymore, cuz every time I lost my temper, something had to blow up. And that's why Ms. Moutler allowed me to go to this school anyway, cuz I blew up her new Mercedes.
I didn't know about it until two weeks ago, but ever since I was 11, I had been receiving letters asking me to attend a school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ms. M had been keeping them from me out of spite for five years. She hated my guts more than any other kid's here at Hill Crest Orphanage. I was too much of a "hooligan" for her tastes. The staff called me "creative" and "unusually inventive." I love the people here. They've been my mothers and fathers and the other kids have been my siblings for ten years now.
One more look around and I'd be ready to go. I went to the bay window that had a long, purple cushion where Sasha- the girl I shared the room with- and I made up so many stories of knights and dragons and magic. We never thought they'd come true, we were just kids, playing like kids do. I went to the corner where we had made a little hidey-hole for a small frog we had found when we were eight. The bunk beds Sasha and I had shared since she came here when she was seven. A bookshelf filled with books, pictures, and little knick-knacks; most from the stories we invented. I stopped to look at one picture in particular. Sasha and I where seven and it was close to the time she first came to the orphanage. She was so depressed -all the time- and I wanted to make her feel better. One day, I just couldn't take it anymore and I took a feather pillow out to the playground and hit her upside the head with it. The feathers exploded into the air, covering her. She looked at me, shocked for a second, and then ripped the pillow from my hands and hit me with it. It was on like Donkey Kong. Soon, feathers weren't the only things flying- we started throwing dirt, sand, and even rocks at each other. Finally, when we got too tired to throw anything, she started to laugh. I began to laugh with her. When she was done laughing, she came over to me and hugged me like I was her only friend in the world. A gardener, Greg, saw the whole thing and took a picture of that moment; of the feather and dirt and sand and bruise covered girls that had just been fighting, hugging each other. It was our favorite picture. One of the moment we became the best friends that friends could be.
I pushed some of my long, curly, red hair behind my ear and went to the most important spot in our room. It was important to the both of us. It was where I had saved Sasha's life and found out I was "different" when we were nine years old. She and I had been in one of our stories and we were running around. She had tripped on something and hit her head –hard- on the rectangular bed post. She had fallen to the floor; a small pool of blood began to form. I had gotten on my knees next to her. She wasn't moving. I watched in wonder as the blood began to flow back into her body and the gauge on her head reduced to only a scar. She woke up soon after and I recounted my experience to her. Strangely enough, she believed every word. I've been able to do strange things ever since. It was especially important to me know because it reminded me another reason I was going to this school, so I could protect Sasha better. She was a hemophiliac and very, very clumsy and I can tell you of countless times where it would have been much much easier if I had known a spell or whatever that could help cuts and such heal. I wanted to know that I could do something if anything like this happened again because, to tell you the truth, when you live in the same room with someone for nine, ten years, they grow on you and you love them.
I stared at the stain on the hard wood floor that Ms. M never wanted to spend the money to clean and was so deep in thought that I hadn't sensed Sasha enter the room.
"Don't worry, Melinda," she said softly looking at me with her soft, sea green eyes, "I'll be fine without my bodyguard. I'm a lot stronger than you think I am."
"Yeah right, hemophilic girl," I retorted with a smirk.
She smiled softly and went to our bookshelf. Her straight, black hair hid her face and I saw a silver tear fall to the floor. She picked up our picture and handed it to me.
"Don't forget this," she said, "I don't want you to be forgetting your sis." She started to cry; she had always been pretty fragile…
And I couldn't take this anymore. For two weeks I had held it in and the dam had to break. I was only human after all. Tears flooded from my eyes and retching sobs tore their way through my body. I didn't want to leave. We were so close and had never been far from each other since the day we became friends. I was so used to this life and was scared to think of how different the magic world would be. We sobbed on each other's shoulders for a while before a harsh knock sounded on the door and Ms. Moutler stomped her way into our room.
"Quit that crying this instant!" she bellowed.
I wiped my nosed on my sleeve and gave her a glare that would make most people pee themselves. Sasha looked down at her shoes.
"Now get your things and get out of my house," she said harsher than she had knocked on our door. She turned around and left, knowing I would soon comply.
"I would go with you to the airport if I…," Sasha said with a hitch in her throat.
"It's ok, I know you have to help Mrs. B move in a new kid today," I said.
"I love you, Mel," she sniffed.
"I love you too, Sash."
We hugged each other again and cried some more. A yell from Ms. M separated us. I grabbed my suitcase and headed down stairs. Sasha had my sheets bag.
We loaded Ms. Maggie's car with my only belongings and hugged one last time. We were both crying again.
"Ta-ta for now," I said with a hitch in my throat.
"See ya later alligator," Sasha sniffled
I got into Ms. Maggie's car and we drove to the airport- I shuddered at the thought of flying- where we would board a plane for London. In London, I would be passed to a wizarding family that would make sure I was ready to go to Hogwarts.
When I got off the plane, I dropped to the ground and hugged it.
"I missed you, earth!" I cried, "I'll never leave you ever again! I promise I've learned my lesson!"
Ms. Maggie and I stepped out of the London airport and I looked for the family I was supposed to go with. No one looked like they were witches and/or wizards and we were very worried for a moment.
"Are yeh Melinda Stagg?" a voice asked from my left. I turned to see a boy about my age who had short, sandy hair. He was Irish by the sound of his accent. And cute. Really cute.
"Yes," I said, cautious.
"Oh good! Been lookin for yeh. Name's Seamus Finnigan," he introduced himself, "yeh'll be satyin with me n' meh family 'till it's time to leave for Hogwarts."
"Nice to meetchya, Seamus," I said as I shook his hand.
He turned around and yelled, "Hey! Mum, Da! I found 'er!"
"Oh my," Mr. Finnigan said when he first saw me, "Look at how Irish yeh look, wit' t'at red curly hair!" He fluffed my hair and pinched my cheek. "Ye should get to now t'is one, Seamus, if yeh know what I mean." Seamus's face went red.
"Now stop t'at, you! Don't poke fun at t'is poor girl!" Mrs. Finnigan reprimanded him, "How are yeh, dear? Tired after t'at long trip I bet."
"Well, actu—" I was barely getting a word in anywhere.
"Let's be off now, deary. Much to do!" Mrs. Finnigan took hold of my arm and began pulling me along.
"Bye, Maggie! Thank you so much for everything! I love you!" I called behind me.
Seamus noticed that my load was a little too heavy for me and took my sheets bag from me.
"Let me take t'at fer yeh," he said as he smiled. Damn, he is so cute.
"Oh, thanks, Seamus." I blushed. Thankfully, he didn't see.
I followed them for a while through London and into a pub called the Leaky Cauldron. I suddenly grew scared. Everyone in the place looked so dark… We handed our luggage to a particularly scary gentleman at the bar and continued on.
I followed them to the back of the place where they tapped on some bricks. As they began to move, I grabbed Seamus's arm. He turned bright pink.
When the bricks had finished moving and the shock wore off, I looked around. So many people were walking around and they were all dressed funny and many of them held strange things. One man had a paper with pictures that moved. I was NOT going to get lost here. Who knew what was out there?
"Hurry along now, lass," Mr. F said with a big grin. I couldn't help but to think that what he said had a double meaning- the way he said it gave it away.
"Seamus, where are we going?" I whispered.
"Olivander's," he answered nonchalantly.
"What's that?" He stopped walking. And looked at me like I was crazy.
"What do yeh mean, 'What's t'at?'"
"What is Oliv—"
"I understand t'e question. What I don't understand is how yeh don't know about it. Didn't anyone explain anyt'in to yeh? Ever?" We were walking again by this time. Now he looked both concerned and irritated.
"I thought that was ya'll's job! They said you'd get me prepared and stuff!"
"What did ye expect?"
"Well, I don't know. A nice sit-down talk would've been nice," I said as snarky as possible.
"Well, when we get to Olivander's we can have yer 'Sit-down talk,'" he replied just as snarkely, " An' it's a wand shop."
We arrived shortly and Seamus turned and whispered into his dad's year who laughed and whispered into Mrs. F's ear who gasped.
"T'e nerve of t'em, sendin this poor girl here without tellin 'er anyt'in about t'e world t'ey're tossin 'er into!" Mrs. Finnigan exploded.
"Well, Melinda, today we'll be getting yehr school t'ings: robes, books, an owl maybe, yehr wand. T'en I guess Seamus can show yeh around Diagon Alley, maybe introduce yeh to a few of his schoolmates," Mrs. F explained once she had settled down, "Anyt'ing unusual t'at yeh see yeh can ask him about." Seamus opened the door for me and I thanked him as I walked in.
"Do we have a new witch with us today Mr. and Mrs. Finnigan? Seamus?" a kind looking old gentleman asked once we were all through the door.
"Yes, we do, Mr. Olivander," Seamus answered, "'Er name is Melinda."
"Ah, yes. Now Ms. - -"
"Now Ms. Stagg, a wand is a witch or wizard's vessel for channeling their magic. It is very important that every witch and wizard have one. And we must find one for you," he smiled kindly at me. I noticed he didn't ask me why I was buying one late like I thought he would.
He disappeared into the rows of shelves and returned with a box. He pulled what looked like an intricately carved, thin, wooden stick.
"Try this one, miss."
I pointed it at a vase in a corner and a stack of papers on the other side of the room flew into the air.
"No. Defiantly not."
He returned to the shelves and came back with another intricately carved stick. This one didn't work much better. We tried several more and Seamus seemed as if his brain was about to come out of his ears so I did what I had been dying to do since I had seen it.
I walked over to a box on one of the shelves. The color of it had attracted me, being my favorite and all. It was purple with silver and black scroll work. Mr. Olivander saw me pick the box from the shelf.
"I don't think that one will work for you, miss. But you may try if you must," he said kindly, "By this point, I'm just guessing anyway."
I took the lid off the box. This wand was ebony. The long part was like I would imagine a unicorn's horn to be, but shorter and thinner and the handle fit perfectly in my small palm. I pulled the wand from the box and a soft purple glow covered me. I felt a connection form. A connection between the wand and me.
"Oh my, it seems I was quite wrong," Olivander laughed lightly.
"This wand has been in my shop for a very long time, but it has always been so picky… Must have something to do with the dragon its core was taken from… Anyway, the wand is ebony with dragon heartstrings, it is 9 ¾ length, and brittle."
"T'at's quite a charming wand, Melinda," Mrs. Finnigan commented.
"Yes, indeed," Mr. Finnigan seemed cheerful.
"How do yeh like it, Melinda?" Seamus asked.
"Mel," I suddenly stated.
"What?" he asked, looking at me like I was insane.
I sighed. "Just call me Mel. It's shorter. And it'll defiantly grow on me, it is pretty cute."
Mr. Olivander chuckled to himself. He was such a kind man. If it was usually eleven year olds coming in here like I was told, he was a good man for the job.
"We must discuss the matter of payment, Ms. Stagg," he said with a soft smile.
"Uuhh… Like money?" I asked with the look of an idiot on my face.
"Well, that's the usual route," he chuckled.
"I don't have any money."
"We're paying for yeh, deary," Mrs. Finnigan said kindly.
"Oh, ma'am, you don't have to. I'll call Maggie and—"
"Lass, we knew very well t'at we'd be paying for yehr t'ings," Mr. Finnigan told me.
"T'at's a lass."
"Hey, mum. Can Mel and I walk around Diagon Alley now?" Seamus asked.
"Sure, sweetie. You two go have some fun," Mrs. F smiled.
Seamus had been dragging me around for half an hour and had taken me into different wacky stores where he insisted on buying me candy or something that he knew he would be amused by before we spotted a friend of his. I don't know how he ever saw him because we had to enter a shop and work through a maze of kids to get to him. I think I still had a chocolate frog in my pocket… Nope. There it goes.
"Neville!" Seamus greeted the boy.