Setting the stage
Time: 3 years ago
Place: 6 Pivot Drive
Most people, thought Susan, quietly contemplating her bedroom, are born into the place they belong. This does not seem to be the case with me. She was currently in a "time out" for having used magic, and had been sent to her room 10 minutes ago. Her cat, Sparkle, was currently keeping her company by curling up on her lap. Sparkle was a mostly black cat, long haired, with a starburst pattern in white on her chest. She was 8 years old, and born on the same day as Susan herself. This explained the "Companion" written on her character sheet. As she gazed at her sheet she read over what she already knew. She was 8 years old and had long blond hair. She had a 5 in LOOks, meaning she was neither pretty nor plain, and had green eyes. She was left handed, and her "background card" was "Lost Loved One(s)" which explained why her father had been tragically killed years earlier. She was also, as far she she knew, the only Natural Magician on the planet, able to shape her own internal energies into magic and cast spells.
This was relevant because Susan had just learned the "Detect Lies" spell and went to go ask her mother if her father had really perished as she had been told. She wasn't sure why, exactly, she had suddenly become curious about this, but nonetheless, she was. She sighed.
"I told you not use it on her," said Sparkle, opening one eye and lifting her head from Susan's lap. "Adults lie to kids all the time, it's just something that's done."
"I couldn't very well just take your word for it, now could I?" she said rather peevishly.
"I suppose you do have Curious, after all. Still, did you have to shout at her that she was lying? I doubt she appreciated it."
"I agree, the shouting part might have been a little much. I blame my high RESolve."
"Rather then using your high REAson to think about what a terrible idea that would be?"
The problem is no matter what I do, mom just dismisses my magic as being a kids game or a trick. She yelled at me for "printing out garbage" when I showed her my character sheet, and none of the kids at school seem to even know what they are. When I ask someone what backgrounds they have, or how much energy they can spend per action they just give me a blank look. Clearly something is going on here. Either I have been born into the wrong universe, or only some people get character sheets and spell books when they're born. The question becomes how do I determine which is the correct answer without getting thrown in the looney bin?
Susan glanced over at her bookcase, where sitting on top was an ancient looking book with a rough leather cover. She looked down at her character sheet at "Resources: Equipment" and shook her head, thinking about how many excuses her mother had made seeing it. It has always been in her room, since the day she was born, and as it was part of her character sheet, it kept coming back. Her mother had apparently thrown it away several times, but it always turned back up. Now her mother seemed to have a blind spot for it and pretended it didn't exist.
Thank goodness it does, thought Susan, Or I would have no place to learn magic from!
Sparkle got up and stretched, heading to the window.
"He's leaving again," she said, looking out at the house next door.
"The opposite?" she asked. Her name for the skinny kid that lived next door, at 4 Pivot Drive, was "the opposite". This was because he was the opposite of all the other people that lived there.
Sparkle nodded, and Susan bounced up off her bed to look down at him walking past. He never seems very happy, she thought. And despite going to her school she didn't know much about him. He didn't seem to have many friends, though this being due to a low PERsonality or some other weakness, like Creepy, she couldn't be sure.
"There's something wrong about him." Sparkle remarked. "I just wish I could put my paw on what."
"Oh, for just ten seconds of looking at his character sheet."
"That would solve things." They both watched him turn and go around the back of the house, kicking his feet and slumping over.
"You've been practicing your Magic Sense right?" Sparkle said, jerking her head back to look at Susan.
"Sure, even if you are the only thing that seems to be magical around here. Why?"
"Just a hunch. Let's go check out that boy."
"You think- him?"
"It makes sense. Maybe he's in the same situation as you, and he gets in trouble for using magic as well? Or he can't control it because he doesn't have the "Resources" background you do. Not to mention your being a Prodigy, so your stats are probably higher then his."
"I suppose it's worth a try," Susan agreed. "It can't hurt, and maybe if I find out what's bothering him I can have my book suggest a spell to try and help him out!"
"Now, if I'm right-"
"Susan!" yelled a voice from downstairs. "You can come out now!"
"Thanks mom!" Susan yelled back.
"Yup. It was plot related. You needed to be in this room so you could see The Opposite leave and decide to see what was up with him."
"You might be right."
Once outside, Susan and Sparkle took off after The Opposite, and found him leaning against a tree as far from the house as he could but still be on the property.
"Hi!" she said to him, rolling a 12 on her PERsonality check. "I'm Susan from next door. I thought you might like to play or something!"
The Opposite seemed a bit startled and his eyes darted this way and that. They finally settled on her.
"Me? You want to play with me?"
"Well we do live next door to each other," said Susan, fixing him with a gaze and rolling a Magic Sense on him. She rolled a 7, which was half her rating and got nothing. However, Sparkle rolled a 10, almost maximum, and nodded her head.
"Did that cat just nod at you?" said The Opposite, not missing a trick.
"I have a confession to make," said Susan. "I actually came over here to see if you were a wizard, like me."
"I wish, then I could- wait, you're serious?"
"Just a second," she said, rolling the check again, and taking the −1 penalty for retrying. This time she did much better, and felt something weird about him.
"You are a wizard!" she exclaimed. "But you feel weird compared to Sparkle."
"Is this the game we're playing?" The Opposite sounded unsure. "My Aunt and Uncle throw a fit if they catch me even thinking about magic for some reason."
"I bet you were right!" Susan said to Sparkle. "Maybe he is a wizard and his- wait, those aren't your parents?"
"No, they died in a car crash, at least according to them." He said "them" with more then a trace of scorn while pointing at the house.
"That's terrible! You must miss them something awful! My father may or may not have died in a similar way, so I know how you feel."
"Really? I'm sorry to hear that. I was just a baby, apparently."
"Still. Anyway, I bet you're a wizard and they just don't want you to find out about it and learn to use your powers! This is so great! I've got a huge book of spells at home, I can copy some out and you can see if you can learn them! Can I see your character sheet?"
"Slow down, what are you talking about? Book of spells? Character sheets?"
"You don't have a character sheet?" Susan was crestfallen. "Maybe you just don't know how to call it out? But I didn't really have to learn that, it just sort of happened."
"Are you teasing me?" asked The Opposite, "Because I get enough of that at home. And at school. And in my dreams. Pretty much everywhere, actually."
"I'm serious. Look, I'll prove it! Light!" Susan held out a hand and a tiny ball of appeared, floating above it.
The Opposite's eyes got wider. "That is so cool! It's real- magic is real!"
"As real as I am. I can… teach you if you want." Her cheeks colored a little.
The Opposite glanced over at the house. "We'll have to do it in secret."
Susan let the ball of light go and it winked out. "It's more fun that way anyway, right?"
The two grinned at each other.
"I'm Harry. Harry Potter." He held out his hand for Susan to shake, which she did.
"This is Sparkle, she's my familiar."
"Hello," said Sparkle.
Harry fell over backwards. "Your cat can talk?"
Setting the Stage
Time: The day Harry received his first letter
Place: 6 Pivot Drive
"It was a letter, addressed to me," said Harry to Susan, both of them sitting in her room. They had been friends for three years now, and Susan, to her dismay, had yet to work out why Harry's magic wasn't working. It was obvious to anyone that spent any time around him that he was magical. That trip to the zoo with the snake incident proved it, if any more proof was needed. She and Harry had studied Susan's book of spells for any clues, and while Harry was almost as knowledge as she was in Magical Theory and Magical Scripture he couldn't perform a single spell from her book. Nor could he Imbue or Fabricate anything, despite weeks of trying. It was all very peculiar. He could make things happen, yes, but not with any accuracy. And when he did, her Magic Sense buzzed oddly, totally unlike watching Sparkle cast a spell. She had even leaned the Research spell, and tried looking things up, but everything there contradicted her own experience. Still, Harry was a good friend to her and seemed to be less sad these past few years. She didn't realize it, but Sparkle had noticed that once she started hanging out with Harry, she didn't get into as much trouble as she had before. Like he had calmed her down a little by acting as a sort of relief valve for her. They helped each other, in other words, and both were better for it.
"Was there a return address?" asked Sparkle. "I'm to understand they can be used to tell who sent a letter."
"That's the odd part, it just a funny symbol on the back. And get this- no stamp."
"What did The Others say?" The Others were her name for the Dursleys, of course.
"That's the strangest thing of all; They almost looked positively afraid- of a letter! And Other Senior" (as he was known) "said they swore to, and I quote 'stamp out that dangerous nonsense.' unquote."
"They know," Susan gasped. "That can be the only reason. We've never found any sort of curse or binding on you, but it would explain why you can't use magic. Maybe they just missed me?"
"Who is they?"
"Whoever sent the letter! They must be wizards too! That's why all the oddities surrounding this letter. You remember that spell I showed you that can materialize an object near someone? I bet they just did that when the regular mail came, though really it seems an odd way to go about things."
"Yeah, they could have contacted me in a dream or, I don't know, come in person? Given the nature of my situation?"
"Well, there must be a reason for it. They can't be ignorant about the attitudes of The Others, could they? My guess is young wizards get restricted somehow from using magic until they're old enough. It just so happened I got the book and everything, because even wizards aren't perfect. That's why your magic is so erratic, the block is breaking down."
"That would explain things," Harry said slowly. "My parents were wizards and something happened to them. My aunt, having lost her sister to a magical accident, became bitter about the whole thing and doesn't want me to meet the… same…" he trailed off. "No, it seems like they don't care if I live or die. Maybe my mother got magic but her sister didn't? So it was more jealousy then anything? Then something she was so proud of got her killed, and my aunt felt justified in her belief? I don't know."
"Well, one way to know for sure!" bubbled Susan. "Before your mail comes tomorrow, let me in. I'll be invisible. I'll wait by the mail slot and hope everyone is in another room when the mail comes. That way I can grab it and hide it, and give it to you to read later!"
"That's a great plan! But wait, what if he's waiting for it?"
"Humm…" Susan thought for a moment. "What did he do with the first one?"
"Perfect. If he does the same, I'll just follow along behind him. When he goes to throw it into the fire, I'll cast Retrieval. As long as he's not holding onto it, *poof*, it'll be in my hand, and he can tear about the place looking for it all he likes. Wait a second…" She went over to her spellbook and started leafing through it. "You wouldn't call Retrieval an 'offensive spell' would you?"
"I'm not offended," answered Harry.
"I don't think so," said Sparkle, rolling her eyes.
"Then that's the plan. Operation: Get the Letter is now underway."
As luck would have it, the hallway was clear when the letter arrived, so Susan gleefully scooped it up before Other Junior came waddling by. Susan, taking no chances, had put all the energy she could into casting Invisibility making her roll very high indeed. She watched as Junior thumped his stupid stick (I so want to Elemental Bolt (fire) that stick, thought Susan) down the hall towards the mail slot. He checked carefully around the pile of letters, then peaked out the mail slot.
"Well?" Senior roared from the other room.
"Nothing for Harry," replied Junior, scooping up the rest of the mail and heading back. Susan stuck her tongue out at him.
"Well, that's sorted then," said Senior. "Wonder if I should put you back in the cupboard, my boy?"
"I want my room back!" shouted Junior.
"Oh, leave it," sighed Other's Wife, "It's all junk up there anyway."
Oh really? Thought Susan. We'll just see about that.
She quietly headed up the stairs and looked in all the rooms until she found the one she was looking for. It was hard to miss, with the broken TV, video camera, bent air gun, and other junk lying about. A few quick castings of the Repair spell and she quietly snuck out, leaving everything in the room as pristine as the day it made. Let them work that one out.
Later that afternoon, Harry came bursting into her house, his eyes shining with excitement.
"So did you get it, or did they not send another? I'm about to burst but I had to wait so they didn't get suspicious. Do you have it?"
"Well…" she said, peering into her sleeve. "It's not up this sleeve."
"And it's not up this one…"
Sparkle sighed. "Really? You're tormenting the poor boy now?"
"What's this behind your ear," she asked, reaching for him. She brushed his ear and cast Retrieval, pulling the letter out of her room where she had left it. "Is this what you're looking for?"
"Can I have it please?"
"I guess it's a felony to interfere with the mail…"
Harry tore the envelope open and Susan grabbed it from him, shocked. "Careful, it could have clues on it. That symbol, for one."
"I'm just so nervous!" He started to read. "Get this, I've apparently been accepted to some school of witchcraft and wizardry. Also they shall 'await my owl' whatever that means."
"Now wait just a second," said Sparkles, springing up from the bed. "Who in this room has complete control of their magic? That's right, us two. Who can do at least two dozen spells? Again, us! So where's Susan's letter inviting her to this so called magical school, that's what I want to know."
"I appreciate the thought," said Susan, "But I'm sure there's some explanation for it."
"There had better be, and a darn good one."
"There's also a list of books and some equipment I have to buy. Can't see The Others springing for any of this stuff, even if I knew where to get it."
"Yup. A standard book of spells (grade 1)-"
"Wait, they only teach you grade 1 spells in your first year? I've learned pocket dimension, that's grade 6!"
Harry shrugged. "A history book, a book on Magical Theory, bet you I get top marks in that class, thanks to you, something called transfiguration, then herbs and potions. I also apparently need a wand, a telescope, of all things, and a set of scales. Hey, I could bring a cat! But I can't own my own broomstick? Maybe they messed up and this really is your letter, I can't see myself flying about on a broomstick. But you can already fly, can't you? Weird."
"I'll say. I suppose the potions stuff could be Imbuing, but you tried and tried that and it wouldn't work for you. None of this makes any sense."
"Could I use a different kind of magic?"
"How many kinds of magics do you want on this planet?" Susan asked, a bit shocked.
"It would explain why your senses are off about me, and why I can't do your magic at all."
"Yeah, I guess. How are we ever going to reply to this letter?"
"Oh yeah! Stupid of me. Just a second, that sounds like a Mercury based spell." Susan looked through her book of magic. "Ah, Send Object, that sounds promising. I need to know the identity of the person to send it to, which I guess would be the person that signed the letter, but I also need to know their general location. Let me keep looking. You write a reply that they're all mad or whatever and to come see you in person to explain things."
"Right!" said Harry, grabbing a notebook and tearing a sheet out of it. He sat down at Susan's desk and began to write.
"This might take a while…" muttered Susan.
Susan first had to read the spell of Descry Creature, making a Magical Scripture check to understand the writings. She exactly made the difficulty, which was a 12. She then used Magical Theory to understand it enough to cast it. She rolled an 18 on this check, more then enough. She then was able to cast the spell from the writing, and sacrificed a bunch of energy to make sure it worked, as she had no idea how far away this "deputy headmaster" was. She got a total of 16, meaning as long as she wasn't 10,000,000 km away (and she wasn't) Susan now knew exactly where this Hogwarts was and furthermore, where Mrs McGonagall was. She then repeated the procedure for the Send Object spell, rolling a 16 and 17 respectively. She gave a sigh of relief, nothing to it.
By that time Harry had finished his letter and she read it over.
Dear Mrs McGonagall,
I hope you are not too startled by the appearance of this letter, I had my friend send it on to you because I don't own an owl. I am sure this was just an oversight on your part, given the great number of students you must send letters to every year. I am however anxious to attend your fine school, but I need to request more information. Where do I go to buy my books and supplies? How do I reach the school? I am unsure if my guardians, the Dursleys, will even let me attend, though I guess it would get me out of the house, which they might be happy about? They don't seem too keen on magic, however. If a representative from the school could find some time to come down and straighten these few things out, I would really appreciate it.
Thank you for you time, I know you're probably really busy, but it's sort of an emergency.
P.S. My neighbor, Susan Felton, wonders if she could be considered for your school as well. She is about a hundred times the wizard I currently am, and the one who sent this letter.
"Sounds good to me!" said Susan, folding it up. "Just write 'To Minerva McGonagall" on the front and we'll send it on its way."
Harry did so, and watched with interest as Susan cast Send Object from her book. The letter disappeared.
"Well, that's it," said Susan, standing up again and closing the book. "The letter has, if everything went well and I think it did, just appeared right near her. Hopefully you'll get a response by owl or whatever tomorrow. We'll do the same thing, I'll be invisible to make sure I can grab it before anyone else does."
This of course proved completely unnecessary because not five minutes later, a large number of people with severe expressions and wands showed up out of nowhere demanding to know how the letter got past the wards around Hogwarts.