A/N: This plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone until I wrote it. Sigh. Someday I'll be able to finish a story without taking these little pit stops along the way…maybe.
Anyway, disclaimer time: Nothing that belongs to JKR belongs to me. And nothing that belongs to anyone else belongs to me. All I own are Agnes, her family, and whatever other characters I end up having to make up. And since I am notorious for forgetting to put these on every chapter, it applies to every chapter in this story.
This story starts with a scream.
Not the bloodcurdling kind, thank goodness. No, this scream came from the kitchen and, rather than sounding like she was in danger, Agnes' mum sounded more startled than anything. Then came a call "Aggie…come here please."
"Coming!" Agnes called back, and set down her book. She was reading about politics these days: her new dream was to be the youngest Prime Minister ever. Agnes had always wanted to be the best, the first, and (if possible) the only person to do anything. Not only that, but she wanted to do everything there was to do, and all of it at once. She didn't like sitting still, unless she could spend it thinking about what she was going to do next.
She leapt off her bed and bounded up the stairs, taking them two at a time and nearly knocking her mother's favorite vase off of the side table in the hall. She expected that she would get a stiff lecture ("What were you doing, coming up the stairs like a herd of elephants? Perhaps your teacher this next year will be able to teach you some grace, goodness knows I've failed!") and was surprised when her mother instead asked "Do you know anything about this?" immediately, pointing at a letter on the table that was addressed in green ink.
"No, I…oh, my." There was a full grown barn owl sitting politely on the table, dipping its beak into the glass of water sitting there. It looked at her reproachfully, as if it knew that she'd nearly knocked over the vase, then tucked it's head under it's wing and, to all appearances, fell asleep.
"It's addressed to you," her mother informed her, and Agnes redirected her attention to the letter still sitting on the table. She picked it up and read the address:
Miss A. M. Smith
The Basement Bedroom
23 Smallbrook Street
"That's an odd way to address a letter," she muttered to herself. "I wonder why they addressed it to my bedroom." Turning the letter over she saw a small crest over the seal. It was hard to tell because it was so small, but she thought she saw four animals-a lion, a snake, a bird, and a badger, she guessed. All surrounding a large "H", with Latin written around the edges that was just barely discernable. She looked at her mother and shrugged. "I suppose I should open it, then."
"Please do. The curiosity is killing me," was the dry response.
Agnes slipped her finger under the seal and broke it. The letter appeared to be written on parchment. Agnes didn't know anyone that bothered to write on parchment. It looked pretty, but it was very expensive. Whoever had written this letter wanted to make an impression, Agnes was sure. She unfolded the letter and read it aloud for her mother's benefit:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDY
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, first class, Grand Sorcerer,
Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump,
International Confederation of Magic)
Dear Miss Smith,
I have the pleasure of informing you that you have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please see the enclosed list of required books and equipment.
Classes begin on 1 September. We await your reply by owl no later than 31 July.
As promised, a list of equipment and books followed, including such things as cauldrons (pewter, size 2), robes (for daywear), and spell books! What was this? Some sort of joke? Reply by OWL?!?!
Her mother was looking at her, halfway between disbelief and amusement. Then, suddenly, she began laughing. "I suppose…I'll…have to…talk this over…with your father!!!" she got out in between chortles.
Agnes herself was in shock. Shaking her head she looked at her mother. "I'll…I'll just take this owl down to my room, then. So you can make supper."
She looked at the owl. The owl pulled its head out from under it's wing and looked at her, as though challenging her to discredit what she had just read. Suddenly feeling a bit awkward, she held out her arm as she'd seen the bird trainers do on the nature shows on television. The owl looked at her arm disdainfully for a moment, then took a tentative jump and landed on it. It was heavier than it looked, Agnes decided as she walked carefully down the stairs to her bedroom, and the talons hurt where they dug into her skin. It brought things into sharp relief for Agnes, the pain providing the realization that this wasn't all a dream.
Once she got to her room and had relieved herself of the owl's weight, she looked at it for a long time. Then she re-read the letter. It really didn't sound like a joke. If you read it and ignored all the magic stuff, it sounded like any school acceptance letter, written by any deputy headmistress. There was just all that…magic to take into account. She looked back at the owl.
"It's real, isn't it?"
Was it just her, or did the owl nod?
She continued. "I mean, all this strange stuff always happens to me. Like when Alice was teasing me last year, and all of a sudden she couldn't talk anymore. It was like her mouth gummed up. It was me, wasn't it? I magicked her mouth shut, didn't I?"
Once again, the owl nodded sagely.
"But how'm I going to convince Mum and Dad? I mean, you saw Mum up there. She thinks it's all a big joke. And Dad…he'll just think it's all some sort of mistake, or something. They'll never let me go. But I want to!"
The owl blinked once, very slowly.
"Oh, what am I doing? Talking to an owl! It's not like you understand me or anything."
The owl blinked slowly once again, and Agnes had the distinct feeling that the owl did indeed understand every word. It rather unnerved her. She looked at it suspiciously for a moment, then picked the book up again and started reading. She'd gone another page and a half when the doorbell rang and she heard her mother call "Aggie, would you get that? I'm making supper!"
With a long suffering sigh Agnes swung her legs over the side of the bed and dashed up to the door, making sure to pat the once again sleeping owl as she left her room. She opened the door and her jaw dropped. There stood an imposing looking woman with very black hair and a slightly turned up nose. The strange thing about her was that she was wearing what looked like a choir robe- completely black with a white collar sticking up around her chin- and a black pointy hat. This must be a witch, thought Agnes. Maybe she's come to tell my parents that I need to go to the magic school. The woman smiled upon seeing Agnes gaping. "Are you Agnes Smith?" she asked.
"Ye…Yes, I am." suddenly she remembered her manners. "Uh, how can I help you?"
"My name is Professor Sinistra. May I speak with your parents?"
"Uh, sure. Erm…would you like to come inside?" Agnes stepped aside so that the strange woman could step in.
"Thank you I will." The professor came through the door and took off her hat.
"Erm…let me take that for you," she took the hat from the woman's hands and hung it on one of the pegs by the door. The hat was soft and made of felted wool; Agnes wondered for a moment how it could stick up like that if it was so soft, then turned back to the woman. Unable to control her curiosity, she blurted out "How did you get here?"
Professor Sinistra's smile widened slightly at the question. "By Apparation. I appeared right on your porch."
"Oh, that makes sense then. I didn‘t know how you got around without people noticing you." She explained. "Come with me?"
Professor Sinistra nodded gently. Now, without her hat, Agnes could see a shock of completely white hair pulled back and woven into her bun. If anything, it made the woman look more severe, though Agnes liked it. "Uh, this way, please," Agnes gestured and led the way to the kitchen. After a moment of silence, Agnes asked, "Erm…you're a professor of what, exactly?"
"I am professor of Astronomy at Hogwarts School. I was sent to help assure your family of our intentions and also instruct you in how and where to get your school things."
"Ah." What else could she say to that? They walked the rest of the way to the kitchen in silence. Agnes's mum was just taking the roast out of the oven when they came in. "Mum, this is Professor Sinistra, from the school. She came to talk to you."
Mum set the roast down on the counter and turned to face them, wiping her hands on her apron. "Oh, hello. It's very nice to…" she stopped when she finally saw who she was talking to, but continued on after only a beat or two "meet you."
"I understand that this must be a bit of a shock. I know my parents were shocked to know that I was magic. But you must understand that this is a very good opportunity for your daughter. She'll learn how to control her powers, and I assure you that you don't want to live with an out of control teenage witch on your hands, and she'll be able to be with other children who are the same as her. She'll learn how to live in the wizarding world, so that if she chooses to do so as an adult, she'll know what to expect. And she'll study under some of the best teachers the wizarding world has to offer. I assure you, that this is the real thing."
During this speech Agnes‘s mother had been getting more and more agitated. This was odd, considering that the only person Agnes had ever heard her mother yell at was her. "How can she be…there's no such thing as magic!!! And even if there were…how could she be a witch? As far as I know, her father and I aren't magical! Where does it come from?" She had been twisting her apron the entire time, and now dropped it, the wrinkles looking strange on the normally perfectly ironed cloth.
"If I may?" Professor Sinistra nodded at the wrinkled spot. When Mrs. Smith didn't respond, she pulled out a long, slender piece of wood that Agnes would have thought was just a twig, except for the fact that it was highly polished to a deep mahogany. She watched in amazement as the professor muttered something in Latin under her breath and all of a sudden the wrinkles in her mother's apron were gone.
Agnes gasped "I could do something like that?"
Professor Sinistra nodded and added, "With time, training, and practice, you will be able to do a great many things. I must inform you, though, that you won't be allowed to do magic away from Hogwarts until you come of age. And then you must only use it in front of other witches and wizards or your very closest of family. If other Muggles found out about it, they would have to be Oblivated, and that would get very messy. We have to hide our presence for a number of reasons, not the least of which is safety.
She turned to Agnes's mother. "Let me assure you, Madame, that there is no reason to be concerned for your daughter. She is fortunate to live in England, where we provide these services to Muggleborns. In many other countries she would go untrained and eventually cause much damage to herself and others around her."
"What's a…a Muggle?" Agnes asked, hoping to relieve some of the tension between the two adults in the room.
"A Muggle is a non-magical person. You are a Muggleborn, which means you're a witch whose parents are both Muggles. There are also Squibs, non magic people born to wizards and witches."
"Oh," Agnes thought for a moment. Then she had an idea. "Would you like to stay for dinner?"
"Agnes!" her mother exclaimed. Then she looked embarrassed. "I mean, you are welcome to stay if you'd like. I daresay we have enough to go around."
"That would be lovely, if you're sure you won't mind."
"Oh, not at all. Agnes, set the table and put on an extra setting for Professor Sinistra here. We'll eat when your father gets home."
Agnes grinned, but then caught the stare that her mother was giving her and knew that she wasn't going to get away with what she had just pulled. But it'll give Professor Sinistra more time to convince them to let me go, and that's definitely worth it!
Dinner was a rather odd affair, with her mother halfway resigned to the idea of sending her daughter away to magic school and her father still jumpy from hearing the news. Professor Sinistra took all this in stride, and Agnes realized that she must have to do this a lot. After all, if she wasn't the only Muggleborn out there, someone most likely had to talk to the other parents about this. Things could probably get very sticky in those situations, and this was probably not the most uncomfortable dinner that Professor Sinistra had ever sat through.
After a few moments of listening to her parents and the Professor chew, Agnes spoke up. "What kinds of classes am I going to take?" she asked.
Her father held his hand up, "Don't be so hasty, nothing's been decided yet."
But Professor Sinistra just smiled. "Well, you'll take Astronomy with myself, of course, as well as Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Herbology, History of Magic, Flying Lessons- though you'll only take those for a bit- and Defense against the Dark Arts."
Mother looked concerned at that. "What was that about defense? Will she be in danger?"
Sinistra smiled. ‘I can assured you that Hogwarts is the safest place there is, especially for students of Magic. Headmaster Dumbledore believes, and I agree, that a healthy knowledge of what's out there is necessary for any educated person to know. There are many forms that Dark magic can take, including creatures, spells, and even people. I would be lying to you if I did not inform you that there are dangers out there, but there's no danger that she won't be exposed to eventually, especially with her new knowledge of her abilities. And the professor this year, Professor Lupin, is a very intelligent man and will not teach her anything she is not ready to learn about."
Agnes's parents traded a significant look over the dinner table, but said nothing. So Agnes started talking again. "Who will I live with? Do I already have a dormitory? Do you know who my roommates are?"
Again, Sinistra smiled. "We don't know yet. You'll share your dormitory with a few other girls from your year, but how many and who they are depends on the sorting ceremony. You'll be sorted into one of four houses: Ravenclaw, which was my house, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. The one that you're put into depends one you- your personality, your life, and your desires in life. You'll share your dormitory with the other girls in that house. Each house has a common room for everyone in the house to use."
Agnes decided that she needed to go to this school. It sounded like a dream. She resolved herself, and took a large bite of her lima beans. She hated them, but her mother liked to see her eat them, and she was going to need all the negotiating leverage she could have. "Mum, I really want to go." Then she took another bite, to be sure that her mother knew she was serious.
Her parents looked at her for a second, then at each other. Agnes thought she saw a reluctant nod from her father, and her mother turned back to professor Sinistra slowly. "I suppose there's no real choice, is there? Keep her here and wait for the worst, or send her away and hope for the best, I guess. We'll just have to let you go."
With a whoop of excitement, Agnes leapt from her seat almost knocking the table over. "I'll go get the owl!"
"No you won't," her mother corrected her. "There will be plenty of time for that later. Right now you're going to finish your dinner." Turning to the Professor she said, "Perhaps you can teach her some manners; then I'll know that you really are magical."
See now? It's fun. Thanks, as usual, go to Yolanda for being a wonderful editor, and Incurable Romantic for late night AIM chats about stories and other, more random, things. The way to really make me happy is to review!!!! See you next chapter!