Apr 11, 2021 3:34 AM
the ellie-who-lived
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In three and a half minutes, Ellie will be eleven years old.

It is 11:56:30 PM, 30 July 1991, and she is on the wooden floor of a creaky little cottage on some godforsaken island. She has one blanket below her, and another, only slightly less patchy, wrapped over her. The door rattles in a gust of wind, and she shivers. The floor is dusty, and it's making her eyes itch. That, and her cousin's snoring from the pullout couch, is doing an admirable job of keeping her awake. She contemplates drawing something in the dust, but can't quite decide what. Maybe that snake she met.

She'd draw it eating her cousin, if she didn't think it would choke on him.

In one minute, she will be eleven years old.

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In one minute - at the stroke of midnight -

The lock on the door outside clicks, softly, and the handle begins to turn.

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-Eh?

She pulls back into the blanket.

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The door opens - silently, like it hasn't been. There's a woman on the other side, her features obscure in the dark. She seems to be wearing some kind of - heavy dress, perhaps, or else a long trench coat - and there's a stick in her hand.

She gazes around the room, until her eyes land on Ellie.

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"Who are you," she whispers.

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She walks over, quietly, and kneels near Ellie. "My name is Professor Fay Reynolds," she says, also in a whisper. "I'm a representative of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." She holds out a letter, the paper thick and creamy - much like the ones that have been bedeviling the Dursleys all this time.

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Ellie snatches it out of her hands, examining it closely.

"It's... real?"

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The paper feels real, and the green ink - thick, uneven, like it was written with a quill - looks real. It's addressed to her, located on the Hut on the Rock, from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

"Yes," the woman says, softly. "I'm a wizard. And so are you, Miss Potter."

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"...What does that mean?"

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"It means we can use magic. Though 'wizard' tends to mean one specific tradition of magic use native to the Isles."

She waves her wand off to the side, and a trail of deep red sparks flows from it.

"Practically - it means you're invited to Hogwarts, a boarding school for teaching magic."

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A boarding school-

"When can I leave?"

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"Now, if you want. You don't need your guardians' permission."

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"Okay. Let's go before they wake up." She shrugs off the blanket. She's still wearing her daytime clothes, several sizes too big.

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She nods and stands. (It's hard to tell her expression, but she looks - serious, perhaps.) "I have a boat, outside," she says, turning to lead the way out.

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She pauses only briefly to pick up the blanket as a makeshift raincoat before following.

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That turns out to be not entirely necessary - "Keep close," Professor Reynolds says, waving her wand and forming an invisible umbrella over and around them as they step outside. The wind seems to be dampened, too, and it's a bit warmer inside the bubble than it perhaps should be. The boat is much nicer than the Dursleys', not rocking at all despite the heavy waves. Professor Reynolds offers Ellie a hand to help steady her while getting in. "Try to keep your arms and all inside," she says. "The boat's pretty safe, but we'll be moving a bit fast, and you probably don't want to fall overboard."

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"Not really, no." Ellie sits down.

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Small smile. "I can fetch you out pretty easily, but it's better to avoid it." She sits at the prow and waves her wand - and the boat takes off, skimming over the waves, not really floating on the water so much as vaguely referencing it to fly. The bubble of clear air extends over the entire boat, and it's warmer inside than it was even with the earlier bubble.

"I suppose you probably have more questions?"

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"I don't think I know enough to have questions."

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She hums. "I can explain some of the standard spiel, then."

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Nod. "Please do."

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"Magic is an inborn talent. It's incredibly rare, and we don't know how or why most people have the ability. It runs in families, pretty strongly - those with a magical parent are almost always magical - but it can crop up at random, too. Nonmagical people are called muggles. Magicals have their own government, that only somewhat interfaces with the muggle government - but, mostly, we work separately and try to remain a secret. The magical government of the Isles considers all magicals born within it citizens, but not muggles - which is why we didn't need your guardians' permission. Acknowledging the parental rights of the parents of muggleborns tends to cause a bit less friction, and the children usually prefer staying on friendly terms with their family, but... The provisions for separating magical children from unsuited guardians are some of our oldest laws, and 'the child prefers it' is considered more than enough."

"Usually we send a representative to the parents of muggleborns - your case was a bit different, since your parents were both magical, and your aunt and uncle are listed as muggles in the know. However, when your letters failed to deliver, the Headmaster of Hogwarts decided to send me to see what was going on."

"Hogwarts operates nine months of the year, and you can stay there the entire time - provisions for the summer are a bit more complicated, since the Headmaster before the current one dismantled the summer residency allowances. Still, there's avenues for you to get dispensation to stay elsewhere, with a suitable magical family - it's easier if you can convince the Headmaster, but we can go over his head to the school board or the Ministry of Magic fairly easily."

"Magicals have our own towns, mostly, with a few neighborhoods hidden in major cities. The neighborhoods in London are the most notable of those, and one of them is usually where students go to get their school supplies. I'll be taking you there - there's an inn we can stay at so you can catch up on sleep."

"For money - Hogwarts tuition is free, due to generous grants from the Ministry and alumni, as well as the combined noble estates of the school's Founders. Needy families can get a stipend for school supplies, but I suspect you won't need one - you should be able to access your parents' bank accounts."

"For magic - wizardry is the art of using a wand to cast spells, pretty much. Hogwarts also teaches some elements of witchcraft, like the use of magical plants and the making of potions."

She pauses.

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"My parents had a bank account?"

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"Probably multiple, though I don't know how much is in them."

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"I don't have any- account numbers or signatures or anything."

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"Wizarding banks can verify identity without those, and your accounts would be considered part of your inheritance."

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