I pushed the old wooden chest against the wall and climbed upon it, careful to keep my starched skirt straight. Balancing on tip-toes, I reached up to open the small window on my bedroom wall. I knew I was not meant to open this window, but I had to make way for the delivery owl that would come any day now. Pushing hard against the rusty frame, I slid the window open. A gust of fresh air blew through the room. But no owl was there.
Disappointed, I slipped down from the chest and sat at my desk. There were a pile of books, some with dog-eared pages and others with titles so worn with time they’re illegible. I picked up the one nearest to me and flicked to a random page. Transformation through the Ages, Chapter 4.Having read most of the book, I skimmed through lazily. I was meant to be downstairs helping with the chores, but to be honest I couldn’t stand listening to Papa and Mama discussing the inevitable war any longer.
“Minerva! Get down here this instance!” Mama’s voice yelled up from below, “You promised to wash the dishes today!”
“Can’t you just use your wand to do it?” I yelled back.
“No, you need to do your share of the work. I’m giving you five minutes before I’m coming up there,” she told me.
I unfolded myself from the chair and climbed up to the chest once again. The owl must be near; it was already the twenty-fifth of August and school would start on the first of September. I needed to see the letter and the book list, but most of all I needed the confirmation that I could get away from this war that was bound to happen. Even if it was for a few months, I needed to get away from the discussions of future bloodshed. Craning my neck to peer out the window, I located a small moving dot in the sky. It must be the owl, arriving here at last.
“Minnie? Has the owl came?” said a little timid voice from my door, startling me.
“No Archie, no owl,” I said, and cringed to see the downcast look of his eyes at my news.
“Oh Minnie, what if I’m not good enough for Hogwarts? Maybe that’s why there’s no letter,” my little brother said.
“Of course you’re good enough! Come on, Archie. I haven’t received my booklist either, so I’m sure the delay’s just some troubles with the owls,” I reassured him and myself.
“If you say so. Have you started packing?” he asked.
“I’ve packed,” I said, “If you count throwing all my robes and equipments into my trunk packing. Mama’s going to be mad when she sees how messy my trunk is.”
“Minerva McGonagall! Five minute’s up, get yourself down here this instant,” Mama called up from the kitchen, as if she heard me mentioning her name.
“Coming!” I called back, and then turned to Archie, “Right, I’ve got to go and wash the dishes. How about you stay here and watch out for the owl? The window’s open.”
“OK, Minnie,” he replied and settled himself down on my bed, his eyes trained on the little window.
I ran down the stairs, only to remember to gracefully walk down the last flight so that Mama couldn’t tell me off for not acting like a lady. I rolled up the sleeves of my blouse neatly, and stepped over to the sink. Muttering an apology to Mama, I plunged my arm into the filled sink and began to scour the dishes. I couldn’t help but wish for the day when I could finally perform magic outside Hogwarts. Life would be a lot easier if I didn’t have to do stupid things like washing dishes. I rinsed the plates with top speed, eager to return to my room and wait for the owl with Archie. When my arms were red and blotchy from steeping in hot water and the plates were gleaming next to the sink, Mama excused me for the next hour and I ran up the stairs.
The second I opened the door to my room, a whirlwind of feathers flew through the tiny window and collided against me. The mottled wings of the delivery owl smacked me straight across the face, its bundle of letters hitting my chest. I staggered backwards and put out my hands to catch the falling owl. There, tied to its foot, was the thing I was waiting for all summer.
“Archie, the letters are here,” I announced, my chest almost exploding with happiness.
I tossed the heavy cream envelope addressed to “Master Achilles McGonagall” in the general direction of my desk, and heard a little thumping sound as my brother caught his Hogwarts letter. Carefully sliding my finger beneath the sealed tab of my own letter, I drew out a bundle of paper. I skimmed through the first page, a standard Hogwarts welcoming letter. The subsequent pages detailed my booklist and timetable, as well as a little note from Professor Dumbledore.
As your results from last year’s Transfiguration assignments and exams have shown your excellent grasp of the subject, Professor Dippet and I have agreed to organise an extension class for you and a few other students. These classes are held in the hope of giving you materials that will really challenge your abilities, and they are to be held every Thursday afternoon between four and seven in the Transfiguration room on the second floor. Books needed for this extension class have been included in your booklist.
Yes! I thought as I skimmed through the booklist. Finally something extremely exciting to look forward to at Hogwarts. I walked over to my desk and grabbed a quill, circling the items on the booklist that I didn’t already own. I also needed new robes, since I’ve grown two inches over the summer. We have to go to Diagon Alley soon. Preferably the next day.
“It’s so strange being called Master Achilles,” my brother giggled next to me.
“At least your name’s not Miss Minerva McGonagall,” I said back, grinning, “My whole name’s a bloody alliteration.”
“Minnie! You’re not meant to say bloody,” he said, feigning shock.
“Ha! You said it too, so we’re even,” I replied, plucking Archie’s letter out of his hands, “Let’s see, you can just take all my books from last year. Which means you’ll need a wand, robes and some other things.”
“Don’t forget the owl! I’m going to name him Gizmo when Mama gets me one,” Archie said, reaching up to snatch the letter back.
“Well, I’m going downstairs to tell Ma and Pa that the letters have come,” I said, folding my letter up neatly, “Are you coming?”
“Yes,” he said, skipping out of the room in front of me, “I’m going to Hogwarts!”