Mama promised us that we would visit Diagon Alley the very next day. She had laughed when Archie ran into the kitchen, heralding his acceptance to Hogwarts at the top of his voice. Papa had laughed too, the deep creases around his eyes smoothed out for the first time in months. He had ruffled Archie’s brown curls and joked about how he thought Archie was going to be a Squib when the letter didn’t come. My little brother pouted slightly, then proceeded to continue his dance of celebration around the kitchen, arms waving the bunch of papers that was his letter. I bit my lips when he taunted Peter with his letter, seeing just how mean I was last year when I teased both of them for having to stay home while I go to Hogwarts. Peter was my baby brother, an eight-years-old angel with wispy blond hair and big brown eyes. His bottom lip was trembling then as his eyes followed the waving pattern of Archie’s letter, and so I stepped over from the oven to sit down beside him.
“Oh come on Archie. Stop it. We know you’re going to Hogwarts, no need to rub it in,” I said, my arms enveloping Peter’s shaking shoulders, “Pete, don’t cry. You’re going to get yours soon enough, so don’t pay attention to mean old Archie.”
“Hey hypocrite, you did it to us last year too,” Archie shot back, although he did lower his arms and tentatively patted Peter on the back, “I’m sorry Pete. Minnie’s right, you only have three more years left. And then you’ll get your very own letter with “Master Jupiter McGonagall” on it.”
“But I don’t want to wait! And I don’t want to be called Jupiter either!” Peter whined, “Why is my name so stupid? Achilles and Minerva’s much better than Jupiter.”
“Ah, so nice to see my three darlings caring for each other,” Mama said, a loving look in her eyes, “How about you all go upstairs and start packing? Peter, you can help Minnie and Archie. We’ll be going to Diagon Alley tomorrow at seven o’clock sharp, so make sure you lay out clothes for tomorrow too. Dinner’s at six, and after that straight off to bed with all of you. And Minnie, I’ll be checking to see if you folded all your clothes neatly in the trunk.”
I sighed at the prospect of having to unpack the mountain of clothes in my trunk and folding every single item. Standing up, I started to walk out the door and towards the stairs, my arms still around Peter. Archie whirled past us, the papers from his letter rustling violently as he ran out of the kitchen.
“I’ll race you two up to my room!” he yelled back.
Peter took off with a sprint too, pulling me along with him. I pumped my legs, working hard to gain speed in my ridiculous starched skirt. Archie was already halfway up the stairs, his laughter taunting me and Peter, daring us to catch up. I bounded up the stairs two steps at a time, half carrying Peter up with me. The dark grey fabric of my skirt strained against my legs.
“Minerva McGonagall! What did I tell you about running in skirts?” Mama yelled from behind me.
“It’s not very ladylike,” I recited, just as the seam of my skirt tore in half.
Archie had won the race, his face triumphant as he panted. Peter came second, having ran on as I stopped to gather my skirt together. I was a sight in torn skirt and untucked blouse, looking very unlike the usually neat Minerva McGonagall. Slipping back into my room and locking the door, I stepped out of my ruined skirt and buttoned up my blouse properly. Standing in front of the mirror, I fixed up the odd little crease in my new blue skirt and pinned up my raven-black hair. Prim and proper Minerva McGonagall was back.
Gathering up the piles of my first year books, I walked out into the hallway and over into the boys’ room. Archie was cleaning out his trunk while Peter stared dreamily at the Hogwarts acceptance letter. I dropped the piles of book down on Archie’s bed and sat down next to them. My little brothers took turns to ask me about Hogwarts, and I felt like an enchantress as I looked at their spellbound faces absorbing in every word I told them of Hogwarts.