AN: Hey there kiddos! Soooooo...for those of you who are actually following me as an author, I SWEAR I plan to update SBIT at some point. This is my last week of school and then I will have A Lot More Free Time for writing. In the mean time...have this thing I wrote in a fit of inspiration. I have plans for it to be eventual SiriusxOC, but it'll certainly be slow-going, I think. In the first few chapters I think I'll focus on building my character first and how she fits into the wizarding world and all that before I even think about starting up a romance plot. And anyway, they're 11. The most that could happen at first is, like, innocent crushes, especially in 1971. So that's where I am in life right now. I do plan to put out more of this story somewhat regularlyish along with somewhat regularish updates for SBIT. Without further ado, enjoy! And please leave reviews if you feel like it, I love hearing reader thoughts, especially on what you think might happen later (I could use those ideas, sometimes...help me!)
When your papa is a registered animagus and likes to play with you in his animal form (what better friend to learn to swim with than a dolphin), of course you grow up dying to know how to become an animal just like him. When your mum uses magic, something so amazing and miraculous, around the house like it's nothing, of course you want to learn absolutely everything she learned. When your papa and mum both tell you bedtime stories about their formative years learning magic, of course you grow up itching to go off to boarding school just like them.
The brown school owl dropped off Marina's acceptance letter on the morning of the first of July, 1970, just as her father was beginning to clean up breakfast. When her mother held up a letter "addressed to Ms. Marina Stewart-Lautrec," she jumped out of her seat and squealed in delight, ripping open the cream envelope and eagerly unfolding the first parchment sheet inside. Her eyes giddily took in the Hogwarts seal, the green script, as she bounced up and down on her toes:
Dear Ms. Stewart-Lautrec,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
"Mum! Papa! I'm going to Hogwarts!" she squeaked, exhilarated.
"I'm so proud of you, darling!" her mother exclaimed, clasping her hands at her chest. "I know you'll absolutely love Hogwarts. That castle became my second home; I'm sure it'll be yours soon enough as well!"
"Oh, mon cœur! How exciting!" her father exclaimed, drying his hands on the kitchen towel and grinning brightly. Having gone to Beauxbatons, he had no praising words about Hogwarts specifically. This didn't mean he had no praising words for wizarding school at all. "You will have so much fun learning all there is to learn about magic, I know it."
Marina read through the second sheet of parchment folded with the first:
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupil's clothes should carry name tags.
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1)
by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic
by Bathilda Bagshot
by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration
by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
by Phydilla Spore
Magical Dafts and Potions
by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection
by Quentin Trimble
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 set brass scales
Students may also bring, if they desire, an owl OR a cat OR a toad.
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICK
Chief Attendant of Witchcraft Provisions
It was all so exciting, looking over the books she'd read for the classes she would finally get to take, the things she'd finally get to use. This was her parents' legacy: her father's stories, her mother's skills. Now Marina would get to join them in the wonderful gift of magic! She'd performed accidental magic, of course, but she was so excited to be able to use her talents properly, just like her parents.
Her father sent an owl back to the school confirming her attendance that day, after breakfast, and he promised to take her to Diagon Alley to school shop in August. Marina groaned.
"Papa, August is forever away!"
Her papa chuckled, blue eyes bright and twinkling. "You have been to Diagon Alley before, mon amour. It will be just the same as all the other times, yes?"
Marina huffed and crossed her arms. "Yes, Papa, but it'll be extra special when I go shopping for school." She grinned and uncrossed her arms to hug her father, still overflowing with excitement. "School shopping, Papa! For Hogwarts!"
"Perhaps you can persuade your mother to take you on a Diagon Alley visit tomorrow. I say a young witch should learn to take care of her animal companion before she's sent off to boarding school with it, no?"
The full meaning of the words took a few seconds to set in before Marina gasped and looked up at her father with wide eyes. "You mean it? I get a pet?!" She began to bounce on her toes again.
"Of course you do. Every witch needs a familiar." Her father looked with raised eyebrows to her mother, who nodded solemnly in agreement.
Marina clasped her hands in front of her chest, a little habit she'd picked up from her mother. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Suddenly, her lips quirked into a little frown, and she referred back to the letter she'd dropped on the table earlier that morning in her excitement. "'An owl, or a cat, or a toad,'" she read. "I wouldn't much like a toad," Marina stated slowly, looking back up at her parents with serious eyes, much to the adults' amusement. "Should I get an owl or a cat?"
"An owl would certainly be the more functional of the two," her mother offered.
Her father hummed. "You have the rest of today to think about it, amour. If all else fails," he shrugged, smiled, "pick whichever pet you fall in love with tomorrow."
The girl nodded, looking a little less troubled.
"Mina, darling, why don't you run along and see if Quincy got his letter this morning?" her mother suggested. "Perhaps you can discuss the problem of pets together."
The adults smiled as Marina ran to put on shoes and bounced out the backdoor to find her friend (who assuredly did get his letter this morning). Once she'd gone, her mother's gentle smile fell, and she sighed, frowning. She worried for Marina for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which had to do with her only daughter going off to boarding school by herself.
"I see you thinking, Bobbie. Anxious about our little girl growing up?"
Bobbie Stewart sighed again, tapping a rhythm out with her manicured nails on the tabletop. "Of course I am, but…it's more than that, you know. Theo, what if the other—"
"Do not worry about it." Theo Lautrec gave his girlfriend a reassuring smile. "Mina can take anything that castle can throw at her."
True to her parents' word, Bobbie took Marina for an outing in Diagon Alley the very next day. Per Marina's request, they traveled through Muggle London to the Leaky Cauldron. The eleven year old simply shrugged and said it was more fun than flooing there in response to her mother's raised eyebrow. They drove into the city, Marina watching the cars and the buildings pass outside the window, idly wondering what everyone else was doing, and daydreaming about her impending first year at Hogwarts. Would she make friends? She certainly hoped so. What House might she be sorted into? Well, her mum had been a Slytherin, but her mum had always called her papa a Hufflepuff. What would that mean for her? Would she end up like one or the other, or would her parents' personalities mix up to make Marina someone completely different? She wanted to be in Hufflepuff, like her papa might've been. Slytherin sounded too intense and competitive. Marina was distracted by an old man driving his car with a sandwich in his mouth.
Soon enough, they'd arrived at the old, slightly dilapidated pub. Marina waved and grinned brightly at the jolly wizard behind the bar in the Leaky Cauldron as she followed her mum into the back garden. Bouncing on her toes, she waited for her mother to tap the bricks and reveal the archway. The bustling sounds and smells of the wizarding marketplace floated through to the witches, and Bobbie smiled at her daughter's excitement. As all mothers are wont to do, she smoothed Marina's hair and straightened her clothes before taking her by the hand and stepping with the giddy girl through the brick entryway.
Somehow, even having grown up with two magical parents, Marina never really got over going to Diagon Alley, or anywhere else so specifically, blatantly magical. She thought it must have to do with how like Muggles her family lived. Her Muggleborn papa liked having telephones and televisions and microwaves and all sorts of Muggle inventions he grew up with, and her mum, who came from an almost entirely pureblood family, liked the quirky lifestyle Muggles lived, even if electricity and magic didn't always get along. She told Marina once that living in Muggle London with Muggle things made her feel rebellious. So obviously wizarding places were still exciting for Marina.
In addition to picking out a furry or feathery friend to take to Hogwarts, Marina's mother had a few other errands to run in the Alley. The eleven-year-old's excitement grew to unbearable levels as they drifted from Mr. Mulpepper's, to Flourish and Blott's, to Wisacre's, to Madame Malkin's…. It seemed to Marina that her mother was drawing out the wait as long as she could, just because she could. It was premeditated torture. Bobbie watched her daughter get gradually fidgetier and fidgetier as she looped around the Alley, lingering in shops, deliberating over little purchases. Finally, when Marina seemed about to explode, she had mercy and halted their expedition on the terrace of Florean Fortescue's, just across from Eeylop's. Marina watched the owls blinking and ruffling their feathers in their cages.
"Have you made your mind up, my dear?" Bobbie asked lightly.
With a small sigh, Marina looked up at her mother. "I really want a cat. But wouldn't an owl be a better idea?" She turned back to the trained birds. "I can always use an owl, but a cat doesn't have much of a purpose," she explained, wrinkling her nose.
Her mother hummed. "I'm inclined to agree with you. Only, I don't want you to think of the cat you could have had every time you look at your owl. How about we go look at the owls, and if you don't meet the perfect owl that you would be alright with owning instead of a cat, then we can look at the cats. What do you think of that?"
Marina nodded. "I think that's a very smart idea, Mum," she said with a smile.
As it happened, Marina did not find an owl that struck her as someone she'd like to have as a lifelong friend. They were all very aloof, she thought, even if they looked very smart. If they could talk, Marina imagined they'd be very good conversation if they didn't think they were better than you. She said so, and her mother nodded in agreement. So they went to look at the cats. In the Menagerie, the cats were free to roam the store, even though they usually stuck to their cushions perched on their high shelves, overlooking the store with sleepy eyes. In all the times she'd been in the Menagerie, Marina had only seen a cat actually up and moving two or three times. With her mother talking to the witch at the counter about cat care accoutrements, Marina ventured forth to visit the cats.
With careful respect, Marina offered her hand to each cat for a sniff. The fluffy white one with the squishy face blinked slowly and then completely ignored her with a twitch of his tail; the dark tabby closed his yellow eyes and accepted a few scratches behind his ears before his mood took a drastic turn for the worse and he snapped his teeth just a few hairs from her hand; there was an all black cat that just stared at her with big, round eyes, and Marina found herself feeling a little afraid of it; a very fat white-and-orange cat was sleeping and probably didn't realize she was even there; a smallish Siamese bumped her hand with her forehead and began to purr gently when Marina started petting her. She smiled and stepped back to move on, but the cat's blue eyes popped open and it stood up to follow Marina, nudging her hand again for more attention. With a giggle, Marina obliged, and turned to go get her mother. The cat leapt after her with a little mew and began twisting around her legs.
"Mum!" Marina called. "This one likes me!"
The shop witch leaned across the counter to look. "That's Maia. She loves children."
"She does this to most children?" Bobbie asked.
"Well, no. She doesn't often follow after anyone."
Marina crouched down to give Maia more attention. "Can we get her?"
Her mother nodded, and turned to pay the witch for the cat and a couple other items. Marina scooped up the cat and planted a kiss on the top of her head. Maia was content to purr in the girl's arms. The new trio left the Menagerie with a cushioned basket, cat food, and treats. Bobbie promised they'd stop at a Muggle pet store on the way home to get a collar and tag so no neighbors would find Maia and think she was a stray. In the end, they returned home from their day out with a multitude of new things, but most importantly they returned home with a happy kitty in a new pink collar.
EDIT: I switched around the plot a bit so not only have I changed the year this story starts in, which I explain more in my note at the beginning of the next chapter, I ALSO made an adjustment to Marina's parents. I originally had them engaged; I am un-engaging them because I'm going to do something with that LATER and also because my original plan didn't work out as I was trying to write it. Like I said in the summary, THIS IS VERY MUCH A WORK IN PROGRESS AND THINGS ARE JUST GONNA CHANGE SOMETIMES SORRY!