31st July 1991
Harry looked at the reddish wooden wand in his hand. The last week had been extremely crazy, ending today with what had been the best birthday, no, the best day, of his life. Seated on his bed back at home, he couldn't describe the joy that now filled him to anyone; he just wouldn't know where to start.
He was a wizard, just like his parents! Magic was real, and he would be going to Hogwarts in a month, which according to his newest albeit a rather large friend Hagrid was the best place to learn magic! And it meant he would be free of the Dursleys, for ten months out of the twelve.
It had begun on Wednesday, with the arrival of a letter addressed to him. Him! He had never received a single piece of correspondence in his life, not even from the library, and he didn't know who would be writing to him.
Clearly, Uncle Vernon was of the same opinion when he seized the barely opened letter; that is until he recognised the sender, and shoved him and Dudley out of the kitchen where they had been having breakfast. Aunt Petunia had looked scared, and what had followed was utter madness.
More and more letters arrived for Harry every day, even with Uncle Vernon boarding up the mail slot as well as the windows and door cracks. When the letters came down the chimney blowing up the electric fireplace, Uncle Vernon had snapped and forced them all on a wild road trip over two days trying to escape them. But the letters had followed, so they ended up at Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea.
At least that was what the last letter had been addressed to, when it was personally delivered by Hagrid yesterday at midnight, along with what had been the first birthday cake he could remember.
They had gone the next morning to Diagon Alley to shop for his school supplies. It was a wondrous place, and he had not had such fun for like, forever. All the shops had been brilliant, and he wished he could have bought the book on curses and counter-curses, but Hagrid had not allowed him.
Harry remembered the solid gold cauldron and inwardly winced. He was glad that Hagrid had been with him; or he would have bought expensive and possibly useless stuff with the money he now had, thanks to a small fortune left by his parents for him.
His thoughts went to the wand he now held, and then to its brother wand. Its owner was after all responsible for his parent's death. Voldemort. He recalled how scared Hagrid had seemed, telling Harry the truth of that night; the truth that the Dursleys had denied him all his life.
His parents had been brave heroes, fighting dark wizards along with Albus Dumbledore, who according to Hagrid was the greatest wizard alive. Voldemort, or as he was more commonly known as You-Know-Who had come to their house on Hallowe'en ten years ago, killing his parents.
Evidently, he had also tried killing Harry but had been unable to do so. Voldemort had been somehow destroyed by Harry, or that is what the Wizarding world had believed. They nicknamed him the-boy-who-lived and he was hailed as a hero.
Harry had difficulty believing this at first, but after being mobbed by his admirers in the Leaky Cauldron he was grudgingly convinced of it. He had certainly not felt like a hero, living as he had with the Dursleys.
The thought of the Dursleys reminded him of the fact that they had known about his being a wizard; they had known. Oh, how they had repeatedly reminded him of the burden he was, the freak child born to deadbeat parents. Harry shook himself free of further thoughts; today had been a good day, and he didn't want to spoil it.
He turned to look at his first real birthday present, a magnificent snowy owl that Hagrid got him. He decided to go through his magical books and decide on a suitable name for her.
He glanced at the calendar; or rather a piece of paper stuck to the wall on which he had written the dates, eagerly anticipating the arrival of September 1st.
3rd August 1991
"Are you sure of this John?" Edwin asked, seated on the couch facing his long-time friend. "This, uh, school- it's legit?"
John nodded, smiling inwardly at the protectiveness of his friend towards Mark. Edwin Walker had been the senior NCO of his squad in the regiment before he retired from active duty five years ago.
John had informed Edwin about Professor McGonagall's visit as well as their trip to Diagon Alley. Addressing the worry etched on his friend's dark forehead, John said,
"Mark's going to be fine Edwin. I can feel that this is the right thing for him. Besides I told you about that professor, right? She's the real deal," he finished in a serious tone.
Edwin leaned back, and covered his face with cold hardened palms, sighing.
"I trust your judgement, John. It's just that-" He seemed to be lost for words.
Taking a deep breath, he continued with a weak smile "It's just that I'll miss the kid."
"I know. Me too" John replied softly.
"In any case, I tried to prepare him best for the thing. We bought some pretty sweet gear. Dragonhide gloves and potions set and everything. Even went above the requirements for some of them."
"You pamper him, John," Edwin replied, conveniently ignoring his own gifts to Mark.
It was a running contest between the two of them; getting the most thoughtful gifts to Mark. And today, he had an ace up his sleeve. Or rather his boot.
"Hey dad, I'm home," Mark's voice followed the sound of the closing door. "I talked with Mr Cayley, and informed him that I won't be coming in from Septem- Oh hi Edwin."
He greeted the old man, and leaned the guitar case on the wall, before continuing, "Where was I, oh yeah. I told him I won't be coming in from September. He was alright with it."
"That's good. You will be taking your Sunburst with you right?"
"Yeah. Professor McGonagall said the Strat being electric, might break in a magical environment. I wonder if I can rig up some sort of protective shield around it," he replied, the last part almost to himself.
"So, what do you think Edwin. Did dad tell you everything? Should I go to this school?" Mark now asked, "I don't want to leave dad alone for his treatments."
"He did. Looks like this is something that you like and that it will be good for you" Edwin replied, before giving his reassurance, "I'll worry about John. We old geezers know how to take care of ourselves. We often did, you know in-"
He stopped himself, relishing the hungry look on Mark's face.
"Oh, come on," the clearly frustrated boy exclaimed. Edwin loved to tease information about the classified missions he and John had been a part of, and Mark fell for it every time.
"Anyways, I do have a parting gift for my young protégé," he now said in his business-like voice.
Sliding his hand in his boot, he unhooked the sheath of his boot knife, and flipping it in the air, offered it to Mark.
"John might have implied that this magical world may not be that safe, so I want you to have this. It's a dangerous weapon, only to be used in emergencies," the dark-skinned man finished with the most serious tone.
Understanding the gravity of the tone, Mark humbly nodded and took the knife in an almost reverential way. Glancing at his father, who was smiling fondly, Mark strapped the sheath to his own ankle.
"Remember, we both want you to do your best in school, and do try to make friends," John said, emphasising the last part. Wincing inwardly, Mark replied,
"Yes, dad. I will." His father had often prodded him to socialise more, which had always been difficult for Mark given his ability.
"Why don't you get yourself freshened up before we have dinner. It's your grand mum's curry and rice"
Mark's face lit up and he raced to his room. It was his favourite dish, an old Indian recipe of his maternal grandmother. His mouth watered as he changed his clothes, anticipating the taste of perfectly marinated fish.
23rd August 1991
"Stupid Git!" said Ginny as she grumpily sat underneath the crooked apple tree. It was her favourite tree in the whole orchard for two reasons: It was the oldest on the property, having seen five generations of Weasleys who had lived there, and Ginny had a fondness for really old stuff. Secondly, it was sufficiently isolated from the house, so that none of her brothers could disturb her peace there.
Ginny Weasley was the seventh child of Arthur and Molly Weasley, and the only sister to her six older brothers. The youngest amongst them had just pissed her off a few minutes ago, claiming she was 'too little to play with them' all because he had received his Hogwarts Letter. Ginny had been holding futile hope that she would get one too despite being a year younger, mainly as she didn't want to be left alone with mother at home when her dad would go to work.
Ginny loved her father dearly and thought he was the best dad in the whole world. Arthur Weasley worked in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Magic in London, more specifically in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office. He often got on the nerves of his wife when he brought stuff from work to study in his workshop in the shed, who thought he was being childish and immature.
Arthur had tried to get his children involved in his experiments over the years, but only Bill and Ginny had shown any real interest. Bill had graduated from Hogwarts three years ago and was now working as a curse breaker in Gringotts, much to the contestation of her mother.
She didn't understand why her son, who had earned twelve owls and had been a Head-Boy, would choose such a dangerous and poorly-paying job. Ginny's second oldest brother Charlie had also followed in Bill's footsteps, choosing an obscure career in dragon-handling over a glamorous one in Quidditch.
Her mother's hopes now seemed to be resting on Ginny's third oldest brother Percy, the perfect son. He'd nearly been insufferable all summer, pompously prancing around with his shiny new Prefect badge. That had drawn the wrath of his younger twin siblings Fred and George, who had pranked him mercilessly, with occasional help from Ginny as well.
Ron, the subject of her current anger, was her youngest brother. They had often been forced to play together, and despite Ron's recurrent complaints about having to 'play with a girl', he had always stood by her. That is until he realised that he would be going to Hogwarts and making new friends there.
Now, in a weeks' time, Ginny would be left alone at home, her mother insisting she behaves more ladylike and help with the cooking and cleaning instead of spending time playing with her friend Luna Lovegood or reading some of the books from Bill's room. Heaven forbid if she ever found out about Ginny 'borrowing' the brooms from the shed.
Thinking about it made her sad, and her eyes misted. 'Just one more year' she thought to herself. She sat in the shade, eagerly anticipating the day she would turn eleven.