Part 3: August, 1991
Friday, 2nd August 1991
Privet Drive, late morning
The doorbell rang for the tenth time, accompanied by a loud knocking on the door and a yelled “I know you’re in there, Harry!” from the outside.
“Go away, Piers!” Harry called out through the closed door. “I told you, Dudley’s gone to visit Aunt Marge!”
“I don’t believe you!!” Piers yelled back. “I want to talk to Dudley’s Mum!”
This was the third time Piers had come calling in the last two days. Dennis, Malcolm and Gordon had all been hauled off on holiday trips with their respective families, and Piers was alone and bored. What was more, since neither Dudley nor his parents ever answered the door anymore, he was getting suspicious.
“Bet you’ve kidnapped Dudley and his parents and locked them up!” he yelled.. “And you’re going to feed them to a snake!”
“Go away, Piers!” Harry repeated.
“I’m going to call the police if you don’t open up!”
Magenta came flying out of the living room and perched on the dresser. “Is this terrible racket going to go on for very long, do you think?” she said. “Hedwig and Cyan are trying to sleep. They were out flying all night.”
“Yes, I saw the dead mouse Hedwig brought back as a present,” said Harry. “Look, I can’t do anything about Piers, you know he never listens to me! And after that trip to the zoo, he thinks I want to set poisonous snakes on anyone or something!”
“He thinks you want to set snakes on him and he still shouts at you?” said Magenta. “At least he’s brave. Not smart, but brave.” She cocked her head and then smiled. “Open the door, Harry. I’ll take care of him.”
“What… he won’t even be able to see you! What are you going to do?”
“Just open the door!”
“Who are you talking to in there?” Piers yelled. “Open up!”
“Do as he says!”
Not sure at all this was a good idea, Harry opened the door.
“Aha!” said Piers as he saw Harry, looking at him with a mix of triumph, annoyance and determination. “Now —”
And that was as far as he got. Magenta had flown out on the door and kissed him on the forehead. Piers’s expression immediately changed from annoyance and triumph to surprise and shock… and then it went oddly blank. His arms fell limply to his side as Magenta hovered next to him, giggling as if someone had told a really excellent joke.
Piers blinked several times and then looked past her towards Harry.
“Oh, hello,” he said in a flat voice. “I’m not quite sure what I’m doing here. Do you live here?”
“What? Er, yes,” said Harry, taken aback.
“Oh, I remember what I wanted,” said Piers, still in that flat voice. “I wanted to ask you what my name was. I seem to not know what my name is. So that was a question I had. What’s my name?”
“I – what — MAGENTA!” Harry yelped, turning towards the flitling.
“Oh, okay,” said Piers, who clearly couldn’t see the giggling flitling. “My name is Magenta. That was all I wanted to know. Very kind of you to tell me. So long.” And then he turned around and began walking away.
“Wait,” said Harry. “Your name isn’t Magenta, it’s Piers! Hello, Piers! Come back!”
But Piers didn’t appear to have heard him. He walked stiffly down the driveway and out onto the pavement while murmuring to himself. “My name is Magenta. What’s my name? It’s Magenta. Hello, my name is Magenta. Nice to meet you, Magenta. The pleasure’s all mine, but there was a question I had. Is my name Magenta? Yes, it is. It’s Magenta, and I’m happy to see you. I’m happy to see me too, especially since my name is Magenta. My name is Magenta…”
For a moment, Harry considered running after him. Instead he spun around to look at the giggling flitling. “What did you just do to him?” he said. “We’re not supposed to use magic on Muggles, we could get in big trouble for this!”
Magenta stopped giggling. “No, you’re not supposed to use magic on Muggles,” she said. “I’m a Fae. I can curse Muggles if I really want, and in this case I really wanted to.”
“I’m not supposed to do anything against anyone who’s a friend or ally of yours,” said Magenta, “but Piers wasn’t a friend or ally! What did he ever do for you, other than holding your arms so Dudley could punch you?”
”Well… nothing, I suppose,” said Harry helplessly. “Okay, Piers has never been my friend, but… is he going to be all right? He looked completely out of it!”
“Look, he was bothering you,” said Magenta. “Now he’s not, and he won’t be anymore. I call that an improvement. And the wizards aren’t even going to know what happened, because I wasn’t using wizard magic and they have no way of tracking Fae magic. Stop worrying so much.”
“Oh, by the way, we’re out of honey again.”
“Again?” said Harry. “We had a whole jar left last I saw — never mind. I’m just going to go… write another letter to Hagrid.”
They couldn’t keep this up for much longer, he thought as he climbed the stairs up to his room.
For two days now — three if you included today, four if you included Tuesday — Harry had been living with three flitlings and one owl. Though he had sent the owl, now named Hedwig (a name he’d found in A History of Magic), with a pleading letter to Hagrid, and she had returned with a reassuring note in his untidy scrawl assuring him that they would get it all sorted out… so far nothing more had happened.
It wasn’t that life with the flitlings was bad. They were much more pleasant to be around now than they’d been as Dursleys; they were upbeat and friendly and not at all likely to yell at him or send him to bed without supper. (In fact they didn’t really seem to care about bedtimes, so he could stay up as long as he liked.) He was even getting used to their odd quirks like their habit of flying around in the nude, treating “sorry” and “thank you” as horribly offensive words, and refusing to go near anything made of iron or steel. Even their obsession with honey was almost cute.
And of course, post-transformation, they all seemed to like him. Having people (or flitlings) around who actually seemed to enjoy spending time with him was a new and definitely pleasant experience. Plus, for all their silliness and inane commentaries, they did live up to Lady Vidia’s promise of knowing the basics on Faerie… and if Harry’s new books about the wizarding world were interesting, the flitlings’ stories about Faerie were even more interesting:
Faerie was ruled by a Queen and several Courts. The Seasonal Courts were the most powerful Courts; Spring and Summer were collectively known as the “Seelie Courts,” while Autumn and Winter were the “Unseelie Courts.” But there were many smaller Courts too, such as the Shadow Court and the Crystal Court; less powerful but old and established.
All the Courts had their own rules, norms and even stereotypes… the Spring Court, for example, was generally seen as the mildest of the Seasonal Courts; polite, curious and lively, while the Summer Court was more hotheaded and passionate, but carefree and generally fair-minded. The Autumn Court was more gruff and down-to-earth, while Winter Court was cerebral and cold, and apparently didn’t like mortals much. And then there were all the Solitary Fae, who didn’t belong to a Court and just did their own thing. “You can never really tell with them,” the flitlings had said.
Harry was deeply fascinated with the tales. More and more he hoped that one day he’d get to go there himself, and see all the people and places the flitlings told him about. The Forest of Night, the Republic Bazaar, and of course Dewberry Grove, where Lady Vidia lived. It all sounded a lot more fun and exciting than boring old Privet Drive.
In fact… he was kind of wishing he was there now, so he wouldn’t have had to deal with situations like the one with Piers.
Harry didn’t mind being the only human in the household, even if it meant that he was the one who had to open the door and do all the grocery shopping. He didn’t even mind that he was limited to getting his groceries from the corner shop at Wisteria Walk, since they no longer had a car, much less anyone who could drive it to the supermarket — far as he knew the Dursleys’ car still stood parked at the coast where they’d left it to row out to the Hut-on-the-rock; the flitlings had utterly refused to get near that “infernal iron contraption” and had simply used their own wings to fly from the shore and back to Little Whinging.
But this… cursing people and not even caring about it… that was taking it a step too far. He had to write to Hagrid about it and urge him to do something, otherwise Piers’s parents would probably show up next. And the way things were going, Magenta would probably curse them as well.
In the meantime, the next time the doorbell rang, he’d just pretend there was nobody home.
Friday, 2nd August 1991
Privet Drive, early evening
The doorbell rang. Again.
Sitting on his bed with A History of Magic, Harry groaned and tried to ignore it. He’d known this was coming… it would be Piers’s parents or someone else who wanted to ask why Piers had spent the afternoon wandering around the neighbourhood in a stupor, murmuring about how his name was Magenta. And what could Harry even answer? He’d sent Hedwig out with another letter to Hagrid, but she probably wouldn’t be back until next morning, so in the meantime there was nothing he could do.
Cyan came fluttering up to him and landed on the bed next to him. “Someone’s ringing the doorbell, Harry,” she said helpfully.
“I know,” said Harry. “Let them. We’re not home.”
“But we are home,” said Cyan. “Hedwig’s the only one who isn’t home. And you’re supposed to open the door when someone rings the doorbell.That’s what doorbells are for.”
Harry sighed. “We can’t open the door. We’re in enough trouble, Just pretend we’re not home, all right?”
Cyan looked puzzled. “Where do you want me to pretend we are then?” she said. “Can I pretend we’re at the beach?”
“Go ahead,” said Harry, who had learned when it was pointless to try and argue with Cyan.
The doorbell rang once more.
Yellow came flying into the room. “Doorbell!” she announced.
“We can’t answer it, we’re at the beach,” said Cyan, who had stretched out on the bed and was now lying on her side with her eyes closed. “Right now I’m sleeping on the sand while Harry is building sandcastles and you and Magenta are playing beach volleyball. These pretend games are fun!”
Yellow cocked her head. “All right, but what are we pretending the mad cat lady is doing?”
“Mad cat lady?” Harry looked up. There was only one person he knew who fit that description. “Mrs Figg?! She’s the one at the door?”
Yellow nodded. “Saw her from the window. None of her cats are there, but it’s definitely her. So what’s she doing in this pretend game? Oh, if it matters, she doesn’t seem like she has a broken leg anymore!”
“I can take care of her!” came Magenta’s cheerful voice from downstairs.
“No!” Harry raised himself from the bed. “No more taking care of people! I’ll answer it!”
So much for his decision to pretend he wasn’t home, but what else could he do? He hurried down the stairs. Magenta was hovering near the door, ready to spring into action, but Harry shook his head and mouthed “no!” to her before he opened the door.
There, just as Yellow had said, stood Mrs Figg, the neighbourhood mad cat lady, who lived alone at Wisteria Walk with four cats and was generally agreed to be just a bit batty. She hadn’t been about much since she broke her leg around Dudley’s birthday; the only time Harry could remember seeing her was when she’d been walking around on crutches and Dudley had nearly run her over with his new racing bike. Now, she was standing firmly on two unbroken legs, no crutches in sight.
“About time,” the old woman said as a means of greeting. “Do you think I have nothing better to do than stand here and ring your doorbell all day?”
“Er, hello, Mrs Figg,” said Harry. “Sorry it took some time to open, I was… er… How’s your leg? I see you’re not wearing the cast anymore.”
“What? Oh, that. I was just wearing that for show,” said Mrs Figg. “Everybody knew I had broken my leg, so I couldn’t very well start doing cartwheels down the street, could I?”
“Er… what?” Harry said, trying to make sense of this. “You mean, you just pretended you’d broken your leg? Why would —”
“No, I did break my leg. Spent a week in hospital and everything. But I’m all right now. Anyway, it’s not me you should worry about, is it?” She looked Harry up and down. “Thought you might want to know, the Polkiss boy has been taken off to get his head looked at. His mother found him wandering around the neighbourhood, brains all addled. Apparently he doesn’t remember who he is, where he lives, or anything else. He keeps insisting his name is Magenta. Nobody knows what’s happened to him.”
“That’s… that’s weird,” said Harry. “Anyway, I’m kind of busy, so —”
“The doctors won’t find anything wrong with him,” said Mrs Figg. “Because the doctors won’t know what to look for. Fae curses aren’t covered in medical school. I think you have a couple of friends here who have a few things to answer for. Believe me, I understand the urge to curse that awful little boy — caught him trying to kick Mr Paws last week — but this is a nice enough mess if we’re not going to add to it. Now, are you going to invite me in?”
Harry could only stand and gape at her.
“Right,” said Mrs Figg. “I forgot. Here.” She handed Harry a folded-up piece of yellowed paper, on which stood the name HARRY in large, scrawled letters.
Harry unfolded the note, and was met by the familiar untidy handwriting of Hagrid’s.
Harry, it said.
Couldn’t get in touch with Aunt Vidia, but Figgy here is one of us, you can trust her. She knows about everything. Hope you’re well.
Harry put the note down and looked at Mrs Figg. It was like he was seeing her for the first time. “You… you know Hagrid?”
“Hagrid and Dumbledore, and a lot of other people,” said Mrs Figg. Apparently taking his astonished expression as the requested invitation to come inside, she strode in through the door, as sure on her foot as only a woman without a broken leg can be. “Never actually been inside this house, have I? Those Dursleys liked their privacy.”
Harry closed the door behind her. “Mrs Figg,” he said. “Are you a wizard?! Or… or a Fae?”
“Hah! No, I’m a Squib. That means my family’s magical, but I’m not. Can’t cast so much as a minor Charm. But I do have the Second Sight, and unlike most wizards, I actually know my way around the Muggle world. That’s why Dumbledore asked me to move here to this horrible neighbourhood in the first place, to keep an eye on you. The cats have been helping me with that. You won’t believe how much gossip they pick up.”
“I — you — keep an eye on me?!” Harry repeated.
“Well, you didn’t think I moved here to Little Whinging because it’s such a charming town, did you?” She frowned, her eyes resting on the cupboard under the stairs. “Not that I did a very good job keeping an eye on you, it seems. I knew the Dursleys weren’t treating you well, but honestly, a cupboard? Why didn’t you say anything? Fine job I’m doing looking out for you when they manage to sneak something like that past me!”
“Er — I’m not in the cupboard anymore, I have a room…” Harry began, but then stopped himself. “Never mind why I didn’t say anything, why didn’t you say anything? You knew I was a wizard all along, and all you ever wanted to talk about was your cats!”
“I don’t see what you’ve got against cats,” Mrs Figg grumbled. “I’m sorry you didn’t have a better time at my house, but the only reason the Dursleys even let you spend any time with me was because they knew you hated it. As for why I didn’t tell you? You were too young and it wasn’t my story to tell. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, it doesn’t really matter. Where are those Fae of yours?”
“They’re not really mine,” Harry began.
“Yes, we are!” Magenta came flying out from her hiding place. She hovered in front of Mrs Figg, hands on her hips. “We’re with Harry because our Mistress told us to! We belong with him and he belongs with us! And if you can’t accept that, I’m just going to have to curse you too! Especially if you use foul language like that!”
“I never use foul language,” said Mrs Figg, who unlike Piers clearly could see Magenta quite well (and didn’t seem the least bit even bothered by her nudity).
“You just did! I heard you! S-O-R-R-Y,” Magenta spelled out. “One of the foulest words I know!”
Mrs Figg just sighed. “I’m too old for this,” she muttered.
“Too old for what?” said Cyan. She and Yellow came flying down the stairs to join the crowd. “Not too old for the beach, I hope. In my pretend game you were on the beach and helping Harry build a sand castle.”
“And I did the interior decoration!” said Yellow. “I won a prize for it and was interviewed by Sandcastles Monthly.”
Mrs Figg looked at the two of them. She didn’t seem too impressed. “So,” she said. “You three are the — that do you call yourselves? Fairies? Pixies?”
“Flitlings,” Yellow insisted. “Pixies are those other small winged people from Faerie. Not like us at all!”
“Er, Mrs Figg,” said Harry hurriedly. “This is Magenta, Yellow and Cyan. They used to be Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and Dudley, but we don’t know who was who.”
“And we don’t care either,” said Yellow. She flew up to join Magenta in hovering in front of Mrs Figg with her hands on her hips. “We’re a favour to Harry from our Mistress. She’s changed us to look after him, and we’re much better at it now than when we were Dursleys.”
“Oh, you are, are you?” Mrs Figg gave her a reproachful look.
“Yes! The Dursleys were ugly and nasty and mean, and —”
“I’ll grant you that,” said Mrs Figg. “But you know what they didn’t do? They didn’t put eleven year old boys under curses to addle their brains!”
“Well, I didn’t do that either,” said Yellow stubbornly. “And neither did Cyan. It was all Magenta!”
“It was just Piers.” Magenta grumbled. “He deserved it. He bothered Harry. He shouldn’t have bothered Harry.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” said Mrs Figg. “You can’t curse people just for bothering Harry.”
“Yes, I can!”
“No, you can’t! I get that you don’t remember much about being human, but you should at least be able to grasp that this isn’t how human society works — it’s certainly not how Muggle society works! And what were you even thinking, staying here at Privet Drive in the first place?” Mrs Figg turned to Harry. “You’re eleven years old! What do you think’ll happen when the Muggle authorities find out you live here without any adults? Any human adults, I should say?”
“If they come here, I’ll just curse them as well,” said Magenta.
“And what about when people from Grunnings start coming around to see why Vernon Dursley doesn’t come to work anymore? Or when Smeltings sends someone to ask where Dudley is?”
“I’ll curse them too!” Magenta was turning out to have a bit of a one-track mind about certain things.
“Will you stop saying that! And what about money? None of you have jobs, groceries cost money, and so do things like electricity, telephone…”
“Oh, we have money!” said Cyan. “Lots of money!” She snapped her fingers, and all of a sudden a wad of crisp 20-pound notes were lying on the dresser.
Mrs Figg ignored it. “I mean real money,” she said. “Not Faerie money. Not the kind of money that turns into leaves and flower petals the next day.”
“Oh,” said Cyan.
“Oh,” Harry echoed. He had gone out for groceries (including three jars of honey) the day before, and since he couldn’t very well take gold Galleons to the corner shop at Wisteria Walk, he’d used money that Cyan had given him. He didn’t want to think about what the cashier had said when she found leaves and flower petals in the register.
“And even if you could deal with all those Muggle things that easily,” Mrs Figg went on, “there’s the Ministry for Magic to worry about. With the genreal distrust between Fae and wizards going on, the Ministry’s not going to be very keen on Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, living with three Fae as his only guardians!”
“That’s discrimination!” Yellow protested. “It’s a trampoline! No, wait, not a trampoline, what’s the word…. a travesty!”
“Nobody’s going to separate us from Harry!” said Magenta.
“Or Hedwig, when she gets back,” said Cyan. “We’re the House of Harry, we stick together!”
“And you’re not changing us back to those nasty Dursleys!” said Yellow. “We’ll fight you!”
“I’m a Squib, all right?” said Mrs Figg exasperatedly. “I couldn’t transform a matchstick into a needle. Besides, even I know Fae magic’s tricky. I doubt Dumbledore himself could manage to change you back. So you’re quite safe in your current forms.”
“That’s okay, then!” said Yellow, calming down immediately. “Long as we don’t have to become those horrible Dursleys again, we’re fine.”
“You’re not fine, that’s what I’m trying to get into your heads!” Mrs Figg snapped. “What I’m saying is that without the Dursleys, the original Dursleys, you can’t keep living here at Privet Drive. Since we’re not getting the original Dursleys back, and we can’t really keep up the pretense that they’re still here for very long, there’s only one thing for it. You’re going to have to move out. Leave this house, leave Little Whinging altogether. The sooner the better.”
“Oh.” Harry tried to decide how he felt about that. On one hand, this was the only home he’d ever known. On the other hand, he didn’t exactly have a ton of happy memories here. On the third hand… “Where are we going to go, then?”
“We could go to Faerie,” said Cyan. “There’ll be room for us all at Dewberry Grove.”
“No no no,” said Magenta, shaking her head vigorously. “Harry has to live in the mortal realm, remember? He has to go to Hogwarts and learn wizard magic, because he’s a wizard! And as long as he can’t go to Faerie, we can’t go to Faerie! Mistress was very clear on that point!”
“So what do we do?” said Yellow. “Can’t stay here, can’t go to Faerie, can’t go to the wizards…” she paused, looking at Mrs Figg. “Can we?”
“A wizard, allowing three Fae to stay with him?” Mrs Figg shook her head. “If it had just been Harry, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Several wizard families out there who’d want to house the Boy who Lived, but if it means getting the three of you as well?”
“We’re not leaving Harry!” said Magenta loudly.
“Of course you’re not,” Mrs Figg grumbled. “Both Dumbledore and Hagrid made it clear you had to stay with him, at least whenever he’s not at Hogwarts. You could probably have stayed out of sight in a Muggle foster home, but wizards aren’t so easy to hide from. Not a lot of options left, but…”
“Could I… could we stay at Hogwarts?” said Harry hopefully. “If I’m going to live there for most of the year anyway…”
“Hogwarts is closed during the summer,” said Mrs Figg. “Nobody there except Dumbledore and Hagrid. They might take you in if everything else fails…”
Harry’s heart rose.
“…but Hagrid’s got some upcoming task that might mean he won’t be available, and Dumbledore’s already got tons of responsibilities.”
Harry’s heart sank.
“No,” said Mrs Figg in a firm voice. “If we’re going to sort this out, we’re all going to have to do some things we don’t want to do.”
“I don’t want to do things I don’t want to do!” Yellow protested.
“Well, you’re going to have to,” said Mrs Figg. “And so am I, and so is Harry.”
Harry definitely didn’t like the sound of that.
Saturday, 3rd August 1991
Clemency Medical Centre, psychiatric ward, late night.
A boy named Magenta lay in bed and studied the darkened ceiling with a detached interest. He wasn’t quite certain where he was, or why he was here… or of anything, really, apart from the fact that his name was Magenta. He was very certain of that. It baffled him that everyone kept saying his name was Piers, especially that woman who called herself his mother. Why his mother wouldn’t know his name was Magenta was a total mystery.
“Some weird kind of amnesia,” they’d called it. He wasn’t sure what that meant either, but a lot of people had examined him, poked and prodded him, and asked him a lot of questions. He couldn’t remember what the questions had been, but it probably wasn’t important.
Now he was here. He was probably supposed to sleep, but he didn’t feel sleepy. He wasn’t even sure if he remembered how to go to sleep.
He did remember that his name was Magenta, though…
There was movement in the room. Magenta turned his head to see a lady stand next to his bed. She was tall and willowy, and even in the half darkness he could see that she had green skin and hair. He had a vague feeling that this wasn’t a very common colour for people’s skin or hair to be, but he wasn’t sure where he’d learned that.
But there was one thing he was sure of.
He sat up in bed and said politely: “Hello. My name is Magenta.”
The woman chuckled. “Yes, I’ve heard rumours,” she said. “This is an unexpected little twist, isn’t it? Not that I mind unexpected little twists, you know… they certainly make life a lot more interesting. It seems like my little flitlings got a bit overzealous when it came to protecting Harry, doesn’t it? Seems like they’ve quite addled your poor little mind.”
“Oh,” said Magenta. And then realized he had no idea what the woman was talking about. “My name is Magenta, by the way,” he added.
“I understand.” The woman ruffled Magenta’s hair. “Which is more than I can say about you right now, isn’t it? But that’s all right. I’m not here to judge. I just wanted to see what my flitlings had accomplished. Oh, and you don’t have to worry about any nurses coming in to disturb us. They’ve all decided to take a little nap.”
“That’s nice, they were probably tired,” said Magenta. “My name is Magenta, by the way. I don’t know if I said that, But it is. My name, I mean. It’s Magenta.”
“Shush.” The woman lightly tapped Magenta’s lips with a slender green finger. “I want to tell you something, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t interrupt.”
Magenta shut his mouth. If this woman told him to shush, it was unthinkable to do anything else.
“That’s better.” The woman withdrew her hand. “What I wanted to tell you…. because I have been paying attention… is that Harry and the flitlings are leaving Little Whinging forever. Quite abruptly, too. Soon, the people of Privet Drive will see that Number Four is up for sale, Grunnings will receive Vernon Dursley’s resignation papers, Smeltings will receive a letter telling them that Dudley Dursley won’t be attending after all… and in the eyes of the world in general, both Harry Potter and the Dursleys will have vanished and nobody will know where they went. One of the many unsolved mysteries of the world. I’ll admit I didn’t actually plan it this way, but it seems like a satisfactory conclusion to Harry’s life in Privet Drive… doesn’t it?”
Magenta just looked at her. There was a pause.
“Of course,” said the woman with a small chuckle. “I forgot. You can speak now.”
“Hello, my name is Magenta.”
“Yes… I don’t even know why I thought you’d say something else.” The woman sat down on the bed next to him. “All right, Magenta. I could just leave you like this. Mind addled, incapable of doing anything much except ramble on about your name. Your family would at first try to cure you. They’d hope at first, then their hope would lessen over time. You would grow into a man, grow old, and then die, never returning to your old self. I could let that happen. All I’d need to do would be to get up and walk away.”
“But then you’d never know that my name was Magenta!” Magenta protested. “My name is Magenta, you see, because my name is Magenta. Oh, I suppose I told you. Are you going to walk away now, before I even get to tell you that my name is Magenta?”
The woman paused for a long time, but then shook her head. “No. It would be too cruel. You’re a child. You may have been an unkind and troublesome child, but children are unkind and troublesome by nature because they don’t know any better. It doesn’t seem right to punish ignorance quite that severely.”
“I’m not ignorant, I know plenty of things,” said Magenta. “For example, I know that my name is Magenta. And I know… er… um… I know… I know that my name is Magenta, too. And a third thing I know… let’s see… the third thing I know is my name, which is Magenta.”
“And even with all that knowledge, you’re ignorant,” said the woman. “And the problem is… I can’t restore your mind to what it was. Once you have been touched by a Fae, you can’t be untouched. The best I can do is give you a new start. Yes, I think that will be kinder to you.”
“Wait!” said Magenta. “There’s one very important thing I have to say first!”
She looked at him with a wry smirk. “It wouldn’t happen to be that your name is Magenta, would it?”
“No!” said Magenta. And then, at the woman’s look amended it to “ …yes.”
“I thought so.”
“My name is Magenta.”
“Shhh.” The woman leaned in and lightly pressed her lips against Magenta’s forehead. “Sleep.”
Magenta’s eyes closed, and he slowly sank back down. Even before his head touched the pillow, he was asleep.
Lady Vidia of the Spring Court of Faerie looked down at the sleeping boy. A small smile played around the corner of her mouth as she slowly rose to her feet. “A new start,” she declared as she moved her hands over the sleeping body, “demands a new perspective. And I know a good new perspective to give you.”
As she once more drew on the forces of the Fae magic, the boy started changing. His features softened and changed; his face turning slightly rounder and softer, his hair growing long and silky. Magic swirled around the air, briefly illuminating the room with a soft green glow before slowly diminishing and calming down.
Lady Vidia took a step back to look at her handiwork. On the bed, instead of a scrawny and rat-faced boy, lay a very pretty little girl of about eleven, with long hair and delicate features. She was in a deep sleep, her chest rising and sinking with her soft breathing.
Satisfied with her work, the Lady nodded and reached down to brush a lock of hair away from the sleeping girl’s face.
“Well… aren’t you the pretty one?” she cooed. “Not that I want to brag, but I did quite a good job with this one. Don’t worry, you’re fully and completely a girl now… body, heart and mind. Well. body and heart, anyway,” she added. “Your mind’s a little empty right now. We’re going to have to fill it with something, so you don’t just become a mindless infant in a grown girl’s body. Oh, and you’ll need a new name too. ‘Magenta’ doesn’t quite seem to fit… and ‘Piers’ is completely wrong for a sweet little girl like you. Now what could we…. hmm.”
There was a brief pause as she thought. Then a smile spread on her face. Partially triumphant, partially mischievous, and with just a hint of wicked glee to it. “Oh. Oh, that’s good,” she grinned. “That’s too good an idea not to use. I won’t even count it as one of the favours.”
She gently scooped the sleeping girl up in her arms, cradling her like a baby. “You’re going to come with me, little missy,” she said. “This is going to be so much fun.”
The girl slept soundly as she was carried out of the room and into the darkness.
Sunday, 4th August 1991
Tower of Admittance, early morning.
In a small, locked tower at Hogwarts School of Wizardry, a large and ancient book rested on a small desk. This book was both famous and infamous among wizards, even though only very few people had ever laid eyes on it since the days of the Founders.
This was the Book of Admittance, in which you would find the names of all the students that had been admitted into the school. Anyone whose name appeared in the book were invited to attend the school as soon as they were old enough — anyone whose name didn’t appear in the book, weren’t. Many a Squib had raged against the Book of Admittance over the years.
As the first rays of the morning sun shone in through the window, the quill in the silver inkpot next to the book sprang to life. It floated up in the air and over to the open book.
The book twitched, as if it was going to snap shut in front of the quill, but then apparently decided against it, and remained open as the quill quickly added a new name to the list of students who were to attend Hogwarts that year.
Satisfied, the quill flew back into its inkpot, leaving the new name there on the page in elegant, silvery letter. A girl’s name.
It wasn’t often a new name appeared in the Book of Admittance this close to the new term; usually magical children displayed signs of magic long before they turned eleven. But then, it wasn’t often a new magical child was “born” at the age of eleven.