Today’s the day young British wizards & witches depart for Hogwarts on the Express. In celebration of the auspicious day, here’s a snippet from my fanfiction work, George & Annie: An Unofficial Biography.
“Wish you could’ve come too, Annie. It was bloody amazing!” Fred raved.
George agreed with his brother. “Fortescue’s was brilliant! I’ve never seen so many flavors of ice cream in one place…”
“And Quality Quidditch! That latest Nimbus model looked wicked fast. Bet Charlie wishes he could ride one of those, instead of the old Cleansweep…”
“But Gambol & Japes—that was the best. We spent everything we had there.”
“That’s the life, isn’t it, George? Nothing but jokes and pranks all day long, year in, year out.”
George nodded in hearty agreement with his twin.
“So show me! Didn’t you bring any?” Annie asked.
Both boys’ smiles faded to rueful smirks. “Mum confiscated practically the lot. We’ll be lucky to nick it back before we leave…”
And there it was: the elephant in the room. They were leaving for Hogwarts, just a couple days away now, leaving Annie to suffer through life in Ottery without them. Her best friends were so excited to leave her behind, heading off to live in a castle and learn to do magic like proper wizards, while she got to look forward to algebra and book reports…
The stars were just beginning to twinkle as they sat around the dying fire. When Fred noticed something poking his leg, an excited smile spread across his face as he recalled what was hidden in his pocket. He had completely forgotten about it all day.
“Oi, Annie. Check it out.” He slowly pulled out his new wand.
Annie’s wide eyes lit up—he could see them even in the dim twilight. “Is that what I think it is? A real magic wand?” The awestruck tone of her voice was as gratifying.
Fred nodded as Annie crept closer, her brow furrowed. “It looks like an old stick, doesn’t it?”
“What d’you mean? It’s a proper wand, and brand new to boot. Blackthorn, with dragon heartstring,” he explained with injured pride. Fred put the wand back in his pocket in a huff.
“Oh,” said Annie. She hadn’t meant to offend him, but apparently had. “Did you get one too, George?”
He nodded and began fishing in his pocket. “Apple wood, with dragon heartstring as well,” he informed her.
Annie reached out a tentative finger and gingerly touched it. It felt cool and smooth, just like any polished wood.
“It won’t bite. Here, you take it,” he offered.
Annie’s heart skipped a beat. She was dying to ask him that very thing. As she reached out for it, Fred warned.
“Have a care, George. She probably shouldn’t touch it.”
George smirked at his brother and rolled his eyes. Annie’s hackles rose—why shouldn’t I touch it? It was just a silly piece of wood, after all. She wouldn’t harm it. And she certainly wasn’t afraid of it.
Annie took the wand in a firm grasp, glaring at Fred with indignant anger. The handle quickly became frighteningly hot.
“George?” she asked, slightly worried.
Alarmed, George reached out to take the wand back. For an instant their hands met, both holding the wand at the same time. A brilliant yellow explosion of light shot out of the wand, striking the willow’s trunk with a loud clap. A black scorch mark about the size of a dinner plate now marred the tree.
Annie and George stared wide-eyed at each other, mouths agape.
“You idiot! George, you’ve done it now!” cried Fred, panicked at the thought that George had activated his Trace and they were about to be descended upon by Ministry officials.
“It wasn’t me, I swear!” cried George.
Fred considered this a moment, weighing whether to believe his brother. “I told you not to let her touch it,” he snapped.
“You mean I did that?” Annie stammered in a weak voice.
“No, stupid git. The wand did. Muggles aren’t supposed to touch them. They’re likely to go off. You could’ve done some real damage, you know,” Fred scolded.
“Sorry,” she murmured.
“Lay off, Fred,” growled George. “No harm done. Blimey, though, that was awesome, Annie,” he tried to cheer her, chuckling in surprise.
“The blast’s still smoking, Annie,” Fred laughed in spite of his concern.
Annie smiled. “That was the coolest thing ever, wasn’t it? Completely wicked, eh?” She imagined how useful a wand would be in the schoolyard this year, fantasizing about picking off a choice few of her schoolmates….
“You’re a hazard, Annie, that’s for sure,” laughed George.
You can read the entire story of George & Annie: An Unofficial Biography, at The Petulant Poetess‘ free online archive, though you must register for an account to do so. Just click on the image to the left.