I expect I would have found it a nice enough world if I hadn’t had the bad luck to be spotted straight as I came through the Bounds. As soon as I saw the people gaping at me I knew I was in for a rotten time. People always think you’re a witch or a demon or something and your chances of getting well settled in some ordinary kind of job are shot. These particular people were in official-looking robes, too, which was an even worse sign.
I groaned and started looking about for an escape route, but there wasn’t time. Before I even had a chance to say “Just a passing hallucination, don’t mind me,” I was grabbed up and marched through the building to some top fellow’s office. The building looked a bit like a castle, but there were boys and girls in uniforms running all around carrying books and I cursed my luck again. If by some luck I avoided being burned as a witch or locked up as a demon, I’d be put to some dead boring schoolwork for months and months – I could feel I would be there months at least – and that might be even worse.
“Good day, Professor McGonagall,” said the top fellow in the office. He twinkled at me. I’ve made it a rule never to trust grown-ups who twinkle. “And who’s this?”
He was talking to the sharp-faced woman who had hold of my right arm. She gave it a shake. “At least six witnesses saw him Apparate onto Hogwarts grounds, Professor. Right in the middle of a staff conference! Aside from the fact that he’s clearly too young to have his license, that simply should not be possible! “
“It seems we might have an unusual talent on our hands,” said the top fellow, twinkling harder.
“Oh no,” I said. “I think it’s some kind of mistake. I’ve no talents at all, honest.”
“How old are you, child?” said the rounder-faced woman on my left.
Most of the people I’d seen in the hallway looked to be in their teens. “Eleven,” I said promptly. It was no more a lie than anything else I might have said, either.
“Just the right age,” said McGonagall, frowning, and it looked like my luck wasn’t going to be turning any time soon. “Is there some way we might have overlooked him, Professor?”
“Hogwarts,” said the bigwig, smiling at me, “has a way of calling to its own. ” I smiled back, a bit desperately, and hoped they’d soon see their mistake.
But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t convince them that I didn’t belong there. I suppose it’s those rules that They’ve got that made me look like I had a kind of magic, and once the teachers decided that my fate was sealed. I’ve spent duller years, but not many. I hadn’t thought anything was worse than arithmetic lessons until I got put in Charms class – well, you try spending a year waving your arms about and talking gibberish and failing every exam because you can’t make anything happen, and I reckon you’ll see my point. It’s not that I minded failing the exams, but it did make me stand out. The silly robes and all those posh types sneering down their nose at you were just the icing on the cake, like Queen Elizabeth Academy but worse. I couldn’t even do sport – because of course I couldn’t make the broomsticks go, and almost all of them scorned football utterly. Scorned football! I ask you. I’ve never been gladder to move on to the next world. I got a job cleaning chimneys, which isn’t easy, but it seemed nearly restful after that.
Though, while we’re on that topic, I could tell you stories about that queer floating castle with the demon in the fireplace. Cleaning chimneys is hard enough without having a talking fire hazard underfoot complaining that you’re getting soot in its eyes –
But before I start off again I reckon it’s time for me to be getting on.