Sharing a birthday with Jesus is rubbish.
Lewis was technically born on Boxing Day, but it still amounts to the same thing: combined presents that are never quite as good as the two individual presents would have been, no party because all your friends are celebrating Christmas with their family and an unbearably long wait until it all happens again next year.
Lewis takes the chocolate snowball from his advent calendar and glares at it.
He hates waiting and this year is going to be the worst of all.
Lewis has found a little yellow ball and is sitting in the upstairs hallway, bouncing it off the wall and catching it. He's really good at it. He can hear the crowd cheering in his head. For a moment he is distracted by the desperate desire for Christmas to be here already. To finally know. While he is distracted, the ball misses the wall and goes sailing into his father's study. There is an ominous crashing noise.
When his father comes upstairs to see what the noise is, he trips on a toy dog on wheels that's been left at the top of the stairs and lands badly, hurting his elbow. He shouts at Lewis much louder than a moment's bad aim with the ball deserves and it's not fair. Lewis wasn't the one who left the dog at the top of the stairs. Dogs are Joan's thing.
They have been told to sit quietly and draw, while his mother makes dinner. Joan is doing a drawing that she says is of one of Lewis's toy dinosaurs, but is actually just scribbles and blobby shapes. Lewis's paper is still blank. Until he can paint properly he doesn't see the point of painting at all.
Lewis sits on the desk chair in his father's study, which he has been strictly forbidden from doing after he and Joan broke the last desk chair by pretending it was a spaceship and pulling all the levers on it.
He stares at the clock and tries to make the hand spin faster by wishing it. He spins himself around on the desk chair in case the clock doesn't understand what he wants it to do.
"Lewis? Will you play with me?"
Joan is standing in the doorway dressed as The Gruffalo.
It's a baby book really, but Lewis is in the mood to play Gruffalo. Joan likes to roar and stamp, so she's the Gruffalo. Lewis finds toys to be Fox and Owl and the rest. He likes being Mouse, who is clever and brings the magical Gruffalo into the boring forest, just through talking about him.
His father never does find out that Lewis was playing on the new desk chair.
Lewis can't sleep.
On their trip to the library earlier that day, Lewis had picked four books that were about the stars. Great Aunt Laura had told him once that people used the stars to tell the future and Lewis wants to see into the future very badly just now.
He's flipped through the books before bed, but they're rubbish. All about fire and gas and gravity, nothing about the future. Nothing that matters.
He pushes back his robot duvet and gets out of bed. He stands at his bedroom window for a while, looking out at the stars in the sky, but they don't say anything to him and after a while he goes back to bed.
Lewis is looking out of a window again. He's in the front room watching Mrs Roberts over the road putting out her bins. The stars are invisible in the day and even the sun is hidden behind a layer of grey clouds. The only thing you can see in the sky is the occasional pigeon. The normal pigeons just say croo, but the wood pigeons are sarcastic and sound like they're saying "Whoop-de-doo".
Lewis thinks the wood pigeons have the right idea. It's a grey day and nothing interesting is happening. Whoop-de-blooming-doo.
Lewis and Joan help to decorate the tree. There's not much you can do, really. His cousins are allowed to decorate the tree with sweets and toys and interesting things that move and make noises. It's always exciting round at their house. Lew and Joan's mum and dad believe in decorations that are sensible and tasteful. Red ribbons, plain white lights and nothing that makes a noise.
After a while, Lewis goes and stares out the window again.
Lewis wraps presents that evening. Daddy who plays golf is going to get a soap shaped like a golf ball. Mummy, who is an accountant like Daddy is going to get a thing for her desk at work. It's made of pins and if you put your hand in it, it makes the shape of your hand on the other side in pins. Joan is getting a toy dog, which is stupid; everybody knows she wants a real one.
Lewis wraps them with the lids separate to the boxes, so that he can still open Mummy's pin thing and play with it before Christmas. It's a bit naughty, but Mummy doesn't need to find out.
When all the presents are wrapped, he goes back downstairs and looks out the window again. It's night-time and there are no pigeons. There are no birds to be seen at all.
Lewis has taken to staring at the stars out of the front room window in the evenings. He's learned the names of the fortune-telling ones from his mum's magazine, but he can't see any stars that look like a fish-goat, even with 3D glasses on to make the shapes stand out.
He's supposed to be at the school in ten minutes to give a toy lamb to snobby Ellen Watterson who is playing Mary, but Joan has wet herself and now they have to wait while Mummy changes her.
Sometimes Lewis feels like he spends his entire life waiting.
He's really not sure why he can't make the clock do his bidding this time. It's a proper wizard's outfit, even if it is decorated with kitchen foil. He's already cross when Joan comes in and wants to play Gruffalo again.
"I'm busy," says Lewis, who is still cross with her about the school play.
"What you doing?"
"You're not a wizard. I want to play Gruffalo"
"Yes I am. I am a wizard."
"Go on then."
He points his wand at the clock, but it's even harder now and he can feel Joan staring at him, waiting for him to fail. He tries to say the magic words, but his tongue feels too big in his mouth and it's all going wrong.
"You spoil everything," he tells Joan at last, dropping the wand on the floor.
"Told you you're not a wizard. Now will you play Gruffalo?"
"Gruffalo is for babies," says Lewis.
He doesn't hit her, but he pushes past her and runs upstairs to his room and closes the door behind him. He opens his wardrobe, meaning to take out the pin-shape thing and play with that, but instead he finds himself opening the box with Joan's toy dog in and hitting it over and over again until he realises with horror that its head has come off.
Lewis is in the garden by himself, trying to think. Joan's dog is made of material and he thinks that it could be sewn back together again, but he does not know how to sew. Mummy could do it, or probably even Daddy, but asking for their help means telling them that he hurt the dog so badly that he killed it, which is naughty, and even worse that he only hurt the dog so badly because he wanted to hurt Joan, which is wicked.
He has put the broken dog back into the box and hidden it in his wardrobe again, but he knows that it's in there and that it's dead. It's starting to give him nightmares.
Lewis seriously starts to think about running away from home.
That evening he is sitting on the sofa beside Daddy, tapping his leg up and down and wondering what to do. Daddy reaches a hand out and makes Lewis sit still. His legs stop moving, but something inside him carries on tapping and all of a sudden he realises what he has to do.
Lewis finishes his dinner in a big rush, gets down from the table before he is excused and runs up to his room where nobody can interrupt him. He gets under the robot duvet and scrunches his eyes tight shut.
He doesn't spin or swing or tap or run to the window and scan the horizon for birds. Tomorrow is Christmas day, the last day before his eleventh birthday and Lewis lies absolutely still in bed with his mind focused on one thing and one thing only.
"Please," he says silently inside his head. "Please, please, please."
He is concentrating so hard, that he barely remembers to breathe and he loses track of time entirely. He doesn't hear Joan go to bed. He doesn't hear footsteps in his room as the presents from Father Christmas appear. He doesn't know exactly when it is that he falls asleep.
When Lewis wakes up he can smell wee-wee. For a horrible moment he thinks he has wet the bed. Then he remembers everything and there is an even worse moment when he thinks it hasn't worked and he will have to explain to everybody just how wicked he has been.
But the smell of wee-wee is coming from the wardrobe.
Lewis jumps out of bed and runs to the wardrobe. Joan's present is making funny noises and the bottom of the box is damp. Lewis grins and thinks about the mouse and the gruffalo.
He carries the present carefully into his parent's room and holds it out to them proudly. The box jerks a bit in his hands as Joan's puppy moves around inside.
As Lewis Dursley shows his sleepy parents his very first piece of magic, an owl lands on the window-sill.