It’s been several months since Amelia met the Raggedy Doctor, and she’s getting tired of people telling her that he doesn’t exist. Most of the time she still argues volubly when the subject is brought up, but sometimes she just stays quiet, tired of arguing. She doesn’t think she’ll ever stop biting her therapists though - they’re just so annoying! The only ones who believe her are her two best friends Rory and Mels, but she can tell that even they are getting tired of listening to her constantly talking about someone that no-one else thinks exists, and that they’ll probably never meet anyway.
So the result is that Amelia spends much of her summer alone, sitting on a swing in the park and watching the people go by, thinking about fairytales and what could have been, because reality is too broken and bland to contemplate. And surely it’s only her imagination that makes her think that there is something strange about the redheaded family in number nine - house-sitting for Mr Prewett, her aunt says when she asks - because if people say that her Raggedy Doctor isn’t real, then a self-mowing lawnmower can’t possibly be either. Of course, Amelia being Amelia, she can’t let it go.
The redheaded family is made up of boys, mostly, but Amelia notices that there’s also a girl. The girl rolls her eyes at her brothers a lot, and sometimes goes off on her own, something Amelia can sympathise with. That doesn’t mean she won’t follow her around though - and not like Rory when they’re playing James Bond and he’s running conspicuously from corner to corner, but the smart way, the “I’m only playing, I just happen to be moving in the same direction as you” way. Nothing really exciting happens in any case, and the girl is as boring as her classmates’ older sisters. At least it makes the summer pass, Amelia reasons, back on her swing, still watching.
“Why are you always following me?”
The girl in front of Amelia suddenly stops and turns around, looking at her with an angry expression on her face.
“I’m not. I’m just playing. You’re de-lu-sio-nal,” Amelia counters, enjoying the grown-up word. The girl - much older and bigger than her, Amelia suddenly notices - stalks towards her, one hand moving into her pocket.
“And you’re a liar. Who asked you to spy on me?”
“No-one. I did it on my own.”
“Why?” the girl asks, not really believing her. Amelia decides she’s tired of playing anyway, and resorts to one of her best and oldest weapons - bluntness.
“Are you a witch?”
The girl freezes, trying to look unaffected, but her wide open eyes give her away. Amelia cocks her head and studies her, as if she were to suddenly grow a long nose and start cackling.
“Why would you think that?” the girl finally asks. Thoroughly pleased with herself, Amelia smiles sweetly.
“Because normal people don’t have self-mowing lawnmowers. Or flying footballs. Or knitting needles that work on their own. Or-“
“Okay, okay!” The girl makes a hushing motion with her hands, looking around to make sure they’re not overheard. “So my family sucks at keeping a low profile. You still haven’t said why you’ve been spying at us though.”
“Don’t worry,” Amelia reassures her, ignoring the fact that the girl doesn’t really seem worried anymore, just annoyed. “I won’t tell anyone. No-one would believe me anyway,” she mutters. “They never do.”
The girl leans against the wall and studies her for a moment.
“What do you mean? Have you seen magic before?”
Amelia looks back at the girl, realising slowly that this might be someone who believes her, not just because they’re her friends, but because she’s used to these things. And so she tells her. About the crash-landing blue box, the Raggedy Doctor with the weird taste in food, and about how he promised to come back to her but never did.
When she’s finished, she holds her breath, closing her hands as she holds on to the futile hope that maybe this time she won’t be laughed at and dismissed as a little girl with a big imagination. The older girl nods absentmindedly as she thinks, then shakes her head.
“I’ve never heard about anything quite like that,” she begins, and Amelia’s heart sinks. “But,” she continues, “that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Wizards do a lot of strange things - I should know. You’ve seen my family, right?”
Amelia doesn’t answer; she hasn’t really heard the question. Inside her a tiny voice she’s tried so hard to ignore grows louder and louder, finally convinced:
I’m not crazy, it really did happen! It did, it did! I’m not ill, or weird, or lying, I really saw it!
Before she has time to think about it she bounces forward and hugs the older girl, suddenly crying and furious about it.
“Hey,” the girl says, hugging her back a little awkwardly. “I said I believe you.”
“But no-one else does,” Amelia answers, slightly muffled by the fabric.
“That’s because the magic world is hidden from most people,” the girl explains, a smile in her voice. “Muggles - people who can’t do magic - doesn’t know it exists.”
Pulling away and surreptitiously wiping her face with her sleeve, Amelia thinks about it for a while.
“So I’m special?” she concludes, feeling much more pleased with herself. The girl laughs.
“Yes you are. Maybe you’re magic yourself, but even if you’re not, you’ve still seen something most Muggles don’t even know about.”
“Cool!” Amelia bounces a little, making the other girl laugh again. “What do you mean, maybe I’m magic?”
Now it’s the girl - her name is Ginny, she says - who explains, telling Amelia about the magic school she goes to, and how anyone who is magic gets a letter to go there when they turn eleven. Amelia is immediately convinced that this will happen and although Ginny cautions her that it might not, she doesn’t really believe her. She does, however, promise not to tell anyone about the magical world, not even Rory and Mels.
“I’m not sure they’d believe me anyway,” she says precociously. “They’re my friends, but I can’t expect them to believe all this when they haven’t seen it.”
“Also, it’s sort of illegal,” Ginny admits. “I shouldn’t be telling you either, so don’t tell anyone that I did!”
Amelia agrees, still feeling a lot happier that she has in months. She’s not a crazy liar, magic exists, and she’s got a whole week to spend with her new and exciting friend. And when she turns eleven she’ll go to Hogwarts and become a witch. That’ll show everyone!