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Serendipity

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There was a soft whisper of rustling leaves as a gentle breeze tickled thin branches, causing them to sway in the crisp morning air of late August. One leaf in particular, a vibrant orange hue already coalescing with the summer green upon its edges, detached from its place amongst its brethren, circling downwards in an elegant spiral to the pale stone sidewalk below. It didn’t get to lie there for long however. Thin, childishly short fingers reached out, clasping its petiole with surprising gentleness, as if it were something stunning, otherworldly, and lifted it up from the ground.

A small girl stood there, from first glance no more than ten to eleven years old. Her short, reddish brown hair barely covering her round ears, highlighting the high cheekbones and making her oval face seem wider than it really was. The large, keen eyes, one slightly larger than the other, appeared like they could not decide on one color, constantly alternating between blue, green and gunmetal gray. They gave the impression that there was nothing particularly special about them, hinting at an average intelligence and concealing her true mindset. They studied the leaf now, almost thoughtfully, as if there was something in it that others didn’t see. But what always persisted in those eyes was the almost metallic glint in them, the palest flecks of silver that made her gaze sharper, speaking of some turmoil, some inner seriousness that should not be present in any child her age. This internal harshness made it seem that she were constantly assessing the world around her, keeping her emotions and very being guarded from an unknown threat. Her clothes were casual, but neat and recently pressed, consisting of a simple red summer dress and beige sandals. The girl hated her attire, feeling awkward and not at ease and preferring a much more different style to this one. Unlike her cohorts, she didn’t find any appeal in looking ‘elegant’ or ‘girly’. A t-shirt and a pair of jeans always did the trick, the girl felt comfortable in them, but her mother held a firm belief that her daughter always had to accentuate her femininity. However much that kind of gender biased mentality disgusted her, even though she could not yet name it as such, the child was much too young to go against her mother’s word.

The girl’s name was Rina O’Shea and she had only recently moved to England after spending the last seven years of her life in Russia. Only ten years of age, Rina didn’t consider herself old enough to properly question her parents’s decision to move here. But she couldn’t deny one thing: she didn’t feel at home in England. There were many great differences that confused and saddened her, making her nostalgia for the old streets and familiar places all the worse. The first vast distinction was, of course, the language. It was a rare occurrence for her to hear Russian now. While she had no difficulty speaking English due to her American roots on her father’s side, Rina found herself missing the sound of her second language. Another contrast that bothered her were the schools along with the other children. The redhead often found herself hopelessly puzzled by the new system, by the variations in humor, even by the report cards that her parents received in order to be informed of their daughter’s progress. When she’d lived in Moscow, her marks would be written down in a little white diary she’d carry around and at the end of the day her parents would view the book and scold her in case she did not get satisfactory grades.

Rina hated that her parents, in particular her mother, always knew about her marks, hated being yelled at for not performing well enough, not upholding certain standards she had no hope of figuring out, but there was nothing she could really do to avoid it except for putting every ounce of effort into her studies. Not that it made her feel any less inferior. Getting a bad grade was a huge let-down, an embarrassment and one that was sure to circle around the whole family, so that everyone would know. Her father always made sure to tell her that she was lucky, that she had every opportunity to do well in school, unlike some. But the girl never did feel fortunate, being ‘blessed’ by being born into a family with a steady income did not make her feel accepted by her own parents after all.

Her mother, Iya O’Shea was a large, but still quite attractive blond woman. Due to living most of her life in Russia, in Moscow to be exact, her sophisticated speech carried a heavy accent that gradually lessened over time. Much like her daughter, Iya kept her hair cut short and neatly combed behind her ears that nicely complemented the formal and slightly imposing air she usually held around herself. Because of her genetically impaired vision she wore large round glasses that did absolutely nothing to hide the sharp wit and intelligence in her bright blue eyes, that she, unlike Rina, did not hide and instead exercised at every opportunity. Iya worked as a manager for a large firm specialized in cosmetics and, although obviously being dissatisfied with her chosen profession, was quite successful. She was also the one who had named Rina, the Russian version of the name being Irina.

Rina’s father, Jeffrey O’Shea, was also very large, though not in a beefy sort of way. His hair was short and curly, jet black in color and his dark brown eyes were usually kind and full of humor. But Rina soon learned to recognize that as a deceptive illusion. He wasn’t above cracking a few jokes to lighten the mood or to defuse a tense situation, but most of the time he was quite stern. Jeffrey worked as a teacher of multiple subjects such as physics, mathematics, economics and chemistry. Being a very hard worker it wasn’t rare for him to work even during weekends.

Rina also had an older brother, Nikita or Nicki O’Shea. The two of them weren’t exactly on good terms. Scratch that, they absolutely loathed each other. Nicky was four years older than his sister and due to his inner insecurity and feelings of inferiority was often quite abusive to his sister, calling her names, constantly attacking her intelligence and sometimes exercising physical force by pushing her into walls and sharp corners. Eventually, the girl grew used to it and began replying in turn, fighting with her older brother like cats and dogs, despite feeling saddened that he would never offer her any love or support. Sometimes she wished it were different, but mostly she accepted it as the way things were.

Rina twirled the colorful leaf between her thumb and forefinger thoughtfully, noting the red tint taking over the edges. “Fall’s coming early”, she thought, looking up at the deceptively blue sky. The girl would be lying if she said that she was looking forward to it, to another dreary school year. Rina detested the new community she was thrust into, so unfamiliar and just as cruel as the last, despised the kids in particular, having seen just how joyously they chased one specific boy around. Harry Potter, her memory supplied. The redhead had seen him a few times in the halls, dressed in patched and dirty clothing that seemed to be a few sizes too large and broken glasses, the by now familiar feeling of sympathy rising up every time. She found herself wishing that she could offer some help, but that would mean putting herself in the spotlight. Nobody went against Dudley Dursley, that was an unspoken law that none were daring enough to break. And Rina was no exception. Cursing herself for her cowardice, she would sometimes leave candies or spare pencils on Harry’s desk while visiting some of her friends in his class. Very often her gifts were either stolen or returned by concerned parties, but she never stopped trying. Occasionally she’d wonder if she was being more creepy rather than helpful, but her conscious just couldn’t let the poor kid suffer all alone. Not when that feeling of sadness and loneliness was so familiar..

Sighing, Rina carefully deposited the leaf into her small rucksack, making sure to slip it gently between the pages of the thin book placed there. The girl found it difficult to enjoy the real world at times. It was often colorless and boring and cruel. Nobody really cared about you, not the strangers you met in the street, not even your own family. Rina learned at a young age that parents weren’t perfect, some showing such negative traits as sexism and male supremacist thoughts and tendencies, and they didn’t love their children equally. There was always some preference. Something that made one child more favored than the other. Sometimes they loved the eldest, sometimes they loved the son more than they did the daughter. A parent’s love was never distributed fairly, there was a certain criteria, that was what Rina was taught. And it was a mistake to worship them, to show them the respect they more often than not did not deserve. So, rather than face the harsh truth, she buried herself in books, entering fictional worlds that were so full of fantasy and heroism and magic, things that the real world lacked. Rina hid there because then the pain would register just a little bit less, because then she’d be watching the world through a dirty window rather than experiencing the humiliation and embarrassment firsthand. Reading was the only way she could feel even remotely normal again.

Turning on one heal, she began her slow trek home, glancing idly at the identical white houses lining each side of the street. They were nice, she supposed, clean and neat and comfortable, but also hopelessly dull. Some kind of emotion was missing from these homes, some spark that seemed to be practically on the tip of her tongue, but one she couldn’t quite name no matter how many times she tried to identify it. They lacked... character, feeling, liveliness. Just by glancing at these white rows of buildings you could tell that their owners were all the same. Snobby, withdrawn, arrogant, self-consumed.. Rina didn’t or couldn’t understand them, just like she questioned her own name choice. A person’s home, just like a name, was supposed to show a persons individuality, the very little quirks that separated this particular member of society from the others. No matter how boring you might seem, even to yourself, there’s always something that puts you apart from the people surrounding you. What was the point of living in identical houses, having identical names, acting identically to others? Why abandon the traits that made you interesting? Were those quirks really that loathsome that they became living copies of the people surrounding them? Some didn’t see it that way, however. They named their children after political figures, famous painters, scientists, writers and musicians for instance. Often they would name their kids after their loved ones or even themselves. Rina resisted the urge to scoff in absolute derision. How unoriginal and self absorbed did you have to be to name your child after yourself? The problem with having a name similar to or the same with someone you knew was that that name began to define you, an automatic obligation was bestowed upon you to act like or live up to the person you were named after. It was binding and unbreakable, unless of course you did decide to deviate from the already written path and change your name to something that would define you as an individual better. But few actually found within themselves the will to do so. After many years of responding to the same name, of growing up with it, it would be very difficult to just let go, no matter how much you hated it. Rina was no exception. She still remembered the day she was told she’d been intentionally named after her grandmother and aunt after she had written it off as a coincidence. That was also when the girl realized just what sharing a name entailed. She had to act just like them, because she was named after them and thus had to honor and uphold their memory. Even if they weren’t dead yet. Even if they weren’t the best people. Rina sneered at that thought. Pointless self gratification, a desperation to feel good about yourself so strong that you named an innocent child in such a way that she was forced to look up to you, even if you didn’t deserve it.

Rina often found herself with these pessimistic thoughts, thinking over and over about the things she didn’t like and wanted to change. Maybe it entertained her, perhaps it worked as a good distraction, there was also the possibility that she just really wanted to feel sorry for herself, but realized it and was ashamed of such an urge. Her family situation wasn’t the best, that she knew for sure, but it wasn’t the worst either. Many kids had it much worse than she and yet they survived without complaint. Rina still had a roof over her head, good clothes and meals three times a day. Her parents were still together and not divorced. So what if she was pushed around a little by her older sibling? So what if she was yelled at for every little action? She was still being cared for to some degree was she not? Was Rina really going to cry because of a little tough love? No, no she wasn’t. There were other methods to deal with upsetting things. There always had to be a reason behind them, first of all. Perhaps analyzing everything she disliked would allow her to see where her hate was unfounded or where she could find a solution to fix what was bothering her.

Of course, there were things she liked as well. For example, Rina loved it when the sun would slowly rise in the early morning, slowly painting the sky in beautiful hues of pink, red and orange. She loved reading, watching the characters confront impossible odds without trepidation. Sometimes she’d sit down and write herself, outlining a brave and courageous person that she herself could never hope to be. Often she would dream, thinking of new worlds and painting them in her mind, imaging all the things humankind still had yet to find out. Sometimes she would attempt to draw them with a pencil, but they never came out as well as they did in her dreams. There were a lot of things Rina loved, but if only she could focus on them rather than the dark thoughts more often..

The redheaded girl came to a stop by a plain looking gate and pushed it aside with a soft whine of its hinges. Her mother should be home by now. Fishing out the keys from her rucksacks pocket, Rina opened the plain but quite pristine front door and stepped softly into the darkened hallway. She could hear her mom’s voice coming from the kitchen along with a delicious smell, probably talking to her grandmother over the phone while cooking dinner for the family. Rina’s father was home as well, judging by the shoes she almost tripped over as she came into the house. No matter how many times Iya complained, Jeffrey always left his clothes all over the place when he came home from work. Habits died hard, Rina assumed with amusement.

There were some letters scattered across the hallway floor, the white paper a stark contrast to the dark wood. Nicki should’ve seen them, one: because he’d stayed at home for the weekend while she’d gone to sleep at a friends house and two: because it was one of his responsibilities around the house to pick up the mail when it arrived. All meaning he’d purposely left the letters for his sister to pick up instead. Curling her lip in distaste at her sibling’s petty and juvenile behavior, Rina knelt down on the floor, carefully picking up the discarded envelopes and flipping them over to glance at what was written on them from mild curiosity... and suddenly went very still. There, written in emerald green ink, was her name. Rina had stopped receiving letters a long time ago, her friends in Russia having forgotten all about her a few months after her departure to England. And none of them had ever used emerald ink. So how could this letter be addressed to her? More importantly, by whom?

Furrowing her brows, she gripped the letter in her hands, contemplating for a second, before slowly standing up and taking it up with her to her room. Some part of her knew that she should show it to her mother, stranger danger after all, but also somehow knew that she shouldn’t. Maybe that was her childish need to look at it herself first before handing it over speaking. Either way, Rina would read it privately. The last thing she needed was for her brother to stick his nose into her business. Rina’s bedroom was on the second floor, a small, but comfortable room with one bed, a desk and two wardrobes along the walls. Nicki had gotten the larger extra room, presumably because he was older and he needed it more, but the girl didn’t mind it much. At least she wasn’t sleeping in the living room like she did in their two room apartment back in Moscow.

The sturdy white oak door closed behind her with a soft click and Rina sighed in relief, slinging her rucksack from around her shoulder and dumping it rather unceremoniously onto a chair. Her shoulders and back ached after being freed from the heavy weight, but she was used to it and knew that the slight pain would go away after some rest. Flopping down onto the soft bed, she twirled the letter in her fingers thoughtfully. Who could possibly be writing her? Had her friends finally remembered her? Or was it a new classmate who thought that just because she was an introvert that she desperately needed their aid in socializing? But in that case, they could’ve just come over. She was sure that finding her address wasn’t difficult from one or two of her close friends she was seen regularly with. Unable to contain her gnawing curiosity any longer, Rina unfurled it, being extra careful so as not to tear the delicate parchment. That was another thing, who used parchment nowadays when they had paper? Shaking her head, she began to read, keen gray eyes narrowed with concentration.

Dear Irina O’Shea,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry..

 

Rina stared for exactly two seconds before frantically rereading the neatly written words, fingers clenching tighter around the letter. This had to be a joke, someone’s tasteless prank and it wasn’t even Halloween yet! There was no such thing as magic or witchcraft and here were some bozos who thought they could mess with her head! Feeling more than angry at being jerked around in such a way, especially after getting her hopes up about reconnecting with old acquaintances, she dumped the letter on her desk, refusing to read any more nonsense and walking over to one of her bookshelves instead. Rina needed a distraction from the burning disappointment and a good book seemed the best option due to the current circumstances. She rifled through the different names for a few minutes, finally pulling out a thick book labeled “Don Quixote”. The girl liked to return to it from time to time, especially when she was upset. Only, even as she settled comfortably down on her bed, she never got a chance to open it.

“Никита! Ира! Ужинать!” Her mother’s voice filtered into the room easily despite the walls and the closed door, instantly shattering any hopes of spending the evening in peace and quiet. Sighing heavily, Rina threw the book a forlorn glance before leaving the welcoming space, silently preparing herself for a long, grueling conversation, most likely about school. Her parents weren’t the sociable sort, they never questioned her about her interests, conversations amongst friends or trips. They simply didn’t know how to do so or lacked the interest, so instead, to fill the quiet that usually fell over the household, they would question her and her brother about studies. Because intelligence was everything in this family. Knowing there was nothing she could use as a decent excuse for her to stay in her room, Rina descended down the stairs, dragging her feet before entering the small kitchen.

Dinner was a quiet affair this time, the silence only disrupted by the clinking of silverware and the occasional question about work, quality of food and friends. Iya seemed very curious, borderline impatient, to find out if her son had finally managed to land himself a girlfriend, Rina filed that knowledge away to use it as blackmail and taunting material later on. They were halfway through their meal when there was a soft knock on the door, one they ignored in hopes that the person would go away, having heard that there were some odd people roaming about, knocking on doors and asking for money. But when the knocking became more insistent, Rina’s father rose, heavily and reluctantly, to answer the door. Rina couldn’t quite hear the conversation, but her father seemed incredulous, then angry before suddenly his voice went quiet and there came the sound of determined footsteps. Rina’s mother rose from her seat, ready to move to see what was going on, when the door opened with a sudden movement, startling the three people still at the kitchen table.

A tall woman stood there, her features pleasant, but sharp. Her thin mouth seemed to be perpetually stuck in a tight lipped state and her brows were furrowed in a frighteningly stern expression. She practically radiated professionalism that instantly demanded respect. Rina knew at once that this was not a person to be messed with. The woman’s clothes were.. simply put, bizarre. A long, black cloak was draped over the woman’s shoulders, barely concealing the equally black robes she wore. A large pointed hat, also black, was perched atop her head, involuntarily reminding Rina of the drawings of mages she’d seen while reading folk tales back in first grade.

Jeffrey O’Shea, disgruntled and suspicious, appeared behind her, asking her to leave before he was forced to calm the police all the while trying to circle around her in an attempt to shield his small family. The woman silenced him with a sharp glance and turned away as if she were searching for someone. Her gaze finally stopped on Rina’s pale face and the girl knew almost instantly that she was the person the stranger was looking for. “Irina O’Shea?” The odd woman asked, her voice commanding, but at the same time gentle. Rina nodded wringing her hands nervously, wondering if she’d somehow done something illegal (even though she could not recall doing anything even remotely criminal) and glanced at her parents, instinctively switching to Russian.

“Что происходит? Мам, кто это?” The girl asked, feeling more and more nervous by the second, not giving the thought that it was probably rude to speak in another language so as not to be understood by the stranger a second thought. Iya O’Shea shook her head silently at her daughter, obviously just as confused and drew her children closer to her almost unconsciously.

Contrary to Rina’s belief that she would become irritated, the woman’s eyes softened as she took a slow step towards the intimidated ten year old, making the girl look up at her as she approached. “My name is Minerva McGonagall. I’m a professor at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. I came to clarify some details with yourself and your parents, so that you will be prepared for the school term.”

That made Rina go still, the old anger slowly seeping back. “Magic doesn’t exist.” She said calmly, looking up first at the tall woman then her parents accusingly. Did they hire her as a joke? McGongall merely raised an eyebrow, watching the child with interest before turning towards a lone chair standing by the kitchen entrance while smoothly drawing out a long stick from her left sleeve. Rina’s father opened his mouth to say something, but he was too late. With a flick of her wrist and a loud snap a tortoise stood there where just moments ago stood a simple piece of furniture. Iya let out a loud gasp, clapping a hand over her mouth in shock. Nicki leapt back to hide behind his mother’s considerable figure and Jeffrey drew back as if he’d been slapped, eyes wide and bulging. Rina herself was as stiff as a statue in her amazement, watching as the former chair wiggled it’s legs, slowly inching itself across the room. Poking the tortoise proved that it was indeed real and not an illusion. Then McGonagall waved her arm again and with a spurt of red sparks the tortoise morphed itself back into furniture.

“What the hell?” Nicki exclaimed, momentarily forgetting his parent’s strict lectures against cursing as he peaked around his mother’s body. Minerva ignored him, turning back to the shocked redheaded girl, her eyes sparkling with something that was undoubtedly amusement. Rina was pretty sure she was gaping like a fish out of water, but couldn’t bring herself to care. This woman had just turned a simple kitchen chair into an animal! How? It went against everything she was taught. McGonagall leaned down so that she could be on eye level with the ten year old and whispered, voice quiet and curious.

“Why do you not believe in magic?” Rina frowned at the odd question. Sure, most kids her age still believed that there was something out there, something mysterious and supernatural, like Santa Claus for example, but she’d let go of those delusions a long time ago. Why did it matter to this person what she did and didn’t believe in? But then again, why indeed did Rina find it so difficult to believe in miracles? Her father’s words came back even now, after so many long years.

“Science can explain everything, it’s the key to all. Believing in miracles or any so-called ‘higher power’ is what hinders our development as a species.” Math rules all. Intelligence is everything. There is no place for dreamers. Rina had lived by those rules her whole life up until this point. Had started to battle with self-loathing every time she could not meet her parents’s expectations. Had endured ridicule at the hands of her brother for being ‘too stupid’. At some point she’d become unable to understand just how important being a dreamer really was.

Rina dropped her gaze to the floor, no longer able to look at the woman in front of her any longer. She had no answers to offer. Minerva didn’t seem to expect one, eyes softening once more but this time in understanding.

“There are miracles in this world, Irina, and I, along with the other professors, will help you see them once more.”

 

Several weeks later Rina knew just what McGongall had meant by those words. Diagon Alley indeed was nothing short of a miracle, one out of many to come. A magical street, hidden from view, lined by dozens of little shops containing wands, cauldrons, moving portraits, living books, hooting owls - all so bright, all so hard to believe. Rina’s parents seemed to be in as much of a stupor as she was, Iya, surprisingly, being the first to recover. Grasping Rina firmly by the shoulder, she began to steer her daughter through the thick crowd of talking people. The redhead resisted as much as she could, head swiveling this way and that as she desperately tried to look at everything they passed, but to no avail. Her mother could be very mission-oriented when the situation called for it.

At last, they entered a small shop, Iya insistently urging Rina inside with her hand firmly placed on her daughter’s small shoulder. Rows and rows of robes met the girl’s curious eyes as they stretched across the room, all of them sorted by color and size. Black, gray, dark red, bottle green.. With a determined gait, Iya walked over to the low wooden counter, fishing out a crumpled copy of the list of things to buy from her handbag and unfolding it. The middle aged woman she was about to address didn’t seem to need any instructions however, she was already bustling towards Rina, whipping out a measuring tape that hovered by itself in mid air for a split second before wrapping (on its own!) around the girl’s body. The ten year old whimpered, quite disliking the sensation despite the woman’s, Madam Malkin’s, calm and kind words. And then the tape was gone and a black robe was pulled over her head. And then another. And another.

Iya O’Shea, to her credit, said nothing even as she watched with amusement as her daughter struggled with the unusual clothing. Rina merely glared at her in betrayal, doing her best not to trip and fall and loathing the rough, but quick and professional handling. She was just grateful her brother and father were not here, busy acquiring her new schoolbooks. The bell jingled merrily as the door to the small shop opened, allowing two more customers to enter the dimly lit room. The girl didn’t notice them at first, too distracted by going red as a tomato as Madam Malkin, in an effort to make the redhead a bit more comfortable, complimented her bright smile, gushing about how absolutely adorable she was while Rina’s mother finally let loose a small laugh. Rina didn’t like it when strangers did that. It was more often than not a little creepy in her opinion. Only when the woman finally stepped away did she notice the curious pair of deep blue eyes watching her from the shadows. Just as quickly as they appeared however, the eyes vanished behind numerous rows of clothing.

Shrugging, slightly perplexed by the odd gesture, Rina turned instead to her mother, tugging gently on her sleeve until Iya turned to look down at her from where she’d been counting money, thin brows pinched in a soft frown. “Мама, можно книгу?” She asked, reaching for the black handbag slung over her mother’s shoulder. It was no secret that Rina loved to read and often stashed a book in Iya’s bag whenever they went on a lengthy trip. Like now.

“Нет, Ира, не сейчас.” Her mother replied, carding her fingers softly through her daughter’s hair, offering the disgruntled child a small smile as Rina pouted. “Мы скоро пойдём, подожди минутку.” Still unhappy, the girl crossed her arms in impatience, silvery eyes scanning the dimly lit store for anything that would entertain her for the next ten minutes. That was when she finally saw the other customer in the shop.

She wasn’t that much taller than Rina herself and seemed to be around the same age. Her face was long, framed by thick, but undoubtedly soft dirty-blond hair tied up into a high ponytail. The girl’s features were distinctly aristocratic: a straight nose with a few freckles sprinkled over it, dark blue eyes that contrasted heavily with her pale complexion and a small, thin mouth. She stood there, half hidden by the rows of different robes, but her curiosity was obvious as she watched the short exchange between Rina and her mother. Rina tilted her head, observing the other in silence before suddenly offering her a wide grin, raising her hand in a small wave. You couldn’t exactly call the redhead the most social person, but she was always happy to meet a new person nonetheless. She didn’t even care if the gesture was returned or not, at least she gave the person a chance. The blond stranger rewarded her with a soft smile, once again vanishing amongst the robes. Rina couldn’t push down the bitter feeling of disappointment. Not because the girl didn’t wave back, but because she was actually hoping that the other ten year old would be up for a conversation. Was that a future witch? From a wizarding family? Or was that another normal person like her, from a family with no special abilities? There were just so many things to learn about this new world! So many questions that needed to be answered! Finally, this was becoming interesting.

The rest of the shopping went much quicker than she had expected or wanted it to be. Iya kept shooting exasperated glances as her husband and daughter goofed off, joking, trying on hats that would yell out curses at random strangers, looking through books that would growl or burst out bioluminescent bubbles and trying to physically move a cauldron carved entirely out of gold. Not that it worked of course. Nicki didn’t seem as joyful. He’d shoot angry glares at his sister’s back, shoulder past her any time their parents weren’t looking and would mock her exclamations of excitement any chance he got. Rina tried to ignore it, but, she would admit, it was upsetting. All she wanted at this moment was to share her happiness with her family, but nothing was working. Her brother was bitter, her mother was set on a mission and aloof, offering only distracted smiles, and her father came off like he was trying too hard, his humor forced and fake. The girl thought that perhaps she was looking to deeply into it, but she just couldn’t understand. Why? What was so wrong about her being a witch, a part of this magical world? It wasn’t like she was a freak.. Right?