Emmelia was probably the most perfect child there ever was. Obedient to the letter, she did everything her Aunt told her. She was elegant and graceful, yet still held a child like innocence that charmed anyone who came in contact with her. She moved beautifully, her Aunt had insisted that she take ballet and acrobatics in order to perfect her refined posture and attitude. Her bright smile and sweet voice could turn even the most disdainful to her side. And one look into her bright green eyes would be enough to give her everything she ever wanted. Well, anyone except her relatives of course.
In fact, it had taken a long, long time in order to convince her Aunt and Uncle to even allow her to begin to do gymnastics. She’d started small. When she was six, she’d managed to hide right outside the living room window and watch the Olympics on the Dursley’s television, right through the glass pane. She’d watched as the gymnasts gracefully flung themselves from pole to pole, and she became transfixed with the sport.
She started to practice by herself. It didn’t matter if she got hurt. Just like the bruises her Uncle gave her, every injury faded in a weeks time. She would flip herself between tree branches and would stretch out all of her muscles every night because that’s what the book she’d borrowed from the library said to do.
At seven, she managed to orchestrate a situation to ask her Aunt for professional lessons. She’d done it in front of her P.E. coach, Mrs. Larson, so she couldn’t freak out and attack her.
Mrs. Larson had stood behind her, smiling widely, “She’s incredible!” She had said happily, “I’ve never seen a child with so much potential! Have you seen the type of flips she can do on a bar? Imagine what she could do with a real instructor. Actually, I’ve been talking with my friend Amy about this little one,” The broad shouldered woman had ruffled Emmelia’s hair affectionately, “And she’s agreed to teach her! She was an Olympic gymnast back in her day! You don’t need to of course. Just a suggestion. Not like you’ll be losing money or anything though! Within a years time, Emmelia here will be raking in cash non stop with all the competitions she’ll win.”
The mention of money had put a terrifying gleam in her Aunt’s eye, and the horse like woman slipped smoothly into a lie, “Oh no, we couldn’t ask that of your friend. Actually, my husband and I have been thinking about something like this for a while, and we already have someone in mind.” She’d said sweetly.
“Oh that’s just great. I look forward to seeing you kick butt in competitions Emmelia.”
Emmelia had smiled warily, “Thank you, ma'am.”
“Sure thing kiddo.”
From that day on, Emmelia had been subjected to grueling lessons with Emma Dawson, a terrifying woman with no regard for Emmelia health. After every lesson, Emmelia had left with bleeding and raw hands, only to return a couple days later with no evidence of the injury. That only made Dawson push her harder. One day, she broke her arm while attempting a particularly hard flip, and the old woman had forced her to do the routine again. Eventually, Emmelia no longer found herself looking forward to gymnastics.
Starting ballet hadn’t even been her own idea. It wasn’t nearly as painful as her acrobatic sets, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Her instructor wasn’t as mean as Dawson though, which Emmelia supposed was an upgrade. It wasn’t fun though. She’d started gymnastics because she’d liked it (regardless of how she felt about it now) but ballet was something her Aunt had forced her to do after her current P.E. coach had made an offhand comment about how perfect her skill set was for ballet, and how many dance competitions she could win.
She’d tried so many times to stop, either sport really, but Petunia had been cruelly insistent. Mrs. Larson had been right, Emmelia really did make a lot of money. From both prizes and donations. Over time, Emmelia had given up on asking to quit. She held her tongue, because she was the perfect child.
No matter how perfect she might be though, she certainly had her strange moments. Emmelia liked to call the things that she did magic. One of her favorite books, The Alchemyst, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, talked about it a little bit. Before she’d read the series, she hadn’t even known the things she saw were weird. The book, while they did briefly mention it, wasn’t technically on whatever it was that she could do, but it definitely mentioned it. An aura, or so the book called them, was a form of spiritual or mystical energy that surrounded the body of a living creature and was regarded as an essential part of the individual. She thought that was a little wordy, so she referred to it as life energy, or magical energy.
For example, her Aunt and Uncle had no magical energy. Emmelia decided that that was probably why they hated anything slightly fantastical so much. It was much the same as everyone else in her neighborhood. Except for the strange old woman who lived on the corner named Mrs. Figg. Whenever she asked her about it though, she stared back blankly like Emmelia was an idiot.
Sometimes though, on her way home from school, or dance, or piano, or the annoying class that her Aunt made her go to that taught her about manners and politeness and how to be the perfect child. After all, she couldn’t be embarrassing her Aunt in front of all her church friends, could she? She would see someone like her. Someone bathed in the colorful light that surrounded them. Someone with magical energy. She would always wish to run after them and ask them a million questions about it, or whether or not they even knew about the beautiful aura that surrounded them. She wanted to know what the different colors meant, was there a difference between a golden aura and a black one? Those were the only two colors that she saw, which was strange.
Unlike everyone else’s, Emmelia’s was silver. That meant that she was like Sophie Newman, one of the protagonists of the Nicholas Flamel books. It made Emmelia feel a little special. Even compared to the people like her, she was different.
The colors weren’t nearly as important as everything else though. Emmelia knew that her aura could do things. Magical things.
When she focused on her own energy, she could guide it towards different objects and make them do things. She could move things with her mind, make things appear (and sometimes, if she tries really hard, disappear), and do other weird stuff, (one time, she set all of Dudley’s presents on fire. She’d spent the next month in her cupboard with four broken fingers, of course, but she thought it was worth it). One time, when her Aunt was feeling particularly jealous of Emmelia’s beautiful red hair, she had hacked it from mid chest all the way up to her ears. Emmelia had stared blankly at the wall all night without making a sound. She concentrated for hours, wishing over and over and over again that her hair grew back to its normal length. Shockingly, Emmelia awoke with her hair even longer than before, much to her Aunts horror.
She couldn’t do anything to change people’s emotions though. No matter how desperately she twirled her magic around her Aunt and Uncle, they never loved her. No, all of that was directed toward Dudley. Her whale of a cousin.
She could do more than just manipulate random objects though. No, she discovered that she could talk to snakes. That had been an interesting discovery.
It was the morning of Dudley’s ninth birthday. This time, he was complaining about his lack of presents.
“There’s only thirty six!” He shrieked in outrage, “Last year I got thirty seven!”
“No no Duddykins, look! You forgot Aunt Marge’s present. See.” Petunia said, pointing to the large present that was strategically placed away from the fireplace, “You have thirty seven!”
Dudley’s face continued to redden and Petunia, fearing a tantrum, quickly assured him, “Two more presents sweetums. We can go to the mall and get you two more presents! Is that alright darling?”
Dudley’s brow furrowed in concentration, “That would mean-that would mean I have uhh…”
“Thirty nine dear.”
Emmelia wondered if her cousin was actually messed up in the head. He was nine and he still couldn’t do simple addition.
“Petunia! Bad news! I’ve just gotten a call from Mrs. Figg that says she’s fallen and broken her hip. No one else can take the girl.” Called Vernon from the other room.
“I don’t want her to go!!!” whined Dudley dramatically. He soon forgot about her though because, at that moment, Dudley’s best friend Piers rang the doorbell.
Vernon turned to Emmelia, “Not one thing out of you girl. If anything weird happens, you’ll be in that cupboard for the rest of the month. Got it?”
“Yes Uncle Vernon.” Said Emmelia. Her Uncle really was terrifying when angry, so she preferred just to do what he said in order to dodge the punishments. Unlike her Aunt, who preferred constant verbal abuse, he used physical violence in order to force her to follow his rules.
“Good. Get in the car.”
All five of them got into the Dursley’s freshly cleaned car and drove to the London Zoo. The only noise during the entire trip was Dudley’s loud bragging and Pier's quiet snickers. Emmelia herself was very quiet, ever the perfect child, not that anyone noticed, of course.
When they finally arrived at the zoo, Emmelia was overwhelmed. She was surrounded by all sorts of animals, the likes of which Emmelia had only ever heard about in the hundreds of books she’d read. She never really went anywhere unless her Aunt wanted her too.
After about thirty minutes in the African exhibit, Dudley decided to make his way over to the reptiles.
Dudley immediately ran over to the largest snake, a Boa Constrictor that looked like it could crush Uncle Vernon’s new car without even trying. Unfortunately for Dudley, the snake was currently asleep.
“Daaaaaaaaaad,” Dudley whined to Vernon, “make it dooooooo something!”
Vernon tapped on the glass. Nothing happened.
“Do it again!” Dudley demanded angrily. Vernon wrapped on the glass forcefully with his fist once more. Still, nothing happened. Eventually, Dudley got bored of staring at the sleeping reptile and left with Piers to go bother the turtles.
The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were level with Emmelia’s.
Emmelia narrowed her eyes, suspicious. That wasn’t normal snake behavior. Then she looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren’t. She looked back at the snake and quietly said, “You’re a boa constrictor, right?”
The snake jerked its head in surprise.
“Indeed I am sssssspeaker. I have not met one of your kind in a very long time. There have been stories passed down throughout all of the generations of snakes at this zoo.”
“Not by your parents?”
The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. She peered at it.
“Bred in captivity, I see. I take it you didn’t spend a lot of time with your parents.”
“I did not.” The snake confirmed.
“Yeah well, me neither.”
Emmelia took a moment to consider the absolute absurdity of the situation she was in. She was talking to a snake.
“You’re from Brazil?” This time as she spoke, Emmelia heard the hiss of her own voice and watched as her energy concentrated around her throat and mouth. .
The boa nodded, looking a little forlorn.
“Would you like to go?” Emm asked. She wasn’t sure if she could really send the massive snake all the way to another country, but there was no harm in trying.
“Yesssssssss” the snake hissed excitedly.
Emmelia looked around and saw that the Dursleys and Piers were moving farther away from where she was standing. They had forgotten Emmelia. She supposed that was good, she was definitely doing something that Uncle Vernon would not approve of. After all, she was talking to a snake. She assumed that was classified under weird.
Emmelia had seen pictures of Brazil before. In one of the library’s many encyclopedias. The rich Amazon filled with rich life and rainforests. She felt something ticklish dance across her skin. Her aura began to glow brighter and expand. It was warm and comforting, almost like a blanket that danced tauntingly around her.
“I’ll tell you what. I send you to Brazil and you tell all the other snakes about me.” For some reason, Emmelia felt herself smiling at the huge reptile.
The boa constrictor readily agreed, and Emmelia placed her hand on the glass. She concentrated hard for about ten seconds before the silver glow surrounding her began to grow and expand out towards the large snake. With a final pulse, it wrapped all the way around the boa and, surprisingly or not (Emmelia wasn’t quite sure which), it vanished.
Emmelia startled, as if she was waking from a trance. The snake was gone, leaving nothing in its trace, and the Dursleys were not in the Reptile House any more. She needed to catch up before they realized she wasn’t with them. As she rushed from the room, she let a small, satisfied smile slip across her face. She wouldn't be caught this time.
By the time she had returned to the car, all of the Dursleys and Piers were already sitting in there seats. The look in her Uncle’s eye was wild and angry, though he really had no clue what she'd done. There was no way they had found out about what she's done to the snake.
"Where the hell were you, girl?"
Sometimes Emmelia just wished that he used her real name.
She averted her eyes from his and did her best to look scared, confused, and innocent, "I'm really sorry Uncle Vernon. I got lost in the reptile exhibit, and I didn't know where you went. I decided that it would probably be smarter just to wait by the car so I didn't cause any more problems."
Vernon coughed and sneered, "Yes, well that may be hard, seeing that you were a mistake from the moment you were born." He roughly grabbed her arm and fires her into the backseat, between the two boys.
Lovely, an entire car ride of being pinched and elbowed.
"Next time, try not to be idiotic enough to get lost in a zoo of all places. We'll have to leave you if it ever happens again."
"Yes, well be fair Vernon dear, it is where she belongs. With the rest of the animals and freaks."
"You're right Petunia, darling." He turned to glare at her again, "Still, keep up or you're never leaving the house again.
Emmelia was pretty sure she looked the proper amount of shameful, "I'm sorry, Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon. I'll be better."
With a final, "You better be." The car door slammed shut and they were on their way back to Number Four, Privet Drive.