Ch. 1 - An Owl at the Window
Disclaimer: Hogwarts and the
Harry Potter universe belong entirely to JKR and Warner Brothers. I am merely
playing in their world and no copyright infringement is intended. Kit, of course,
belongs to me.
Acknowledgements: Yeah, Eshu's
Daughter is finally archived on the Quill! It seems like another lifetime when
I wrote this chapter way back in March 2003. It's gone through many edits and
several versions, and too many initial beta-readers to recall. So I'll thank
the ones that were involved in this latest effort. Aquilla, thanks for beta-reading
all this time, despite the fact I constantly pelt you with chapters. Thanks
to the SQ Workshop, without your encouragement and help this story would not
have come nearly so far.
She's going to kill me. This time, she's going to just flat out kill me.
Kristin Ellsington waited on the front steps of the RAF Alconbury Youth Center,
trying desperately not to think about what her mom would say when she arrived.
It wasn't going very well.
The white Volvo pulled up in front of her with a small whine of complaint long
before Kit was ready. With a sigh she stood up, taking an extra moment to rearrange
her backpack, straighten her t-shirt.
When she finally got in the car she adjusted her seatbelt with the single-minded
focus other kids reserved for their video games. They'd been on the road a full
minute before her mom finally spoke.
"You want to tell me what happened this time?"
"She wouldn't stop calling me names," Kit burst out. "She called
me a witchy-eyed freak. She said none of the other kids would play with me because
I'm weird. I should be spending the summer at the special ed center with the
"So you threw a guinea pig at her."
Kit's face flushed and she stared hard at the buildings flying past. "I
didn't throw Patches at her. I was holding him and he just sort of ...
leapt out of my hands at her. It was an accident."
"Why were you holding the center's guinea pig in the first place?"
her mom asked flatly.
Kit tried to find an acceptable reason. There wasn't one. "He was locked
up in a tiny little cage. I was only going to hold him for a few minutes."
Kit looked at her mom willing her to understand. "I didn't throw him at
her though! I promise."
"This is the third time this month you've been sent home. Last time it
was letting wild foxes into the game room. They also just happened to
show up and just happened to chase the other children out of the room
when they wouldn't let you play board games with them." Her mother's voice
rose slightly as she spoke. "You are doing this deliberately Kit. I don't
know how, but you are doing these things."
Kit didn't say a word. She had wanted to make Brittany shut up.
But the foxes hadn't been her fault at all. She honestly didn't know how they'd
gotten into the game room or why they'd gone berserk like that.
"I'm sorry mom," she muttered. "You probably think I'm a freak
"Oh Kristin," her mom's voice whispered out on a sigh. "I don't
think you're a freak. You just have a special gift, that's all. Ever since you
were a baby we haven't been able to keep you away from anything that walked,
crawled or flew within a mile of you. You were having tea parties with mice
and playing tag with squirrels by the time you were in preschool."
Her mom took a hand off the wheel to pat Kit's knee. "Your father and
I both love you honey, no matter what. But you can't keep using your gift with
animals to punish other people."
"I'm sure Brittany probably deserved it," her mother cut in, "but
that doesn't give you the right to set some poor creature on her. If it happens
again, just turn and walk away. Can you please try to do that for me?"
"I promise I'll be better," Kit said, her voice hoarse as she fought
tears. The disappointment in her mom's voice was worse than any lecture. She'd
much rather listen to her mom yell and scream, or know that she would be spanked,
grounded even. Those sorts of punishments ended quickly. Her parents' disappointment
would linger in the air for days, subtly accusing. They didn't mean to make
her feel guilty she knew, which of course was why she felt so awful.
I won't let Brittany Carson make me lose my temper again, she vowed
silently. And I won't make any more wishes. Kit had discovered that if
she wished really hard for an animal to do something, it usually would. Today
she'd been picturing the expression on Brittany's face if Patches suddenly bit
her. It hadn't come as a great shock when Patches launched himself out of her
Kit had felt a moment of real satisfaction looking down on Brittany where she'd
fallen, scrambling to get away from the rampaging guinea pig. It had been the
sweetest feeling to watch her sneer melt into shock. She'd been ashamed a moment
later however, when Brittany burst into frightened tears. Snatching Patches
away before he could bite Brittany had kept the guinea pig out of trouble, but
Dad is going to be really upset, Kit thought as they pulled into the
driveway. He was waiting for them in the living room, his arms crossed over
his green flight suit, foot tapping in irritation. Her mom shook her head slightly
at him before he could say anything.
Kit took off upstairs without needing any further urging. She shut the door
to her room quietly, thankful for the brief reprieve. Throwing her backpack
onto the bed Kit turned to stare into the tiny mirror over her dresser. Large
blue eyes looked back at her. This morning they had been green.
Why am I so different? Kit's chest hurt as she pressed her forehead
against the cool glass. When she was younger she'd believed everyone's eyes
switched color at random. Right up until the first day of Kindergarten.
She could still hear Tommy Martin's voice as he said loudly, "Your eyes
just changed! Why aren't your eyes blue anymore?" When Kit hadn't answered
him right away he'd hurried over to the teacher. "There's something wrong
with Kristin's eyes, Mrs. Keller."
If Tommy had been born a century before he could have had successful career
as a town crier. His voice had carried into every corner of the room until all
of the students were staring at Kit. There hadn't been anything wrong with her
eyes, of course, except that they were suddenly brown. That's when the whispers
started, the sideways looks, the we-don't-want-to-play-with-you's. They hadn't
No matter how many schools Kit had been in, and there'd been plenty, the reactions
were always the same. She'd been called everything from a witch to a demon.
Brittany Carson's comments weren't even very original. It doesn't matter
how many times I hear them though, it still makes me want to scream and cry
and knock someone over.
Kit turned away from the mirror so sharply her ponytail whipped around sending
dark blonde hair snapping across her cheek. Tears had turned the room into a
watercolor blur by the time she reached the bed.
The scratch of Kit's fork was the only sound at dinner. She shoved her mashed
potatoes around the plate, creating tiny hills and then demolishing them. Between
laps she glanced at her father, waiting for him to say something.
"How was work dear?" her mom asked in an unnaturally loud voice.
"Fine. I didn't get any flight time today, just some training on a new
jet we'll be testing," he said.
"Kit stop playing with your food," he snapped a minute later. She
dropped her fork guiltily, wincing when it clanged on the edge of the plate.
Kit surreptitiously tried to wipe a glob of potato off her placemat. She was
only grinding it in more however and soon the mat resembled a surreal painting,
white potato cloud floating in a green sky.
"Aren't you going to say anything about today?" she finally forced
"Your mother has already told me all about it. She says you've promised
to behave yourself from now on." He shot Kit a stern look. "I trust
that you'll keep your word."
Kit nodded and went back to chasing mashed potatoes with her fork. Her dad's
eyes softened. "We're not angry with you Kit. Your mother and I just get
frustrated. We want you to be happy, but you'll never make any friends if you
don't try to get along with the other kids."
"I have tried," Kit said. "Alconbury isn't any different than
the last five bases we've been stationed at. The other kids make fun of my eyes
and they really freak out when animals start following me around." Her
eyes pleaded with her dad. "I've tried to be friendly, Dad,
I really have. They just don't like me."
Her dad reached out to squeeze Kit's arm. The warm weight of his hand made
the question easier to ask. "Why am I so different?"
Even Kit realized that most children didn't befriend their backyard squirrels.
"You're just special honey," her mom said. Kit resisted the urge
to roll her eyes - she'd heard her mom use that phrase too often. Special should
be a four-letter word. Special ed, special needs, special circumstances. It
was all just a pretty way of saying weird.
"There are other people with eyes that change color," her mom continued.
"My Grandpa Joe's eyes were a different shade depending on what he wore
each day. And lots of people are good with animals. Look at veterinarians and
Bet they don't have to chase bats out of their closets and mice out of their
beds, though, Kit couldn't help thinking.
"Maybe if we could have a pet you wouldn't need to find animals outside
the house," her mom added with a look at Kit's dad.
He was already shaking his head before she'd even finished. "You know
we can't have a pet. We've already moved once this year and I could be reassigned
again. We'd just have to leave a pet behind when we move. England alone has
a six month quarantine requirement, so even if we did bring a pet along the
poor animal would spend half its life locked in a cage."
"I know Dad," Kit said hoping to head off the familiar lecture. "I
wouldn't want that either, but isn't there a chance we could stay here for awhile?
I really like this house and England's pretty cool." She hoped her voice
didn't sound too pathetically eager. Although they'd only been in the country
a few months England was already her favorite of all the countries they'd been
"I don't know Kit, we'll just have to see," her dad said. "This
tour is supposed to be for two years, but so was our last one, and we only spent
six months there."
The longest Kit could remember living in one place was South Carolina. They'd
spent a year and a half there. Of course, her dad had been away fighting in
the Gulf War for part of that time so maybe that was why they hadn't moved as
quickly. Maybe this time will be different. Kit crossed all her fingers
and even tried to cross her toes under the table.
Tap, tap, tap. Kit looked up from her breakfast cereal to see a large gray
owl sitting on the window ledge. Great, just what I need after yesterday.
She turned her back on the window, determined to avoid any more trouble.
The owl, however, refused to be ignored and tapped more forcefully on the windowpane.
It kept right on tapping until Kit finally turned back with a glare. The owl
eyed her beadily, thrusting its head forward and drawing her attention to a
letter clutched in its beak.
Kit's jaw dropped open dislodging a mouthful of half-chewed Cheerios. She was
used to having animals show up unexpectedly, but this was the first time one
had brought her something. Had the owl been snitching someone's mail? Was one
of the next-door neighbors going to burst into the house demanding her correspondence
back? Kit winced as she wiped milk off her chin, picturing her parents' reaction
to that, so soon after the guinea pig incident.
I'll just have to return that letter before anyone finds out, she vowed
silently. Careful not to startle the owl, she eased out of her chair and edged
toward the window. Holding her breath she flipped the window latch and slowly
pushed the pane up. The owl thrust itself over the sill while the opening was
still an impossibly small crack. Without pausing it flew straight to the kitchen
table and landed with a clack as talons met polished wood.
Kit spun around to face the owl, her heart pounding uncomfortably with the sudden
shock of its entry. The owl gave a low hoot and pushed the letter forward. It
seemed to want to give her the letter as much as she wanted to take it. Still
careful to keep her movements slow and unthreatening, Kit approached the table.
"Let's see whose mail you've nicked," she said extending her hand.
The owl didn't so much as twitch. "That letter had better not have Brittany
Carson's name on it or we're both in trouble."
The edge of the envelope was cool against her skin as the owl dropped it into
her palm. She glanced down and felt her jaw drop open again. It was addressed
"Did you take this from our mail box?" She asked. The owl didn't
answer, of course, although she hadn't really expected him to. He seemed to
have lost interest in Kit altogether. Having spotted her breakfast, he was busy
picking Cheerios out of her bowl.
Who'd write me? Kit examined the envelope closely hoping to find some
Ms. K. Ellsington, 1st Bedroom at the Top of the Stairs, 2301 Harcourt Rd,
RAF Alconbury, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire was written on the front of the envelope
in emerald ink. It was a very nice envelope as well; heavy yellow parchment
rather than the boring white ones her parents used. Flipping the envelope over
Kit saw that it was sealed with a blob of purple wax. Weird.
There was a crest stamped into the wax with a large letter 'H', and four tiny
animals surrounding it. I wonder what the "H" stands for? Kit
squinted, trying to make out the animals. There was a bird, a snake and a lion,
that much she could tell, but what was that other one? It looked like a wombat,
or a badger, or something. She tore open the envelope and pulled out three crisp
pieces of parchment, each adorned at the top with the same ornate crest as the
envelope. It is a badger. The satisfaction was short-lived. Her
hand started to tremble as she read the first few lines slanting across the
of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump,
International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Ms. Ellsington,
We are pleased to inform you that you have a
place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed
a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. There will be an
orientation seminar for students and their non-magic parents on 22 August.
Further details are attached. Please send your reply with the owl that delivered
this letter by no later than 31 July.
It has to be a joke, Kit thought. I bet Brittany Carson is laughing
herself silly right now thinking I'll take this letter seriously. She tried
to suppress the tiny ache the thought caused. Why did Brittany hate her so much?
It wasn't just Patches' attack yesterday. Brittany never missed an opportunity
to whisper insults to Kit whenever one of the counselors was close by and Kit
couldn't do anything to her. Kit could just picture her asking snide questions
about the letter later today.
Forcing Brittany out of her mind, Kit flipped to the second page. "An
Introduction To The Magical World," it began. Her eyes scanned the parchment
picking out phrases like "many people are unaware that there are currently
witches and wizards living in the world today." The flowing script assured
her there were in fact many witches and wizards scattered across the various
continents, and there had been for a great many years. In addition to this astonishing
piece of information, the letter went on to describe Hogwarts School saying
it was "one of the finest academies of magical study in Europe today."
Kit quickly moved on to the last piece of parchment. It seemed to be an ordinary
school supply list, except that none of the supplies listed could ever be described
as normal. What school had ever listed a pewter cauldron as one of its requirements?
Kit had to admit that Brittany seemed to have gone to a lot of trouble preparing
this letter. How had she gotten the owl to deliver it, or was it just a coincidence
that the owl had stolen this particular envelope from Kit's mailbox?
What if Brittany didn't send the letter? What if it's real?
"This is stupid!" Kit burst out. The owl choked on the Cheerio he'd
been eating. "This letter is not real and I'm not going to give Brittany
the satisfaction of thinking for even a minute that it might be. I'll set frogs
in her hair for this, I'll-" Kit's tirade ended abruptly as she saw words
appear at the bottom of the parchment. They were written in the same slanting
scrawl and emerald ink as the rest of the letter. "Brittany Carson didn't
send this letter."
Kit gave a strangled scream and dropped the pages. The owl jumped, accidentally
kicking her bowl and soaking himself in a small explosion of milk. He screeched
and leapt back, glaring at Kit.
"Sorry," she mumbled trying hard not to giggle. Milk still dripped
from the owl's chest and face. She grabbed a towel and gently tried to blot
the worst of it from his feathers. He nipped her on the wrist. Rather than risk
that sharp beak again, Kit bent to retrieve her letter. The owl began straightening
its feathers, running its beak over each and trying to repair the damage.
Kit read the letter again. She watched as the words from earlier faded back
into the page and a new sentence took their place. "If you will be attending
the orientation seminar please send a reply with the owl that delivered this
There was no way Brittany could have made a page do that. It's real. It's
really, truly, actually real. Kit wanted to dance around the kitchen laughing
like a maniac. There was magic in the world and she was a part of it. Well at
least she would be if she could convince her parents to let her attend Hogwarts.
Kit's happiness dimmed as she realized how hard that might be.
She looked over at the owl still trying to get the milk out of its feathers.
After being doused with her breakfast Kit wasn't sure how long he'd want to
Setting the letter on the table, Kit carefully avoided the puddle of milk.
She ran out of the room and up the stairs, not even pausing at the top to catch
her breath. She dashed inside her parents' room and slid to halt just inside
the door. Her dad was just pulling on his uniform jacket and her mom was perched
on the bed sliding her feet into a pair of black pumps. They stopped to stare
at her in surprise.
"I have to show you something downstairs," she gasped out. "It's
"What's happened?" her mom said in a high voice.
"Nothing," Kit reassured her. "I just need you to come down
to the kitchen. Please?" she added when they didn't start moving right
"You're sure nothing's the matter," her mom asked, one shoe still
clutched in her hand, as the three of them moved into the hall. "You haven't
broken something have you?"
"Nothing's wrong with the kitchen Mom." When had they decided
she was a mad delinquent?
"Is it-" Whatever her mom might have asked was lost as they entered
the kitchen and she caught sight of the large owl mauling one of her favorite
napkins. Kit supposed he'd run out of cheerios or maybe just been put off by
"Oh not again, Kit!" her dad cried. Her mom sighed and bent to put
her other shoe on.
Kit flushed bright red as she thought how this must look to them. The kitchen
table was covered in spilled milk and the occasional owl feather.
"This isn't about the owl Dad," she said, "ummm well he does
have something to do with it, but only because he brought the letter."
Her mom straightened abruptly. Kit had their full attention now.
"What letter," her dad demanded.
"This one," Kit said snatching up the pages and thrusting them into
his hands. Kit started chewing a fingernail as she watched him read the first
page. He let out a small snort of disbelief and flipped to the second page.
By the time he reached the third page his lips were twitching with laughter.
Her mom stared at the letter curiously.
"This is a good joke," he said still grinning slightly as he passed
the pages to her mom. "You had me going for a minute Kit. But was it really
necessary to scare your mother like that? Rushing around the house and letting
an owl rampage over our table?"
"It's not a joke," Kit said in a pained voice. "That owl just
showed up at the window carrying a letter. And Dad, the letter wrote back to
me. I was standing here reading it and words just appeared on it out of nowhere."
"Kit," her dad wasn't laughing anymore, "I know you have a lot
of imagination, but this is not the time or the place for it. Your mother and
I are going to be late for work by the time we finish cleaning this up. Now,
please get that owl back outside."
"I'm not imagining things. That letter did write back to me. I swear it
did." Kit was trying hard not to panic. They have to believe me, they
just have to.
Her mom let out a small scream and clutched the letter tightly. Her eyes were
fixed on the bottom of the page she'd been reading. "M-Michael," she
stammered, her face absolutely white, "look at the page. Look at the bottom
of the page."
Kit's dad grabbed the pages back looking at the bottom of the first sheet.
His eyes widened. He flipped the page over quickly and then held it up to the
kitchen light. He twisted and turned the page, but no matter how hard he looked
or how he prodded the paper he couldn't seem to figure out how the words were
appearing. Kit wondered what the letter had written.
Her dad fell into one of the kitchen chairs and looked up at Kit helplessly.
"It's just not possible. There is no such thing as magic. Not real magic.
It's all parlor tricks." He seemed overwhelmed, muttering to himself, "But
how can that paper know my name? How can words just be appearing on it?"
"It's real Dad. It's real magic. Please say I can go," Kit pleaded
crouching down in front of him and holding onto one of his hands. His grasp
tightened and some of the shock began to leave his face. He looked horrified
at her last words.
"At least say we can go to the orientation. Don't make any decisions till
then," she rushed on before he could say no. "If it's all a joke then
we can have a nice visit to London, and if it's not then you can decide whether
or not to let me attend after we find out more about the school. I've always
been different, Daddy, we both know it. Maybe this is why. Don't you want to
know for sure?" Kit squeezed his hand. "Please, Dad."
Her parents looked at one another. Neither of them said a word but they seemed
to reach some sort of agreement all the same.
"Your mother and I need to discuss this Kit. Give us a minute." He
stood up swiftly. Her mom looked lost. Tears trembled on the edge of her eyes.
She reached for her husband's hand and held on tightly as they left the room,
making sure to shut the door behind them.
Kit crept close to the door hoping to hear even a little of what they were saying.
It was no use however. All she could make out was the occasional raised voice
and a lot of silence in-between.
Please, please, please let them agree to go, she prayed. Hearing a movement
in the hall she shot away from the door. Stopping beside the table she absently
began to rub the owl just above his wing. Her eyes never moved from the door.
Her mom's eyes were red-rimmed and too bright when they reentered the kitchen
a moment later. She was clenching her jaw tightly and seemed determined not
to break down again. Her dad was looking just as grim. Kit couldn't guess whether
that boded well for her or not.
"We've decided," he said gravely, "that we should at least attend
Kit felt a huge grin stealing across her face. Yes!
"I don't want you to get your hopes up, baby. Despite the unusual circumstances,"
he frowned at the owl now snuggled against Kit's side and making the most unlikely
cooing noises, "there must be some rational explanation. More than likely
it's one of those candid camera TV shows or something and the rest of the country
will be having a good laugh at us for taking it seriously."
Excitement rippled through her despite his cautions. Before her parents could
change their minds Kit grabbed a pen and ripped a small piece of notebook paper
out of the pad by the phone. The owl was left watching her from the table, his
feathers still standing up slightly from where she'd snatched her hand away.
The note looked hopelessly plain and uninteresting after the emerald green
ink and self-writing parchment, but it would have to do.
My parents and I will be attending the orientation on August 22.
Kit (Kristin) Ellsington
Kit folded the notebook paper into a neat square. She looked at the owl, uncertain
what to do next. He stared right back grumpily for a few moments before shuffling
forward and pulling the note from her fingers. Kit stroked his cheek, her lips
teasing back into a grin.
The owl stretched out its wings and took off for the kitchen window, his wingtips
just brushing the casing. The second he was gone her mom hurried over and snapped
the pane shut in one motion. She peered out of the window as though fearing
a sudden invasion of owls.
Kit couldn't stop smiling; she kissed her mom on the cheek and ran out the
back door to dance around the yard, laughing in delight. They were going to
End Notes: RAF Alconbury exists in real life. It's an
Air Force Base leased by the U.S. Government in England since WWII. RAF stands
for Royal Air Force. The text from Kit's invitation letter is an adapted version
based on Harry's letter as it appeared in the original British version of the
first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Which is probably why
those dates look funny to you :D In Europe, dates are more commonly written
with the day first followed by the month.
How are Muggle-born children convinced to attend Hogwarts?
That's the question that spawned this story. It was always meant to be a short
one-shot exploring that idea. Kit had other ideas. She presented me with a story
I couldn't resist telling, and she hasn't stopped talking since. I hope you
enjoy her story :) Please consider leaving a review or shooting me an email.
Comments and constructive criticism are welcome.