Disclaimer: All characters belong to
JKR, except the original characters. I do not own Joanne and her daughter
Jessica either. J
Great. Another lousy day at work. Why couldn’t that troll
just leave me alone? It wasn’t my fault I couldn’t work the computer –
the blasted thing was too complicated.
“You’re so incompetent. I can’t believe
they even hired you,” she said. What would she know? Ouch. My shoes are
killing me. I kicked off my annoying high-heeled shoes (the bane of
my existence) and watched them bounce off the wall in satisfaction. I
tried to picture my supervisor’s face attached to each shoe. If only I
were magic. I’d transfigure her into a shoe and walk all over her all
day, the way she’d always walked all over me. The thought brought a smile
to my face, a face so rarely seen with a smile these days. Happiness has
eluded me for the past few months now. Let me start at the beginning.
Once upon a time there was a princess who met her Prince
Charming. He was smart, funny, sensitive and caring – the one she had
been searching all her life for. Yeah, sappy, I know, but let’s just cut
to the chase. Basically, this prince wasn’t all he turned out to be. Pretty
soon, he was making her life miserable with his ‘me-first’ attitude and
prima donna demands. But what really rubbed salt to the wound was when
this princess found her prince with another princess. Confusing? Yeah,
I know – it’s not how fairy tales are supposed to turn out. But whoever
said life was a fairy tale? And then, just when things couldn’t get any
worse, the princess’s best friend moved to another kingdom, leaving her
alone and vulnerable. The princess eventually lost her job and she ended
up working for an evil stepmother and her ugly stepdaughter.
Which brings us to the present day, in
the land of the insufferable supervisor, the annoying shoes, and my lonely
I heaved a tired sigh and plopped down
on my nice, soft chair. On the side table sat the bottle of whisky (cheap,
I might add) and the shot glass – there since this morning – inviting
me to take a sip. It didn’t take much for me to succumb to the temptation.
I poured myself a shot then sat back and savoured every drop as the golden
liquid slid down my throat and ignited it. Ah, the simple pleasures in
life. Normally this would’ve caused me to sputter and puke, but weeks
of doing this routine had given me some kind of immunity to the pain –
in more ways than one.
I sat there for who knows how long, wallowing
in my own self pity, thinking how much I hated my life. Then my eyes involuntarily
settled on my work desk in front of me, on which a book sat, with the
words “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” written on its spine.
Oh, the joys of books. Let me tell you about that one.
When Brian and I were still together,
he gave me the first book as a birthday present. At the time I thought
he was trying to be funny, but as I read each page, as I got to know each
character as if they were long-lost friends, I got caught up in the whole
universe. It became an addiction. By the time I got through the third
book my fairy tale life with Brian had been well and truly over. But a
new one had begun. The books got me through the pain, loneliness and boredom.
I became intimate with the characters and shared their sorrows and joys.
It was my way to escape and forget about the real life. It became my friend.
I walked over to the desk and picked
it up, intent on re-reading it for the forty-seventh time, when I suddenly
became aware of a gust of wind blowing through my apartment. I turned
around, and was surprised to find a man standing next to my chair. How
he’d gotten in, I had no idea - I didn’t even hear the door opening. But
never mind that – the man was a looker. What sane girl wouldn’t want a
good-looking man in her flat? And what a strange man he was, too. He wore
deep green robes, like a monk’s outfit, which had a rich, velvet black
cape attached to it. On his feet he wore mahogany boots made of fine leather
such as I had never seen before. Whoever he is, he must be rich.
He had dark hair and rich, brown eyes – like endless pools of chocolate.
In my twisted mind, he looked a bit like Count Dracula, but younger. He
was certainly mesmerising.
“Wh…who are you? H…how did you get in?”
I stammered at him. I could feel my cheeks burning. Whether this was from
embarrassment, fear, or the effects of alcohol, I wasn’t sure. He took
a step towards me.
“Let’s just say I am a friend,” he said
slyly, in a curiously Pommy accent. His eyes were dancing as he looked
me over. I took an instinctive step backwards, but ended up slamming my
bottom into the desk. He laughed.
“There is no need to be afraid,” he said.
“I am here to help.” Now I was beginning to panic. What strange (but handsome,
I must admit), man would appear out of nowhere (in my flat out of all
places) and offer me, a stranger to him, some help? He was either a salesman
or a rapist. But instinct cautioned me, and so I suspected it was the
“Who are you?” I said more forcefully.
He took another step forward. I grabbed the nearest object I could from
behind me. A ruler. I brandished it at him.
“If you come any closer I swear I’ll…I’ll…”
He laughed again.
“You’ll do what, Maisy? Slap me with
a ruler?” He mocked. I felt my spine tingle. Suspicion confirmed.
“How do you know my name?” I asked quietly.
I knew I should scream to alert my neighbours, but something held me back.
It was those eyes. It was like drowning in chocolate. He took another
step towards me, standing so close now that I could actually smell the
spicy, smoky smell of his perfume. My knees were threatening to give way.
“I’ve been watching you, Maisy,” he said
huskily. “I know you’re lonely. I’ve seen you cry yourself to sleep for
countless nights, wishing for something more in your life…” He delicately
trailed a finger down my cheek, and leaned his face against mine. For
one wild moment I thought he was going to kiss me. “I can help you, Maisy,”
he whispered in my ear. This time I’d had enough. Who the hell did he
think he was? I pushed him away.
“What kind of a loony are you?” I shrieked.
“Get out of my flat, you horny dog!” I picked up a marble bookend and
threw it at him. It missed its target, but bounced off the wall, where
my shoes had previously hit. The man whipped out a stick from within his
robes and pointed it calmly at my heart.
“Easy, woman, easy.” I froze. Is that
a wand he’s brandishing at me? As in, a magic wand? I think I ought to
stop it with the drinking. I closed my eyes and opened them again.
He was still there.
“Who are you?” I asked for the third
time. He lowered his wand.
“Can’t you venture a guess?” he said
with a smirk.
“Are…are you a wizard?” Maybe I ought
to book myself in with a psychiatrist while I’m at it.
“Yes, I am.”
“What a load of B.S,” I said weakly.
He laughed again. He sure was having an entertaining night tonight.
“I assure you woman, I am a wizard.”
OK, maybe I should just go along with him – maybe then he would go away.
“What do you want from me?”
“I told you. I want to help you. That
is, if you would let me.”
“How are you going to help me,
exactly?” His eyes travelled over to the Harry Potter book on my shelf.
“You dream of a better life, don’t you?
A life full of magic. Excitement. Adventure. Anything to get you out of
your miserable world.” This guy is definitely dodgy.
“What’s your point?” I snapped.
“I can take you there.”
“What are you saying?” I spat. “You can
turn me into Harry Potter?” He smiled a yellow-toothed smile.
“Not exactly, but something…similar.”
So this guy must think he can transport me into a world like that. But
why would I want to live in that universe? What with the dangers of Dark
Lords and dark magic and all. And I told him so. He shook his head and
“There is no such thing as the Dark Lord,”
he said, rolling his eyes. “That Rowling woman made it all up to make
the book more marketable. You’ve got to have plot, haven’t you?”
I said nothing. What will it take
to get him out of here? He’s scaring me. He continued to look at me
with those mesmerising eyes.
“So do you want my help or not? Just say the word.”
I shrugged. “OK, whatever.” He raised
his wand, pointed it at me, and muttered words in a foreign language.
“Now can you get out?”
He put his finger to his lips to hush
me. Suddenly, I felt a tingling sensation running up and down my body.
It started with my toes and my fingertips. It was like having thousands
of bees buzzing inside me. For the second time that night, I started to
“What’s happening?” I cried. The man
did nothing. I looked down at my hands and, to my horror, saw that they
were evaporating. The book on my desk was glowing orange. “What’s happening
to me?” I shrieked at him. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO ME?”
The man reached out a hand to calm her,
but she couldn’t feel his touch.
“It’s going to be OK,” he said quietly.
Her vision was blurring. The man and her flat were swimming in and out
of focus. She tried to rub her eyes but she couldn’t feel them, either.
She had never felt so afraid in her life.
The last memory Maisy Stewart had before
her world blackened was the face of the stranger looking longingly at
her. He whispered something in the air, but she no longer heard him: “By
the way, my love, I’m Sirius Black.”
On the other side of the globe…
Joanne, plagued with writer’s block for
what must be the hundredth time that day, looked out the window of her
mansion and sighed. The view was beautiful – rolling green hills, acres
of sky, a peaceful, silvery lake, and plenty of fresh air. It certainly
was a pleasant change from the tiny, stuffy, one-bedroom flat she used
to live in. Who knew her books would ever get this big? Now there was
pressure on all sides to finish her latest installment. If only it were
A knock on the door snapped her out of
her thoughts. Her teenaged daughter Jessica poked her head in and flashed
her a brilliant smile. Despite her weariness, Joanne smiled back.
“Hey Mum! How’s it going?”
“It’s not going, honey,” Joanne responded
tiredly. She pointed at her temple and said good-naturedly, “Machine’s
broken down again.” Jessica entered the room and sat down next to her
“Don’t worry, Mum. You’ll think of something.
You always do.” Joanne smiled wryly.
“Yes, and I better think of something
soon, or Bloomsbury will have my neck.” Jessica rolled her eyes.
“You know that’s not true. Of
course they’ll give you as much time as you need. They’ll want the book
to be good, right?” Joanne smiled at her daughter’s reassurance. Of
course, she never reads those emails.
“You’re right honey.”
Jessica looked at what she was writing.
“So what happens to Sirius? Is his name going to get cleared at all?”
Joanne smiled mischievously.
“Nice try, Jess, but I’m afraid you’ll
find that out later. Along with everybody else.” Jessica’s shoulders
slumped. She could never get one over her mother.
“But can you at least tell me
if he’ll live happily ever after?”
Joanne considered it for a while. There
was a long pause as she pondered her daughter’s question. Then suddenly,
out of the blue, she was struck with sudden inspiration. It was much like
the time when Harry Potter came into her head, fully formed.
“You know what, honey? I think we could
end it like that. Let’s see…what if we introduce another character…hmm…how
does Maisy Stewart sound?”
“Sounds great, Mum,” Jessica enthused.
“What role will she play?”
Joanne’s brows furrowed in thought. “Well…she
can be a Muggle who comes into his life…”
Meanwhile, back in Australia…
Alexandra knocked with trepidation on
Mrs. Stewart’s door. She had come back from Melbourne to surprise her
friend, but when she had arrived at Maisy’s flat, she wasn’t there. A
man called Burt had answered the door and had basically told her to get
lost since there was no one named ‘Maisy’ living in that flat, nor had
there ever been, since he had lived there for five years. She had
thought this extremely odd. She was sure of the address. It was written
on a piece of paper that Maisy had written herself.
The door was yanked open and the familiar
face of Mrs. Stewart, Maisy’s mother, poked out.
“Can I help you?” She looked at Alex
as though she had never seen her before.
“Mrs. Stewart! Hi!” Alex beamed at her,
but it only served to make Mrs. Stewart look more confused.
“Do I know you, dear?” she asked. Alex
“Oh c’mon Mrs. Stewart, I haven’t been
away that long, have I? I was wondering if you knew where Maisy
was?” Mrs. Stewart squinted her eyes, as if trying to make sense of what
she said. Alex thought it strange how the old woman looked at her as though
she were mad. The woman chuckled nervously.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re
talking about, dear.” She shook her head apologetically and began to close
the door. Alex stopped her.
“Maisy? Y…your daughter?” She was beginning
to feel that maybe she got the wrong Mrs. Stewart. But no, that couldn’t
be. This was her house. She’d been here countless times. The woman
shook her head some more.
“I do not have a daughter, dear. Four
sons, yes, but I’ve never had a daughter.” Alex felt sick in the stomach.
What kind of a joke is this? The genuine confusion on the old woman’s
face, however, told her that it was no joke.
“You are Mrs. Stephanie Stewart,
right?” she asked faintly. The old woman nodded slowly. “Well, Maisy is
my best friend. She’s your daughter.” The desperation was starting
to show in Alex’s voice. The old woman looked at her with pity. She
thinks I’m crazy, Alex thought.
“I’m sorry, dear,” the woman said with
finality. “I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong house.”
And with that, the door was shut in her
A/N: Thanks to Elanor Gamgee for beta-reading