Chapter 6: Regret
‘… and the Ministry can punish you if you do magic outside of school. You get letters.’ I said.
‘But I have done magic outside of school!’
‘We’re alright. We haven’t got wands yet. They let you off when you’re a kid and you can’t help it. But once you’re eleven,’ I nodded, feeling important, ‘and they start training you, then you’ve got to go careful.’
There was a little silence. Lily picked up a fallen twig and twirled it in the air, and I knew that she was picturing sparks trailing from it like a wand. Then she dropped the twig, leaned in towards me, and said, ‘It is real isn’t it? It’s not a joke? Petunia says you’re lying to me. It is real isn’t it?’
‘It’s real for us,’ I said. ‘Not for her. But we’ll get the letter, you and me.’
‘Really?’ Lily whispered.
‘Definitely,’ I said. And for one wonderful moment I felt brimful of confidence in my destiny.
‘And will it really come by owl?’ Lily whispered.
‘Normally,’ I said. ‘But you’re Muggle-born, so someone from the school will have to come and explain to your parents.’
‘What’s a Muggle-born?’
‘A Muggle-born is someone with non-magical parents.’
‘Does it make a difference, being Muggle born?’
I hesitated, my eyes moving over her pale face and dark red hair. ‘No,’ I lied. ‘It doesn’t make any difference.’
‘Good,’ said Lily, relaxing; it was clear that she had been worrying.
‘You’ve got loads of magic,’ I said honestly. ‘I saw that. All the time I was watching you…’
My voice trailed away; she was not listening, but had stretched out on the leafy ground and was looking up at the canopy of leaves overhead. I watched her greedily, remarking to myself how truly beautiful she was.
‘How are things at your house?’ she asked.
‘Fine,’ I said.
‘They’re not arguing anymore?’
‘Oh yes, they’re arguing,’ I said, ironically. I picked up a fistful of leaves and began tearing them apart subconsciously. ‘It wouldn’t be normal if they weren’t bickering. But it won’t be that long and I’ll be gone.’
‘Doesn’t your dad like magic?’
‘He doesn’t like anything, much,’ I said truthfully.
My heart skipped a beat when she said my name and I smiled.
‘Tell me about the Dementors again.’
‘What do you want to know about them for?’
‘If I use magic outside school –’
‘They wouldn’t give you to the Dementors for that! Dementors are for people who do really bad stuff. You’re not going to end up in Azkaban, you’re too –’
I blushed again and shredded more leaves. There was a rustling noise behind me and I looked around. Petunia, hiding behind a tree, had lost her footing.
‘Tuney!’ exclaimed Lily, surprise and welcome in her voice, but I had jumped to my feet.
‘Who’s spying now?’ I shouted. ‘What d’you want?’
Petunia was breathless, alarmed at being caught. I could see her struggling for something hurtful to say and she found it.
‘What is that you’re wearing anyway?’ she said, pointing at my chest. ‘You’re mum’s blouse?’
There was a crack: a branch over Petunia’s head had fallen. Lily screamed: the branch caught Petunia on the shoulder and she staggered backwards and burst into tears.
But Petunia was running away. Lily rounded on me.
‘Did you make that happen?’
‘No,’ I said defiantly, feeling scared.
‘You did!’ She was backing away from me now. ‘You did you hurt her!’
‘No – no I didn’t!’ But the battle was lost and the lie did not convince Lily: after one last burning look she ran from the little thicket, off after her sister, and I felt miserable and confused.
I made my way home slowly. I hadn’t meant to hurt her but I had been angry and sometimes I can’t control my power.
Now Lily is mad at me. I kicked a stone along the pathway and dawdled along feeling guilty. I tried to think of things that could make up for it but none came to mind.
I finally arrived back home. Mother and Father were arguing again but it only vaguely registered. I traipsed across the hallway and into my bedroom.
As I stared out into the park through the hole in my wall, my stomach gave a humungous jolt of excitement. Tomorrow is my birthday! What with dramas with Lily and not being able to think about anything other than her, I had completely forgotten.
Dinner was awkward. Mother and Father were staring in opposite directions and there was a cold silence, broken by the occasional grunt or chink of knife and fork on plate.
I sighed and stood up from the table. I put the dishes on the sink where a brush was washing a frying pan in mid-air.
I hurried back to my room and got into bed, thinking about what tomorrow might hold. Mother usually got me a present but it was never anything expensive. Will my father get me something? Probably not.
In the morning, I woke up to a thud on my bedroom floor. My foot had dislodged a heavy present wrapped in brown paper. I got out of bed and picked it up. Sitting on the end of my bed, I tore open the paper and opened the present. Inside was a gold covered book titled ‘Fairy tales of the Seven Seas.’ I tossed it aside feeling irritated and, as I did so, a piece of parchment fell from inside.
I knelt on the floor, picked it up and began to read.
My dear boy, I cannot express in words my guilt for leaving you and your mother. I missed long, valuable years of your life. I ask that you please accept this gift as an attempt to make up for all of those years.
I stared at it for several long minutes. I read it through again and before I could stop them, tears were falling thick and fast onto the parchment, smudging the ink and obscuring my father’s words. I wiped them away angrily and turned to the other parcel on the end of my bed.
I ripped the parcel open and saw, to my surprise, a small cardboard chatter-box. As I watched, it rose into the air and opened like a muggle chatter-box, making it look like a bird beak. It spat out a piece of paper, I caught it and read the words.
When faced with a person, it will tell them what the owner of the Chatter-Box really thinks of them.
An idea struck me. Wouldn’t this be a way to show Lily how sorry I am?
As if in answer to my question, the family owl, Rubor, flew through the hole in my wall and landed on my arm.
‘How are you big guy?’ I whispered to him, petting his head with my finger. He nipped my finger gently, affectionately.
I rewrapped the Chatter-Box and tied the parcel to his leg. I also wrote her a note explaining why I had given it to her. I walked over to the opening and Rubor took off in the direction of Lily’s house.
I stood and watched him until he was a tiny black dot in the sky. Then I turned back to face my bedroom, cleaned up the wrapping paper and put the book on my dressing table.
I tucked my father’s note inside a trinket box for safe keeping.