Maybe Headmaster Hopkirk needs some deliveries and I get to tag along. Oh, I hope so. I've never been to Hogwarts!
The best day of the entire year had finally arrived: my birthday! This year was no doubt going to be the start of the best year ever. I had finally turned eleven years old, and while it may be snowing outside, in only a couple of months it would be warm, and I would be on my way to my very first year at Hogwarts!
Every 17th January, after father returns home from his position at the Ministry of Magic (he works as an Obliviator in the Obliviator Headquarters – somebody has to work with muggles and those pesky memories, right?), he enters the front door bearing my birthday gift. It's always something spectacular! Last night, I overheard him telling Aunt Callidora he's concerned he's been spoiling me too much since mother died, and giving me the family house elf was probably a bit too much, but she helped him realize how silly that idea was! My gift should be particularly wonderful this year!
Father's home now, and he's carrying a huge box, but it's sealed and I have no idea what's inside. He does have a much smaller box on top of that one, though. He places the smaller box on the floor, and then tells me the two of us are going on a short trip and taking the larger box with us. He expects me to remain quiet and only observe. I'm confused, but excited. A trip! This is different! Maybe a peek inside Hogwarts? Maybe Headmaster Hopkirk needs some deliveries and I get to tag along. Oh, I hope so. I've never been to Hogwarts!
We step outside, and I grab father's arm. We apparate, and end up in a rundown looking area just outside of London. I'm really confused. Definitely not Hogwarts! Father and I turn a corner and walk up a couple of blocks. He stops and knocks on the door of a very simple-looking house. A man opens the door and welcomes us inside. I notice a woman and four young children. The man looks a little embarrassed, but the lady smiles warmly. My father unseals the box and passes out coats to each of the children, the man, and the lady, whom I now assume is his wife. While he's doing this, I look around the room, and I notice the family doesn't seem to own very many possessions, and the coats are definitely needed. Father shakes the man's hand and we leave. We return home.
Once we are back inside, father turns to me and says, “Lysandra, today is a very special birthday! You are growing so strong physically and mentally, and I want you to grow strong in other ways, too. You're eleven years old now, and I'm afraid I've been protecting you a little too much. Before you know it, you'll be starting at Hogwarts. You're going to be spending your days with a wide variety of people. Not everyone is wealthy or pure-blood. Some will be coming from homes where they barely had enough to eat. While the people you saw today have access to food, they needed coats so they could keep warm. While I want you to be proud of your heritage, I also want you to never fail to help other people when you can. They are human beings, just like you. Giving a gift can often feel as wonderful as receiving a gift, probably even more. Do you understand?”
I nodded. I felt really glad that father could help that family, and I promised him I would do my best to help others every chance I got. And the smaller package? It contained the latest Wally Wilkins music I wanted. Today was truly the best birthday ever!