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An Interesting Evening in August

(An Hogwart’s Invitation)

By Dave Doc Rogers

©20090123

[For the ‘Welcome To Hogwart’s’ contest at Writers Café]

 

 

* * *

 

“Archie!” A pause. “Archie!!” Another pause. “Where is that daft little boy this time?”

 

Shutting the door behind her, Emelia walked further into the garden. “Archie, you h’best not be playing your games again.” Her eyes cast about their small yard. She did not see him. She scowled looking one last time round before marching back to the house.

 

“Where is Archie?” Mrs. Dunmore asked without turning from the sink. “It is time to wash up for dinner.”

 

“I couldn’t find him, Mum.”

 

“Did you look?” Pause. “Did you really look?” Another pause. Mrs. Dunmore turned from the sink wiping her hands on her apron. “Really,” she said slightly exasperated. “You are a third year; about to start your fourth, mind you. I would have hoped your mind would have been on more than studies and prefects.”

 

Mrs. Dunmore looked at her daughter. She had honey-blonde hair and brown eyes. Not at all like her father. More like herself, she thought. She was nearly as tall and nearly as sharp tongued, which Mrs. Dunmore noted, Emelia currently held in check. Good. She is getting smarter about things, she thought to herself. Without taking her eyes off of her daughter she called out, “Mrs. McGonagall.” In walked a tabby cat, purring and rubbing against Mrs. Dunmore’s legs. “Please go fetch Archie. He seems to have hidden himself from his sister.” There was a slight pause, “Again.”

 

The cat looked up, mewed once, and exited the pet hatch set in the kitchen door leading to their garden.

 

“Emelia, do wash up. Then set the table. Thank you, dear.” Mrs. Dunmore turned back to cleaning and peeling the vegetables in the sink. She began humming to herself. This signaled to Emelia the conversation was over and she should be about her tasks.

 

* * *

 

He wanted to laugh but he knew the slightest sound would give away his position. He held his breath and counted. She never looks longer than 60. Tonight was to be no exception. He knew it was time for dinner. He could see his mum’s shadow from the light pouring out of their kitchen window. Emelia called from the door. He didn’t answer. She walked into their family garden; a little patch of greenery that his mum would fuss over. More than once he would receive a scolding for playing where he should not. He didn’t much care for the scolding but playing in the garden was fun. And hiding was always great fun. Especially from his sister Emelia. As she went back inside, he knew it was only a matter of moments before Mrs. McGonagall, the family pet, would come looking for him. He enjoyed his last few moments as he looked over what little bit of his home town he could see.

 

The roundabout at the end of his street was there. Not very far at all. An easy walk from the front door. It always seemed further from the top of the tree. The Downs stretched off to Eastwick Close. He knew this because he was told never to there on his own. Ladies Mile Estate stretched away south to other streets, houses, and little backyard gardens like his own. He was told not to go there alone either. North of him the constant rush of cars and lorries of various sizes and speeds would run down the expressway. The A27 ran on like a dark ribbon east and west. He always fancied that he might be able to see his father pulling off the A27 onto Carden Avenue. He never did, but he looked anyway. It was getting dark. The lights of the cars and various lorries blended into a stream if you squinted. Yellows and whites one way, reds the other.

 

A meow nearby broke his thoughts. Archie looked down. It was Mrs. McGonagall. How she got up here without being seen he was not sure. “Is it time, Mrs. McGonagall?” The cat meowed in reply. “Okay.” And together they began climbing down the tree.

 

***

 

“Archie, we are expecting guests tomorrow. They will be flying in from all over. Your mother and I expect you to n… to be available.” Mr. Dunmore looked over the top of his newspaper at his son. The images on the front of the paper also looked at him. One winked and smiled. It was an uncle of his.

 

“Are we not having the party then? For my birthday?” Archie replied with growing concern in his voice.

 

“Yes, we are having your friends over for cake and ice cream. And you can run around in the garden as well.” Mr. Dunmore looked to his wife. She didn’t seem pleased at that last bit of information. “We will be having over additional guests later.” He looked at his son with an air of expectation. “It isn’t everyday a young man turns eleven.” Mr. Dunmore smiled happily.

 

Archie didn’t understand what his father was hinting at, but if it meant he was actually getting two birthday parties then he was very pleased with that idea. His mind drifted off to the possibilities of gifts and running around the garden playing games with his friends. Tomorrow was going to be a special day indeed.

 

***

 

Archie awoke energetically. He was eleven. “I am eleven,” he said to no one in particular. The white painted ceiling of his room remained white. He looked to his dresser. It was just as he left it the night before. Nothing had changed.

 

“I’m eleven years old now,” he said looking about his bedroom. His shoes, socks, and pants lay exactly where he left them as he changed into his pajamas last night. He slid out of bed. Put his foot into each one of his slippers and stood up. Nothing had changed.

 

He walked over to the window and stared out into the garden. He saw a garden gnome meander along the wall heading toward the far end of the yard. Beyond the downs was the expressway. The morning sun was casting long shadows with everything. “Humph.” Nothing had changed.

 

He went about his routine of getting dressed. He left his pajamas and slippers on the floor wherever they landed. He picked up the brush from his dresser and ran it through his hair a few strokes. He looked at his reflection in the mirror. His hair was only slightly tamed by the brush. Nothing had changed. He shrugged at himself in the mirror then turned to his door and left his room for downstairs.

 

He walked through the kitchen. It seemed everyone was still asleep. It was still summer and waking early for school was still a long way off. Why didn’t he just sleep in until his mum woke him up? He couldn’t possibly answer such big questions while being so hungry. He began rummaging through the cupboards and shelves of the pantry. He was not sure what it was he wanted but he knew he would know what it was once he saw it. He continued his search through the pantry for a few minutes more before deciding on the refrigerator. There were several interesting things in there. Some of them he knew would get him into trouble if he had them for breakfast. After standing in front of the refrigerator just staring at all of the containers, bowls, plates, and bottles of miscellaneous this or that, he decided on a jar raspberry jam.

 

Archie set himself some bread and butter to spread. He set them beside the jam on the kitchen table. He had turned to pour himself some milk when he heard a tapping on glass. He looked about. He did not see anyone. He began pouring again. Again there was tapping on glass. He set his glass on the table and closed the refrigerator. His eyes wandered around the small kitchen. He did not see the source of the tapping. He continued making his breakfast.  As he was spreading butter across his bread, he heard the tapping on the kitchen door. He pushed his chair back and went to investigate.

 

Peering out the window, Archie did not see anything. In fact everything looked as it always had. Nothing was unusual or had seemed to change. Archie unbolted the door and opened it to take a better look outside. As he opened the door an owl flew up. Being caught off guard, Archie fell backwards into the kitchen. The bird flew in, flapped around, and then settled on the kitchen table where it seemed to notice the bit of breakfast still there.

 

Archie cautiously got to his feet. The owl was large and carried an envelope in its beak. The owl seemed to be waiting for something. It just stood on the table staring at Archie. They just stared back at each other a moment when Archie noticed there was writing on the envelope. He read the address.

 

Archibald Dunmore

Number 231 Mackie Avenue

Patcham West Sussex

“In the kitchen”

 

“Hey, that’s me!” Archie exclaimed.

 

Before Archie had a chance to react, the owl dropped the envelope and flew at him. Archie dropped to the floor again as the owl shot out into the garden, swooped past a garden gnome nearly getting him, and flew out of sight.

 

“How odd,” Archie said out loud.

 

“What’s odd, dear?” Mrs. Dunmore asked sleepily as she made her way to the sink to pour water to boil.

 

Archie shut the door and walked back to the table. He picked up the envelope and stared at it a moment. “Something was pecking at the windows,” he started. “I opened up the back door to see what it was. And in flew an owl with this envelope. As soon as I said who I was it flew out again and was gone.”

 

“An owl gave you an envelope!” Mrs. Dunmore clapped her hands together. She no longer sounded sleepy but very excited. “Quickly! Who is it from?” Archie had never seen her in such a state.

 

“It says it’s from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it is addressed to the kitchen. How would they know that, Mum?”

 

“They just do, Archie,” she said offhandedly. Mrs. Dunmore stared intently at the envelope. “Well, open it up, Archie. What does it say?”

Archie looked from his mother to the envelope. Yes, what does it say? He thought. He opened the envelope and pulled out the card. Mrs. Dunmore had moved in close to read over his shoulder.

 

Hogwarts School

of

Witchcraft and Wizardry

 

Dear Mr. Dunmore,

            We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

            Term begins on September 3. We await your owl by no later than August 5.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Minerva McGonagall

Headmistress

 

“You’ve been accepted, Archie!” Mrs. Dunmore wrapped up Archie in her arms and kissed him soundly on his cheeks. She set him back down then ran up the stair waking everyone in the house.

 

***

 

The rest of the day was a blur of activity. Visitors started coming by with odd presents. Musty old books, pens, quills, and miscellany that did not seem to fit school needs. But Mrs. Dunmore would thank them, say that would save on shopping in Dagon’s Alley, and checked another item off of the list that came with the letter from Hogwarts. Some people arrived by the fireplace. Archie had not seen anyone do that before. Which explains, Archie thought, why some relatives would come to call without having a car parked outside. Most came walking up from the Downs. Very few drove a car.

 

It was all a bit much for the young Archie. He much preferred playing football with his friends taking turns as keeper and midfielders. The roundabout had always served as their playing field. Today was no exception. They played until lunch. Then there was cake and ice cream. After that party games and presents. Before he realized how much time had passed he was being called in to get cleaned up for dinner. Reluctantly, Archie said good-bye to his friends.

 

Archie came down after getting cleaned up. Their comfortable house was full of people. Some he remembered as being relatives. Others, he had never seen before. They were all dressed oddly for August along the coast of Sussex. They were dressed in capes and pointed caps. Some wore hooded capes and they would drop their hood as they came out of the fireplace or through the front door. They were excited to see Archie as he descended the stair.

 

“Another Dunmore to attend Hogwarts!” Cried out an elderly gentleman in a loud voice. Everyone cheered along with him. The man kept drinking from a glass goblet that filled itself up with wine whenever he took a drink. He was starting to sway dangerously.

 

“The Second Party,” as Archie would later refer to it, finally came to an end. There was a modest collection of needed school supplies and gifts that would be specifically for the train ride to school. And promised companions as he went shopping for the rest of his list. Archie didn’t quite understand it all, but there were several knowing looks which told him he was in for some surprises.

 

As the well wishes wound down and people started leaving through the fireplace or walking out into the garden to jump on a broom and shoot away into the night, Archie realized something had changed. Although he really didn’t feel any different, in less than a month everything will have changed. His life as a normal boy, a ‘muggle’ as he learned, was over. Starting next term he will be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The day had become every long. Archie had gone up to his room amidst all of his new and new to him school supplies, he watched out of the window as the elder Dunmore had mounted his broom and took off. Several others followed after him. He kept laughing and casting odd lights over the house tops. At first he could hear the complaints, but as they moved further and further northeast he lost them, except for the lights that slowly disappeared beyond the A27.

 

Archie said to himself. “I guess a lot of things did change today after all.”

© 2009 Dave Doc Rogers

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