Cordelia Fay Angwin was born in Keswick, the second of two daughters. Her sister, Marisa, was 4 years older than her. Her whole childhood, Cordelia loved the idea of magic and mythical creatures. She would spend hours, reading about them, and playing games about them, writing and drawing her own stories and theories about them. She was named after her grandmother, who's middle name had been Fay too, and Fay meant fairy — didn't that mean something? What had that creature she'd seen in the back yard been? She knew it was real, it just ran away when her mum came over.
Marisa found her little sister to be a huge embarrassment, and always told her to go away when her mates came over, and to not talk to her at school. Marisa had always been a social butterfly, and she could hardly bare that her little sister spend recess, apart from the rest, looking for dandelions to wish on. Not that she cared what Cordelia did, she just didn't want that reflecting on her.
The day the witch came was the beginning of the end.
Cordelia, age 7, was sitting at the window, looking out at the fount yard on a summer day and thinking. A woman in a cloak came up the walk. Cordelia felt a funny flutter in her stomach — she had just made herself a cloak out of a blanket yesterday. Cloaks were the dress of magical people. She watched as the woman came to the door and knocked. Cordelia's mum let the woman in. Cordelia watched from the hall — could this be it? After wishing and praying every night for years, could this finally be it? Could something magical be about to happen to her?
The woman was here about Marisa. After their mum spend over an hour talking to the woman, she called Marisa into the room. And they finally, after even more talking, called Cordelia in and explained what was going on. Marisa was a witch, they explained. She wouldn't be going to secondary school this year, she would be going to a castle in Scotland where she would learn how to do magic.
A week later, the woman came back, and told Marisa to get her things for school. After much begging, she brought Cordelia along too.
They went to London, and walked down a busy street, then they stopped. "That's the Leaky Cauldron, that pub there," the witch explained. Cordelia stood baffled. What pub? There was a bookstore and a record store. Why were they looking at the wall between the two? After she realized Cordelia could not see it, she explained, "Only witches and wizards can see it."
Tears stung Cordelia's eyes. "She never said I was a witch," she told herself furiously. But still, that day a week ago, when she said Marisa was a witch, Cordelia had thought that if her sister was magic, she was too. . . right?
The witch had held both sisters' hands and pulled them inside. Inside, Cordelia saw that it was a pub, and outside, if you touch a brick, there was a brick arch opened, to a street of shops.
Cordelia watched the witches and wizards and hags and goblins, with a sadness and longing inside her that she could not name. She had always been pretty sure there was magic, and completely confident that if there was, she had it. She had never imagined that magic was real but was not part of her.
Cordelia trailed after Marisa and the witch all day, her fits clenched and holding back tears.
A few days later, Cordelia's father got back from the business trip he'd been on. They explained to him about Marisa being a witch. He didn't believe a word of it. His daughter Marisa, a magical witch? Yeah right. For a week he let it be, thinking it was an annoying joke they were playing on him. But they keep insisting it was true, and the sister's parents had huge fights about it. He left after the second week.
That fall, her mother took her and Marisa to another magically-hidden-behind-bricks place, where Marisa got on a scarlet steam engine that and left. Cordelia, along with several other little siblings, chased the train until it was too fast. Hot tears streamed down Cordelia's face, matching her hot rage within. That could have been me, she though furiously. That should have been.
After that, Cordelia didn't read about magic anymore. It hurt too much.
Cordelia worked hard at school after that, trying her best to forget about her old games. She focused in class now, instead of watching the clouds out the window, and stopped looking for dandelions to wish on at recess. She went over to her classmates houses after school, so she didn't have to go home. At home, Marisa's absence was too much to bare, the house was too empty and quiet.
After a few years, Cordelia slowly got used to it. She kept thoughts of magic in a box locked in the back of her brain, and she didn't think about it anymore. But the thoughts hated being locked in the box, and they strained to get out. And every few years, they burst out. And for a few days, she would cry. Cry for days straight. When she had almost gotten her mind off it and stopped crying, something would make her think of it again, and the tears would come flooding back. Everyone asked what was wrong and she couldn't say. She would just shake her head and bury her face in her hands. And several days, she'd be able to force the thoughts back into the box and lock it up again. And that's be it, until the box forced itself open again a few years later and Cordelia was lost in tears again.
When Cordelia was 12, Marisa dropped out. Marisa had just taken her OWLs and was starting her NEWT classes — she was in the beginning of 6th year. And she decided they were too hard and she was done. Cordelia wasn't surprised — that was just like Marisa to quit when the going got tough. But she couldn't understand her. Marisa had everything Cordelia had ever wanted, and she was just giving it up.