"I wish things were back to their normal way again."

Haesel wrinkles her nose. "Me too."

Lily slides a wee bit lower down the sofa. Any minute now she'll be laying on the ground, but it doesn't look like she'll mind. Or, maybe, Haesel thinks, notice at all.

It's the 4th of January 1971. The twins are less than a mere month from being eleven. Haesel thinks she's supposed to be really excited about it, but she can't feel it. She fiddles with her jumper, a Christmas present from Petunia... in days when everything was still great, she can't help but remark to herself. It's five in the afternoon, time for tea, but the kitchen is occupied with arguing parents and a Petunia in the middle of a hissy fit.

Lily sighs and slides even lower.

"D'you reckon they'd notice if we snuck out and went to the park?" She says.

Haesel raises an eyebrow, a move she's spend all summer practising. When Lily saw her employ it to a girl at school once and noticed its effectiveness, she convinced Haesel to teach it to her as well. They can do it synchronised now – they try their best to be practically identical and to be honest, it doesn't take much effort. Most of the time they finish each other's thoughts anyway and Lily can't imagine a time without Haesel anymore, if there ever was such a thing.

That Haesel hasn't know anything else goes unmentioned.

Now on the floor with her hair spread in tangles on the sofa Lily grins up at her. "Come on, you know they wouldn't."

Haesel makes a show of thinking it over but she's already in. That's their dynamic, mostly. Lily is the outgoing, friendly one that makes the plans and Haesel is the quieter, sometimes distant and sarcastic one that makes sure nothing can go wrong. They're the perfect team. She returns the grin.

"You sure you want the park, though?"

Lily frowns briefly. "I'm sure it'll be empty by now, won't it?"

Haesel nods. They don't like to go to the park as a rule. Ever since they moved there and demonstrated their talents one summer afternoon they've had the feeling of being watched whenever they were in the park. They suspect it's the boy they saw the first time around.

Lily thinks it's sad and really weird. Haesel agrees and adds it's also a little creepy. When she said that, self-consciously rubbing the thin scar on her left arm, Lily went quiet and never mentioned the park again if she could help it. Instead, she convinced their parents to get her a piano teacher so she could do duets with Haesel's violin. All the staying inside practicing has gotten them really good. They've even won school awards they keep in their bedroom.

Haesel eyes the piano in the corner for a moment, then abandons the idea immediately again. She really wants to get out of the house.

Silently she stands and glances into the kitchen. The situation hasn't changed. Robert is trying to talk to Petunia now, Ivy is stacking plates on the counter without any real purpose seeing as they're those used during lunch and are already cleaned.

Lily is already at the door to the hallway and Haesel shakes her head when she sees the hopeful glint Lily can't completely hide. Lily shrugs and eases open the door.

Pulling on their winter coats, scarfs, hats and mittens, completing the look with snow boots, the girls are overcome with excitement and their shared glances and grins turn into full blown laughter when Haesel pulls the front door closed with a soft thud.

There's been a lot of snow this Winter Holiday and already the front yard is decorated with a family of snowmen. Lily pats one of them proudly on the shoulder in passing.

"Let's not stay out too long." she says. Haesel blows, the cold air making her breath freeze into a little steam cloud.

"Why, you cold?" she asks before blowing out again. She likes making clouds.

Lily shakes her head. "No, but it's already dark out, and even though I really wanted out just now" – "Me too," Haesel agrees – "I'm not very fond of making Mum and Dad worry too much."

"Good point." She sticks her hands in her pockets and encounters unexpected crispness. Smiling she pulls out a five pound note, left over from maybe Christmas shopping.

"Look, Lils! We could maybe visit the corner store or something for sweets!"

When they ease back into the house almost an hour later, still sucking on the sweets Haesel's note has bought them, it's to the sight of Petunia standing in the doorway to the living room with her hands on her hips.

The twins exchange glances. Can we make it to our room? Lily's eyes ask. No, Haesel's replies, too much clothes on and she's closer – she'd catch us for sure.

United in their sense of doom, the girls turn to their elder sister, who's now crossing her arms over her chest. When she doesn't say anything, they start removing their clothes, shedding boots, scarves and mittens one by one. The loose coins in Haesel's pockets jingle when she hangs up her coat.

Petunia points them to the living room, which is surprisingly empty.

"Mum and Dad have gone out to the shop." she says upon noticing their looks and her voice is not as fierce as her expression had them imagine. Petunia is sharp, and this doesn't escape her notice as little does, especially not concerning her little sisters.

She wonders when they grew so distant that she had no idea they didn't share her ideas for the future.

Maybe they thought they couldn't talk to you about it, she thinks, and it hurts to see them settling on the love seat again, pressing close together unconsciously. She's gone most of the year except the holidays, and even then she usually forgoes going home with Easter to study for exams. They send letters, sure, but it's not the same, never the same because she can't read their faces anymore the way she used to be able to do.

Even now, they think her hostile and she reflect she hasn't given them a reason not to. She sighs. This has to be fixed, and Mum was right. She glances at the clock. She's got half an hour to set this right.

"Lily, Haesel, isn't there something you ought to tell me?" She asks, taking great care to keep her voice soft and even.

A look, a hesitant shake before Haesel elbows Lily and that has to hurt because Haesel has always been thin and her elbows look sharp.

Haesel looks up with fierce green eyes. "It was my idea."

Lily wants to intervene, crying out with something along the lines of "No it was mine!" but Haesel silences her with a sharp look.

"When you got accepted into Cheltenham's, Lily told me about the fostering."

Petunia breathes in sharply. So Mum had been right, when she said that maybe Haesel just wanted to forge more links to her past and since when had Lily done anything else but follow her whenever she went?

Haesel nods. Petunia notices how they clasp hands, presenting a united front.

There's nothing more she can say now. She's defeated even before the game really started and it's a bitter pill to swallow, that she can never show the school she loves so much to her little sisters.

"I just... I'd just hoped..." She whispers and the broken tone makes her cringe inside. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Wasn't she the one telling her friends and House mates that she'd be joined by her sisters before next year was gone? Now the New Year had started and by all means, they would never.

Haesel and Lily surge forward as one. True, ever since Petunia had gone off to her college contact had been scarce and even during the holidays she'd go off with friends but she was still their sister and the one that made them hot milk before they went to bed after playing in the snow too long. She still was the one they bought charms for the bracelet they'd given her Haesel's first Christmas whenever they were in London.

"You're still our big sister, you know." Haesel says and there's an echo to her words that surprises her; but it's only Lily. They manage to speak together, sometimes, in times of great emotion, and that they did so now means almost as much to Petunia as the hug they've sandwiched her in.

She winds her arms around them. "Thank you." She whispers.

That evening they're finally able to talk about it like a family should, and Petunia leaves for her boarding school with a light heart. The letters she receives are a lot more honest as well, she feels, until that letter that, when looked upon later, changed everything.

"They were accepted where?"

§

The letter that comes for them their eleventh birthday is one that is not as unexpected to the twins as they would have their parents believe.

The morning has started out normal, so far. Lily woke Haesel up at the crack of down because she was so excited and for once, Haesel shares that sentiment completely. She's not sure just what it is about turning eleven that is so absolutely wonderful, but it just is and they wake their parents by jumping up and down on the bed, something they haven't done in years because it is so very childish but right now, Haesel doesn't care because she's turning eleven!

Robert relents and goes down to start on some pancakes while Ivy attempts to wrestle her squirming daughters into submission. It's not working, despite the fact that she knows all their ticklish points because they're two of them and she tries to argue that's not fair when they hear something heavy fall down with a resounding crash downstairs.

They're all up in a moment racing out of the bedroom, Ivy not even pausing to pull on a bathrobe over her pyjamas.

"Dad, what's wrong!" intermingles with "Robert! Is everything is all right?" and "Please don't die Daddy I'm coming to rescue you!" as they stumble into the kitchen.

Robert looks at them strangely, especially Lily, who's been the one to utter the last sentiment.

"What's wrong with you three?"

Ivy attempts to correct herself, straightening her shirt and pulling on the slipper she almost lost down the stairs. "We heard a strange noise and a pretty loud crash!"

"We thought you were being robbed! Or maybe held at gunpoint after a valiant fight with a masked attacker..." Lily trails off as she looks around the kitchen and sees nothing out of the ordinary, except maybe the own sitting on the window ledge bearing letter.

"Ah!" she jumps back, colliding with Haesel who clutches her foot as she jumps up and down.

"Well, I had the same reaction... except I was holding the frying pan." Robert chuckles as he gives the aforementioned item a little tap where it's on the furnace again.

"Ehm, Dad, why is there an owl in our kitchen?" Lily ventures hesitantly. Ivy nods as she guides Haesel to a chair, who waves off an offer to look at her foot with "It's all right now Mum, she didn't step on it too hard." to which Lily immediately forgets all about the own and starts trying to have Haesel accept her apologies.

"Yes, dear, what is with the owl?" Ivy asks as she dips a finger into the batter to try it. Robert waves her hand away as he shrugs.

"I have no idea; suddenly it was there and it wanted in."

"Why has it got letters? I thought the only birds that carried mail were pigeons. And maybe hawks as well? No wait, I'm wrong, they were used to hunt the pigeons." Haesel has picked up Lily's habit of going off on tangents, although she only has it when she's feeling out of her depth.

Lily halts her nervous fluttering around Haesel to attempt to approach the owl still patiently sitting on the window sill.

Robert absentmindedly pours batter into the pan and twists it around until it's sure to become a lovely pancake. They are all looking at Lily, who is now petting the owl softly before untying the piece of string that keeps the letters to its leg.

When the letters are loose, the owl affectionately nips at Lily's fingers and leaves through the still open window. Keeping her fingers curled carefully in the event the owl decides to return to nip them again Lily closes the window.

Ivy has become impatient. "Well, what do they say?"

"They're addressed to us." Lily says and she motions with one letter to Haesel. Haesel accepts it and takes a moment to admire the green ink and fancy writing that speak of her name.

Miss H. Evans

The Attic

Green Road 6

Cokeworth CW5 6AL

Lily settles beside her on her customary chair and Haesel can see that hers is almost the same, except that it's addressed to Miss L. Evans instead.

"Why do they know we have the attic?" Lily frowns but she can't keep the expression for even a moment, she's much to excited.

"Why are you asking me?" Haesel says and with matching smiles they turn the envelopes and tear them open. Identical letters fall into their hands.

"Dear Miss Evans," Haesel starts to read aloud, skipping the part with what seems like someone's titles. "We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at … Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? What the bloody hell is this?"

"Haesel!" Ivy scolds shocked, unaware Haesel even knew curses. Then what she said before it catches up to her and she looks wide eyed to her husband who almost lets his current pancake burn.

Lily looks up as well. "It's all..." She doesn't appear to have words for what she wants to say, turning to Haesel. "D'you think it's a joke?"

"I have no idea. What do you think, Mum, Dad?"

"Let me have a look." Robert says and he hands the pan to his wife before he makes any accident happen. He carefully overlooks the letter Haesel hands him, getting a feel of the paper before concluding it's actually parchment instead. Ivy looks up from setting the plates at that, and Lily starts sniffing her copy in case she can smell the dead animal she remembers parchment being made of.

"Whoever send this, was about as honest as a man proclaiming to be a 'chief warlock' can be." Robert says finally as they all sit down to eat, the letters put aside for the moment although they are not far from mind. "Or a Deputy Headmistress of a school with such a, might I say it, ridiculous name."

The twins giggle and even Ivy can't smother a smile.

"A shame the owl went away, then." Lily remarks. "We could've send a note with it asking for more information, because 'Hogwarts, Scotland' doesn't cover it!"

"I'll send a note tomorrow, then. Today is for celebration, though! What did you girls want to do again?"

"The zoo, Dad." they both groan in unison because haven't they repeated this a million times before?

"You're lucky this is a Saturday. It wouldn't have been possible at all on a school day, I do hope you know that." Robert winks. They know he's riling them up, but they still go along with it and the letters are momentarily forgotten.

Until the doorbell rings.

Haesel and Lily are the only ones that are actually clothed and not still in their pyjamas, even though Robert is wearing a bathrobe, so they stand up and go to answer. Ivy calls after them to tell the milkman, if that's him, that she wants only three bottles this week and not four.

It's not the milkman. It's a lady wearing a stern expression, a dark green two piece suit with a long skirt and a long coat over it. Her greying hair is pulled back into a severe bun and she's holding some rolled up documents.

"Good morning." She says and it seems to Lily that her voice is only slightly warmed than her appearance. Haesel isn't daunted.

"Good morning!" She says cheerfully. "I'm afraid we were not expecting visitors and are in face still at breakfast, ma'am."

"Ah." the lady smiles and suddenly she's much nicer looking, all in all. Lily nods respectfully at her and then scampers back into the kitchen to warn her parents.

"Would you like to come in?" Haesel offers and the lady accepts with a single purposeful nod. Haesel leads her to the living room, aware of the fact that her parents have hurried upstairs to put on some clothes.

When the guest is seated, Haesel has a panicky moment of no idea what to do next but Lily saves her, coming in with a pot of tea, some cups and a few biscuits that she quite obviously just put together. She offers them to their visitor, who accepts a cup of tea "l– no sugar or milk, thank you."

They sit in silence for a bit, until Ivy and Robert come down, wearing normal day clothes. Ivy apologises for their delay and the lady says she was unaware it was quite this early.

"Ah, yes," Ivy laughs. "We're celebrating their eleventh birthday today, so we're a bit behind schedule, as well."

The lady smiles again and it does help to lighten her overall countenance. "Indeed, that is why I came." She sets down her cup of tea delicately and nods to the girls sharing the love seat as they're wont to do.

"I have been remiss in introducing myself. My name is Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and Head of House of Gryffindor."

Rapid glances are thrown around the room and Lily can't contain her enthusiasm. "So the letters were true! We thought they might be a joke."

"A common belief in families of Muggleborn witches or wizards." Professor McGonagall says indulgently. "Allow me to explain."

What follows after those words is a tale of magic, of a castle with high towers and deep dungeons and wonderful acts of wizardry enough to fill countless tales. The twins and their parents are entranced and it's almost two hours of questions, demonstrations and extra information before the Professor takes her leave. She gifts them with leaflets and tells them the way to contact the Wizarding world by just sending any post through the normal network where it would be picked up.

She says goodbye with the hopes of seeing Lily and Haesel at Hogwarts; mentioned they seem like two bright little girls that have much to offer and learn.

They don't go to the zoo, in the end, but they're not too disappointed about it when they're whispering in the dark that night.

"I think I'd like to go." Lily says and she searches for Haesel's hand under the blanket. Their eyes find each other despite the darkness.

"Me too." Haesel says. "It does explain, doesn't it? The things we can do, it's magic!"

"And that... what that boy said, remember? He mentioned witches, that we were witches! He must have known."

Haesel is unsure about seeking him out and Lily promises to keep her distance for a little bit. Eventually, Haesel is won over anyway and they agree to go to the park the next day to see if they can find him, to hear him out.

When they fall asleep, it's with tightly clutched hands and matching smiles.


Hi!

I know its fast! I just got the itch to write again, when I was past the part that was bothering me (before the time-skip, hah). So now, even though they've known of him, they'll get to know the boy that spies on them – as many have correctly guessed, it's Severus Snape! But the closer they get to Hogwarts, the more people they meet...

Hope you liked it! Don't expect the next update to be tomorrow, hah, cause then I'm sitting down to study again. I was just lonely, celebrating Christmas alone (even though I don't care for the event itself, I'd hoped to spend it with family but they seem to have forgotten about me, heh) so there I went, did something with it! ;)

See you, have a lovely New Year!