Anne Rogers was Bored.
Anne Rogers, in fact, was very bored and she really had no one to blame for it but herself. If she hadn't made that stupid wish... if she hadn't broke all those glasses... if her parents hadn't divorced...
She was supposed to be back home, in Newport. Not in some stupid village on the shore of Cornwall-not even in the village but in a weird old house outside of it, that didn't even have electricity and especially not TV-
Mom, she thought, had made this sound a lot more appealing that it was.
Anne's problems had started about a year and a half ago, just a few months after her eighth birthday. It had started with a fight, but really it had started with a wish. When Anne had read the Wizard's Oath in So You Want To Be A Wizard and woken up the next morning with her library book still a library book, she knew that if she was going to get any help, she had to move fast. Anne had decided to have magic in her life and there were only a few years left to accomplish this.
You had to be a child to have magic. Grown-ups never had it happen to them-or at least not in the right way. Anne couldn't think of anyone in her books that had magic and was older than maybe fourteen and that was Peter and Susan and Aslan had made them go back to the real world anyway when they got old. Anne herself was eight and time was running out so she did the only sensible thing she could think of.
Anne didn't quite pray to God-she prayed to Aslan. After all, Anne thought, they were exactly the same person. Only a real dummy could read the Narnia books and not figure that out. Anne herself found the Great Lion to be a more calming picture of God than the angry figure in her picture bible. So she'd prayed to Aslan and hoped it would work and the very next day when she had a fight with her mom about not looking after her baby sister Anne broke every glass in the house without even touching them.
And that was when her mother told her that she was a witch and so was Anne.
It wasn't like on TV, though, where Samantha on Bewitched wiggled her nose and things happened instantly. You had to use wands and go to school for years and when Anne told her father everything that her mother had said to her that was when everything went wrong.
They got a divorce.
Anne wasn't nearly the first kid in her class to have parents getting a divorce, but she was the only one whose parents were divorcing on account of her. Her dad hadn't known about her mom and he certainly hadn't known about Anne and he didn't want anything to do with them (or at least Anne's mother, she wasn't quite clear about this) and so Anne's mother had moved out of their house into a teeny little apartment where they lived until the divorce was finalized.
She even changed Anne's name. Anne didn't mind this, because she'd never really figured out how to spell it, but it was one more part of her father she'd never see again. And then the man had come, the one that she'd thought at first was her mom's boyfriend (because she knew from other kids that single mothers dated and you were supposed to hope they wouldn't date creeps) but was really some sort of distant cousin and he'd told Anne's mother that if she needed a place to get away from all the Muggles (Anne had scrunched up her nose in confusion at that term, as she'd just finished The Gammage Cup and wasn't sure what the Minipin had to do with it) that Anne and her mother could stay with his family.
Anne hadn't thought it would be such a bad idea at the time, even if it meant going all the way to England. She was nine by then and she'd read a lot of books with England in it and it had all seemed very interesting in the books. And when her mother's cousin said that his parents lived in Cornwall, she'd actually gotten half-way excited. Maybe she'd get to watch them make a Greenwitch or maybe she'd find the Holy Grail and have to escape agents of the Dark. Maybe there'd be a place there for a little girl with no dad or little sister anymore, for a girl that maybe had magic but didn't quite know what to do with it.
Maybe turned out to be not at all when the people they were supposed to stay with had never even heard of TV.
They were nice enough. That, Anne thought, was the problem. The Reverend and his wife were very nice people-they just didn't understand anything. The Reverend had spent a lot of time bothering her mother when they'd first gotten there, telling her that this was what happened when you married a Muggle and think of the poor girl-child-she'd never be able to marry right as a half-blood. Then when Anne's mother had unpacked her typewriter and started to spend all day writing in her room, he'd started on Anne. For some reason the Reverend thought she needed to go to church more often which Anne thought was silly. After all, she still went on Christmas and Easter and she'd read her entire picture bible twice. That was more than anyone needed.
The Reverend's wife was different. She didn't bother people like the Reverend did-she spent a lot of time doing work in the house and practicing on their piano. Sometimes she got out her photo album and told Anne things about the people in the pictures-there were an awful lot of them and they all seemed to be related by some degree. The very tall ones with the curly brown hair were the ones that Anne was supposed to be related to but that didn't really make sense to Anne. Her hair was brown too but it was rather mousy and it hardly curled at all if she didn't braid it overnight and besides all that she was short and rather plump. Her baby sister had had curly hair but her baby sister had darker hair like her mother did and she didn't have her baby sister anymore. Her baby sister didn't have magic so her dad had kept her.
For about the bazillionth time, she wondered how her dad and baby sister were doing.
It hadn't been so bad in England until Anne had run out of books to read. That had been a few days ago and ever since then she'd been wandering around the forest bored. Sometimes funny little blue people came and made faces at her and pulled on her braid, but mostly she was alone. It would have almost been interesting if the forest hadn't felt so very scary.
And then she saw it.
It was a horse. It was the prettiest horse Anne had ever seen and the first one she'd seen in real life and not on TV and its white coat had an almost greenish shine to it that reminded Anne of the stable full of My Little Ponies that she had left back home for her baby sister. (It wasn't quite like a My Little Pony, it didn't have a tattoo on its bottom. But the resemblance was there.)
It was standing in the middle of the pool, which must have been deep because Anne could hardly see the horse's legs. Slowly, very slowly so as not to scare it, she walked up to the edge of the pool and touched its nose.
It made a whinnying sound, like it was happy.
Anne smiled and started stroking the horse's mane. "You're so pretty," she murmured. "I wish I could ride you."
The horse whinnied again and to Anne's surprise it knelt down so that she could climb on its back. After a moment's hesitation, she did.
Riding the horse was fun at first. It raced around and around through the trees and Anne had to hold tight not to fall off. But then she saw that it was headed for the pool again and before she knew it the horse was under water and so was she.
Anne let go of the horse's coat and tried to swim up, towards the light. The pool was much deeper than it looked-she wasn't even sure if the horse's hooves were touching bottom. And maybe it didn't matter anymore because the horse didn't want her to get away-it bit into her tee shirt and held Anne back from reaching the surface.
It was then that she realized that the horse was trying to drown her.
She was going to die, Anne thought dismally. She was going to die and she wouldn't even be ten for another week. She'd never grow up to be a famous writer or maybe a nun or even (realistically speaking as her mother would say) a schoolteacher. She was going to die and they'd write on her tombstone DROWNED BY STUPID HORSE.
And that's when she heard the voice.
She didn't hear what it was saying, not through the water, but she heard it and the horse let go of her tee shirt and suddenly Anne was able to swim up to safety. And once she had, gasping for air, a pair of white arms closed around her and pulled her to the shore and set her down on the grass.
Anne stared up into the face of the prettiest boy she'd ever seen. He was even prettier than Atreyu in The Neverending Story and he looked nothing like the boy in the movie. He was pale, nearly white, and so was his silvery blond hair. She'd have almost thought he was an albino, except his eyes weren't pink but the same pale grey as hers.
"I'm Draco Malfoy," the boy said, sounding a little like Anne's mother did when she'd gotten a note home from school again. "Are you quite all right?"