Willow Thyme was born on the 25th of March 1998 to Margaret Potter. Her mother was the sister of James Potter, a famous wizard who was killed along with his wife shortly after their son, Harry was born. Being of magical descent, Willow attended the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry there was. Hogwarts. At least she would be in a year or two. But for now…
I held on tightly to my mother’s hand as she led me down the main road of Diagon Alley towards the ice cream parlour owned by Florean Fortescue. We had spent the majority of the morning shopping, wandering in and out of shops as mum stocked up on supplies.
Mum liked to spend her free time with potions. Of the hundreds of books that she owned, at least a third of them were filled with potion recipes - the rest of them were fiction belonging to both me and mum. She had spent so much time reading and practising and perfecting that she had mastered the majority of them and only the most difficult and advanced potions remained a struggle.
And so, my mum and I would often spent our Saturday mornings stocking up on the ingredients that had been used up during the week. It had become something of a tradition. A tradition that always ended with a trip to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour as a special treat. Of course, that was my favourite part as I’m sure it would be with all 11-year-olds.
It was just like every other weekend. Mum’s right hand held a bag full of potions supplies, the seams of the ‘Bag 4 Life’ (as the muggles call it) stretched to a near bursting point while her left hand held onto mine, making sure I didn’t get lost in the weekend crowds. We were approaching the parlour and I could see that our usual table sitting outside, under the awning, was free. I pulled out the seat facing away from the street and sat down.
“Your usual, hun? Strawberry and vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings?” My mum smiled that content smile she always wore. It was a smile that said everything. That everything was alright and it always would be. I nodded happily, watching as she walked into the shop, more people joining in on the lunch-time rush. Soon almost the entire shop was full, the majority of tables filling up in minutes.
“Excuse me?” A female voice asked, drawing me from my daydreams and people-watching. I glanced up at the girl. She appeared to be a few years older than myself, with wavy brown hair and accompanied by two boys of her age, a boy with dark coloured hair and a boy with bright orange hair. “There’s no more seats, would you mind if we sat with you?” The girl asked.
I sat stunned for a moment, unsure what to do. It was always something that I had seen on TV. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t take sweets from strangers. Don’t associate with strangers. A lot to do with strangers. And the trio were strangers, I didn’t know them. However, before I could answer, my mother appeared.
“Here, sweetie.” A bowl with a scoop of pink and and scoop of white sprinkled with little curls and shavings of chocolate was placed in front of me and a spoon placed in my hand. I thanked my mum with a smile. “Oh, hello. Can I help you?”
“Yes, we were wondering if we could sit with you, there aren’t any tables left.” The girl asked again, a sweet smile trying to sway my mum. My mum returned the smile and nodded.
“Of course! Sit!” She gestured to the remaining seats and the trio sat down. “I’m Margaret but you can call me Maggie.” My mum then gestured to me. “And this is my daughter, Willow.”
“My name’s Hermione Granger and this is Ron Weasley,” The red-haired boy nodded in acknowledgement. “And that’s Harry Potter.” The black-haired boy smiled as my mum suddenly tensed and froze. I frowned at her and tilted my head in a puppy-like manner. Upon seeing my mother’s reaction, all three suddenly looked worried.
Silence passed over the table as I fidgeted, unsure how to handle the quiet.
“As in James and Lily’s son?” My mum finally stuttered. She stared straight at Harry, taking in his face, examining it carefully. “Yes, you have to be. You look exactly like your father.”
“You knew my dad?” Harry asked. My mum nodded and as I looked closer, I could see tiny beads of water gathering in her eyelids.
“Yes.” Her voice cracked and she viciously wiped at her eyes. “Yes, I knew James. He was my brother.” Suddenly, Harry, Ron and Hermione took their turns to freeze. They stared at my mother and I shrunk instinctively back in my seat.
“So, that makes you my-”
“Your aunt, yes.” Mum cut Harry off. “I’m so sorry that it’s only now that we are meeting but I was travelling abroad when it happened and by the time I got back, well… everything was happening at once and I didn’t know what to do.” Another silence swept over the table and all I could do was poke at my ice cream with my spoon.
“Well, this is awkward.” Ron pointed out, breaking the second silence.
It seemed that once Ron had said that, my mother and Harry both snapped out of their stunned stare-down and they started to talk. Discussion was mostly about Harry. How he had been. Where he had been staying. How he was doing at school - Hogwarts. What he had been doing outside of school.
Mum seemed really interested in how he was and was really concerned when she heard about the kinds of things that had happened to him during his first three school years. When a man named Sirius Black was mentioned, mother’s face lit up with a wide smile.
“Sirius is alive?! I read in the Daily Prophet that he escaped but-” She paused to dab at her eyes. “To know that he is alive and well, is wonderful news. I knew that Sirius would never betray my brother. They were so close.” She briefly shook her head before turning to me. “Willow, could you get me today’s shopping list? And my quill?” I nodded and rummaged in the back of shopping for the list mum had composed yesterday along with the quill that she carried around to cross off the ingredients once she got them.
I gave them both to mum and she quickly scribbled on the back of the small piece of parchment. Then she handed it to Harry. “Here. If you ever need to get away for a while. Or if you are able to contact Sirius, use this address. I work from home so I will usually be there and if not, I will not be long.” My mother smiled and conversation continued, setting up a time for the three to come round. I was still unsure about what was going on at the time but I was happy, even if my ice cream did turn into milk by the time we got around to eating.
When September rolled around, I was ready for my first year of Hogwarts. Mum drove me to King’s Cross station in her muggle car since it was easier than trying to apparate with my trunk. Holding tightly to my hand, she led me through the muggle crowd towards platforms 9 and 10. Motioning for me to take the trolley, she explained what I had to do. Of course, my first reaction was to worry since I had been told to push my trolley into a wall but I nodded and started to run.
After running through the wall and appearing on platform 9 and ¾, I stopped and stared at the scarlet train until my mother appeared beside me and slid an arm around my shoulders. “Are you ready?” I nodded, worried about what would come out of my mouth, if I tried to speak. With a smile, my mum said, “Then, let’s go and find you a seat, hm?”
We walked towards the train and put my trunk with the others to be loaded into one of the storage carriages. Then, I was pushed onto the train but before my mum left, she turned me to face her and hugged me close. “I love you, Willow. I’ll see you for Christmas, yeah?” I nodded. “Have fun and listen to your professors. And just do your best.” Then I got pulled further into the narrow train corridors by other students. I wave over everyone’s head and then followed the tide until I spotted an empty compartment which I pushed myself inside.
I sat in the corner by the window and glanced out in time to see the back of my mum as she left through the wall. A sad smile crossed my face as I acknowledged the fact that mum wouldn’t be there to wave me off but I knew that she had to get home to meet her deadline. I reached into my bag and pulled out the latest issue of my favourite muggle magazine. It was full of interesting articles on various topics written by a number of people including famous authors, celebrities and regular people.
As I flicked through the glossy pages, I heard the hustle and bustle outside the compartment as the other students searched for their friends and somewhere to sit. Eventually, there was a knock at the sliding door. I glanced up and saw Ron, Harry and Hermione standing there.
“Willow, would you mind if we sat with you?” Harry asked. Harry, Ron and Hermione had spent a week with me and mum during the late Summer, just before the Quidditch World Cup so I had gotten to know the trio better and felt comfortable spending the long train-ride with them. Since Harry was my cousin, mum thought it would be a good idea to get closer, to let him know that he still has family who love him.
I shook my head and they filed in, Harry sitting next to me and Ron and Hermione sitting opposite us respectively. The trio all asked me about whether I was looking forward to school and told me about what to expect. Eventually the conversation turned towards the Quidditch World Cup since they all attended it and were there when the attacks happened. I sat and listened happily until an elderly woman - more likely a witch - walked past the compartment with a trolley full of sweets.
“Anything from the trolley, dears?” She asked. Ron got up, followed by Harry. After Ron had purchased his sweets, I got up and I noticed Harry’s reaction when a girl came up asking for pumpkin pasties. I bought a chocolate frog and watched the trolley being wheeled away.
The rest of the train ride passed by slowly but finally, Hermione suggested that we change into our robes. I nodded and followed her towards the bathrooms located in the carriage. We both changed quickly and returned to find the boys changed themselves.
And then, we were at Hogwarts. I gazed up at the castle, its small windows flickering with candlelight. The train pulled up into the station and every student tried to push and shove their ways out. By the time I got out, Hermione was hurriedly trying to pull the boys towards the carriages that would take the 4th years. Harry only had just enough time to say, “Follow Hagrid. He’ll look after you.” before he was pulled off. I nodded and looked around to see other first years wandering over to a giant who shouted “FIRST YEARS! OVER HERE!”
I joined the crowds and the giant, Hagrid, allocated everyone to a boat which only held benches to sit on and a hanging lantern. Once everyone was seated, the boats moved, slowly and carefully towards the castle. Floating underneath the magnificent structure made it seem even more beautiful with the darkening sky and speckled stars as a backdrop.
When the boats reached their destination, Hagrid led us up into the castle, leaving us in the entrance hall with a woman who introduced herself as Professor McGonagall. She told us what would happen in the great hall and when the time came, she led us in.
I glanced around, feeling the hot gaze of all the other students, and stared at the enchanted ceiling, enjoying the sight of the star-speckled sky. Then we reached the front of the hall, one by one, our names were called. Each student went up and sat on the stool, had the hat placed on their head and then it would shout out a house - “GRYFFINDOR!” - “SLYTHERIN!” - “HUFFLEPUFF!” - RAVENCLAW!” - and the student would join their house’s table.
Then came me. “Willow Potter.”
I pushed my way through the remaining first years and made my way to the stool, listening to the whispers - “Potter? Did she say Potter? Is she related to Harry?”. I felt the weight of the hat being placed on my head and heard the whispers stop. The hat murmured quietly, too quietly for even I to hear, before it belted out “HUFFLEPUFF!”
I let out a deep breath and as soon as the hat was gone, I speed-walked to the yellow-decorated table. I sat at the end, next to another first year boy. The last few students were called and I glanced over at the red table to see Ron, Harry and Hermione smiling encouragingly.
And then the feast, the first of many, began.
When Christmas rolled around, I was unsure whether I even wanted to go home. Sure, I missed my mum but I had made so many amazing friends that I didn’t want to leave and miss spending Christmas with them. Not to mention that since the Triwizard Tournament was being hosted at Hogwarts, the Yule Ball was going to be held on Christmas day.
That’s why a month before Christmas, I had an almost constant inner-debate with myself. But then, as the first week of December ended, I got a letter from my mum, saying that she had just found out that she would have to spend Christmas abroad to do research for an article or a book or something like that. And so I got to spend my Christmas with my new best friends, Olivia, Rachael and Charlie and with my cousin, Harry and Ron and Hermione and attend the Yule Ball.
Olivia and I had a great laugh when we heard that Rachael and Charlie were going to be going together. It made sense since out of the four of us, they were the only ones who were in the same house, Gryffindor. Olivia was in Ravenclaw. Olivia and I also ‘shipped’ (a muggle term that we were fond of using) Rachael and Charlie. I went to the ball with a boy from my house, the boy that I had sat next to after the sorting ceremony and Olivia, with a boy in her own house.
However, it was a few weeks after the Christmas holidays that everything changed. Since the regular timetable had returned, I hadn’t heard anything from my mother. Usually, we sent each other letters each week just to let the other know how we were doing but I hadn’t heard anything even though I had sent multiple letters. I didn’t worry though until I was suddenly called out of potions by my head of house, Professor Sprout.
By the look on her face, I could tell that something wasn’t right. Then she eased me towards the truth.
My mum had been single since I had been born. I never knew my father and my mother wouldn’t speak of him, not because he hurt her, but because she did not want me forming any wrong ideas - good or bad - of what he was like. I had never known that she was interested in dating but I wasn’t against the idea. My mother was so kind and she deserved to be happy.
It turned out that while I was attending Hogwarts, my mother had started dating. She was seeing a man who worked in the Ministry of Magic as an auror, Marco James. He was nice and, from what I had been told by my mum’s friends who had seen them together, they were happy. Until a dark wizard came seeking revenge.
They had been out on a date when the wizard started attacking. The wizard’s sister had been sent of Azkaban because of the auror and he wanted revenge in the form of killing the James. And unfortunately, my mother got in the way. She was killed instantly when she tried to shield a lost child who wandered into the line of fire.
Professor Sprout dismissed me from my classes for the rest of the week. For which, I was immensely grateful since it took me two days just to come to terms with what I had been told and then three more days just to stop crying. Olivia, Rachael and Charlie were all sympathetic and did their best to try and distract me.
By the time I went back to classes, I was behind but at least I had stopped feeling the need to start crying whenever I thought about my mum which, sadly, happened a lot during lessons since I always wondered whether she would’ve known about this spell or whether she would’ve known that constellation. I was thankful that I had friends who both paid attention in class and were willing to help me catch up.
The school year continued and when the exams came around, I was able to pass, even if only just. My professors were proud and sympathetic, I almost worried that I only passed with pity but I didn’t have time to think much about it since I was unsure about where I would be spending my Summer. But after a few meetings with Professor Sprout, Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, we all agreed that I move into an orphanage.
So after packing everything in the house my mum and I shared up into boxes (they were shrunk down so that I could keep my mother’s things), I gathered my things and moved into an orphanage in London. Professor Sprout accompanied me and explained everything (obviously without mentioning the parts about magic).
From then on, I spent my summers at the orphanage, living with the other children who had either lost their parents as well or had parents who could not look after them. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t fit in. Especially since I was only around during the summer and would disappear during the rest of the year. I got by though, I sent messages to my friends who also lived in London so every so often, we would arrange to meet up and I lived for those moments.
However, it was only a matter of time until I would have to leave the orphanage too.