July 12th, 1992
Reggie only had been eleven for three days now, but he was enjoying every second of it. All in all, he was relieved that his fifth year at the local primary school was finally over.
Overall, Reggie was a pretty average boy, not that he minded: At eleven years old; he was slightly on the taller side for his age, with straight black hair his mother was forever nagging him to cut, along with vibrant blue eyes. Presently, Reggie had snuck downstairs to make himself a simple breakfast of cereal- it was still early; and he didn’t want to wake his parents.
The boy sat down at the table and was in the process of pouring cereal into the waiting bowl when there was a loud Thump! Coming from the kitchen window, as though something had crashed into it. Reggie got up and went to see what had caused the noise; only to discover there was a long-eared owl hovering outside the window, holding what appeared to be an envelope in its beak.
Reggie could swear that if birds could look impatient; this one certainly would, and on that note, he opened the window and let the owl fly in. The long-eared owl dropped the envelope on the table, hooted, and then flew back out the window from wherever it had come.
Immensely curious to see what was in the envelope, Reggie tore it open and carefully removed the letter within, shocked to see that it had his name on it:
TO MR. REGINALD BALLARD
The Second Bedroom
Skimming down the text of the letter, Reggie noticed it said he’d been accepted into some school he’d never heard of called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Was this someone’s idea of a late birthday joke? A School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? A magical school?
Head spinning, Reggie needed to sit down and really think about all of this. It took a moment for him to recall exactly what had happened, but his mind eventually flashed back to that time when he was eight, when the shoebox in his father’s closet had seemingly flown right off the shelf and into his arms.
What had that been, exactly? There was no rational way of explaining that, but now that Reggie considered it, magic was suddenly making more and more sense. Assuming this letter was real….. That had to mean he was capable of magic, or else he wouldn’t have gotten a letter from this school.
Throughout his childhood, Reggie had never been entirely sure if he believed in magic or not. He knew that there were things that could not rationally be explained; and though he accepted them, he longed to know the logic behind them- because of this mindset he had always had a very resolute attitude at school, and for that the teachers had loved him. Indeed, Reggie was rarely seen without a book on something.
And yet, for all his logical thinking and book smarts, Reggie found he could not find an exact answer on what his apparently being magical meant, and what lay in store for him at Hogwarts should he choose to attend. Instinctively, he decided to go to his parents. Perhaps they would know something.
Wanting answers, but simultaneously embarrassed for feeling like such a little boy even though he’d just turned eleven, Reggie left the kitchen and clambered up the stairs to his parents’ bedroom.
Regulus was abruptly woken to the sound of his bedroom door being violently thrown open.
He opened his eyes and turned over on the bed to see his eleven-year-old son standing in the doorway, surrounded by sunlight and clutching an uncannily familiar-looking letter in his hand.
“Dad? I’m sorry I woke you. But…. An owl came in through the kitchen window and I got this letter and---“
Regulus’ eyes widened. Reggies’ Hogwarts acceptance letter. So they day he’d feared most had arrived at last.
“Come on. I need to tell you something- don’t wake your mother, I want to tell her this myself, and privately. This is very important.”
Reggie nodded and wordlessly followed his father out of the bedroom and down the stairs.
“Reggie, I…. There’s a lot of things I’ve never told you, and I apologize. But I thought that this day was never going to come- I hoped it wouldn’t, anyway. But I’m not going to sugarcoat this, you’re old enough to understand.”
Reggie only nodded mutely, wanting to understand everything so he could make sense of all of this. So for the time being, he did not interrupt.
“A long time ago, before you were born, I went by a different name other than Reginald Ballard; this isn’t my original name. My original name…. Was Regulus Black. I was raised in a society where all people have magical abilities, and the family I came from was very well-off. Fifteen years ago I joined an organization called the Death Eaters. We worked for…. A Dark Lord, and we all shared his philosophy: That anyone who was of non-magical heritage, especially Muggles- people without magic- and Muggleborns- witches and wizards of muggle background- Were lesser and deserved to die. And I was so young, Reggie, so sheltered and naïve….. That I believed it. I lapped it all up.”
Regulus just laughed bitterly; an unfamiliar sound that unnerved Reggie just a bit.
“When I was eighteen, I realized how wrong I was, and that the Dark Lord was nothing like his promises. I decided to destroy an object that was very important to him, and like a coward, I fled. I told a family servant to tell my parents I had died; and I’ve been here in the Muggle world ever since.”
For a long time, there was only silence. The only thing Reggie could manage to ask his father was:
“The Death Eaters….. Are they still looking for you, even now?”
“And what would point would there be in searching for a dead man?”
Reggie grew quieter still as his father resumed talking.
“When I was your age, I attended Hogwarts. Assuming you’ll go too, I want to tell you as much about it as you’d like to know.”
His tone was gentler, calmer now and Reggie found himself slowly recovering from his unsettledness.
“There are four houses: Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin. I was in Slytherin; nearly my entirely family was.”
“If I go to Hogwarts, what house will I be in?”
“I can’t say, the Sorting Hat decides that.”
“The Sorting Hat?”
“Yes, a talking hat that decides what house the First Year students will be placed in.”
A talking hat?
Reggie thought with a giggle, getting more and more intrigued at these accounts of Hogwarts. But there was only one thing left he needed to know…..
Regulus paused when they were halfway up the stairs.
“I…. I know this is stupid but…. Can you prove to me that magic is real?”
Regulus glanced back at his son, seeming confident in himself; despite the fact he hadn’t done magic in some thirteen years.
“Of course. Just as soon as I talk to your mother…”
Regulus said over his shoulders, and disappeared into his bedroom leaving his son alone and waiting on the landing, disappointment vivid in his eyes.
“Lorraine. Lorraine, wake up.”
In the confines of their bedroom, Regulus gently grabbed Lorraine by her shoulders until she opened her eyes blearily.
“Reginald…. What time is it….?”
“Early enough. I have to tell you something now…. It’s important.”
Lorraine immediately became concerned at the bleakness in her husband’s tone.
“Lorraine….. I’m going to explain all this as easily as I can but…… The past twelve years, I’ve done something horrible. I didn’t tell you the truth about who I am, and where I come from.”
Lorraine blinked, unable to comprehend this in the slightest.
“Reginald, what….? You’ve got to be kidding. I’ve known you for over ten years, and I trust you with my life. How…. How in the hell could you have?!”
Regulus did his best to soothe his wife, who was rightfully growing angry, as confused as she was.
“Lorraine…. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. And that I love you more than either of us will be able to know, or understand. But I lied for a reason- well, a lot of reasons, actually. I suppose I’ll start with the small things: My name actually isn’t Reginald Ballard. It’s Regulus Black. I come from a world that’s… Connected but cut off from our own. It’s a very prejudiced, rotten world where magic exists, but it’s also an amazing world that’s full of things you’d never dream existed. I’m a wizard. Our son….. Is a wizard. Reggie actually got a letter today from a very prestigious school---“
Lorraine had risen from the bed now and had backed into the wall, shaking all over as though chilled.
“….You’re crazy. You have got to be. That is the most unbelievable, delusional…..Bullshit I have ever heard. There’s no such thing as magic- I should know; I’m a physicist.”
Regulus sighed and tried to remain patient. Unfortunately, he had expected a reaction like this from Lorraine- the average Muggle, he knew, typically would not respond well upon learning that magic indeed existed. But he would try to explain to her as best he could.
He gently took her face in his hands, raising her chin slightly with a single finger.
“It is real. And I can show you.”
Lorraine said nothing as Regulus crossed the room to the closet, took out the shoebox on the back shelf, and removed his dust-coated old wand. Lorraine watched silently as Regulus pointed the wand and shouted:
Out of nowhere, a silver, vaporous fox materialized from the end of the wand. Lorraine watched, entranced, as it strode proudly around the room for a few moments; raised its head once, then vanished.
“That was a Patronus; a charm used to ward off Dementors- I don’t think you want to know what those are.”
Just to further cement the fact that magic indeed existed, Regulus performed two other spells- He Levitated a lamp a few inches off a nightstand and conjured flames that of course, did not burn his hands a bit.
Lorraine was unsure how to react. She simply stood there, mute. For some illogical reason, tears began falling down her cheeks but she pathetically made no effort to wipe them off.
“What…. What was….?”
Regulus only smiled thinly, arms folded.
“Magic. Now do you believe me?”
Lorraine only nodded wordlessly. As silly as it sounded, there was simply no other way to explain the beautiful silver fox that had appeared out of the stick- the wand.
“Oh, god, Reginald- Regulus-…..What are we going to do with Reggie?”
“That’s exactly what I wanted to talk to you about, Lorraine.”
Regulus returned to her side, his voice calm and warm now.
“Reggie woke me up this morning saying he’d gotten a letter. And it was his acceptance letter from Hogwarts- a very famous school for the children of wizards. If you want, we don’t have to send him; there are a few magical public schools here in Britain.”
Lorraine’s voice was brittle, and cracked when she spoke. She already hated herself for feeling so broken and cowardly.
“Tell me about Hogwarts,”
Regulus spent the next twenty minutes explaining everything he knew about the school to Lorraine; from the four houses, to Quidditch, to exams and classes.
Lorraine was already mesmerized about her husband’s tales of this magical school; with its ghosts and moving stairs, eccentric teachers, and extraordinary creatures. There was a whole bitterness to this captivated feeling, however. As intrigued as she felt about the school her son very might well attend, it was irrevocably broken by the fact that her husband had lied to her about his entire life, and who he was. Before Lorraine made the decision to send Reggie anywhere for his sixth year of schooling; she would need to do some serious thinking on the matter.
“I…I still love you but I don’t even know what to think. It just hurts like a bitch that you lied to me all these years and never told me until now.”
“I know, Lorraine, and I never said you had to forgive me. But just bear with me….. There’s one other thing I need to tell you. One more thing.”
“And what’s that?”
“I need to tell you… Why I left the Wizarding world.”
“Yes, why did you? It sounds like a hell of a place the way you’re making it out to be.”
Lorraine’s voice was edged with resentment.
“I left because I didn’t have a choice. Fifteen years ago, when I was sixteen- yes, I’ll get to that shortly-...”
Regulus went on to tell Lorraine a similar version of his time with the Death Eaters as the one he’d told Reggie (along with the more insignificant fact that he was actually thirty-one and not thirty-four), but there was one added detail:
“You remember that tattoo I had on my wrist? The skull with the snake coming from its mouth?”
“Yes, I do.”
“That wasn’t a tattoo. It was the Dark Mark, it was how the Dark Lord kept track of his most important followers. I had it surgically removed when Reggie was two; but you remember that. And there’s the whole story.”
Lorraine was silent for a moment, putting together all the pieces in her mind. So based on what her husband was telling her; the husband who’d let her believe that that he was a loving but antisocial country boy with no friends, was in actuality a wizard who’d gone to an esteemed school for magical children and had been forced to flee into the world she knew due to renouncing his affiliation with a shadowed group called the Death Eaters.
And though the contemptuous, wounded anger that had consumed Lorraine when Regulus had first told her the truth had receded slightly, it was only slightly. She expected it would be some time before she had fully recovered from the massive shock. But from now, she tried to put her own petty emotional wounds aside and tried to focus on her son’s future- There was no more important thing to her in the world than that.
So Lorraine did her very best to stay strong. She looked at Regulus from where she currently stood and said in as unwavering a voice as she could muster:
“I think we should both talk to Reggie, about where he should be going to school. We can deal with our own problems later.”
And with that, the two adults left the bedroom and went to find their son, so they could discuss his education as a family.