Dougal McGregor walked me to town again. I’ve stopped telling him I don’t need walking.
He’s an interesting young man—and a Muggle, which means I can only tell him a small part of what my life has been like at that “boarding school” my parents sent me to. A few pranks, a few stories about winning prizes, never clarifying that the prizes were for transfiguring a chandelier into a snowfall.
He has stories, too. I never really thought about what Muggle children must have done, during those years when I was learning arithmancy and transfiguration, but of course he also went to school, and he was also top of his class. He won a prize for mathematics, and another one for memorizing poetry. I don’t have a single poem memorized, and he has more than I can count. He recited one for me, about comparing a person to a summer day. The language felt like magic. It made me sad that I had missed learning all of that at Hogwarts. That I missed learning everything he knew.
Dougal is going to stay in the village and work on his father’s farm. He cares so much about his crops and his livestock, the ground and the sun and the water and all of it. (It’s one more thing that he’s studied and I don’t understand.) I’d love for him to meet Pomona; I think they’d be good friends. But he never can. She doesn’t know the Muggle world at all, and can’t pretend she lives in it.
When I talk to Muggles it is like I am transforming into someone else; I have to remember what Muggles do, and how they think. I have to remember that they walk towards objects and turn on lights and must do every little bit of work themselves, from stirring pots to scrubbing floors. Dougal doesn’t even notice how much work he does every day, his tanned, freckled arms constantly lifting and moving and carrying. I notice, though. I feel like I notice everything he does. I wonder how much he notices about me.
He knows that I am leaving at the end of the summer to take a job in London. He teases me about it, tells me I’ll become posh. I won’t, though. Wizards are rarely posh. But I know—because I’ve come to know him—that Dougal is really saying that he’s worried I’ll change. That we won’t be able to be friends anymore, if I’m a city girl and he’s a village boy.
But he doesn’t know that I’m already different. I don’t think of myself as a village girl. I didn’t think of the village at all when I was at Hogwarts. I thought of my family, I wrote them letters, but I never thought of the place I was born as somewhere I belonged. I was always meant to go to Hogwarts, and now I’m meant to be a part of the magical world.
I wish I could tell Dougal everything about me. I want him to know me, not just the Muggle part of me that he thinks he likes. I wonder if he would like all of me, if he knew who I really was. I already know I like him. I think I like him more than anyone I’ve ever met.