How can I explain it to him?
I wonder, as I hurry along the road. How can I explain that I'm a... a big girl now? A witch, already in my first year at Hogwarts? He's only nine. He'll never understand that I'm far too old for make-believe love. Whatever games we played as a child, now I have to learn to be an adult. But how can I explain that to him?
At the gate to his house, Plocky the peacock regards me as mistrustfully as ever. Instead of stopping as I usually do, I glide past him and knock on the door of Maxy’s house. The door swings open almost instantly, and he is there, gazing at me with his shining blue eyes.
"Lavender!" he squeals, and throws his arms around me. I stiffen and draw back, looking around his yard furtively. Please Godric, don't let any of my schoolmates have seen that! Not that they would have, of course. There are no other witches in this little village. All the same...
He catches the involuntary movement and frowns. "Lav, what's the matter?"
I draw a breath, and attempt to adopt my loftiest air. "Maximilius, I've come to inform you that I wasn't sent away to stay with my uncle, like I told you before. I now attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I'm a real witch, learning real magic - and I'm afraid I don't have time for the pretend sort. Neither do I want to imagine that we will ever, er, get married. Here," I hand him all the letters he sent me over the school term. "Please, don't write to me. As I said, I don't want to play with you again. I have real magic, and grown-up friends."
I leave his house with purposeful strides, only wishing my cloak was there to billow around me. Plocky squawks as I go.
"Lav!" Maxy cries out, heartbreak in his voice. "Lav! Wait!" And despite myself, I slow and turn around. There are tears flowing down my childhood friend's rosy cheeks. "Lav, you say you have real magic. But the real magic is love, and friendship. Lav, don't you want that magic?"
To my shock, I feel salty droplets on my own cheeks. I stumble away, down the street, and collapse on a bench in front of the nearby beach.
Shaking my head to clear the tears from my eyes, I freeze. Beside me on the bench there sits an old man, who I am positive wasn't there before. He turns his face towards mine, and see that his eyes are a brilliant blue. Maxy's eyes!
"Lav," he whispers huskily, "I never lost my love, and I wouldn't have, not for all the magic spells in the world."
I jump up off the bench and run backwards from this strange old man with Maxy's eyes. For a moment he is framed there, against the backdrop of the churning sea.
Then he flickers, fades, and is gone.