Something Different: A Conversation Between Harry Potter and Lupin [Part One]
Say that it happens like this. You are thirteen years old. Summer has ended. The school year is set to begin. You arrive at King’s Cross Station in London, and, upon arrival, make your way, with your traveling companions, to a solid barrier that stands between platforms nine and ten. Because you have been this way before, you know that what you must do next is lean against this barrier until you find yourself falling through—and landing—at platform nine and three-quarters. The train is waiting. You gather your luggage and board, moving with your companions down the corridor until you locate an empty compartment. You settle in. The train begins to move, heading back toward school, toward Hogwarts, a place which you love and are most anxious to return to. You feel the most pleasant sense of anticipation—for the train ride itself, this time together with your friends, the beginning of whole new school year.
The train continues on its way, through the mountains now, then forests, the countryside growing ever wilder and darker as you make your way toward Hogwarts. All of this is as expected. It’s familiar, reassuring even. But then, in the middle of the afternoon, it begins to rain. The rain thickens. The windows turn a solid gray, then gradually become darker. One person lights a lantern and then another does, so that lanterns are lit up and down the train. Perhaps you feel the faintest sense of foreboding. In the next moment the train stops—suddenly, so that suitcases spill from the racks. The lights go out. You’re still trying to get your bearings in the darkness when the door to your compartment opens. A figure appears—a cloaked silhouette—with a hand extending toward you—gray and slimy and scabbed. You hear a rattle—its breath. A deep chill spreads throughout the compartment. Later, one of your companions will describe a feeling in this moment, utterly strange, like he’d never be cheerful again. But for you, the feeling is more acute, more intense, and more intensely painful, the cold seeping beneath your skin and down through layers of muscle and bone into your very heart. You hear, as if from a distance, a terrible screaming and pleading, and then. . . nothing.
When you regain consciousness, you gradually become aware of your surroundings. You also become aware that none of the others in your compartment have fainted, nor have they heard the screaming. As the train begins to regain speed and move towards Hogwarts, you may carry the nagging suspicion that something is wrong with you, something terribly different, some weakness that the others do not share. What you may feel is shame.
And it may happen that you want to talk to someone about this feeling but at the same time you’re not sure who to talk to or how to begin the conversation.
But then one day it may happen that an opening appears. Perhaps a teacher asks you to stay after class for a word. And perhaps you sense a kindness in this teacher—a sense that this teacher knows something. And perhaps, well, you take the leap, find a way to ask the question that you have been longing to ask.
[To be continued.]
[And please note that the scenes for this post are drawn from the third book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.]