A Hint of Magic
Over Christmas, my brother and I ventured to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’ve been trying to think of how I wanted to share this experience with you, and these little moments seem like the best way. Enjoy, friends.
We enter through the wrong passageway (or at least, not the main one). Immediately, I see a witch casting a spell on a fountain against the blue sky. We are no longer in Florida, but in a hidden part of London on a warm summer day. We turn to each other, but there are no words. I’m not sure we quite believe it yet: we have walked into beloved books, we are here.
We stop first at the bank. Gringott’s looms large before us, topped with a dragon. We walk through the lobby, watching the goblins doing their accounts under a glittering chandelier. Slowly, we descend and board our carts. We teeter and lurch through the bowels of the building, passing vaults and people we know along the way. It’s a wild ride, but we make it out alive.
We gather with others, waiting to see the wandkeeper at Olivander’s shop. The walls around us are lined with wand boxes, covered with varying degrees of dust. I have been here before, hoping to be chosen by my very own wand, but the timing was never right. “It must not have been in the room,” I said to my brother. “Perhaps next time.” I think that he hoped I would give up. All the previous day, we slipped into Olivander’s from time to time. On our last visit of the day, his wand chose him, but I went to sleep without one.
We visit early the next day, surrounded by a crowd. I worry that I will never be chosen, certainly not now with all these people.
We walk down the passage to meet the wandkeeper. She is bent over her desk in deep concentration, but when we come in she looks up. She walks right up to me. “You’re here for your wand,” she says. It is not a question.
I step up to the desk and hold out my arm for measurement as she begins to look for my wand. She takes one out of a box and asks me to water her flowers. I swish, and they wilt. “No,” she says. “Not that one.”
She takes another wand from a box, this time she asks me to levitate a wand box on a high shelf. I wave it, and the shelf falls. She shakes her head and takes it from me.
Subtle music begins to play and my spine tingles. “I wonder,” she says, taking a dusty box from it’s place on a shelf. She takes out the wand and hands it to me. As I touch it, I am immediately flooded with light, dramatic music, and a gust of wind.
“The wand chooses the wizard,” she says, “although it is not always clear why.”
Later, I peek at my wand, made of birch (for a creative, loving witch), and with a unicorn hair core (because of my charismatic personality). I take it out and swish and flick in front of a store window. The quill on display begins to rise, magically.
We walk through King’s Cross Station, and between platforms 9 and 10. We are on Platform 9 and 3/4. It is impossible to hold back a tiny squeal. Smoke rises from the engine as it comes up to the platform. We find seats in our compartment and settle in for the trip. I watch out the window, and listen to familiar voices outside the compartment door, belonging to moving shadows. My excitement rises as I see the castle approaching. We are nearly there.
We leave the train and arrive at Hogsmeade. The houses are covered with snow. Honeyduke’s is on our left (with a giant chocolate frog in the window). I catch sight of the Three Broomsticks, and off in the distance, of Hogwarts. I clutch my brother’s arm and catch his eye. I can see it, he’s excited, too.
We walk through the castle, taking in the sights. I catch a glimpse of the mirror of Erised, the house points, then, the talking sorting hat. We enter the Great Hall and begin to fly, following Harry into a Quidditch game, and ending up in the forest. We arrive safely back at Hogwarts (as always).
I duck into the bathroom quickly. As I’m waiting in line, I hear Moaning Myrtle’s voice, accompanied by splashing. I smile to myself. “Hello Myrtle,” I whisper.
I hop onto a dragon with my brother, buckling my seatbelt before we rise into the air. We are in the mouth of the blue dragon as it flies, looping, pitching and racing through the Tri-Wizard Tournament. It’s a wild rush, but I can’t keep the smile off my face. Instead of screaming, I yell “wheeee!”
IX. We board the train headed back for London. It is almost time to return to real life. The train pulls into the station, and I would swear that the music overhead is a blend of all of the Hogwarts goodbyes. Still, there is much to see out the window, and many conversations to overhear on the way back. I clutch my wand, trying to hold onto the magic.
We sip hot Butterbeer in the Leaky Cauldon. We have finished lunch and this is our last stop before we return to the Muggle world. Goodbyes are always hard. This one is sweeter than most, tasting of molten caramel. As I sip, I think of J. K. Rowling’s words “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
I count on it.
Be sure to come back on Monday for the next installment of my series on friendship!