I walked slowly through the halls of Hogwarts, running my fingers lightly over the ancient walls. I paused before a sinister-looking statue of a one-eyed witch, examining the smooth lines of her face. I couldn’t believe I was standing in the very castle that had occupied my dreams for so many years.
I reached my hand out to the stone crone, feeling as if I had to touch her to make sure she was real, that it was all real, that my eyes and my ears weren’t conspiring to bewitch the rest of my senses into believing I was someplace I was not.
My hand floated languidly through the air, alighting briefly on the tip of the crone’s nose. As my fingers absorbed the coolness of the hard stone, I froze, barely daring to believe what I was feeling.
My hand lay on the witch’s face for less than a second, but, rendered immobile and unthinking and uncomprehending by an overpowering surge of repressed elation, the instant felt like an eternity. I allowed a whisper of a thought to cross my mind.
The whisper, encouraged by my lack of resistance, morphed into a shout and then transformed into a mind-numbing roar.
I’M HERE I’M HERE I’MHEREI’MHEREI’MHERE!!!!!!!!!
As time slowed and stretched, I stood prone, my feet refusing to move. I felt as if I had sprouted roots, roots that were burrowing through the floor of the castle as if to say, Don’t even try to take us away from this place, because now that we’ve come, we shall not be displaced. This is where we belong.
My reverie was interrupted by a slight, sudden movement beneath my hand. I snapped back to reality, shaken out of my stupor.
I didn't see anything. I had half convinced myself that I was hopelessly delusional when I thought I heard a quiet rumble emanating from the statue. Unsure, I scrutinized the crone. For a moment, nothing happened. I inhaled. Then, as if my breath was an impetus, the statue shifted again. I watched in horror as a crackappeared in the crone's wide back, splitting her open between her hunched shoulder blades. A menacing grinding noise filled the air, wreaking havoc on my eardrums.
I jumped back, not quite sure what was happening. Had I done something? Did I accidentally cast a spell, or do something else to break the statue? Just my luck – who else could walk into a new school, a school they'd dreamed of all their life, and commit an act of vandalism – unintentional destruction of priceless school property – before they had even attended a single class? And I swear, I had barely even touched the thing!
It was all too much. I sunk to the floor and shrunk against the wall. Here I was, in the place that was the setting for all my cherished fantasies, and I was tearing it down around my ears. It couldn’t be real. It just couldn’t. I was imagining it after all, every single bit.
But then, as I cowered pathetically in the hallway, sitting with my head between my knees, eating my hair, I heard the grinding noises, the awful sounds of stone on stone, cease. I chanced a quick glance upward, prepared to witness the collapse of the walls of the school.
OK, I was being a tad bit dramatic. The Hogwarts Castle is a magical fortress, a stronghold of centuries’ worth of ancient magic, built by four of the most powerful wizards known to mankind, and I was egotistical enough to believe I could damage it.
In my defense, it had been a crazy couple of days.
As I darted a glance out from under the protection of my protruding kneecaps (I was crouched with my legs drawn inward, clutching them to me like a shield – yes, yes, I know, idiotic) I noticed, dimly, that not only were the statue and the castle wall as solid and immovable as before, but that I was also sharing my hallway with a gorgeous boy. A stunning boy. A ravishing boy with emerald-green eyes and charmingly disheveled hair and a look of furtive mischief on his beautiful face.
And I was curled up in the fetal position, sucking on my split ends. Life is such a bitch sometimes.
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