In the days after you first broke through London on the express and found the true country with the poppies and the rains and the Forbidden Forest, where the half-giant Hagrid cabined as a kindly vagrant, in those first days before the great unvirgining of the War, if you could keep from making too many appointments, one could live very fine at the Chateau Hogwarts.
I went shooting with Ronald Weasley, a poor rat faced boy with ginger hair, and he told me of a good place on the grounds where there were many creatures to be petrificus totalus-ed and we skinned them and removed the entrails and ate well. The air was soft and alive with the cold of September and we had a carafe of butterbeer that we drank from which made us enchanted. In those days my wound did not act as it soon would, in the period after the War returned and I was crippled in a shameful way.
In the train compartment where I first met Hermione Granger, I was asked about the wound.
“It’s a scar,” I said, “from the War.”
“You’re Harry Potter.”
“Yes,” I said, and I had the feeling of disgust which always came when my wound was mentioned.
The Sorting Hat knew that I had strength and courage and said I would do well at Slytherin. But I knew of Slytherin and said, “it would not do to be in Slytherin,” and it said, “You would do well there,” and I said, “it certainly would not do,” and it said, “I rather think you are Slytherin,” and I said, “go to hell,” and it said, “Gryffindor, then.” It gave me pleasure to be in Gryffindor. My parents had gone to Gryffindor, before they had been killed in the War.
Christmas came and was white and we were cheerful. But then you would think of the War which you knew would come again, and it was back to the cold winter, which was the true winter. So there was not joy in Christmas. I received a manly sweater which gave me pleasure, but in the face of the coming War, there was not enough pleasure to be had from the sweater.
At le village du Hogsmeade I would often meet with Hermione, but it would never go because of my wound.
“Couldn’t we try again, Harry?” she said. It was night, and we embraced beneath the cloak of invisibility.
“Wouldn’t work. Never does.”
“I don’t awfully mind it though.”
But I knew that my wound would get in the way of things, as it always did.
“None can live while the other survives. Damned impossible.”
She hung her head and I yelled “fuck!!!” very loudly and then I went out walking in the past-midnight. On the grounds I saw a dementor who made me think of my dead parents, and of all the people I had known who had died, and also of the people who had yet to die and would.
Dumbledore gave everyone much advice in those days so I went to see him in his salon at the Chateau Hogwarts. We all appreciated the advice he gave even though there were funny rumours about him and Grindelwald. But if you could ignore the rumours, you’d see he was very intelligent, and I always enjoyed the many fine paintings of old men he hung upon his walls.
He looked at me over his half-moon spectacles and said the thing about my generation was that we were all lost, which I thought was true.
“Damn it all.” I said. “Damn my wound.”
“Your wound is what makes you special, Harry,” he said.
“Go to hell.”
I thought about the Chateau Hogwarts then, with its great feasts and moveable stairways, and how I would be taken from its halls and from the country which I admired, and felt strongly that I belonged to something that was departing and that I did not have the power to prevent from happening, and I did not want the business with Voldemort, I wanted to stay in the Chateau with Hagrid and live with the Gryffindors. But I knew that I had to see about Voldemort.
“Love is the most powerful magic in this world, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “One day you will come to understand that.”
My wound began to prickle. I shook my head. All I could think about was Voldemort.
“Yes,” I said, “isn’t it pretty to think so.”
Julien Darmoni is a writer and performer living in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter.
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