2: The Big Book
Dumbledore began, "You mentioned that you have a child."
"Yes, I have
a ten year-old son."
"Is he named
David by any chance?"
"Yes. He's David
it, I believe." He turned the book around so that Mr. Lupin and I
could read it. "Here is his name. David Edward Johnson, Plano, Texas."
"How would any
of you know his name? I mean, we've been in Europe before, but not here."
I looked at my son's name. It was written in neat lettering in green ink
with his birthday written across from our address. January 26, that was
correct. The address was written in a rather strange manner: "The
bedroom to the right, at the top of the stairs, 5857 Broadway, Plano,
Texas." Things couldn't get any weirder, could they?
"This book contains
the names of children who will be invited to attend Hogwarts. The letters
are sent prior to the start of the fall term beginning after their eleventh
birthday," Dumbledore explained.
"So you mean
that David will be receiving a letter from this school a year from now?
He turns eleven at the end of January."
Professor Dumbledore. "And yes, that means that he has magical powers."
"I feel a little
queasy. May I sit down again?"
"Here, Mrs. Johnson,"
said Mr. Lupin, "Let me help you."
If that man touches
me, I might just faint, I thought. "That's OK, Mr. Lupin. I can
make it," I said grabbing the arm of the leather chair and sitting
should I make some tea?" asked Mr. Lupin.
"Thank you, Remus.
I think that would be a good idea." Mr. Lupin stepped behind the
desk and started pulling things out. He grabbed a teapot and heated some
water with his wand. I just sat there holding my head in my hands and
wondering how on earth I would tell my husband.
you must think. Have there ever been times when strange things happened
in your home and you could not explain them?"
was the time that David almost knocked over an expensive nativity set,
but it seemed to fly back on the table by itself, and I always thought
the dog shouldn't be able to jump as high as he does. Books, knick-knacks,
and the cookie jar do seem to move by themselves in our house. But, Professor
Dumbledore, there must be a logical explanation for all those things."
"There is a logical
explanation, Mrs. Johnson," said Mr. Lupin, handing me a cup of tea.
"Your son is a wizard."
"You don't have
any tequila, do you? I think I could even eat the worm right now,"
I said, as they looked at each other with puzzled expressions on their
faces. "Look, I'm sorry," I began once more, "but just
this once, couldn't it be his father who gets the strange news?"
Remus Lupin smiled.
"Surely, he'll understand when you tell him. In fact, the way the
letter will be delivered is quite unusual. No one but a wizard would send
a letter with an owl."
"Time out, Mr.
Lupin. Did you just say send a letter with an owl? As in, an owl comes
with the letter? As in, you put an owl in a box and send it to me with
a letter? What do I want with an owl?"
"No, Mrs. Johnson,"
said Professor Dumbledore, chuckling softly. "The owl carries the
letter tied to its leg or in its beak."
or the post office isn't good enough for you?" I asked laughing a
"That is simply
the way it is done in our world," Professor Dumbledore said, in a
reassuring tone of voice.
your world, gentlemen, I have to tell you that I could hardly persuade
my husband to consider sending our son to a school twenty miles from our
house, even if I was the one doing all the transporting. What on earth
makes you think I'll be able to convince him to allow David to come all
the way to Scotland from Texas when we know nothing about this place at
all? Not to mention that this whole wizard thing is going to come as a
bit of a shock. No offense, but I need criminal history checks for the
faculty and some ratings on this school. Another thing, isn't there a
comparable school in the U.S.?" I asked, in a much more strident
tone than I had intended.
"As for your
husband's willingness to accept your son's magical abilities, I cannot
say. It is a fact. And persuading him to allow David to go so far away
may be difficult, I admit. However, a mother can be quite persuasive.
I think that if you believe, in the end, he will allow it to happen."
"I think you
have the wrong house, Professor Dumbledore. We both tend to be a bit over-protective,
and I have to talk myself into it first. What about some sort of background
on the school? I have to go home armed with something." I had to
admit, I liked these two men. They seemed genuinely concerned about this
"There are several
books, one in particular called Hogwarts, A History. I also believe
you may want to look at the textbooks for first year students. If I magically
accelerate your reading speed, you should be able to read them all before
noon tomorrow. As for the American school, I cannot say with absolute
certainty that you would like the school. The curriculum is not as difficult
as ours and you would find that he might not be as well-prepared to face
that the only people I've ever seen who were remotely like you worked
at the Renaissance festival, I'm not sure I could begin to judge the training
of your students against the American students. Is there an article of
some kind from one of your publications I could show my husband?"
"Yes, I believe
that there is a book comparing schools and a fairly recent article from
the Daily Prophet I can give you as well," said Dumbledore.
you mind showing Mrs. Johnson around the school grounds?" He asked
Mr. Lupin. Then, Dumbledore turned to me and said, "I suggest that
you contact your friends, Yolanda, and tell them that you'll be staying
in Hogsmeade tonight. I will ask Madam Pince to collect those books for
you and have Mr. Filch find you an empty room for the night."
isn't she the one who hates for outsiders to get their hands on her books?"
"She will be
fine, Mrs. Johnson. I will assuage her fears that you will rip the books
I'll speak to you later about that other matter," said Mr. Lupin.
said Professor Dumbledore, looking me in the eye, "You must consider
that this is your son's destiny. Trust your instincts. They led you here
in the first instance. You and your husband will make the right choice
for your family, I am sure."
Dumbledore. This has been a most interesting morning."
said Mr. Lupin, in that gentle voice. "Follow me, please." Could
this guy have been any nicer? I started thinking about my single friends
at home. One of them might like dating a wizard. I realized I didn't know
if he was married. A casual glance at his left hand revealed no ring.
That, of course, didn't guarantee anything, even in our world.
not all of the faculty is here right now. Professor Vector, who teaches
Arithmancy, is gone for a few weeks, as is Professor Sprout, our Herbology
teacher. Let's go and meet Professor McGonagall," he suggested.
"Sure. Lead the
way, Professor Lupin. That's your true title, isn't it?" I asked.
"Call me Remus,
please," he replied.
"OK, Remus. Call
"Here we are,
Yolanda," he said, stopping in front of a large door marked "Professor
McGonagall". He knocked.
I heard a woman's
voice call out, "Come in." We walked in and I saw a woman with
the most severe hairstyle I'd seen since Bebe Neuwirth played Lilith on
Cheers. Aside from that, she was wearing a pointed hat and green velvet
robes. At least she didn't cackle like Margaret Hamilton. In fact, her
face seemed kind. I wondered if she tried to look stern to keep the kids
in line. "You must be Mrs. Johnson. I am Professor McGonagall."
She stood and stretched her hand out. What a grip she had. It was like
shaking hands with Janet Reno in a bun.
"Nice to meet
you, Professor McGonagall. I guess you've heard why I'm here."
"As a matter
of fact, Professor Dumbledore came to my office to retrieve the book which
contained your son's name as one of the candidates for admission into
Hogwarts. I'm sure this has come as something of a shock to you. I expect
you'll want verification of the quality of this school."
"You read my
mind, Professor McGonagall. Are you supposed to?"
"No, I teach
Transfiguration. I consider Divination to be more of a soft subject. Let
me begin by saying that Albus Dumbledore is considered one of the best
wizards of the twentieth century. He defeated Grindelwald, a very evil
wizard, in 1945. He has worked and will continue to work tirelessly against
other dark wizards."
"I should have
known that your world would have the same problems as ours," I said,
shaking my head. "When you say that he is working against other dark
wizards, does that mean that my son's safety will be compromised here?"
Remus spoke up. "No,
Yolanda. In fact, this may well be the safest place for him if our current
enemy continues to gain power and spreads his wave of terror to your country."
"OK. Now you're
"You must know
the truth in order to make an informed choice, Mrs. Johnson," said
Professor McGonagall. "We will not lie to you. We want to train our
students to be as prepared and resourceful as possible. Professor Lupin
is an excellent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Professor Snape
is one of the best Potions experts in our country. No one beats Professor
Flitwick when it comes to Charms. You see, we take great pride in our
work. As for me, see for yourself." I heard a pop and looked down
to see a cat. She had turned herself into a tabby cat with markings around
her eyes in the same shape as her square glasses. Then, I heard another
pop and she changed back into herself.
"I am an Animagus,
meaning that I can transform myself from my human form into animal form."
"This is very
advanced magic, Yolanda," said Remus. "It even requires registration
with the Ministry of Magic."
said applauding. "Thank you, Professor McGonagall. I'm not sure I
can fully appreciate your level of knowledge. I may have to ask you some
more questions about Transfiguration after I read all the materials that
Professor Dumbledore is collecting. I won't take anymore of your time
"We'll see each
other at dinner then, Mrs. Johnson."
I said to her. We left her office and closed the door.
"That was incredible.
Can you do that, Remus?"
"In a manner
of speaking," he said, and I thought I saw the slightest hint of
anxiety in his eyes. "Here, let me show you the library and the Astronomy
tower. We walked all over the building and he showed me classrooms and
the common room and dormitory for Gryffindor.
"You know, Remus,
one thing that really concerns me is the fact that everything seems so
disciplined here. I mean Professor McGonagall looks pretty tough. David's
not necessarily used to that, although his teachers aren't exactly marshmallows
"I don't know
what to tell you, except that Professor Dumbledore allows each teacher
the freedom to apply his or her own methods in teaching a subject. I myself
try to build confidence. I find that children tend to live up to expectations.
I simply expect them to do well and they seem to." I agreed with
"I should call
my friends and get started on the reading. I have a phone in my rental
"I'm not certain
that a telephone would work near the school. The magic seems to disrupt
Muggle devices. I think I can help you, though," he said.
We went outside the
castle and I found that my car had been moved inside the school grounds.
I didn't want to think how they did it, since I had the keys with me.
Remus and I went into the car and he waved his wand over the phone. I
didn't catch what he said exactly, but it worked. I called one of my friends
and told them I was going to be staying in a place called Hogsmeade because
I liked the shops. I told them I'd call the next day.
We went back in and
Professor Dumbledore was waiting for us. "Yolanda, I have a room
for you. I left all the reading materials you will need. Come with me."
I appreciate all the time you spent with me."
"See you at dinner,"
I followed Professor
Dumbledore to a room with a nice big window and lots of light. There was
a huge stack of books and magazines waiting for me. He took out his wand
and said, "Lectio Quantocius. That should do it. You should finish
all these materials by noon tomorrow, even taking into account a good
night's sleep and perhaps a bit of a break after dinner to talk to any
of us if you need to."
"Thank you, Professor."
"I will return
for you at dinner time. Your bag is in the other room. Happy reading,
Mrs. Johnson." He left and I got to work.
I pinched myself a
few times and then opened Hogwarts, A History.