Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Seven

Been a while, so you might have to recap: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five and Chapter Six.

Meera quickly recovered to give a boost to Hogwarts’ Quidditch team, but they still couldn’t win the trophy. She looked a little lost every now and there. She hadn’t told anyone her secret, not even Neal and Benny. She didn’t know if any of it made sense.

A final farewell was organized for the winners and all the team and their schools. It was a party scheduled in the ground itself.

Everyone was dressed in their best dresses and robes. Meera, Benny and Neal reached the ground. The match ground had been converted into a huge hall filled with lights, ribbons, tables filled with food and a fountain in the middle. 

‘It smells good,’ Benny said looking at the table filled with cheese delicacies. ‘We should try some.’ 

Meera nodded and the three headed to taste a few cheese pies. 

‘I hear there’s going to be a dance too,’ Neal added eating his pie. ‘This pie is good.’

‘Who will you dance with?’ Meera questioned and immediately fell silent.

‘I might ask Gia. And you?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘She’ll of course ask Li, you see,’ interrupted Benny.

Meera turned slightly red. 

The remaining team also entered the hall. The Durmstrang team was dressed in their dark robes, eliciting power and the Beaubaxtons were as elegant as ever. 

‘How are the boys even that elegant, we should learn some,’ said Meera looking at the Beaubaxtons students. 

‘French perfume,’ said Neal as a girl passed by.

Benny looked at him with a weird look in her eye.

Headmistress Elysian appeared from one of the corner and smiled at the Hogwarts students. Zuck was besides her. 

‘Enjoying the party?’ he asked as a group of students passed by them. 

Everyone of them nodded back in appreciation. 

‘The party isn’t bad, is it Headmistress,’ he said looking at Elysian.

‘Not half as bad.’

‘How’s Meera doing?’ she asked. 

‘She’s fine. Looks little lost every now and then, but intact enough.’

‘Is everything alright?’

‘The secret’s out.’

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Severus-Lily: Was It Only Romantic Love?

I know it is not true, because J.K. Rowling herself told us so, and still I couldn’t stop myself from exploring the angle of platonic friendship in two beloved Harry Potter characters, Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Severus’s complex nature and the final manifestation twisted everything. Severus loved Lily too much to let her go even after she passed away. Some say he was obsessed with her and couldn’t move on, and some other love him dearly for the sacrifices he made. It was all ‘L-O-V-E’.

Of course it was love, but what kind of love? Love remains a central theme in the Harry Potter series. It is the ultimate weapon that destroys Lord Voldemort. Lily’s love for Harry, Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione, Dobby’s loyalty to Harry. All the characters on the good side manifest love, including the Malfoy’s despite standing with the Dark Lord. So many different kinds of love have been explored in the series, with one of the major highlights being Severus and Lily.

The question isn’t as much as ‘Were these two characters just friends?’, as much as ‘Would it justify everything if they were just friends?’ Simply saying, would Severus do everything he did if Lily were just a friend?

Here’s a small poll I did on facebook to know what my Harry-Potter-Loving-Friends think. Seems like I might not be alone about the different angle in Severus-Lily’s relationship.

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Family is a strong theme running right from the first page of the first book. Sacrifices have been made for families and by families throughout the series. By the end we see that scarifies have been made for romantic love too, by Severus for Lily. Carrying a mountain for family and for romantic love has been an ongoing theme in literature for thousand of years. But sacrifices have also been made by friends, well wishes and everyone who stood on the good side. We have Tonks and Lupin who died leaving their new born son, Harry’s DA friends-Neville, Ginny, Luna, Seamus, Dean who fought because it was right. Everyone risked their lives. And that is why I wonder if Severus would do what he did, even if Lily were just a friend he deeply cared about.

Never in the books is it explicitly mentioned that Severus loved Lily in a romantic way. Sure there are a lot of metaphors the famous one being the ‘Always’ dialogue between Severus and Dumbledore, but then again aren’t metaphors suppose to mean more than what can be seen?

Severus was loyal to the Dark Lord and spills the prophesy made by Trelawney only to realize that the Dark Lord would now kill Harry, who was Lily’s son. Anyone could have felt the shock, Lily doesn’t have to be his love interest for the shock to run down his veins. The guilt of putting your dear friend in danger (and eventually having her murdered) might take toll on anyone. So Severus’s actions could have been his own path to redemption. There’s no saying it wasn’t love, but there are so many other possibilities, other emotions, other kinds of love, which often run under the shadows of romantic love and family love.

There’s so much more. Wouldn’t you agree?

3 Powerful Moments from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Dark spoiler aler. If you haven’t read the seventh book in the series you might as well return, unless of course you know how to use the obliviate spell for spoilers!

After one year, one month and eighteen day, a magical journey ended. That was the exact time I needed to finish all the seven books in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. The final book is filled with intensity as the magical world prepares to face Voldemort, alongside Harry. Many secrets are revealed, and Rowling’s masterpiece is woven together as all pieces are placed in their perfect order.

The reason I chose these moments has to do with the spontaneity it comes in and catches the reader and the characters, and eventually ends up revealing so much more about them and the context everything is happening in. These moments are subtle and yet carry so much weight in them.

There are so many powerful moments of loss, pain, change and inspiration, and this list definitely does not suffice. Nonetheless, here are the three powerful but subtle moment from the final Harry Potter book.

  1. Harry discovering the paintings in Luna’s room

Luna had decorated her bedroom ceiling with five beautifully painted faces: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville. They were not moving as the portraits at Hogwarts moved, but there was a certain magic about them all the same: Harry thought they breathed. What appeared to be fine golden chains wove around the pictures, linking them together, but after examining them for a minute or so, Harry realised that the chains were actually one word, repeated a thousand times in golden ink: … friends … friends …

Harry felt a great rush of affection for Luna.

I absolutely adore Luna, for her witty lines and her deep caring intent. While we as readers are able to see into her, perhaps the other characters in the books do not know much about her, with the little exception of Harry. Even so, I’d like to believe Harry did not know the depth of care that Luna carried for everyone. In this moment when he discovers the paintings, Luna becomes really special to Harry. No, she’ll never be Ron or Hermoine or Ginny, but Luna will be Luna. She never explicitly expresses how she feels about her friends. It is only through her little actions that her nature is revealed. And in this exact moment Harry realises how much Luna holds inside of her.

There’re many of us who are like Luna. And she continues to be herself, the irreplaceable Luna. And we continue to be our irreplaceable self.

2. Harry’s feelings after Dobby’s death

Harry placed the elf into the grave, arranged his tiny limbs so that he might have been resting, then climbed out and gazed for the last time upon the little body. He forced himself not to break down as he remembered Dumbledore’s funeral, and the rows and rows of golden chairs, and the Minister for Magic in the front row, the recitation of Dumbledore’s achievements, the stateliness of the white marble tomb. He felt that Dobby deserved just as grand a funeral, and yet there the elf lay between bushes in a roughly dug hole.

Harry mirroing Dumbledore’s death and his deep thought that Dobby deserves the same grandeur to celebrate his life and death, teared me up. Dobby was a tiny little character and yet because of his love and respect towards Harry he manages to carve his place. In this fight everyone has their part, big or small. Dobby, of whose life we do not know much, might have been a small part of it all, but he still remains equally important. Dobby stands as a reflection to all the ones who have played small and yet equally respectful roles not just in Harry Potter but also in our lives.

3. Neville Standing up against Alecto Carrow

‘…..I got this one,’ he indicated another slash to his face, ‘for asking how much Muggle blood she and her brother have got.’

‘Blimey, Neville,’ said Ron, ‘there’s a time and a place for getting a smart mouth.’

‘You didn’t hear her,’ said Neville. ‘You wouldn’t have stood it either. The thing is, it helps when people stand up to them, it gives everyone hope. I used to notice that when you did it, Harry’.

Neville Longbottom is such a wonderful character that has grown over the course of these seven books. In the final book, Neville has grown into so much more than what he started out as. ‘It gives everyone hope,’ this is a beautiful statement made by Neville, despite the pain and fear he might have faced when he decided to stand up against Alecto. Courage was a choice, not something given and Neville proves it over and over again, more visible than ever in the The Battle of Hogwarts.

It also made me reflect the words of Albus Dumbledore for Neville from the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.

The more I think about the books, the more I realize that Harry Potter is about so many things, and one of them would be how we all have our spaces in our worlds. They might be big or small, but they have something to do. Without all the ones who believed and worked for the good side, the Boy Who Lived might not have been successful at overthrowing You-Know-Who. Harry Potter may have been the mighty arsenal, the sword, the weapon bestowed power to vanquish the dark lord, but the vessels that were inside of him, that gave him his life, belonged to all those who fought for the good. Tiny little stones make up sky piercing mighty mountains.

Or we might say in the words of Albus Dumbledore himself (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. 

The Magic Spell To Conversations

It pains me to know that while I was ardently taught the art of oration for years and years in school and university, the art of conversation was left way behind. Perhaps it was the omnipresence of the action, the idea that we conversed every day that made it too mundane to be considered a skill to be taught or most importantly a skill that can be learnt. Back in school I looked longingly at my friends who got on the podium to deliver magnificent speeches and today I longingly look at the ones who outmaneuver themselves in the art of conversing.

But maybe all isn’t lost, and for the ones who are a little awkward at conversations like myself, there’s still hope.

For me the most daunting task of starting a conversation is the the ice breaker.

What do I say?

“Hi, I’m Alfa. And I am fond of cats!”

Great.

Or maybe not so great. What if the other person is allergic to cats! or even worse what if a cat attacked her/his favorite pet mouse a long long time ago! Ah possibilities!

But if the other person also does love cats, then the conversation might be going somewhere. (Phew, thankfully!).

But well, not all conversations begin that way, and cats are not the second thing I blabber about right after my name. I read it somewhere that a conversation is like making a sandwich. You add an ingredient and then slide it over to the other person, the other then adds something and slides it back to you. As long as the sandwich keeps sliding, the conversation continues.

Leaving sandwiches aside, over the past few months, I have noticed an interesting pattern. And yes it has to do with Harry Potter (I’m known to spread the Harry Potter fandom at work, so well). After getting a little comfortable with people, I usually end up asking, “Have you read/watched Harry Potter?” Sometimes I get asked the same question.

You might have guessed, when the answer is a YES, conversing becomes a lot more easier, just like that. I can somehow take a breath of relief. I know I can add in a little Harry Potter reference to the sandwich to keep it sliding and hopefully the sandwich would come sliding back at me. And more often than not, the sandwich has come sliding back, and then forth.

One time I had to sit down next to a person who I barely knew. I wanted to speak and say more than Hi to settle the awkwardness in the air, but I didn’t know what to say. Out of the blue someone in the side chanted the magic words ‘Harry Potter’ and I immediately asked, ‘Do you like Harry Potter by any chance?’ I was really skeptic to be honest.

‘I’ve watched all the films 5 times,’ was the reply. Totally unexpected. Turns out the other person also liked cats, and we ended up talking about Minereva McGonagall and her transfiguration power. (Spoiler for muggles: McGonagall can transform herself into a cat.)

And just like that a difficult silence turned into an interesting evening of conversations.

Last week I met a few juniors at a program and we sat down after the event for dinner. Being the older one, it was on me to initiate the conversation. I asked them what they liked and three of them said books. Dan Brown was a favorite among them. One was reading Sapiens. We talked about The Da Vinci Code for a while and then I asked about Harry Potter. The girl who was sitting to my left happened to be a big fan. ‘I absolutely love Snape,’ she said. I could sense that she had resented this particular character for a long time before coming to realize his role in the books.

We even had a harmless giggle when we noticed someone in the crowd who we both thought resembled Draco Malfoy (a character from the books). (No harm intended to the person in the crowd!). (I myself was dressed in a long robe, looking like a witch!). The air was already relaxed and I could breathe and continue naturally.

A big chunk of ice breaker had been eased by a literary masterpiece. No wonder they call Harry Potter a work that has touched generations. I am well aware that this does not work all the time. But then again, there’s probably nothing that works all the time.

I have slowly been realizing that these snippets of conversations have been helping me become more confident at initiating and keeping conversations alive. I will eventually have to move out of my comfort zone and into the unknown filled with spontaneity and risk. I hope there will be a day when I will be able to spark a conversation with natural ease even when I do not have magic cues, till then I will have to keep trying to get the magic spell right.

Wingardium Leviosa!