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Self-study

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Once you gave a thing a name you gave it a life.” – Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

 

Harry wasn't stupid. He knew that he was causing the strange things, which happened from time to time. After all, Uncle Vernon was punishing him, whenever these things happened, so it had to be his fault. His theory was supported by the feeling he got every time something unexplainable happened. The problem now was how to stop it. He tried to suppress the feeling, but it wasn't working. He needed more information.

 

Harry's first weeks at school were...acceptable. He had to deal with Dudley and his friends. And he might have turned his teacher's wig blue. However, he also learnt a few useful things, including a way to get more information on a certain topic: The Library. His relatives had never bothered reading anything other than newspapers and magazines. When someone was stupid enough to give Dudley a book as a present it ended up in Dudley's second bedroom, gathering dust. Harry felt nervous, but also eager when he entered the library. There was something about the place, which felt like... something. He approached the desk of the librarian. He took a deep breath and couldn't help but smile.

“Excuse me”, he asked. “Where can I find books about strange and unexplainable things?”

 

The librarian didn't seem to completely understand the question and sent Harry to the fantasy section. It didn't take him long to discover that the strange things were caused by magic. His magic. He began to spend most of his free time in school reading numerous fantasy books and taking notes. He knew that he shouldn't take everything at face value. However, there was a grain of truth in every fairy tale. The problem was to find it.

 

Harry wondered if he needed a staff. Since he had given magic a name, he could feel it better, but control was still beyond his grasp. Suppressing his magic was out of the question. His magic was part of him. He had to learn how to control it. He had to learn how to use magic. Tolkien was not much help. There were certainly magical beings in Middle-earth and even humans and Hobbits were able to do magic, but he didn't find any helpful information on how to learn it. Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels proved to be more help. Ged learnt from his maternal aunt, the village witch, and from the wizard Ogion before going to school on Roke Island. Harry didn't believe Aunt Petunia was willing or capable of teaching him the true name of things. Magic might be an innate power, but you clearly needed a teacher. Terry Pratchett was an eye opener. Some people might think that there was nothing to gain from reading books parodying classical fantasy novels and fairy tales. However, Harry was intrigued by the different ways to use magic or to not use magic. Headology could come in handy.

 

Harry took an interest in science. It didn't seem like a bad idea to try a more scientific approach to magic like the wizards of Unseen University did. Even a broken clock was right twice a day. Besides, science wasn't worthless, just because magic was real. He also researched cultural, political and scientific issues, partly in order to understand Pratchett's later books. His grasp on magic improved. He kept the number of accidents low and he was able to move little things with his magic. It wasn't much, but life at his relative's home had gotten a lot easier, since he had learnt to unlock his cupboard from the inside.

 

Harry was on the bus. Suddenly he could feel someone's gaze on him. It made Harry feel uneasy. People tended to ignore him, with the exception of his teachers and relatives. He closed his eyes, trying to determine the direction from which the gaze was coming. He turned and opened them again. A wild looking woman, completely clad in green clothing, gave him a cheerful wink. Harry gave a wave, not really knowing what else to do.

 

Harry tried to remember the feeling. He had felt a sensation of pressure. It had felt like he was being forced through a very tight tube. He had to research magical means of traveling. He should also find a way off the roof, instead of thinking about all the places he could go to.

 

Harry was walking down the street when he encountered a bald man. The man was wearing a long purple robe. Harry should have known that there was something different about this man. Before Harry even began to realise what was happening, the stranger had shaken his hand and left without a word. Harry didn't move. He kept looking at his right hand. He had been able to feel it. Magic. The stranger was another wizard.

 

Harry was just enjoying a nice chat with a Boa constrictor when his cousin shoved him out of the way. The glass vanished and the snake escaped, hissing a thanks. Nobody except Harry was able to explain how it had happened. However, Harry was reluctant to explain it to them. He could feel the suspicious glances, which were sent by his aunt and uncle. He was a decent actor and liar, so he looked as puzzled as everyone else, but he knew that he would be blamed for the incident. Accident or not. Sitting in his cupboard, he sighted. 158 days. He had such a good run. Days without incident – 0