Midnight Madness

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“I am the coolest guy in the world,” I had to keep reassuring myself as my grandmother drove me to the one place on earth where books meet nerds.

“It should be fun” she said with a keen twinkle in her eye as if she knew exactly what was going to happen. I couldn’t tell whether I was anxious, nervous, or just plain scared.

When we got there the lot was full – no full is an understatement – the lot was teeming. Everywhere you looked there were cars – screeching, hissing, silent, cramming, dropping more and more people off at the entrance to Barnes n’ Noble. My grandmother looked dismayly at the crowd and reached over, handing me a piece of paper.

“Here, take this. It’s the receipt for the order. See if you can get on line. I’ll be right in.” With that she dropped me off at the curb and sped away in her silver shiny minivan in search of the impossible. I hesitated a moment at the door. Some guy leaning on a lamppost in a long shady trench coat that came down past his shins was watching me. There was something about him that seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Just then I felt something sharp prick me in the back.



“I am the head of the Gryffindor House. I took over as headmaster after Dumbledore’s death. Who am I? Don’t turn around!” the voice hissed. The pain dug deeper into my spine. My mind clicked. “Professor McGonagall!” I shouted.

“Very good Potter.”

I turned and saw a girl in a plume hat and a dark robe whiskfully disappear into the bookstore, toy wand in tote. I noticed my reflection in one of the windows, “I don’t look like Harry do I?” I dismissed my jeans and soccer t and ventured my way inside.

Squeezing through all those witches and wizards had to be one of the oddest most bizarre things I have ever experienced. Ranging from forty year old fanatics to even a dressed up baby in a stroller, I met them all, a bit too close for my taste. No one could hear my eleven year old voice above the noise of the incantations and the high-pitched cackles, so despite my politeness I wasn’t getting through without brute force. I elbowed my way three Rons to the left and saw the reservation desk about twenty feet away but that was as close as I was going to get.
A woman backed up on the spot and I had to press myself up against the science fiction shelf to avoid being squashed. A couple books fell over and I heard a noise from below me.
“Ouch, hey! Watch where you’re levitating those books.”
“Carl?” I said incredulously.
“Well, well small world,” Carl said taking off his plastic glasses “Whatsup Collin? What brings you out here on this enchanted night? I didn’t know you were the Potter type.”
“I didn’t know you were either” I said honestly. “I thought you hated reading.”
“I hate reading in class,” he said pointing his wand at me, “I never said I hated reading in general.” Carl instantly grew aggravated.
“Where’s your robe man? What the heck. You call yourself a Harry Potter fanatic?”
“Well, uhh, not really.”
“Don’t gimme none of that. You’re here for a reason. And the only reason why anybody is here is to go all out. Here, put this on.” He tossed me a black robe and an extra pair of glasses.
“Oh and here,” he took something out from his jeans pocket, “I was saving it for later, but it looks like you could use it more than me.” I held it in my hand for a long time. It was a yellow lightning bolt sticker.
The next thing I knew I was running around like everyone else, following the boy who I thought I knew from English class. We stopped off at the Leaky Caldron for some snacks and hot cocoa – except we didn’t call it that. We were munching on chocolate frogs and slurping spiced butter beer.
Dodging the crowd wasn’t a chore anymore. All we had to do was tap our wands ever so lightly and Diagon Alley would open up before us. We breaked in the back corner of the kid’s section of what had now become Hogwarts because we needed to keep our wizardly stamina in case we were attacked by dementors.
And that’s when I saw her – the girl who I’d been crushing on for three long years bent over a cauldron concoction of red and green smoke. She gently stirred with her wand and peered into her brew, long dark locks dangling over her face. Carl looked at me with a knowing eye and dragged me over to her by my robe.
“Hey Jenny,” Carl said elbowing me in the side, “Whatcha brewing?”
“Oh, just a poly juice potion,” she said, big green eyes soaking us in. “When did you two get here?” she asked curiously.
“Just a lil while ago” spoke Carl.
“Well, sit down and make yourselves at home” she gestured to the pale black carpet.
I was all jittery. I had a hard time thinking that part of a bookstore could be considered anyone’s home. I sat closest to Jenny.
“So this is it,” she said with a sudden surge of excitement, “This is the last of Rowling’s series. There will be one final showdown between Harry and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
Her words were slow. Is it hot in here or is it just me? Green smoke obscured my vision. Everything went all hazy. I could barely see Jenny yet she was only a couple of inches away from me. My palms were sweating ferociously. Before I knew what I was doing, the lightning bolt sticker was out and plastered to my perspiring forehead. My heart was beating ninety miles an hour. I had never been so scared in my life.
The smoke cleared and Jenny saw me for the first time. She smiled and handed me a mug of red light. Carl got green.
“To Harry,” she said raising her perfect glass.
“To Harry,” Carl echoed.
We drank and the Poly Juice Potion was the sweetest thing I ever tasted – even sweeter than the butter beer. I drained my cup and set it down on the peeling carpet quite quenched. Just then a resounding voice bounced off the castle walls.
“Attention Harry Potter Aficionados. We will now be distributing the novels starting with the lowest number on your reservation receipts. Please form an orderly line behind the front desk and please refrain from dueling.”
The line was long, but it went quickly. Soon we had our own copy of the greatest book in the world. We were all so excited we each took turns reading the book aloud in impersonating voices.
When my grandmother finally found me she told me I was slumped in a corner with a book laid open on my chest fast asleep next to a girl in a plume hat and a boy in a long robe. I’ll never forget that night – the night I discovered a little more about myself, the night I discovered that we are all just nerds having fun.





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cchayes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 12:34 am
Story with lots of potential. Give it some deep meaning during poly juice potion scene. Expand the ending.
 
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