Chapter 3: A Tender Homecoming
At Hagrid’s suggestion, the three of them made their way through the grand gates of Hogwarts to see their wise friend and mentor, Dumbledore. The musty air and stale odour of Hogwarts reminded Harry of the years he spent locked up in the basement, guarded day and night by Snape, the Potions teacher played by Alan Rickman. He had grown fond of his fatherly captor and today they shared a bond earned through years of comradeship and playing poker through the iron bars of his tiny cell.
‘I’m the half blood prince.’ Snape would tell him earnestly, taking Harry’s hand and imploring him to listen.
‘Whatever,’ Harry would reply nonchalantly and sometimes flip him the bird.
How he missed Snape terribly! His heart began to soar at the mere thought of seeing him again, that dour face and demeanour sending shivers of hope and inspiration down his spine.
They approached Dumbledore’s office and Hagrid flung the door from its hinges. Dumbledore, startled, took off his sunglasses and regarded them with interest.
“Oh Hagrid,” said Dumbledore, “You do know how to make an entrance, don’t you?” He started to laugh, his shoulders heaving up and down in time with his raucous laughter. Hagrid threw his head back and also let out a loud bellowing laugh. They all began to laugh.
After a few minutes the laughter subsided.
“Harry, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you,” Dumbledore regarded Harry with warm respect, having fought alongside him on many occasions.
Harry appeared agitated. “Look at me!” he screamed.
“I am! I am looking at you! Jesus Christ!” yelled Dumbledore. He turned to Ron. “Young Weasley, I see you’ve grown into a pale, red-headed English prat. I must say, I’m hardly surprised.”
“Thankyou sir,” said Ron eagerly, thankful for any attention from Dumbledore.
“And where, pray tell, is miss Hermio-“ Began Dumbledore before catching himself, clearly remembering something important. Hagrid, looked down at the ground, and Ron turned to the window, staring vacantly out at the surrounding forest.
Harry looked at all three of them in turn before realizing something was amiss. “Dumbledore, answer me this one question.” He demanded.
Dumbledore sighed. He knew what was coming. “Of course Harry,” he answered out of respect.
Harry took a deep breath. “Dumbledore, why is every student at this school white? I haven’t seen a black, Asian or Hispanic face in the eight years I’ve been coming here. It’s like we live in an alternate Anglo-centric reality. Don’t you think a little diversity would go a long way in educating our children about the world, especially as this is such a popular title among pre-teens?”
Dumbledore was a little surprised. “Oh, I thought you were going to ask something else,” he replied.
“Why? What else would I possibly want to ask right now? Don’t try and avoid the question, Dumbledore.” Harry couldn’t for the life of him think of any other pressing matters at this particular junction in time.
“Well, I suppose I did enrol that half-Asian student at one time. What was her name…China Chang or something?” Dumbledore attempted to justify his discriminatory selection policies.
“Ching-Chong-Chang!” said Ron, terribly excited now.
“Yes that’s it!” Exclaimed Dumbledore, “Ching-Chong-Chang-Chingy-Chong-Chan!” He burst out laughing.
Ron began to bang his hands on the table. “Bruce Lee China Chang Chongy Daniel-san!” He screamed. Dumbledore gave him a high-five.
Harry wasn’t entirely impressed with their comedy. He looked around the room. “By the way, where’s Hermione?” He asked. The thought had just occurred to him.
Ron and Dumbledore went silent. Hagrid looked back down at his giant feet.
“She’s gone, ‘arry,” Ron spoke at last, “She was out practicing her magic in the forest when she was taken by the centaurs. ‘agrid saw the whole thing.”
“Ay, tis true lad. There wasn’t a thing I could do. Word is that all these rumours going around have gotten the centaurs spooked. They’ll attack any form of magic they see.” Hagrid pointed out the window towards the forest. “That’s where it happened…” he said ominously, “In the forest.”
Harry looked out towards the dark, looming wall of forest that threatened to encroach upon the prissy, Polo Sport wearing, private college grounds of Hogwarts.
He knew his destiny lay beyond those trees.