An Introduction of Sorts
The Surrey Library was a large, overbearing brick building not far from resident Elementary School. The outside of the building, while seeming cold and uninviting, was far different from the inside. Bathed in the warm light from several fireplaces (and, in some places, fluorescent lighting) were rows and rows of metal bookshelves, occasionally broken up by scattered, fluffy armchairs. In the back corner of the library, near the study rooms, was a shelf out of place: a crooked, wooden shelf which contained the secrets of the world, the magic of it, if you will. This bookshelf, somewhat dusty and tarnished, is where our story begins.
Harry Potter first entered the library at the age of eight, not astounded by the amount of books or knowledge held in such a large building, but concerned and frightened, running from a group of children headed by his own cousin. He had run in and immediately dove behind the counter to hide. The librarian on duty at the time allowed him to hide there while also keeping an eye on the boys waiting outside. As time went on, they eventually left and Harry came out of hiding. He whispered a quiet 'thank you' to the young woman and promptly left.
The second time Harry Potter entered the Surrey Library, he intended on staying for more than just a hiding place. At nine years old, he boasted reading skills much higher than most of the children in his grade, which he found he had to downplay in order to avoid trouble at home. Sick of reading books meant for Year 3 children, he had come to the library after school had let out to finally find something at his level to read. Evaluations had placed him at a Year 8 reading level, and he was determined to read a book that might challenge him.
Over the next few years, Harry read through classics such as Alice in Wonderland, The Swiss Family Robinson, Jekyll and Hyde (with some trouble and help from the librarians) and eventually, in April of 1990, The Fellowship of the Ring. The books were read in bursts, in the 15 minutes after school in which he wasn't missed at home. He never dared to take them home, frightened of what his uncle may do if he found them. His uncle's ban on all talk of magic extended to literature, insisting that if the school assigned books with magic in them that Dudley and Harry be given alternate reading assignments. This, understandably, created quite a bit of grief for his teachers, and when asked for reasons, Vernon Dursley would cite that his religion said it was a sin. Harry couldn't remember ever going to church, and so was skeptical of the excuses his uncle gave.
On one rainy afternoon, moments after Harry had finally finished the Fellowship of the Ring, he discovered that The Two Towers had been borrowed several months ago and not returned. Disappointed at the revelation, Harry began to scan the bookshelves for more reading material. His acquaintance with the wooden bookshelf happened by accident as a result of a misstep. Harry hit his head on the side of the shelf with a resounding thump. He glanced upwards, confused, as he had never seen a bookshelf like this one in the library before.
Rubbing his head, Harry perused the shelf. It wasn't nearly as full as the other bookshelves, with only two of its shelves containing books. Many of the books looked odd, such as Drawing Down the Moon and The Spiral Dance. His eyes were drawn to one book, the bright purple spine standing out against the darker novels. Gently, Harry removed the book and flipped through it. It was far different from his usual read, but he felt as if it was pulling him to it, coercing him to learn what might be inside.
And so, Harry began reading Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. He found the book odd, yet compelling. The book detailed magic in ways he had never seen before: instead of a man with a long beard and a staff, ordinary people performed it with wands and cauldrons and herbs and intent. Curious, yet knowing he didn't have enough time to read any more, Harry marked his place with a torn piece of paper and left the library.
Harry continued reading the books until early June. He devoured the books, taking notes and becoming more and more intrigued with magic. As the summer months came around, so did the letters. Stuffed into eggshells, in the milk cartons, pinned to the curtains, it was a rather unconventional way to deliver a letter. One by one, they went up in smoke.
And on July 31st, 1990, Harry found himself trapped on a desolate island with the Dursleys.
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