Magic: A History

The room was still. Headmistress Oba was looking at Henry as if seeing him clearly for the first time, the dreamy look she often carried replaced with shock. There was a pause as the room transformed back into the pyramid it had been before — and then Henry’s ears were nearly deafened by the cheers of the surrounding students. Everywhere he turned, students were clapping for him, smiling at him.

Kingsley ran up to him and grabbed his shoulders, shaking him excitedly, “How did you do that! I thought you didn’t know any wandless magic!” he asked incredulously. Before Henry could answer however, Headmistress Oba had raised her hands and silence fell once more. 

“Henry Fogg, you continue to impress me. That was an amazing display! Students, it is now time for class! I know you may be a bit late because of the ceremony but please don’t lag behind!” With another wave of her hands, the golden doors swung open and the students began to file out of the Great Hall. Henry waited until the room had mostly cleared before turning to Headmistress Oba. 

“Ahem. Headmistress?” Henry began tentatively as she turned to him, her green eyes once again carrying the dreamy look they’d held before Henry’s Patronus had revealed itself. 

“Yes, Henry?” Headmistress Oba replied, turning from her colleagues to look at Henry, her eyes still searching his face as if seeing him clearly for the first time. 

“I…never mind.” Henry stated, picking up his bag and tossing it over his shoulder as he turned to leave. What could he ask? ‘What happened?’ How would she know? ‘Did I do that?’ Of course he did it, everyone saw him! Truthfully he wanted to know why his dream stone and his Patronus were the same. Did one determine the other? But these seemed like questions he would go to Dumbledore about, not a Headmistress he barely knew. 

“I don’t know why, Henry.” She called out to him. He stopped in his tracks and turned back to look at her. “I wish I had an answer for you, but as of right now, none of us knows why. Maybe Uagadou will have answers for you, but for now it’s time for class. You don’t want to be late on your first day.” She gave him an encouraging smile and Henry took that as a sign that it was time to go. 

He checked his watch; 9:45 on the dot. He still had fifteen minutes before he was due to his first class: Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts. Henry left the Great Hall — which was now almost cleared out — pulled out his dream stone, and thought of the spell Shuri told him would activate it. His mind was blank.

“It means ‘show me the way’,” Shuri’s voice echoed through his head. Unfortunately, he didn’t speak Swahili. 

“Before there was language, there was magic.” Headmistress Oba’s words came to him.

“Erm, hi,” he spoke to the rock, feeling rather foolish. “Can you show me to my Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts class? Please?”

The rock was motionless.

“Look, I don’t have a lot of time and I really can’t be late on my first day. Now, show me the way to my class!” He said in a commanding voice that echoed through the empty ground level. The stone finally came to life, the scarab beetle glowed, a map appeared, and a red indicator showed up just like when he asked it to lead him to the library.

This time the trip was faster, probably due to the lack of students, and in ten short minutes Henry found himself in front of a heavy black door. Remembering the burning hot door of the Great Hall, her gingerly put his hand to the door but didn’t make contact, checking for signs of warmth. Deciding the door was safe, he gave it a pull and walked into the mostly full classroom of students, some of whom gave him a thumbs up or a smile when they saw him.

The classroom didn’t look like anything special compared to the library or the Great Hall, but it was certainly inviting enough. Several rows of seats were situated through the room and sunlight poured through the open windows. Henry supposed that no matter what school you went to, even magical classrooms had to have some practicality about them. He found an unoccupied row of desks to the front and took a seat.

He had only been sitting for a few moments before a hand tapped him on the shoulder, “I wouldn’t sit here if I were you, wand-bearer.” A familiar voice spoke behind him. Henry turned to see Shadi, his piercing blue eyes burning through Henry’s brown. 

Henry took a deep breath, turned back to face the front and stated, “I don’t see anyone else sitting here, I think I’ll be fine. Thank you. And the name is Henry, notwand-bearer.”

A couple of students snickered at Henry’s response but Shadi gave a noncommittal shrug and made his way to a seat a few rows behind him. The door behind them swung open once more as a woman with raven-colored waist-length braids streaked with golden highlights walked through them, wearing a silver robe that glittered in the sunlight. She carried an air of confidence about her as she walked to the front of the class, smiling at the students as she approached Henry’s table. 

She crouched down until she was eye-level with him and whispered in a barely audible voice, “Hey, you’re the Patronus guy from earlier this morning! Why are you sitting in the splash zone?” 

“The splash zone?” Henry repeated, confused. 

She nodded, “This area can get a little messy so I always try to encourage some space, just to avoid any stray hexes, curses, or boggarts that may or may not appear. Totally up to you if you want to sit here though.” With that she stood up and made her way to her desk. Henry hurriedly got up and searched for an available desk outside of the splash zone, finally finding one behind Shadi, much to his chagrin. 

“I told you, wand-bearer!” Shadi whispered, holding back a chuckle. 

Henry locked eyes with him and as he walked by, thinking, “Maybe you should worry more about being expelled than my seating placement?” Which promptly wiped the smirk off Shadi’s face.

Smiling inwardly, Henry took his seat and watched as the professor wrote her name on the blackboard behind her: Nia Njeri.

 “Darasa la asubuhi!” She addressed the students. 

“Habari za asubuhi,” Henry and the students responded in unison. 

Professor Njeri gave Henry an impressed look as she continued on. “Good morning class. As it says on the board, my name is Nia Njeri, and for those who haven’t guessed, I am your Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Considering you all made it to this class however, I’m going to give you all the benefit of the doubt!” She chuckled as she sat at her desk.

Henry and the class laughed. She seemed like a cool teacher from what Henry could gather. It was no secret that the Defense Against the Dark Arts post at Hogwarts was said to be cursed by none other than You-Know-Who himself, and thus he had never really formed a relationship with any of the teachers that Professor Dumbledore had managed to get — though admittedly, he’d never really tried. 

“This semester, we will focus on the basic fundamentals of wandless magic from a theoretical standpoint. There will be practical exams as a measurement of your progress, but these are simply milestones in your magical development. Those of you who are successful and pass the first semester will find yourself in the next semester where we will begin a more practical examination of wandless magic and its uses. Those of you who are not able to pass my class will be placed into basic Defense Against the Dark Arts class with our first and second years. Fail any further, and academic disciplinary action will be taken.” She paused to let the seriousness of her words sink in. Her smile was now gone. “We are here to learn and work. If you find yourself distracted by outside forces, just know that the education you fought so hard to obtain can and will be taken away. Now, I see some new faces in the room and so it is to you I now address. For the fifteen years before I became a professor, I was a Mshikaji Mchawi Mweusi, aー”

“ーDark wizard catcher. You were an Auror?” Henry spoke aloud, forgetting to raise his hand.

Professor Njeri squinted her eyes at Henry, “Aren’t you from London?”

Henry nodded, puzzled as to why Shadi had now turned to face him, a look of incredulity on his face. 

Professor Njeri gave him a once over and continued on, “Right, for fifteen years I was a Mshikaji Mchawi Mweusi which is, as Henry so kindly told us, a Dark wizard catcher. Even if you were third years, I wouldn’t sugarcoat the information I’m about to give. We are at one of the darkest moments in our wizarding history. The one who calls himself Voldemort has been expanding his circle of influence beyond the borders of London, his army grows as more and more people join his cause, either out of loyalty or fear, and there are troubling rumors that he’s found a way to preserve his magical power. Even Albus Dumbledore refuses to fight him, though I’m sure he has his own reasons. I want you to have no reason to fear, for Uagadou has your safety and best interests at heart. However, safety is a two-way street and so we expect you to be able to defend yourself should the need arise, be it against a Dark wizard OR a Legillemense.” Her eyes flickered to Shadi who, incredibly, lowered his eyes to the desk for a moment before she continued on. 

“It is for this reason that I’ve decided to begin our class with wandless magic. Most of you, save for our exchange students, have grown up without a wand and thus can perform wandless magic instinctively, but what about in combat? What if you need to do something more thanー” she held out her hand and a book zoomed into her outstretched palm. “—that?” She placed the book down, held out her palm, and from it came a golden spark that erupted into a crackling ball of fire. “There is the common misconception that wandless magic is ‘wild’ magic, but this is untrue. Wandless magic is the magic that is produced when you are one with your own inner spirit and the spirit of magic that flows around you.” With a poof of smoke, the ball of flame dissipated back into nothingness. “Yes, Mr…?” She pointed to a young man who had raised his hand.

“Lee, ma’am, Shelton Lee. Most of my friends at Ilvermorny called me Spike however.” The young man across the class wore a checkered orange and gold robe, black slacks and a black dress shirt, his intense stare burning through his glasses. His accent told Henry he was American, though he couldn’t quite place where he was from. “At Ilvermorny we were taught that wandless magic was a rare skill and so they didn’t think it necessary to teach it to us. Are you telling me that’s not the case?” 

Professor Njeri nodded, “That is correct. Most, if not all, infant witches and wizards perform wandless magic before the age of seven. It’s not until their wand has ‘chosen them’ that they form the magical and psychological bond that tells them they must have their wand. But if you never got a wand, how then would you use magic? What about the people who can’t afford a wand? What about those who don’t feel comfortable using magical creatures as cores? No two wizards are ever truly alike in ideology and thus it is asinine to say that all wizards must carry a wand to use magic or that the wand is even needed for magic. The wand is and always has been a tool and depending on who is utilizing the tool, it may not be a benevolent item. In America for instance, Mr. Lee, I believe it is customary for Ilvermorny students to leave their wands at the school and they’re only allotted them on a permanent basis once they’ve graduated, but even then you have to have your wand registered. Correct?” 

Spike nodded his head in confirmation. 

“Have you ever wondered why that was?” Professor Njeri inquired. 

“I…no, I haven’t.” Spike responded, “I was told that there were issues when the…ahem, British wizards…” his eyes flickered to Henry’s desk briefly “…came to America, but there was never any elaboration.” 

Professor Njeri nodded sagely, “Oh I’m sure, but you would do well to study your country’s history, Mr. Lee. Both sides of the story. Tell me, do you have your wand now?”

Henry’s ears burned as he stared intently at his book. 

“No ma’am, I thought it best to leave it at home. Miss it terribly, though.” Spike replied despondently, his left hand flexing instinctively. 

Professor Njeri nodded sympathetically, “I wish to tell you all a story before we begin. Mr. Lee, you may have heard of this one as it takes place in your country. I want to tell you all about a young wizard named Emmet Till. Twenty years ago, Emmet was a fourth year at Ilvermorny and a precocious student of prodigious skill for his young age. Wizards have always prided themselves on being racially tolerant and so there was never a problem with Emmet attending Ilvermorny. The Muggle world, however, was not so forgiving. Emmet carried both the blessing and the curse of sharing our skin tone and so it was one day that a group of men, white men, abducted him from his place of safety and, wandless and defenseless, they killed him.” Her voice broke, the room now so quiet that Henry was sure he could hear a quill drop.

Professor Njeri cleared her throat as she continued on. “His crime for this indiscretion? ‘Offending’ a white woman. Of course the African American wizarding and non-magical communities were in an uproar, but it still wasn’t enough to force them to change their archaic wand carrying laws, nor was it enough to add wandless magic to Ilvermorny’s curriculum. The law states that witches and wizards may use magic in life-threatening situations, this certainly would’ve qualified. I don’t tell you this story to enrage you or to cause feelings of animosity amongst your fellow wizarding and non-magical brethren, only to show you why we push you here, so that you may never be caught off guard. He was fourteen. Just a generation away from you young students.” 

She dabbed the corner of her eye with a handkerchief as she finished and as Henry looked around he noticed other students were doing the same.

Spike’s glasses seemed to be fogged over as too he cleared his throat before speaking, “I’d heard of that but Ilvermorny never stated he was a wizard, just that he was a boy visiting the South at the time.” 

Professor Njeri nodded solemnly, “History is written by the victors. Emmet was declared guilty by a jury and that was to be the end of it. In the eyes of America, he was a monster and any punishment was too kind for him.” 

She checked her watch, “Now that introductions are done and you know what you’re working towards, please pull out your copies of ‘The Essential Defense Against The Dark Arts’ and turn to the chapter titled ‘A Wandless Defence’. I’d like you to read the chapter in silence, after which we will discuss what you’ve absorbed so far. When you are finished, I’d like you to send a shower of sparks in the air.” With that, she sat at her desk and grabbed a stack of parchment and a quill and began to make marks on the first page, grading it, Henry assumed. 

Silence fell over the class as Henry turned his eyes to the chapter titled ‘A Wandless Defence’. Henry’s eyes scanned the page. In a vague corner of his memory he remembered passing this chapter in Hogwarts’ Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts class, but they’d never been instructed to read it so Henry had never deemed it important. As he began to read the first paragraph however he quickly became engrossed in the contents.

Among the many mysteries that involve humanity, none is more mysterious than that of magic itself. Woven into the fabric of reality, magic is a strange chaotic energy, seen and unseen, it is a power that is harnessed by all creatures, yes even Muggles. Magic is what gives plants their vibrant colors. Magic is what makes the tides rise and fall. Unconscious magic is what shapes our reality. Magic is the building block of the universe upon which space, time, and entropy is layered both within and outside the confines of the universe. 

Through magic, pyramids were built, empires were felled, and cultures were born. All before the invention of the modern wand. Why then, is it seen as a common necessity across virtually all wizarding cultures? Where did the change occur? Do the benefits of wand ownership make up for the cons? In this chapter you will learn the fundamentals of wandless magic and receive an introduction to wandlore as the modern wizard knows it, with notes from esteemed wandcrafter, Garrick Ollivander. 

“Garrick Ollivander,” Henry muttered under his breath, the name sparking a memory as he was briefly transported to a small, cramped, dingy room with a singular desk with a silver bell atop it, an old man shuffling about as he selected Henry’s wand. He smiled to himself as he kept reading. 

‘Though I highly doubt the budding witch or wizard reading the following chapter will ever see fit to part ways with their wand, it is my sincerest wish that they remember this: Should they find themselves disarmed in the heat of battle, they are never defenseless without a wand.‘

The classroom was engulfed in silence as Henry read on, becoming ever more engrossed in the pages as he finally reached the section he’d been most eager to read: A Wands Core Uses By Garrick Ollivander. With bated breath, he read:

‘I’d like to preface this very small introduction into wandlore by saying this: Even after decades of study, the mysteries of the wand continue to both astound and amaze me. While the following is fact, it cannot be construed with truth. To know the truth of wands is to know the truth of magic. Thank You. 

In my youth I, a young bright-eyed Garrick, had already come to the conclusion that wands would be my preferred choice of study once I grew to adulthood. Not because it was my father’s profession and his mother’s before him and so on, but because to have a wand choose you felt like nothing short of a fairy tale and as a child I became determined to give future children the best fairy tale possible. 

That started with the best wood, but how to choose? While yes, bowtruckles do tend to guard wand-bearing trees, and while any wandcrafter worth their salt would tell you to seek them out, this cannot be the only reliable method because how then would you find the wand bearing trees in winter when the bowtruckles are in hibernation? As a young teen this question proved to be my first roadblock during my holiday stays at Hogwarts. It wasn’t until reading about the ancient druids that I realized that while my wand wasn’t able to sense wand-bearing trees, I could. In my bravado and eagerness to put my theory to the test, I made my way to the Forbidden Forest without a cloak. Needless to say, I made it back to the Ravenclaw common room with the worst cold I’d ever picked up as well as a new appreciation for cotton. For all my efforts, however, my theory was proven correct: I could sense the magic in trees, identifying the sleeping bowtruckles as proof. I also knew that if I could, so could any witch or wizard. Why then, the manufacture of wands?

Simply put, while every witch or wizard has the potential to do wandless magic, not every witch or wizard has the ability to control it. Studies show the average witch or wizard begins to actively manifest magic at the age of seven. While magical mishaps are fixable in a magical home, what happens to the poor Muggle household when their angry toddler blows up their room, or worse? It was for this reason originally that wands were first created, as a focus for young witches and wizards to get a hang of channeling magic for various tasks until they could do so on their own. In the early years of wizardkind, young witches and wizards were actually given their wands at the age of seven and were encouraged to practice until age eleven, after which they would retire their wands and rely solely on the magic of nature. As we became more of a community, and as wands became more refined in their creations, the Ministry of Magic began to implement The Trace: once a method of catching criminals, as a method of detecting underaged magic, the mishaps of witches and wizards both Muggle-born and not began to lessen, paving the way for future generations to get their wands at age eleven. 

By this point you must be asking “What does have to do with me?” The answer is simple: Everything. I am here to tell you, the reader, and every student for whom I’ve created a wand for, it is time to let go. If you’re reading this book, you are at the very least fifteen and by now have a firm grip (pardon the pun) on how your magic works. It is time to release the perception of who you were and allow yourself to move into the next phase of your magical abilities: Wandless magic. 

This is not to say that you will never use a wand again, nor that a wand isn’t preferable in many ways, but you are robbing yourself of your own power if you continue to use your wand as a source of magic rather than the conductor it was meant to be used as. I am sorry if this shatters the fairy tale for some but I would rather you live in the very real reality that your wand is not unbreakable and that while a new one can be made, there is no replacing the original. That is why I chose to place forward this in an advanced handbook, away from the innocent eyes of students who still need to believe that their wand is what makes them magic. Be your own wand. 

Henry reached the last sentence and drank in the words on the page. There it was in black and white, written by one of the most prolific wandcrafters of the age. He had to let go of his wand, both literally and metaphorically. How was it that he’d never crossed this chapter before, not even out of curiosity? Henry closed the book, gave a wide stretch, stifled a yawn, and observed the class around him. Most seemed to have already finished the chapter and were waiting for the rest of the class. He remembered Professor Njeri’s instruction to create sparks once done, ‘Be your own wand’ echoed Ollivander’s words through Henry’s mind. In one fluid motion he lifted his right hand, raised his index finger and envisioned a shower of navy blue sparks in his mind’s eye. 

Periculum,” he spoke internally. 

Much like a sparkler firework, a shower of navy blue sparks leaped from his fingertip, though initially worried about potentially burning himself, he noted immediately that the sparks didn’t seem to emit heat. 

Professor Njeri looked up and gave Henry a smile and a nod as she shuffled her papers together in a neat pile. Henry eyed the hourglass Professor Njeri had overturned to see how much time they had left. The sand hadn’t budged, not even a grain. Henry checked his watch: the hands were frozen at ten o’clock, even the shower of sparks he’d summoned were frozen in mid air. What was going on? Was time frozen? He looked around to see if anyone else had noticed the hourglass’s lack of movement, yet no one seemed the wiser. In fact, even the students seemed to have become as still as statues. The only ones left moving were Henry and Professor Njeri, who stood up and walked to his desk, crouching to meet him at eye level. 

“Now, let’s have a  chat, Mr. Fogg.”