THE WIZARD ERRANT
You're a Wizard, Kenny!
Apparently, that was what death was like. Sure, there was pain before that, and a lot of complicated, scary emotions running through my head. I'm fairly certain I was terrified and angry and confused, and mayhaps even a little relieved. Overwhelmingly, I would say the experience was miserably depressing and confusing, but being enveloped in the warm embrace of light and drifting off into the ether seemed oddly relaxing...
I wasn't entirely sure how it had happened. I'm not entirely convinced I had died in the first place. Sure, I could barely contemplate my surroundings — or rather, the lack thereof — but I didn't seem to be doing anything besides float.
This floating business didn't seem much like Heaven or Hell. Nor did it seem much like any cycle of reincarnation that I understood. I ruminated on the possibility that I had somehow ended up in some non-denominational purgatory that consisted of floating. The thought was ridiculous, but that might have just been my ego talking.
And wasn't it strange that I still had an ego to begin with? Wasn't I supposed to be dead? I wasn't really doing anything besides float. It almost felt like a dream.
Wait a second…
Am I dreaming?
Of course, that's when I stopped floating, and instead started falling into the darkness that had appeared out of the nothingness below.
I woke up in a body that was not my own.
And yet, I had lived in this body my entire life. I felt both extreme unease and perfect comfort in those first few waking moments as I struggled with the blankets of my bed. It was an un/familiar four-poster bed, the sort you would see in old period films, or in anime about rich people for whom normal beds were too plebeian. The layers of cloth that enveloped me and the pillow that I had been bear-hugging in my sleep weren't unusual, but the texture and colors were. This unexpected bout of dysmorphia didn't help matters.
Eventually, I managed to disentangle myself from the bedsheets and rub the rheum from my eyes. With them clear, I blinked rapidly before taking in my strange/familiar surroundings. The canopy of my four-poster bed was the first sight to greet me. I took a moment to stare at the pattern of thread-work decorating it, and marveled at how I could actually see the stitching, even without my glasses.
Then I remembered I didn't wear glasses.
There was movement in the corner of my eye. Dizziness plagued me as I shot from the bed, panicked. My eyes settled on the painting near the window, depicting a unicorn mare and her foal grazing along a stream. The unicorns were moving, silently swishing their tails and shifting about. The mare was drinking from the stream while the golden-coated foal grazed on some grasses on the banks.
How are they moving? I couldn't help but wonder. Then I paused, puzzled. Soon my thought became, Why shouldn't they move? They've been moving ever since Mum bought the painting.
But since when did I call my mother 'Mum'?
The flood of memories surged in. The experiences and knowledge of an entire life was brought back into focus as I fought to answer the question and every new question that came with each perplexing answer. I felt like screaming, but it must have gotten stuck in my throat somehow.
Instead, I let out an ugly croak and fell back into bed, thoughts racing as my old life started to get acquainted with the new one.
It was in that state that my family's House Elf popped in to remind me that I was missing breakfast, panicked upon seeing me writhing in the sheets and promptly summoned my mother.
So, good news and bad news.
The good news was that I now knew when and where I was. The bad news was I had no idea how I got here, but I could take a wild guess.
Turns out, I'm an eleven-year-old child living in the United Kingdom, and the year was 1991. I lived on a large-ish estate in the English countryside, had attended the local primary for a few years, but had few friends. The day was July 24th, and I was in excellent health. In fact, I was in astonishingly good health, all things considered. I didn't need spectacles anymore, was in marvelous shape for a bookworm, and didn't freak out when an owl delivered the post.
That last point was actually something of a shock. I remember being terrified of birds as a child, and it had never gone away, even as I grew older and slightly more capable of controlling my impulse to flee at the mere sight of an avian. I was never officially diagnosed, but the signs of ornithophobia were unmistakable, and haunted me even as an adult. At least, in my first life.
It was strange. I was pretty sure that wasn't how phobias were supposed to work. I could see the owl. It was alive. It was in the same room as I was… And I wasn't frozen in fear.
Sure, I still felt uncomfortable, but it wasn't the same spine-tingling sense of wrongness and swallowed terror that I normally ought to feel when confronted with a large, brown owl demanding a few Knuts from my father as payment for the newspaper. It seemed that the childhood traumas of my first life weren't affecting me in my new one.
Apparently, I hadn't been swarmed by countless murders of crows while stuck on a rooftop in India as a toddler in this life and never developed the phobia I once had. Whatever processes had occurred for my second life to inherit the memories of my first had… well, my irrational fear of all things avian wasn't quite wiped away, but apparently dulled the effects to the point of immateriality.
I thanked any god that was listening for that mercy. I don't know what I would have done if I'd been stuck with ornithophobia as a member of the Wizarding World.
Oh, yes. If it wasn't obvious already from the moving pictures, the House Elf sent to wake me, the owl delivering the newspaper, and all the other little magical bits and bobs about the house, but the sight of my mother using a wand to rearrange some rolls of parchment strewn across a drawing room table while escorting me to breakfast had really clinched it. I was living in Magical Britain in the world of Harry Potter.
Kenneth M. Godewyn, at your service.
Being eleven again, receiving my very own Hogwarts Acceptance Letter by Owl Post was exciting.
It had been the dream of my first life to receive one, and now I was living it. Of course, it was in a new life, but that was small potatoes. I may have danced a jig with my giddy mother and kissed a statue in my delight after reading the letter. Dad just patted me on the head, and promised to take me shopping over the weekend when he was free, but I pleaded with Mum to take me earlier.
I had eleven years of memories from growing up in a house of magic, but after recovering two decades-worth of memories from my first life, I needed to visit Diagon Alley and see the sights for myself. Again. I'd been there before, naturally, but this time would be different. This time, I'd be buying school robes and books and a wand.
Sadly, I had to wait a day. Mum had an appointment with an editor later today — she was a writer, I later remembered, and sold sordid novellas which I wasn't allowed to read. So, I had to wait patiently for a day before I could go and buy all the magical gear I would need for my lifetime as a wizard.
I would like to say I bore that news with grace. But, I was eleven, and eleven-year-olds aren't paragons of patience. I spent the day wavering between pouting and quivering with excitement. Atleast, when Mum or Smokey the elf were around.
Then when Ms. Weatherby arrived to discuss Mum's latest draft, I holed up in my room and set about plotting. If I was going to be a wizard, and knowing what I knew of the wizarding world at this point in time, then I was going to be in for a hell of a time.
And I wanted to be as ready as I could be in advance of all the nonsense that was going to be headed my way.
Staring at myself in the mirror, the resemblance to my first life was uncanny. Many details were unchanged. I still had brown-ish skin, as befitting my Indian heritage. Only, instead of being Indian-American, Ken was a mixed British-Indian. I still had thick, curly black hair, but it was much thicker than in my first life, and my thick eyebrows were far better trimmed. I still had dark eyes with love-spot right by the edge of my left eye. Sharp features too, but those were less chubby than I remembered my first life being at this age.
I also had the beginnings of muscle growing, which was something of a shock as all other indications and memories pointed to being a reclusive bookworm, both at school and at home. Apparently, I played tennis with other kids at my Muggle primary. Dad was apparently a fan of the sport, though that might be because his father had taught him Swivenhodge first (a similar, Wizarding game). Barely anyone played Swivenhodge in Britain these days, but tennis was all the rage, so I apparently (re-)learned how to play the Muggle game. Simple tests of flexibility and agility in my room confirmed that I had some level of athleticism I hadn't at eleven the first time around which I promised myself to maintain. A healthy body meant a healthy mind - a lesson I'd learned a bit too late in my first life. Plus, it'd help to stay fit if I was going to survive the plot.
Which reminded me that I would need to test my own skills. I had a sneaking suspicion that I wasn't simply transmigration, like in the genre of fiction I had read in my first-life. Sure, the similarities were there, but I had already noticed details that were concerning.
Before my first-life memories showed up, I'd apparently had a phenomenal memory and was much smarter than others my age at the Muggle primary I attended. Part of me thought that it was simply the bleed-over from my first life, but that couldn't explain how much faster I had gotten at doing basic arithmetic in my head, much less the clarity of my memory — it was almost eidetic, the way I was able to remember details of my life as Ken.
Then there was the fact that Ken apparently had an uncanny gift for languages that my first life lacked. English had been my native language in both lifetimes, but I'd learned smatterings of French and bits of various Indian languages in my first life. As Kenneth, I'd apparently taught myself to be fluent in a dozen different languages. Now, some might say this wasn't unusual; they say children are better able to learn multiple languages than adults, and I'd only started becoming multilingual in my teens during my first life, so maybe some of that rubbed off on my life as Ken. But in this life, I'd learned each language in only a couple of days. My family surmised it was just a magical knack for languages, but as far as I could tell, that was Barty Crouch Sr.'s schtick and my relation to the Crouch family was distant. I suspected my freakishly good memory might have been a contributing factor.
Plus, I had a knack for convincing small animals to do things for me that I wasn't sure was actually magical or not. I could recall playing with a bunch of alleycats as a toddler — Mum had dragged me to St. Mungo's for a check-up when she found out, sure that I'd caught some hideous disease from playing with the unwashed creatures — and there was also the time when I convinced the Faulkners' dog to let me ride it like a horse back when I was two.
But all that paled in comparison to the fact that I was now levitating a quill by swishing and flicking my finger at it while chanting, "Wingardium Leviosa".
Don't get me wrong, the Levitation Charm is the first charm we ever see kids learning at Hogwarts (at least, "on screen"), and it's a perennial classic for that reason. It's also supposed to be a dreadfully simple spell. But wizarding children aren't supposed to have this much control over their magic without a wand. Yet, based on my memories, I'd been playing with "accidental" magic for years now. I was some kind of wizarding wunderkind...
There were a few reasons for why all this might be, but for the sake of my sanity, I endeavored to ignore the thought and put off questioning my impossible existence for later. I had a few hours until supper, and I wanted to see what else I could do with the Levitation Charm.
Tomorrow I'd be visiting Diagon Alley, and that's when the fun would really start!
A/N: So, I've been frequenting the JumpChain reddit for a while now, and figured that it was beyond time that I started my own chain. I'm starting Harry Potter because I know the setting pretty well, and because it's an excellent foundation for surviving future jumps. Should be plenty of fun!