Phineas Nigellus introduces the story and his colleague and co-editor Albus Dumbledore.
– Prologue –
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
CHARLES DICKENS – A Tale of Two Cities
Ah, there you are! I've already been waiting for you. Now hurry up! Frankly, being so tardy without a proper excuse is very impolite, but I suppose that's just the way it is with you young people nowadays. Well… I had prepared an excellent speech to welcome you all, but seeing how late it is now, I'm afraid I've got to shorten it considerably. Now don't you complain, you've got only yourself to blame, you know!
Ehem… For those of you who are so unfortunate as not to know who I am yet, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Professor Phineas Horatio Emerald Nigellus – I am sure you have at least heard of me. Yes, of course you have. In my time, I was an Honourable Member of the Wizengamot, and for more than thirty years, I've been Headmaster in Hogwarts, School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. As it is, I am dead – technically – for ninety-four years, next October, so that you've got to content yourself with my portrait self. I'm sure you don't mind.
Unlike most of my colleagues, I've kept an open mind for the world around me, even after my own death, and since no one else has bothered to volunteer, I've made it my profession to serve as a historian, a collector you might say, as the memory of this noble school, its chronicler, and ultimately, also as an editor of the story you have come to hear. Which was a difficult labour, as you can imagine. So many things have happened, so many voices had to be heard, memories had to be collected and sorted… I've worked day and night for more than a year.
But the results have not failed to satisfy me and reward my efforts. I am pleased to be now able to present you with a first-hand version of the story, how it really happened, or at least with the closest version of reality possible among so many people who all have had their own points of view. I was able to convince some of the eyewitnesses and participants to conserve their memories by magic so they could be examined by the means of a Pensieve. Others were so kind to write down protocols of their experiences. I've interviewed a couple of other portraits, evaluated official documents from the Ministry of Magic and so forth, and brought it all into a rational order. Also, you can take a look at the seven-volume-edition, recording the famous Harry Potter's school-time. I was told that it is by now available in Muggle shops, too.
I will start my recounting in September 1967, and basically move on chronologically, unless I feel that a short detour to past events needs to be made for your better understanding. So be attentive, I won't repeat myself merely because you rascals think you can interrupt while I am speaking! I also advise you to be patient – patience is a virtue, but it appears to be considered old-fashioned nowadays. It is for your own benefit, you know. It is my firm belief that this story can tell you a lot about life and human nature in general, if you've got it in you to listen, which is, sadly enough, a –
– My dear Phineas, I think this is really enough of an introduction. Do not test your audience's patience too much. –
Excuse me? Oh, yes, yes… My dear fellows, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – please allow me to introduce you to my assistant editor, Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, former Headmaster and one of my successors. Incidentally, since we're talking about them, in the corner over there, you can see Professor Armando William Benvolio Dippet – try not to wake him up, please; he can be a little tiresome once he's awake, and we don't want him to interrupt our tale –
– Phineas, go AHEAD, please! –
Yes, yes… Talking about patience… However – I shall thus begin…
Lectori... Hail to the reader!