“Welcome, all, to the Start of Term Feast,” Dumbledore crooned through a smile from behind the glossy sheen of Harry’s laptop screen. His robes appeared to billow out from him like some great cloud but one could only guess at their dimensions as they disappeared off-screen.
Wow, Dumbledore looks as happy as ever, Harry thought as he looked on amazed, his excitement evidently heightened by the poor Zoom connection they had with Hogwarts Wi-Fi, causing his smile to remain frozen for moments too long on the screen. He looked to his side as if to say something to Ron, but then remembered that Ron, too, was schooling from home like all the young wizards.
“Apologies for the poor connection, but that actually brings us logically to my first point of business. I would like to introduce everybody to our newest professor!” In the sea of connected faces that peered through his screen, Harry noticed the smug, sinister sneer of a man whose robes and pedigree betrayed him as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He stood up and was promptly ignored. “Young ladies and gentlemen, meet Finnius Fletcherbottom, head professor of our newest department, necessary this year, Wizarding IT!”
Dumbledore’s voice cut-out at the end as his signal failed him but the message was conveyed and Prof. Fletcherbottom stood up from behind the comfort of his home desk. “Boys and girls, you all know much by this point in your wizarding careers about potions and herbology, but now it is time that you learn the most powerful and arcane spellcrafting of all—the magic of Wi-Fi.”
“The ‘Wi’ stands for Wizard,” Hagrid opined to chuckles, but Fletcherbottom did not seem amused.
“No, actually, this is a big part of the problem. None of you understand anything practical about internet connectivity. That’s why you’re amazed by the paintings on the wall that move and talk; that’s all just an interconnected series of pre-recorded videos that stream from a common router.”
“A router must be a type of elixir, I reckon” came an inbound text from Ron Weasley. “I can’t wait to learn more!”
“I miss Quidditch,” Harry lamented in a group Facetime with Ron and Hermione. “But since we’re not allowed on campus grounds, I’ve taken to walking around the neighborhood here. Did you know that there’s a game Muggles play with their feet called ‘football’ that just has one ball and two nets? I was skeptical too, but it turns out that it’s a lot safer to not let children control speeding twigs that operate 40 meters off the ground!”
Hermione reproved him in her usual maternal way. “Harry, focus, please. We have to figure out what is going on with the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. The other day he glared at you for the entirety of the lecture. It was positively vile!”
“Yeah,” Ron interjected, “about that. I really don’t think we have to get involved this year. He keeps inviting us to come visit him to ‘practice spells’ in the Forbidden Forest, but the grounds have been closed since the second surge of COVID in the centaur community so we can’t get there anyway. I really think his plan revolves around you being physically in the castle, Harry. We’re fine from here.”
Harry reached his fingers to trace the faint outline of his scar. It had flared with pain more and more frequently of late, a sure sign of the Dark Lord’s impending return. Hermione flashed him a concerned look which he tried to dismiss. “Can we go back to studying for the Wizarding IT midterm? I still don’t know how to set my laptop to auto-join eligible public networks.”
The Goblet of Fire having been postponed for a year, Harry had of late been enjoying watching the televised replays of last year’s Goblet of Fire. “Too bad we didn’t have normal school this term.
That Cedric Diggory sure would have been fun to watch.” Almost forgetting one of his few remaining obligations, he double-checked the time and date to verify and then promptly logged onto his Hogwarts Moodle page to submit his final paper for Occlumency. Submit. He clicked the button once after appending his attachment and thus ended the academic year, officially. Paging through his email minutes later, he skimmed an official release from the school with a few announcements: parents of graduating students were free to do honking fly-bys of the school on their brooms, all the grads photos were posted there; the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was summarily sacked, something about having misstated his credentials, which became patently obvious when he failed to submit letter grades on time and the administration checked his CV references; a few other small stories.
“Hey dude,” came a text from Ron, like clockwork. “Isn’t it kind of weird that we didn’t have anything catastrophic or traumatizing happen this Spring? ”
Harry pondered the words for a moment and then offered a terse response. “Yes.” Then, “But I feel like it has given me an opportunity to be more like a normal kid. Have you ever heard of Fortnite?”