No one wields the tale of bravery, loyalty and rescue in the name of friendship better than an author. Through extraordinary scenes in the Harry Potter series, readers brace themselves as leading characters charge into a girl’s bathroom to battle a 12-foot mountain troll (helping Hermione) and jump bodily into the flailing limbs of an angry Whomping Willow tree (rescuing Ron). The empowering words of Hermione and Ron finally arrive in book six. “‘We’ll be there, Harry,’ said Ron, ‘…then, we’ll go with you wherever you’re going.’ ‘You said it once before,’ said Hermione quickly, ‘that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we? We’re with you whatever happens.’”
We can analyze Harry’s journey as that of a leading character in terms of our own life stories, with our friends in supporting or minor roles. Looking beyond our inner circle, there are countless others who could be described as unequivocal loyal friends. These individuals are necessary to guide, rationalize actions, and stand behind the lead character. This month the Harry Potter guide recognizes Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom and Dobby.
Every person we know has a strength, often described as a gift or a talent. While some friends are book-smart or great listeners, others have the gift of acute observation. Luna observes through staring. “She stared and stared at Harry… answering a question without taking her eyes off Harry.” Before saying one word to him, she studies his facial expressions, his eyes and his mannerisms. Whether he is disguised or discovered deep in thought, Luna can recognize Harry and instinctually know what he is thinking or needs.
“Hello, Harry!” Luna said.
“Er — my name’s Barny,” said Harry, flummoxed.
“Oh, have you changed that too?” she asked brightly.
“How did you know — ?”
“Oh, just your expression,” she said.
Luna could be described as “dreamy” or “aloof” with her beliefs and sense of originality; yet, in moments of panic, her calm demeanor and rational thinking help provide insightful ideas and, often, solutions. “They all fell silent, looking rather scared. The problem facing them seemed insurmountable. ‘Well, we’ll have to fly, won’t we?’ said Luna in the closest thing to a matter-of-fact voice Harry had ever heard her use. There are other ways of flying than with broomsticks.’” We learn from Luna never to discount a friend’s strength. You never know when one voice will solve what may feel like an impossible problem.
The character of Neville Longbottom is familiar. We all have known classmates who needed time to reach a potential of greatness; yet, the description “shy” or “clumsy,” especially in those pre-teen years, may be premature. We sympathize with Neville’s statement, “Why is it always me?” It takes time to understand where we fit as students and in our social circles. How many times does Neville desire to be part of the trio and finish a task worthy of his friends’ trust; yet, is intentionally told to stay behind? Even though Neville experiences disappointed hopes, embarrassment and mockery, he is able to find his destiny and rise above the title of “follower.” Neville is the friend who is humble and kind, brave and a fierce supporter. He reminds us that some battles are worth the time to fight. In the end, Neville is given an impossible task, and knows what to do.
For some friends, we need a signal to stay on guard and be ready. CRACK. …. POP! How often do we meet someone who is impressionable and seeks our friendship simply because we are older, taller or possess a great talent? To be admired is empowering; yet, the gift of friendship also can empower others. Harry Potter asks if he can help Dobby. “Dobby has heard of your greatness, sir; but, of your goodness, Dobby never knew.” At one point, Harry says to Dobby, “Promise me something.” and his response is true: “Anything, sir!” For a character who is given the power of freedom and choice, equality and the most unlikely friends—wizards—we can still believe anything is possible with enough determination.
The story will always be desired. The possibilities of an imaginary world—endless. Yet, it is the characters who transport our minds across the pages of a book. While the lead character usually possesses strength and intelligence, the supporting characters are essential. We may meet an eccentric, insightful girl, a boy striving to become a leader, and a mythical creature who defines freedom. It is stories just like Harry Potter that can help us blossom as individuals, and envelop those wonderful friends who stand beside us.
Next month, the Harry Potter guide will discuss “Unforeseen Circumstances and Distractions.”