“Expelliarmus!” Mark shouted, extending the wand to Brad.
The result was spectacular: Brad’s wand hand going slack due to a small spot explosion, the wand propelled forward to Mark as Brad slid back a few feet. Mark caught the wand and grinned. “Did you get that reading, Liz?” he said, turning to the other person there.
Liz nodded, her ginger curls bobbing in rhythm, and bent over a rather battered laptop. She punched in a few keys and grinned. “Oh wow.” She looked at the two guys. “You have to come and see this.”
Hogwarts was indeed a school of magic. They got wizards and witches from all classes, as long as they have the spark of magic within them. However, sometimes, you have those who are much more fascinated by the science of magic.
Elizabeth McGuire, slightly younger sister to Mark, was the brains of this outfit. Their parents were physicists of well renown. They educated their kids early about the fundamental forces of the universe and of nature, and Elizabeth – or Liz to her friends – took a huge shine to it. It was said that she was to follow her parents’ footsteps by many of the parents’ contemporaries.
Mark, on the other hand, was the muscle. Although he knew the minutiae of quantum physics, he preferred the rough tumble of American Football and also could tell one the main reasons why the Chicago Bears could never win the Super Bowl after their ’85 match.
However, as the saying goes, everything changed when Mark got his letter to Hogwarts.
During their visit to the school, the family listened in astonishment as Headmistress McGonagall told them of another world, one that used magic. She said that the things to be expected of Mark, including classes, visits to the local towns, and getting supplies. She also cautioned to them that not many Muggle families, as she called them, get this chance for having a wizard in the family, and that usually there was only one in any.
So, while Mark went off to Hogwarts, Liz, in an effort to understand Hogwarts, read various books on the subject with as much interest as she did with her parents’ studies. And posted various notes on the margins of them.
The following year, while Mark was trying to get yet another replacement for his robes – growth spurts and all – Liz got her acceptance letter.
She showed an amazing talent for unraveling spells and enchantments, getting her in minor trouble with various professors. Rumor had it, though, that the Headmistress was somewhat impressed when Liz easily banished Peeves the poltergeist and summoning him just as easily.
During that year, she took out all of the books she read on Hogwarts and looked over the margin notes. One of the ideas she had was if a Muggle gadget could be enchanted against the spells protecting the school, and thus could be used. After a few months of study, she found that any portable device can be enchanted to use the local magical fields. When she came back for the holidays, she took Mark’s laptop with her, and in front of the Headmistress and a few other professors, turned it into an artifact capable of working.
The news quickly reached the Ministry, who examined the gadget and had Liz do a very thorough demonstration on how it was done. Her powers attracted the notice of Hermione Granger, and while Liz was not of the same par of the official, she enjoyed Granger’s company immensely.
That was the first of Liz’ first year successes; others included a NEWT level enchanting, a tricky 3rd-year potion creation, and others. However, during her second year, it was Brad Ghurer, also a second, who had the group crystallize.
He was from a Muggle family like the other two, and he was a voracious reader of assorted science fiction and fantasy. He kept on saying that all of his years of reading Asimov, Peirs Anthony, and Frederick Pohl never prepared him to this school or its teachings. He heard of Liz’ ‘gadget glamour’, as the papers put it then, and started to hang out with them. He was the inspiration for various other ideas that Liz never thought of doing.
One of them started with the very innocent question during breakfast, “How does it work?”
“How does what work?” Liz said, typing an email to her mom on the laptop.
“This,” he said, waving a hand around the laptop. “And this,” he added, waving his hands around the air. “What causes it? Is there any way it could be measured?”
Liz paused in her typing. “That is an interesting question,” she said. She turned to Mark, who was trying unsuccessfully to flirt with a female student, and asked, “Do you think magic could be measured?”
He shrugged. “Don’t look at me. You’re the brains of this outfit.” He turned back to the girl, who was already drifting off with her friends.
That afternoon started a flurry of research and experimentation from Liz and Brad. The activity attracted the librarian, who, after being told what the duo was doing, promptly took them to the Headmistress.
“So let me get this straight,” she said, sternly looking at the two over steepled fingers, “you want to know the source of magic?”
“No, ma’m!” Brad said. “I’d rather not tickle a sleeping dragon, find out it’s the source, and have it run away.”
A slight smile slid across her face at the use of the school motto. “Indeed. Then what do you want to do?”
“We just want to see if magic could be measured,” Liz said. “I think that it can, like any other natural force.”
She nodded slightly and turned to a portrait on the wall. “Dumbledore?”
The image nodded, his eyes twinkling. “It sounds like an interesting idea. One that I would have sponsored full heartily. Muggle science is quite fascinating.”
“Then let me give you partial blessing,” the Headmistress said, turning back on the two. She focused on Liz. “Make sure your brother gets into this, please, as a chaperone. And do try not to make mischief.”
“Yes m’am,” the two chorused together.