—Friday, July 15, 2011—
The employees of the 30th floor office at number 1633, Broadway, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.
What then, was going on here? One of the consultants, sitting at his very normal desk, amongst the rows of desks just like it, looked around suspiciously, picked up his knapsack and walked briskly to the rarely occupied handicapped bathroom. He opened the door without a sound, slid inside, and closed it silently behind him. Hardly anyone in the office had taken notice of the thin young man—which is exactly what he had hoped for.
Looking at himself in the mirror, Evan Forde Barden saw only a tired shell of his once spritely self. Oh what a few years of desk work and a lack of sleep can do to one’s boyish good looks. For in that moment, Evan was just another employee, plodding away in the Muggle world. But little did they know that he had a secret.
It took him only a few minutes for him to transfigure. As he tightened the knot of his Gryffindor tie and finished buttoning up his brown cardigan, Evan stared back into that very same mirror as before and saw not a mere man, but something at least twice a grand—Evan had been transformed into a young wizard attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Very pleased with himself, Evan wished most in that next moment for an invisibility cloak so that he might exit the handicapped bathroom, drop his things at his desk and depart for his evening without incurring the ridicule of his very normal coworkers.
It seemed, in this case, that all Evan had to do was have a requirement for invisibility and it was granted to him, for no one gave him even the slightest acknowledgement as he doubled back through the rows of desks and made his way out to the elevators leading down to the main lobby. Less than two minutes later and he was out the doors into the summer evening. The sweater was more than a bit warm in the 80 degree weather, but Evan thought little of this as he knew he looked the part of a true wizard.
As he walked through Manhattan, Evan thought a great deal about how it was only 10 months ago that he had first read any of the Harry Potter books. He has started them at the persistence of his girlfriend at the time, who had been a tremendous fan ever since the books had first been published. They were to attend a childhood friend’s birthday party in two weeks time, which would be Harry Potter themed, and it would be simply unacceptable if Evan had never read any of the books. A week and a half later, a mere three days before their trip to North Carolina for said friend’s birthday party, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named informed Evan that she would be taking leave from him. Despite such a shift in the way of things, the couple decided to continue on with plans to visit North Carolina and for one last weekend lived in a world where they were together still as lovers. Upon their return however, the ending Evan knew that awaited him was more present than ever.
Although he was forced to say goodbye to She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, Evan continued on reading the Harry Potter series, for while he was reminded of her each time he picked up the book, it was also the one device he had available to him to escape the monotony and depression of his daily life and enter instead, into a world of adventure and fantasy. A bit of a sad thought, but at the same time uplifting. The power of Harry’s story burned bright within Evan during this time and gave him something to hold onto. He finished the last book just as The Deathly Hallows Pt 1 was released in theaters and, perhaps in an act of mercy, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named agreed to go see it with him. It was to be the last date they ever went on.
How fitting then, that for The Deathly Hallows Pt 2, Evan would be going on his first date with someone new. A date which was not only with a new person, but part of a journey in which he sought to change his outlook on dating. Rather than break off a part of his soul and place it in another, Evan would try to navigate upwards of 100 women and keep his soul wholly intact throughout. For Evan had seen the dark side of love and sought to stand firmly in the light.
However, Evan was of the opinion that such a serious journey could not begin without a bit of revelry first, and for that reason, he chose to begin the night not queued up at the movie theater for the big premier, but rather at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade to take in a comedic sketch show. The performance that night was of The Kirk Cameron Repertory Players Present: A Harry Potter Musical! Evan retrieved the tickets from the box office and then made his way to the back of the queue to wait for Soul Mate to arrive.
One may find Soul Mate to be a particularly curious, and even confusing name for someone whom Evan was meeting for a first date. Like all things in this world though, there was good reason for it.
Evan and Soul Mate met under the most unexpected circumstances one evening in January of 2011. Out on the town for the first time since his final battle with She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named, Evan found himself in Bedlam to celebrate the birthday of his good mate Cedric’s girlfriend, the adorable Cho. Surrounded by Cho’s flock of attractive female cohorts, Evan’s scarred memory of She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named began to fade and he found himself with a bit of a hop in his step. Then out of nowhere, a young woman, not a part of Cho’s festivity, sat down next to Evan and proceeded to strike up a conversation as though they had known each other for quite some time. There to celebrate the birth of her own good friend, Soul Mate introduced herself to the unsuspecting bachelor and after talking for several minutes, floated to the other side of the room and disappeared amongst her own.
Soon thereafter, Evan’s friend Seamus, having just returned from ordering yet another butter beer, approached Evan with a smirk on his face. “So, who is this Soul Mate girl that you’ve met,” asked Seamus. Evan wasn’t sure who Seamus was speaking of, for he had met at least ten young women that very night. Seamus located her in the room and pointed in her direction to ensure that Evan knew the subject at hand. “Oh right, her. Yeah, well, I’ve just met her to be honest,” said Evan in his most casual tone. Seamus went on to tell Evan how she had approached him at the bar and inquired about Evan’s relationship status, and more to the point, “what his deal” was. Seamus informed her that although Evan was indeed single, he was still recovering from a fierce struggle and would not be prepared to go to war again for some time.
It was with that knowledge in hand that Soul Mate approached Evan again only minutes after he had been debriefed by Seamus. They went on to converse, above the pulsating music, for almost an hour in the crowded bar. Small talk was thrown out the door immediately, by a decree from Soul Mate herself. She wanted to get real. She did not stand for silly games of courtship. It was somewhere toward the end of the conversation when they exchanged numbers and Evan was told, “I know you just got out of a relationship, so I don’t want to date you right now. But I think you should call me in a few months when you’re ready to start again, because I kind of think we’re soul mates.” And so there you have it. That is how Soul Mate entered the life of our young hero.
Back in line at UCB, Evan fiddled with his phone. He sent Soul Mate an owl to tell her that he was in line and that if she was running late, he would go inside to get seats. She did not arrive by the time the line began to funnel into the theater and so Evan entered on his own. After laying down his cardigan over two seats, he scaled the stairs out of the basement club and back into the sunlight above. Within mere minutes, she was there, and being only the third time he’d ever seen her in person, it took Evan just a moment to realize who he was looking at. They embraced with a hug and she laughed at his tie.
Soul Mate was not a Harry Potter fan. She had only seen one of the movies and would need to be convinced of the magic. It was Evan’s charge that night to convert her.
The sketch show was absolutely fantastic. It was a hilarious and joyful take on Hogwarts from the perspective of a Leonardo DiCaprio hating, evangelical Christian Kirk Camerson. Also, it was written by Evan’s Level 201 Improvisation instructor, Professor Achilles Stamatelaky, who had prepared Evan quite well enough to pass his first set of O.W.L.’s to reach Level 301. The best part of the show though, was how much Soul Mate loved it. Despite not understanding many of the Harry Potter references, Soul Mate was laughing her Longbottom off. Evan was also made to look quite cool, in his own dorky way of course, by the fact that the Harry and Ron characters were wearing the exact same tie as he. As they left the theater, she was convinced that it would be very difficult for the movie to top the show she had just seen.
The pair proceeded to take the underground over to Union Square, and it was during this time that Evan realized, quite terrifyingly, that his fly was unbuttoned. Fortunately, he managed to distract Soul Mate long enough to perform a reparo spell and they continued on their way again. If she knew anything of it, she kept his secret. Minutes later, they entered Little Town to find it quite crowded but there was one last table available. They ordered quickly, and then the journalist in Soul Mate took over.
She told Evan that she had a million questions for him and that many were indeed related to One Hundred Dates, the very project she herself was a part of. As it had been the very first time they met, there was to be no small talk for the sake of small talk. They jumped right into each others’ lives. Evan did his best to field her questions, and by the time their food arrived, Soul Mate was actually persuaded to believe that One Hundred Dates was an appropriate venture. For you see, while she was happy enough to partake in the experiment, she did not necessarily believe that Evan’s motives were entirely pure nor justified. In talking with him though, she came to the conclusion that not only was his project justified, but that it would be successful because of one key factor: Evan was vulnerable and willing to let the world know it.
With the interview out of the way, Evan finally had a chance to listen to Soul Mate tell her story of how she made it to NYC. She worked long weeks as a server and slept on her brother’s floor for months so that she could save up just enough money to get into an apartment in Chelsea. She had never worked so hard and had such an amazing pay off, and now, there she was: an official Manhattanite.
At some point, the story turned to the death of Evan’s mother, something they had discussed previously. There was a passion in his voice as Evan told her of the lessons he’d taken from the experience and it left Soul Mate on the verge of tears. His mother’s death and the love it instilled in him had made Evan the young man he was. This was the fine line which connected Evan to the mighty character of Harry Potter, and why, for Evan, the books were more than just a flight of fancy and fun. You see, he too, was The Boy Who Lived, and he knew that there were truths in those stories which, once sought, had spoken to him.
The couple paid and exited the pub, arriving at the movie theater just minutes before previews began. Unfortunately, on the evening of a major motion picture premier, it can be quite difficult to find a pair of seats together if you arrive only minutes before the scheduled start. They admitted defeat quickly and took their places in the second row, staring straight up at the massive screen. She offered to split up, noting how important this movie was to Evan, and that he should get to see it with a good view. Soul Mate maybe didn’t know that despite his tie, cardigan and general love of Harry Potter, Evan cared about women 1000 times more than any book or film. He told her that he wanted to be where they were so that they could be together, but she was not satisfied. Against his protests, Soul Mate went to the balcony as previews began to try to find two seats together. And while there was no luck to be had that night, the effort put forth by Soul Mate was truly exemplary. To be on a date with someone like that, Evan thought, would make anyone feel lucky and even, special.
Then, it was time. If you had been well versed in occulmency, this is what you would have seen race through Evan’s mind during the showing of The Deathly Hallows Pt 2:
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Yes, they kissed! Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Oh no, he didn’t! Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Neville is the shit. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I’d date Luna. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I think Soul Mate is crying. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. OH FUCK YEAH NEVILLE. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Success. Soul Mate was converted. She loved the movie, and yes, she had teared up while watching it. She understood a bit better than before, why so many had come to love the series. That was all Evan could have asked for. That was better than winning any Quiddich match or game of wizard’s chess.
After several failed attempts to hail the Knight Bus, the two decided that they’d be just as well off walking back to Soul Mate’s apartment in Chelsea. She wanted to have a drink on her terrace so that Evan could see for himself what she had accomplished. Also, there was something to be said for getting away from the crowded pubs of New York City.
She lived on a quaint little block. One of those areas of Manhattan where you wish you lived. One of those streets where you’d typically need to be a millionaire. Soul Mate had found an absolute steal of an apartment though, and so she, a server in a restaurant and a freelance journalist, lived amongst greatness. She told Evan, as they entered her apartment, that he should consider himself privileged because he was the first boy she had allowed back to her home.
The sense of privilege sunk in more when they sat down on a blanket on her terrace, looking at the lights atop Manhattan. It really was the perfect way to end an evening, and in no time four glasses of Sauvignon Blanc seemingly dissaparated, the conversation had gone a far as was possible for the late hour and the only thing left to do was to kiss goodnight.