'Ron quickly looked at both kids in front of him with red ears. He looked like he was trying to decide what to tell them. Finally, he blurted out rapidly to both of them. 'That was wicked! Are you really Harry Potter?'
Harry nodded. Then they had what Nalani thought was the most uncomfortable exchange, where Harry showed Ron his scar and Ron stared in awe. Then Harry asked Ron if all his family were wizards, and after Ron answered, he turned towards Nalani. 'And you?' he asked.
'I'd say half are wizards and half are crazy,' Nalani answered with a snort.
Harry and Ron looked at her with curiosity and confusion in their eyes. She had a strange feeling that both boys found her, as well as each other, very interested in each other and their different lives. On her side though, she didn't know what to think of either of them. From what she could tell, Harry hadn't even known about magic until very recently, and knew nothing about Bending, while Ron knew nothing about what Wizards here called Muggles. She didn't know how to interact with either of them, especially together. What could she say, and what was better left out; what both would understand, or what neither could. As much as she wanted to interact with these kids, she had no idea how to do so. And as far as she was concerned, these kids weren't the same type of normal. They coexisted in one world without knowing anything about each other.
'Most members of my family are Magical as well as Benders. Of course, there are a few who are born without the gift, but it's true in every family,' she said.
'You mean Squibs?' Ron asked.
'What? Squids?' Nalani asked.
'You don't know what Squibs are? They're non-magical people born into Wizarding families,' Ron explained.
'What about Muggles?' Nalani prodded.
'They don't have any magic at all; they're not from magical families or anything,' Ron clarified.
'It's all the same for us in the Yuansu Territories, you're either magical or you're not, simple as that,' Nalani said, shaking her head and shrugging.
Ron looked at her in shock. 'Then what do you do with your Squibs? Send them to Muggle families?'
At this, Harry's eyes widened.
'What? No… We don't segregate our world into Magical and Non-magical. We all live together, the Zairai and the Benders,' Nalani said like it was the most logical of things.
'The what?' Ron asked.
'That's what we call Muggles and Squids.'
'It means "pre-existing, conventional,"' she explained. 'Humans before they were given magic.
Anyway, we all live together, gaining from each other's strengths, and compensating each other's weaknesses.'
'It sounds brilliant!' Harry said with excitement in his eyes. He seemed to really like the idea of a world where wizards and muggles co-existed.
'Given magic? You can't give magic, you're either born with or without,' Ron exclaimed.
Nalani raised an eyebrow, 'It's not quite that simple. You need to have the proper set of genes for the magic to express itself, yes, but the magic itself was given to humans by the Giant Lion-Turtles through energy bending.
Ron looked at her incredulously for a few seconds. But he quickly smiled. 'Jeans and Lion Turtles give you magic? Now I know you're having me on,' he said, pulling out an ugly looking, fat, grey rat from his pocket.
'What's your family like, Harry? You mentioned nothing could be worse than what you came from,' Nalani asked Harry.
'I don't think I'd exaggerate if I said that they hate me. They lied to me about everything I was, because they hate magic, you see,' Harry said.
Ron frowned at this, 'That's terrible! Hiding who you truly are because they don't understand?' He turned to Nalani, 'What about you, Nalani,' he asked. 'I think you mentioned half your family was crazy?'
'Yeah,' Nalani answered, sinking in her seat, 'One member of my family pretty much comes from a gene pool that's predestined to lose a few screws, you know?'
There was a short silence. Every now and then, Ron reacted like Nalani was speaking complete jibberish. Nalani and Harry both looked at Ron expectantly. As it turned out, Ron had an enormous family. It reminded Nalani of her late uncle's family. She told them that her widowed aunt had the triplet boys, about Nalani's age, four daughters, all of them older than Nalani, and three young sons between three and six. If anything happened to her and Kiran, there were still a lot of kids eligible for the Fire Nation throne, she thought. She was pulled out of her thoughts when Ron gasped.
'What?' both Nalani and Harry said.
'You said You-Know-Who's name!' Ron told Harry. 'I'd have thought you, of all people –'
Harry stumbled an answer saying he had a lot to learn, and Nalani thought she probably did too as she asked, 'Who's name did what?'
Harry explained what had happened to his parents and him ten years ago. Nalani was a bit shocked, 'Crazy guy, hungry for power, wanting to take over the world... nothing new there. But why did he try to kill you? He's evil, I get it… but what's his motive for killing a baby? '
Harry shrugged. 'No one told me…'
'That's messed up,' she mumbled.
A woman pushing a trolley of sweets slid their door open. 'Anything off the trolley, dears?' she asked.
Nalani and Harry both got to their feet while Ron muttered something Nalani didn't catch. Nalani took a few sweets. She didn't know any of them and was generally picky about foreign food, so she took a few things that sounded appealing. Harry, on the other hand, took everything he could carry. He dropped it between Nalani and himself and started to eat a pumpkin pasty. Ron was looking at their piles of candy with envy.
'Here,' Nalani said, giving a few sweets to Ron. Harry did the same.
'Thanks,' said Ron, 'Say, could you tell us a bit more about the Fire Nation?' said Ron.
'That could take forever, just tell me what you want to know,' she said with a chuckle.
'Well, I'd sure like to know what the Fire Nation and Firebenders are,' Harry asked with a blush. Ron proudly answered for Nalani.
'There's a part of the world where wizards can actually manipulate the elements. No need for wands or anything. We call them Elementals, but they call themselves Benders. There are four regions. The Fire Nation, where people, like Nalani here, manipulate fire. There's also Water, Earth, and Air territories, where each can manipulate the element corresponding to their territory,' he explained with pride in his voice.
Nalani took over from there. 'The Earth Kingdom for Earthbenders. The Air Temples for Airbenders and the Water Tribes for Waterbenders. And then, there's the Avatar. The Avatar is the most powerful Bender. He or she can bend all four elements and has to keep the balance in our world. He or she is reborn every time in a different nation, according to a pattern: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. He or she is also the bridge between our world and the spirit world. A lot of the magical animals around the world are actually descendants of spirits. After the Great War, people from different territories started getting married. Like my mother, she's from the Water Tribe. So, nowadays, the territories are a bit more homogenous. You'll see a lot of waterbenders, airbenders and earthbenders in the Fire Nation. Same everywhere else. Some cities are complete mixes of all benders, like Republic City. Sometimes, the children that are born from mixed benders will have bending abilities from both parents. So you can have two siblings that bend different elements. Sometimes, they can even inherit elements from the grandparents.'
She continued to explain how some Airbenders had escaped the genocide by hiding outside the elemental territories, but how after the portals to the spirit worlds had been opened, many zairai had become airbenders. She explained how Avatar Korra wrote history books in her later years, after conversing with her past lives while staying in the spirit world.
Both boys looked amazed, confused and incredulous all at once. Nalani realized then that this was maybe too much information for people who weren't familiar or knew nothing of the Elemental Territories. She shifted the conversation back to Hogwarts, at least that was a subject with a good dose of mystery for all of them. Nalani took out a book from the small carry-on bag she had with her. It was a potion book. After meeting the Potions professor, she thought it would be best to excel in his class. Harry shared some more sweets with Ron.
'Have any of you started reading your schoolbooks yet?' Nalani asked them.
'Why would I read schoolbooks before school even starts? We'll have plenty of homework once we get there,' Ron said, looking scandalized.
'I read a few,' Harry shrugged.
'Well, if the teacher that took us to Diagon Alley is any indication of the type of teachers we'll get, I'd recommend you read at least the first chapter. But I read the whole potion book… just for safe measures,' Nalani replied dramatically.
'Potions? I heard Fred and George talk about the Potions' prof once. Scary bloke, I reckon,' Ron confirmed.
Nalani nodded, 'Yeah, well, I tried to memorize as much as possible, but my brain seems to only absorb random information.' She flipped a few pages of the book. 'Here, I remember that… if you mix in some powder of whatever, to something of wormwood, you get this super powerful sleeping potion that they call "Draught of the Living Death."' She said the last part dramatically, wiggling her fingers, which made Harry and Ron laugh. She went on. 'Oh, and another random thing I remembered. A thing called: Bezoar. That's a stone in the stomach of a goat that apparently cures most poisons. How gross is that?' she said with a shudder.
'I think I'd rather die of poisoning than eat something that was in a stomach… ' she gagged.
'I don't know,' Ron said thoughtfully, 'dying is pretty bad.'
'Believe me, there are worse things,' Nalani said dryly. Her tone had become so serious that neither boys said anything, instead, they just glanced at each other and back at Nalani, who had gone back to flipping through her book.
Ron looked quizzically at Harry, who just shrugged in response.
'Oh, and here, something I found really interesting was that, what you guys call monkshood or wolfsbane here, we call it the "dragon's trap" in the Fire Nation,' She said pointing at the drawing of a strange looking plant. 'We actually use it to brew cures for dragons, when they get the Freezing Fever,' she said.
'Dragons? You've seen dragons?' Harry asked. Ron was shocked into silence.
'Yeah, all the time,' Nalani smiled, 'they're pretty much our national mascot. My grandfather had one, Indra, a beautiful blue dragon. He took me and my brother to fly on her back when we were little.' She had a deep sadness in her eyes as she lost herself in the memory.
'Your grandfather rode a dragon? Bloody hell! They're totally wild here, not even a team of wizards can tame them!' Ron exclaimed.
'Oh, no. They're highly respected in the Fire Nation. They were the ones to teach the first Firebenders how to master the art. My grandfather had one, so did his mother before him and my great-aunt inherited him. And my great-great-grandfather had one as well. In his days it was more exceptional since everyone thought they were extinct.'
'What do you mean they taught Firebenders how to master the art?' Ron asked in complete awe and disbelief.
Nalani explained to the boys how each element had animals who could control it, and some of them taught humans how to master it. She also told them how most of the magical beasts around the world were really descendants of Spirits who had roamed the Earth long ago and had returned a century and a half ago, before retreating back to the spirit world again. Harry was fascinated by everything Nalani said, captivated by each and every word. Ron, on the other hand, was sceptical and refused to believe most of it.
Quickly the conversation changed to Dumbledore and other well-known wizards when Harry got a Dumbledore card.
'I got someone called Helga Hufflepuff?' Nalani read, pulling her card out of the chocolate frog box.
At that moment, there was a knock on the door and it turned out to be a boy who was looking for a toad. Who brings a toad at school? Nalani wondered. Was he really surprised to have lost it? Ron said aloud what Nalani had thought quietly. 'Don't know why he's bothered. If I'd brought a toad, I'd lose it as quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I can't talk.'
Nalani looked at the sleeping rat. She normally thought rats were sort of cute, but that one was an ugly fellow asking to be put out of its misery. Ron took out his wand to try and turn the rat yellow; like he told them he had tried the previous day. His wand looked like it had seen better days. Before he could do anything though, the door slid open again. It was the same boy and next to him was a girl who Nalani thought should probably do something about her hair. It was… "out of control" was probably the term Nalani would employ. Nalani had very thick and very curly hair, so she knew all about having difficult hair, but that girl's hair just looked impossible.
'Have you seen a toad? Neville here lost his,' she said in a bossy voice, showing her large front teeth. Ron answered but she didn't listen. She was more interested in seeing him do magic. Something told Nalani that she probably only wanted Ron to fail to show off her own abilities. Ron cleared his throat. 'Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid, fat rat yellow!'
Nalani tried not to laugh at the silly incantation. If that spell worked, she'd go dance with a skunk-bear. As she suspected, it didn't work.
'That's the last time I listen to Fred and George,' Ron mumbled.
The girl started ranting on the spells she tried and how it did work for her, and also about her non-magical family and books she read. Nalani sort of zoned out before the girl was done talking. She didn't hear the girl's name, but she heard Harry and Ron say theirs. So she said hers. The girl barely acknowledged her, as she was busy telling Harry all the books he was in.
'Um, sorry...' Nalani started.
'Hermione,' the girl reminded her.
'Right, Hermione. Didn't you have a toad to be looking for? Your friend looks mighty worried.'
'Oh, you're right! We'd better go and look for Neville's toad. You should change, I expect we'll be there soon,' she said with a little huff, and she left with the boy named Neville.
'Wow...' Nalani trailed off with wide eyes.
'Well, whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it,' Ron said with a frown.
'What house are your brothers in?' Harry asked Ron. From what she understood which house was good or bad varied from family to family. From hearing what Ron had to say, being in Ravenclaw was bad, but Slytherin was worse. From Draco's perspective though, Hufflepuff was the worse you could end up in, while Slytherin was the best. They started talking about Quidditch. Harry and Nalani found out it was a game played on broomsticks. Before they could find out more though, the door slid open again.