A view of The Burrow, showing the house, the Ford Anglia, and a bit of the river and hills behind it, with 'Wizarding Times Mar 2021' in the lower right corner

Life Goes On: Spring, New Beginnings, and Comfort

By Prof. Tarma Amelia Black

We've had so much in the way of troubles and tragedies in the past thirty plus years. The Wizarding Times felt that it would be a good thing, a helpful thing, to focus on the fact that life does, indeed, go on. We have the opportunity to find new sources of enjoyment and comfort. With this in mind, we went to interview Professor Neville Longbottom, who is the Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

"This is Tarma Black of the Wizarding Times, reporting live from Greenhouse 3 at Hogwarts. I am speaking with Professor Neville Longbottom, one of the heroes of the Battle of Hogwarts and now currently Professor of Herbology.

"Professor Longbottom, thank you for allowing us to have an interview with you. I understand that you generally do not grant interviews, but, in this case, you agreed when we said that the theme of our interview not be on the Battle of Hogwarts, and of the past, but of the fact that life goes on. Would you please tell us what you thought of, when you read our words?"

Neville Longbottom, standing straight and tall by one of the potting tables, (and looking quite handsome...), opened his mouth to reply, and... slowly a blush crept up his neck and face. He grinned a little bit, and said "I'm pretty good at talking when I'm not thinking about what I'm going to say, but just say it. You know "Dumbledore's Army!" came out quite easy because I wasn't thinking about it! If I'd even paused to think, for a second, I'm quite sure I'd have been unable to say anything."

He stood for a moment, and looked at the many plants on the benches. "Could I just wander and talk?"

"Of course." I motioned to the camerawoman (Katie) to be quiet (and stealthy) and follow us.

"First off, call me Neville. I'm comfortable with that. Second, do you remember your Herbology classes here at Hogwarts?" he asked me, smiling slightly.

"Yes, actually, I do. I am really into plants and have my own garden" I replied. I was not saying that to butter him up but was speaking truthfully.

"Okay. First years are not taught here in Greenhouse 3 because the plants are deemed to be too dangerous. Many of them can maim, damage and/or kill without any sort of warning. However, many of them are able to heal, nurture and/or bring a person back to life mdash; also without any kind of warning.

"Look at this Venomous Tentacula. Its vines can grab you and its bite is highly venomous, and it can stun or kill you. The juice of it is a poison too, but it's not considered lethal. However, at the same time, the leaves are really valuable potion ingredients!"

He petted the plant, dodging its tentacles with ease born of custom. I didn't pet the plant, and eased by it. (Unfortunately Katie didn't give it a wide-enough berth and the tentacles grabbed at the camera, catching it momentarily. She wrenched it away from the plant and glared at me. I grinned back at her as she mimed taking my picture and chopping my head off in the photo.)

Neville wandered over to another table, to where Mandrakes were in small pots, and appeared to be waiting to be potted up. "Look at these beautiful plants. I'm talking with authorities now about how we harvest these plants because I've recently found out that there are adult mandrakes, in Brazil, which are, or seem to be, quite able to control their lethal cries. They donate their 'roots' for medical purposes, evidently they can shed up to a fourth of their roots without pain to themselves and grow them back again. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing? To have some plants and not have to kill them to obtain the ingredients for potions?"

"I might have seemed to get off-topic, but really I didn't. We can have new beginnings for ourselves, for how we think and for the lives we live. Imagine being told that there is only one way to harvest Mandrakes. Only one way to live; one way to think. But sometimes, in the winter, when all seems still and hibernating, or even dead, new thoughts show up. New feelings show up. And then new possibilities show up in the spring, things which maybe seemed impossible to think even six months previously."

I blinked. I'd not ever thought of things that way. I'd never thought of the possibility of harvesting Mandrakes mdash; without killing them.

Neville wandered to another table. "See this plant?" His hand hovered over a small plant with incredibly tiny green branches and even tinier leaves. As I got closer, I could see minute lavender flowers at the ends of all the branches. "This is a plant that doesn't even have a name, at least here in Scotland, that I am aware of. A student brought it to me as a cutting, and said he found it in his uncle's pasture in Nigeria. I put it in sandy loam, watered it and it rooted and now seems to be thriving. I've asked my student to ask his uncle what the plant is called.

"Come sniff the flowers..." he said, encouragingly, to me and Katie. We came close, sniffed the flowers, and immediately both of us were smiling and... happy.

"I call it 'Hannah' until I know what its proper name is." Neville said. "The fragrance of the flowers of this little plant seems to be able to just comfort anyone. Isn't that an awesome thing? So, yes, I agreed to talk with you because I wanted people to know that new beginnings, changes for good, new possibilities, can happen. We just have to let them happen. Plant them in a nice sandy loam mdash; and let them grow."

I motioned to Katie to make sure she got a picture of Neville with the tiny plant. She smirked at me, because she already had about ten options from which to choose. I couldn't help it, but leaned down to sniff at the flowers again.

"Thank you very much for talking with us, Professor... Neville. We really appreciate you doing so."

I faced the camera, still with the happy and content smile on my face. "This is Tarma Black of the Wizarding Times, reporting live from Greenhouse 3 at Hogwarts."