Once I reach the end of the secret passageway that leads from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade, I apparate to Neershire, a small wizarding village on the east coast of Scotland that is located on the Atlantic Ocean. I take a moment to breathe in the salty air that rejuvenates my senses, then I shrug off my Gryffindor robe to reveal a swimsuit underneath. I grab the Gillyweed from the pocket of my robe then throw it back on the ground. I stand at the edge of a dock, hesitating for a moment while I look at the slimy green substance, then I shove the Gillyweed into my mouth without another thought. It has an unpleasantly slimy consistency and it tastes like fresh kelp. Suddenly, I can’t breathe and panic fills me. I try to draw in a breath, but it feels like the wind has been knocked out of me. I try to walk to the end of the dock in order to jump in the water, but as soon as I take a step, I slip and fall as my feet are no longer as they normally are, but they are webbed just like a duck’s. As I fall I stick my arms out to catch me and then, suffocating, I push myself and slide to the side of the dock and belly flop into the water. So much for being agile, I think. I force myself to swim underwater further until I am fully submerged, the cold water biting me. Despite my natural instincts, I breathe in the mysterious ocean water. I feel the strangest sensation as seawater rushes into the gills on my neck. I realized that the frigid, bone-chilling water doesn’t seem so cold now. On the contrary, it feels like a nice, cool shower after a long Quidditch match in the middle of the summer. I open my eyes to find that my eyesight is different. I can clearly see, despite the only light coming from the moon above.
As soon as I become adjusted to breathing salt water, I start swimming around and searching for the fabled merpeople colony. I take out my wand and think Point Me. My wand spins on the palm of my hand and then points north, where Serenus, the merpeople colony, is located (as told by legend). About half an hour passes as I swiftly swim, cutting as easily through the dark water as easily as an orca whale. I stay determined to meet these merpeople. Instantaneously, a streak of gray flashes past me. I abruptly stop swimming and ready my wand. I look around, my heart pounding. I see the streak of gray swim pass again, but even with my improved vision, it is too dark and too fast to tell what it is. Out of nowhere, the gray streak appears in front of me yet again. This time, it stops right in front of me. I laugh out loud, causing a stream of bubbles. It’s an Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin! I smile, as I have dreamed of meeting a dolphin in person for so long! I cautiously raise a hand in the general direction of the dolphin, giving it the opportunity to either swim away or let me touch it. I remember how it is a sentient, unique being. Since the dolphin doesn’t have any negative reaction, I slowly approach the dolphin until my hand hovers just inches from it. I pause, then gently rub right in front of the dolphin’s dorsal fin. He looks at me, obviously enjoying it. He swims away a few feet, then hovers. I swim up to him again, and he swims another few feet.
Obviously, he wants me to follow him. I nod, then follow him again to show I understand. As he takes off, I struggle to keep pace with his incredible speed. He stops and lets me catch up after a few minutes. He slowly approaches me and swims underneath my floating hand so his dorsal fin in touching my hand. I finally understand the message. He wants to give me a tow! I grab onto his fin with both hands, getting a good grip. I know that the strain of the water will make it difficult to hang on. As soon as my grip is firm, his powerful tail surges us forward. I briefly think of how my time is running short before the Gillyweed wears off; I have maybe fifteen to twenty more minutes. However, I’m too caught up with the amazement and unbelievability of this dolphin to think ahead. A few times my grip starts to slip, but the dolphin seems to know and he slows down until I readjust it. I marvel at the amazing sensation I experience as I rush through the waves. Abruptly, we start shooting straight up. I hold on tight as we breach from the water as the dolphin breathes. The moment is serene and I feel free, so free, despite the fact I am unable to breathe.
He then pulls me back underwater and I hear a faint sound. It’s the most serene sound that makes me almost start crying. The sound is a trillion times more euphonious than the soft, gentle neigh of a newly born unicorn. I notice huge underwater buildings made of stone, green algae dripping down each side. It’s Serenus!! The dolphin tows me right to the dwelling in the center of the small village. I choke on sea water as I see the legendary merpeople. They are swimming, going about their lives, singing with their golden voices. Their tangled seaweed-colored hair floats in a haphazard cloud around their grayish faces. As the dolphin tows me to the center of the largest building, piercing yellow eyes stare me down.
“What are you doing here?” Demands a harsh voice.
I jump with surprise. I forgot that merpeople only speak their complicated language of Mermish, of what we hear at least, above the surface of the water, back in my world.
I try to tell him I come in peace and I just wanted to see if the legends of the Serenus merpeople are true, but all that comes out from my mouth is a bunch of bubbles.
“Why have you come to our world? You’re already trashing it, surely you do not wish to live here as well?!” The merperson demands yet again.
I struggle, trying to shape words clearly in vain.
“Fine. It doesn’t matter why you came. What matters is that you’ll go back and tell all of your friends what you saw and then our home will no longer be at peace. You are not allowed to go back.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I glance at the dolphin who brought me here. He flips his head to me as if he were telling me to get a move on.
During the minuscule moment when I thought of a plan, the merpeople have me surrounded, pointing their tridents right at me. Panicking, I am suddenly aware I am starting to have trouble breathing water and my webbed feet are itching as if they were going to fall right off. I turn to my friend, the dolphin, seeking any form of help. He looks at me impatiently, then twirls in a circle. Somehow, I am able to fathom his message: he wants me to fight back using my wand. I inch my hand to the pocket of my swimsuit, where I stashed it for the ride by the dolphin. The merpeople that have formed a circle around me seem to know that I am actually human and my means of breathing water will soon expire. Suddenly, I understand their logic. They are waiting for me to die here, all alone, by drowning, a much more painfully lengthy death than being impaled by a trident. I remember one of my schoolbooks talking about how saltwater merpeople tend to be more aggressive and warlike than freshwater merpeople. Makes sense. Feeling my gills start to melt away, I take a last deep breath before holding my breath. I inch my hand the last few inches to my wand, and before the merpeople figure out what I am doing, I roar “STUPEFY!” dozens of times in my head, taking out a merperson each time and casting Protego in order to stop their tridents from impaling me. My lungs straining, I kick upwards, more desperately than I have ever been in my whole entire life, but even as I manage to kick free from the Serenus territory, I feel my webbed feet and hands return to normal. My lungs burn so bad, my brain switching in and out of focus. The world starts to fade, the edges of my vision growing black as I continue to kick upwards towards home. I struggle, each kick a fight. The dolphin streaks by me, making me remember that I have a wand in my hand, despite being oxygen deprived. I yell “ASCENDIO!” in my head, and before I know it, I am zooming straight up, faster than a Muggle rocket from old times. I struggle to hold on, to not black out. I am determined to survive. I think of what one of my best friends, Angelica, once told me: “There is no stopping a truly determined person.” I force myself to focus on what she said as approach the surface. Finally, I break the surface, gasping and inhaling rich, beautiful, priceless oxygen. I cast a Hover Charm on myself so I can recover without having to tread water to stay afloat. For at least three minutes, I focus on regaining all the oxygen I survived without. Then, the now familiar gray streak once again breaches, slapping my face with freezing water. I shiver as I watch the dolphin.
“Follow me,” he seems to say.
And that’s exactly what I do, him towing me back to land as the sun peeks over the horizon.