You might have realized that we have a few Harry Potter fans on staff here at Pudding Shot. What you didn’t know was that through some connections that will remain unnamed, we managed to get tickets for the first preview of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. (I know what you’re thinking. But how do you know that I didn’t fly to London for two days? How do you know that I’m not directly in cahoots with J.K. Rowling? You have no way of knowing for sure. So.)
At the end of the show, the cast passed around papers with a fake plot on them, one that’s been circulating around the Internet (something silly about non-canon time travel and Voldemort having a daughter and a redshirt named Craig). We were given a few minutes to read them in bewilderment, and then the cast explained that this was an EVIL PLOT of J.K. Rowling’s, in which first viewers would disseminate hoax summaries all over the Internet, to stave off the temptation to spoil the real plot until July 31st. Because nothing’s more fun than fooling an entire fandom, right?
We were all in this together. As A Very Potter Musical’s Dumbledore would say.
However, the very real distress and horror I’ve seen from fans who are convinced that Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way has been made flesh has changed my mind about the whole #KeepTheSecrets campaign. So I’m going to #SpillTheSecrets instead.
Albus Potter and Rose Weasley are off to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, Albus doesn’t really know much about Hogwarts, as his father has been afflicted with the PTSD you’d expect if you had an evil guy’s soul attached to yours for all of your formative years. Harry doesn’t like to talk about it. “All is well,” he tells himself, every morning, as he stares into the bathroom mirror. All being well does not include long discussions with your children about what it’s like to have a Dark wizard inside you. Particularly when you know your older son will make naughty jokes.
So Albus and Rose don’t know what they’re in for when they board the Hogwarts Express (and it wasn’t like James was going to tell them; he spends all his time being a snogging voyeur). They’re instantly submerged in people campaigning to be the reincarnation of Colin Creevey. Photos. Autograph bids. The whole shebang. But all of a sudden… who should come sidling into the compartment but Scorpius Malfoy? (Yes. Sidling, not strutting. Because fictional children should not be burdened with the character traits of their parents.)
All the Colin-wannabes have been warned by their parents to steer clear of Scorpius (particularly a wide-eyed whippersnapper called Orion), so they flee, leaving Scorpius alone in the compartment with Albus and Rose. The three quickly become friends due to plot reasons. Scorpius senses the gap in their knowledge and reads them all seven Harry Potter books.
Despite feeling betrayed at having so many secrets kept from them, Albus and Rose are still in a good mood by the time they get to the castle. Mainly because Scorpius, having come from a tortured past, is obviously destined to be a brooding, leather-jacket-wearing type, and that’s the best kind of friend to have.
Albus remembers how Harry told him the Sorting Hat would let him choose his House, and suddenly this nugget of information takes on a whole new meaning. Already besotted with Scorpius, Albus convinces the Sorting Hat to put him in Slytherin alongside his new friend. Rose ends up in Gryffindor and sleeps in the same four-poster as her mother, who is now Minister of Magic. Rose has self-esteem issues.
Meanwhile, Albus is not only being stalked by the Colins, but by the ghosts of the castle, too, for reasons he can’t understand. They start to follow him in packs, like he’s some kind of beyond-the-grave Pied Piper. It gets highly annoying when he’s trying to learn Transfiguration.
“That’s not how they did it in my day!” cries the Bloody Baron, and haunts Albus’s wand until the only magic he can do is turn things into Sunday roasts. “Nobody eats Sunday roast anymore,” says the Bloody Baron sadly.
When the ghosts start taking bets on how long it will take Albus to fall asleep at night, he’s had enough. He and Scorpius decide to talk to Professor McGonagall about it—but before they arrive in her office, Professor Trelawney shows up, her eyes wild.
“NO!” she screams. “ALBUS SEVERUS TIBERIUS AMPHILOCHIUS ASPARAGUS POTTER, YOU ARE THE CURSED CHILD! AND IT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE OF YOUR NAME!” It’s a Real Prophecy, but Albus is too alarmed to hear all of it. He does make out that if he wants to find out some stuff, he should “follow the ghosts.” Professor Trelawney’s predictions have grown less original of late.
The ghosts are only too happy to lead Albus. In the middle of the night (because the middle of the night is the only proper time for English boarding school adventures), he follows them into the Forbidden Forest, where they gesture happily at a rock on the ground. They shout excitably at him until he picks it up.
As it turns out, the Resurrection Stone has been magically fused with Ravenclaw’s diadem, which went directly into the nearest source of equal power when it was destroyed (a bit like a Horcrux! Oh, wait…). The moment Albus puts the stone into his hands, he is overwhelmed with a strange and fervid curiosity that overwhelms everything else in his life (except, of course, his deep and abiding love for Scorpius, causing wistful sighs from the audience all around). The many questions in Albus’ life suddenly merge with an unexpected sort of clarity. He knows what he has to do.
The first person Albus brings back from the dead is Fred Weasley. Unfortunately, it takes him a while to work out how to use the Resurrection Stone. Harry never told him about it, so he doesn’t understand that you’re supposed to turn it over three times. As a result, undead-Fred arrives as a beaming floating head with no body. Nearly Headless Nick is unspeakably jealous and stalks off in a huff.
“Right,” says Albus, with the encouraging nods of the ghosts all around him. “I’ve asked George this question a few times, but he never seemed to hear me very well. You had the Marauder’s Map before my dad did. You must have used it to look around Gryffindor Tower now and again, didn’t you?”
“Ah,” says Fred, looking nervous. “Yes.”
“So… you never noticed that Uncle Percy was sleeping with someone called Peter Pettigrew every night? And then this love affair somehow got transferred to Uncle Ron—when he was only eleven?”
“No,” says Fred, with a defensive tilt of his floating chin. “And that’s our official line on the matter. If you have any further questions, you can talk to my undead lawyer.”
“But you must have noticed,” presses Albus. “I’m sure there were times Peter Pettigrew was right next to you on the map—”
“I CAN’T HEAR YOU EITHER,” says Fred. “PARTIAL DEAFNESS IS CONTAGIOUS AMONG IDENTICAL TWINS.”
He disappears back into the Stone. Albus realizes he’ll have to be more forceful with the next one. He enlists the Bloody Baron to clank his chains threateningly if someone refuses to answer his questions.
Dumbledore is the next victim of Albus Severus Potter, Cursed Child, First of His Full Name But Not The Individual Bits Of It. Albus supposes he could just use the portrait in Professor McGonagall’s office, but what would be the fun in that when he has this super cool zombie stone thingy?
“I’ve got a few questions for you,” says Albus carefully.
Albus I blinks sentimental tears out of his ghostly blue eyes. “Ask away, my dear boy,” he whispers.
“First of all… why did you need my dad to get Professor Slughorn’s memory about the Horcruxes? You’d obviously had it all figured out by then. You knew Riddle’s diary was a Horcrux, and you’d already destroyed the ring yourself. Why put him through all that?”
“I had to prepare Harry for battle,” says Dumbledore. Albus knows he probably doesn’t need to wear his half-moon glasses in the afterlife, but he seems to have chosen to wear them anyway, so that he can peer mysteriously over them. “All the tests I put your father through were engineered that way for a reason. You might have noticed he was always in mortal danger in May? I had to bribe Voldemort with so many Galleons not to try and kill him until exams were impending.”
“You’re changing the subject,” says Albus mercilessly. “Also, why did all that depend on Professor Slughorn, of all people? Why did Riddle ask him about the Horcruxes? Are we saying that he knew more about them than you did?”
“Of course he did,” says Dumbledore, attempting one of his signature icy stares, but it doesn’t quite work when his eyeballs are translucent. “Horace has made more Horcruxes than anyone since Herpo the Foul. Surely you’ve realized that. Harry must have told you about all the candied pineapple he ate. Every single piece was a Horcrux.”
“He… ate his own Horcruxes?”
“Indeed. By night, Horace was a masked hitman known as the ‘Walrus King.’ By day, he appeared to be a kindly, slightly daft old teacher. Nobody except me knew that he had a never-ending cycle of creating and then digesting his own Horcruxes.”
“And you didn’t stop him?!”
“My dear boy,” says Dumbledore. “It wasn’t relevant to Harry’s journey.”
The Bloody Baron moans in distress. Dumbledore ignores him.
“Fine,” says Albus. “But what about that potion you drank in the cave, when you were trying to get the locket? You couldn’t Vanish it; you couldn’t pour it out; you had to put it in a goblet. But then you drank it. I mean, why didn’t you just pour it on the ground?”
“Because it wasn’t relevant to Harry’s—”
“No,” says Albus firmly. “You only get to use that excuse once.”
Nearly Headless Nick, who has reluctantly returned, tries to throw his head at the headmaster, but predictably fails. Dumbledore zips back inside the Resurrection Stone before Albus can blink twice.
“I really am the Cursed Child,” Albus says miserably. “I can’t get a proper answer out of anyone.”
“Try someone more reasonable this time,” suggests the Fat Friar. “What about Lupin?”
So Albus turns the Stone over and conjures him up.
(At this point, the audience goes utterly still. The curtains are drawn and an usher comes onstage, explaining that there is to be a moment of silence in which we may all mourn the death of Remus John Lupin, best of the Marauders. As tears course down my face, I notice J.K. Rowling in the front row, cackling manically to herself. She is asked to leave the room until the moment of silence is over.)
Lupin’s ghost sits on the forest floor and looks at Albus. Albus looks back at him. Lupin sighs.
“I know what you’re going to ask me, but I’ve got nothing.”
“It’s just that it doesn’t make any sense,” says Albus. “Your Boggart was the full moon. You had to deal with the whole werewolf thing once a month since you were four. You alluded darkly to it in every other conversation. You wouldn’t even cast a Patronus because you didn’t want anyone to see it was a wolf. How on earth could you forget?”
“Fred put me in touch with his undead lawyer,” says Lupin sadly. “He told me to say that I was so distracted by the reappearance of Peter that it slipped my mind completely. But I don’t think anyone’s buying that.”
“I mean, I might have believed that,” says Albus, “if it weren’t for the fact that Snape showed up and literally reminded you while you were right there in the Shrieking Shack. ‘You forgot to take your potion,’ he said. Wouldn’t you have gone, I don’t know, ‘BRB GUYS, I’VE GOT TO TAKE CARE OF SOMETHING FOR A SEC’?”
“Of course I would,” says Lupin, frowning. “Forgetting was completely out of character for me. I’d also like to point out the fact that Severus was complicit in what happened. You’d think he’d have brought the Wolfsbane Potion to the Shack. Think about all that could have gone wrong. I could have bitten half the school. Dumbledore certainly wouldn’t have trusted Severus after that.”
“I’m not sure about that,” says Albus, thinking of Slughorn. “But still. What happened?”
“Well,” says Lupin mildly, “I think your namesake mentioned something about Harry’s journey—”
“NO,” says Albus, covering his ears. “NOT THAT AGAIN.”
Lupin gives a shaky laugh. “I quite agree. Now… if I’m not mistaken… you’re going to ask me something about Sirius, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes,” says Albus, relieved. “All that sexual tension can’t have been a coincidence.”
At that, the Resurrection Stone glows, and the ghost of Sirius Black leaps out, grinning broadly. He glances over at Albus and winks.
“It wasn’t,” he says.
He and Lupin embrace and sink back into the Stone.
Albus is pleased that something has finally gone right. The ghosts are pleased that Albus has accepted his destiny as Cursed Child. The audience is pleased that Wolfstar has finally become canon.
But some destinies are too burdensome to last for more than one night, and so Albus takes the Resurrection Stone back to the Slytherin common room. He sneaks Rose inside, too, because she has started wearing green robes to annoy her mother, and if that’s not the mark of a True Slytherin, nothing is. Albus shows her and Scorpius the Resurrection Stone and tells them of his adventures. They agree that the best thing to do is to Transfigure it into a Sunday roast.
Unfortunately, as they are finishing up their meal, Professor Slughorn, Head of Slytherin House, appears from around a corner. He sniffs the roast-smelling air with satisfaction and pulls something out from the folds of his cloak.
“Care for some candied pineapple?” he says.
The curtain closes before the panicked screams of our heroes.