There was hardly anyone on the train when Criss boarded, so he sat down in the first available compartment and started trying to incorporate his new wand moves into his card trick routine. But he was eventually distracted from this by the view from his compartment window of the other students arriving. It struck him how odd it must be, to be a magician, and have your parents also be magicians. He was mostly just jealous, but at the same time, a part of him couldn’t help wondering if that might make everything seem a bit lamer.
Student after student passed by his compartment door, and many of them peered inside, scoping it out, and then moved on again. It wasn’t until the platform outside was completely empty that the compartment door slid open and someone joined him.
It was a scrawny little boy with awful, curly blonde hair. Cut short, like he was trying to pretend it wasn’t curly. “Can I sit here?” said the kid.
“Sure,” said Criss. “What’s your name?”
“Kyle Albright,” he said.
The boy sat down in front of Criss, who then picked up a deck of cards, and said, “My name is…” and did a fancy card shuffle, “… Criss Angel.”
"Uh," said Kyle. “Nice to meet you, Criss."
"Are your parents magicians?" asked Criss.
"What?" said Kyle.
"Are your parents magicians," Criss repeated. "Or muggles," he added, proudly applying his most recently learned word.
"You mean wizards?" asked Kyle.
"Why did you say magicians?" said Kyle.
"Because that's what we are," said Criss. "And 'wizard' just sounds stupid."
"But it's what everyone says," said Kyle. "If you say 'magician' then nobody knows what you mean."
"Magi - shun," said Criss, "it means, person who knows magic, it's exactly what it sounds like."
"But wizard is what we're called," said Kyle. "Magician sounds like a muggle magician or something."
"What do you mean, a muggle magician?" asked Criss. He recognized this as one of those oxy-things, like jumbo shrimp. He couldn't remember what they were called though.
"You know, muggle performers who pretend to do magic, but they're not doing real magic."
"Oh," said Criss. "Like posers, you mean."
Kyle laughed. "Uhm... sure? Anyway, you should just say 'wizards' and then everyone will know what you're talking about."
"But now you know," said Criss. "So I don't have to."
"I do, but everyone else doesn't," said Kyle.
"Look," said Criss, who was getting annoyed now. Most of the arguments he'd ever had with J.D. had only lasted about half this long. "I'm only talking to you right now, not everyone, and you know what I mean. So will you just answer the question?"
"Fine," said Kyle. "My mom's a witch and my dad's a muggle."
Was that so hard?, thought Criss. But he didn't say that. Instead he tried to regain himself. He could afford to give suave and conversational another shot. "So, your mom went to magic school then?"
"Yeah, she went to Hogwarts," said Kyle.
"Cool!" said Criss. "What kind of stuff can she do?"
"She can do most things," said Kyle. "And she's really good at potions."
"I meant what kind of magic," said Criss politely, though he'd thought it was fairly obvious the first time.
"Potions is magic," said Kyle slowly.
"Not really," said Criss. "But whatever. Sure, it's magic, it's just lame."
"Yeah it is," said Kyle. Criss was relieved that they had finally reached something to agree on. Arguing was hard work, and Criss was not very good at it.
"I can't wait to learn the cool stuff," Kyle went on. "Like charms and transfiguration, where you actually get to use wands and everything!"
"Yeah," Criss agreed. Whatever those things were. He supposed they were some specially named tricks that Kyle only knew about because of his mother.
"Do you know if they have full-length mirrors in the bedrooms at Hogwarts?" asked Criss. "Or the bathrooms?"
"No," said Kyle, furrowing his brow as though he thought the question was odd. "Why would I know that? Why do you care?"
"I just thought, since your mom went there..."
"Well, she doesn't tell me stupid things like that," said Kyle. "And anyway, she's a girl, and the girls' rooms are probably different from the boys. And even if they weren't, she was only in Hufflepuff, and the house dormitories are all different."
"Oh," said Criss, trying to ignore the feeling that he was being lectured to. "What's Hufflepuff?"
"It's one of the four houses of the school," said Kyle. He pointed at the Hogwarts crest painted on the compartment door, and the four animals that surrounded the letter H. "Named after the four founders. There's Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Gryffindor." He pointed at each animal in turn.
"So the eagle represents one of the houses?!" said Criss gleefully. "Which one?"
"Ravenclaw's the eagle," said Kyle.
"Ravenclaw," Criss repeated. "That's the house I'm in. Which one are you?"
"I don't know," said Kyle. "Neither do you. They're going to sort us into houses when we get there."
"The eagle's my spirit animal though," said Criss. "So I know I'll be in Ravenclaw."
"That doesn't make any sense," said Kyle. "They pick your house according to your abilities and stuff, not your favorite animal."
"It's not my favorite animal," Criss explained heavily. "It's my spirit animal. There's a difference."
"What's the difference then?" said Kyle.
"Favorite animal is just an animal you like. Spirit animal is different, it means that my soul is just like that animal, and my soul is connected to other things that have the eagle as a spirit animal. So I know, because the symbol is an eagle, that my soul is connected to Ravenclaw, and if my soul is connected to it, then I'm obviously going to be in that house."
Kyle stared blankly at Criss for a moment before he responded.
"So you think that any time there's an eagle, you're somehow going to end up involved with it?"
"Not every eagle," Criss sighed. "Just the really important ones. And I've always wanted to go to magic school, so this one is really important."
"And how did you decide your spirit animal was an eagle?"
"It just IS!"
"But how do you KNOW?"
"It just comes to you, okay?" said Criss, exasperated and totally finished with this conversation. "Maybe it doesn't happen for everyone like it did for me, or maybe you're just not really in tune with yourself like I am..."
"I mean it's fine, you can have a spirit animal," said Kyle. "I'm just saying, if it's not an empirical fact, you can't use it as the basis for a logical argument."
"No one said we were talking about logic," said Criss.
"We're not talking about it, we're using it," said Kyle.
"You might be but I'm not," said Criss defiantly. "I don't need logic, I use intuition instead. Maybe that's why you don't have a spirit animal, you're too logical. My brother's like you. He doesn't have a spirit animal either. But you're a magician so you'd think you would have one."
Kyle sat there, puzzled for a second. "So, you don't even want to be logical?"
"Not really," said Criss. "Not all the time anyway. Isn't that what magic's all about? Why are you so obsessed with logic anyway?"
"I'm not," said Kyle, but he said it with a squint of uncertainty on his face. "My dad's a philosophy professor, you know, muggle philosophy. I guess he might have rubbed off on me..."
"Uh, yeah," said Criss. "You sound like a total nerd."
Kyle laughed. "That's better than what you sound like."
Criss wasn't exactly sure what he meant.