There was a garden on a sunny slope, an Eden enchanted to never run too wild or dangerous, and there doting wizards and witches from the neighboring environs would occasionally bring their children. And to the garden came one day an adored lad from sunny Godric’s Hollow; and a venturesome young scion from hidden, well-warded Golgorand; and a stubborn young demoiselle from mostly-Muggle Penzance; and a clever stripling raised in Tintagel’s magical library. They met well out of sight of their parents. And within moments they conceived a brilliant game – all make believe and no dullness, thrilling as Quidditch and as wonderfully disgusting as gobstones, the greatest game ever played in the garden, a game in which one could be anything and could do anything: a game requiring equal parts courage, cunning, loyalty, and intelligence.

The game was so tremendously fun that it would keep them pestering Mum and Dad for years after. “Oh, can we go back? Can we go back there, please?”

Because the game took hold of them, and it stood for fun and for friendship. They would remember it later and, though not quite sure of certain names or faces or the more arbitrary rules one of the others had absolutely insisted on, what they recalled best was bright and happy childhood. They remembered the terribly serious delight of destroying imaginary monsters, safe in the garden with those three they had sworn eternal friendship to.

But then James Sorted Gryffindor, and Evan Slytherin, and stubborn Alice chose Hufflepuff, and young Walden – forever an oddball, fascinated by things like the history of sacrifice and esoteric execution rituals – stalled and went for Ravenclaw. So by four different roads they left the garden to meet monsters of the real sort.

And from the moment their roads diverged they could never again capture the game.