Title: Wandlore and Chocolates
Beta Reader(s): sinistra_furze
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
Note: This is the story of Snape and Siggy's trip to Diagon Alley, from Snape's POV, written in first person.
Summary: Siggy Whetstone is a youngster who started Hogwarts in 2004 as a first year, had a rough start, and ended up with a maneki neko (magical Japanese cat) as a familiar and Severus Snape as his legal guardian. Hermione Granger also ended up back at Hogwarts as an assistant Potions Professor, apprenticing to Snape, and doing side research on Siggy's maneki neko named Morpheus. She and Snape are also carefully dancing around a mutual attraction, which hasn't gone anywhere… yet. Snape is now the DADA professor, no longer cursed since Voldemort is long dead. During the summer the three made a trip to the Middle East; amongst other adventures, they were each gifted with a phoenix feather — Siggy has decided he would like his made into a new wand.
Had an unexpectedly pleasant trip to Diagon Alley yesterday with Whetstone. Hermione graciously agreed to entertain Morpheus for us (I say "us" because the creature has taken to spending as much time with me as with his putative "owner", though anyone foolish enough to believe they can own a cat is deluded), so I wouldn't have to worry about what he was getting into while watching Siggy.
Thank Merlin for small favors.
Siggy had expressed a desire to have his phoenix feather made into a new wand, as he was using a hand-me-down from his Uncle Grimstone, who he claims invented the Effrego curse — if that's true, then no wonder the boy wants a new wand. Our young Mr. Whetstone is not suited to such a wand, with such a history; no wonder he's not done as well as he should with wandwork.
Since students at Hogwarts are not allowed to visit Diagon Alley unchaperoned, he asked if I would go with him. Of course I acceded — the boy has nothing but hand-me-down belongings, which I find particularly reprehensible given the wealth of his family. Even I had new robes, books and a wand, even though Mum probably had to pinch her pennies for months after so Dad wouldn't know… I decided to look into replacing his worn out robes with new ones while we're there, and he definitely needs a new cauldron… his is so patched there's not much left of the original pewter…
But first the wand.
We went to Ollivander's and were greeted quite warmly by the old man. He seems to have recovered fully from his experiences during the War, which I was much pleased to see. Sometimes I confess I wonder if he's not the original Ollivander, who's simply changed his first name over the centuries, but of course that's ridiculous. He's such a compendium of wandlore, though; it's difficult to accept one man could learn all that over the course of one lifetime… even a wizard's lifetime!
Siggy handed him the phoenix feather, and Ollivander took it reverently. "Ahhhh…," he breathed. "Beautiful specimen. Absolutely beautiful. From an Arabian phoenix, isn't it?" He smoothed the vanes against the shaft, and small red and gold sparks sizzled and swirled as he did. "Do you see that?" he said happily. "A strong feather, with magic of its own."
He smiled at Siggy over his glasses. "And what do you want to do with this feather, young man?"
"I'd like to have a wand made with this feather as a core, sir, " Siggy said. He's quite a respectful lad; I found myself beaming proudly at him, even though I had nothing to do with his upbringing or his natural social grace. How odd.
Siggy continued: "I'm not sure though what wood would be best, but I'm pretty certain it shouldn't be a rigid wood. I don't think the feather would appreciate being in a wand with no flexibility."
Ollivander swished the feather through the air. "Quite right you are, young man. This feather is much too flexible for an unyielding wood — or a rigid, unyielding wizard, for that matter. Now let me see…" He turned and took down a rather large book of wand woods, and he and Siggy fell to perusing the musty old pages, discussing the attributes and deficits of each wood. I sat in the chair next the door, watching the old head and the young one bent over the ponderous tome, Ollivander holding forth on the wood as Siggy asked about one. The amount of wandlore that old man divulged was astounding — I've never heard him when he got deeply into his subject before. It was quite enlightening.
Ollivander finally said, "I believe the best thing to do will be to bring out samples of wood for you to try. One of my journeymen has my wood sampler out right now; perhaps if you could return next weekend we could select a wood for you?" Siggy looked at me, I nodded, and he said that would be fine. Ollivander took the feather, saying he would prepare it for use in a wand in the meantime, and Siggy paid for the wand.
"Is there anything I can do for you, Severus?" Ollivander asked. "You look a bit … bemused." I moved to the counter and glanced at Siggy. "Here, young man," he said. "You might enjoy this while you wait." He handed the boy a book on beginning wandlore, and Siggy settled into the chair.
"I'm concerned, sir, because my wand seems to not be working as well for me lately," I said quietly. "It seems reluctant, and not as powerful. In fact, it seems… sluggish and tired." The old wandmaker looked at me closely. "Are you feeling well yourself, Severus? Because that can affect how a wand behaves."
"Yes, I've been feeling quite well. Astoundingly well, in fact. I've had Mme Pomfrey at the school give me a thorough physical, and I've done one myself, and everything is as it should be. Given, of course…"
"Yes, yes, I know. Hmmm…." He took my wand, flicked it a time or two experimentally, and had me cast a few simple spells. "Hm. It is slow, isn't it. That Fasciculus floris charm should have worked for you almost immediately, but it did take a second or two for the bouquet to appear…" He took it again, examined it thoroughly, weighed it, measured it, muttered to it a bit, then set it on the counter and sighed.
"Severus, my boy, your wand no longer works as well as it once did because you are no longer the wizard you once were. You have changed and you need a new wand to suit the new man."
That set me back on my heels a bit. I still feel the same, I still frighten the students as much as I ever did, I don't think my general attitude or feelings about much at all have changed since the War… But then again I am a much different person than the defiant, gloomy, ultra-serious 11 year old boy who bought that wand so many years ago…
Still… "Do you see this often, sir? I'm sure I've never heard of a wand diverging from the wizard at my age…" "Yes, it's usually a condition we see earlier — generally around the time a person graduates from Hogwarts and begins their career. It's not common, mind you, but it does occur."
He frowned at my old wand, then looked up at me and beamed. "So! Would you like to see what might fit you? I have some lovely new wands in stock, all cores…" "Well, actually…" I told him I had a phoenix feather, too, and from the same phoenix as Siggy's.
"Indeed!!" His shaggy old eyebrows rose in surprise. "That is most fortuitous!! And how did you come by this?" His eyes peered into mine thoughtfully — I just know he was thinking I'd killed a phoenix or something. I gave a short report on the adventure in Farafra, and I could see him visibly relax. Merlin's socks, will everyone always think the worst of me at first blush? It does get wearing after a bit…
"Since it was gifted to you at the same time our young man here received his, I would highly recommend your new wand use the feather as a core as well. A gifted phoenix feather, used by the person it was given to, will be able to perform magic much more easily and effectively than with any other core. And as an added bonus, since you are his guardian, in effect you are his parent, and the dual cores will complement and enhance each other."
I agreed to bring my feather with us when we returned to select Siggy's wand wood. We bid the old wandmaker goodbye, and left his shop. I wonder if my old wand's core can be removed and the feather inserted… I'll have to ask Ollivander if that's possible. I do like my ebony wand…
I must mention this to Hermione. She has the third feather — I wonder how her wand is working for her these days. She is certainly much different from the 11 year old girl who first waved it… and she's of the age her wand should properly give her problems, if it's going to…
I suddenly realized it's been quite a while since I'd sat and had a conversation with her. I know she's busy settling into her new position as Potions Instructor, but there's really no excuse for my not checking with her to see how things are going. She's supposed to my apprentice, after all, since she can't be a Master until she's served 5 years under the supervision of an experienced Master… I'll have to make an appointment immediately to discuss how she's doing and what she plans for her feather…
I find I'm missing our companionable evenings together. I must address that as soon as possible. There's really no reason we couldn't arrange a regular meeting time to discuss events, issues and anything else that comes to mind… perhaps a weekly visit to the Three Broomsticks for a pint or two…
Anyway. Back to the trip.
After our visit to Ollivander's, we stopped for a light lunch in a café off Diagon Alley. I expected to be recognized, and of course I was. Fortunately, my patented scowl was enough to ward off any well-wishers and autograph hounds; you'd think after all this time (what, 8 years?) I could stop for a sandwich and a cup of tea out in public without the fans mobbing me. Dammit, I didn't do what I did for them; I did it at first for Lily, and for her son, and eventually because it was the Right Thing to do. Merlin knows I'd have rather died on that floor in the Shrieking Shack, but I knew I would be needed after the war… so I made plans.
I suppose in retrospect it's good I didn't die, as I've discovered that life does indeed go on, and that I have finally found reason to live again; it's a terrible thing to bound to life by a promise made in terror and anguish, when one is not much more than a child oneself… it tends to rob one of any feeling of purpose or future — one's future is sold for that of another…
Lunch consumed, we headed for Flourish & Blotts to pick up some books I had ordered, and I told Siggy he could select a couple for himself. Imagine my displeasure when he headed for a rather gruesome book called The Old Hag's Book of Beginning Curses and Hexes — what in the world was a book of that nature doing in the Juniors' section?
"Whetstone!" I hissed. "Just what do you think you're doing?" He looked up at me, and swallowed visibly.
"Well, I thought I'd get this book — it might be helpful later in —"
"You thought wrong. Replace the book and turn your attention to the appropriate section, or you'll be in detention so quick your head will spin." He slouched off, looking rather disconsolate. Dammit, I must remember not to be so harsh with the boy — he's had enough of that in his short life. He always looks so destroyed when I forget myself, and I don't want to be a copy of my unlamented father in the way I deal with him…
I happened to notice an elderly witch nearby, staring at me in shock and disapproval. "Pardon me, madam," I said smoothly, "is there something awry with my clothing perhaps? Have I sprouted petunias where my eyebrows should be?"
"I think it was abominable the way you treated that young boy," she huffed. "He seems a very sweet child, how could you be so vicious to him?"
I produced my best Great Bat O' The Dungeons sneer for her, and replied, "I am the boy's guardian, and am responsible for guiding his education and his choice of reading material. I'm sure you'll agree this" — and I flicked the book dismissively — "is not appropriate material for anyone, much less a boy of 12. Unless…" and here I raked her from head to toe and back speculatively. "Unless… you are the eponymous Old Hag in the title?"
She turned an interesting shade of red, then white, then red again, blustered a bit, then turned and left the shop. I heard a sigh behind me. "Severus, must you frighten all the customers away?" I turned, and it was Mortimer Flourish. "I'm so sorry, Mortimer, but I did quite enjoy it." He sighed again and said, "Well, I can't say it wasn't deserved. Are you looking for anything in particular?" I asked him if he had one of the beginner wandlore books in stock that Siggy was enjoying at Ollivander's, he did, and I purchased it as a surprise.
Siggy met me at the front counter, and I checked his choices. The Thousand and One Nights by Sir Richard Burton, Essays on Magical Creatures, and a translation of Mizuki Shigero's Ghosts and Demons. I was a bit surprised by the last one; I had no idea he was interested in Asian horror, and to choose this, by one of the early masters of the manga form…
I may see if he'd like to take in an Asian horror film sometime. Merlin knows I'd like someone to share my secret fascination with the genre.
Mortimer brought out my books, I paid for everything, and we departed the shop.
Last stop, Honeyduke's branch. I got Filius his IceMice (honestly, a case of them? I like one or two every now and then, but a case?? I'm surprised he has a tooth in his head…), picked up some Wizarding Waffle Wands for Albus, who pouts if anyone gets a sweet besides him, and then looked thoughtfully at Siggy, who was pressing his nose against the display case, but I knew would never ask for anything.
"Siggy, would you take these outside for a moment? It's a bit crowded in here," I said. "Yes, sir," he said, and took all the parcels out to a table where he could sit and watch the passing crowds. I turned back to the counter. "I'd like a pound of your best chocolate truffles, various flavours, please." Siggy never receives any treats from home, and I decided he should have some. Who else is going to do it? I know how it is to never get anything from home — here's one boy who won't have to suffer through that.
As the clerk scooped them out, I noticed a very nicely prepared box of chocolates. I remembered how much Hermione enjoyed the Honeyduke's chocolate just before we returned home… I shook my head. Should I? It was rather dear, but I hadn't been spending much time with her lately, and perhaps this would be a good apology for my neglect…
"And that big box of chocolates, too." "Very good, sir, very good! Would you like it gift-wrapped?" "Hrm? Oh, no, no, that's quite alright."
I paid for my purchases and went outside. "Are you ready to leave?" I asked Siggy. He sighed, and said, "Yes, sir. Um, Sir…?"
"Do you think… that is, could I… oh, never mind…" He began walking along the street, head down. I smiled secretly to myself. He wanted some sweets, and I was pleased to have sussed that out on very few clues.
I caught up to him and held the bag with his chocolates in front of him. He stopped dead still, staring at the bag.
"Oh bloody hell," I said. "Here, do you think you could carry this for me? I seem to be overloaded." He stared at the bag, then at me, hoping against hope…
"Yes, young man, they're for you. Don't eat them all at once — Madam Pomfrey would have my guts for garters if you show up in the hospital wing sick from overindulging in chocolate."
He took the bag gently, opened it, peered inside, then looked up at me again, his eyes shining. "Oh, Sir… I don't know what to say…" "'Thank you' is generally the accepted response, Whetstone," I replied dryly.
"Thank you! Thank you so much!" he crowed, then impulsively flung his arms about my waist and… hugged me.
Good god, I haven't been hugged in… I don't even know how long. I rested a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then said roughly, "For Merlin's sake, Whetstone, don't make a scene. They're just chocolates." He turned me loose and looked up at me, his eyes shining, a huge grin on his face.
I think the boy can see right through my façade. And interestingly enough, I don't seem to mind as much as I thought I should. Hmmm.
Now we're back, all the students are in bed, and I'm just finishing up this entry with my feet up, flipping through the latest Practical Potioneer and anticipating cracking Magical Artefacts of Asia, which I picked up at F&B's. Then I should really get to —
Someone's knocking at the door. Now who could that be at this time of night? Don't they know even Great Bats O' The Dungeon need their sleep?