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How Severus Got His Wand

How Severus Got His Wand

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Characters: Severus
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Summary: Severus acquires his wand.
Word count: 3099
Author Notes: None.

Eileen kept him in front of her, herded as if he would run away. She had cut his hair that morning, though he had finished it himself with the sharpest knife he could find. She had given up halfway through, taking her sewing scissors with her. She had also insisted he bathe, though the bath itself had been cold because Tobias, as usual, refused to pay for the gas to heat the water. As a result he had been perfunctory and was still resentful and slightly dank as he had not wanted to use the unwashed towels that smelled of stale crackers. Again he wished his mother could run their house with magic. Again he wished he was allowed to use magic. Magic would have changed everything, and he held it in his hands, fingering it, proscribed, impotent.

He missed his hair, which he could have allowed to swing over his face, hiding his eyes and perhaps shame from other students - wizards. He had very much wanted to meet them. Wizards! The word was a shout of joy in his head. Wizards like him. He had somehow pictured them all in uniforms, talking about school, looking at their books, and him showing them spells he could work - the innocent spells. Already he knew dark magic and he must hide that. Now here he was, looking repulsive, and he was bitterly disappointed.

Nevertheless, his eyes looked around eagerly for each glimmer and spark of magic. Families floated their student's stacks of textbooks behind them. There were owls, cats and more exotic wizarding pets in the arms of excited children. He knew he too would have been allowed to have a pet at school. He would not have been allowed to have one at home, however, and he could well imagine his father's reaction to any creature, no matter what its size, especially a magic one. He resolved that someday somehow he would ensure that he never had to go back, not even for hollidays.

Two younger siblings of a wizarding family were laughing over their liquorice wands, one of which had emitted a small and sparkling but rapidly vanishing school of fish. He remembered once - and once only - when he had been very small, before his parents had hated him and one another quite so much, his mother had brought him here. Three years old, but lucid, he had been a skinny, black-haired, overeager toddler, cringing from his mother but ever hopeful as regarded strangers. They had met an older wizard. Severus never learned whether he had been an old teacher, someone who had once been a family friend of her parents, or a relative who had since disowned his increasingly slovenly mother. He had never seen him again, but this man had given him a liquorice wand. The tiny charm on it that acted in the hands of a wizard had been the most beautiful, wonderful thing he had ever seen. That had been the moment he had held safe through the intervening time as a promise. He had identified himself: I am a wizard. He had decided: Magic is the best and therefor only thing in the entire world. These thoughts had led to the next one: I will be great.

He wanted a liquorice wand now that he was back in his world - just a sweet, such a small thing! He knew better to ask as he was steered through the crowds.

Shameless, his mother pled poverty before the shopkeepers. She held him in front of her, displaying him in his father's jacket with its rolled up sleeves, the yellowed smock, the trousers which were both too short and too wide, so he had to keep adjusting the too-long belt under the loose shirt. With the unfortunate haircut he looked pathetic, and he would not look up as even his sallow cheeks turned scarlet.

His books were the ones she had in school, but he was glad of that because they were lined with his notes. The clerks at the second-hand clothing store would have none of her complaints or whining for charity, though they had sneered at her and regarded Severus with glances of pity. There was nothing for it. She was required to buy him 3 sets of robes and the black ones, which had delighted him. These had been the closest thing to new clothes he had ever had. He had to have a cauldron and she managed to find a used one. To his surprise and gratification, it was a good one, slightly old-fashioned, but of sturdier make, with a decorative line scored on the outside. There was nothing she could do about the supplies needed. If she failed to provide him with the required list of materials and items, there would be enquiries. He knew how much his father would appreciate that.

She should have been proud of him. She should have wanted him to shine. This should have been the best day of his life. It was the best day of his life. So far. He could not wait to arrive at school, to leave his parents behind, to be finally - finally - a wizard among other wizards. His mind leaned forward to the days fast approaching, as if it were rushing to meet them even as the minutes crawled, propelled embarrassingly by Eileen. She had told him all about Hogwarts and his inheritance of talent when she had been alone with him as a small child, when his father had been working. She should have been pleased now, should have been proud, should have wanted him to be perfect so they would like him.

There was the matter of his wand. The wand chooses the wizard. He knew the line, had waited for that moment - a wand, and his potential increasing multi-fold. What he would be able to do, when he had a wand, his own wand that had chosen him!

There was a girl at the door of Olivander's pleading with her father. "But I want a new wand. It's probably why I couldn't do the charms and transformations. It's this old wand. I want a long one like her, with dragon-heartstring." Almost a squib, Severus was sure. Not a squib, or she would not have been at the school to begin with, but something very near.

On the step of the shop his mother stopped, halting Severus with a hand drawing back his shoulder. "If the wand works for him, I'll buy it from you for half price." It was audacious, unprecedented, unthinkable. His wand! She argued with the man, and pressured by both his daughter and Eileen, he began to give way. Soon the wand was in Severus' hand. Both the girl and his mother stared at him expectantly. It was not wonder and quicksilver. It was neither flexible nor graceful, and he knew at once it was not his. It lay stolid in his hand and he knew it had neither the imagination nor volition to defy him.

"What's it made of?" His mother nudged him into silence.

"Walnut and Irish Phoenix feather," the girl answered.

"Augurey feather," her father corrected quietly

"I just know it's not right for me," she sulkily repeated. Severus thought it was, demonstrated it by her plaintive whining.

He was clearly expected to try it, but dared not work darkness with it, nor deliberately fail, with his mother staring straight at him and the man and girl also watching, their eyes round and the girl's mouth round as well.

He moved it gracefully, as Eileen knew he could, as he had practiced with sticks, awaiting this moment, and nothing untoward happened. Nothing special happened either. His wand! And nothing special happened. He was not going to use it with a real spell in case Eileen saw it work and thought it suitable. She seemed to have made her mind up to react with imperious indifference to anything less than havoc.

"I suppose it is a real wand?" She asked suspiciously.

He tried then, had to try, in a whisper - just an attempt, though his heart hated and he wanted to use a dark spell on her, on any of them. "Accio pebble" And a small stone arced up to his hand.

"Very well." She paid for it - half price, and he could feel her gloating over the deal.

He was bitterly disappointed, inclined to cry at the injustice of it, though he knew that would make everything still worse and swallowed down the lump in his throat. He tried to comfort himself with the thought that at least it worked.

He was not comforted and swished the wand angrily as he walked. There was no box.

Sorted into Slytherin. There had been the pang about Lily, but Severus was finally home. He had felt the tremor run through him from skull to foot when she had been placed in Gryffindor. He had not understood - his mother had intimated there was an element of will involved. He would be Slytherin, he knew, had known since he had heard of Houses. Waiting, he had felt a shot of dread, maybe, because no one really knew what happened, but mostly it was anticipation. If Lily had not really wanted Slytherin, that was the only explanation... But no, that could not be.

He had been sorted. His face must have registered his pride and relief. A tall boy, older than Severus, had welcomed him with an amused but warm smile, patting his back in congratulations as the others clapped, following his lead. Yes, he was home, and the boy had made room for Severus next to him on the bench. When he shook hands, his robe was heavy silk, and the sleeve beneath was thick and creamy white. His hair was like moonlight. "Lucius Malfoy."

He had watched to see which children from the train had been placed at his table. He would make his real friends. In those first days, once Slughorn had evened out his hair, he let himself be drawn out. "I'm a Prince," he said. This was true. He tried to make a reality of his hopes from Spinner's End. Not all the boys were as excited by the books as he was. They were all impressed by the spells he could work, however - the new spells, the dark spells. Sometimes he saw Lucius watching him, his eyes quiet and intent, noting them, noting him.

Class-work came easily to him - he had poured over his mother's books, learning them, memorising them, improving them since he had been very young. The others looked to him for guidance. Slughorn should have liked him, should have wanted him in his stupid club. The first days, he assumed, would matter most. This would be their first impression, would become the way he was fixed in their minds for always. Even Lily was invited to the Slug Club - Gryffindor, mudblood. Severus helped her too. She was still Lily. Slughorn, he came to realise, did not matter. The other boys did not look up to the head of their house. He drew influence rather than offering it. They had no need for him. Severus himself had no power of money or favour and resented the fact that he was thus spurned, despite himself. He was best. Why was he always passed over?

The other boys, the duller ones, those inbred and thick, offered him bribes to help them with their homework, to explain the points in class. He was not polite, but he helped them. He needed their good will, but he also needed their money. There was something he wanted. Almost as much as he wanted to be appreciated.

He had enough saved two years later. He hid his knuts and sickles from his mother. He hid them from both his parents, but it was his mother that concerned him most. He became modest, refusing outright to wear light summer clothing, short sleeves, short pants, even though the heavier ones were uncomfortable in the heat. When he was at home the little sack of coins hung on a string by the hidden radio, when he went out he tied it to his belt and let it hang down beneath his trouser leg. His trousers were from the charity boxes and were always too large for his skinny frame in any case.

Soon, he would be taking the Mark, he hoped, still reaching for the future. It was best to learn concealment early, develop an apparent tendency to protect his body while letting his arm flash occasionally to show there was nothing there. Yet. And the loose flapping fabric would conceal his money.

That year, in Diagon Alley, he gave his mother the slip, his throat nervously tight as he waited for a chance, afraid it would not come. He doubled back to Ollivander's, The old man looked at him over the top of his glasses. "I've not seen you before, lad. You look too... tall for a first year." Too tall and too reserved, too defensive and resigned, but also too thin.

"I would like a wand. I can pay for it." He knew from the conversation his first year that it happened that other students got new wands. They must break them, lose them. He knew what he looked like, had begged to wear his uniform for this trip, so he would be taken seriously. He had been instructed to save it for the train. Sporting bruises that would have inspired intrusive questions was more demeaning than dressing like an urchin. His mother would be with him too, and he needed his books, needed her co-operation to acquire them.

He drew out his sack of money and laid it on the counter.

Ollivander pressed his lips together at the procedure. Where were the boy's parents, and why was he manoeuvring himself to the side of the window? "You haven't stolen that, have you?"

"No, sir. I earned it at school last year. I make potions."

"Tell me." Severus showed him his notebook, his summer improvements worked on standard bruise paste. Beneficial, innocuous.

"Someday you can market this, if you keep working." He tapped the cover of the book, impressed, and believed the furtive boy. "Let's see, something active, I think, but compact. A hardwood... Now, what would suit you for a core? Thestral mane, perhaps. You have height already. A longer wand then." Such black hair, black eyes.

Severus listened. These musings were as telling as his brief conversation with the Sorting Hat. This was the way it was supposed to be. The thestral mane and oak numbed his arm. The cherry wood and dragon-heartstring made a crackling fizzle of protest. He tried them obediently in turn.

Olivander looked at him speculatively. "Try this one."

The wood was dark and rich, but dense. The room looked the same, the goggle-spectacled Olivander peering questioningly, the old counter, the pigeon-holed vast wall of wands. It was as if a curtain opened before him, a universe of infinite stars and possibility, the black soft and cold to swallow him, heralding journeys through the scattering of stars with their sharp, pure white light. Nothing special happened, but his mind saw something for a second. The thin wood in his hand did not tremble. It was as if it were alive in his hand, anticipating and hungry. It was not as he'd expected - as if he had always held it. They were both new born from this moment. Together they would step out into all the waiting world.

His fingers tightened protectively. Mine. Had anything truly been his before? Would anything truly be his again?

Olivander nodded. "That's your wand, son. Eleven and a half inches, Mahogany and Unicorn Hair." There was a hint of compassion in his glance - not enough to give offence. Severus did not think of the glance as being for the qualities of his wand - His wand - but for his clothes, for his act of coming here on his own, after his first year.

Severus, with his other hand, took out the second-hand wand and laid it on the counter. "I won't need this any more."

"Eight inches, Augurey Feather and Walnut. I wondered what had become of this one. Sometimes they return." Olivander picked up the wand a little sadly with gentle fingers. "This was never your wand." He turned to put it away.

Severus looked regretfully at the box, blue and lined in silk, but he had no way to disguise it. This wand would substitute for the other and his mother would never know. No one at school would know his wand had not been given into his hand as theirs had. If he repeated it often enough to himself, perhaps he could make himself believe another scene - his first trip to Diagon Alley for his first day of school, his wand knowing him, wanting him that day. If he imagined it with enough persistence, enough vividness, enough will, that day would change.

There were a few coins left in the little sack afterwards.

Liquorice. Sweet, smooth, not quite spicy, not quite chocolate. He bit it, his teeth sharp, delicate; his incisors severing the candy exactly and perfectly. From the end burst streams of turning and wrapping silver light, woven with occasional glowing green snakes, then rain, mixing with the silver, shattering it into colour. And then it was just the taste, which would remind him of the wonder of a true wand, a true wizard. A sign, a blessing.

Severus went to face his angry mother, but he was not the same. He had an ally now, a secret, power. Now everything would change. Now he could embark on greatness.
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