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Chapter 1: Willow
A/N: Hello, and welcome to my NaNo novel. Expect some craziness if you read on. This hasn't been beta'd (or really proofread, at least not properly), so my apologies in advance.
Also, a warning, this contains information from Pottermore. I draw on information on wand making and Hufflepuff house, so if you don't want to know about that, don't read on.
The bell over the door rang, the tinkling sound startling me out of my musings. Today was the first day I had complete run of the shop, and, frankly, I was terrified.
“Hello?” A voice called, and I quickly stood up and made my way to the counter, brushing the crumbs from my chocolate chip muffin off my skirt as I did so.
“Can I help you?” I enquired, smiling as warmly as I could to the small boy and his mother.
“I need a wand.” The boy piped up, looking around with wide, curious eyes.
I remember that feeling. It felt like only a few months ago, when, really, it was six years. Here I was, in the summer before my seventh year, working in Ollivander’s for the second summer in a row, about to sell my first wand.
On my own.
Ollivander had made it clear to me that the wand chooses the wizard, so I really didn’t have to do much other than try as many different wands as it took. The real trick, he said, lay in making the wands, and that’s something he wouldn’t teach me until I took an apprenticeship and had the proper training.
I wouldn’t dare admit it, but that’s what a part of me had always wanted to do. Ever since I’d received my wand, I’d been fascinated with the things. Of course, it was only my summer job, a way to create some sort of savings for my life. Nothing would come of it. I had higher expectations of myself that simply being a shopkeeper.
“Hmmm.” I regarded the boy carefully, taking in his height, as he was unnaturally tall for his age, his pale skin, and sandy hair. Something in me screamed ‘willow’, so I headed over to that row first.
The boy seemed slightly unsure of himself, curious, but slightly insecure in this newfound magical word. Willow was, after all, the wand suited to insecurity, with a particular strength in healing magic, so it made sense that I initially thought of a willow wand.
“Try this.” I said, grabbing the first willow and unicorn hair wand I came across.
Not surprisingly, the boy waved the wand, and the vase of flowers (a feminine touch that I was solely responsible for) on the counter shattered.
With a wave of my own wand, I fixed the mess, smiling reassuringly at the boy.
“Don’t worry, just try the next one.”
This time, I thought a little harder about the core, drifting further down the aisle to the section of willow wands with dragon heartstring cores.
This wand, when the boy tried it, was a little more effective, causing the light to flicker, but not uncontrollably. Deciding that this was probably the right combination, I varied length. Because of his height, I started with the longer wands, and worked down.
It took ten minutes, but finally, the boy, whose name was apparently Henry, had a nice new wand – willow and dragon heartstring, 11 inches.
I relaxed as they left the shop, having left behind a collection of galleons as payment. I’d survived my first sale, and I’d been fairly quick at it, too.
I looked up, really, really hoping that it wasn’t who I thought it was.
The hazel eyes twinkled mischievously at me, the customary smirk in place.
James Potter. Of course.
“What on earth are you doing here, Potter?” I asked, turning my back on him and pretending to dust a shelf just for something to do.
“Dominique told me you had the run of the place today. I couldn’t resist.”
Of course he couldn’t. James Potter was exactly the type of person to stick his nose where it wasn’t wanted, just to see what happened.
“Well, unless you’re in need of a wand, Potter, I suggest you run along home.” I said, still facing away from him.
Potter and I had never particularly gotten on, but we had never had a lot of interaction anyway. He was in Gryffindor, I was in Hufflepuff. Aside from the fact that his cousin Dominique was one of my closest friends, we had very little in common.
“You coming to Roxanne’s birthday celebrations tonight?” He asked, casually leaning against the counter, distinctly giving me the impression that he wasn’t leaving anytime soon.
I sighed, turning around and glaring at him.
“Potter, I’ve never talked to Roxanne. What makes you think I’d be invited to her birthday party?” I asked, my eyes narrowing as I tried to figure out his motives.
“Well, I’m inviting you now.” He said with a shrug.
“You can either come, or you cannot. It’s up to you.” He said with a wink, before turning on his heel and leaving.
What was that about?
The bell tinkled again, and I whirled around to see my next customer, this time a blonde girl, holding tightly onto her father’s hand.
Replacing the frown that James’s actions had caused with a smile, I stepped forward to serve them.
The day was a success. I’d sold 14 wands, polished the counter and dusted three quarters of the shelves. A day well spent, I must say.
After work, I headed to the woods behind my house, as was customary. I’d decided this summer that I had to learn to fly, for my mother.
She’d always wanted me to follow in her footsteps, but I never had. I hadn’t been sorted into Ravenclaw like she was, I hadn’t tried out for the Quidditch Team, I hadn’t shown any interest in playing seeker like she had.
Now, I was honouring her memory. I’d never lived up to her dreams for me whilst she was alive, so I could only try my best to do it now that she was dead.
She’d died almost three months ago, and the wound was still raw, especially with my father. People still treated lightly around (though James Potter was an exception to that).
Shaking my head to clear it of thoughts of my mother and other things I didn’t really want to think of, I clasped my broom tightly in my hand, looking up into the clear sky. I’d never tried flying whilst my mother was alive. I’d been too scared. Having a fear of heights was a little problematic, especially when I thought about the fact that I’d be soaring above the trees with only a stick to protect me.
So far, I hadn’t managed much. Last week, I’d progressed to hovering a metre above the ground. Anything more than that, and I broke out into a sweat. It wasn’t flattering, but I had to keep trying.
For my mother.
I swung my leg over the broom, my mother’s old Nimbus. Taking a deep breath, I pushed off, hovering a few centimetres above the ground. I sat there, slowly opening my eyes and taking in the feeling of having no solid ground beneath me.
I could do this.
Forcing myself to breathe deeply, I leaned forward, feeling the broom move forward an inch as I did so. I tilted ever so slightly to the right by accident, quickly swinging my weight back to my left to balance myself out.
Unfortunately, the broom responded to both movements, first swerving to the right, then to the left suddenly. As a result, I tumbled off, landing in a heap in the dry grass.
I let out a small scream of frustration, glaring with contempt at the broom, now lying innocently on the grass beside me.
“Liv, what are you doing?”
I flicked my head around suddenly, wide-eyed, staring at the intruder.
“Dominique?” I gaped, taking in her raised eyebrows, and hands-on-hips stance.
“Hi.” She said bluntly, stalking forward in the way only she could, and pulling me to my feet.
“Liv, why are you trying to fly? You hate flying.”
I shrugged, not really wanting to tell her the real reason. It was…personal, after all.
Dominique took in the make and age of the broom on the ground and my sheepish expression, and seemed to piece it together.
“This is about your mother, isn’t it?” She sighed, picking up the broom swiftly, placing her other hand on my back and pushing me towards my house.
“So what if it is? Being able to fly is a valuable skill.” I said defiantly, pushing the front door open and entering the house.
It was empty, as usual, as Dad was at work until late most nights since Mum had died, and my sister was staying at a friend’s house.
“Well, that’s true.” Dom conceded, helping herself to a glass of pumpkin juice from my fridge.
My kitchen, as per usual, was a mess. Dad tried, he really did, but he wasn’t home enough to be responsible for the cooking and cleaning. My sister was absolutely atrocious, and left the kitchen in a mess every time she used it. The cleaning all fell to me, hence why it was a mess until I got home.
With a wave of my wand, I sent the pile of dirty dishes into the sink, charming them to wash themselves. Magic was a handy thing like that.
“But,” Dom continued, surveying me like some wizened old witch over her glass of juice, “if it’s not something you want to do, you shouldn’t do it.”
I sighed. That was the same piece of advice I’d heard from everyone. When would they understand that I had to do it? Not just for myself, for my mother. I wanted to make her happy, I wanted to honour her memory. I wanted to be the kind of daughter she’d deserved.
“It is. You just have to trust me.” I said quickly, averting a minor crisis as a cup and saucepan both tried to jump in the soapy water filled sink at the same time.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” She said with a shrug. “What do you expect to get out of it anyway? We’ve got a seeker already, it’ll be hard to outdo Molton in trials, he’s brilliant.”
I quirked an eyebrow at her.
“Yet, somehow, we haven’t managed to win a single Quidditch cup in our whole time at Hogwarts?” I said with a slightly laugh.
We were Hufflepuffs, after all, winning was very rare for us. It was the show-off Gryffindors like James Potter that stole all the glory, year after year. He was Gryffindor Quidditch Captain, and Seeker, and had been for the past 5 years. Last year, he’d made Captain, which had only served to make him even more insufferable than usual.
“We will. This is our year, I know it.” Dom said, pulling out the house spirit she usually reserved for Quidditch matches.
I snorted at that, as the two of us headed back to my bedroom. Dom, as per usual, headed straight to my closet, unable to resist rifling through my clothes.
“So I hear that you’re coming to Roxanne’s party tonight?” Dom said, sliding me a sneaky sideways glance.
I groaned at that. Clearly James hadn’t kept his visit to me a secret.
“James is an idiot.” I said frankly, flopping backwards on my bed as I did so.
“I’m not arguing there.”
I grinned at Dom for that – that was one thing we tended to agree on, that the Gryffindor portion of her family were mostly insane and often did stupid things. The Ravenclaws like her sister Victoire, Molly and Fred weren’t so bad. Albus, the lone Slytherin, however, was a one to watch.
“You don’t happen to know why James showed up at the shop today, do you?” I asked slyly.
Dom laughed, throwing a pair of my shoes over her shoulder at the same time.
“Oh, Liv, it’s James, what did you expect? I was telling Rose that you had the run of the shop, and he overheard. I can’t say I didn’t expect him to run over there and antagonize you.”
I grunted in annoyance. Bloody James Potter, I couldn’t figure him out at all.
“Well, as long as he doesn’t show up tomorrow, I guess.” I shrugged.
There was a pause, as I stared morosely at my ceiling, and Dom hunted through my clothes, presumably picking out some sort of outfit for me to wear tonight. I hadn’t exactly agreed to go, but once Dom got an idea in her head, it tended to stay there, and her resolve would only grow stronger. It was as good as confirmed that I’d be attending the Weasley family shenanigans tonight.
“How’re your Dad and Sarah doing?” Dom asked quietly, edging carefully around the sensitive topic of my mother’s death.
“They’re coping. We’ve all found ways to cope, I guess.” I replied, picking up my stuffed toy Snidget, a gift from Mum on my eighth birthday, and hugging it to my chest.
Dom snorted at my reply.
“Yes, well, I think you attempting to fly and aspiring to play Quidditch definitely qualifies as a coping mechanism.”
“Hey!” I interjected, sitting up and glaring at her where she sat amidst a pile of my clothes.
And to think, my room had been spotless previously. During our school year, Dom and I often had fights about cleanliness. She tended to scatter her belongings around half of our dormitory, whilst I liked my portion of the room to remain neat and orderly.
“Oh, come on, it’s no coincidence that you suddenly got the motivation to join the Hufflepuff team now.” She said, rolling her eyes as she sorted my scarves by colour.
“I’ve always wanted to join.” I said defensively, clutching the Snidget tighter.
There was a pause; I could sense that Dom didn’t want to press the issue. Like most people, she’d taken to tiptoeing around me lately, and frankly, it annoyed the hell out of me.
There was no need to treat me like I was made of porcelain and was going to break at any second. Yes, my mother had died from a brain tumour, and the treatment St Mungo’s had been testing on her had failed. That didn’t mean that I was dying, and saying a few harsh and honest words wouldn’t bruise me.
“Look, Liv…just…” Dom trailed off, her face taking on the sad look I’d come to see so often the past few months.
“I’ll see you tonight, Dom. Seven?” I said coldly, having had quite enough pity for the day.
She smiled sadly, nodding, before taking her leave.
Grumbling to myself about mourning periods, annoying looks and sympathy, I slammed my door shut with a bang and did what I always did when I was upset, confused, angry, puzzled or just in anyway insecure.
One of the other Hufflepuffs in my year, Tanya, had given me a book on the meanings behind wand cores and woods for my birthday. I must have read it at least twenty-five times now, but I always sought the book out – it was my source of comfort.
Curling up on my bedspread, summoning a cup of tea as I did so (tricky spell work, that, it had taken me a whole month to successfully master it without spilling a drop of boiling liquid), I settled down to read until at least six o’clock, at which time I’d drag myself off to the Burrow. I really hoped Dom had invited more of the Hufflepuffs that just me, because, if not, I would feel extremely awkward. I guess I would have to wait and see.