Chapter 2 : A Little Bit of Chemistry
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Lily had never seen so many people in Diagon Alley at once, not in her whole life.
As she weaved through the crowd, her tiny frame and short stature easily getting lost in the constant shuffle of bodies and bags, she realized that this must be the reason her mother never went into town during the last week before the school year began, not if she could help it. She bit her lip, steeling herself against the pulsating crowd and gently shoving her way toward Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
She heard a soft tinkle as the aged wooden door closed behind her, and the faint sound of the bells echoed through the store, climbing up hundreds of shelves lined with wand boxes. She stepped forward slowly, causing the sound of a creaking floorboard to chase the ringing of the bells, and she had almost decided that Ollivander was out for lunch when he came out at last.
“Ah, yes, first year? Looking for a wand?” The fifty-year-old wizard was beginning to show his age, light grey streaks appearing in his hair and the light beginning to fade slightly from his silvery grey eyes. Still, everyone knew that Ollivander was the only wandmaker worth seeing.
“Yes, please.” Lily said quietly, looking up at all the boxes suspiciously. It seemed like she’d be here for hours, trying out one wand after another. She frowned slightly, knowing she couldn’t stay away from the house forever. She still had half of her list left to fetch after she got the wand.
“Why don’t you try this one? I just got it in today, and I think it might suit you.” He pulled a long, thin box from behind his desk, removing the lid and pushing the open box slightly closer to Lily. Inside, she could see a wand that appeared to be a little less than eleven inches long. She picked it up, finding that it was quite supple, and then she looked at Ollivander expectantly.
“Go ahead, try it.” He looked at her, thinking that she might need some direction. “Have you observed any simple spells at home that you could test out now?” He moved over to the door, pointing his own ancient wand at an object up in the rafters. With a start, Lily realized that he had activated a miniature version of the Hogwarts Express, which was now trundling along on a crude wooden track he’d set up above the main area of the shop.
She pointed the wand carefully at the train, concentrating. “Flipendo!” She finally said.
The train stopped quite suddenly, providing an excellent display of Lily’s ability to aim. It wobbled back and forth on the thin track, finally toppling off the edge. Ollivander caught it deftly, saving it from a fate of shattering to pieces on the hardwood floor below.
“Well done.” He took the wand from her, looking at it more closely. “Willow… and a unicorn tail hair in the center.” He put the wand back in the box. “Yes, I think this one will do. Lucky you, not many get the right one on their first try.” He glanced at her. “Assuming you like it...?”
Lily nodded. “Yeah, it’s… flexible.”
“Indeed. Very good for Charms, you’ll see.” He handed her the box. “Twenty-five Sickles, please.”
“Oh, Severus, you looked so handsome in those robes.” Eileen gushed, squeezing her son’s shoulders as she helped maneuver him through the thick crowd of people in Diagon Alley. The two of them had already been to Flourish and Blotts for his books, all of which were purchased in used condition to save money, and they had just left Madam Malkin’s, where the seamstress had tailored his mother’s old school cloak to fit him and helped him choose inexpensive uniform pieces for himself. “But I’m so very excited for this next part. I haven’t been in to see Slug and Jiggers in so long!”
“Who?” Severus asked, glancing up at his mother.
“The Apothecary owners, of course.” Eileen said dismissively. “I used to stop in and see them all the time when I was a student at Hogwarts, just to chat about Potions. Sometimes they even gave me little samples of newly shipped ingredients for free. Isn’t that the sweetest thing?”
Severus tried not to laugh. His mother was a bit of a Potions nerd. He couldn’t burst her bubble. “Yeah, mum. It’s quite cool.” He answered, opening the door to the Apothecary for her.
“Eileen Prince!” A large man with a full belly stepped out from behind the counter, accidentally shoving Severus out of the way as he enveloped Mrs. Snape in a choking hug. “I haven’t seen you in ages, love! Where’ve you been? Must be a full-fledged Potions Master by now!”
“Not a Prince anymore, I’m afraid, Mr. Slug.” Eileen said once she’d freed herself. “And no, I’ve been a bit busy with my family, that’s why I haven’t come to visit.” She gently pushed her son forward. “This is Severus. He’ll be starting at Hogwarts on the first.”
“Oh, lovely!” Slug turned his attention on the boy. “Can he make anything yet?”
“Nothing much, of course, he’s only eleven.” A smile played at the corner of her lips. “I’ve noticed him nicking my old textbook off to his bedroom to read once or twice, though.”
“Well, the avid interest is where it begins.” He turned back to the storeroom. “Another first year!” He called back into the darkness. “Let’s see, you’ll need a clean set of phials…”
“You’re lucky, we just got a new shipment of cauldrons in.” A thin, stern-looking man emerged from the back room, hefting a pewter cauldron over the counter. “Oh, hello, Eileen.” Severus assumed that this man must be Jiggers, the other owner of the shop.
“What else?” Slug continued to talk to himself. “Oh, right, scales… sorry, you’re the first ones in today, got to remember what’s on the list…” The small set of bells on the door rang. “Be with you momentarily!” He called out to no one, bustling over to a box of brass scales in the corner.
Severus turned, watching as a small red-haired girl entered the store. She was alone, clad in an all-black set of robes, and in possession of dark but very beautiful green eyes. He suddenly felt quite out of place in his Muggle clothing, wishing he’d worn proper robes like his mother had.
“Here you go, then.” Slug spoke again, pushing the cauldron, which was now full of the other potions-related wares on his list, into Severus’s thin arms. He struggled to get a good grip on it, but he eventually shifted it into a semi-comfortable position, moving toward the door.
“Bye, you two!” Eileen called, paying Jiggers and following her son with the other bags in hand.
“Excuse me.” Severus murmured quietly to the redhead, but when he looked up, she had already edged out of his way. She now stood awkwardly to the side, watching him with faint interest.
His eyes met hers momentarily, and then his mother nudged him gently along, and the door closed with a tinkle behind them. Severus paused for a second, looking through the glass to see what the girl was now doing.
“Come on, sweetheart, we’ve got to get you a wand!” Eileen said, and suddenly Severus was being dragged off into the throbbing crowd and out of sight of the redhead once more.
Several people have commented in the reviews that they’re a little confused about the switched-up aspects of the story, so I’m going to attempt to clarify that here. I originally wrote this for a role reversal challenge, but it got closed, and I wanted to use all of my hard work for something, so I entered it in a switched personalities challenge. So you will see some elements of role reversal, some of switched personalities, some from canon, and some that are entirely AU, which I have added in just for kicks or because they’re important to the plot later on.
Anyway, I hope the story makes a bit more sense to you all now. How am I doing with all this, anyway? Did you like the way I swapped out the families of Lily and Severus? It’s my first time trying to write a story like this, and I would love to see some comments in the review thread for this chapter :)
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