Chapter 49 : Lessons From Gold
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Lessons from Gold
On Saturday morning, Severus rose early, as was his wont, and went down to the kitchens to see if the house elves would give him anything for breakfast before nine o'clock. He found they were happy to do so, and made him up a plate of scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon along with some tea. After he had eaten, he went to the Defense classroom to meet with Professor Gold, since this was the only time he had free and the professor did as well to teach him advanced charms, especially the counter to the DisIllusionment charm.
He had met with the professor two times before this, the last time was just before Halloween, and was eager to learn more from the quiet yet extremely competent teacher. Gold continued to teach defense in his own practical way, which did not always involve the use of their textbook, but most often mock scenarios where his students had to use their brains and their magical knowledge to perform several spells and "defeat" illusionary magical creatures and monsters. Right now they were involved with learning how to defend against vampires and zombies, using both traditional and non-traditional methods.
Gold's rational was that it made no sense to teach a skill just using a book, that real training started in the field, with concrete situations and examples the young wizards and witches needed to learn to work through. Most of his students loved his methods, and hardly any of them complained when he gave them extra homework which sometimes involved writing papers or reading an extra chapter or two in their books.
Those who did complain, like Potter and some others, did so because they were lazy and didn't want to do their homework unless it involved a minimum of effort. Or they could get someone else to do it for them. Severus was almost sure some of the richer students paid the poorer smarter ones to do some of their papers for them. He wouldn't put it past James or his little clique to do something like that. Or some of the Slytherins, like Rabastan and Rudolphus, or Avery.
But right then all Severus wanted to think about was his extra credit lesson with Gold and perhaps meeting Lily later on today for lunch beside the Black Lake. Tugging his tie straight and adjusting his robes, the young Slytherin walked swiftly down the hall towards Gold's classroom, endeavoring to do so more quietly than usual, trying to imitate the professor's silent tread. Gold had promised to show him that little trick at one of their lessons, and Severus hoped today would be the day he did so.
He entered the classroom, after knocking lightly to let Gold know he was there.
He found the brown-haired professor kneeling down before a cabinet, searching through it.
"Ah, hello, Severus," Gold turned and smiled at his student, still kneeling on the floor. "Right on time, as usual. Please forgive me if I don't get up, I'm trying to find some barghest fur that I saw in a jar in this cabinet." He continued hunting through it, taking out various small bags, vials, and boxes until he exclaimed, "Ah ha! Here it is!" Then he waved his wand and all the other things were lined up neatly in the cabinet, alphabetically, Severus noted.
"What's that spell, sir?" asked Severus curiously.
"That, lad, is a Neaten Up charm. My wife invented it," Gold replied, standing up with the jar of fur in his left hand. "She says it saves her sanity when she has to look for something on my desk at home." He winked at Severus. "But between you and I, lad, it's not that I'm unorganized, but that's she's . . . well . . . a total neat freak. She arranges her clothes by color and fabric and the letter of the alphabet, like indigo, cotton, and skirts, ect. It's good thing she has to wear only certain robes to work, otherwise she'd end up using ten closets."
Gold's eyes were twinkling as he said that, however, and Severus could sense that his teacher was not bemoaning that fact, but amused over it instead. Clearly, he loved his wife, foibles and all. The professor set the jar of barghest fur on his desk, then said, "All right, Severus. Are you ready to learn some more countercharms?"
"Yes, sir," the boy said eagerly.
"Then let's go outside and I'll set up a few illusions for you to dispel," Gold said, and then spun around and headed out the door, his brown robes billowing like a pair of wings behind him.
Severus looked at him in envy, wishing he knew how to do that. He followed the professor out of the castle and into the small stretch of beechwood where Professor Kettleburn usually taught Care of Magical Creatures. Gold preferred this spot because it was far enough away from the castle to avoid students involuntarily hexing other students walking to and from class, and sheltered from a lot of the wind that seemed to blow across the grounds at this time of year.
Once they had reached the spot, Gold gestured for Severus to stand about five feet away from him and took out his wand. His wand was about fifteen inches long formed of a rare spiral of ebony and rosewood, with a purpleheart carved band separating the two hardwoods. Inset into the handle was a small crystal that sparkled like a star fallen from the heavens.
Severus saw the crystal for the first time and asked softly, "Professor Gold, your wand . . . how did that crystal come to be there?"
The professor turned the wand so Severus could see the crystal more clearly.
Severus noted the crystal was clear and faceted, but oddly enough, it had a chip in it. "It's chipped."
"The crystal? Yes, it is."
"It's a symbol . . . the crystal stands for love and healing, and it was a gift to me from my wife. The reason it's chipped it because she dropped it one day when I startled her, and instead of mending it, I kept it like that. It reminds me that love, like people, is never a perfect thing, and it sees past all imperfections. I set it in my wand after we were married five years, to celebrate our anniversary and the birth of our eldest child, my son Bayden."
Severus examined his wand, which had a spiral handle of reddish gold rosewood and a straight shaft of ebony with a reddish grain running through it. "What's your wand made of, sir?"
"It's an ebony wand with a rosewood spiral handle and that band of purple you see is purpleheart. Purpleheart is for compassion and sometimes royalty, though I'm not royal. Rosewood is good for intuition, and ebony is for power and protection. And its core . . . is a strand of golden hair . . . from a glashan. Do you know what that is, lad?"
Severus frowned, trying to remember if he'd ever heard of one before or read about it. But he was more into potions and ingredients than magical creatures. "No, sir."
"Well, then let me enlighten you. A glashan is a shapeshifting waterhorse, similar to a kelpie, but it's not got the kelpie's nasty reputation. Glashan are usually native to the Isle of Man, but they've been known to go where they will, and a long time ago, in the time of my great great grandmother, one of them shifted into a handsome man and fell in love with her. For nine seasons he stayed with her, only shifting back at night, and she bore him three children, and when the glashan-we call him Finn, though of course that was not his true Name—had to leave, for a such a one cannot stay forever in the mortal world, he gave my great great grandmother three strands of golden hair from his mane, which she gave to each of her children for remembrance. And one of them, my great grandfather, took the hair and used it as his wand core. Since then, the hair has been passed down through generations to the eldest son in my family . . . and when it came to me, I asked that it be placed in my wand, and so it was done, as my grandfather was a wandmaker, one of Ollivander's students. The glashan hair attunes me to spells of shifting and concealment, one reason why I'm good at casting them."
Severus' eyes widened. "Then you're . . . part . . . glashan?"
Robert laughed. "Aye, lad, but that part's like a wee drop in an ocean of human blood. You'd never know it was there unless you knew my history. I'm not even sure you can measure it, since technically Finn was a human when he shifted." He shrugged. "But that's really my family's only claim to fame, since I'm not one of the Founders, not by a long shot."
"Then you're not pureblood?"
"Not like you mean. My family has produced wizards and witches, but not always. And we marry whomever we choose, Muggle or magical. That makes us not true purebloods among those who measure status, but we don't follow a lot of what purebloods like that ass Potter preach. Back in the day, my family was simple crofters, weavers, spinners, and the like. Common people. But we had an uncommon Gift." Gold explained.
"My grandfather, Marius Prince, says that every wizarding family has some Muggle relations in it, otherwise we would have all died out from too much inbreeding."
Robert nodded. "Marius is right, of course. Though there are many who won't admit to that little fact. But my family is not one of them. We're very . . . open about that little fact . . . one reason why none of the so-called Founding families here in Britain will consider us good enough to become members of their little circle."
"Oh. But . . . my grandpa isn't like that," Severus said, feeling compelled to defend Marius.
"True. But his father and grandfather didn't feel that way." Professor Gold just shook his head. "But that's not something you need to be concerned about. It is what it is, and we Golds have made our own place. Like my grandfather always said—a Name's good for bragging about your ancestors, but what counts is what you do yourself. Now . . . enough about me, Severus. You came here to learn countercharms, not discuss my ancestry, yes?"
Severus nodded. "Sorry. But . . . your family's interesting."
Gold chuckled. "Glad you think so. But now . . . I want you to say the following incantation—indicario—and then use the following wand gesture," he made a sort of half-twist with his wrist and a flourish. "You can make the movement as showy or as discreet as you wish. Generally I prefer discreet, especially if you're trying to reveal someone who's disguised." He repeated both the incantation and the gesture again, then said, "Now you try, Mr. Snape."
Severus repeated the incantation and the gesture. "Like this?"
"Yes, but put a bit more inflection on the last syllable," Robert instructed.
Severus did, then practiced the wand movement several more times before his teacher was satisfied he'd mastered it.
"Okay . . . now cast when I tell you," Gold said, and then he spoke another charm and suddenly the tree in front of them became a bent wizened old woman. "Ready? One . . . two . . . three . . ." He jerked his head at the boy.
Severus spoke the incantation. "Indicario!" and performed the correct twist and flourish.
The Disillusionment charm was ripped off the tree and the old woman was revealed to be just a tree.
Robert smiled in approval. "Well done, Mr. Snape. Now see if you can do it again . . . this time with multiple moving targets." He waved his wand and more trees became other things—fantastic beasts, a girl combing her hair, a horse jumping, a dragon snorting fire.
Severus hesitated, not sure whether to cast the charm on one thing at a time or all of them at once. "Professor Gold, how do I choose what I cast it on?"
"That's up to you. You're probably not up to casting the charm upon more than one or two things at first, so . . . just do your best." The professor stepped back then and let his student try and dispel what he'd conjured.
Severus opted to dispel the illusion of the dragon first, simply because he liked the idea of getting the jump on one of the most feared creatures in the world. He pointed his wand and cast the charm.
There was a pop and the dragon was dispelled. He did the same to several of the other illusions, though after the fourth one, he found he was growing tired.
Gold saw and said, "That's enough for now, Severus. Rest. It's almost noon." He went to take a small bag of nuts and chocolate chips out of his robe to give to his student when there came a little giggle from behind him, and a little voice cried, "Papa! We found you!"
Severus and Gold whirled about to see a little girl, about five, standing there in a forest green knit dress and soft suede half-boots with sheepskin on the tops of them. She had her father's brown hair and large expressive brown eyes and a missing front tooth.
Beside her stood a boy not too much older, with a little darker hair and bright brown eyes wearing jeans and a long sleeved plaid shirt of blue and white. "Told you we could, Sage," he said to his sister, his face alight with mischievous delight.
Suddenly, they heard a woman's clear contralto calling, "Sage! Bayden! You know you're supposed to stay inside the hut. Merlin's staff, the minute I turn my back you're gone like the wind!"
Severus blinked, not sure what he should do, and his teacher just shook his head and knelt down and said, "Come here, you two rascals! Thought you promised me last time you weren't going to drive your mama crazy."
"We said we'd try, Papa," his little son corrected, then he ran to hug his parent.
"'Sides, it's boring in there!" declared his daughter and then she ran in front of her brother and leaped into her father's arms. "You snooze you lose, Bay!"
Her brother just rolled his eyes and grabbed onto his father's other side.
Gold chuckled and freed an arm to hug Bayden while simultaneously hugging Sage with his other arm.
"Bayden Maury Gold and Sage Eva Gold!" called the now irate woman. "You come here right now before—oh, Bobby, thank goodness you found them!"
A pretty woman with long chestnut hair and blue eyes wearing a blue robe appeared just outside Hagrid's hut, looking relieved when she spotted the children with her husband.
"Don't worry, sweetheart. They're safe and sound," her husband reassured her. He turned to look at Severus. "Well, this wasn't exactly the way I'd planned it, but . . . Severus, meet my children, Bayden and Sage. And my wife, Isabelle." He stood up, holding both children in his arms.
"Hi!" Bayden waved at Severus.
Sage gave him a shy smile, that reminded Severus of her father, and said, "Hi. Is my papa teachin' you magic?"
"Yes, he sure is," Severus said, smiling back at her.
Isabelle came down the path to them and said, half-scoldingly, "You two nearly scared me half to death, disappearing like that."
"Sorry, Mama," the two apologized, looking guilty.
"Well, no harm done, I guess," she sighed, then she turned and saw Severus. "Hello. I'm Isabelle Gold."
"Pleased to meet you, ma'am," Severus said politely, holding out his hand. "I'm Severus Snape."
Isabelle took his hand and smiled at him warmly. "You're Vesper Prince's grandson, right? Your grandma and my mama were schoolmates. Different Houses, same year. You should ask her if she remembers Adriana Ambrosius one day."
"I will," Severus assured her. It always amazed him at how many people his grandparents knew.
Isabelle turned to her husband. "What, do I not rate a hug anymore, Bobby?"
He set his kids down and then moved to embrace his wife. "You rate a thousand hugs, my dear one. And kisses." He kissed her lightly.
Sage giggled. "Aww!"
Bayden groaned. "Do we have to see the kissing part?"
Severus flushed a little, but couldn't help smirking at the child's comment.
"Bobby . . . we have an audience," Isabelle whispered, drawing away.
"Ah, well. Till next time," her husband grinned, then stepped away. "Please excuse me, Mr. Snape. But only seeing my family one weekend a month . . . is very hard on me sometimes. Which is probably why those in my line of work shouldn't have them."
"You mean because you teach?" Severus asked, puzzled.
"No. I'm talking about what I did before I became a professor," Gold said mysteriously. "Then again, I've never done what's expected of me."
His daughter tugged on his hand. "Papa, can you tell us a story?"
"How about I do that after lunch?" Gold suggested. "Severus, would you like to join us?"
Severus was about to refuse, but then thought better of it. "Uh . . . sure."
Isabelle led the way back to the hut, and Severus found himself seated at Hagrid's table a moment later. Next to him was Gold's son, Bayden, and Gold himself was in the middle of the two children, with Isabelle next to Sage and Severus on her other side.
There was a large plate of chicken a'la king over noodles on the table, along with a loaf of bread and some butter and honey.
"Did you make this, Isabelle?" asked Robert.
"Sage asked me to, and I know this is one of your favorites too," she admitted.
"My wife is a wonderful cook, as well as a brilliant Healer," Gold told Severus before filling up a plate with the chicken dish and handing it to him.
"Mama makes the best chicken n'noodles," her son declared.
"The bestest!" sang Sage.
"Okay, now hush up and eat," Isabelle said, blushing.
Severus agreed with them wholeheartedly after he tasted a mouthful. He'd not had food that tasted this good since coming back from Mirrorvale, or over at the Evanses. He almost went and got seconds before he stopped, not wanting to seem like a pig.
But Gold saw and gestured for him to eat more. "Severus, go on, eat as much as you like. We'll never finish this all, and you're like a sapling, boy."
"Bobby's right," Isabelle agreed. "Have some more, please."
"Thanks," Severus said, and happily did so, thinking that he really liked being with the Golds, they reminded him a lot of Lily's family, except with younger children and the magical aspect, of course.
After they had all eaten their fill, Professor Gold went and sat down on the couch with his children and began to tell them a story. Severus wondered if he should leave, not wanting to intrude on the little family, but Isabelle shook her head and beckoned to him to stay and he sat down in a chair opposite his professor and listened to the story too.
"Once upon a time there lived a poor spinner on the shores of Loch Inverness, and one day the spinner went down to the shore and found a kelpie caught in a fisherman's net . . ." Gold wove the story deftly, like a true storyteller, and Severus found himself listening with as much excitement as the two children perched upon the defense professor's knee.
And the young wizard found himself thinking this was not how he'd intended to spend most of his Saturday, but he didn't mind it, not at all.
A/N: So here's some more of Gold's mysterious past. I got the idea for his wand from a site called Alivans that makes wands for collectors or anyone who likes unusual gifts. The glashan however was something I researched myself. Incantation-indicario-reveal!
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