Thanks be to Ms. Rowling for the many gifts she hath bestowed- Severus Snape, Mr. Ollivander, Hogwarts, and the Founders Four all proclaim her glory (as well as her ownership).
Thanks also be to Riley for Lucretia Andropolous Snape and Sebastian Snape, borrowed with reverence (and with Riley's permission) from the Pawn to Queen universe.
Please note: this story is NOT necessarily consistent with what Riley may eventually do with PtQ, and her version of events will take precedence over mine in all instances. I have written this story as if it took place in the PtQ universe, and have tried to be as faithful as possible to Riley's creation in order to minimize any potential conflicts. Hence, the Snape in this story has grown up with the scary treatment from his mother as described in PTQ. Hopefully this little piece won't throw off anyone's concept of PTQ, or interfere with Riley's plans. If I mess something up, I'm sure there will be someone around to hex me appropriately. There always is. *grin*
Anti-Litigation Charm: I'm in this for the fun, not the funds- no Galleons, Sickles, or Knuts changed hands in the making of this fic, and no copyright infringement or disrespect is intended.
Rating: G (I've never written anything G before... it's a stretch for me.)
Summary: Severus' first wand; a little scene that played out in my mind sometime during my first read-through of Pawn to Queen.
The shop's front door swung open silently, and the absence of a bell made Severus Snape jump nearly as much as he might have if a brass peal had rung out at his entrance. He pushed the door fully open, peering into the dusty confines of the narrow, long shop as he stepped into the foyer. He moved forward to stand in the middle of the little room, making way for his father, who came in behind him and stood unobtrusively in the corner, a small smile on his lips.
Severus stood perfectly still as he waited for the shop's proprietor to emerge- which, he noted rather nervously, he had not yet done.
I hope he hasn't died, he thought with a pang of anxiety. Ollivander's wands were supposed to be the best, and he'd wanted one for as long as he could remember. Even his mother had had to admit that an Ollivander wand was good cause for a trip to Diagon Alley; she had otherwise wanted the items on the school shopping list to be acquired through friends of hers at Durmstrang. She had been so irate at her husband for allowing Severus to matriculate at Hogwarts that her wishes in all other respects had hastily been indulged to mollify her. It had worked, mostly.
Severus' fears were alleviated by the abrupt appearance of Mr. Ollivander himself. An odd-looking man, he fastened his sharp eyes at once on the young lad before him and studied him for a long moment from beneath his beetled eyebrows. Severus had the feeling that the wand maker was looking into him more than at him, and the thought had him schooling his inner monologue to silence.
"You're the quietest nine year old I've ever seen, Master Snape," said Ollivander at last. "I didn't expect to see you for another two years. Hogwarts?" he asked, with a glance at Severus' father in the corner.
"Yes," replied Sebastian Snape, a tinge of pride in his voice. "Starting early with special permission from the Headmaster. Severus is quite ahead of his peers."
Ollivander looked at Severus for another long minute. "Wizarding prep school?" he asked coolly, and Severus noticed his father stiffening a bit.
"No," Severus said suddenly, wanting to spare his father the questions. "My mother has been tutoring me at home."
This earned him another sharp glance from Ollivander and a thinning of his father's mouth, but the two adults seemed willing to let the matter rest.
"Very well then, young Severus," said Mr. Ollivander. "Have a seat."
Severus climbed up onto the tall and not-altogether- sturdy stool to which Ollivander now gestured. He settled precariously into place, absently flicking his long, dark hair out of his eyes so he could follow Ollivander's every move. When Ollivander's softly murmured charm sent the enchanted tape measure to work, Severus sat stock still, uneasy about the rapid flick and snap of the thing's sharp-looking edges so close to his body, but more uneasy still about flinching in front of his father. He so wanted his father to be proud of him at such an important moment; Circe knew his father had never been there to see anything else that might make him proud of his son.
Satisfied with the tape measure's work, the wand maker vanished into the labyrinthine storeroom of his shop, returning several moments later with a box in hand.
"Have a try," he said. "Oak, twelve inches, unicorn hair. Promising for Transfiguration."
Severus lifted the wand out of the box and held it as he'd seen his father do. He handled it gingerly- he'd never held a wand before- and cautiously gave it a tentative wave. The wand, however, did nothing. He half-expected his mother to Apparate into the shop and lecture him for touching one, even with his father's permission.
Ollivander watched him kindly for a moment before gently interrupting.
"Severus... which is your wand arm?"
The boy blushed deep red as he lowered the wand. "I'm not sure," he said. "I haven't been allowed to use a wand." His voice had faded to nearly a whisper, and his father quietly added,
"His mother wanted him to learn to work without one before he would be tempted to use his wand for everything."
Ollivander met Sebastian's gaze over Severus' head, and an understanding look passed between them. So then, Severus' mother had had the whole of the lad's teaching till now.
"Not surprising, coming from a Potions mistress," Ollivander said neutrally. "I believe your mother has never held with 'foolish wand waving,' as she always called it." His voice held just a hint of disapproval- his wands were not foolish!
The phrase falling from Mr. Ollivander's lips rang in Severus' head with an acid-like familiarity that made him flinch, and Ollivander deftly distracted him by switching the wand to his other - inkstained- hand. Poor boy, he thought, bet he's not allowed to play until he finishes cleaning the cauldron after lessons each day.
"If you hold a quill in the left hand, try the wand in the left," he said patiently.
Severus did, and this time his experimental wave produced a small spray of pale yellow light.
"Not quite," said Ollivander, and he dashed off and returned with another box. "Redwood, nine and a quarter inches, phoenix feather. Nice for charm work, but responsive enough to handle the complexities of-" he broke off, intrigued despite himself.
Severus' wave had produced a small pile of slugs, which sat on the floor for a confused moment before lunging in several directions with panic etched in every swell of their bloblike forms.
The next three produced, respectively, a horrible smell, a pint of butterbeer (minus the bottle, which meant Severus got rather damp), and a loud bang.
"Please, sir," said Severus, his tone hurried. He was beginning to experience the unpleasant frisson of anxiety he felt when he didn't get a potion right for his mother on the first try. He thrust the wand back at Mr. Ollivander with an air of almost desperation, and then visibly struggled for- and won- control of his emotions. His voice was almost steady when he found it at last and put it to use.
"What might be good for someone who... who was good at Potions?"
The words hung in the still air between them for a long moment.
"Are you good at Potions, Severus Snape?" Ollivander asked softly.
Severus' head came up, and the boy met his gaze unflinchingly for the first time. This was one question he could answer without shame or hesitation. "I am very good at Potions." He said it not with arrogance, but with certainty.
Ollivander, who knew Lucretia Andropolous Snape by acquaintance as well as by reputation, had no doubt that the boy was every bit as good as he said. And he recognized the confidence in the boy's attitude without mistaking it for arrogance. With a small bow, he took the other boxes and was gone.
He returned in four minutes, with a very dusty box under his arm. His sharp eyes bored into Severus' dark ones intensely, as if he were trying to judge the rightness of the fit from scrutinizing the boy's soul.
"White cherry," he said at last, his tone didactic. "Twelve and a half inches, with dragon heartstring. White cherry is a nice hard wood- shouldn't take stains, even if you spill something objectionable on it- and should be fairly impervious to potions effects, though not as impervious as a glass rod would be."
Severus looked at the wand for a moment, his face inscrutable, and Ollivander watched him in turn. He looked rather small and alone; nine was young to be starting Hogwarts, even if he was bright. Especially if he was bright. Genius in one's juniors was not often rewarded by upperclassmen, and was tolerated even less often among Slytherins- and if this solemn young man wasn't sorted into Slytherin, Ollivander thought he would eat his own wand. Joining Slytherin could only mean trouble ahead for a brilliant boy who almost certainly had had more than his share of difficulty under his mother's tutelage. He waited for the lad's reaction to this wand, curious on many levels.
The wand felt warm to Severus' hand, and the moment he touched it he knew it was the right one. As his long fingers closed round its base, he felt the energy tingle from his heart down his arm and straight out into the room in a torrent of bright green rain. Momentarily afraid he'd drenched the wandmaker's shop again, he was instead enchanted when the droplets turned to translucent bubbles and rose to pop on the ceiling with soft chiming sounds.
Ollivander smiled as he watched the little green circles form on the wood paneling above his head. Looking down at Severus, who was still clutching the wand nervously, he chuckled. "Potions, indeed," he said simply. Handing the wand's box to the boy, he moved to the till to accept Mr. Snape's Galleons in payment.
They were about to leave the shop, Severus aglow with the thrill of owning his first wand- and it was so neat, how could his mother discount it as she did?- when the old wand maker made one last comment.
"Severus," he said.
The lad turned. "Yes, sir?"
"Remember... there is a great deal more to magic than just Potions. Wands can be used for many things, both good and ill, and wands are no less powerful for being physically separate from the wizard who uses them. Writing it off as 'foolish wand waving' will deprive you of the chance to learn deep and powerful magic. That wand can do more than stir a potion, I assure you. I expect you to learn from your teachers at Hogwarts- it is always better to have more than one teacher, no matter how good."
Finished, he turned away to his wands once again, and Severus had the feeling he was summarily dismissed. Turning in a swirl of black robes, he stepped silently into the street in Sebastian Snape's wake.
Severus and his father were nearly back to The Leaky Cauldron before the boy summoned the courage to ask his father the question he'd wondered about for years.
"Father..." he said hesitantly. His father didn't often have much to do with him, but he'd never been anything but honest with him.
"Why wouldn't Mother let me have a wand?"
His father sighed. "It's a long story, Severus, but she wanted you to learn everything she could teach you about Potions before you left for school. I don't think it would surprise you to learn she hopes you follow in her footsteps... and at your age, many young wizards are tempted to focus on wand magic, which is so much easier. There's less to remember, less to understand. Or so she thinks. I may have been wrong to let her have her way with your education so long..."
Severus felt an eyebrow arch questioningly. This was the sort of conversation he normally had to eavesdrop on; his parents never disagreed in front of him. It was one of those Rules of Capable Parenting that he suspected were written in a dusty tome somewhere, the greatest of which was Grow Eyes In The Back Of Your Head, Or At Least Fake It Well.
His father, however, had recalled the rule, and would say no more on the subject of his wife's teaching precepts. But it was clear he thought a great deal more than he said. His stride shortened, faltered, and he halted altogether, turning and looking down into his son's troubled face, the dark eyes and hair so unlike his lighter complexion.
"I should have stopped her long before I did," he said softly. "And in case I lack the courage to tell you this later, I will tell you now. Mr. Ollivander is right. You should learn everything you can at Hogwarts. Your mother is, perhaps, too prejudiced in her views. I hope you are Sorted into Ravenclaw, as I was; perhaps then you'll-"
But he broke off again, as if afraid he'd said too much already.
Severus knew better than to try to get his father to say more than he had. He sighed and follwed his father back into the pub, where they used Floo powder to return home.
Severus' last thought, as the flames crackled to reveal the fire in his mother's Potions lab, deep in the cellars of their home, was hopeful.
Maybe Hogwarts will be different.
Back in his shop, Mr. Ollivander restocked the boxes of wands that had not suited Severus, mulling over the boy as he did so.
Not what he'd expected of that match, he decided. The father was so quiet and reserved, the mother so clearly dark. And their son was an agonized mix of them- a perfect summary of their marriage. Brilliant, uncertain, torn between the natural reticence of his personality and the desire to show what he knew. What an interesting time he would have of it at Hogwarts.
Ollivander gazed contemplatively at the empty pigeon hole that had once housed Severus' new wand. The 'footprint' where the box had lain was clean wood outlined in a thick layer of dust; the wand had laid there for over twenty years, awaiting an owner. He'd nearly forgotten about it.
"White cherry," Ollivander muttered softly. "Symbol of deception. I think we shall see more of you, Severus Snape." Climbing down from the ladder, he headed for his worktable in the back of the store.