Poppy cut her eyes toward the bedroom door as the sound of her father's shuffling gait met her ears. She heard him pause outside her room. She could picture him now, standing there in his dressing with one hand reaching tentatively for the doorknob while the other held a glass or perhaps a bottle of brandy with a white-knuckle grip. She could see his handsome face, now covered with thick stubble, as he weighed his thoughts, trying to choose the right words to say. He hadn't had much to say lately.

Poppy's eyes stayed glued to the door that separated them, half wishing he would enter and catch her, but the moment passed and she could hear his steps resume as he continued onward and upward to his room.

Poppy ignored the sinking feeling in her chest and turned her eyes back to the text before her. The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1, lay open before her on the floor. A simple set of instructions with a simple enough result. But, if she got it right, it would mean the world to her. It would mean that every bad thought, every bit of self-doubt, every single voice that hissed Squib in her ear... They would all be wrong, and she would have proof.

The polished cherry wood of her father's wand gleamed in the light of her candle, bringing her back from her negative thoughts. The long, tapered piece of wood rested between pages fourteen and fifteen, holding her place as she read. She had refused to even hold it properly until she had committed every step of the spell to her memory.

It would be her first and it would be perfect.

"Lu-mos,she murmured, practicing her pronunciation. oo-mus... Loo-moos... Lu-mos."

She decided the last one was correct, or the least incorrect at any rate.

She lifted her right hand and extended her index finger, as though she was pointing at one of her many posters. Checking the diagram on the page again, she began to trace a small loop-like shape in the air with the same finger. She repeated it until she was quite satisfied with the motion. She had the words, she had the motion, she had her concentration. Reaching forward, she was amazed to see her had so steady. She wrapped her slim fingers around the hilt of the wand, firm but gentle all at once.

Growing up with her family's horror stories about her father's early magic skills, she was surprised she even knew which end to hold.

She shook her head to rid herself of such thoughts. She refused to be a Negative Nelly. She could do this just fine. So what if she was seven-years-old? Seven was plenty old enough. Her Gran had told her many times that her father's parents had both shown their budding magical abilities ages before they'd gotten their Hogwarts letters. Her own sister had been summoning blocks and toys since she was a baby.

But not Poppy, sweet Poppy, pretty Poppy... stupid Poppy. She was a dud. A Squib. She just knew it.

"Stop,she scolded herself quietly.

She raised the wand in her hand once more and swirled the same pattern as she had with her finger. She could do it. She would do just fine. She would.

After a few test runs, she licked her lips and straightened her back, her nerves steeled toward success. Wand out, her hold unfaltering, she began to form the loop one last time. "Lumos,she whispered, the word blooming on her lips with perfect diction and command.

A small light shone from the tip of her borrowed wand. She watched the light grow stronger as she felt the joy swell in her chest. What first was only barely glowing soon shone across the room to light the dark spot under her bed, revealing more of her sister's pilfered spell books. Poppy smiled as wide as she ever had, excited to write her sister and tell her of the progress she'd made. And her father! Oh they'd be so proud! Especiallyhim.

She stood quickly, holding the wand out in front of her carefully as she made for the door. It would be alright if he was a bit upset , she knew that he'd be more than happy once his disapproval waned. She made quick work of the stairs up to her father's room, standing outside it a moment before she reached for the doorknob. Poppy froze, however, upon hearing a small, muffled sob from the other side of the oak door. She remembered, then, the picture she had imagined of her father earlier and realized just how accurate it probably was. Poppy dropped her outstretched hand back to her side, still holding the wand evenly with the other, and decided that perhaps it was best to share this news with Azalea for now.

She turned away from the door, already composing the words in her head and wondering where her Quick Quotes Quill could be, before she paused, thinking of her baby brother. She listened a bit harder, her ears straining, and could just barely hear him. He was down the hall in his nursery, fussing softly. Poppy smiled again, making her way down the hall and into the small room.

Fennel lay on his back, eyes searching the darkness above his crib as he reached above his head searchingly. She saw the object of his hunt, a half-empty bottle of milk, and placed it back in his pudgy grasp. He held fast to the container, his dark eyes watching her intently by the wandlight. She willed the light to dim until it was just a small glow at the tip of the wand. She then began drawing shapes and letters and numbers above his cot, amusing him enough to elicit small, sweet gurgles. Stifling a yawn after a few minutes, Poppy switched to lazy, soothing patterns, curlicues and swirls dancing over her brother's head.

She smiled as Fennel commenced to snoring, a sound slumber settling over him, leaving her feeling more satisfied than any praise from her father or sister ever could have.


Done for my Inspiration Strikes prompts on the HPFC Forum (always taking new people!).

Prompt: mastering magic

There may be more oneshots/drabbles on this storyline, but no promises. R&R! Might take a suggestion or two if you have something you'd like to read regarding the Longbottoms.