Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, I am only playing in this world for fun.
AN1: This is AU. Some events of the books might not happen or happen differently.
I welcome reviews and constructive criticism :)
AN2:2020-03-30: Chapter now betaed by Miette! No plot-change but a few scenes added or developed for better coherence with the rest of the story.
AN3:2020-11-07: Huge thanks to dstone12 who kindly offered to proofread my story for the mistakes Miette and I don't catch as non-English native speakers.
The five-year-old was shaking.
His parents were arguing. Again.
They were shouting and insulting each other. Again.
The boy was used to the arguments, how one small action from either of his parents would be the pretext for another round of shouting and screaming, accusations flying back and forth between his father and Mother. What the boy could not get used to was how his parents always ended up criticizing him even though he was not present. How his father never spoke of him with any tenderness.
He cringed as Mother's next words reached him. This argument was old and seldom ended without his father leaving their home for the night. Once, he had even slapped Mother over it.
"Why can't you let it go, Tobias?" shouted Mother exasperated. "Don't you remember how happy we were before the boy's mishap? Surely, it does not matter so much that we can't—"
"A mishap?" sneered his father. "A mishap is a boy breaking his mug. A mishap is a boy muddying my Sunday clothes. A two years old making his favourite toy fly to him is not a f…..g mishap!"
"Tobias, honestly, I—"
His father's voice was cold, not shouting anymore yet the boy could hear him as clearly as if he was in the room with them.
"If you had been honest, dear wife, if you had told me you were a f…..g witch before our wedding, I would have run the other way and you know it perfectly well. I might have accepted it if you had not passed your curse on your son, but this is the way of such curse isn't it? You knew any child of yours would be cursed like you are. You were not surprised when the boy made his f…..g ball fly. No, you only were horrified because I saw him use his curse."
"You are a hypocrite!" retorted Mother. "You are happy enough to drink my medicine and get better in minutes instead of healing the muggle way!"
"Because I did not know your medicine was unnatural!" shouted his father.
"How could you not suspect?" shot back Mother. "No natural medicine as you call them can heal like my potions do."
"Do not try to turn the table on me Eileen," snarled his father. "I never asked for your witchery. You knew how the war destroyed my family, you knew I only wanted a peaceful life with a job to pay the bills and a nice gal who would bore me beautiful, normal children!"
"And you have it! Why can't you accept Magic does not change the fact that we are a family?"
The boy squirmed as Mother's words were followed by a long silence, daring to hope that today's argument might be the one to convince his father that he could be a good son.
"Magic is dangerous and unnatural. You know it Eileen. Is it not why you ran away with me?" Asked his father with a defeated sigh.
"Dear, I eloped with you because I love you," answered Mother sweetly. "What if… There is a potion which can rid the boy of his Magic. I am not skilled enough to brew it but if we put enough money aside,..."
His parents kept talking but they must have moved or were talking really low because the boy could not hear them anymore. He sighed in relief, letting his body relax. Today was a good day.
At eight years old, Severus was a serious and lonely child. He did not go to muggle school as Mother insisted he should not have to bear with the poor commoners that went there and their awful lack of manners. Father had snorted at that, saying they were poor commoners themselves, not princes, and that most of the kids that went to the neighbouring school had fathers who worked with him at the factory.
Still, Mother was not to be swayed on this so Severus was home-schooled from his sixth birthday, mainly on grammar—Mother would not tolerate him speaking like an illiterate runt—, mathematics, geography and biology. Thankfully for Severus, he loved learning and absorbed everything he could.
Mother quickly decided he would learn about Magic too, despite his father's objections. They argued for a week, loudly, breaking dishes and screaming, even slapping each other once or twice. Severus did not know how Mother finally won the argument, but she did. She set up a routine for him, muggle lessons in the morning and basic magic theory from her beginners' books in the afternoon. From time to time, she would allow him to borrow her wand and practice charms and defence against the Dark Arts. It was sometimes a little lonely as Mother did her daily tasks while Severus taught himself from books, but it was worth the time they spent together during practice.
Moreover, on Mother's good days, he was allowed to brew and experiment with potions. Mother had forbidden him to study her potions books as she still used those regularly and did not want to risk him damaging them. Instead, she had given him a book about testing herbs and ingredients to determine their properties and how they would react with each other. On brewing days, she would tell him what the potion of the day should do and leave him to figure out a workable recipe: which ingredients he should use, in which order, how he should stir and many other details which made the difference between success and failure.
When he had his own recipe written, after looking it over, she would place protective wards around him and allow him to brew it.
It was hard. He sometimes needed several sessions to complete a recipe. It was great. He loved it. His potions were always perfect.
On Mother's bad days, Severus did not have lessons but went to the park and played on the swings the farthest away from the other kids. Those kids knew each other, went to school together and neither needed nor wanted an interloper in their ranks. Severus sometimes felt a pang of longing watching them play together but the thought of all the Magic he was learning instead was usually enough to make it pass.
Severus had learnt young to repress his accidental magic in order not to provoke his father's wrath and earn a verbal lashing or a clout round the ear. More often than not, as long as he behaved himself and did not mention Magic, his father ignored him. As he worked long hours at the factory, Severus only needed to be careful in the evenings, when he usually already was in his room, and during the weekends. His parents still argued a lot, but he now managed to use his accidental magic to make his room soundproof when he needed it. Severus was not sure you could still call it accidental magic as he did it with conscious intent, but as long as it worked, he figured he could wait for Hogwarts to pursue the matter. He did not understand why he had to be eleven to leave his parents to study Magic at Hogwarts, the school where Mother had been taught Magic and the best magic school in the world, but as long as he got to go, he figured he could wait for a few more years.
All in all, Severus was content.
When he was nine, Severus met a red-haired vision of sunshine with laughing green eyes. He spectacularly botched up their first meeting by calling her a Witch. Muggleborn that she was, she took the word as an insult, supported by her elder sister who did not want a street urchin to approach her precious little sister. Severus' clothes might not be as expensive as theirs, but he was offended that the muggle girl believed he lived in the street and promptly made a branch fall on her head. This did not endear him to his sunshine, but Severus was tenacious.
He retreated to better plan his next approach and avoid the annoying elder sister's presence. He observed they always went to the same place in the park, near the swings because the redhead girl —Lily as her sister called her—loved to use Magic to make the swings take her higher and higher until she jumped and flew down gently back to the ground. Her sister always scolded her, saying she should be more cautious not to be seen. Severus reluctantly agreed, though he would never have discovered his sunshine if she had.
He noticed that on Tuesdays, the older sister—Pet, and what kind of name was that?—often met friends at the park who distracted her from her little sister. He took advantage of her distraction one Tuesday to approach Lily once more. This time, he first made a leaf float slowly around him as he walked toward her. Her excitement when she understood he was doing Magic like she could was contagious. Soon, they were the best friends in the world and met everyday after Lily had finished her school-day. Her sister was not happy but Severus quickly learnt no one could resist the combination of Lily's pleading eyes followed by her bright smile when you caved in and agreed to her demands.
The day Severus became friends with Lily was also the day Father was fired from the factory, along with many others. Devoid of both his job and his perfect dream family, his father began drinking heavily, losing himself into alcohol a bit more everyday.
Mother had to resort to brewing and selling potions in order to make ends meet. Father had sneered at the idea she would be able to bring money in with her disgusting mixtures but been all too happy to take his share and drink it away at the pub with his fired friends when money came in.
His father had forbade her to use owls for potions orders and deliveries, as their continued presence would raise the neighbours' suspicion. Instead, Mother had gone to Diagon Alley to open a magical mailbox: she had a box at home, another in one of Diagon Alley shops. Customers put their orders in the Diagon Alley box. They appeared in their house one, Mother brewed the potions needed, put the customer name on them and then put them in the house box. The potions vials appeared in the Diagon Alley box where customers could take them from the box in exchange for their cost. The galleons deposited in the box were converted into pounds automatically before appearing in their home box. It worked quite well but Severus wondered if the magic used for the transfer impacted the potions potency and was determined to research it when he had more sources available.
Nevertheless, it was a high point for Severus because his mother allowed him more time to brew so that he would make the simplest potions and they would earn more money. It meant cutting on his study time but Mother estimated he was already ahead of his years in both his muggle and magical studies, with the exception of transfiguration, so it would not cause him any harm.
Living in a muggle area with no contact with the wizarding world made finding some ingredients difficult. Mother usually owl-ordered them, but in the quantities needed for her new business, it was expensive. So Severus experimented with muggle herbs and plants that they either found in abundance in the woods near home or could buy for a cheap price. He carefully tested them as he had done so often with wizarding potions ingredients before, following the instructions from his well-worn book that he now knew by heart. There were many failures, but it was worth their few great successes and Severus learned a lot from it. Thanks to all their hard work, they were able to put together a rather extensive potion catalogue considering they were not apothecaries, ranging from simple healing balms to cleaning potions with hangover potions in between.
They managed enough profit from potions to pay for everyday fare and to put some away for Severus' first year at Hogwarts, as Mother had always been adamant that her son was powerful enough to receive a letter. The reason they did so well money wise was also because one galleon was worth five muggle pounds. In this case, living in the muggle world was a distinctive advantage.
When Severus was ten, Mother introduced him to the Dark Arts. She told him her family, the Prince family, had always been fascinated by this subject as it was complex, difficult, powerful and mastered by few. She could tell that Severus, with his already keen intellect and insatiable thirst for knowledge and experiment, would be drawn to it and she wanted him to have proper foundations, before people could present him with a skewed view of the subject. Mother never talked about her family except during her shouting matches with Father. She sometimes told him that he should not treat her like this when she was from the noble house of Prince, but he always laughed, saying he doubted that her so "noble" family had recovered from her eloping with a mere muggle, who was not even rich, instead of marrying the scion of another noble family as had been arranged by her father. When Mother had mentioned her family, Severus had known this lesson would require all his focus and attention.
That day, she made sure Father would not disturb them by dosing him with a sleeping potion, something she only dared in emergencies. Then she sat with Severus, impressing even more upon him the seriousness of the matter, and explained the four rules you should always bear in mind before using the Dark Arts.
1-There is always a price to pay when one uses the Dark Arts.
2-The price is always a sacrifice, either from the user or an external source.
3-The extensive use of an external source as a sacrifice taints the very soul of the user and can lead to the corruption of his magical core. In extreme cases, it can twist the soul of the user to the point that he is no longer human, meaning no longer able to feel and react like a human being.
4-The result of the Dark Arts always depends on the intent of the user. Always focus on the result you want to achieve when using the Dark Arts. Be careful of mixed feelings you may harbour for a subject when using the Dark Arts on him.
Mother also explained that you should learn about the Dark Arts to be able to protect yourself from them. Indeed, without knowing their functioning, you would not be able to create adequate protections. She then warned him that many uses of the Dark Arts were forbidden by the ministry even if it could save lives because the Dark Arts always had two sides: one that saved, one that corrupted or killed.
A new world opened to Severus and he diligently learnt as much as he could under Mother's watch.
Despite his busy schedule, Severus still made plenty of time for his best friend. Since the day they became friends, he met Lily at the park every day after her classes, where they played and talked together. He told her about the magical world as best as he could, having never been there himself—Mother had always refused to take him with her the few times she had had to go. She knew his mother taught him Magic but between her muggle school and her family, he never was able to teach her more than writing with a quill and a few basics in Potion and Herbology. As such, when she returned from her day in Diagon Alley where, being a Muggleborn, a professor had brought her to buy her school supplies at the beginning of the summer before Hogwarts, Lily devoured her books and then spent their time together pestering him with questions.
Severus and his mother had gone to Diagon Alley too. Except for the potion book, they did not buy any school books as Severus would take Mother's. Instead, Mother bought him a history book—not Hogwarts: A History as it was way too romanticized—that she told him to read in history class as the ghost professor was useless and the book was comprehensive enough to last him until his OWLs.
They bought school robes at Madam Malkin's then made an extended stay at the apothecary. They of course bought potions ingredients but also seized the occasion to observe the potions they proposed as well as their prices to later compare with their own catalogue. Finally, they went to get Severus' wand, which took far longer than he would have thought.
Garrick Ollivander was "The Wandmaker" in vogue. His family had been making wands successfully for generations before he took the reins of the business and became known as one of the best Wandmakers in the world. Ollivander did a lot of research on wands before taking on after his father's trade. He came to the conclusion that the core of the wands that gave the best results to Wizards were for ninety-five per cent made of either phoenix feather, dragon ventricle or unicorn tail hair, and decided to only use these elements to manufacture the Ollivander's wands. It was a success and soon enough, his wands were renowned to bring out the best from any Wizard.
But Mother shook her head when they passed the shop and told him they would be going to the very best Wandmaker, the same her father had led her to when it was time to get her own wand. She explained that it would take more time, probably be more expensive, but that if Severus gave his all, as she was sure he would because he was half a Prince after all, he would get the wand that suited him the best.
Puzzled, Severus followed her to the edge of Diagon Alley where she took his hand, told him firmly to remain near her, and went into Knockturn Alley. They walked for what seemed like hours to Severus in shady narrow streets, passing strange and threatening looking persons. They finally arrived at the end of Knockturn Alley and went on into the woods that bordered it. More and more intrigued, Severus let out a sigh of relief when they soon came to a hut which had "Wandmaker" engraved across its door.
Mother knocked then entered, ushering Severus behind her. In front of them was a wooden desk with a wrinkled man behind. Not saying a word, he got up and made a gesture toward Severus. Unsure, he looked at his mother who pushed him gently toward the man so Severus followed him to a backroom which contained rows and rows of ingredients, some Severus could not identify, others he could not even guess about.
"Go through the rows and stop each time you feel a pull," gruffly said the man.
Severus did as he was told, walking through all the rows, focusing on sensing an eventual pull. When he finished, he had stopped only three times, in front of empty cases that the man had retrieved and put on a wood table.
"Now stand in front of the table, close your eyes and walk toward the stronger pull".
Severus once again did as told. Closing his eyes, he tried to empty his mind to only feel the pulls. At first, he thought it was a little stronger in the middle, but as he waited to be sure, he felt more and more attracted to the left and finally ended in front of the left side of the table.
"Good, you took your time," said the man with slight approval.
Looking in the left case, Severus saw it was still empty and wondered what the heck was going on and why Mother had taken him here instead of going to Ollivander. Still, he knew she must have good reasons, as with the Dark Arts, so he waited as patiently as he could and refrained from any comment.
The man led him through another backdoor which, to his surprise, opened on the woods. Severus saw different kinds of trees in front of him, the same trees seemingly grouped together.
"Close your eyes again and walk toward the pull."
This time it was easier, Severus sensed an immediate pull and walked until he was in front of it. Opening his eyes, he saw he was facing several ash trees, and from what he could see, more ash trees were behind them. The man came next to him and made a sign to follow him. They walked among the ash trees for a long time until the man suddenly stopped. He approached a tree and waited, without doing anything as far as Severus could see, but when he finally came back, he had a piece of light brown wood in his hand. They came back to the hut and went to another different room—the man's workshop from what Severus surmised—where the Wandmaker put the piece of wood next to the empty case. Then they went back to the room where Mother was waiting.
"You might want to go to Ollivander's for the boy's wand."
Mother raised an eyebrow, silently conveying her surprise and encouraging him to explain himself.
"It's a difficult wand that chose him, and he hasn't even poured his Magic into it yet. It's already obvious he will need time to grow into it, years, and he might never uncover his complete potential. It would be easier with one of Ollivander's, and he would be assured to develop at least some parts of his powers."
"I don't understand," stated Mother. "My family has always used your wands and we have never been disappointed. My son will not be an exception."
"He chose Ash tree and Thestral tail hair," replied the Wandmaker, as if it explained his words.
At least, it explained the empty case. Thestrals were only visible to those having witnessed a death. It was the same for their body parts, even unattached to their body. Severus had never seen someone die—he spared a thought for the Wandmaker who obviously had—so the cases had not been empty, he just had not been able to see their content.
"I see," she said, pausing for a few seconds. "Make the wand. I have every confidence in him."
"He is your son," shrugged the Wandmaker.
"Indeed he is."
She sounded proud, thought Severus. It was the first time she had sounded like this in front of a stranger and he felt warm all over.
"Follow me," ordered the Wandmaker, looking at Severus briefly then going back to his workshop, not even checking Severus was following.
"Sit," said the man tersely.
Severus found a stool in a corner and did so, while the man began to work. Severus observed as much as he could but the truth was he did not understand what he was seeing and how it related to the creation of a wand. Soon his mind grew bored and wandered to his potions experiments.
Severus nearly fell from his stool at the order but quickly went to the man.
"Now focus on the wand, try to push your magic toward it without actually doing anything like exploding my shop."
Severus swallowed, then recalling the feeling of using his magic to muffle his parents' arguments, he tried to push it into the wand. After what seemed like hours but was only seconds, the man told him to stop. Sweat glistened on the Wandmaker's forehead but he had Severus' wand in his hand. Wordlessly, he handed it to Severus who barely refrained from tearing it away from the man's hand. Instead, he accepted the wand with a quiet thank you. They went back to the first room where Mother was waiting for them.
"It is as I thought," said the man. "Remember that you chose this path for him."
Mother nodded and paid fifteen galleons, an astronomical amount to Severus, then they went back home. She refused to explain the Wandmaker's odd comments but bought him an old looking book on wand lore after having riffled through it.
Once home, he did not lose anytime going through the wand lore book to find more about his wand and was left perplexed. Here is what the book said about the two materials of his wand:
Ash: The ash wand clings to its one true master and ought not to be passed on or gifted from the original owner, because it will lose power and skill. Those witches and wizards best suited to ash wands are not lightly swayed from their beliefs or purposes. However, the brash or over-confident witch or wizard, who often insists on trying wands of this prestigious wood, will be disappointed by its effects. The ideal owner may be stubborn, and will certainly be courageous, but never crass or arrogant.
Thestral tail hair: Thestral tail hair is a powerful but tricky substance that can only be mastered by a witch or wizard capable of facing death.
Severus was disconcerted as both the wood and the core of his wand were suited to a brave wizard, something he was certain he was not. No way he would ever be a hero, it was far too hazardous for one's health and really, in all the books he had read, the hero was not as brave as he was foolish and reckless, something Severus was definitely not. Still, he liked the idea of his wand being loyal to him.
He read that a dimension of 12 inch was a little more than the norm and sometimes said to be a sign of power but experts disagreed on this. The flexible part was easy as Severus had learned to adapt himself to his parents' mood in order to avoid any disagreement. He was not sure about the solid part as it was not mentioned in the book.
All in all, while Severus' wand did not look like the best match for him, the Wandmaker's words remained unexplained. He fretted several days because of it then shoved it away to focus on potions and Lily. About two weeks before the beginning of school, an owl delivered him an unsigned letter.
Your wand can make you one of the best or it can let you be one of the more pathetic if you do not master it.
It is a wand to be grown into as it takes time to bond with the ash. The ash chose you because of your potential but the bond between you will need time to grow and you will have to nurture it. Once the bond is strong, your control of your power should be perfect.
It is a wand to be grown into as you will need to prove your valour to tame the Thestral tail hair. It will be hard but remember valour can come in many forms. However, I am sad to say you will need to face death to be able to fully master it. Then it will allow you to use your maximal power.
It might never come to be but you have great potential.
PS: Once the ash has bounded with you, it will be near impossible for you to choose another wand without this one being broken. If you shall be the one to break it, you will never be able to use another wand without getting only feeble results.
The letter left Severus even more bereft. He had no intention of facing an Avada Kedavra any time soon so mastering the full powers of his wand looked highly improbable. He also had no idea how to nurture a bond with it but knew there was no way Mother would buy him another wand. After a sleepless night, Severus decided he could do nothing about it and to wait and see.
Today was the day. Severus and Lily were in a train compartment, waving to her family and his mother.
The summer had flown by between Lily and Mother. Mother had stopped their daily lessons, stating that he was more than ready enough for Hogwarts and would learn all he wanted there. She only kept on with their lessons on the Dark Arts as she wanted to make sure the school would not undo all her efforts. They still brewed potions, his mother following her recipes, Severus using or creating his own. It still left lots of time for Severus to spend with Lily and with the knowledge of Hogwarts approaching, it was easily the best time of his life.
Sighing happily, Severus sat himself comfortably in his seat against his best friend. They had made plans this summer. They would go to Ravenclaw because it was the only house they both felt comfortable with. According to his mother and Hogwarts: A History—Lily's copy, the teacher accompanying her had insisted she bought one—, your house was your family in Hogwarts. There was Hufflepuff, for the friendly and the hard workers. They both agreed that if Severus was a hard worker, he was not the friendliest person so they ruled it out. Gryffindor was for the brave and if Lily would definitely fit in there with her fierce temper and her love for risks, Severus was a more cautious kind and really did not see the point of defending people you did not know. Slytherin was for the ambitious and the cunning, it was a perfect fit for Severus but Lily, who wore her feelings on her face, was a no go. So, it had to be Ravenclaw, they both loved knowledge and they would be together so it was the perfect house.
His daydream was interrupted by the arrival of two loud boys. The one with glasses asked Lily if they could sit with such a beautiful lady, the other one adding they would gladly save her from the boy who sat next to her with such an ugly face. Severus scowled but had no time for a well-deserved cutting retort as Lily threw them out while unleashing her temper on them.
Remarking how rude they were, hoping that not all Wizards were like them, and assuring Severus he was not ugly—that was nice of Lily to say even if Severus had heard it often enough in his parents mouths to know otherwise—they settled back to talk and wait for Hogwarts.