Of Mice and Magic – Part 01
(co-written with dragonchrysalis)
[excerpt from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" by Newt Scamander]
[[It should be noted that a cheeky muggle known as Seanan McGuire ostensibly got her hands on a copy of Mr. Scamander's text and claims the Aeslin mouse as her own fictional creation. Thus a small subset of the muggle populace may recognize an Aeslin mouse if they came across one, though highly unlikely.]]
[pronounced "Aayz-lin" with the long 'a' sound]
Species: Apodemus sapiens
The natural range and habitat of the Aeslin mouse remains unknown.
The scientific name of the Aeslin mouse (Apodemus sapiens), means, literally, "the thinking mouse." They are considered part of the family Muridae, although they regard other members of the family as beasts of burden, predators, or sources of food, depending on their relative sizes and behaviors. A colony of Aeslin mice descending upon a rat is a fearsome sight indeed.
Extensive study has been performed upon the Aeslin mouse, courtesy of the colony which came to be with Charlus and Dorea Potter, who claimed to have found them "out back of the [Quidditch] pitch," engaged in ritual adoration of a snitch.
No Aeslin mice have ever been observed in the wild. Whether this is because they now exist only within human domiciles, or because they have become extinct apart from the Potter family colony, is currently unknown.
Biologically, the Aeslin mouse is near-identical to a common field mouse. Dissection of already-deceased subjects has revealed an enlarged cerebral cortex, indicative of their human-level intelligence, and their forepaws are sophisticated enough to be considered true hands.
The birth rate of Aeslin mice is dramatically lower than that of their wild cousins. The average female will have one baby every two years, resulting in no more than three to four offspring over the course of her life. Aeslin mice take between three and five years to mature, and can live well into their late thirties. It is surmised that they would have far shorter lifespans in the wild.
The Aeslin mouse can be distinguished from the common field mouse by its more developed forepaws, and by its tendency to dress in clothing and jewelry fashioned from bones, bits of fabric, and things it has managed to steal from the kitchen junk drawer.
The Aeslin mouse has a highly sophisticated society, centered around a devout religious class. Each colony of Aeslin mice to have been recorded has worshiped a different god or set of gods. These have included, but were not limited to, a large oak tree, a roll-top desk, and Dorea Potter, nee Black's, snitch collection. The colony currently living in the Potter family attic worships the family, females as priestess and males as gods. (The reason behind the Aeslin using a gender-caste distinction is unknown.) It is generally believed that these religious leanings are intended to keep the colony unified, and to prevent straying from places of safety.
Religious schisms occur every three to five generations, with groups of younger mice splitting off and leaving the parent colony to find new gods. To date, none of these child colonies have been heard from again. [The muggle McGuire claims a splinter colony found its way to an American family named Price/Healy. These claims have yet to be proven as the Price/Healy family has yet to be located.]
Aeslin mice never forget anything. Remember that when speaking in their presence, and choose your words with the attendant levels of care.
Due to recent events of October 31, 1981 and the fall of the Dark Lord Voldemort, it can only be assumed that the entire colony of Aeslin mice living with the Potter family were eradicated.
Severus cradled the little black-tufted head, barely larger than the palm of his hand, blinking bleary green eyes up at him. He'd been in awe at that moment as the small life had literally been put into his hands.
"He's perfect, Lily," Severus whispered.
"HAIL!" chorused the Aeslin. "Hail the coming of the new God, the Foretold One!" Their small handmade banners waved exuberantly in the air, as they had been all throughout the ordeal.
Lily glared at the mice. "You will not be calling him that!"
James laughed, helping Lily to get herself together after the long delivery. "Father told me about this. They'll keep trying different names for him until his personality starts to set. They've called me tons of things over the years. The week I learned to fly I was the God of High Heights and Large Laughter, I think."
"Nay! You were the God of Large Heights and High Laughter upon the Week of First Flight!" squeaked a mouse. His bright blue feather proclaimed him a junior priest of the colony.
"You see? Now I'm just the lowly God of Energetic Changes." James said with a playful grin.
"Fine," Lily griped, "as long as the name doesn't stick. I swear, James, if I didn't love you so bloody much, the mice would be the straw that broke the camel!"
"HAIL!" waved the mice.
"Where's my little godson?" Sirius Black called, coming into the delivery room with a literal bounce in his step. His eyes instantly found the bundle in Severus' arms and pounced. "Hand him over Snivellus!"
Lily rolled her eyes at their antics. "He's both your godson, Sirius. You have to share."
While Sirius cooed over the newborn, Severus went to his childhood friend's side. A few waves of his wand helped to clean up the sheets and reposition the woman so that she was more comfortable. "Who's godmother?"
Lily and James both grimaced. "We had trouble deciding. Due to Father's and Dumbledore's manipulations, a close maternal figure is difficult to find. Especially one that would also take in the mice. Minerva is out, for obvious reasons. Alice is deathly afraid of mice, even talking mice. She met them once and the poor woman fainted dead away."
"The only one that might be suitable is Amelia Bones, but she's been so busy with Auror training we haven't been able to ask her. Nor has she met the mice." Lily said.
"So, at least for the moment, we've had to reconcile ourselves with the mice." James said.
Severus blinked. Even Sirius stopped his stream of cooing, looking over at his best friend in shock. "Did you just say what I think you said? The mice. As godmother." Sirius restated. "For a human child."
James shrugged. "I turned out alright, didn't I? I grew up with the Aeslin. They'll do fine."
"You grew up fine because you had humans as your main caregivers!" Severus spluttered. "Asking the mice to take care of a human infant? Are you out of your minds?!" He looked at the large gathering of nearly the entire splinter colony sitting in one corner of the room. (The birth of a new god was an occasion for such a massive presence.) "No offense. You're wonderful in your own way. But little Harold is over a hundred times your body weight at BIRTH." Severus turned back to the Potters. "He's not intelligent enough yet to understand 'gentle play'. He could easily kill a mouse by accident!"
"The mice know when to get out of the way. Harold might be bigger, but he's far slower. Not to mention, the mice never forget anything." Lily's answer was somber. "If something happens to us and Charlus' plans fall through…the mice will take care of him. Teach him what he needs to know, since they never forget anything."
James nodded, his own countenance matching his wife's. "I never had the skill of my father in advanced planning. This is the best we can come up with right now. The two of you," he nodded at Sirius and Severus in turn, "and the mice, are our best bet. Just in case."
"But seriously," Severus gave Sirius a hard look to stop the inevitable joke, at which the Black Heir snapped shut his mouth, "to have a wizarding child raised by Aeslin mice? Are you sure?"
"I guess we'll all find out if they're needed." Lily intoned.
James sighed. "This is one plan I sincerely hope is never needed."
"Hail," the mice acknowledged solemnly.
Regrettably the plan was needed, as many unfortunate things are wont to do at the most inconvenient times.
When news of Lily and James' deaths reached Dumbledore, he immediately began making arrangements to place Harry with his muggle relatives, Lily's sister and her husband. However, Severus objected so strenuously that Dumbledore feared the man would give himself a stroke. In the wake of Voldemort's downfall, Severus looked pale and uncertain, as if the foundation of his world had suddenly shifted. Minerva had forced a large mug of tea into his hands at some point, and he sat in Dumbledore's office, trembling so violently that the tea sloshed over the side of the cup.
"No." Snape said firmly. His voice was steady, even if the rest of him wasn't. "I refuse. I am the child's godfather. Lily and James entrusted me and Sirius Black with Harry's care should anything happen to them. And as Black is currently..." his lip curled "indisposed, the responsibility falls to me."
"Severus, the world sees you as it sees the rest of Voldemort's old allies - a disgraced former Death Eater. Even if I vouch for your innocence - which I will do, and make no mistake about that - don't you think Severus Snape, former Death Eater, taking in the child responsible for Voldemort's downfall might, shall we say, raise a few eyebrows?"
Severus sunk lower in his chair, muttering rebelliously: "Better than placing him with muggles."
"Petunia is Harry's blood relation." Dumbledore said gently. "Her blood is Lily's blood. It will protect him as long as he stays there."
"Protect him from what?" Severus sneered. "A couple of the Dark Lord's old cronies who, no doubt, will escape Azkaban by a combination of cunning, lies, and bribery?"
Dumbledore said nothing and Severus suddenly got a sinking feeling that Dumbledore was thinking of protecting Harry from something much, much worse than a few disgraced former Death Eaters.
Severus swallowed hard. "What of the mice?" he asked pleadingly. "Lily and James named the Aeslin mice as Harry's collective godmother." Somewhere in the back of his mind, he could feel the irony. It was laughing at him. Only a year before, he had advocated against the absurdity of Harry being raised by a colony of talking mice. Of course, a year ago, the thought of Lily and James dying was just a theoretical exercise, a formality, if you will.
"Severus." said Dumbledore gently, in a tone that suggested he thought the younger man was quite mad. "I respect the wisdom of the Aeslin mice. Indeed, they have never led the Potters, or anyone else, astray. However, the fact remains that Harry will need a human guardian. Someone to purchase food and clothes and other necessities for him, not to mention sign papers and meet with school officials. And you must admit, a colony of talking mice is not entirely...discreet. Besides, all indications are that the entire colony perished with Lily and James. No mice revealed themselves to Hagrid when he retrieved Harry."
Severus knew when he was beaten, even if he didn't like it. Something in the set of Dumbledore's mouth told him that no further argument would be tolerated.
"Fine." he grumbled. "The child shall be placed with Petunia and her large, blundering, buffoon of a muggle husband. We shall be lucky if they don't throw the child out a window before he reaches eleven."
And so, it was set. Hagrid delivered Harry Potter to the Dursley's that very night. But unbeknownst to anyone, two small Aeslin mice, a mating pair, had nestled themselves in Harry Potter's blankets as he was carried away...