The Wizard and The Hopping Pot
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe was created and is owned by J.K. Rowling. The title of this story comes from chapter seven of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." The story is loosely based on a fable called "The Old Grandfather's Corner" from "The Complete Brothers Grimm." My adaptation is for entertainment purposes only, and no infringement of rights is intended.
There once was a very old wizard. In his youth, he had been strong and talented. His name never appeared in "A History of Magic," and he didn't have mountains of gold stored in a vault at Gringott's, but he had led a happy and productive life, loved by his family and respected by all who knew him. Now, though, his eyes had dimmed, his memory often faltered, and his hands shook with age. He had grown so feeble that even the simplest of his spells often went awry, and he was unable to care for himself properly. So it was decided that he must surrender his wand, and leave the cozy cottage where he had lived for many years, to reside with his youngest son's family.
When the old wizard moved into his son's home, he was cheerful and optimistic. He had few needs, and he was pleased that he would share the companionship of his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren during the final years of his life. However, he soon regretted the change, for his son and daughter-in-law resented the responsibility of caring for a frail, elderly man, and they were churlish toward him. They belittled his loss of magical ability, and they criticized his clumsiness.
Not feeling welcome in his son's family, the old wizard spent most of his time in the tiny room they had given him, sitting quietly by himself and trying to stay out of the way. Soon, he only joined the family at mealtimes. But even these brief encounters were unpleasant. Because of his weak hands, he often dropped his cup or utensils on the floor, and he spilled his food on his robes. The old man's son or his wife could have remedied these small accidents with kind words and a wave of their own wands, but they instead spoke as though the old wizard was a great burden to them.
"Be more careful, Father," they said many times each day. "We should not have to pause in eating our own meals to retrieve dropped dinnerware or to clean up your spills."
The old wizard was mortified by these lectures, and he tried harder to control his shaking hands. Alas, there was no reversing the effects of age, and no way of reclaiming skills lost to the passage of time, and so the mishaps continued.
Finally, the wife became so annoyed with the old wizard that she declared she would no longer eat with him at the same table. And so her husband set the old wizard's chair in a corner of a kitchen, far away from the family. He declared that the old wizard must eat his meals there, using only a spoon and an earthenware bowl. But the old wizard's hands continued to tremble as he ate and, without a table to rest his bowl upon, he spilled even more frequently. Sometimes he dropped his bowl, and it shattered on the hard stones of the kitchen floor.
"He is old and useless," the wife would declare each time she had to repair his bowl and scourgify the floor and the old man's robes. "He cannot perform the simplest task for himself, and it is unfair that we have to care for him as though he were a child." And the old wizard would sit in his corner and look sorrowfully at his family, silently wishing for happier days that were now long past.
Days went by, and time and again the old wizard dropped his bowl onto the kitchen floor. The husband and wife became even more impatient with him and, again, the wife made a decision.
"I will replace the earthenware bowl with an iron pot," she said. "An iron pot will not break when it is dropped to the floor, and I will not have to waste my time repairing it." And she did as she threatened, serving the old wizard's meals from that day forth in a small iron pot, still in his lonely corner of the kitchen.
This made the old wizard feel more shamed than ever. He could no longer eat like a man but instead was treated as though he were a mere infant. Even worse, the iron pot was heavier than the bowl, and he dropped it more often, so that the son or his wife must lay down their own cup or fork and pick up a wand to clean the spills.
One day soon, the wife had had enough. "I will place an enchantment upon the pot," she said, "and when your father drops it, it will hop to the sink instead of spilling on the floor." And so, with her husband's blessing, she did just that. Then, if the old wizard dropped the pot holding his food, instead of spilling, it would hop across the room to the sink and wash itself clean, ready for the old wizard's next solitary meal.
"Now we shall be able to enjoy our meals in peace," declared the husband, much satisfied with this solution to their troubles.
And so several more days went by, and the old wizard no longer interrupted the family, as the iron pot would hop away as soon as it was released from his hands. The old wizard would watch, with his tears in his eyes, as the others ate and talked and laughed. Now he was both isolated and hungry, rarely being able to finish his food before his pot hopped away. Yet no word did he utter against either son or wife, for it was not in his nature to complain, and he no longer felt worthy of better treatment.
It happened that the old wizard's son and his wife had several children. The youngest was a fine boy, around four years of age. Both parents were proud of this boy, for they could see that he was bright and observant, and they knew he would be a strong, brave wizard when he reached adulthood.
One day, they looked out the window and saw the little boy playing with an iron pot very similar to the one the old wizard used for his meals. He was concentrating very hard on the pot, and finally he was able to make it hop into the air. He smiled and clapped his hands as the pot hopped a short distance across the dusty yard. Then he brought it back and repeated his feat over and over again.
The parents were overcome with curiosity. While pleased that their son was showing such control over his magic at a young age, they were puzzled by his interest in the iron pot. The child had balls and hoops and hammers, and even a small broomstick on which he could fly around the yard. Yet he seemed nearly obsessed with an ordinary black pot. So they went into the yard to question him.
"What is this new game you are playing, my son?" asked the father, as he watched the boy's pot hop across the yard again.
"Tis' not a game, Father," answered the boy, who was watching the pot intently, clearly determined to perfect his spell. "I must learn to make the very best hopping pots."
"And why is it so important to make the best hopping pots?" asked the father, amused at his son's persistence in such a strange endeavor.
The little boy looked at his father, and his voice grew very serious. "I will need hopping pots for you and mummy to eat from, when I am a grown man, and you are too old and weak to take your meals at my table."
Then the husband and wife looked at each other for many minutes, their eyes solemn as they considered their son's words. For they finally realized that someday they, too, would be elderly and feeble, and they would be dependent upon the love and compassion of their children for all of their comforts. Without speaking, they returned to the house and moved the old wizard's chair back to the table. From that day forward, the old wizard ate his meals with his family. He spent his time surrounded by his loved ones, and he was always treated with kindness and respect. His son and daughter-in-law were doubly rewarded. By their example, their own children learned to value their elders, and the lives of all were enriched by those virtues which the old wizard had not lost to time -- his wisdom, his patience and his courage.