Harry Potter and the Singing Onion
The sun had barely risen and Hogsmeade was still quiet. The first merchands were preparing their shops for the bustle of a busy day. The baker, a huge man by the name of Will Stoneflour, arranged fresh loafs of bread on the table in front of his tiny shop. His sons, Will the Younger and Bert, brought baskets of rolls from the bakehouse.
The shops beside the bakery were still closed. People didn´t buy shoes or clothes at the crack of dawn. The butcher on the other side of the street, Philemon Perriwinkle, was already up and about. He could be heard behind the closed shutters of his little shop ordering around his eldest, Paris.
A little down the street a young boy of maybe ten was sweeping the street in front of a small corner shop. Harry, Master Snape´s assistant, cleaned the cobblestones to the best of his abilities. If the Master spotted straw or, worse, horse droppings in front of his apothecary´s, the boy was in for a beating. Once the boy was sure the state of cleanliness of the pavement would meet his Master´s approvement, he put up some tables and hauled baskets of potion ingredients from the inside of the shop onto them.
The baskets in front of the shop were the Master´s most important source of income. Not every witch or wizard had time to dry the herbs and fungi they needed for their everyday brewing themselves. Some days Harry even had to go to the attic for new loads of camomile or oak leaves. In summer, the shop was often closed in the afternoon when Master Snape and his boys went out to collect the potion ingredients the woods around Hogsmeade offered.
Last year, Master Snape had come to an agreement with Godric Gryffindor, the headmaster of the wizarding school up on the hill. Master Snape and his assistants got permission to collect ingredients in the school forest in exchange for a considerable discount on the school´s purchases at the apothecary´s.
The school forest offered not only herbs, but also ingredients from magical creatures such as unicorn hair or bowtruckle droppings. Last year the master had even found a horn of a unicorn! He had carried it back to the house hidden under his long black cloak and used it only for his own brewing.
The readymade potions were the second, smaller branch of the master´s business. He offered a large variety of brews. Most of them were too expensive for the average witch or wizard, but the rich came from all over the country to get Master Snape´s first class potions when one of their loved ones was ill.
When Harry was finished with the tables, he opened the shutters of the shop and started dusting the shelves. He was nearly finished when his master´s other assistant, Draco, arrived.
"I hope you didn´t break anything," sneered the blond.
Draco was the same age as Harry, but taller by nearly a head. Although he had been with them for only a year, Draco was the master´s first assistant. Before the boy had been orphaned, his parents had been among the Master´s more wealthy customers. When Lord and Lady Malfoy had died – the first in a fight with a more skilled and determined wizard and the second with the wizard flu – Draco had been sold by his father´s younger brother, the new Lord.
The blond had been lucky that Master Snape had come by – he rarely delivered a potion, but the Malfoys were good customers – and bought him, for the other bidders didn´t look as if they had a position as shop assistant in mind for the child.
Draco had perfect manners, was good at small talk and quite a sight with his pale skin, long blond hair, light eyes and long soft fingers. He was the ideal shop assistant. What was even better, the boy had been taught the basics of potion brewing as his parents had intended to send him to Gryffindor´s new wizarding school when he was old enough.
Going to Hogwarts was out of the question now, the school was far too expensive for a Hogsmeade merchant, but work at an apothecary´s was honourable and fit to earn a good living.
Harry had been with Master Snape for as long as he remembered. The Master said that Harry´s family had been attacked by an evil wizard – Harry had a lightning bolt scar on his forehead which was supposed to be the visible sign of the attack – and his parents had died protecting him. Harry had spent a year at an orphanage before Master Snape had taken him in.
Harry´s hair was as black as the Master´s and he was often mistaken for the Master´s son. Sometimes Harry thought that the childless man had chosen him of all the children at the orphanage for that reason. He even had allowed himself to hope to one day become the man´s heir. But now that Draco was here – perfect Draco knowing how to read and write – that was no longer an option. Ever since the blond had arrived, Harry had been the cleaning boy.
Harry was sent to the shop without breakfast to clean and prepare it for the day. Harry carried the heavy baskets and barrels. Harry spent hours cutting the Master´s ingredients and stirring potions for him.
Draco stood in the shop as if he owned it already. He sold ingredients, inquired witches after the wellbeing of their loved ones, talked them into buying this remedy or that and handled the money, a thing that Harry had never been allowed.
Harry finished his dusting before he left Draco to deal with the customers, a plump witch with red hair and old Mr. Baxter from up the street that particular morning, and went to the big room in the back of the house where Master Snape used to brew his potions. Harry set up a small cauldron and added a number of different herbs to it. As soon as it was simmering, he hurried to the bakery to get a loaf of bread.
Will Stoneflour himself handed Harry his loaf and with a tiny wink of his left eye he added – like every day – a small scone which he never charged for. Harry carried his small load back to the laboratory where he cut three slices of bread and filled three cups with the infusion he had made. He waited until the shop was empty before he brought Draco his cup and bread.
When Harry returned to his own breakfast, Master Snape was already there. He motioned Harry to sit with him. The boy put a cup and a small plate with bread and the scone in front of his master before he sat down with his own meal. Master Snape hid a smile when he saw the scone. Master Stoneflour had asked him whether it was alright if he treated the hardworking boy with sweets and Master Snape had granted permission. Ever since then he had found a scone he didn´t have to pay for on his plate every morning.
"Here, Harry," the potions master broke the scone in two and handed the bigger piece to the boy, "you know I can´t stomach so much sweet cake. Help me eat it."
The boy beamed at him, like every day. "Don´t you think I should share with Draco?" he asked doubtfully.
The Master made a dismissive gesture. "Draco is busy and he hasn´t got a sweet tooth anyway."
Their breakfast finished, the man and boy turned to the work at hand. The Master explained which potions he intended to make and Harry rushed to get the right ingredients for him and then spent several hours cutting daisy roots, skinning beetroots (his hands were never going to be clean again) and crushing mustard seeds.
At lunch – more herb infusion and bread – Draco complained about a hole in his right shoe. He raised his leg as far as it would go and wriggled his toes. And really, there was a hole. Harry could see Draco´s toes.
"I see," agreed the Master. He looked over the workbenches. "The potions can simmer on their own for an hour and few shop around lunch. We will go to the shoemaker. Harry, keep an eye on the shop. If a customer asks for something you don´t know, tell them to wait for me."
Harry squared his shoulders with pride. It was the first time his Master trusted him with the shop! He followed the Master and Draco to the front room and while the two went outside, Harry took what was usually Draco´s position.
Keeping the shop was more boring than Harry would have guessed. Maybe he had been proud without reason. The shop was empty. No customers were around in the midday heat. Master Snape could have left the shop completely unattended and it wouldn´t have made a difference.
Harry couldn´t stand the boredom for long. He went to the back room to get a cloth. If he had to spend the time his Master was absent in the shop, he could at least polish some of the vials on display.
When the boy returned, he started. A smallish wizard in a hooded cloak stood in front of the counter. Hastily Harry hid the cleaning cloth in a pocket of his robes.
"Good day, Sir," he greeted the customer. "What can I do for you?"
The strange wizard scrutinized Harry from under his hood. "A child keeps the shop? Does the child brew the draughts?" he asked in a hushed voice.
"My Master brews the potions," Harry explained politely. "He had to go out, but he will be back soon if you prefer to speak to him. I can get you a chair to wait."
"That won´t be necessary. The child can sell me my herbs."
"What do you need, Sir?" For once Harry was glad he had listened how Draco handled the business. "All our ingredients are either fresh or expertly preserved."
"The root of a daisy, harvested at the new moon," said the small wizard. He put a small basket on the counter for Harry to put his purchase into. "A spoonful of bat teeth, half a hair of a unicorn and five thorns of a white rose."
"Do you need root of ivy, Sir?" Harry asked. Together with the ingredients the wizard had asked for, root of ivy would make a powerful salve to heal smaller wounds. Master Severus brewed it once a week, sometimes twice. It was one of the cheaper potions he made, one of the few most people of Hogsmeade bought instead of making it themselves.
"Indeed!" cried the wizard. "So, you know what I´m going to make?"
"Wound salve?" Harry asked.
"The child is apt in potioneering!" the stranger cried merrily.
"Oh no, Sir," Harry said politely. "I only help my Master cut the roots when he makes it."
The stranger nodded and took his basket. "How much do I owe you, child?"
Harry added up the amount of money the ingredients cost. "Two sickles and a knut, Sir," he demanded politely.
"Oh," the wizard put his basket back onto the counter sadly. "I have only two sickles. Please, take back for the knut."
"But if I take any of the ingredients back, you can´t make your salve," Harry pointed out. "Why don´t you bring the knut next time you come by?" He had heard Draco say it to customers.
"You are a very kind boy," said the wizard. "I tell you what. I´ll give you something for the knut as I´m not sure I will ever travel through this village again." He rummaged in his pocket and put a limp onion on the counter. "It´s magical," he whispered in a colluding voice. "Plant it in a pot and water it well. When it blooms, it will bring you happiness. But when it sings it will seal your good fortune."
That said, the wizard took his basket and left without looking back. Harry was still staring at the onion, when Master Snape and Draco returned. Draco laughed at Harry for buying a half-dead onion for a knut, but Master Snape told Harry to go ahead and plant it like the wizard had said.
"If it neither blooms nor sings," he smiled, "we can at least use it for soup."
Harry was glad his Master wasn´t cross with him and hurried to the small garden behind the house where they grew some of their ingredients. He found a small pot and filled it with soil.
"I hope you like your new home," he told the onion. "And I hope you grow to be big enough to make a good soup." He had no hope that the onion would bloom or sing, for who would sell a truely magical plant for only a knut?
Harry asked Master Snape for permission to put the pot with the onion on the sill of the lab window. It was light, but not too sunny and if the onion stood there, he certainly wasn´t going to forget watering it. The Master allowed it and so the onion found its place between pots of basil, rosemary and petunias, which the Master kept there to be used fresh in his brews.
The little onion recovered soon. Its leaves looked juicy and healthy under Harry´s care, but the onion didn´t grow. The boy watered the plant twice a day – though never too much – and even gave it a drop of Master Snape´s trademark plant growth booster (he had called it fertiliser in the beginning, but the sales figures had nearly tripled since he had changed the name).
The summer went by, but the onion stayed small. Too small to use it in the kitchen. Harry had a guilty conscience. He had cost Master Snape a knut, and ever since the incident, the man had never trusted him with the shop again. Harry worked extra hard to make it up to his Master, but he felt whatever he did, it wasn´t enough.
What was hardest for the boy was that the Master seemed to ignore the mistake. Usually, Master Snape was very strict and he didn´t hesitate to use the cane when one of the boys did less than his best. Around Halloween Draco received the beating of his lifetime for breaking two vials. Harry had to apply a salve on the other boy´s back twice and Draco wasn´t able to walk without a limp for three days! And here was Harry, having lost money for nothing, and the Master didn´t as much as bat a lid!
When Christmas drew nearer and Harry started thinking about what to make for his Master as a present – the boys never got money to buy anything; if they needed something they told their Master – the boy realised what must be the Master´s plan. Certainly Harry wasn´t going to get any Christmas present that year.
Harry allowed himself to wallow in self pity for about five minutes before he told himself that he deserved that. With a small sigh he turned back to the cotton bags he was attempting to make for his Master and Draco out of his old robes.
Christmas Day rolled around with two big surprises for Harry. The first was to find presents with his name on them – Draco had shown him how to write his name – under the small Christmas tree. The second was that among the presents was a book.
Harry looked at his Master questioningly. The Master knew that Harry couldn´t read! Who should have taught him?
"I think it is time for you to learn," smiled the Master. "Your work is very good and I think we can start to teach you some theory now. I will give you a lesson every evening unless we need to work. You will practice and ask Draco for help if you need it. I expect you to be able to read the book by your birthday."
Harry nodded solemnly. His birthday was at the end of July. Seven months was not much time to learn how to read, but he was going to do his best. He had disappointed his Master enough already.
Draco was a bit jealous, because Harry got a book, but only until he unwrapped a new pair of shoes.
Learning how to read and write increased Harry´s workload vastly. Reading was not so bad. Master Snape was a strict teacher, but Draco enjoyed practicing with Harry once he saw how much the other boy admired his skills. What came really hard to Harry was writing. His hands were calloused from hard work and more used to the crude motions of carrying loads or holding a knife than the delicate movements of handling a quill.
The Master complained about Harry´s untidy handwriting again and again. He even threatened to use the cane. Harry paled. He had tried so hard! The Master saw Harry´s shock, and, realising that the boy really had done his best, muttered something about giving him another chance to do better.
It was around Easter – Harry had mastered about half of the alphabet – that the onion finally showed first signs of growth. Harry was glad. Soon it would be big enough to add to a meal and the knut wasn´t totally wasted.
Harry still sweeped the cobblestone pavement in front of the shop every morning. The difference was that now he could be seen drawing letters in the dirt with his broom before cleaning it away. The second difference was that, thanks to a growth spurt, his work had become much easier. As a result, Harry was finished with his chores earlier than last year. He had changed his routine once he realised it and now went to the bakery first, before starting the infusion for breakfast.
When he returned, the boy put up the small cauldron, then watered his onion and after that sat down to practice writing. He now knew why it was so important to have a beautiful handwriting. The book the Master had given him was a potions text! It contained empty pages for Harry to add recipes or note down changes he had made and he couldn´t very well write into a book if his handwriting was anything but perfect. Otherwise it would mean spoiling the book!
Some time into his practice, Draco would come down and point out which letters were good and which not. When the Master arrived a little later, Harry asked him to remove the not so beautiful letters with his wand and Harry tried to fill in the gaps with better work.
In the beginning, the parchment had been nearly blank after the Master had removed what was not good enough, but nowadays Harry managed to write quite nicely most of the time. The hours of practice finally paid off.
"I think the onion may be big enough to use in a soup soon," Harry said one day in June while he measured out the right amount of cauliflower seeds for the Master. Being able to read had resulted in Harry assisting with the actual brewing and the boy was very proud of that. It was the first time he was allowed something Draco wasn´t, not that the blond cared.
The Master nodded quietly and pointed at the recipe silently. Harry reread the line. "I don´t know this letter, Master," he admitted.
"It´s a Y," said the potions master.
Harry blushed. Of course he did know the letter Y, but this one looked different.
"It´s typical for my great uncle Jasper to use curlicues and flourishes until the text can barely be read," explained the Master. "You should have asked. If you use a wrong ingredient, the outcome can be disastrous. Do you hear the explosions from the castle from time to time? I´m sure they are caused by potions experiments gone awry."
Harry gasped. He wouldn´t have guessed that a potion mistake could cause a sound that carried so far. If that was the case, potion making was quite dangerous! The Master seemed to read his mind.
"Potion making is harmless enough, as long as you do it diligently," he growled.
"Yes, Master," Harry said obediently and concentrated even harder.
A week later, when Harry wanted to water his onion, he was in for a surprise. The onion had grown a lond stem over night and on top of it it carried the most beautiful lilac bloom Harry had ever seen. It consisted of dozens of tiny blossoms on delicate yellow stems, which moved gently in the little breeze that Harry´s breath provided. It looked like the bloom had a life of its own.
"Master!" cried Harry, "Draco! Come quickly!"
The potions master rushed down from the small flat above the shop still in his grey nightshirt. Draco was already dressed, but his feet were bare.
"Look!" cried Harry.
"That´s beautiful, Harry," smiled the Master. "You can be proud of your achievement. Why don´t you put it in front of the shop for everybody to see?"
Draco helped Harry rearrange the baskets on the tables in front of the shop to create a free spot by the door to put his onion in.
Master Stoneflour and Master Perriwinkle came down the road with their sons to look at the apothecary´s newest decoration.
"That´s wonderful, Harry," praised the baker. "I never saw a flower like that."
"It´s strange," said Paris Perriwinkle, the butcher´s son, "when I came here I felt sad because Father wouldn´t let me go to the dance in Aberdeen next week. But since I looked at this flower, I feel happy."
"Now you say it," agreed the older Perriwinkle, "I feel as if there was no sorrow in my life, too."
The others agreed and Master Stoneflour suggested that if the flower indeed had the power to make people happy, Harry should charge them for looking at it.
"I don´t think so," replied Harry. "I think everybody should be allowed to feel happy."
The baker went to Master Snape to discuss what a splendid source of income the happiness flower would be, but Master Snape simply stated that the flower was Harry´s and if the boy wanted to share it for free, it was his decision.
The news of a flower that made people happy when they looked at it spread with the speed of light. Witches and wizards from all over the country came to look and most of them bought something once they were there because they felt it was shabby conduct to only take what the shop offered for free. Harry was more busy than ever bringing ingredients from the attic or the basement and helping Master Snape brew. Nevertheless he never forgot to care for his onion. The spot in front of the shop had more light and heat than the window sill, so he watered the flower not twice but thrice a day.
A week after the bloom had appeared, a witch in bright yellow robes came to the shop. She admired the flower for a very long time before she entered the shop.
"Professor Hufflepuff," Draco greeted the woman merrily. "What can I do for you today?"
"I wish to know who bred the bulbus beatus," smiled the witch.
"The flower." The witch pointed at the door.
"That was Harry," Draco pointed at the boy who was just walking by with a small beaker of water.
The witch followed the boy outside and watched him pouring tiny amounts of water to the onion from all sides.
"Why are you doing it this way? Wouldn´t it be faster to just pour all the water in at once?" she asked when Harry was finished.
"She likes it better that way," the boy replied. "When I do it that way the blossoms dance merrily."
"So, you bred it?"
"No, Madam. I was given it by a stranger. I only planted and watered it."
"How big was it when you got it?"
Harry showed the size of the little plant between his thumb and index. "It stayed like that for more than eight months," he added.
"They are slow growers," agreed the witch.
"You know what it is?" Harry asked curiously. "Nobody could tell so far."
"They are quite rare," nodded the woman. "It takes a herbologist to recognize one. It´s a bulbus beatus, a happy onion. They bloom only once in their lifetime, and many never do. Most of the time they´re taken for common onions and eaten before they´re big enough."
Harry blushed. He had wanted to use his onion for soup after all.
"You were the only one to take care of it? Or did your master help you?"
"No, I did it on my own," Harry said solemnly.
"Ah, Professor Hufflepuff!" Master Snape stepped out of the shop to greet the witch. "You are early for your yearly order."
"I´m not here for that," the witch informed the potions master. "Can we talk somewhere quiet?"
Master Snape led the way to the lab and Harry made a peppermint infusion for the Master and the witch. Obeying a small sign from his Master, he ran to the bakery and returned with a small plate of biscuits, which he placed beside the witch´s cup.
Master Snape and Draco had both called her Professor. So she worked up at the castle and the headmaster was one of their most important customers.
"Your boy seems to be good with plants," Harry heard the witch say when he returned to the ivy leaves he was supposed to cut before lunch. "I offer to take him as my assistant. I could teach him more than you."
Harry´s heart missed a beat. The Master was going to send him away! He had Draco. More than once people had asked why he afforded the luxury of two assistants. Harry scrutinized the witch from the corner of his eye. She looked nice enough with her long red braid and blue eyes. Her taste of robes might need some getting used to, but Harry was sure she´d be a kind mistress. With a barely supressed sigh Harry accepted his fate. The more was he surprised by what the Master said next.
"Harry is like a son for me. I can´t give him to another Master or Mistress. I was going to ask the headmaster to accept him to Hogwarts next year. The boy is clever and eager to learn. I saved some money and I can provide ingredients for free to pay for his schooling."
"I see that you love the boy," replied the witch. "But only the sons and daughters of the most noble houses study at Hogwarts."
"And the most powerful," added Master Snape.
"True," admitted the professor, "but is your boy powerful enough to make up for impure blood and poverty? The headmaster may be ready to overlook those flaws, but not Professor Slytherin. You know that a student has to be accepted by all four founders to be admitted."
Harry heard the conversation as if in a trance. The Master loved him like a son? But the other merchands taught their sons their trade! Harry wasn´t but a handyman. Absentmindedly he added the ivy leaves to the potion the master was brewing and stired.
"Slower," the Master ordered from his seat beside the professor. "Like I showed you last week."
Harry obeyed. There! He was the guy who stired for hours!
"You´re teaching him potions at that young age?" Professor Hufflepuff was taken aback.
"He assisted me for years. It only seemed wise to explain what he was supposed to do."
"But he´s too young!" insisted the professor. "His magic shouldn´t be strong enough to enable him to actually brew!"
"It has been for nearly a year now," Master Snape smiled proudly.
"With your permission I will tell the headmaster and my fellow professors of this." The witch got up from her seat.
"I´d consider it a favour." The Master accompanied the witch through to the shop.
Harry stared at the door, dumbfounded. Brewing? He was actually brewing? He had never realised that. But now that he thought of it, it was he who had weighed the ingredients, prepared them and added them. The Master had given orders from afar while he worked on his own brews, but he had never interfered. Harry smiled. He, Harry, was brewing a potion and his Master loved him like a son.
The thought that the Master wanted him, an orphan, to go to the fancy wizarding school up the hill, warmed Harry´s heart. Of course he knew that it had to remain a dream. The professor had said it. Only the rich kids went there, and even if the Master had saved money to pay for Harry´s schooling, he was hardly rich enough. Maybe Draco´s parents would have been, hadn´t they died before the boy was old enough to defend his heritage against his uncle. But Harry? No, Hogwarts was not for boys like him.
When the Master returned he didn´t comment on the conversation. He wordlessly placed the plate with two leftover biscuits in front of Harry. The boy ate one and brought the second to Draco when the shop was empty.
Two days later, another witch from the school – this one in blue robes – came to the shop. She didn´t pretend that she had come for anything but to see Harry. She asked him to explain how he had obtained the flower.
Harry told her about the hooded stranger and how he had given him the onion instead of the missing knut.
"What did he buy?" asked the professor.
"A new moon daisy root, a spoonful of bat teeth, half a hair of a unicorn, five thorns of a white rose and a small jar of ivy root." Harry ticked them off on his fingers.
"And that costs two sickles and a knut?" the professor asked sternly.
"Yes," replied Harry.
"How did you know that? Your master tells me you´re only learning how to read."
"I hear Draco sell ingredients all day and when the prices are changed, the Master tells us both."
"So you know all prices in the shop by heart?"
Harry nodded. Of course! How else was he to fill in for Draco if the Master needed him to?
"A knut each if you take the dried ones. Two for three knuts if you want them fresh. One for two knuts if you want them skinned."
"A galleon per drop."
"A galleon and two sickles a small vial. We only have small."
"Two spoonfuls for a knut."
The professor seemed to be content. She looked at Harry calculatingly before nodding curtly and leaving the shop.
The next visitor was Godric Gryffindor, the headmaster himself. He stayed outside the shop for nearly an hour and stared at the flower beatifically. The wizard, a huge man with a long brown mane and beard that made people think of a lion, didn´t ask to see Harry. He asked the Master for a private talk and Harry was banned to the shop for the duration of his visit.
Harry busied himself with cleaning the shelves while he wasn´t allowed into the laboratory. He watched Draco serve the customers from the corner of his eye. The blond was so skilled! He knew everything about the locals, Harry didn´t know how he managed to remember that amount of information. He inquired after their families without appearing nosy, always polite, always kind.
Harry couldn´t but admire the ease with which Draco weighed out fairy wings for one witch while chatting with the other without giving any of them the feeling of being left out or being rushed.
The boy was so absorbed in watching the blond that he didn´t pay attention and suddenly the ladder on which he stood to clean the upper shelves toppled over. Harry cried out in surprise and tried to hold onto the shelf, but he was too heavy. The board broke and Harry and dozens of jars and flasks tumbled towards the ground.
Harry shivered with fear. He must have ruined hundreds of galleons worth of potions! What was the Master going to say? He had beaten Draco for breaking two vials! What was he going to do to Harry?
"Are you alright?" Draco hurried to Harry´s side, abandoning the two witches at the counter.
"Yes!" squealed Harry, "go and do your job!" It wouldn´t do to earn Draco a punishment, too.
The door to the lab opened and the Master appeared to look what had caused the noise. Professor Gryffindor stood behind him, craning his neck to see better.
"Harry!" Master Snape was by Harry´s side in an instant. "Are you hurt?"
"I don´t think so," Harry said in a small voice. "But the potions!"
The Master picked a vial up. "It seems to have survived the fall," he stated. He looked at another. "As has this one."
"It was very wise of you to protect the glassware with spells," Professor Gryffindor pointed out.
"I didn´t," Master Snape was puzzled.
Professor Gryffindor frowned. "Let me see." He knelt beside Master Snape and Harry and started to pick up jars, flasks and vials. Not a single one was broken. The wizard looked up at the broken shelf.
"I strongly recommend you buy a proper wand for this boy," he muttered before he left the shop.
"That was quite something," Draco said at dinner. Harry had made a stew of beetroot and – as a special treat – a little bacon which Paris Perriwinkle had brought as a thank-you for being allowed to look at the flower whenever he wanted. "I wish I could do magic like that."
"Magic?" Harry asked.
Master Snape smiled. "You didn´t think all those jars remained undemaged by pure chance, did you?"
"Not?" piped the dark-haired boy.
"Harry, what did you think when you fell?"
Harry swallowed hard. "That I was going to cost you a fortune and that you were," he hesitated, "going to be very unhappy with me."
"See," the Master cried triumphantly, "you were scared of being punished and your magic protected the glassware for you." The man didn´t think there was something wrong with Harry worrying more about some jars than his bones. "Professor Gryffindors agrees that your talents are exceptional!"
"Which won´t be enough to be allowed to Hogwarts," Draco pointed out, sounding a bit sad for the other boy. "One of the founders is said to insist on purity of blood which not even Merlin himself would have been able to meet."
Master Snape nodded. "Professor Slytherin is very strict when it comes to admitting students to Hogwarts, but even if Harry won´t be allowed there, it is good to know that his magic is so strong. Don´t worry Harry, if you work hard, I will teach you everything I know. And you, too, Draco."
The boys thanked their master. A bit of home-schooling was more than most orphans could hope for. Usually magical children were taken in by their kin – nobody would leave a magical child with muggles! – but those unfortunate enough to stay behind as the last of their lines without magical relatives to care for them usually ended up uneducated, with their magic reduced to raw power, among muggles. Unfocused, their magic normally disappeared within two or three generations, as most of them were forced to marry muggles if they wanted a family. From time to time there were rumours of muggle families producing a witch or wizard generations after they had taken in a magical orphan, but those children were scorned upon by most magical folks because their magic was as unfocussed and untrained as magical orphans´.
After dinner Harry went down to water his flower before he went to bed. That night he dreamed of wands and magical learning.
It was two weaks later that Professor Slytherin, a tall wizard with short black hair and a goatie in splendid green robes, walked into the village of Hogsmeade. Of course he was not going to the apothecary´s although he could do with some herbs for the last potions lessons of the year. No, his colleagues had pestered him about the little shop assistant for weeks and he, proud pureblood that he was, was not going to waste his time on a boy from a muggle orphanage, even if he had a bit of magic. For all they knew about the child he could be muggleborn!
No, Salazar Slytherin had different plans for that day. His only treasure, a heavy gold locket he had gotten from a dear friend was damaged. A student had spoiled a potion (sometimes it was amazing how clumsy a child grown up with magic could be) so spectacularly that the caudron had burst into pieces. One of the shards would have hit – and possibly killed – professor Slytherin, hadn´t it been for the locket he had been wearing, which had now a nasty dent.
The wizard didn´t dare repair it with magic for fear of destroying the protective spells his friend had cast on the piece of jewelry. Not that he didn´t know enough protective spells himself, but the friend was dead and as it was with most dead people that had only made him dearer to the wizard.
Luckily there was a goldsmith in Hogsmeade, and it was his house that was the professor´s goal.
The man hurried along the street, not looking left or right, only when he came back an hour later, did he look at the other shops in the street. He bought a new belt and a leather pouch to carry his money. The successful repair of his locket – it looked as good as new and the spells were still intact – had certainly improved his mood. When he neared the small corner shop, he thought he might as well walk in and buy what he needed.
The shop was under the care of a fair boy, who had his long blond hair bound in a ponytail. Professor Slytherin knew him. It was the same boy which called for his master every time the professor came to place an order for Hogwarts. This time it was the same.
As soon as the wizard entered the shop, Draco called for the Master. Master Snape instructed somebody to take care of his potions until he was back in the back room. The professor smiled. It was high time that the other potions master had acquired a proper assistant. The small shop was flourishing thanks to the high quality of the man´s potions and Slytherin couldn´t imagine how he managed to do all the necessary work alone.
"Professor," Master Snape smiled. "What a pleasure. What do you need?"
Salazar Slytherin smiled back. It pleased him that the man didn´t assume he had come to see the boy or the mysterious magical flower.
"Master Snape," Slytherin hinted a bow. "It´s some of your herbs I require. One of my boys up at the castle spoiled the little I had left." He listed what he needed. The blond boy started to weigh out the easier things like peppermint or bark of birch. Master Snape handed the professor a small basket and invited him to choose some of the things he needed from the tables in front of the shop.
"Harry!" the man cried after the professor had turned to the bundles of mistletoe and dried arnica. "Bring a fresh sack of camomile. The old one is nearly empty."
A little later, a small dark-haired boy stepped out of the shop with a cotton sack full of dried camomile flowers. He apologized to the professor for the inconvenience and replaced the nearly empty sack with the new one.
Slytherin was surprised that the old camomiles didn´t go into the new sack.
"What are you doing with the leftover camomiles, boy?" he asked sternly.
"We´re making burn salve," replied Harry. "We can use them up in the lab."
The professor nodded and followed the boy into the shop to get a small bag for the camomiles he intended to buy.
Once he had found what he needed, Professor Slytherin enjoyed a chat with Master Snape. The two potions masters stood in a quiet corner of the shop where they wouldn´t be in the way of other customers and discussed the benefit of silver knives, a tool only recently introduced to potioneering.
Slytherin was just going to leave when the dark-haired boy walked by with a small beaker. Relaxed and curious, Slytherin allowed himself to follow the small figure and watch as the boy watered the most beautiful flower the professor had ever seen. He may not be interested in the boy who had managed to nurse the plant to blooming – a very difficult task if Hufflepuff, the Hogwarts herbology teacher, was to be believed – but the flower itself was certainly worth the walk down from the castle.
The green-clad wizard smiled contently. He couldn´t say whether the flower made people happy for he had been happy before due the repair of his treasure. He turned on his heel and set out for the castle.
Barely had he walked three steps that the air was filled with the sound of hundred angels singing. Slytherin turned to see what it was and found the boy standing petrified, staring at the singing flower. Each tiny blossom sported a mouth and sang so sweetly it couldn´t be described by any other word than devine.
Master Snape and the blond boy stepped out of the shop, the merchands and town people came running from all around. Everybody was mesmerised by the singing flower but Salazar Slytherin couldn´t but stare at the boy.
Black hair, round face, snub nose. The boy was the spitting image of James! The only thing wrong were the eyes. Green like Lily´s, James´s wife´s. The wizard clutched at his locket. Was it true? Was this child the missing Potter heir? His friend had been travelling with his family when they had been attacked. James and Lily´s bodies had been found, but not little Harry´s. They had searched for a week and then assumed that the child had fallen victim to beasts of prey.
The flower sang for ten minutes. When it stopped the blossoms fell from their stems and Harry, being a good apothecary´s assistant hurried to pick them up. One could never know what they were good for. The plant itself blackened. It was dead.
"That was wonderful!" cried the old Stoneflour.
The crowd agreed and the shoemaker who had sold Slytherin his new belt earlier said it was a privilege hearing it.
Slytherin returned to the shop when the crowd had dissolved and asked Master Snape to see the boy. The Master called for him and the boy called back he would be out in two minutes, but if he didn´t stir the salve now it would be spoiled! Could it be? A child so young brewed potions?
"His magic is very strong," Master Snape gave an explanation without being asked.
Those were the longest two minutes in Salazar Slytherin´s life. Once the boy entered the shop, he was sure.
"You are Harry Potter!" he cried. "I found you!"
"My name is Harry," agreed the boy. "But I don´t know my family´s name. I´m an orphan."
"I got him from an orphanage," confirmed Master Snape. "I felt I needed a boy to teach my trade and when I saw him I felt he had magic. And his eyes reminded me of an old friend."
"I swear," cried Salazar, "he´s Harry Potter, son of James. Everybody who knew James will agree."
The next few days were very exciting for Harry. The Master and professor Slytherin took him to London, where the goblins of Gringott´s allowed him to press his hand against the lock of the Potter family vault. It opened immediately and Harry was confirmed the heir to the Potter fortune.
The professor wanted to become Harry´s guardian, but when the Council of the Elders asked Harry, he told them that Master Snape had taken good care of him so far and the Master was confirmed Harry´s guardian.
Professor Slytherin was furious to hear it but calmed down when he got permission to see his old friend´s son whenever he liked.
In September, Harry started his education at Hogwarts. He was the only student who came to the castle only for lessons, but Harry refused to live so close to his family and not see them daily.
Harry became a very powerful wizard. When he had finished his education, he returned to Master Snape to help him with his brewing.
Draco was home-schooled, but Harry passed on as much knowledge as he could to the blond.
Master Snape´s boys stayed at the small corner shop for the rest of their lives, Harry as the potions master and Draco as the business man. It was their eldest sons who fought so badly over money that the Potters and the Malfoys no longer worked together. Each family moved to a different part of Britain and forgot about the other.
Until, thousand years later, fate led Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy to the same robes shop in Diagon Alley.