A Wand For Willow
“Albus, the girl is quite hopeless.” Minerva stood before Dumbledore in his office, her hands crossed over her chest and her eyes fixed on her old friend. “Why did you bring her here? She’s miserable. She couldn’t turn a broomstick into a branding iron if her life depended on it.”
Albus leaned back in his chair behind his desk, his eyes twinkling in amusement with Minerva’s distress. “How long have you been working with her, Minerva?”
“Four days.” Minerva gave Albus an exasperated glare. “That child is a squib. Or a muggle, or something. She doesn’t have any magic. Why are we even trying?”
“She’s completely drained, Minerva, I tell you, when she recovers, she will have magic to spare.” Albus scratched his beard thoughtfully. “Perhaps we are going about this the wrong way. I hoped that as she recovered bits of her magic, you and Flitwick could help her with control. But there is no way for her to control magic that she cannot access now. There’s no point to taking her to Ollivander until she’s completely recovered her powers. I’m certain the loaner wand the school is supplying is inappropriate.”
The girl in question was wandering the halls of Hogwarts, trailed by a worried ghost who looked suspiciously like John Cleese. She wore black robes over a standard Hogwarts uniform and headed unerringly for the dungeon potions classroom. When she reached it, she slid silently into a second row table and fixed her eyes on the black-haired professor who worked efficiently behind the main desk. She had spent hours in this room, watching the unusually acerbic man, never asking a question, just admiring his technique. It was almost like observing Buffy in training – a master at his art, though his art may not have been so much life and death as hers. The first day, he had made a fairly standard healing potion. It was one Giles had encouraged her to try, though not in such large quantities. She had also made several variants on it to key it to a slayer. The variant that the professor had made was the one she and Tara would use whenever they were injured. Not that it would have helped with the last injury. Nothing could have helped with that. In the last week, he’d made several potions she hadn’t tried before, but she recognized the ingredients and was completely absorbed by watching his actions. It took her mind off things, and the dark cool dungeon classroom suited her mood.
Today, he was making wolfsbane potion. He was at the second stage, from the smell and the green mist being emitted. He was making Finnmare’s version, one that she had made twice for Oz and then abandoned in favor a potion formula she had discovered in a witch’s journal she ordered from England. She could make wolfsbane potion in her sleep, so after ten minutes of watching to she turned to her satchel, pulling out two books she had obtained from the library and began reading, observing the potions master in her peripheral vision in case he made any unexpected changes to the potion.
Severus Snape glanced up from his potion making. He hated to make wolfsbane potion; the stench was noxious. The fact that he was making it for Lupin only added to his dislike. When he noticed his sometime observer, his scowl became somewhat darker. She was a visitor, according to Albus, and to be treated with courtesy. She had free reign over the castle and grounds. She had not spoken a word to anyone that he could see in the two weeks since she arrived. The girl looked like a Weasley, but her features were somewhat finer, and her hair more brick red than pumpkin orange. She came, sat at the empty Gryffindor table for meals, obtained and devoured books by the dozen from the library, and sat in his classroom, silent, occasionally reading, but mostly watching his actions carefully. She had what must be a muggle-style notebook and quill, and took notes from time to time. He had not seen a wand on her person, and had no idea if she was muggle, squib, or witch. For that matter, Albus had not deigned to introduce her to anybody except Minerva and Flitwick. Apparently they were attempting to instruct her, but from their whisperings in the staff room, they were failing miserably. He walked over to where she was standing – the potion required another four thousands two hundred and thirty-three slow stirs, and the counter was clearly visible on his desk. He looked over her shoulder to see what she had just written in her notebook. One side said “Finnmare’s wolfsbane potion – 2nd stage, standard version with mugroot,” the other page was a list of woods: ebony, live oak, mahogany, willow, and redwood, and under the word ‘cores,’ several rather unusual core components. Severus read them aloud. “Angel’s blood, werewolf hair, phoenix feather, and slayer’s hair. Who or what is a D’hoffryn?”
The girl answered mindlessly. “Someone I know.” She retrieved a vial of a green viscous fluid from her pocket. “I have his blood here. He at least answers requests by owl. Unlike Angel.” She grumbled. “I should try Spike. I bet he’d answer an owl. He’d probably not begrudge the blood, especially if I traded like for like. Course, knowing me, I’d do better with Dru.” The girl gave a bitter choking laugh and returned to her notes. “Maybe I should owl her. I could invite her to dinner.”
Snape bent over her notes, studying them more closely. The matches were unusual, but not entirely unacceptable. He failed to recognize the blood in the vial, but he supposed it was some magical creature. “I’m sure Albus could obtain a phoenix feather for you.”
“From Fawkes? Perhaps, but that core wouldn’t suit me. I was thinking of merging it with the live oak or rowan for Buffy. And I wouldn’t want to send her my first attempt.” She snorted. “Maybe I could send an owl to Giles. He could get some of Dawn’s hair or blood. I wonder what sort of wand that would make. What sort of wood would suit her? Maybe rosewood? Sequoia? There’s a nice cluster of old redwoods north of San Francisco, perhaps the coven there could retrieve a wand base. She’d need something really old and dense to match her.” Willow flipped some pages in the book in front of her. “Lebanese cedar? That could be interesting.”
Snape listened to her half-mindless babble with mild amusement, which he covered with his usual scowl. “There’s an easier way to obtain wand bases.” He ran his finger down her list. “Ollivander would have blanks for all of these.”
“Ollivander? That’s the name of the man Albus wants to take me to. He said I’d have to wait until my powers are back. That means another week.” The girl looked up at the ceiling as if she could see something up there besides stone arches and wood beams.
Snape was curious. “Why a week?”
“Full moon. I can feel them coming back, but they aren’t there yet. Not really.” Willow returned to her books, grumbling under her breath. “Serves me right, stupid idiot girl.” She slammed the books closed. “What did Giles call me? Rank arrogant amateur. I hate feeling helpless.”
“You appear to know your potions.” Snape took the muggle notebook from her hands and flipped through the pages. Each potion he had made over the past ten days was carefully noted and any deviation from the normal routine was given as well as a hypothesis for why. The guesses were mostly correct.
“I’ve made wolfsbane too many times. I could make it in my sleep. I usually make Coxwaddle’s variation on Snape’s potion though. Seems to work better.” Willow shrugged. “But you’re out of night-blooming flimswart. I saw some near the east entrance to the Forbidden Forest last night. I could gather it for you after sundown. Probably enough there for eight or nine batches.”
“Do you always babble?” Snape took her notebook up to his desk and made some minor corrections to it with his quill.
“I don’t think I’ve said anything but wingardium leviosa for the last two weeks. Which is stupid, because it doesn’t do anything. What is supposed to do?”
Snape continued making corrections. “Levitate.”
“Oh.” Willow put a hand above the muggle quill on her desk and screwed up her face in concentration. Sweat beaded on her forehead. The wooden quill jumped the six inches from her desk to her hand. “Like that? Goddess, that was hard.” Willow slumped in her seat.
“Yes.” Snape fell into his seat. “Sweet Merlin. You’re a wandless witch.”
“Wicca.” Willow corrected.
“Severus.” He brought the corrected notebook to her desk, dropping it in front of her. He held out a long slender-fingered hand. “How old are you, Wicca?”
“My name is Willow. I’m twenty. The magic I practice is Wicca.” She looked over his changes in her notes. “But Minerva is determined to turn me into a ‘proper’ witch. Who the hell cares about being a proper witch?”
Snape looked down at the redheaded girl. “If you want to find employment in the wizarding world, you’ll need a wand to be a proper witch.”
“I don’t care about the wizarding world. I just want to go home.” Willow shuddered in her seat pulling her knees up to her chest, tears falling down her cheeks. “But home’s gone. There's no home without Tara.”