"Dad, have you seen Priscilla's breakfast?" eleven-year-old Teddie Green called from the kitchen of the one-story house she shared with her parents and younger brother. "I could've sworn I left it on the side."
Robert Green, a tall red-headed man with green eyes and freckles entered the room. He was cleaning his glasses on his shirt as he considered his eldest child. "I moved them to the cupboard," he said, opening the door and taking out a bag of defrosted rodents.
"Oh," Teddie said. She grabbed the bag and rushed past her father, into the living room. "You should wear the red tie, Dad. Red means power."
Robert chuckled and looked down at the two ties over his arm. His wife, Rose, had taken his youngest child, Mason, to the doctors and was not home to help him pick out a tie. Today he had a meeting at work to discuss a possible promotion within the business.
"Do you think I can handle that much power?" Robert asked.
"Is that a trick question?" Teddie asked. She was stood in front of a large tank, within which a pale brown snake lay curled in a ball. The snake lifted its head and flickered its tongue against the glass. "Morning, baby, you hungry?"
The snake nodded its head and looked towards the lid.
"It's scary to think that she understands you," Robert said, fixing his tie as he watched his daughter open the tank and lower a rat inside. She dropped it with a thud, and immediately the snake swooped down on it.
Teddie grinned and re-closed the tank. "You said the same thing when I asked you for a pet," she teased.
"Yes, but it was an odd request," Robert defended. "Most children want a pet cat or dog, but not my daughter. No, my daughter asks for a snake."
"What? Snakes are easier to look after," Teddie said. "They're not overly expensive like cats and dogs, and they even find their own food. The only thing we have to make sure about is that they're blood and body temperature doesn't rise or drop. No big deal."
Robert shook his head, but couldn't help smile.
Teddie turned back to the tank just as Priscilla swallowed the rat. "Who's a good girl?" she cooed. The snake curled itself into a ball, and started to digest its breakfast.
"Are you sure you're going to be okay today?" Robert asked. "I can always ask Caroline to watch you, if you like?"
"I'll be okay, Dad," Teddie said. "I'm just going to finish feeding the snakes, and then probably hang out watching TV. Besides, Mum should be back soon with my new uniform." She scrunched up her nose, and then stopped. "Sorry."
Robert sighed and squatted down in front of his daughter. "Teddie, honey, I know you aren't excited about starting your new school, but it's the only one that your mother and I could find on such short notice," he said.
"I'm sorry about that, again," Teddie apologised.
"It's not your fault," Robert said, reassuringly. "The school was wrong to expel you. There is no way you could've caused that accident, so please stop blaming yourself."
Teddie stared into her father's eyes, and then nodded. Robert smiled, kissed her forehead, and then straightened up. His watch beeped and he checked the time.
"Good luck, Dad, you've got this in the bag," Teddie encouraged.
"Thanks, honey," Robert said. He took a deep breath and walked out of the room.
The hallway was nothing more than a narrow pathway with the front door at one end, and the stairway leading to the bedrooms. On one wall was a small wooden strip, where several coats hung, and opposite was a small table with a bowl on top. Inside the bowl was a set of car keys.
Teddie followed her father. "What time is your meeting?" she asked.
"Two hours," Robert answered.
"Will you be home tonight?"
"I hope so."
Teddie nodded and watched as her father shrugged into his jacket. "Dad? What if something bad happens at this new school? Will I be punished then?" she asked.
"No, Teddie, you will not be punished," Robert answered. "Remember what your mother and I told you. You've done nothing wrong. You're not at fault here."
"Then why do I keep getting expelled?"
Robert put his hand on her shoulder. "Because they don't understand you," he said. "You're special, Teddie, remember that."
Teddie nodded and Robert smiled. He reached for his briefcase, just as the doorbell rang.
"Who in the world could that be?" Robert asked. He reached for the door handle, and pulled the frame inwards revealing their visitor.
Teddie's eyes widened as their neighbour, Severus Snape, stood on the other side.
"Severus," Robert said, also surprised. "What do we owe the pleasure?"
"This isn't a social call," Snape said, his black glittering gaze sweeping from father to daughter. He reached into his jacket pocket and removed a parchment envelope from inside. He handed it to Robert, who, after checking the name, handed it to Teddie.
15 Spinner's End
Teddie frowned and looked up at both men. "I never get mail," she said.
"Open it," said Robert, checking his watch again.
"Dad, you need to go," Teddie said, catching him. "This meeting is important to you. Mum will be back within an hour, I'll be fine until she returns."
"I have time, Teddie," Robert said. "Go on, open your letter."
Teddie looked down at the envelope and turned it over in her hands, revealing a red wax seal. "Whoa," she whispered, sliding her finger under the flap, and popping it open. She emptied the contents into her hands, and set the empty envelope on the table.
"What does it say?" Robert asked.
"Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…" Teddie looked up at Snape. "Is this some kind of joke?"
"Do I look like the kind of man that makes jokes, Miss Green?" Snape asked.
Teddie glared at him before glancing back at the letter. Her gaze skimmed the contents of her acceptance letter, and she quickly turned to the second piece of parchment, revealing a list of books and other essentials.
"London?" Teddie asked, looking up for a third time. "The schools in London?"
"Scotland, actually," Snape corrected. "Diagon Alley, where you shall buy your supplies is located in London."
"Diagon Alley?" Robert repeated. "Is that even a real place?"
Teddie shrugged and looked back at her letter. "So, according to this, I'm a Witch?" she asked. She looked up at Snape. "Does that make you a Warlock?"
Snape glared at Teddie. "A Wizard, actually," he corrected.
"Witches and Wizards? Sounds like something out of one of the fantasy novels my brother reads," Teddie said.
"Wait a second, I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this," said Robert. "My daughter's a witch?"
Snape nodded. "You remember all those times she was sent home from school, or when she was expelled?" he asked.
"You're saying that was magic?" Robert asked.
"Precisely," Snape confirmed.
"So it was my fault?" Teddie asked. "All the people that got hurt during the last 'accident', that really was my fault?"
Robert squeezed her shoulder. "Of course not, Teddie, remember, you are special," he said. He turned to Snape and glared at the man.
"Your father is right, Miss Green, you are… special," Snape agreed. "Accidental magic is often seen in untrained witches and wizards. At Hogwarts you will be trained to control your source of power during highly emotional times."
Teddie's eyes skimmed the school supplies. "These look very expensive," she said, looking up at her dad. She wasn't about to ask him for money to let her go to a boarding school. Her parents could barely afford to send her and her brother to separate public schools.
"There are second-hand bookstores within Diagon Alley," Snape informed the father-daughter pair. "I used my fair share when I attended Hogwarts. They'll be half the price of the regular books."
Robert considered his daughter's letter and then looked to Teddie. "Ted, I -" he started.
"It's okay, Dad, I don't have to go," Teddie said, shaking her head.
"I was just about to say that I think you should," said Robert. "Hopefully with this promotion, I shall be able to afford it better than I can now."
Teddie's face lit up and she threw her arms around her father.
Robert chuckled and patted her head. "But I cannot come to London with you, I'm afraid," he apologised. "If I don't get to work -"
"Go," said Teddie. "I'll ask Mum to come with me."
"When does the school year start at Hogwarts?" Robert asked Snape.
"September 1st," Snape replied.
"That's in three days!" Teddie exclaimed. "That's not nearly enough time to get everything."
Snape considered her carefully. "If your father is willing, Miss Green, I shall offer my servitude and take you to Diagon Alley, myself," he said.
"Dad?" Teddie asked her father.
Robert hesitated, looking between the two. He had known Severus since he was a child. The two had gone to primary school together and had grown up opposite one another for years. But that didn't mean he trusted him entirely, especially not with his daughter.
"I'll be okay, Dad," Teddie assured her father.
"Leave a note for your mother," Robert said. "She'll panic if she comes home and neither one of us are here."
Teddie nodded and dashed into the living room.
Robert turned to Snape. "I'm warning you, Severus," he said. "She and Mason mean the world to me and Rose. If she comes back and there is one strand of hair out of place, so help me god."
"You have my word, Robert, she shall not be harmed," Snape promised.
"Ready," Teddie said, returning. She was pulling on a jacket and adjusting a black bracelet around her wrist. "I just told Mum that I was school shopping. I think it's best that we explain to her all this in person, she'll probably think I'm playing a prank or something."
"Good idea," Robert agreed. He ushered her out the door, behind Severus, and followed her closely. "Teddie, I'm only going to tell you this once."
"Listen to Mr Snape," Teddie said, nodding. "I know, and I will. I promise. Good luck at your meeting, Dad." She reached up to press a kiss to his cheek and then stepped away.
Robert kissed her forehead and then clambered into his beat up old Audi 80 Coupe. He waved and pulled off, disappearing down the battered road and disappearing at the corner.
Teddie watched him leave and then turned to Snape. "How are we getting to London?" she asked.
"Follow me," Snape said. "I'm going to teach you your first lesson of magical transportation."
Teddie followed Snape down the street to his house. She hesitated on the doorstep and then hurried inside. No one had been inside Snape's house, and many kids her age were afraid of him, often calling him 'Sneaky Snape' because of his tendencies to sneak around.
"Um, why are we in front of your fireplace?" Teddie asked, stepping through into his living room. It was designed exactly the same as her own, except it didn't have a huge snake tank next to the window.
"This is connected to the Floo Network," Snape said. "It's used to transport between different fireplaces, all of them connected together like a honeycomb."
"So, it's like a beehive?"
"In a way, yes," Snape nodded. He took a small pot from the mantle and opened the lid, revealing a grey glittering powder inside. "This is Floo Powder. We will use it to travel. Now, since this is your first time, we'll travel together. Here, step inside the grate."
"Excuse me?" Teddy asked, startled.
"Trust me," Snape said, offering her a pointed look.
Teddie bit her lip and stepped into the fireplace. Snape joined her, setting the pot back on the mantle and holding out his arm. "Hold on tight," he told her.
Teddie did as instructed and, with a shout of "Diagon Alley!" he dropped the powder from his palm onto the floor. Green flames whipped around the pair, and Teddie squeaked, closing her eyes and burying her face into Snape's arm.
Teddie felt herself stumbled forward as her feet met solid ground.
"Not bad," Snape said.
Teddie opened her eyes and looked around. "This is definitely not your living room," she said, her gaze sweeping from the lingering people sitting at wooden tables throughout the room.
"No. This is the Leaky Cauldron," Snape said. "It's one of the gateways between the Muggle and Wizarding world."
"One of the gateways?" Teddie asked.
"There are several gateways throughout the Muggle world," Severus said, leading Teddie through the pub. They reached the back door and stepped through into a rundown alley, blocked by a large cobbled wall.
Teddie frowned and looked around. "Um, I think this is a dead end," she said, stating the obvious.
"Remember what I just said," Snape told her. He reached in his jacket and this time pulled out a slender black stick.
Teddie watched him, fascinated.
Snape raised the stick and tapped the bricks before him. Three up and two across. He did this three times. On the third time, the brick wall opened up to reveal an archway.
The archway lead through into a long, crooked, cobblestone road that twisted and turned out of sight. Has they stepped through, Teddie looked over her shoulder to see the archway disappear from sight.
Snape placed his hand on Teddie's shoulder and led her through the single street. Strangely dressed people hurried past them, each of them wearing weird clothes, but none of them paid any heed to Snape nor Teddie.
"Cauldron," Teddie said, stopping and pointing at a shop that had a sign reading Cauldrons - All Sizes - Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver - Self-Stirring - Collapsible above the door.
"How do you intend to buy a cauldron with no money, Miss Green?" Snape asked.
Teddie turned and glared at the man. "Well, Mr Snape, where do we go first?" she asked.
"Gringotts, of course," Severus said, pointing at a large white building in the distance. "There is a vault within those walls where you'll find spending money."
"Money vault?" Teddie asked. "But I don't have a money vault in the Wizarding world."
"You'd be surprised what you have in this world," Snape said. He led her down the street and closer to the bank.
Teddie looked up as the building loomed into view. She was still wondering what Snape had meant when he had said 'you'd be surprised what you have in this world'. What did it mean?
"I'm still confused," Teddie said. "Who's vault am I going to take money out of?"
"It doesn't matter, and no, it's not stealing," Snape added, quickly. "Just, stay here. I'll be right back."
He left Teddie in a overly extravagant waiting room and approached an empty desk. Behind which sat several ugly looking men. Teddie watched them curiously, taking in their knobbly noses and beady eyes. All along the hall, these ugly creatures sat, each one weighing a different object on a gold scale on their desks.
One looked up as Teddie watched him. His beady eyes meeting her gaze. Teddie gasped and quickly looked away, her gaze landing on a set of double doors at the back of the hall. People poured in and out of these doors, including a overly large man with a messy beard. He was with a boy, around Teddie's age.
The boy looked up and smiled at Teddie as he passed. The two didn't have a chance to speak as the man passed through the doors and the boy followed. Teddie looked around to see if Snape was returning.
He was, walking straight towards her with a determined look upon his face. Once he reached her, he took out a small satchel from his pocket and offered it to her. "This should cover your expenses," said Snape. "Come. We have much to do."
Teddie followed him out into the morning sunshine.
After retrieving her books, parchment and quills, robes, and even a trunk to store everything inside. Teddie and Snape arrived outside the apothecary store. Teddie looked through the window at the many animals waiting to be bought.
"Um, I don't think this is such a good idea," Teddie said, looking up at Snape. "I have three snakes, one of which is a ball python. Priscilla often slithers around the house unattended, if she catches the toad, cat or owl, she's going to eat it."
Snape studied her closely. "Indeed, not a good idea," he agreed.
"Are they the only animals we are allowed to take to Hogwarts?" Teddie asked. "Two of my snakes are corn snakes. They only grow to be 4-5 feet long. Couldn't I just bring them with me? My parents and Mason can look after Priscilla, but Merlin and Morgana rarely leave my side."
"Students have been known to bring their own pets, nothing to exotic though," Snape informed her. "Occasionally a rat, but never a snake."
"Does that mean -?"
"As long as you do not intend to let them loose in the school," Snape warned.
"I don't let them loose in my own home," Teddie defended. "I'd never do it in a school."
Snape looked like he would regret the decision, but Teddie was glad with the outcome. She couldn't wait to get home and tell her parents the good news. While she did look after Priscilla the most out of her family, she was the family's python, Mason also liked being around her. Merlin and Morgana were Teddie's snakes.
"Now that's out of the way," said Teddie, looking down at her list. "All that's left is my wand."
"All young witches and wizards get their wands from Ollivanders," Snape said, pointing to the rundown shop on the opposite side of the road. He led her across and into the store. It was dark, and already occupied.
Teddie recognised the customer as the boy she had seen inside Gringotts. She smiled as he met her gaze. He had green eyes, just like hers, but where she had red hair, his was a messy, yet inky black. He also had glasses.
"Severus Snape," a soft, quiet voice, said from behind a bookshelf. Teddie jumped as an old, frail-looking man appeared, carrying an armful of rectangular boxes.
"Mr. Ollivander," Snape greeted. "We'll wait over here." He pointed Teddie to two chairs beside the door. They were out of the way, leaving the boy to test the wands that Ollivander had set on the front counter.
As Teddie settled onto a wooden stool she felt someone's gaze on her. She looked up and frowned as she met Ollivander's gaze. The look on his face gave her the impression that he had seen her before. Tearing her gaze away, Teddie looked up and Snape, and then over her shoulder, staring out of the window.
Ollivander turned his attention back to the boy. "Now, let's see," he opened a box and handed the boy a wand. "Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try -"
Teddie watched as the boy waved the wand - but he had barely flicked it when it was snatched back.
"No, no - here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out."
The boy tried. And tried.
Teddie yawned as, several wands later, the boy was still trying. "I'm confused," she said, leaning in close to Snape. "How hard is it to buy a wand?"
"Mr Ollivander will explain when it is your turn," Snape told her.
Teddie rolled her eyes and turned to look around the store.
"Here, try this," said Mr Ollivander.
Teddie looked back just in time to see the boy take hold of a black wand. Her eyes widened as she felt a warm wind sweep through the store. "What was that?" she asked, her voice echoing in the silence.
"Curious… very curious…" Ollivander murmured, seemingly not hearing Teddie. He put the boy's wand back into its box.
"Sorry, but what's curious?" the boy asked.
"I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather resides in your wand gave another feather - just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother - why, it's brother gave you that scar."
Teddie looked to Snape as the man stiffened beside her. She frowned up at her neighbour, but he refused to meet her gaze.
"Seven Galleons, Mr Potter," Ollivander said, suddenly changing his tune.
The boy paid and left the store. He met Teddie's gaze as he passed her, and then she was alone again.
"Now," said Ollivander, turning his full attention onto Teddie. "What's your name, young lady?"
Ollivander smiled and beckoned her forward. "Which is your wand arm?" he asked.
"Well, I'm right-handed," Teddie replied.
"Hold out your arm. That's it," Ollivander took a measuring tape, tapped it with his own wand, and left it to measure to collect Teddie's measurements as he went to collect several more wand boxes. He whistled as he returned, and the tape measure stopped.
"Elm and unicorn tail. Six inches. Sturdy. Try -"
Teddie held up the wand, but Ollivander snatched it back. She frowned. "But, I -" she started.
"English Oak and phoenix feather. Five inches."
Teddie waved the wand and several glass bottles across the shelves exploded. She shrieked and put the wand down.
"Nope, no, definitely not," Ollivander said. He pursed his lips and disappeared behind the shelves again.
Teddie looked back at Snape as Ollivander failed to return for more than ten minutes. Her neighbour shook his head. Teddie rolled her eyes and turned back to counter, just as Ollivander returned.
"Try this," Ollivander said, opening a box and passing Teddie a black wand. "Elder and thestral tail hair. Seven inches. Powerful, Unstable."
As she took the wand in hand, Teddie felt the temperature in the room drop considerably, before a power blast of air whipped around her. She gasped as she felt a surge of power spread up her arm from the wand in her palm. Then, a burst of green sparks erupted from the tip of the wand.
"Excellent," Ollivander clapped. "Yes, very excellent indeed."
Teddie blinked and looked up at Ollivander. "What was that?" she asked.
"That was your wand choosing you," Ollivander explained. "The wand chooses the wizard, Miss Green, and your wand is destined to be undeniably powerful. Elder wood is extremely rare, and tricky to master. It contains powerful magic. Thestral tail hair is considered an unstable core type."
Teddie listened intently.
"You, my dear child, it would seem, is destined for great things."
"I don't… understand," Teddie admitted.
Ollivander smiled, knowingly, and took back her wand. He put it back in its box and wrapped it in brown paper. "You shall, my dear, in due course. That'll be seven galleons."
Teddie paid for the wand and turned to Snape. She slipped her wand into the shopping bag she had with her, and followed her neighbour from the shop. Before the door closed, Teddie looked back at Ollivander. He was watching her with a curious, yet worried, expression.