Actions

Work Header

The Slytherin Heart

Chapter Text

The Slytherin Heart cover


Wilhelmina Gamp had no plans to one day become the grandmother of one of the most terrible Dark Wizards to range the Earth. In fact, on that mild August day in 1792 at the Port of Dublin, her sixteen-year-old heart only held frustration at how unfair it was that Ilvermorny had not let her take her wand with her when she recently moved back to the British Isles because she would not turn of age until October 23.

As she withstood one last squeeze farewell from her mother, Wilhelmina’s father, Ardan Gamp, urged, “We really must go.”

At his words, Dipsas Gamp released her only living child. Their son, Ciaran, had been killed a year and a half prior. An event witnessed solely by Wilhelmina who managed to escape through illegally using magic to disapparate.

“Promise you will write me, Willa.” Dipsas pressed. Her blue eyes were commanding, a trait her daughter’s possessed as well.

“I promise again, mother.” Willa assured her. “Galanta knows the way to America and I am certain she will always find you.”

They glanced back at Galanta, the family boreal owl, caged on top of Willa’s luggage. Aunt Nerodia stood beside the luggage cart, already having said goodbye to her older sister, Dipsas. She and Uncle Castor Black, along with cousins Rigel and Elnath Black, had come to Ireland a fortnight before to visit with the Gamps and return Willa to Black Manor in England.

The International Statute of Secrecy restrictions had only become tighter after Rappaport’s Law went into effect by the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) two years before, so while they used the Floo Network to arrive at the Gamp estate outside Dublin, they would leave with their niece via ferry, the Muggle choice of transport.

Rappaport’s Law limited interaction between magical folk and No-Majs (called Muggles in Britain and Ireland) due to a breach scandal in MACUSA nearly exposing the entire wizarding world to non-magical people. Under the law, interactions with No-Majs could only be for purposes necessary to perform daily activities. The British Ministry of Magic did not agree with the law.

As Ardan Gamp was head of the Scourer Hunter Division in MACUSA’s Agency for the Protection of Wizarding Secrecy, the Gamp family’s connections to the governing body and the law itself caused a sense of anxiety among Ardan and Dipsas. That combined with the nefarious circumstances surrounding their son’s death, it seemed most logical to send their daughter to live with relatives in the safety of England and to finish out her studies at the prestigious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The ship's mates began to release the sails and a final boarding call sounded out. Willa watched as her parents boarded, steeling herself to the emotions of it all. Yes, they were leaving her in a country she had scarcely lived, having moved to America at age eight and not returned since. Yes, she had to leave her beautiful snakewood wand behind, the rarity of its wood and its connection to Ilvermorny’s founder, Isolt Sayre, and their mutual ancestor, Salazar Slytherin, always emboldened her wand skills. But there was plenty to be excited for here in Britain, not to mention she was glad for the opportunity to put an ocean between herself and her father.

Cousin Elnath Black was her year in school and, despite the distance between them the last eight years, they had remained in contact through frequent and divulging letters. They were close like sisters, and it was Elnath’s hand that closed tight around Willa’s now. The girls looked to one another, their eyes holding the others for a long moment of understanding before Willa broke into a bright smile.

“I simply cannot wait to be sorted at Hogwarts.” She said.

“Alongside all the first years, what a laugh that will be.” Elnath said, gleeful.

“To which house do you think I will sort?” Willa pressed.

“I pray Slytherin so we can bunk together!” Elnath exclaimed. “I will have Prefect’s Quarters this year.”

“I am a Horned Serpent at Ilvermorny. Truly I would think it strange for me not to sort Slytherin.” Willa agreed.

“One last wave farewell, girls.” Aunt Nerodia called lightly to them.

They looked back to the leaving ship, bound for Boston, and both gave full armed waves to Willa’s parents with their outside arms. Their inner arms remained linked by their hands.

“Come now, the ferry departs at half past.” Uncle Castor said. “I have no desire to stay in this wretched country a moment longer than that.”

He turned on his heel sharply, his long coat tail flouncing a touch as he did, which sent the girls into giggles.

“You two better mind yourselves.” Rigel teased.

Elnath gave her older brother a scowl and he laughed before quietly casting a spell to move the luggage cart. He held onto its handles to pretend he was controlling it, so no Muggle on the quay would notice. The two female cousins hurried after Aunt Nerodia and Uncle Castor towards the ferry landing area.


Though the ferry trip was uneventful and the waves calm, Willa felt as though a weight lifted from her as they crossed into Welsh waters. A fresh start awaited her here in Britain. Soon they were to the portkey the Blacks had left at the wizard-run Holyhead Inn for safekeeping. This sent them all to the White Horse Tavern in the village of Longcot in England where they boarded their waiting Aethonan-drawn carriage to Black Manor. The wings of the aethonans were rendered invisible under a Concealment charm so they appeared mere horses to the village’s Muggles.

The stately manor, a formidable size to Muggles and even larger inside due to charms, was located a few miles from Longcot and boasted a grand view of the Uffington White Horse from its south-facing windows.

“This is your room, Miss Wilhelmina.” The Blacks’ House Elf told Willa as she opened the door for her.

“Thank you, Mirella.” Willa said, smiling at the pathetic looking creature. From Elnath’s letters, she knew that Uncle Castor treated Mirella with disdain and sometimes cruelty, but that Elnath often sneaked her treats.

At Willa’s formal gratitude, Mirella brightened and asked with a high-pitched squeak, “Is there anything else Mirella can help you with, Miss Wilhelmina?”

“No, I am satisfied.” Willa smiled again at the house elf, who now looked less pathetic.

“Very well, Mirella will leave you, miss.” Mirella said, giving a nod.

“A moment,” Willa said, remembering the extra pastry in her travel pocket. Mirella froze in place, unsure how to express herself to the newcomer, and Willa rummaged for the treat. “Here we are!” she exclaimed, spinning to face Mirella, whose eyes immediately widened with delight.

“Oh, Mirella could never take such a delicacy from Master’s niece.” Mirella said.

“I insist.” Willa forced the pastry into Mirella’s feeble hands. “But perhaps we should not mention it to anyone?”

Mirella nodded fervently, having just taken a small bite. Her ears seemed to swell with pleasure at the taste of the sweet bread.

“Mirella will keep Miss Wilhelmina’s kindness a secret.” She assured Willa.

They shared another smile and then Mirella snapped her bony fingers and disapparated.

Willa turned to the room and debated how much to unpack. She would only be there a week before going to Hogwarts. The space was a cheery corner suite, with both south-facing and west-facing windows. It was clearly one of the best situated rooms in the manor. Willa knew that only a visit from the most prestigious of guests would force her to give it up. She abandoned the daunting task of her trunk for the moment and went to the window sill to sit, looking out over the prehistoric monument in the distance.

“Hard to believe it is mere chalk.” Rigel remarked from the doorway in reference to the Uffington White Horse.

Willa jumped with alarm, not realizing he was there.

“Sorry to frighten you.” Rigel laughed easily, walking into the room. Willa did not protest, so he continued to the window and stood by her.

“Not to worry,” Willa assured him.

“You really should not bribe Mirella.” Rigel said.

“Have you come to lecture me?” Willa sighed. She did not know Rigel well, only through Elnath’s letters, which rarely mentioned him except when of consequence to her welfare.

Now Rigel sighed. This was not going as planned.

“Not at all. I wanted to check on you, make sure you were well and everything was appointed to your liking.” He said.

Willa paused a moment to examine her cousin anew. He was tall with dark features, quite opposite Elnath’s stunning blonde curls and bright blue eyes that mimicked her own. He was handsome though, and she was certain he would be the object of many eligible young ladies’ affections at Hogwarts. Perhaps, Willa decided, his interest in her wellbeing was merely familial concern and nothing more.

“Everything is to my liking, yes.” Willa replied finally.

“I am glad to hear.” He nodded.

“How old are you again? Eighteen?” Willa asked.

“I turn eighteen come December.” He explained. “This is to be my final year at Hogwarts.”

“What are your plans after?” Willa pressed though she was only slightly curious.

“I have an offer from Mr. Septimus Malfoy to apprentice him at the Ministry. It is a very generous offer.”

“Is he the Minister of Magic? I thought it was Unctuous Osbert?” Willa asked, alarmed she might be so out of touch with British politics that she did not even know the current Minister of Magic.

“It is Unctuous Osbert, yes. Septimus is his Chief Advisor and the Majority party leader. Though if you ask anyone who knows, it is Mr. Malfoy who is in charge. Unctuous is a moronic ninny.” Rigel laughed.

“Seems to be mostly ninnies in charge, truly.” Willa mumbled.

“What about your great-grandfather, the first Minister of Magic?” Rigel protested.

“No, Ulick Gamp was not a ninny.” Willa conceded. “But I am not certain I plan to go into politics if that is what you suggest.”

“Why ever not? You possess all the pertinent connections.” Rigel pressed.

“I have greater aspirations.” Willa grinned.

“Pray, tell.” Rigel said, smiling with amusement.

“Private aspirations,” She said.

In truth, she had no specific career aspirations. Given her father’s political career, she was very engaged with current affairs and found government mostly fascinating. Something inside her though kept her from wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps.

Rigel rolled his eyes. “Well do not impart that inclination on the Sorting Hat. It will not know what to do with you.”

“It will know I am Slytherin. As descendants of Salazar himself, surely all Gaunts must be.” Willa said with confidence.

“While our mothers are both Gaunts, I am afraid it does not work that way.” Rigel lamented. Willa knew he was Slytherin though.

“What about the Gaunts?” Elnath chimed from the doorway.

“Elnath!” Willa exclaimed, happy for the interjection.

“Rigel, are you boring our dear cousin to tears already? She has not been here but an hour.” Elnath asked. It was hard to tell if she was being sarcastic or not.

“No,” Rigel said. “But I suppose that is my cue to leave.”

“Are you coming with us tomorrow to Diagon Alley?” Willa asked him.

“Without question. I have N.E.W.T.s this year and will need plenty of materials. Not to mention a new set of dress robes for the Yule Ball.”

“The Yule Ball? Do you plan to participate in trials for the Triwizard Tournament?” Elnath asked her brother doubtfully.

“I have no time for that.” Rigel said impatiently.

“Then why would you need more dress robes? Beauxbatons plays host to the tournament this year.” Elnath continued.

“Well, according to Mr. Malfoy, the French Ministry received too many letters of concern from Beauxbatons parents regarding the safety of their children amidst all the Muggle violence.” Rigel said in a lowered voice. “So, there are plans to permit Hogwarts to host instead, as Durmstrang hosted the last one five years ago.”

“That is ridiculous.” Elnath said.

“You will not be trying out either!” Rigel said.

“Because I am entering for a spot at the Wizarding Schools Potions Championships!” Elnath retorted.

“I am going to try out.” Willa interjected, mostly to end their bickering.

It worked, as her cousins both spun to look at her, shocked.

“Really?” Elnath asked.

“Why not?” Willa shrugged. “Is the prize not eternal glory? I could handle that.”

“It would help with your private aspirations.” Rigel muttered.

Willa flashed them both a smile and then asked, “What exactly do trials entail?”

Elnath laughed, “Headmaster Hayward will explain it all at the Welcome Feast. Now come with me, I need to show you something.”

She led Willa down the hallway to her own room, which was gold and green in color with north-facing windows.

“Sit there.” Elnath said, pointing to a chair by the unlit fireplace.

Willa did so and Elnath closed the door then proceeded to pull out her wand. Willa looked on, shocked. Underage magic use outside of school had dire consequences in America, particularly when a wand was used since it then could be proven in court. As a result, Willa had become proficient in wandless magic.

Accio letter.” Elnath said, doing the basic wand motions to activate the spell. She added a whispered word that Willa could not understand and another two swishes of her wand.

“A password protection?” Willa asked, impressed. It was advanced magic, though nothing she did not know herself.

“This house has no respect for privacy.” Elnath groaned. “Bear that in mind.”

“I will.” Willa nodded. “So, what is the letter?”

“Here, read it. I do not mind.”

Willa opened the parchment to discover elegant script spelling out the following message:

 

My Esteemed Elnath,

I feel terrible writing this to you at all, but I feel I must. It is the pull of moral obligation that leads me to portray the details of my brother’s actions of late. I will speak plainly so my message is not misunderstood. Quintus has pledged himself to Catherine Avery this summer. I know this news must shock you, but I did not wish you to return to Hogwarts unaware of the development. Should you see to my letter, please do so discreetly so my brother does not intercept it thinking your owl has come for him.

My sincerest apologies.

Your dear friend,

Octavia Malfoy

“Sincerest apologies?” Willa was indignant. Quintus Malfoy and her cousin had been attached for more than a year. “She is lying. This is a scheme.”

“I wish I could believe that. Quintus has not called on me once this summer. Rigel never makes reference to Mr. Malfoy mentioning him or me in their communications. Not to mention we are yet to receive invitation to Malfoy Manor’s traditional end of summer ball.” Elnath said. The Blacks were usually the first family invited.

“Who is Catherine Avery?” Willa asked, though she knew the surname was of pureblood inheritance.

“Some Ravenclaw girl. She is very nice, but also quite plain. While she is pureblood and well connected, she is not Slytherin. This gives me some small hope. Mr. Malfoy is very particular about these things, as you know.” Elnath reported. Septimus Malfoy’s predisposition to Slytherins was well documented in Elnath’s letters to Willa.

“What do you plan to do?”

“Nothing at all. If he has pledged himself to her, then he shall let me know given we were attached as recently as June by all accounts. It would be quite shameful for him not to do so.”

“I agree. What if he says nothing, will you inquire?”

“I have yet to decide.” Elnath sighed. “What do you think?”

Willa shook her head, unsure what to suggest. Elnath nodded her understanding of this and then placed the incantation back on the letter to render its contents illegible once more.

“Do you fancy a stroll through the gardens? I feel restless.” Willa asked.

“I would love that.” Elnath brightened. “You can finally meet Patrick!”

Now Willa brightened. Patrick was the garden snake Elnath befriended years ago, and she often boasted of his brilliant dry wit. Willa was yet to meet him, of course, and the gardens became an even more exciting prospect.

“Rigel is a Parselmouth too, right?” Willa asked her cousin.

“Yes, and mother. Does Aunt Dipsas speak Parseltongue?” Elnath asked.

“No, only me.” Willa confirmed. “Ciaran did not either.”

Elnath only nodded. As Willa almost never mentioned her brother since his death she dared not press, and they set out for the gardens.

The day passed easily from there and Patrick did not disappoint. He had both girls rolling with laughter until the sun began to set. They accompanied the adder back to his nest before heading inside for supper.

The whole of the Black Manor was to bed early after such a long day. Wilhelmina slept soundly through the early morning until Elnath came to wake her around eight. Mirella sent up and then collected breakfast, and then Willa dressed with the help of Aunt Nerodia’s magic.

Everyone stood by the grand fireplace in the formal sitting room and took turns throwing the Floo Powder into the hearth and shouting, “Diagon Alley!” The resulting green engulfed each member until Mirella was the only living being left in Black Manor. For her part, she immediately cleaned the soot stirred up by the Floo travel so the task would not be forgotten later and punishment doled out by Master Black.


Willa’s first stop had to be to Gringotts since Dragots and other American monies were not accepted in Britain. Rigel asked if he could go straight to the robe shop for dress robes. This prompted Aunt Nerodia to require her presence for fashion advice, followed soon by Elnath offering to join at Rigel’s pleading expression. Thus Willa set off alone with her uncle for the Goblin bank.

She had not been to Diagon Alley since childhood and its chaos and energy entranced her until they entered Gringotts and she was transformed by the splendors of the counting room. Crystal chandeliers flooded rainbows of light throughout the hall and the polished marble floors and columns reminded her of the classical look of the federal-style architecture, so popular in America at the moment.

“Breathtaking, is it not?” a man said to her.

His intrusion brought Willa back to the cordial realities of society until she caught sight of him. No longer breathtaking was the room in comparison to this man. Willa knew immediately he was at bare minimum a decade her senior, but the elegance and confidence of his countenance forced a small blush to her cheeks. His long, sleek blond hair was tied back with a black satin ribbon and his robes fell smartly around his physique. Never had Willa felt this form of attraction. His light blue eyes glistened with a secret that she longed to know. Then, as if he could read her thoughts, the beautiful man produced a charming smile, a gift especially for her.

As it is with all precious things, the moment could not last and soon was dismantled by the next word from her uncle’s mouth.

“Septimus!” Uncle Castor cried as jovially as Willa thought the disagreeable man was able.

“Castor, how have you been?” Septimus Malfoy responded with a bright candor.

“Well, quite well. We went to visit with Nerodia’s family much of July in Dublin. I am happy to be returned to England.” He added. “Ah, but you will not have met my niece, Nerodia’s sister Dipsas’ child. May I present Miss Wilhelmina Gamp.”

Willa gave a slight curtsy, as was custom at formal introductions, and Septimus bowed his head.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Gamp.” He said. When they both stood erect once more he continued, “You are of relation to Ulick Gamp, are you not?”

“Yes, he was my great-grandfather.” Willa replied. She and Castor became aware that the entirety of the counting room drew quiet, the spectators’ eavesdropping no longer discreet. Neither minded the attention. People of their stature were accustomed to being watched.

“He was a fine man, I am told.” Septimus said, eloquently ignoring the engrossments of the room.

“I am told the same.” Willa replied curtly. She had never met her famous great-grandfather.

Septimus furrowed his brow for a moment so brief Willa could not be certain he had, but it caused her to wonder why he might. It was then she realized she had begun using occlumency when her great-grandfather’s name had been mentioned. A common habit for her, as the practice and consequently its opposite, legilimency, were taught at Ilvermorny starting in fourth year. This gave her pause. If Septimus were now concerned for not being able to read her thoughts, it would lend evidence to the truth he had been using legilimency on her this entire time.

“You must know my son, Quintus?” Septimus asked, attempting to draw Willa’s gaze again. Visual contact was required to initiate legilimency.

“No, Wilhelmina has only moved back this summer from America. She starts at Hogwarts next week.” Uncle Castor explained.

“Ah yes, I recall now Rigel mentioning this.” Septimus nodded and returned his piercing gaze to Willa to employ a different tactic, “Everything here must seem so refined in comparison to America.”

Willa seethed. What a narrow-minded man to presume such a thing. She wanted nothing more than to humble him, and so she allowed herself the memory of her brother and the long afternoons they practiced the art of legilimency on one another at Ilvermorny.

Once prepared, she looked directly into Septimus’ eyes and cast the silent spell to push into his mind. Though he blocked her, the affront came as a surprise. Her magic was strong, shown by the sudden clenching of Septimus’ teeth while he fought through the pain of his occlumency.

Willa smiled at his suffering and responded to his insult, “On the contrary, I fear what America might lack in refinement, it compensates for in resilience. Command of magic without use of wand is commonplace, for example, something yet to take root in the British Isles. Have you opportunity to visit the former Colonies, Mr. Malfoy?”

The crowd went from silence to murmured delight at Willa’s challenge to such an influential man. The distinct laughter of a woman rose above the murmurs. Willa could see its owner from her peripheral vision, but could not risk breaking eye contact with Septimus to get a closer look.

Septimus for his part was turning a shade of red. Willa smiled brighter and added the suggestion he ought to visit should he have the chance. “I find a fresh perspective is always insightful.” She finished and withdrew her Legilimency spell.

“I could not agree more, Miss Gamp.” Septimus said, finally recovered from her attacks. “And I would be very remiss not to extend an invitation to you alongside your uncle and his family to the end of summer ball at Malfoy Manor this Friday.”

“We would be honored to attend.” Uncle Castor said. Willa surmised this had been his goal all along. She thought of Rigel and Elnath and both their futures relying on the Malfoys and determined she ought to play into the man’s stature.

“How kind an offer.” She said in a humbled tone. “What a thrill that will be!”

“I am delighted to hear it. I will have an owl dispatched with the details.” Septimus said. He gave them both a nod and lingered on Willa a moment before turning sharp on his heel to leave the bank.

Quite unaware he had just bore witness to a magical power play, Uncle Castor began to walk toward a free Goblin at the counter. Willa followed in step, turning once to glance again at Septimus Malfoy. When she did so, she found he too had turned to glance at her and their eyes met once more, both pairs conveying a continued intrigue.

When she looked front again, she realized a woman now blocked their path. Willa connected this was the same woman who had laughed before. The woman was tall with intelligent eyes and appeared her uncle’s age. Her demeanor seemed pleasant enough.

“Excuse you.” Uncle Castor said to her, his voice back to its usual cool.

“I wanted to introduce myself, Miss Gamp.” The woman said, not moving. “I am Artemisia Lufkin. I worked with your father before he took the post at MACUSA.”

“Do not speak to my niece without introduction.” Castor growled. Artemisia remained unmoved.

“It is fine, uncle.” Willa protested. She looked to Artemisia, “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Lufkin, but why do you wish to meet me?”

“I admire your spirit. I will watch your progress at Hogwarts with interest. Good day.” She said with kindness and a small nod, and left the two to their business with the Goblins.

“Who is she?” Willa inquired.

“She is nobody. She works at the Ministry, fancies herself as capable as men in the way of politics.”

Willa would later learn Artemisia was the Opposition party leader, equal in position to Septimus Malfoy. Hardly nobody.

“MACUSA has a female president.” Willa pointed out to her uncle. The Ministry of Magic had never had a female Minister of Magic.

Uncle Castor scoffed at Willa’s comment and then said harshly, “And if that wretched Emily Rappaport had half the wit of a man, your brother would still be alive.”

Willa bit her tongue, thankful they had arrived at the counter and Uncle Castor’s attention was focused on requesting access to the Gamp family vault. Her mother had warned her not to provoke him regardless of the foul things he might say or do. Though Dipsas held no ill regard for the House of Black, she was not pleased with her younger sister’s choice in husband. An opinion she frequently divulged to her daughter.


From Gringotts they went directly to Ollivander’s so Willa could purchase her new wand. As she started through the threshold, Uncle Castor did not follow.

“I am going to find the others. You will be fine?” he said. Willa could not be sure the final part was indeed a question, but she knew purchasing a wand would not require his assistance, so she nodded and he left.

As she regarded the dark and dusty wand shop, a vivid purple cushion on the windowsill appeared to be the only new thing in it. The sound of a bell rang out from a back room and an eerie silence followed. She glanced around at the stacks of thin wand boxes, towering to the ceiling, and finally heard the shuffling of footsteps approach.

“Good morning,” a man said in a soft voice. She did not deem him old, but he was not young either.

“Hello, good morning.” Willa said, his calm demeanor took her somewhat off-guard. In America, you were given a wand, rather than shopping for one. The entire experience was new to her.

“You need a new wand, I see.” The man said. “Ilvermorny, was it?”

“Yes…” Willa replied. She did not feel he used legilimency on her, but how would he know this?

“Your accent gave you away, my dear. A touch Irish, but mostly American. Here, come, let us get you measured.” He smiled to comfort Willa from her sudden realization and embarrassment of her accent. The man brought out a measuring tape from his robe. “I am Gerbold Ollivander. Please, tell me about your last wand.”

“It was snakewood, of the original tree that grew on Ilvermorny premises. The one they say grew from Salazar Slytherin’s wand buried in that spot. The core Horned Serpent horn.” Willa noted.

Gerbold nodded absently, tending to the measurements.

“Twelve and a half inches?” he asked.

“Yes.”

He nodded again and looked her in the eye quite closely. She implemented occlumency, but there was no need. Gerbold Ollivander could read witches and wizards like the footnotes of a book, finding the abnormalities without much difficulty and matching them to the corresponding wandlore attributes.

“Yes, let us just try…” he trailed off, already to a stack of wand boxes, pulling one down swiftly. He held the wand out to Willa then stated what it was, “Holly, supple flexibility with a Phoenix feather core.”

Once he stepped aside, she swished and flicked her wrist while giving the incantation, “Wingardium Leviosa,” towards the quill by the leger on the small desk. Nothing happened.

“No, I suppose not.” Gerbold frowned and snatched the wand from her. He placed it on the purple window cushion since she was using the desk for spells and went to a different corner of the shop.

He returned with a heavier wand saying, “Oak, slightly springy with a dragon heartstring core.”

Willa repeated the charm to no results and Gerbold shook his head. He placed the wand beside the rejected holly wand and with sudden levity went to the stack beside the one he had just pulled from.

“Ivy, reasonably supple with a dragon heartstring core,” he nodded, more certain about this one.

Willa closed her eyes and focused. Perhaps she was not performing well enough for the wands? At Ilvermorny, the first wand she held seemed to choose her.

Still nothing.

“Now this is curious.” Gerbold said. “You must often use magic without a wand?”

“Yes, that is common in America.” She admitted.

“That solves the puzzle!” Gerbold was off to the back room, the doorway being a narrow slit behind a wand shelf in the shop’s back right corner.

Willa clasped her hands and sighed, aching for her snakewood wand and wondering if it would wilt in her prolonged absence.

“Here we are—fir, unyielding with unicorn mane hair.” Gerbold declared upon his return. He withheld the wand from Willa while he explained, “Very interesting to know, this unicorn refused to give its tail hair, and permitted only two hairs to be plucked from its mane. The other hair was fashioned into a wand with reed wood, slightly yielding.”

Finally he presented the fir wand to Willa. She immediately felt the familiar warmth in her hand.

“Yes,” she smiled.

Gerbold smiled too, but said, “Go on. Give it a try.”

She cast the charm again on the quill and it rose into the air with ease. She carried it over to them and Gerbold grasped it out of midair with a laugh. A thrill went through her as she seemed whole again.

“Very intriguing that it should wait for you.” Gerbold noted.

“Does its brother belong to someone already?” Willa asked.

“Yes, a young man your age. I hear he is the top scoring Chaser for Gryffindor and one of their Prefects.” Gerbold said. “Braxton Bagshot.”

Willa did not know the name.