Crafting Magic: Prologue
Summer before Year 1: Dursley Residence, Little Whinging, Surrey, UK
It was the start of the summer holidays for one ten-year-old Harry James Potter. Three months of no homework, schoolyard politics and annoying teachers! Yay! After rising from bed and going through his usual morning routine, he shuffled down the stairs and into his relative's kitchen to fix his breakfast and to think about what sort of projects he had lined up to accomplish.
As he sat there sipping on a cup of tea and scooping a spoonful of porridge into his mouth, he glanced at the written list of topics he wanted to explore.
'Hmm…Let's see. I got that book from the library on those pottery glazes. I think I have enough of the copper sulfate powder. If not, then I can use some copper mesh instead. I've been wanting to get into raku firing for a while now…'
After putting away his dishes into the sink, he grabbed his favorite straw hat and headed out to the backyard.
Later in the morning, Harry's uncle, Vernon Dursley came ambling into the kitchen looking for his own breakfast when his ears detected the relatively quiet whirring of an electric motor and a radio playing something vaguely like rock and roll coming from the backyard. He peered out the window and spotted his nephew busily shaping a lump of bluish clay on a motorized potter's wheel. The faint notes of burning wood alerted him to the kiln just off the main path slightly smoking.
'Glad to see the boy has something in the works for the summer. I think I'll go out in a few to see what he's got lined up. I'm in need of a new coffee mug for the office.'
An interesting thing to note about the living arrangements between Harry Potter and his relatives. He'd been living with them since November first of 1981. Now one might wonder why that was and the truth behind it is a sad tale indeed. A terrorist that had been rampaging up and down the English countryside for nearly a decade had murdered Harry's parents. Why he targeted the Potter family was up for debate but the end result was that elder Potters, James and Lily, were murdered while fifteen-month-old Harry was attacked, still in his crib. What happened after that was also open for speculation, no one really knew what occurred other than baby Harry receiving a wicked looking scar on his forehead while the terrorist lost his life.
When Harry had been rescued from the wreckage of his childhood home, he was placed into the care of his maternal aunt and uncle by a rather unusual individual by the impossibly long name of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. There had been a short letter attached to the basket that Harry arrived in stating that the boy was entrusted into their care, that contact and communication from his parents' world would be minimal at best and that someone would be coming to collect him when he reached the age of eleven.
Harry's aunt, Petunia Dursley nee Evans, had been incensed when she read the letter. Not even an apology for intruding into their lives and not one condolence about the loss of her sister! She and Vernon had had a long discussion about what to do. Vernon was at first, all for leaving the toddler at an orphanage while Petunia, still enraged at the magical world for murdering her sister and leaving her the boy without even offering support on how to raise a magical child, was in favor of seeking out another magical family and leaving him there. When asked whom she had in mind, she remembered that there was a magical boy who lived near them in Cokeworth, Severus something.
However in the end, when Harry had woken up crying, Petunia went to him to see what the problem was. When she gazed into his sad, green, oh-so-familiar eyes her heart broke and tears began to fall as the reality set in that her sister was really gone. She picked up the boy and cuddled him while she swore to herself that they would raise Harry to be a perfectly ordinary boy and not tell him about the world that his parents had come from.
What world you ask? Why, the magical world! That's right; James Charlus Potter and Lily Marie Potter nee Evans were a wizard and a witch, respectively. Harry had shown early signs of being a wizard as well and would've continued to show evidence every time he became emotional if not for the concerted and inspired efforts of Vernon and Petunia. They had figured out early on that if Harry were given something artistic, be it a crayon and a piece of paper, a set of blocks or even just a lump of mud; his magic settled right down and he was a happy camper.
Another interesting, yet somewhat odd thing to note about the living arrangements Harry had whilst living with his aunt and uncle, was his bedroom. One might think that he had one of the nicer rooms upstairs but no, his room was a converted space under the stairs. It had started life as a cupboard and Vernon had not so kiddingly suggested that they keep the child there. After both adults took some time to get used to the idea that they had another child in their midst and took some time to actually cuddle and hold Harry, plans were being made to turn it into a playroom for both Harry and their son, Dudley.
As it turned out, Dudley was less than interested in the playroom under the stairs whereas Harry loved it. When he turned five, Vernon decided to go all out and rebuild it into a proper room with a comfy child-sized bed, space to hang clothes, a reading light with easy to reach bookshelves and it's own door with picture window and curtains. The walls were originally painted a pastel blue that ended up having fluffy white clouds painted in by Harry himself.
When Harry started bringing friends over to play, the other kids thought he was 'so awesome' with his living arrangements. Their parents had wondered but didn't step in seeing as how comfortable everything was.
Harry heard the footsteps of his approaching uncle as his hands and fingers manipulated the soft clay as it spun around on the potter's wheel. He leaned his weight into getting the clay centered so it wouldn't flop around before easing off and dipping his fingers into a nearby bowl of water to moisten them. He then pushed into the center of the mass and applied upwards pressure while simultaneously pressing and guiding the clay with his other hand, the walls of the piece flaring out before rising to about a foot off the table.
He dipped again into the water and continued to shape the clay walls to the desired thickness and shape before slowing down the speed of the motor. His fingers applied a bit of pressure to the lip of the piece causing the edge to flare out and then back up. Stopping the wheel entirely, he picked up a skewer and poked a concentric ring of holes into one face of the sloping cylinder.
Harry then turned to the side bench where he had a couple of thin slabs of the same clay waiting to be shaped. He picked up a cone-shaped block of wood and shaped one of the slabs around it, smoothed off the seam line then removed the wood insert. He returned to the wheel and using a small brush applied a bit of the clay slip to the rim of the newly made spout and attached it to the side of the pot. Once he made sure that it was secure and the edges smoothed out, he teased the tip of the spout into a bit of a downward flare.
Next step was to attach a handle to the body of the pot. He leaned back in his chair and contemplated whether or not to use a wire handle or to go with a clay one. He glanced at his uncle, who'd been standing there and watching the process quietly and gestured between the two options. Vernon silently gestured to the clay handle but then quietly suggested the cork wrapping to go along with it.
Pursing his lips in contemplation and deciding to go along with it, Harry pulled out a length of clay and began shaping the handle manually. He stretched and twisted the clay until it was the desired thickness as well as achieving a slightly spiral structure to it. A flat section where the hand would naturally rest was smoothed in. This is where he would attach the cork wrapping.
Harry finished the teapot assembly with an application of a couple of leaves with a spectacular ribbing and pressed them into the walls then lifted it off the wheel to dry before putting it in the kiln. He quickly shaped a small leftover bit of clay into a lid for the teapot and put it aside as well. After examining the pot one last time, he removed the leaves and nodded to himself. He then cleaned up his workspace and leaned back in his chair before looking up at his uncle again.
"Thanks, Uncle Vernon, for the suggestion."
Vernon nodded, "Not a problem, Harry. This one going to be another teapot? When is it going to be ready?"
"Yup, probably tomorrow. I got another batch of stoneware ready to go in a few minutes. You want to help out with that?"
"Sure, what do I need to do?"
Harry rose from his chair and checked on the status of the kiln's fire. He noted that the temperature within the firing chamber was close enough to the proper levels, so he opened the lid and grabbed a pair of heat-resistant gloves and motioned for his uncle to grab a pair as well.
"What I'll need you to do is hand me each of the pieces so I can load them in. Remember to be gentle with them."
Once the pieces to be fired were loaded in and the kiln's flue was properly directed to the main chamber, Harry took off the gloves and headed into his pottery shed. He took a drink of water from a glass sitting on the bench, adjusted the volume of the radio and glanced around at his inventory. Vernon just peeked in from the door, as there wasn't room enough for the both of them at the same time.
"What's next on your project list? More dishware?"
Scrunching up his face, Harry contemplated this, "I was thinking more of a sculpture, maybe an animal shape. Just not sure what though."
"Well, how about another one of those whimsical luminaries that your aunt loves so much?"
Tilting his head in thought, Harry contemplated that and agreed that it would be just the thing to keep the creative juices flowing without bogging him down too much.
By the time that his aunt and cousin, Dudley had woken and began making noise in the kitchen and living room, respectively, Harry had completed a nesting set of luminaries ranging in size from just large enough to hold a single tea light, all the way up to one large enough to hold a six inch tall by three inch diameter candle for his aunt and a veritable herd of elephant shaped planters and cupping hand planters for the local farmer's market that had been advertised in the paper.
The luminaries were to be given various metallic glazes that would accentuate the flickering flame light while the elephants and hands were done in a soft, natural finish with subtle highlights caused by the components of the clay.
Petunia gazed out into the backyard while sipping on a cup of tea; where she spotted her nephew busily working on his earthen creations while her husband was busy with repainting the back fence. She smiled to herself at the tranquil, domestic scene playing out for her.
Little did she know that all that was soon to end come three days before July 31st