VtrCst: Keep in mind that Ollivander described Hazel's staff as "whole" and "complete". That means that he can't just slap a phoenix feather or a unicorn hair onto it and say, "Here you go, it's just like a wand!" It is fundamentally different, and he can't try to change it into something else without, in his own words, "killing" the magic within it that makes it more than just a tree branch.

aleguille: Number one, saying that Hazel "sounded like a Death Eater" is beyond the pale, my friend. She was not advocating for the killing of all wizards. Number two, you misunderstand who is being arrogant here. Not once did she say her way of magic was objectively superior. What she did was read several books that all said the magic she has been doing for over a year is impossible and (CORRECTLY, mind you) decided the people who wrote these books had to be wrong. That and choosing her own brand of magic rather than something everybody so far has told her she can't even do.

That lone knight: Technically Hazel was already going through the spirit world with her teleportation (as do all wizards), but that interaction is more intense now, yes.

HammerSteel: A couple of things I need to point out. First, nobody was insulting Hazel out loud. This is her hearing their thoughts, hence the italics. Second and more sadly, most of the people thinking those things were not Pureblood supremacists. A few were, hence the Mudblood comments, but not most or even many. They were just the same kind of people as those in the real world who reflexively think cruel things when seeing the homeless on the streets.

lockmyhart: Nonverbal casting is an interesting topic. You are correct, in book 6 the teachers were saying they expected the students to only use nonverbal casting from then on. At the same time, if we look at the series as a whole then all these adult wizards who were casting spells in the early books were told the same thing and yet use verbal incantations. Between that and the students not easily using nonverbal casting in book 6, I can only conclude that it canonically is difficult to the point that most people DON'T actually use it.

As for Gertrud, yes, she can make any human potion she wants so long as she has the ingredients. Can probably make it better than the vast majority of humans, actually.

sappy3: The biggest reason people believe that Hazel is a Muggleborn is actually because of her ignorance about what is considered common knowledge in magical society. That being said, her clothing doesn't help but for the exact opposite reason you're thinking. You say that her clothing is eccentric, but do you know who else dressed super weird in canon? Every wizard trying to LOOK like a Muggle. That isn't wizards dressing strange; it's wizards believing Muggles dress strange. Therefore, since she isn't wearing normal robes, a number of wizards will simply assume she's wearing some incomprehensible Muggle fashion.

"Apollo is the sun god, not the moon god": Yes, I realize. I had a brain fart while writing the chapter and couldn't get to FFN to change it until the next day.

"So is Hazel going to Hogwarts or not?": I've already mentioned that Hazel will be going to Hogwarts; the powers that be wouldn't allow any other options. I just needed to set up a couple of things for the future. For example, that Hazel cares far more about what is useful TO HER than what other people tell her she is SUPPOSED to do or care about…

Chapter 28
Weird Wizards

The sunlight cresting over the horizon and streaming between the rooftops stung Hazel's eyelids, and with a silent sigh she gave up any additional sleep as an impossible dream. She blinked her eyes open and looked around at the space she had claimed the night before. It was not the most comfortable place ever, just the corner between two buildings in a dead-end alley, nor was it hers alone. She had found it when she noticed several other people, all in ratty clothing, shuffling in as the cloudy day turned into true night. While she got a few suspicious looks for being an unfamiliar face, no one had told her she could not stay here for the night.

Interestingly, she had noticed that they lit a couple of fires in large metal can with matches, not using any kind of magic. Wizards without wands, she had to wonder, like the Compiègne werewolves? Or were they Squibs, the children of wizards who were born either without magical powers or the means by which to use wizard magic? Either way, it made her glad to be a druid instead.

That was something she had spent not an insignificant amount of time thinking about the previous night after her conversation with Mr. Ollivander. For a year and a half, she had been convinced that she and her mother were something different, a conviction that was only proven more right with every example of wizards' dependence on wands. She did not need one; her mother, at least according to Aunt Petunia's memories, did not need one either. And yet, Mr. Ollivander had sold her mother a wand. There was no deceit in his words, and nor was there a reason for him to lie. It left her with a conundrum: why did her mum get a wand when she did not need it?

The possible conclusions she had come to were the only ones that made sense to her, and yet they still left a small pit in the bottom of her stomach. The first possibility was that maybe there was magic that wizards could use that druids could not, and her mother had a wand because she had learned both styles of magic. That gave Hazel pause because all this time she had been chasing after the skills her mother had possessed, and if her conclusion was right she would only ever be half the magician her mother was. To make matters worse, this was honestly the more pleasant of the two possibilities.

The less pleasant? It was entirely possible that she had misinterpreted Aunt Petunia's memories. She assumed her mother had continued to push on with what she could do without a wand, and that had been a driving force in her own experiments. What if her mum hadn't, though? What if her mum heard the same things Hazel herself had been told, that humans needed wands to do any real magic, and as a result got a wand and went to witch school because it was the only offer she received?

Despite her own abilities, Hazel had yet to hear from a druidic school wanting to take her as a student the way Hogwarts school had. Were the druids even more reclusive than the wizards and did not reach outside their society? Perhaps did the druids simply no longer exist, so there was no school to invite children to and that was why no one in France or Germany had heard of them? This was the possibility that sent shivers down Hazel's spine. She had assumed for months, a year even, that when she was old enough to go to a magical school in her home country that she could finally get answers on how to advance her abilities. Could that knowledge, the knowledge of magical humans that were not wand-wavers, truly be lost?

Could she in fact be the only one of her kind left, the only human who both did not need a wand and was pushing the limits of what she could do with nothing but her own mind and will? It seemed impossible that this could be the case, that no one did anything the way she did, that she was the only person who had set out to discover or rediscover magic that needed no wand. And yet, it was hard to argue with the facts sitting in front of her face.

Surely in a world in which the wand was seen as everything, somebody who was told they could not use it would have pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible. Or, like her, somebody who was never been told they could not do magic without a wand would have also uncovered alternate means of casting spells. Such a thing should be front-page news that completely rewrote all their knowledge of what was possible! And yet, the firm belief that without a wand they were less than nothing persisted.

This in turn only supported the conclusion she hoped was wrong. She had been wandering in the dark for the last eighteen months, and more and more it was looking like she could continue doing so for the rest of her life. She might just be on her own forever.

Shaking those thoughts from her head, she picked her bag up from the ground where she had used it as a pillow, took her staff in her hands, and walked out of the alley. Her fingers gripped her waist where her top and her skirt overlapped, and a moment later blue light rippled over both of them and made the dirt and sweat and dried rain fade away into nothing. Wearing the same outfit over and over was not a problem when she could magically clean it each day, especially when she could do so even while she was still wearing it.

Most of yesterday had been spent exploring Diagon Alley, all while wrapped in her ignore-me smoke to keep from being thrown out of any other shops like had happened at the bookstore, but today she was interested in what the other alley had to offer. Breathing out her cloud of grey smoke yet again, she peered through the windows of the first shop, a dingy place called Borgin and Burke's, and her eyebrows almost immediately rose to her hairline.

The fact that the display in the window was a row of skulls that turned of their own accord to face her should have been the first hint that this was not a happy place. It was hard to see deep into the store because of the low light, but already she could see a cushion holding a severed, withered human hand— She blinked and squinted her eyes to look closer. No, not human after all; not unless it was from someone with a birth defect that gave them four fingers instead of five. Aside from that, there was a display of sharp and gleaming knives, a deck of cards with a large brown stain across one side that could all too easily be blood, several pointy iron contraptions hanging from the ceiling, a partially disassembled skeleton bound in ropes beneath the counter next to a gilded skull…

She took a couple of steps back and shook her head. That was one store she did not plan on shopping in, and now she worried that everything down this street was in the same vein. Worse, she could almost see it making a sick kind of sense; after all, the stores in Diagon Alley appeared to cater to the kind of wizards she had read about who helped boy heroes vanquish great evils. It was only to be expected that the wizards and witches who wanted to rule the world would have their own shopping areas.

Thankfully for her peace of mind, other than this and a druggist's whose windows were decorated with beautiful pink oleanders and the distinctive umbrellas of tiny white hemlock flowers – both of which she knew were incredibly toxic – the rest of the street was nowhere near as malevolent in appearance, at least not on first or second glance. It did not take long for her to pass the supposed hostel Elfriede had directed her to, which yet again was silent as the grave when she peeked inside. It was also still covered in dust except for the spot she had cleaned, which raised questions in Hazel's mind about whether there were any occupants in the first place. That would be something to check out later. After that came a handful of pawn shops and second-hand stores. The rest of the street was filled with drab buildings that looked like they were homes or at worst flats.

A residential area, she presumed, but for whom? She would assume that it was not for the same shopkeepers who worked in Diagon Alley since anybody who could fling spells around would surely spend a few minutes here and there cleaning and fixing their homes. Those were some of the few spells Jean Luc had spent time learning, and he and Marcel were the only werewolves she knew who had wands, so what was the wizards' excuse? Or maybe it was not for wizards, she considered after passing a few more homes. Hags could not use human magic, so it stood to reason that any non-human people who lived in the area might likewise be unable to do so. But even then, why could they not hire one of their human neighbors' or coworkers' kids to come over and cast a few spells for some pocket change?

…Hmm. That was something to keep in mind, actually. If no one else was doing it, maybe she could go door-to-door and offer to do some cleaning for coin? It would be nice not to have to steal everything she needed.

Perhaps after a kilometer or so of walking and thinking, she noticed that the homes were starting to get… not nice-looking, exactly, but less bad. The wizards who could use magic to keep their places in good repair, perhaps? The improvements continued the farther she walked, until she saw that she was at the intersection between Knockturn and another street. Once again she found a pair of iron signs, but these were less elaborate than those at Diagon. Komarsh Alley, she read out to Morgan. That's interesting. What is this place, do you think?

The 'cleaner than Knockturn' trend appeared to continue down this street, so with nothing else pressing for the moment she shrugged to herself and continued her walk into and down the length of Komarsh Alley. Her eyes flicked over the storefronts, and her surprise grew after each building she passed. After Diagon and Knockturn, she was expecting… she did not know exactly what she was expecting, in all honesty. Magics benign? Evil? Both? Neither?

Hazel got none of those, and she found herself occasionally checking the clothing everyone wore to make sure she was still among the wizards and had not somehow stepped through a time rift back to the Middle Ages.

Diagon, even Knockturn, had looked medieval, but that was medieval with a twist of fantasy. The people she saw now? Many of them still wore robes, but a not insubstantial number instead had opted for sturdy leather aprons, thick tunics, and baggy breeches. Her ears caught the friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly calls between the people in the various buildings. Over the examples of human speech were noises that were not human in origin, though: from one building with a wide-open yard the squeal of pigs being butchered, from another the bangs and pings of metal hitting metal and the roars of flame. The buildings might not bear thatched roofs, but everything else looked like it had been pulled out of a history book.

Even so, that did not mean this street was devoid of magic. She wandered a bit closer to the latter building until the smell of smoke tickled her nose and watched as a shirtless man with frankly enormous arms stopped hammering a bar of metal long enough that he could pull a short stick from his back pocket. A muttered word and a wave of the wand, and a long gout of flame poured forth from the tip and funneled itself into the forge so he could stick the bar back in. A couple of houses down, she stopped to watch a young girl giggling as she sat on her grandmother's lap. The grandmother's attention was focused on the loom in front of her while another girl, this one in her mid-teens or so, waved her wand as a conductor might to pull thread from several large spools and bury the ends somewhere in the depths of the machine.

Her footsteps continued carrying her down this street, and while her eyes wandered up the smaller roads that branched off between occasional buildings, she stuck to her plan of exploring just this alley first. She passed several stalls bearing vegetables and fruits and snickered to herself and to Morgan as she listened to the people behind the stalls – the farmers themselves, or just merchants who bought and sold? – insult each others' wares and promote their own.

This is where everything is made, she told her feathered friend all while she wrinkled her nose at the unfortunately familiar scent of tanning leather coming from yet another building. Or if not everything, at least a lot of things. Raw materials, anyway. Then it all goes to Diagon to be turned into the final products. That made sense to her, but it still left her with a question. Now, how do they get their stuff from here to Diagon? Obviously they don't walk through Knockturn, or it wouldn't look the way it does. Maybe they just jump, but that seems like a waste, doesn't it?

That question weighing on her mind, she gave most of the other buildings only cursory glances. Her eyes and thoughts were on the road ahead of her. The cobblestones of Komarsh turned slightly to the right, and she blinked in surprise when eventually they came to a brick wall with a square opening and another wall just a couple of meters or so within. Coming closer to get a better look, she realized that the wall was in the middle of an almost-room with space for people to walk around it.

This is a pretty poor wall if it can't keep people— Oh. She turned the corner and stopped when the storefronts of Diagon Alley came back into view. Walking into Diagon proper, she turned around and sighed to herself. Okay, now I get it. The curve of the road made the gap obvious if you're on Komarsh, but from this side you can't see it so easily. If you were passing by not paying attention, you would never notice it.

You know, now that I think about it, there is a lot here. Diagon, Knockturn, Komarsh, and then all the other roads that come off Komarsh? Lots of space, and it's all in the middle of London. You would think somebody at some point would notice that there was part of the city that no one can get to. I wonder how they hid it.

Morgan chirped, just as lost as she was. Still, she could think of a few ways to check on that. The bookstore was obviously one option, but rather than sneak back in there she could always look around with her own two eyes. Moving her gaze up to a nearby rooftop, she hopped in place—

—only for nothing to happen.

Her eyes narrowed, and instinctively she looked all around herself as the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Every time she had been unable to jump, it was related in some way to a spirit being nearby. She took in the walls, the other rooftops, even the windows. A full minute she spent carefully looking around, her back now pressed up against the external wall of one of the buildings to ensure nothing could sneak up on her. Nothing; that was what she found. Not a single sign of a single spirit, and that just pushed her to double check everything all over again.

Maybe there really isn't anything here, she thought to Morgan after her extensive double-check. He seemed unworried, which put her nerves at ease a little. de Rais's castle had strange chains wrapped around it, and we already considered that those might have been put there to keep the spirits from escaping and eating people. It's not impossible that something similar is at work here. Maybe to keep angry and dangerous spirits from coming in? We already know that teleportation requires going into that weird spirit world, so if there is a spell to just put a solid wall there, that would explain everything. It keeps wizards from jumping, too, but they might think being forced to use fire-travel a small price to pay in exchange for the promise of safety.

Thankfully for me, there are other ways to check out the outside of this place.

During her explorations the day before, she had come across an exit out of Diagon Alley, and it was actually near where she stood now. She needed a minute or two to find it again, but stepping out through the brick archway she found herself in a far less impressive little courtyard filled with accumulated trash and a single trash can. There was only one door leading out of the courtyard and in turn going into another building, so with nowhere else to go she pulled it open and stepped inside.

After her eyes adjusted to the light, she found herself grinning and shaking her head. Is this going to be a common thing, she wondered as she looked around at the tables and the bar and the variety of wizard patrons. First Stuttgart, now here. Is there a wizard rule that says shopping centers have to be connected to pubs of some kind?

Hazel double-checked that her smoke was still in place before navigating through the crowds of people stuffed into the pub and enjoying their breakfasts. The door on the other side of the room was readily apparent, and she ignored the ring of the bell as she slipped through and closed it behind her. The door had led her to an entirely different street, one that clearly belonged to normal people, and she lingered in the bubble of calm that existed in a shallow arc that stretched from one side of the building to the other. Around her people edged slightly closer to the street, seemingly unaware that they were even doing it or that they were avoiding coming close to the door of this building. A similar effect to her smoke, she wondered, just anchored to a location or the door rather than a person? Could she learn to do the same? It was something worth looking into later, but for now she had other questions to answer.

Most of the buildings nearby were too tall for her to see their roofs clearly, but a little bit down the street was one that did not share that trait. She jumped up and landed on their rooftop, wiggling a bit afterwards to shake off the crushing feeling. She much much much preferred her new and improved method, but sadly part of her experimentation in Greece had proven that her original method of jumping was not only faster – which admittedly was only of concern if she was trying to run away from something – but that it also worked better getting her to places that were in her line of sight. Trying to jump through a widened tunnel when she could physically see the other end tended instead to either bring out the mist without her actually going anywhere or to leave her disoriented and sometimes physically turned around at her desired destination.

Obviously the latter was not what she wanted when she was teleporting on top of buildings, so the too-tight version it was.

From her new vantage point, it was easy to jump once more to the peaked roof of the apparently-named Leaky Cauldron pub. She climbed up and over to the back side, her excitement climbing as she thought about the bird's eye view she was about to have.

Except there was no Diagon or Komarsh Alley in view. She could only stare in confusion as she saw another building pressed flat against the rear of the pub, not even leaving any space for the courtyard she had exited. Beyond that was just another mundane street.

This is so weird, she told her friend as she reached up to stroke his breast feathers. Where is it?

He twittered but had nothing of value to add, and so she carefully plopped herself down on the peak of the roof. How in the world had the wizards accomplished this? A portal, maybe, taking people from the pub to the real shopping district? But to what purpose? If she was in charge of planning this, she would not try to hide a portal within a physical building; all they needed to do was have the portal freestanding with that ignore-me effect that was on the pub already. At most, if such a portal absolutely had to be inside a building, just have a simple little shack. Or copy what the French did and do away with the portal entirely, have everybody jump or fire-travel in.

Then again, maybe they were emulating the Germans? In Stuttgart, she also had to go through a building to get to their shopping center, albeit on the second floor of said building.

Or… She wanted to immediately quash the other possibility that came to mind because there was no way anyone could or would do something like this, but she let herself finish the thought. Or there was no portal, and everything was within the pub. Could the streets she had just walked be like her satchel writ large, an entire portion of a city stuffed into a space impossibly larger on the inside than on the outside? It seemed hard to believe that a… a dimensional pocket could fit so many buildings and people within itself, and it only raised more questions. How was the sky there? How would it have rained the day before?!

…Was there a forest or something inside her own satchel? Because if she were being honest with herself, that would be amazing and she would not want to leave.

Deciding better to know for sure, Hazel pulled off her bag, flipped open the flap, and shoved her arms as deep in as they could go. Her bag went up to her shoulders without issue. Shrugging, she tried to push her head in next, but while all the stuff inside had shifted around her arms, her face immediately smooshed against clothes and books and all sorts of other things she had decided to carry with her. No amount of wiggling could get past, leaving her no other option but to pull herself back out.

No luck there, Morgan. Is it because I didn't cast a spell on my bag but used the Making? Or is there a more advanced method I could use to do that if I knew how? She plopped back down on the roof and twisted the flap of her bag in her hands. Or maybe this is part of the difference between druid magic and wizard magic? It certainly lent credence to the idea that her mother could have learned both styles of magic, hopefully intentionally.

Morgan snuggled into her neck, and the reason for his sudden burst of cuddliness quickly became clear when yet another owl swooped down and landed on the roof of the pub. Not the same one as last time, thankfully; she doubted that particular owl would have forgiven her so quickly. This one still snapped its beak towards her impatiently, however, so she untied the letter and watched it immediately take flight away from her. Seeing the familiar green ink on the front bearing her name, she shook her head as she tore the envelope open. Did Hogwarts not have any friendly owls they could send her way?

Ms. Potter,

I must admit that your letter caught me by surprise, not to mention gave me some degree of pause. If it is agreeable, I would like to meet with you in person to address your concerns about why you feel that you would not be a good fit for Hogwarts. A wide variety of students have passed through these hallowed halls, and I have no doubts that at least one of them had concerns similar to those you feel.

As you seem to have some familiarity with Diagon Alley if the owl who delivered your letter was any indication, I would be happy to meet with you inside the Leaky Cauldron. I will be there at 9 in the morning in two days' time. Please reach out to me again should that not be possible so we can find another place or time.

I look forward to speaking with you.


Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

Morgan chirped in her ear, and she nodded in agreement. Yeah, this is going to be interesting, all right.

Never trust ideas that come to you at way-too-early-o'clock. Especially when they stick around and refuse to be thrown out. And in case you were wondering, that optical illusion wall between Diagon and Komarsh is SHAMELESSLY stolen from Universal Studios Florida.

Happy early Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans out there!

Silently Watches out.