Winter to Spring
A/N A Big
“thank you” to Gufa for her betaing, Brit-picking and polishing assistance!
walked slowly home, relishing the frosty February air. His finely-polished wooden cane made brisk tapping sounds on
the cobblestones beneath his feet.
He still loved
winter and the pure crystal stillness the snow and ice gave to the quaint old
structures on the outskirts of Ely. He chuckled as he remembered that he was as
old as some of these “ancient” structures.
shivered, and he clutched his satchel and cane tighter as he picked up his
pace. Yet another sign of old age, he thought wryly. Although he loved winter’s
cold, that cold settled in his bones and joints, making them twinge.
He rounded a
slight bend in the road and smiled as he caught sight of his two-story detached
cottage. It had been built by his grandparents long ago, before he was born.
The house, like him, had its own history.
The old wizard inhaled
deeply, smelling the sweetest perfume he knew: Porpentina’s French toast and
sausage. Mouth watering in anticipation, he entered the rounded wooden door,
and was promptly dive-bombed by a familiar ball of brown and white fur.
Newt said with a laugh as he held the Kneazle at arms’-length. Mauler purred
loudly and sniffed at her master’s face, flicking a pink, sandpapery tongue at
dear,” Porpentina called from the kitchen. “Breakfast is nearly ready and your
new apprentice is here. Coffee or tea, love?”
“Tea sounds excellent,
dear,” Newt said as he shifted Mauler onto his shoulder and looked towards the
large round table which served both as the Scamanders’ dining room table and the
work table where Porpentina made the numerous healing potions Newt used. For
the first time, he noticed the young woman seated there, looking at him with a
mixture of anticipation and nervousness.
there,” Newt said kindly, remembering all too well how nervous he had been on
his first day at his first job. Oh no, the 84 years since that time had not
erased that memory. “You must be Miss Lavender Brown.” He smiled as he saw
Hoppy curled up like a white fur blanket on the young witch’s lap and Milly rubbing
his black and white back against her legs. Ah yes, Newt had a feeling Lavender
Brown would work out quite well for him. The Kneazles always knew.
Lavender tried to stand, but Newt waved his hand.
“You don’t need
to stand on my account, Miss Brown,” he said, his dark eyes twinkling. “I was
never much for ceremony. Besides, Hoppy would never forgive me for depriving
her of a warm perch.”
at that, and some of the nervousness left her eyes. In the adjacent room,
separated by an archway, an Augurey with a healing wing gave a soft cry. A Crup
with a bandage on its left paw and its forked tail gave a yawn, then a bark of
Porpentina came into the room, carrying a tray with two plates piled high with
sausages and French toast. There was jam, maple syrup, butter and powdered
sugar arranged in the middle of the table.
“So, how was
Parker’s new aethonon?” Porpentina asked as she carefully manoeuvred the trays
onto the table.
“Oh, he’ll be all
right,” Newt said. “Just picked up a nasty stone and bruised his hoof. But
Auger will be fine before a fortnight’s over.” He gently put Mauler down on the
ground with a final, affectionate pet and placed his satchel next to his chair.
He then started to sit down, but Porpentina brought him up short.
“Wash your hands
first,” she said, a hint of sternness in her merry blue eyes.
Newt stood back
up with a laugh and apologetic look at Lavender. “My memory slips on occasion.
Thankfully, I have Porpentina to remind me of things.”
in response as she gently lowered Hoppy to the ground and stood up. Hoppy and
Miller joined Mauler by the small fireplace to the right of the table. “I
should wash my hands, too.”
“Right this way,
then,” Newt said as he led the way to the kitchen. The small kitchen consisted
of a wood-burning stove, a tiny ice box which stored frozen meat for the
Scamanders and a much larger ice box which stored needed potions and animal food.
A trough with a pump handle spout was squeezed between the large ice box and
the stove. Newt pumped the handle a few times, and clear water came gushing
out. Lavender tentatively eased her hands towards the stream of water, then
thrust them in when she realized it was warm. She reached for the ivory-coloured
bar of soap next to the pump and thoroughly washed her hands. Newt followed,
but as he was lathering his hands, he heard a loud bell clamouring from the
front of the house.
“Sounds like we
have a customer,” Newt said as he flung the water and soap from his hands and
shut off the water. He sighed as he hastily dried his hands. Once again, it
looked as if breakfast would have to wait. He turned to Lavender. “You can go
join Porpentina if you would like. I may be a few moments.”
“May I come with you?” Lavender asked. “I am here to learn,
Newt smiled and
nodded. “Very well. Now, let’s go see who it is.”
“It’s little Andy
Rabnott,” Porpentina announced as soon as Newt and Lavender came back into the
kitchen. “His new Pygmy Puff has a bit of a cough. I’ve already sent him into
“What colour is
it?” Newt asked as he went to a small cabinet on the left wall. He pulled out
the centre drawer and pulled on a pair of fine black gloves that clung to his
gnarled hands like a second skin. He handed Lavender a similar pair of red
“It’s one of
those new green and white striped ones.” Porpentina gave her husband a knowing
look, and he shook his head with a rueful smile.
“Those are prone
to colds and sinus trouble, aren’t they?” Lavender said eagerly. “Something
about their noses, they are narrower, right?”
Newt said, nodding his approval. “Porpentina, do we have any…?”
“It’s already on
your desk,” his wife responded. “I’ve taken to making batches of Pygmy Puff
Expectormist and bottling it. We seem to be getting at least two cases a day. Did the Weasley brothers say
anything about fixing the problem?”
“They are still
working on it, last I heard,” Newt replied.
He and Lavender went
into the adjacent room. The Augurey looked at
them with its sombre eyes and tilted its vulture-like head. The Crup wagged its
injured tails slightly at their approach. A cage of guinea pigs, which was
placed on a larger medicine cabinet near Newt’s office door, squeaked in
greeting as the two wizards entered the office.
Inside was a
young boy of seven or eight, wearing a bright red knit cap and matching
muffler. His blue coat was partially unbuttoned, and two bright red knit
mittens poked out of the left pocket. Melting snow covered the tips of his
black boots. He held a green and white-furred Pygmy Puff close to his chest. Its
pink tail drooped over the boy’s wrist.
there, Master Andy,” Newt said to the child, whose eyes were red rimmed. “What
have we here, young man?”
“I think my Pygmy
Puff is sick,” Andy said. He thrust the little ball of fluff to the wizard. The
Pygmy Puff gave a squeaking little cough.
“I see,” Newt
said as he gently picked up the Pygmy Puff and inspected it with his
still-sharp eyes. “And what’s his name?”
little boy responded. “I like the Cannons, so I named him Chudley.”
“I rather like
the Cannons, too,” Newt said as he carefully flipped the Pygmy Puff on its back
and slowly stroked its belly. The Pygmy Puff chattered and purred, the noises
punctuated by a couple of sharp coughs.
said. He turned to Lavender. “Well, what do you think?” He handed the tiny
creature to the young witch. She blinked in surprise but took Chudley and
peered closely at it, like Newt had done. She noticed the fur near what passed
for its face was slightly wet and matted. She tickled the mouth region, and the
creature’s wet, pink tongue licked at her finger and purred in between squeaky
“A cold, but not
a bad one,” Lavender said. She looked up to Newt for confirmation, and he
nodded and smiled. Encouraged, she turned to the boy. “You were smart to bring
him in when you did. Chudley should be all right, with a bit of medicine.”
“Who are you?”
Andy asked, curious, as he took Chudley back.
Lavender,” she replied. “I just started here. Chudley is adorable. When did you
brought him,” Andy replied with a bright smile. Then he turned back to Newt,
who was placing a small bottle in a paper bag. The older wizard took another
bottle and an eyedropper.
Chudley five drops of his medicine twice a day, like this.” Newt filled the
eyedropper about half full of a bright red liquid, then held it in front of the
Pygmy Puff. The wet tongue instantly came out and sucked at the medicine. “It
won’t be a problem, giving him the medicine.
The trick will be keeping him from finding the bottle and drinking it all at
“Would that hurt
him?” the little boy asked with round eyes.
“It might,” Newt
said. “It’s more likely that it will make him race around the room for hours,
and your mother would have my hide. The sugar and menthol tends to make them
hyper. There, he’s all done.” Newt removed the now-empty eyedropper from the
Pygmy Puff’s mouth.
Chudley purred in
pleasure as a much happier Andy took the paper bag and his pet back to the
parents I said ‘hi,’” Newt said with a wave as the boy went back into the snowy
cold. Chudley’s long tail could be seen hanging out of Andy’s coat pocket.
“I will,” Andy
said as he waved back, paper bag clutched to his chest.
As soon as the
little boy disappeared out of sight, Newt closed the door. He took off his
gloves and took Lavender’s gloves, placed them back in the drawer and sat down
at the table. Lavender sat across from him.
“I had a feeling
it would be a quick case,” Porpentina said as she served the French toast and sausage, which she had kept warm by
warming spells. “What do you like on your French toast, dear?”
please,” Lavender replied.
happens,” Newt said. “Sickness and emergencies don’t always wait for breakfast
and supper. We were lucky with this one, just a Pygmy Puff with a small cold.”
“I had Hagrid. I
handled Blast-Ended Skrewts.” Lavender grimaced at the memory. “I doubt
anything could get much worse than that. I…” and here she flushed, suddenly
shy. “I’m glad you agreed to take me on as an apprentice. It’s really an honour.
This is what I’ve wanted to do for ages.”
This was me, so
many years ago, Newt thought, a bit wistfully.
“Well, I need a
good apprentice,” Newt said. “As my dear wife likes to remind me, I’m not
getting any younger, and there is a need for another animal healer in this
“Well, I hope I won’t let you down,” Lavender said. “I really want to
Newt looked at
her eager face. Yes, just like me, when I was her age. So long ago.
“I think you are
going to do just fine,” Newt replied.