The revised Dark Fall.
Severus Snape had made a few arrangements for the end of summer. He planned for the group to return to Hogwarts early, and then they could test Willow to see exactly where she would need to focus her studies. He intended for his niece to get a complete, proper magical education despite what his sister wanted. Which of course, in his opinion, meant taking her to Hogwarts.
But not until they'd made a trip through Diagon Alley to pick up all the supplies that she might possibly need. There were a few things that he wouldn’t mind picking up for himself as well, since he’d be in the area. He had the feeling that she would be amazed at the Wizard's shopping area, especially since there was nothing like it in Sunnydale.
His father had been delighted at the news, having given up all hope for anything civil from Sheila. Learning that he had a magically gifted granddaughter had been a pleasant surprise. Willow would gradually meet her other relatives, the ones that weren't the Rosenberg side. The interesting ones, if he did say so himself.
She'd delighted in Diagon Alley, and Draco had snickered and had great fun teasing her about the way she’d stared and babbled questions and observations at them, asking about everything from wizarding wardrobes to why anyone would want pickled newt’s liver, to the use of owls to goblins. Her enthusiasm couldn't be curbed. The oddest thing was that she seemed a bit reluctant about the brooms, whispering a soft, slightly worried "But what if I fall off and break something?" while she watched Draco practically drooling over the new broom by Nimbus.
The part that had made her giggle like a small girl had been Ollivander's. He'd insisted that she would need a wand, and that she should really try to learn the proper way to use one. So, there had been the interesting occasion of watching her test wand after wand after wand, wrecking havoc on the careful organization of Ollivander's, and causing the small man to scurry all over, searching for just the right one. She finally ended up with an eleven inch willow wand with a core of powdered basilisk scales. The question of just where Ollivander had found basilisk scales would be something to come back to on another occasion.
Ollivander had seemed delighted, and Severus had known that his father would be impressed that Willow had such an unusual wand. With such a core, would she be sorted into Slytherin? He sighed, remembering yet again how difficult it could sometimes be to guess where a student would go. Though it might be easier with someone who was already fairly grown instead of an eleven year old child.
They'd then taken floo powder to Hogsmeade, another experience that had left Willow amazed and impressed. It was such a pleasure to introduce her to his world, something he felt was obviously long overdue. He could hardly wait for her reaction to the actual school. Hogwarts Academy was located in an old castle, one with an assortment of towers, and high, vaulted ceilings, with enchantments worked into the very stones.
Her reaction proved to be everything that he could hope for, a look of wide-eyed astonishment as she looked over it, seeking to memorize the impressive silhouette.
"You want me to take classes in magic inside an enchanted castle? It's amazing... no wonder Draco wasn't impressed by my parent's house." Her voice was filled with wonder.
Hagrid was waiting when they reached the lake's edge, watching Draco with a slight scowl, and giving a nod when he saw Severus. "I see yer back then, Professor Snape. Who's the lass?"
Willow froze for a moment as she caught her first look at Hagrid. Her gaze traveled up, as her eyes grew larger. "Wow... he's really big."
Draco leaned over, a sly smile on his face as he murmured "Hagrid's half giant. Giants have a bad reputation in wizard circles. Granted they are even bigger, close to thirty feet tall…"
Willow glanced at Draco, and then back at Hagrid, her eyes wide and unsure. With a slightly shaky smile, she held out one hand to Hagrid, and offered a quiet "I'm Willow... umm... pleased to meet you, mister Hagrid?"
Hagrid's huge hand engulfed Willow's and he grinned at her with his dark eyes gleaming. "Pleased ter meet ya."
Severus sighed to himself, before clearing up the remaining confusion for Hagrid. "This is Willow Rosenberg, my niece, the daughter of my younger sister Sheila, whom you haven't met. Willow is coming here to fill in the gaps in her magical education."
"No place like Hogwarts to learn about magic. It's a fine school, no doubt about that." Hagrid's pleased voice was like a small roll of thunder. "What sort of gaps do you have, Willow?"
"I'm not entirely certain... that’s part of why we’re going here before the term starts. Uncle Sev said he'd arranged for me to be evaluated and placed for all the classes, and that I'd either have private lessons or sit in with the regular students in the places where I have less knowledge than a properly taught witch should have," Willow blushed and kept glancing up at Hagrid and over at the castle before glancing back at her toes.
"Don't worry, you'll be caught up in no time. You'll have ta sit in the boat with yer uncle and young Malfoy." Hagrid's good cheer seemed to reassure Willow.
Willow watched the castle as they glided across the lake in the pair of small boats, the water twinkling in the sunshine.
end part 1.