You may or may not know that I am quite serious about my fan fiction writing. I was thinking about Dumbledore, and those socks he wanted... Here is the first part of a short story involving Dumbledore's socks.
It looked almost like a wizarding shop. Small, cozy, there was a small round wooden table at the window where two women in shawls were sitting with paper cups of tea, probably, laughing. A table over – there were only the two tables – three woman sat, focusing intently on the work in their hands--socks, he could see, heels about to be turned.
It was not a wizard shop. The spinning wheel which took up the other half of the window, the one to the left of the door, was not spinning of its own accord. If he had a wool shop with a spinning wheel it would spin all the time. The clippings in the window would be from the daily prophet, the knitters in them would be waving to passers by, and he would have the exterior painted a prettier color than medium-old-dirty-beige. “I should have – purple, I think. And pretty china teacups, with roses, and the roses would be blooming and going back to buds while they drank. I do like those heart’s ease in the window box, though.” No one noticed that as he passed them, and put his hand to the door handle, the plants perked up and suddenly looked like the examples in a gardening magazine, thicker, fuller, and greener than they had moments before, the faces on the flowers giving the odd impression of winking.
She had seen this man before – he came in from time to time. He always looked a bit formal, in his narrow lapelled suit and wing tip shoes, his long beard hanging down in front of his tie, if he was wearing one, a flat visored cap perched incongruously on his thick white hair. If Santa lost a great deal of weight… she always thought when she saw him. He’s just a bit old-fashioned, though. To him the forty years ago that he bought that suit must seem like yesterday. Takes his tea with several lumps of sugar, I recall.
He came up to her, as he always did, smiling kindly. “Good morning,” he said. “I hope you are faring well today?” His eyes really did twinkle – she had not seen too many twinkling eyes in her day. I wonder if it’s the way he smiles that does that, or something in his eyes themselves? Well, no matter.
“Well enough, thank you,” she replied, smiling.
“And business, has it been good?” he asked, politely, looking directly at her.
“Fair enough. The first few years are always a bit difficult, but I should be rounding the bend any day now,” she said, surprising herself. The precarious nature of her income and outgo, and the number of nights she had breakfast cereal for dinner, were closely guarded secrets.
“I do think there is a great resurgence coming in knitting. It may be a few years, but I do sense that things will pick up. They move in cycles, you know. Now that is a lovely yarn I did not see last time.” He was nodding his head toward a very forward looking hank of thick and thin yarn, hand dyed in purples and mauves. She smiled at him.
“You have marvelous taste. That’s hand-dyed in Whales. She’s going to go far, that one. Would you like to see it? I always think you really have to touch the yarn to appreciate it.” She was taking the yarn down from the hook behind her as she spoke, and placing it into his hands. “It always seems like magic to me, the way these dyers can blend the colors, and the results! This makes a lovely scarf or hat. It’s quite dear, but you can mix it with another yarn for a sweater and if this is in the yoke it will draw the eye right up to the face.”
“Quite lovely, I agree. Alas, I know of no one to whom I could give such a sweater. But today I am on a mission,” he confided, twinkling at her again. She tilted her head as a sign that she was listening, and he went on. “I have been wanting nice thick socks for many years now, nice thick socks to wear in a drafty old place for the winter. People will insist on giving me books instead. It does occur to me that there is more than one way to get one’s heart desire, however. I would like to knit myself some socks. I have enquired and been told no one does this any longer, and yet I see several ladies knitting them over at your table. I had thought you might succeed where others had failed.”
It was a warm feeling, that vote of confidence, a warm feeling and a vindication. They thought she was crazy, the lot of them, and yet here was this man wanting to knit his own socks, and he never had, and he nearer a hundred than fifty. It was going to be the people no one expected who took it up again – this was just the latest sign. “I have some nice wools here – these are all machine wash, and we’ve got needles and patterns. Did you have a price range in mind?” I’ll give him the yarn if he can’t afford it. Nice old man, and it’ll be worth it just to see him doing it.
“I believe I can manage. Your very clearly posted prices make that clear to me. Do you know that some shops require one to enquire for each price?” He seemed a bit chagrined.
“Yes, I’ve never liked that myself. Embarrassing, and then you feel you have to buy something, even if you can’t afford any of it. Here I’ve got it all laid out, and we have a small selection of bargain yarns in the back for people who need real indestructibility,” she responded.
“Oh, I believe I will be able to repair them. It is just knowing how to knit them myself. My mother did, you know, but I never learned.”
“Well, we will have you speeding along in no time.”
“She sat me down with several young ladies, Fawkes, and showed me how to hold the needles for plain knitting. It’s not like holding a wand, I recalled that, but the temptation was great. I did persist, however, and I have this to show for it. I am trapped between amusement and amazement each time I cast my eyes upon it.”
It was a more or less square bit of wool, about six inches square. Dumbledore regarded it fondly. “Holes here and there where there should not be, Fawkes, and it is not quite square, but it will do for under the teapot. I have discovered my mistakes and shall do better on this next one. We shall have you leave it in Professor Mac Gonagal’s room, and see if she notices…” His eyes were twinkling again.
The surface of the desk was warm from the sun in that corner, and he ran his fingers over it lovingly. It was smooth from years of wear, mellowed with age, very very pleasant to the touch. “I am learning a great deal, Fawkes. Silk, for example, is not necessarily as soft as silk, not in a knitting yarn at least, and cotton, sometimes cotton is. But we will be knitting with wool. Wool with something else mixed in. And we will be using five needles at one time. I will admit I am impressed with myself. One must never stop learning, Fawkes. It keeps the mind alert, active, and in this case, it will keep the feet warm as well. But I shall prepare properly for my lesson.
****Next – Dumbledore enters the Penseive…****