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A young Rowena fic, because... I have no idea - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
A young Rowena fic, because... I have no idea
Well, over at the Quill, we'd gotten talking about the intersection between the mainstream culture's religion and wizarding culture (I don't see much reason to believe that the spread of belief and non-belief would be any different in the wizarding community than in the Muggle community at any given point in time), and Spartina reminded me that I'd been planning to introduce the gentleman below in a chapter of Blood in the Earth that was never written. So, here he is.

BTW, I gave Rowena Ravenclaw one of Harry's skills.

Rowena Ravenclaw tied up her hair as severely as she could, and made sure her wimple covered all the strays. It wasn't piety that made her do so.

Patting at her head--she didn't have a glass in her cell--she was certain that it was unnoticeable, but she still listened at her door for a great while before she dared to slip out into the corridor. She rushed to the stairs and ran out into the dewy dawn. If she hurried, she could be back before morning prayers, and no one would be the wiser. The monastery was only across the way, and Brother Leofric would be out walking to meditate on the sunrise, or whatever it was he meditated on.

She only had to walk for a moment before she rounded a bend and found him, as she always had found him in the mornings as a child. He was standing atop a rock, his arms crossed, watching the movement of the leaves.

"Rowena," he said, turning to her and smiling without any surprise. "Or shall I say 'Sister'?"

She looked around, supposing herself to look rather wild, and said, "Rowena."

"And yet, you wear the habit. And I heard you take your vows to the novitiate yesterday."

She nodded. "I... I believe I must have sinned," she said. "In some way."

"What do you mean, my child?"

"They cut my hair yesterday."

"It's custom."

"Yes, but..." Rowena sighed and raised her hands to her wimple and carefully unwound it, revealing her sin for Brother Leofric--and anyone who passed by--to see.

He smiled. "Ah."

"'Ah'?" she repeated. "Brother Leofric, I've committed a sin of... of... "

He laughed. "Of being a lovely young girl. If the other novitiates had your power, I've no doubt they'd awaken with long locks as well."

"But my... power. I didn't intend this!"

"You don't know enough magic to have intended it. It happened because you missed your loveliness and wept for losing it. Many of our sort accomplish similar feats. There's no blame in it."

"Even if I called on no demonic power, there's still the sin of vanity. And only a demon would answer a wish made in such a state!"

"Did you speak to a demon?"


"Did you summon one in any other manner? I want you to think carefully. Did you say any incantation or invoke the name of a demon?"

She shook her head, and started to put her wimple back on. "No, Brother."

He sat down on the rock and patted a spot beside him. "Sit with me, Sister. I have thought for many long years about this power we can invoke, and how it appears in the eyes of God."

"It's hateful to Him!"

"I don't believe it is." His eyebrows drew in thoughtfully. "Were we to call on demons or on the false gods, it would be hateful to Him. Were we to harm our fellow creatures to perform our tasks, it would be hateful to Him. But what we have is a talent He gave to us, and what He gives must have a purpose."

"The Abbess says I should count some things as miracles."

"Perhaps. But I think God doesn't worry himself about the state of your pretty hair, and cause miracles on its behalf." He smiled at her. "I'd recommend hiding it, though. If you gain a reputation as one who works miracles, you won't have time to finish your studies, for all the pilgrims coming to ask you to create a fortune for them."

"Is that why you don't use the power?"


"Are you forbidden?"

"Yes and no. I am not forbidden by the archbishop, my Confessor, who knows all. He shares my thought of gifts from God. But I have forbidden myself, and taken a vow before the Holy One to that effect, to no longer use magic as I was wont to do as a youth. I will use it now only in extremities of danger."

Rowena frowned. "If you don't believe it is sinful, and your Confessor agrees, then why forbid yourself?"

For a long time, she though the wouldn't answer. He looked out over the trees, his lips pursed, his arms crossed. Finally he looked up at the lightening sky. "My temptations were never of the flesh," he said. "The life of a husband and lover had no appeal to me, nor was I a glutton. I was not tempted to rage or greed. But pride? Oh, yes. And most of all, sloth. Our power, Rowena, is a temptation to physical sloth, a way to avoid the work of the world and separate ourselves from the directive to Adam, to obtain his bread by the sweat of his brow. It was my greatest temptation to shirk toil by way of Charms, and for that reason, I've made vows against doing so, and I have kept them."

"But what if your hair suddenly grew back without you doing a thing?"

He laughed. "I would call it a miracle and give praise, as my hair is not artificially abbreviated. My hair has been absent for so many seasons that I couldn't tell you what shade it bore."

Rowena finished putting her wimple back on, and sat on her hands. "Brother?"


"Shall I take the same vow?"

"You should ask your Abbess. Hide nothing from her, including your tresses."

"I understand."

"But if were to answer you for myself, I would say that you shouldn't. Your temptations are not my temptations, and your sins are not my sins. Vanity is not cured by refusing magic. And your greatest sin--the sin of separating yourself from your fellow man--is unrelated to magic."

"Yes, sir. I don't separate myself, Brother."

"Because the Abbess doesn't allow it. Now that your vows have been taken, you must learn to disallow it in yourself as well. But your talent? That, I believe you should nurture."


"I will teach you."

"But your own vow?"

"Rowena, I know your mind. The tempation of sloth won't be present while interacting with you. You'll leave nothing unstudied, and allow me to leave no question idle."

She tried not to smile. Brother Leofric had taught her to read when she'd been only a slip of a girl, wandering lonely through the streets after her parents had been killed by masked Furies, and he knew her well. "As you wish," she said. "Though the Abbess will need to approve."

"Of course. And with that, we should say good morning. There's a day ahead of us."


8 comments or Leave a comment
From: pandora_hyde Date: July 1st, 2004 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that was really lovely. You have so many creative stories bubbling up inside you, Fern.

Your dialogue intermixed with picturesque descriptions set the mood beautifully, giving it the feel of the past. Well done.

I have come to the same conclusions as you in regard to wizard life parallelling - no, wait, you said intersecting - non-wizarding life. Up until the 15th C, magic and science were one and the same. I believe it would be sometime during the Enlightenment (which corresponds, does it not, with JKR's secrecy law dates?) when muggle "magic" became science and the belief in "real" magic went away and the two worlds split. Just theory, naturally.

kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 1st, 2004 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Historical nitpick

Of course, a monastic wouldn't have a mirror, you're right about that, but I don't think that they used glass for mirrors then, anyway. Generally, it was a highly shined piece of silver or tin and then only the richest would have such a thing. So calling it a glass might be wrong, but you decide.

atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: July 1st, 2004 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
*sighs a happy sigh of house pride*

That was great, Fern. :)
sreya From: sreya Date: July 1st, 2004 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooo, I love it. I saw your earlier comments on writing about the Brother, and I'm excited that you brought Rowena in as well.

I know I saw a sentence with either a missing or misplaced word... but I can't find it now.

I find it particularly interesting that Rowena will "formally" learn her magic while a novitiate for the Church. It fits the time period, being one of the few ways in which people (particularly women) were educated.
alces_tess From: alces_tess Date: July 1st, 2004 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
That was an enjoyable mid-day read. I seem to have a weakness for historical HP fics, though, so perhaps I'm biased.

I did notice that Leofric seems to have a minor problem with his grammar, in there, however: I assume that But if were to answer you for myself should be But if I were to answer you for myself.
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: July 1st, 2004 11:22 am (UTC) (Link)
What a nice little scene! Brother Leofric reaches the same conclusion I reached last year: if the magic of Harry's world were real, it wouldn't be forbidden. Very well written, and interesting.
verdenia From: verdenia Date: May 23rd, 2006 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)

young nun Rowena

well written. interesting. I am intrigued.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: June 23rd, 2006 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been remembering this fic often lately, so you can imagine my delight to find it tagged and in your journal! I really love the idea of Rowena as a nun--you know, it just occured to me that much of that could be self-identification, as I've often rather wished I belonged to a branch of Christianity that would allow me to take orders, I'm a Ravenclaw, and I tend to end up teaching. Hmm. Anyway, it's just as lovely as I remembered.
8 comments or Leave a comment