“And just where do you think you’re going to start something this crazy?” Jared’s mom aimed a spatula at her son. “You’ve barely got enough savings for one year at Varnath University, and then you won’t have a thing.” She scooped enchiladas onto a plate and jostled it onto the place mat in front of her son. “Even Lilliana got a scholarship to Unknown University, and that’s because she spent a lot of time volunteering for Professor Ridcully.
“Mom, Ridcully’s an old dingbat who’s only working because he doesn’t know how to turn his tenure off.” Jared pressed himself against the back of his chair. “Besides, there are a lot of kids graduating with magical degrees who end up living in their parents’ basement because they can’t find that job they were promised would be waiting for them once they got their degree.”
“But gallivanting off into the wild blue yonder after the next Deathstick isn’t going to be any better.” Jared’s mom stabbed another enchilada out of the casserole dish and handed it to her husband.
“Lyre, I think we’re being a little hard on him.” Jared’s dad twirled a strand of cheese around his fork. Jared didn’t know if it was the years of working as an auditor for the Sophronia Bank, or having two teenage children, but his dad looked much more tired than he remembered. “I got my degree when I knew I could sit down and value the education. It took a couple of years.” He raised his glance over the rims of his glasses. “Remember Sturgis?”
Lyre smiled only for a second like she wished those days could come back. “Yes, I do. Parts of it, anyways. I do remember a guy with a moustache named Jenner trying everything he knew to get me to take a love potion.”
“But, your mother brings up a good point.” Jenner leaned forward. Lyre blew a strand of hair out of her face and served Lilliana dinner. “Where are you going to start on this?”
“Varnath has a great Wandlore studies department. There aren’t even any prerequisites.” Jared’s mom finally sat down. Unlike Jenner, Lyre’s job kept her energized. She operated a drive-thru potions business and managed to stay successful enough that they could afford to send their two children to college.
“I was thinking I would start at Professor Nomenclature’s. He was the one that encouraged me to explore what was capable with wand technology.” Jared picked up his fork and spun it in his fingers.
“I knew I didn’t like him.” Jared’s mom jabbed a bite with her fork.
“He’s also the one who showed me the wand he made that worked better than the wands they sell at Casterton’s. It was made with cocobolo wood and Seraph wing-feather. He can work a charm better than anyone I know.”
Jenner nodded at this and chewed thoughtfully.
“You aren’t seriously going to let him do this, are you?” His wife gripped her fork like a wand. “Jenner!”
“Lyre,” Jared’s dad set his fork on the table, “Jared looks pretty set on this. One way or another, he’s probably going to go. If we don’t show love, even when the decision is dripping in stupidity, then he’ll leave sooner and despise us for it. If we let him make those mistakes, he’ll always know he’s welcome here no matter what he does.”
Later that night, Jared set a duffel bag on his bed. Jared had fashioned backpack straps on this bag by crude stitching and enough duct tape it practically stood up on its own.
“I thought your dad said you wouldn’t leave so soon if we didn’t try and make you stay here.” Lyre stood in the doorway with her arms crossed.
“I just got word from Professor Nomenclature. He’s willing to meet with me before I go; Check over my list and give me last minute advice.” Jared didn’t look up from the open drawer of socks in front of him.
“And where will you go after that?” Lyre sat on the bed beside the bag.
“Down to Colorado, I think. There’s a herd of seer bison and several jackalope farms down there. I’d be able to cross three or four materials off my list just getting there.” Jared grabbed a handful of socks and dumped them into the duffel bag.
“Is this your list of stuff to get?” His mother picked up the notebook and turned to the first page.
“Yeah. I figured I need a list just for cores and another for the wood.”
“Spring-heel Jack horn, Puffkin fur… Where are you even going to find a Sphinx in States?”
Jared paused and watched her. “I… heard there were a few with a circus in Nevada.”
“And what would Sphinx hair do in a wand?” Lyre raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not entirely sure.” Jared flipped open a different notebook and turned to a page marked in green. “See, Sphinx aren’t inherently a Dark creature, but they definitely can be used for aggressive purposes. Get their little quiz wrong and they go on the attack. So, I think a wand made from Sphinx hair could be good for intricate spells, or spells that require more than a flourish to cast. Paired with the right wood, it could be a great offensive spell for duelling, medical spells, or even certain charms.”
“Do you plan on making any wands from Dark creatures?” His mother’s voice dropped.
“I have a few in mind. Not all curses are used against people, and some curses are beneficial. But those are ones where I’d need an actual wand shop to work in, not just me and my lathe wherever I can find a spot.” Jared shrugged and turned back to his dresser drawer.
“How… how long have you been planning this?”
Jared’s shoulders slumped and he turned his eyes to face the ceiling. “Since August last year.”
“The start of your senior year?”
“There really wasn’t anything we could do to stop you, then.”
“Not really. Professor Nomenclature and the online group have been giving me a lot of support to go and do this.” Jared shoved a stack of shirts into his bag.
“I see.” Jared’s mother rose from the bed. “Well, make sure you don’t leave before I’ve made you breakfast. I’ll get some food packed for you so you don’t starve to death before you find anything.” She kissed her son on top of his head before closing the door to his bedroom. “I love you.” She whispered before shutting the door tight.