The Wand Chooses the Wizard
The last shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold letters over the door read Ollivander’s: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window.
A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It was a tiny place, empty except for a single, spindly chair that Flitwick sat on to wait. Harry felt strangely as though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a load of new questions that had just occurred to him and looked instead at the thousands of narrow boxes neatly slotted into shelves. A warm pressure like he had never felt, seemingly opposite to the cold darkness of Flitwick's teleportation thing, closed in around him as he entered. It felt rather like a pair of tight, comfortable pajamas, although Harry had never felt that sensation before either. The very dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.
"Good afternoon," said a soft voice. Harry jumped. An old man was standing before them, his wide, pale eyes shining like moons through the gloom of the shop.
"Hello," said Harry awkwardly.
"Ah yes," said the man. "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon. Harry Potter." It wasn't a question, even though Harry was still blonde and lacked a scar. "You have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work."
Mr. Ollivander moved closer to Harry. Harry wished he would blink. Those silvery eyes were a bit creepy. "Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power, and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favored it - it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course."
Mr. Ollivander had come so close that he and Harry were almost nose to nose. Harry could see himself reflected in those misty eyes. "And that's where..." Ollivander touched the place where Harry's lightning scar would be with a long, white finger. "I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," he said softly. "Thirteen inches exactly. Elder. A powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands... well, if I'd known what that wand was going out into the world to do..."
He shook his head and then, to Harry's relief, spotted the professor. "Filius! Filius Flitwick! How nice to see you again... spruce, fourteen inches, rather whippy, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir, it is," said Flitwick, drawing the wand and holding it up to the old man's inspection.
"Holding up quite well, I see, and quite happy where it is" said Mr. Ollivander, giving Flitwick a brilliant smile. "Well, now… Mr. Potter. Let me see." He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his pocket. "Which is your wand arm?"
"Er - well, I'm right-handed," said Harry.
"Hold out your arm. That's it." He measured Harry from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round his head. As he measured, he said, "Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, the heartstrings of dragons, the venom of many varieties of magical snake… we even use nundu bone, very difficult to come by. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no magical creatures are the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand."
Harry abruptly realized that the tape measure, which was measuring between his nostrils, was doing this on its own. Mr. Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes.
"That will do," he said, returning, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the floor. "Right then, Mr. Potter. Try this one. Beachwood and dragon heartstring. Ten and three quarters inches. Nice and flexible. just take it and give it a wave."
Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit, but Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of his hand almost at once. "Maple and demiguise hair. Nine inches. Quite whippy. Try -"
Harry tried - but he had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.
"No, no - here, ebony and occamy feather, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out."
Harry tried. And tried. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for. The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.
"Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we'll find the perfect match here somewhere… I wonder… unusual combination… holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple." This wand let off a small spray of golden and blue sparks and was quite warm to the touch, but Ollivander tore it from his grasp and practically pranced away.
"What if there's no wand for me here?" Harry asked.
"I don't think that will happen, Mr. Potter, we're not nearly through yet," said Mr. Ollivander happily, handing him yet another rod of wood. "Try this one, mahogany, fifteen inches with occamy venom. No? As I was saying, I would conduct an interview with you and craft you a wand to fit your personality. The method we're doing right now usually works…" Ollivander was now somewhere far above Harry's head, still rummaging around. "But sometimes a customer is simply too difficult to match with the ones a wandmaker has in stock at the time. Hmm… well, why not? Try this one. Rowan with basilisk venom, twelve inches."
Harry took the wand, and felt a sudden heat in his fingers, along with an increase in the comfy pressure on his skin. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air, and a stream of gold and green sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls. Flitwick whooped and clapped as Mr. Ollivander cried, "Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well... how curious... how very curious... " He put Harry's wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still muttering, "Curious... curious…"
"Sorry," said Harry, "but what's curious?"
Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare. "I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the vial of venom which resides in your wand is not the only stock from that particular snake. There is another vial; just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand, when its brother… why, its brother gave you that scar."
"Yes, thirteen inches. Elder. A special session, as I told you of earlier. He brought the basilisk venom himself at the age of fifteen; the only venom I've seen for a long time... curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember... I think we must expect great things from you, Mr. Potter... After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things - terrible, yes, but great."
Harry shivered. He wasn't sure he liked Mr. Ollivander too much. He paid ten gold Galleons for his wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed them from his shop.
As they began to walk back to the Cauldron to exit the Alley, Harry decided to bring up something else, to get rid of the worried look in Professor Flitwick's eyes, and asked him "Did you know my parents, sir?"
Flitwick sighed. "I did, Harry, but not well," he said, somewhat apologetically. "They were just students of mine; exceptional students, yes, but we didn't have a particularly close relationship. I can tell you that you look almost exactly like your father; except for the eyes. You have your mother's eyes."
Harry nearly choked up hearing that he looked just like his father. "Well… do you know who I can ask for more?"
Flitwick paused for a moment to open up the brick wall to the Cauldron. "Hmm… one of your professors, Severus Snape, was quite close to your mother, I understand. And I think that one of your father's friends, Remus Lupin, is around. You could send an owl to Lupin, and of course you can just ask Severus while he's in his office, sometime after school begins."
Harry nodded, and took the offered hand a little tentatively. Before he could, though Flitwick raised it, smacking himself in the forehead. "Oh!" he cried. "I can tell you a little bit. The story's quite famous among us professors nowadays; come on, let's sit down so I can tell you it."
They sat at a table and Flitwick smiled as he gazed off into the distance for a moment. "Your father always loved your mother," he said suddenly. "From the moment James saw her, he was smitten. All through his time at Hogwarts he never had a girlfriend, though he could have easily; nearly every girl there was smitten with him."
"But not Mum?" Harry guessed.
"No, not Lily. She considered him a braggart, an arrogant prankster who didn't care one whit about proper behavior." The professor laughed. "To be fair, she was right. I have no idea how many detentions James got, sometimes it seemed like every single night. For turning the house banners into real versions of the house mascots, for example; for letting loose bludgers in the corridors; for charming the blankets of Slytherin house to cling to those students misfortunate enough to snore; for making everyone in the whole school speak like medieval knights for a day.
Harry was somewhat alarmed at this; his father a troublemaker? But Flitwick seemed to notice this and made haste to reassure him. "Understand, James and his friends went to great lengths to ensure that no-one was hurt by their pranks. When one of them got out of hand and nearly led to the death of another student, James himself saved his life. They merely wanted to make people laugh, and did so. Truthfully," he mused, "it was probably a good thing that we had them. The war was on in full at the time, and we all needed to be able to laugh, but there was precious little to laugh at. Ah well.
"So, James was smitten with Lily, but she saw right through him. For six years she resisted his advances, right up until… well, until the middle of James' sixth year. His parents, who were fighting against Voldemort, were killed."
Flitwick sighed. "It came a big shock to him, to be suddenly an orphan. He had no place to go, and no clue what to do. Lily was always soft-hearted, and offered for him to stay with her for the Easter break.
"Well, he did, and she brought him back to himself. He was never quite the same, though; he had the reality of the world forcibly impressed on him, and soon put an end to the pranks, saying that he didn't see the point. He tried to be a role model for everyone; 'What my parents were to me, I want to be to others,' I think I heard him say once. He succeeded; his considerable talents were turned towards others instead of mischief, and he did indeed become a role-model for many people during the last months of school.
"So he was made Head Boy in his seventh year, and Lily was of course Head Girl. She was, I think, far more impressed with him now that his head had deflated. He had stopped asking her out every day, and seemed to have moved on from his crush on her. I think that she was somewhat disappointed, actually. After all, she had gotten used to it, for nearly six years, and he was no longer the sort of person she would reject out of hand. But he asked her out again, more seriously, for Valentine's day that year, and they were together from then on. Got married just a year or so out of school, and had you when they were only twenty, and then… and then…"
Flitwick sniffed, as Harry woke from his near trance. His father had turned around, it seemed, and became a far better person, and his mother fell in love with him for it… he fell out of this second reverie when Flitwick stood and held out his hand.
"Brace yourself, Harry," Professor Flitwick said sternly. "It will be easier this time, but it's always better to be prepared."
Harry nodded, taking a deep breath and grasping the hand, and…
Flitwick and Harry walked down to number four, a little unsteadily on Harry's part, and Flitwick opened the door with a wave of his hand after banishing the illusion over Harry.
"You!" cried Vernon from the stairs. "Why are you back here?"
"I live here," Harry replied, rolling his eyes.
Flitwick glared at Vernon. "What will you do once I leave?" he demanded, flicking his wand and making a glazed look come over the fat oaf's face.
"I going to throttle him until he passes out," Vernon said dreamily, "and then lock him in his cupboard for a week or so."
Flitwick was shocked, but seemed to set himself after a moment and asked, "What cupboard is this?"
Vernon reached over the railing over the stairs and pointed to the door to my cupboard. "He lives there," he said, still in that dreamy trance.
Flitwick was now radiating a clear aura of menace, despite his small stature, and stepped forward. "You will give your nephew a proper room," he ordered, "and feed him properly as well. Is that understood?"
The professor flicked his wand again, dispelling the glazed look and leaving Vernon to collapse against the railing. "Harry," he said, turning to face the boy, "I'm going to leave the spell on you to keep them away. Do you think that they will be willing to transport you to King's Cross on the first?"
Harry made a face. "When they're also being forced to give me a room?" he asked. "Definitely not. Besides, I don't think they would be able to get in the car with that spell on."
Flitwick sighed. "All right then. I or another professor will come to take you to King's Cross at, oh, ten thirty, half an hour before the train leaves. I'll show you to the platform and then let you ride the train and make friends. Alright?" Harry nodded, and Professor Flitwick smiled. "Good. Don't let them push you around, alright? They can't do anything to you, remember that." Flitwick stepped outside, and with a CRACK! he was gone.
Harry turned towards Vernon, struggling to stand, and took a cautious step forward. An invisible wall seemed to move with him, forcing Vernon up the stairs in a clearly unpleasant manner, considering the fat man's yelp of pain. Harry grinned.