Michelle was running late for work, not that that was unusual. In fact it was so regular that her boss had taken to scheduling her on half an hour before he needed her to start, just so he could be sure she'd arrive on time. Not that she knew about that, thankfully. If she weren't so utterly brilliant with the customers he'd have layed her off not long after she'd started. Not that she knew about that either.
Actually there was a lot of things she didn't know, but then there were many things she did that no one else understood, or payed any real attention to; she was a bit... unusual. Still, when she made it in to the small bookstore five minutes late - or twenty five minutes early - she seemed ever so please with herself. No one paid any attention to the raven black feather behind her left ear, or the fact that her socks didn't match.
A few hours later she'd shown her usual flair for finding just what someone was looking for; even putting a smile on the face of a grumpy older man who'd finally found a copy of a childhood favourite to give to his grandson. With the shop now quiet, she waved goodbye to Julie who was studying at university and only worked mornings, then set about organising some shelves that had been ransacked by a mob of school girls earlier that day.
She paused as she put some Harry Potter books back in order, remembering the unexpected visitors the night before; putting her hands to the folds of her skirt she felt the smooth yet irregular outline of the rose branch she'd found a few weeks ago. Who would've thought that just collecting odd little things which caught her attention like that could lead to something so... was exciting the right word?
It seemed to fit in any case.
The couple who'd dropped by her small flat in Ilford last night had explained it all to her, she had a rare gift; even rare amongst the small world she'd read about only to discover it was real. Or at least partly, the world was there and she'd been told how to find it. But the story in the seven books she now had in front of her was...
"We had to simmer it down a bit, in truth we can only dream that the war had turned out that well." The woman had said.
Oh she knew who the woman was, who both of them were; had known almost before they'd introduced themselves. Michelle supposed that logically it couldn't be real, that she must have dreamed it. But then she'd never been one to let logic get in the way of truth. Besides, the hole in her kitchen cupboard that was, then wasn't, and now was there again was pretty much proof that logic was nonsense.
She didn't see anything wrong with blasting a whole in her kitchen cupboard just to prove that she had, in fact, blown a hole in her kitchen cupboard. Still, there was probably easier ways to set reminders for herself. Though levitating tea cups clearly wasn't one of them, as she only had two left now. Not being able to use a remote to change the channel on the tv could probably have been a hint, she supposed.
By the time closing time had come, she'd resorted those same seven books at least a dozen times; before finally giving in and buying a set for herself. She'd read them before of course, but she couldn't pinch them from her sister now that she lived alone, and she so wanted to read them again. Especially with her new knowledge of the world within them.
It was Friday anyway, she didn't work Saturdays anymore, so hopefully would be able to get a good chunk read before they apparently came back on Sunday afternoon. Wanting to do just that, she stayed up till the early hours of the morning reading the first book. She might've been able to start on the second book, but after locking and unlocking her front door a few dozen times she'd decided to go to bed and make a fresh start in the light of day.
Saturday found her in a park not far from home, a stack of books by her side, soft grass under her feet, and a hastily made ham sandwich stuffed in her bag. The rose branch was laying between her and the books, out of sight of anyone who might walk past - not that she expected anyone around in the small rarely-used park, but still - just in case.
She finished the second book by mid afternoon, and layed back to watch the clouds while munching on her sandwich. She had intended to read all the books, but now, she was feeling restless. There was no way to tell which events were real, and which weren't. Did it really matter though? She'd been told that all the spells were real, but that most of the events were watered down. The story was just that, a story, she knew it well enough though, and if she wanted to learn - actually learn - well...
"The entrance is and isn't where we said it was, we actually left a big clue, but no on seems to notice. The Leaky Cauldron is just across the road from the Phoenix Theatre, no one's noticed that it used to be the Central Theatre, not even the owners. We hoped some muggleborns might get the hint and stumble in, but it hasn't happened yet."
The urge to go and look was just too much, so stuffing the books into her bag, Michelle slipped her - dare she call it a wand? - into the wasteband of her skirt, and headed to the station. She ended up reading the start of the third book on the train, and had got a fairly good start on it by the time she'd got to Charing Cross Road. When she got to the street she had a look around, and not noticing anything special right away she headed down the road in search of the theatre.
Michelle spotted the old pub before she saw the theatre, not that that was unusual for her; passing over the obvious while seeing what everyone else missed. It wasn't quite across the street from the theatre anyway, but a few doors down next to a steak house. As she was drew nearer she looked across the road and smiled at what she saw: A bookstore and a music shop, it was between them just as the books had said, but on the other side of the road.
It was almost a let down walking in to the rundown old pub, it was exactly as the books had described it. As great as that was, it also meant there was nothing new to see, it was just an old pub with a few people sitting at tables here and there, catching up over a drink.
"Hello there, haven't seen you about before. Can I get you anything miss?"
"Oh." Michelle exclaimed as she looked at the old man with few hairs and less teeth that had called out to her. "Umm, Tom, right?" She asked, and he cracked a smile at her.
"That's right," he assured her, "and welcome to the Leaky Cauldron Miss?"
"Michelle, Peters. But I'm just passing through." She pointed to a back door that she suspected lead to Diagon Alley. As she walked that way Tom came along behind her.
"Well I haven't seen you before so let me get the archway for you." He offered as she stepped out the back into the little courtyard.
"Oh that's ok, it's three up and two across right?" She asked him, pulling her wand from her waistband, and pointing it at a slightly worn brick in the middle of the wall.
"That's right miss." He nodded at her, "Thought you might be a new muggleborn, they're finding them at all ages these days of course. But with the wand shortage I usually have to help people through the arch, 'specially muggleborns who can't just borrow a wand off family."
She smiled at his helpful babbling way. "Oh but I am a muggleborn," she told him simply. "I only found out I was a w-witch on Thursday, after I made my wand." She went to tap the one slightly cleaner brick in the wall when she noticed the sudden silence behind her. Looking back, she saw old Tom standing there, absolutely still with a look of shock upon his face; it appeared he wasn't even breathing. "Are you OK?" She asked after a moment.
The old man looked up at her with awe. "Y-you, you made a wand?" He asked her just above a whisper, as though he couldn't believe what he was asking.
"Sure." She told him, and wriggled the ten inches of rose branch in her hand.
Somehow his eyes widened further as he looked upon the raggedy stick; it was crooked, with bits of bark peeling off it, while the thicker 'handle' end was stained a little red and had part of a feather's quill poking out. He looked it as though it were the holy grail.
"Bless my soul," whispered the old bartender, "a wandmaker." Pointing at the wall behind her, he nearly begged, "please, show me."
Shrugging, she turned and tapped the brick. A moment later it quivered and wriggled, soon a small hole appeared which quickly grew wider and wider. Then a second later a tall wide archway had formed in the wall, on the other side she could see a cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight. After a few moments of admiring the alley she only dreamed of seeing, she turned back only to see that Tom was gone.
Well, she supposed he was busy with his pub. Taking a step forward she entered Diagon Alley proper, it looked almost exactly like it had in the movies; perhaps a little longer, with a few more twists and turns. Most importantly though, it felt like a magical alley, with perhaps the exception of the relatively new looking electric lamps lining the street.
She wandered slowly down the alley, taking it all in with a serene smile on her face. Nodding a greeting to a few witches and wizards as she passed Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occassions, and Potage's Cauldron Shop, she stopped outside Quality Quidditch Supplies to admire a "Great Moments in Quidditch" poster in the window; its pictures showing a variety of what she guessed were famous plays.
Before long she came across Flourish and Blotts Bookstore, from the outside it was about the same size as the shop she worked at, but inside was much larger. Books of every conceivable size and shape lined the shelves, and she stepped further in to look for perhaps some beginners charms or something. Losing herself in the stacks she wasn't sure how much time had passed before she made her way to the small counter at the front of the shop. She'd found three books that she wanted to get, or at least to start with; Everyday Charms by Filius Flitwick she just had to get, and Modern Magical History - Third Edition seemed a more sensible way of learning what had really happened in her odd new world, while Natural Magical Oddities - A Collectors Guide just felt like something she couldn't possibly leave without.
It was only as she was placing them on the counter that she thought of a possible problem. "You don't happen to take muggle money by any chance do you?" She asked the blonde haired lady behind the counter.
The woman smiled at her, "Of course we do dear, now that Gringotts only exchange it for those with a vault." She shook her head as she rang up Michelle's books. "Silly really, when the ones who most need to exchange are the those without a vault. Still arguing with goblins never does any good." She placed the books in a stout paper - or was it parchment? - bag with a stylised 'F&B' on the side. "Now that'll be five galleons and two sickles, and it's six pounds to the galleon. But I can change extra for you if you'd like, most shops here only take wizarding currency."
"That'd be really helpful, thankyou." Michelle said as she pulled a tatty purse from her bag that looked like she'd stitched herself from scraps of fabric. "I don't suppose you could just change all of this could you?" She asked as she held up a crumpled wad of notes.
"Well lets see what we've got there." The woman - Hannah, her name tag claimed - said as she began trying to flatten out the mass. "Seventy five pounds," she said a minute or two later, "thats twelve galleons, eight sickles and fourteen knuts." She told Michelle, "gives you seven galleons, six sickles and fourteen knuts after the books."
Michelle just nodded that that was fine, and dropped the coins into her tatty purse a few moments later.
"Now, would you like me to shrink the bag down for you?" Hannah asked her while slipping the muggle notes into the register. "I'm just guessing you're a muggleborn?" She paused, then continued at Michelle's amused nod, "Wands are so hard to come by these days, so I can charm it to return to normal size when you open the bag." She offered Helpfully.
"No that's fine," Michelle assured her and pulled her wand out again. "I made this a few days ago, but I'm still learning to use it."
Hannah stared at the odd stick.
"Now let's see, Reducio!" With a tap the bag shrank down to the size of a match box, which Michelle promptly slipped into her bag. With a wave and a friendly smile she stepped out of the shop, apparently not noticing the seemingly frozen sales lady's stunned look, or the single tear that slid down the woman's cheek as she murmered reverently to herself "wandmaker."
Michelle spent some more time wandering the alley, window shopping, and picking up odd little bits that caught her fancy here and there. Some she bought - a galleon for a smokey glass ball that turned red whenever she held it - while others she found just laying in the street - such as the great brown feather that was now tucked behind her left ear. She now wore a secondhand dark purple robe that she liked the look of; even if it didn't match anything else she was wearing.
As she wandered from shop to shop she didn't seemed to notice the curious looks, and hushed whispers that were becoming more and more common as she passed. She did notice that Diagon Alley seemed to be getting busier as she reached the far end, where Gringotts came in to view. A bit further down, she came across a small closed up shop, the sign was old and the paint was peeling, the windows were grimey to the point that she could just barely see a purple cushion displayed behind the glass.
But it was the familiar figure sitting on the front step of the little shop that caught her attention. As she draw near, the figure looked up and smiled happily at her, before coming over to greet her.
"Hi Michelle, I thought I might find you here." The woman's smile grew as she continued, "I've been getting frantic floo calls from people saying there's a wandmaker in Diagon Alley."
Michelle blinked owlishly at the older woman, then turned to look back up Diagon Alley; a number of heads quickly ducked back into shops, while people in the street appeared to suddenly find themselves fascinated by blank walls and cracked cobble stones. "I just wanted to have a look around and get a few things." She fluttered the hem of her new robe in demonstration.
"I thought you might," the woman's eyes glazed over faintly as she continued, "my parents had to practically drag me away from here when I first learned I was a witch." She focused back on Michelle again, "But some of these haven't seen a wandmaker in almost 20 years, and others never have. You've brought a bit of hope with you today."
A slight frown furrowed Michelle's brow at that, "But surely Ollivander..." she stopped at the other woman's sad shake of the head.
"Come inside, let me explain further." She paused in lifting a big silver key to the lock on the shabby little shop's door. "There's something I'd like you to see too." Opening the door she waved Michelle in, then frowned slightly at the group of witches and wizards inching closer to the small shop.
Even if she hadn't seen the faded and peeling sign outside, Michelle would have recognised Ollivander's wand shop by it's layout. But it was empty, shelves upon shelves of nothing but dust, the odd narrow empty box here and there, a rickety stool in the corner, and the cushion in the windows, dull and dust covered, upon which lay a single wand.
"It's the only wand that no one dares use." Her companion explained, "according to wand lore, a wandmaker's first wand can only be held by them. It is only when they consciously craft for others that the wand will seek to choose it's bearer." A slightly mocking smile formed on her lips, "There's rumours of course that a curse will befall any who try to claim a wandmaker's first for themselves. It's nonsense, but it has at least kept that one safe."
"Hermione," Michelle asked the woman, "what happened to Ollivander?"
A wash of sadness passed over the bushy haired witch's face as her eyes glazed over again. "I told you how the war was so much worse than what was published. We had no way to detect muggleborns when it was over, so we put the story out there in the hope that some would read it and come looking for the magical world. But we couldn't put down the true horrors of the war, we wanted to give hope and invite them in, not scare them off. It worked to some extent, but we still missed so many." A soft smile formed on her face. "Then we finally got the underage magic detectors at the ministry working again a few months ago, there's almost thirty first years at hogwarts now, the largest class in a decade."
Her smile slipped away in sadness again, as she looked at Michelle, "But you want to know about Ollivander, we only vaguely hinted at that in the books." Taking a deep breath she started to tell the tale, "When Voldemort found out about the Elder Wand he wanted it more than anything, but while he could use it he wanted to be it's master, to truly possess it. He began with Ollivander, taking him away, questioning him, torturing him. Ollivander was tortured for weeks, at least, before Voldemort finally lost his patience at the lack of answers and killed him." She looked up at Michelle with haunted eyes that had seen too much, "Then he began hunting down other wand makers, determined to be the Elder Wand's master. When they wouldn't answer him, or couldn't give him the answer he wanted, he killed them."
"Some tried to hide, they only suffered worse when he found them. In the end, Voldemort had travelled the world, hunting down everyone he even suspected was a wandmaker; he never got his answer, but there were no wandmakers left either. Not a one. No one really noticed for a few months, but with their usual wandmaker gone they travelled to another, and another. It was almost a year after the fall of Voldemort that it became known, there were no wandmakers anywhere." She took a step close to Michelle as she continued, "Now, a family might only have one or two wands shared between it's members, the ministries around the world keep some for aurors of course, and most of the schools have several for students to learn with, and the stronger few among us learn some wandless magic. But there's only so much you can do without a wand, and there are no new wands, no one can make them. People have tried to make them, but they just end up with well finished sticks, there's something missing and no one knows what."
"That's why everyone looks at you with such awe, you made a wand; the first new wand made in fifteen years." Hermione reached out to take Michelle's hand and guide her over to the counter.
A case, larger than a wand box but equally as long, sat there, a small note in dusty parchment sitting upon it.
To my fellow wandmaker,
you need only touch the lock with a
wand crafted from your own hand to
open this case. Inside I leave you
all that I know of my craft.
Michelle looked up at the other witch in uncertainty.
"Ollivander often seemed to know things, but no one's been able to open that case; no one's had a wand of their own to unlock it with. But you do." Hermione told her with a faint hopeful smile.
Michelle took a step back and shook her head, turning slightly she looked at the window; a dozen or more people stood there, faces pressed against the dirty glass, watching, hoping. She stumbled back into an empty shelf, and quickly shook her head again. "I-I'm not right for this, I'm not some great talented mage. I just made a wand for a bit of a laugh, not for real, and I couldn't even do that without cutting my hand on a stupid feather!" As her breath panted out in near panic at the sight of the growing number of people at the window, she turned to run toward the back of the shop, hoping for another way out.
A hand caught hers as she rounded the shelves though, and she turned to see the desperate face of a childhood heroine she thought was only fiction looking at her.
"Please," Hermione begged, "I'll apparate you home, take you straight to your door, you won't have to see anyone. But please, take the box. Please."
She didn't want to disappoint anyone, but she wasn't a wandmaker, she'd done it once, as a joke, but it barely even looked like a wand, and she'd messed her hand up doing it, there was no way she'd be able to do it again. But she couldn't say no, so she just nodded her head without a word and was promptly pulled in to a crushing hug.
When she got home she rushed inside and slammed the door in Hermione's face, before dropping her robe to the floor, wrapping everything up in it and stuffing the whole lot in a back corner of her wardrobe. Not wanting to look at, or think about, any of it. After getting her breath back she wandered into her small kitchen to make herself some tea; determined to forget about it all and return to her old haphazard routine.
Two weeks later found Michelle sitting at her kitchen table, with three unread books and an unopened case in front of her. She'd been certain that she'd never want to look at any of it again. But the curiosity had slowly worn her down; how many people could resist a box that no one but them could open?
Taking a deep breath, she reached forward with her rosewood wand and tapped it to the small silver lock on Ollivander's case.
For a few seconds nothing happened, but just as she was starting to assure herself that she was right, she wasn't this great wandmaker everyone had seemed to think she was, and that it really was a mistake... there was a click.
The latch on the little case fell open, and what looked like a grey mist began to seep out of the cracks beneath the lid of the now unlocked box. She began to reach forward to lift the lid when it suddenly flew open, Michelle let out a startled "eep" as it banged loudly onto her kitchen table and let out a great puff of dust that had somehow got inside.
She spent a few minutes coughing in the dust cloud while she tried to open her kitchen window, then finally looking through the charms book she'd bought in search of something to clear the air. Soon the air in her little kitchen was perfectly clear, and smelling faintly like the sea; fetching a glass, she poured herself a glass of water before sitting down to look through the box.
The inside was much larger than out, she lifted out a letter and a larger envelope then peered at the mass of wood piled in the bottom of the box. The lid contained a large number of jars containing feathers, white hairs, and some grotty looking greyish-red things which looked disgusting. She then noticed a rolled up leather pouch in one corner of the box, and pulled it out. Unrolling it, she found a dozen pockets inside, each containing a tool of some sort; oddly shaped knives, what looked to be a tiny corkscrew that screwed both ways at once, a pair of tweezers with different length claws that would never close, and a tape measure which jumped out and started trying to measure anything and everything in reach.
She grabbed a hold of it and tucked it back in it's pocket; it seemed content to stay there this time. Rolling the tool pouch back up, she reached for the letter to see what Ollivander had to say.
My fellow wandmaker,
I am most pleased that another has learned the secret of my craft, though
I'm sure many have tried. As many young wandmakers learn the secret by
accident I shall put it simply for you: A drop of the makers blood will
bond a magical core to the wood. More than a drop is unessecary, as it
will neither strengthen nor weaken the bond. This has been kept a secret
since the banning of blood magics many years ago, please keep it so to
all but your apprentices.
As I am sure many years have passed since the last wandmaker fell to the
dark, I leave you with sufficient materials to make at least a hundred
wands. Please experiment on your own with woods and cores though, as
every wandmaker must find that which works best for them.
In the larger envelope you no doubt have before you, you shall find all
that I know of wand crafting, including my own experiments with woods and
cores; I hope this will guide you in your learning. Additionally the
envelope contains the deeds to my family's store in Diagon Alley. It, and
the apartment above it, are yours for as long you make wands. I ask only
that you keep my ancestor's wand on display in the window.
I wish you the very best in continuing this ancient art,
Michelle felt the weight of the task settling on her as she finished reading the old wandmaker's letter, but couldn't help but feel excited and hopeful; maybe she really could do this. Picking up the larger envelope, she made her way over to her comfy sofa to read through Ollivander's notes on wandmaking.
A month later Michelle quickly made her way down Diagon Alley, her head hidden beneath her hood, as she really didn't want everyone following her around like last time she was here. She ducked into Eeylops Owl Emporium and bought herself an owl; a rather nice barn owl that took a liking to her as soon as she walked in. Then made her way to the back door of what was now - or soon would be - her shop.
She pulled out her wand, no longer looking so shabby, she'd spent quite a bit of time shaping and polishing it just right, and it now had a finely carved and finished handle made from the same rose bush as the main wand shaft - no more bits of feather sticking out the end. It worked so much better, smoother maybe, now, and so she spent a few minutes with cleaning charms, getting the dust out of the shop, cleaning everything - except the windows, she wanted to keep her privacy. Taking a look around she was fairly happy, it was a bit run down, but that was nothing a bit of paint and polish wouldn't fix. At least nothing was broken, she didn't think the few charms she'd learned were quite up to major repairs just yet.
Before heading upstairs to see what the apartment needed, she stepped over behind the counter, reaching into her bag she pulled out a single long narrow box and, lightly running her hands over it, placed it on the shelf. Her first saleable wand, she wondered who it would choose; she smiled serenely as she thought of a young first year looking at it in awe.
Making her way across the small customer area, she headed towards the stairs up to her new apartment, hoping that it could be made livable fairly quickly; she only had the lease of her muggle flat for three more days. She wondered about providence again, she'd learned she was a witch just six short weeks ago, and while there was still much for her to learn about magic, she could craft wands! A rare talent that had dropped a new apartment in her lap just as her lease was coming up for renewal, it felt right, so it must be right. If there was one thing she'd learned about wands it was that; if it felt right, it was.
Pausing on the bottom step she looked at her owl - resting happily in the dark on top of a shelf - as an idea came to her. "Garrick," she said simply, as the bird opened one eye to look at her, "I should call you Garrick. What do you think?"
The owl hooted once and bobbed his head before promptly going back to sleep.
She guessed that meant he liked it. Smiling happily she made her way up the stairs.
Like most places in the wizarding world seemed to be, the apartment was larger inside than looked possible; three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a cozy kitchen and dining room, a library - or it would be, once she'd put some books in the empty shelves - and a spacious living room with a large fireplace. Judging by the small fire it held, it was already connected to the floo network; that made things a little easier, one less thing to do. There was a small pot of what she guessed was floo powder on the mantle, and a brass plaque with "Olive Grove House" engraved upon it, which must be the floo address, she supposed.
She ran cleaning charms over everything, just as she'd done in the shop, and just like there everything came up looking clean but a little worn; a little more paint and polish would be needed. The furniture wasn't in too bad shape, but she'd probably replace it anyway, it wasn't her style, and would look out of place with the few things she would be bringing with her.
Making her way back into the kitchen, she wondered what magical houses had instead of an electric fridge. She found her answer in one of the cupboards, it was cold inside, probably charmed, well that was simple enough. As she was inspecting the cupboards - the few utensils scattered inside of which suggested Ollivander wasn't much of a cook - she was interrupted by a rushing sound behind her. Turning on the spot she saw a fireball above her kitchen table, and quickly stepped back unsure of what was happening. A moment later the flames disappeared revealing a majestic red and gold bird standing on the table, she responded in kind when it seemed to nod at her in greeting. Then without warning it jumped up and was again engulfed in flame, Michelle's eyes widened in recognition of the phoenix just as the flame dissipated into nothingness, leaving behind a single red feather.
She briefly wondered if phoenixes made a habit of dropping by unexpected like that, before she stepped forward and picked up the dropped feather. It was slightly warm to the touch, as she'd expected, but it also felt of a deep peace that she hadn't felt in other phoenix feathers that she'd handled since opening Ollivander's case.
Then suddenly, she knew she just had to make a wand out of it, right now, while it was still so fresh. Pulling out a chair, she dropped her bag on the table and sat down, fetching her inherited - of sorts - toolkit from a pocket in her robe and set about hunting for the wand shaft she just knew was right for this feather. It was one of those things that Ollivander had in his notes, while anyone could make a wand if they knew how to bond the core and shaft, a true craftsman - or woman - would know the right combination by instinct. That apparently was what lead to her making her first wand, that knowledge that the two parts belonged together.
She grinned in triumph as she pulled the partially formed wand shaft from her small collection of them, the ten and a half inches of holly would polish up beautifully, and she could almost feel it pulling toward the phoenix's feather. She set to work finishing the shaft, making the hollow for the core just right, and smoothing down where the handle would press on tightly at its base. As night fell she charmed some candles alight almost without thought, lost in the feel of crafting that was gradually becoming more and more familiar to her. It wasn't much longer though, before she pricked the side of her hand, and gathered a single drop of blood to bond the core and shaft, a moment later she felt the wand warm through as she gently slid the feather in, then pressed the handle home over the shaft, giving it an extra half inch in length and finishing it off perfectly.
Pulling a cloth from her bag, she added a few drops of the specially blended wand oil - Ollivander's own recipe - and gave the wand its first polish. She was just placing it into a box when there was a sudden crash downstairs. She heard Garrick's angry hooting, and a few cusses from some men, and quickly took her own wand and headed for the stairs. There was two men there, in what she thought might be the red robes of Aurors. Wondering what was going on, she called to her owl. A moment after the owl landed on her shoulder, she found herself with two wands pointed at her.
As the two men firmly informed her she was under arrest for break and enter, and demanded she drop her wand she just raised an eyebrow, before asking them in return just why the Auror department felt the need to break into her shop.
The two Aurors looked at her in confusion for a moment, before one of them finally recognised her. "Michelle?"
"Yes Mr Potter, I inherited Ollivander's shop and home when I opened the box your wife begged me to take a few weeks ago. I have the paperwork upstairs if you'd care to see it?"
It took a moment of negotiation, but as neither of them dared touch a wandmaker's own wand she kept it, and showed them both upstairs. Apologising for the mess, and explaining that she hadn't really moved in yet, Michelle dug the deeds of the building out of her bag and handed the parchment to Harry. While he looked it over, and cast a spell to check the authenticity of the document, she looked over at the other Auror that had come with him. He had mousy brown hair - rather like her own - and his brown eyes were locked on the table.
Rolling her eyes a bit, she waved a hand across his field of vision, breaking his awed look at her messy table. "Are you OK?" she asked him, the sides of her mouth tugging in amusement.
"Oh, I umm... you're really a wandmaker?" He asked her in an awed tone she suspected she'd have to get used to.
She grinned, "Yes, can you believe a phoenix actually flamed in to the kitchen this afternoon." She waved her hands about as if to describe it. "I was just doing a bit of cleaning at the time, when it dropped a feather and flamed out again." Her hands this time outlining a large ball over the table. "Anyway, when I picked the feather up I just knew I had to make a wand with it then and there, had the perfect shaft almost ready for it and everything." She flipped the box open and showed them the newly crafted wand.
"Wow." The two Aurors said as one, and she couldn't help but grin a little wider.
But then she looked at them as she held the wand in her hand and felt a little tickle, she looked at Harry standing there and wondered, maybe... "Mr Potter, did you by any chance happen to succeed in repairing your old wand?"
He looked at her in surprise for a moment, but then shook his head, "No, I tried, but..."
"... but the core and shaft had lost their bond." She finished for him, and at his nod continued, "I doubt even the wand's original maker could have fixed it at that point Mr Potter. Finicky things wands, they don't like to be rejoined. But perhaps..." She trailed off and looked him in the eye. "Tell me, what wand do you use now?"
He reached into his robes and pulled out the shabby looking wand, that a minute ago he'd been casting spells on her house deeds with. "It's just a Ministry..." he started to answer, but trailed off at the scrunched up look on her face.
"May I?" She asked, and held out her hand for the wand, when he passed it to her she pulled it close to take a look and hmmm'd as she tried to feel the wand the way Ollivander had described. "Ten inches, oak and dragon heart string. But it's confused, been through too many hands, it isn't yours alone? You share it about?" She asked as she looked up to see them both gaping at her. She sighed, "Mr Potter?"
"How did you..." but stopped at her raised eyebrow. "Oh, right, no, I mean, yes, it gets shared around by whoever's on duty."
She sighed and shook her head, she'd only learned a fraction of what was written in Ollivander's notes, but already she knew that a wand would grow weak if treated like that. Turning, she put the poor thing down on the table, and picked up the wand she'd crafted just that evening. "Perhaps you'd care to try this one Mr Potter?" She held the new wand out to him.
"Holly, eleven inches, with a phoenix feather core. Sound familiar? And if I'm not mistaken, and I doubt I am, the shaft was cut from the same tree, and that could well have been Fawkes that dropped by here this afternoon."
He just stood there frozen, she was seeing a lot of that lately.
"Mr Potter!" She jolted him out of his stupor, and wiggled the wand at him. "Well, take it then, give it a wave."
He reached out slowly, and cautiously took a hold of the newly polished handle.
In that moment she knew, she didn't have to wait for him to wave it, or to see the brilliant shower of red and gold sparks that streamed from the end a moment later, she knew that the wand had chosen him. She smiled like a proud mother as she saw her first wand choose it's wizard. "Congratulations Mr Potter, I do believe you have a new wand." She told him.
The two Aurors stood in stunned silence, again. Harry looking awed at his new wand while his partner watched on.
When this continued for a moment longer, she clapped her hands, jolting the two men back to their senses. "I believe this is the point I tell you that that'll be seven galleons, and you ask me about a wand care kit?" She asked him, slightly amused and still ever so proud.
He started shuffling about in his pockets, "Oh right, ah, do you have a..."
"Two Sickles for a wand care kit Mr Potter, but I'll let you have it if you promise to ask your wife to drop by tomorrow afternoon." She cut him off before he could babble too much.
"Sure, I'll let Hermione know." He grinned, showing her a glimpse of the boy he could have once been, and handed her seven gold galleons.
She placed a vial of Ollivander's wand oil and pure cotton cloth in a small leather pouch and offered them too him.
"Thank you," he told her sincerely, then looked her in the eye, "really, thank you."
"You're welcome." She grinned again, "Just please let people know I'm not open yet, I can't sell wands until I have them."
Michelle was running late for work, only this time it was her own little shop that she'd be working in. She hurried about in her apartment, which had become much more homely in the past three months. Pulling on her shoes and making a dash for the stairs, she double checked she had everything she needed in her favourite dark purple robe, before taking a deep breath and opening the door. A massive crowd of people greeted her.
"Morning Michelle." A familiar voice called to her.
Turning her head she relaxed a bit, "Good morning Harry," she answered back to him.
"We thought you might need a little help keeping things orderly," he suggested, and waved his hand over the mob of witches and wizards waiting to come inside. The alley was crowded beyond all reason, people of every colour and creed (and species, was that a man on a horse or centaur?) imaginable had apparently come seeking a wand.
"Thank you," she told him, noticing he was in full Auror uniform, with three more red robed people beside him. "Just keep them to one at a time, please." She begged him, eyeing what looked like an entire Indian village riding an elephant.
She quickly shut the door, and put a silencing charm on it as she watched Harry cast a sonorus charm on himself. Stepping back to her brightly polished counter, she flicked her wand to change the sign on the door to 'open.'
She didn't have to wait long before her first customer stepped in. Smiling brightly at her she proceeded in helping her find a wand.
Five years later, the crowds had, thankfully, died down to a more peaceful one or two a day; aside from the excited torrents of eleven year olds that would show in August and January.
It was mid afternoon when the bell tinkled on the door of her shop, and Michelle carefully put down the wand shaft she was working on and made her way out to the counter. A boy stood there, perhaps a fifth year? She wasn't quite sure, but she did remember his name and wand "Richard Finch-Fletchley, vine wood, nine and a half inches, with a unicorn hair core." She greeted him happily, only to see him hold up a very broken wand. "Oh dear, what happened?"
He sniffed a bit before answering, "I fell down the stairs, everyone keeps telling me not to read while coming down from the dorms, but I'd never tripped before and now I've got O.W.L.s coming up and I'll never pass now because you can't fix it can you? I knew as soon as I saw it it couldn't be fixed and it was hard to find me the right wand last time I'll never get another good one..." He continued to chatter away quite upset and nearly crying.
Michelle hadn't seen anyone quite so attached to a wand before, and so she watched him with that same steady tilted head gaze that had spooked a number of people. His words had been so sure, they'd grabbed at her, there was something in there... She interrupted his sorrowful monologue by gently lifting his chin till he was looking straight at her. "Come with me," she implored, and proceeded to lead him into the back of her shop.
He watched in confusion as she pulled out several unworked wand shafts and cores and placed them on the her bench.
"Tell me Mr Finch-Fletchley, which of these do you think would make a good wand?" She asked him, and he looked at her as if she'd just spoken Gobbledegook. "Please, just try." She asked again, then took a step back and watched him.
He spent a few minutes just looking at the various woods and cores, not really understanding what she was asking of him. Before too long though, he pointed at a length of willow and a unicorn hair. "Those two." He informed her, looking a little unsure of himself, "I think they'd make a good wand, is that right?"
She looked at him for a moment again. "Tell me what else you're thinking." She instructed him, "your honest opinions Mr Finch-Fletchley, all of them."
He gulped at her tone, before stuttering out, "I uh, I think any of them would make a good wand, in the right order," he shuffled them around on the bench putting each core next to a length of wood. "But these two," he pointed again at the first core and shaft that he answered her with, "these just seem right for each other."
She smiled brightly at him, and he relaxed a bit. He'd been right, any of those would have made good wand, but she was most pleased that he'd found his own wand laying there unmade before him. "Very good," she informed him and cleared her desk of all but his own wood and core. "Now, you have a wood and a core, that's good. You have your wand Mr Finch-Fletchley, I suggest you make it."
He paled noticeably at her words, but she turned his attention back to the shaft and core on the desk before him. "Just try," she encouraged him, "there's no right or wrong way on this one, and you can use any tool here. Just follow your instincts." Then she turned and left him to it.
A few hours later, she was just saying farewell to an Auror who'd wanted a second wand, when Richard came out from the back carrying a roughly shaped wand shaft in one hand, and a length of unicorn hair in the other.
"It's not right," he told her, but he seemed more intrigued than upset.
She stayed silent and waited for him to continue.
It didn't take long. "There's something missing, I know the wood and the hair are ready to be put together, but if I just slide it in it'll just be a bit of wood with a hair in it, not a wand. There's something missing."
She grinned brightly at him, and then couldn't help it, she clapped.
The boy flushed bright red and examined his feet.
With a slight chuckle, she slid a piece of parchment along the counter to him.
"Is that what's missing?" He asked her.
She shook her head, "That's me offering you an apprenticeship Mr Finch-Fletchley." His eyes widened in shock. "It takes a natural gift to recognise a good wand before it's made; you got every one right and identified your own wand. Plus you told me that you recognised a debonded wand before touching it. I believe you have a natural talent as a wandmaker." She nodded at the parchment in his hand. "Show that to your father and the Headmaster. Then, if you agree, come see me in the summer and I'll show you how to finish your wand." Her smile softened slightly, and she continued, "In the mean time, you may choose any wand you wish to get you through your O.W.L.s."
A little while later, as she carefully placed the box containing his unfinished wand above her workbench, he came up to her with a wand in his hand.
"It's not quite right, but I think we'll get along fine for my O.W.L.s." He informed her.
She nodded in reply "ten inches, willow with dragon heartstring. It should do, just be careful with the dragon heartstring; they're a little temperamental."
"Thanks Madam Peters," he grinned at her happily, then turned to make his way out of the shop.
"You're welcome," she assured him.
As he made his way out the door, he turned back to her, the grin never leaving his face. "I'll see you in July, I'm sure of it." He told her, then pulled the door closed behind him.
"I'm quite sure you will." She murmured to the empty shop, then turned back to her work.
There were wands to be made.