“Raven Chronicles” Chapter 3: Diagon Alley – Part 4
It was nearly 2:00 in the afternoon, and Mum didn’t make us eat the sandwiches she’d brought. We ate hamburgers at the Leaky Cauldron, and Alice and I split some bottomless chips. We just kept reaching farther into the container and pulling more chips. Alice giggled a lot when it first happened.
Close to when we finished our food, Mum got very quiet. Alice didn’t notice – she was elbow deep in the chips – but I did. The last time it had been when she’d had to tell me that Father had left the night before our birthday. She gets this look where she looks into the corner of a room, and her eyes glaze, and the smallest crease forms between her eyes.
I asked her what the matter was. She bent her arm into the cup and took out a chip, nibbling on the end of it.
Alice’s eyes were wide, and she asked, “Is it Mochi? Do we have to give her up now?”
Mum smiled and pinched Alice’s arm. “No, silly. It’s just…,” she sighed and then looked at me. “We can’t afford wands this year.”
It was my turn for a crease to grow between my eyes. “But we won’t be able to do magic.” I was much louder than I meant to be.
“Your father has his father’s and grandfather’s old wands for you,” Mum said quickly. “And I set up a time with Mr. Ollivander so you could go in and pick them up properly.” She nudged my arm, but I didn’t look up. “Oh, Rave, we’ll get you your own wand soon.”
My own wand. For weeks, it had been all I could think about. Length, wood, core – would it be dragon heartstring, unicorn hair, or maybe something rarer, like Veela hair or manticore stinger? Merlin’s pants, I’d built my own wand years ago! Wasn’t it obvious this was the thing I wanted most? Mum let me think for years or at least months that I’d be getting my own wand today. Why hadn’t she told us sooner? Why’d she let this go on?
We left the pub, and I too became quiet in Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment. Quiet in line as we got our scales and telescope. Quiet as we approached Mr. Ollivander’s around 4:00 in the afternoon. And still quiet as we stood outside the door, Mum holding it open for me.
“Rave?” she asked.
“I’m not going in.” I stood there, resolute, still looking at the cobbled street.
“Don’t be stupid. You need a wand,” she said. Her feet pointed inside the shop. Her boots had some mud on them, probably from the train station in Crail.
“Just give me whichever one doesn’t work as well for Alice,” I said. I wheeled around and made a beeline for the benches in the middle of the alley. My mum didn’t call for me to come back. I heard the doors to the shop close.
Minutes later, the door opened, and I could hear Alice talking rapidly about the way she’d blown wands right off the shelf with her new wand – our grandfather’s. That meant I’d have our great-grandfather’s, a chewed on applewood wand with dragon heartstring, short and firm, “like the man” my father used to say.
“Young man.” I knew promptly I was being addressed, and it startled me. I jumped in my seat and looked up. The voice was gruff and crackly, and the owner of the voice seemed as such too. A very old man – even older than the cauldron shopkeeper – stood in the open doorway of Ollivander’s, holding the door open with one hand and checking a watch with the other. He had a full head of gray and white hair that stood up everywhere. His eyebrows were thick and stood erect just the same. His eyes were gray, and his face lined, and he wore a three-piece Muggle suit, black and white pinstriped. “Would you like to come in the shop to get your wand?”
I shook my head.
“Perhaps you’d like a tour of the shop then.”
I shook my head.
Mr. Ollivander produced his own wand and twirled it. A long burgundy box I recognized flowed out of the tip – the one containing my great-grandfather’s – no – my wand along with another smaller black box. Taking the boxes from midair, Mr. Ollivander walked to me and – with flexibility surprising for such an elder statesman – crouched in front of me.
“Your mother went out of her way to set up a private session for you and your sister,” Mr. Ollivander said. His eyes didn’t seem to end, much like the bottomless chips. “Seems rude to refuse her efforts to make this a little more special.”
“I don’t want to come in until I can get my own.” I was back to looking at the ground.
A little “ah” escaped Mr. Ollivander’s mouth. I saw his fingers reach across my vision, and I followed them. He opened the burgundy box, and I saw my great-grandfather’s wand. There were the chew marks all along the wand. The handle was short, just like the shaft, and it barely fit in my hand. Mr. Ollivander pulled out the gold watch I saw earlier and showed it to me.
“Your great-grandfather was a friend of mine. Your father’s maternal grandfather if I’m not mistaken.” I nodded. “Name of Ernest Babshot. Used to own the shop next to me. Finest watchmaker in the wizarding world. Gave me this on my 32nd birthday. A well-liked man. I used to watch him, wand in mouth, as he used his hands to fine-tune some of the watches. It drove me mad seeing that improper use.” He handed me the wand and asked me to give it a wave. I did so, and several cobblestones cracked from below the bench I sat on to the doorway of his shop.
Mr. Ollivander made a long “mmm” noise and took the wand from my hand. He took the small black box beside him and said, “You know, I read a peculiar story in the Prophet several years ago.” He opened the box and poked his wand at the protective wrappings, which shimmered. “A small story about a little boy who collected Niffler hair and encased it in some pieces of oak he’d glued together. Imagine my surprise when I read that the wand had produced sparks and fire and exploded a very old planter in the yard of the house. Not to mention that it made a broom fly.”
I knew that story well. Mr. Ollivander was describing the wand I’d created, and he had my complete attention.
“The wand was confiscated of course, but I wrote to the Department of the Misuse of Wizarding Artifacts and asked to study the wand.” He produced the small wand, which lay in several pieces, evidently dissected by the wandmaker. “This was impressive work – though the glue wouldn’t have stood any more magical work, and Niffler hair is extremely weak. How did you manage to encase it in the wood?”
“Very carefully,” I answered. Mr. Ollivander laughed.
“Wit beyond your age, young Master Husher.”
He waved his wand three times, and the pieces of my wand were wrapped, the box closed, and an assortment of boxes floated from Mr. Ollivander’s shop. The boxes stopped next to Mr. Ollivander and piled themselves beside him. Atop the pile was a very old box, black and gold with a little “O” on the top.
“I have a small collection of wands I lend out, Mr. Husher,” Mr. Ollivander explained, “on the off chance that a wizard, such as yourself, cannot afford his first wand, and his family cannot produce one worth using.” He bent low and studied the boxes for a moment before choosing the black and gold one on top. “There are a few people I’ve met in my life who have donated wands to me for this very use. He pointed to a red box second from the bottom. A Mr. Gregorian Scamander gave me that. Yes!” he said at my look of surprise. “A relative of Mr. Newt Scamander, though distant I would say. And this one,” he pointed to a purple box with green lining on the edge, “came from Nymphadora Tonks, one of the members of the Order of the Phoenix. She herself had to borrow one of my wands for her first five years at Hogwarts. Died tragically in the Battle of Hogwarts. She put it in her will that her wand should become one of my borrowing wands. But I think,” he opened the black and gold box. “This one will do.”
I couldn’t see inside the box, and I craned my neck to no avail. Mr. Ollivander pulled it away for a moment.
“I wasn’t able to have my own wand until I was 12. Did you know that?”
I shook my head, wondering how a wandmaker from a wand-making family didn’t have his own wand.
“It was a lesson my father wanted to teach me: how it feels to use a chosen wand for you rather than a wand that chose you. So I used the wand of my great-great-grandfather – an exceptional wizard who, before he settled into wand-making, was an Auror during a time of great trouble.” He produced the wand, which was reddish in color with a braided handle and long gouges in the shaft. “Cherry, dragon heartstring, twelve-and-a-half inches, and I think a better wand for you, Mr. Husher.”
“You can call me Raven,” I said. Mr. Husher sounded too much for me.
He smiled and said, “Raven.” He slightly rolled the “r.” It sounded nice.
I took the wand and waved it. The door to the wand shop closed, a little abruptly, but nothing broke. Mr. Ollivander gave me another smile and touched my hand. “I’m going to let you borrow this wand, Raven. But I expect to get it back from you the day you set foot in my store and purchase your own wand. Do you hear me?”
He gave a nod back and stood. “I think we’re all set here,” he said to my mum. “See you sooner than you think, Raven. Mrs. Husher, Ms. Husher,” and he walked back into his shop, closely followed by a family with eight small children. He held the door for them and gave me a wide-eyed look before closing the door.