Peter waved his arm violently, slashing at the air as if he held a sword. The wand in his hand did not deign to reply.
"I'm sorry, Mr Ollivander."
"Not to worry, not to worry," Garrick said, coaxing the wand from Peter's grasp. Beech and unicorn hair, nine and one-quarter inches, perfectly supple. Garrick had rather hoped it would do the trick, not least because it was one of his favourite pieces. "We will simply try another."
Boxes of every shape, size, and colour littered the flat surfaces in Garrick's shop. They towered on the counter in two heaps, and they filled the seat of the chair. The pile on the floor had grown so large it was beginning to scale the wall. Each box was open, their lids askew and their tissue liners rumpled. A handful of closed boxes were queued at Garrick's elbow; he selected the closest, doffed the lid, and offered it to Peter with both hands.
"Rowan and dragon heartstring, ten inches, exactly," Garrick explained. "Stiff, but not overly so." Peter reached for it, but Garrick pulled back before his fingers even brushed the handle. It was all wrong, Garrick could feel it -- a taste in his mouth, an itch on his skin -- as if the wand was recoiling from Peter's touch. "Then again, this one may not be the best fit. Let me see what else I have."
Peter nodded, his outstretched hand still frozen above the counter. He had blue eyes, pale and slightly watery.
"Hmm." Garrick frowned at the remaining boxes, then sighed and chose one at random. "This one, yes -- a very nice wand." The lid fell away with a sigh. "Oak and phoenix feather, ten and one-half inches. Very strong." Oak could be tricky to work with, and Garrick suspected tricky was the last thing Peter needed, but Garrick was quickly running out of options. "Go on, give it a try."
Peter flicked his wrist -- a tight, jerky motion. Other than a soft puff of greenish smoke, the wand showed no interest in the proceedings.
"Sorry," Peter mumbled, ducking his head.
Garrick waved him off. "Nonsense. I assure you, you are not the first tricky customer I've come across." Garrick's tape measure, which had been sent off a good hour ago, zoomed out from underneath the chair to wrap itself around Peter's ankle. Peter did a strange, shuffling little dance of surprise, but the tape measure refused to be dislodged. Garrick let it be. "We have a few more yet to try. Perhaps -- ah! Beech again, this time with dragon heartstring. Twelve and three-quarters inches, and quite powerful."
Another puff of smoke, more yellow than green. Peter set the wand on the counter with a shrug, and Peter's mother offered him a sympathetic smile.
"It's fine, dear," she said, patting Peter's arm lightly. "I had a hard time of it, as well."
"That she did," Garrick agreed, although, Alvina Pettigrew's fitting had not been as long and trying an affair as this. Cherry and phoenix feather, nine inches precisely, and she had only tested a third of Garrick's stock. "I have a few more in the back, if these do not show any promise."
Garrick reached for another box -- ash and unicorn hair -- but he lost Peter's attention before the wand was unwrapped. Peter was now turning in a quick circle, much like a Crup chasing its phantom tail, flapping his hands as he batted at the tape measure. It darted around Peter's head, then resumed its attempt to measure the length of Peter's left earlobe, and Garrick used the distraction to lean closer to Peter's mother.
"Mrs Pettigrew," he began delicately. He always hated to broach this subject, but at this point the question needed to be asked. Hogwarts letters weren't due to be sent out for another six weeks; if Peter was having this much difficultly, it was possible that Mrs Pettigrew was putting the cart before the Abraxan. "Has Peter shown any signs of magical ability?"
"Of course he has!" she insisted, clutching her large, dragonskin purse to her chest. "He's been levitating the cat since his sixth birthday!"
Garrick nodded thoughtfully. "Levitation, yes." Through the window, the late afternoon sun painted Diagon Alley in reds and golds. A house-elf toddled by, struggling under the weight of an owl cage and two very large cauldrons, and Garrick tucked the ash wand back inside its box. "Anything else?"
"His bedroom walls keep changing colours, and he turned my favourite hairbrush into a Gobstones set," Mrs Pettigrew continued. Her face was similar to Peter's, round and slightly double-chinned, but her nose was longer and thinner. "Just last week, he set fire to the parlour curtains. Why do you ask? You don't think he... that he's... that--"
"Not at all," Garrick said quickly. Fire was an extremely common manifestation, and levitation did happen from time to time. The business with the Gobstone set was less believable; accidental magic rarely lent itself to even the simplest forms of Transfiguration. "I was merely curious." Her cheeks were quite red, and Garrick spread his hands apologetically. "If I can detirmine which way his talents lie, I may have an easier time finding the right fit."
"Mum?" Peter asked, his eyes wide and his robes dishevelled. The tape measure was prodding insistently at his shoulder.
Garrick sighed. "That will do," he said shortly. It snapped to attention, zipped behind the counter, and nudged at the drawer in which it was kept. As Garrick opened the drawer and gestured the tape measure in, he discovered a box he had very nearly forgotten about.
It was an older wand, one of the first Garrick had made without direct assistance from his father. He almost never brought it out for fittings, because he rather didn't like it. There wasn't anything wrong with it, as far as Garrick could tell -- it had a plain but sleek design, and upon final inspection, Garrick's father had declared the inner workings to be sound -- but it had a rough, vaguely unfinished feel that Garrick did not care for. The box was incredibly dusty, brittle and fading at the corners. Garrick set it on the counter, pursing his lips as he folded back the tissue. He waved Peter over and presented the wand handle first.
"Give it a nice, firm wave," Garrick instructed, tapping Peter's wrist because he did not care for the manner in which it was curved. "Higher, Mr Pettigrew. Up, up! Now, turn your hand a bit, just there, and straighten your -- ah! Much better."
A shower of sparks: first red, then green, then blue.
"Reed and unicorn hair," Garrick said, smiling. "Seven and three-quarters inches, and remarkably pliant. It will lend itself nicely to all branches of magic."
Peter studied it for a moment, blinking as if he didn't recognise his own hand. "All, um -- even Defence?" he asked finally.
"Yes," Garrick said slowly. Not the strangest question he had even been asked, but certainly unexpected. Most students treated Defence as nothing more than a chore to be completed. "Defence included."
"Oh, don't mind him," Mrs Pettigrew said, ruffling Peter's hair. "He has quite the imagination. He insists there are monsters hiding under his bed."
Garrick frowned at the wand waiting patiently on the counter. For a brief moment, he feared his memory had finally failed him.
He remembered the woman quite clearly. Of course, Walburga Black was not someone who was easily forgotten. She had visited Garrick's shop this same time last year, in the company of a young boy who had looked a good deal like the child she was escorting presently. Her very demeanour had struck Garrick then, not her fine clothing or delicately arranged hair, but her narrowed eyes and angled chin. She simply had a way about her -- a cool, calculating manner that Garrick found somewhat unnerving.
The clock on the wall chimed with the hour. Mrs Black sighed sharply, a noise that fairly dripped with displeasure, and Garrick turned his attention back to the wand.
An oddly beautiful piece, slender and polished to a brilliant shine. It was a tad thinner toward the tip that Garrick liked, and it tapered away from the handle in a way that felt slightly abrupt, but Garrick was unable to find any true fault with it. The wood was a curiosity, in that Garrick did not recognise it. A hardwood, as these things were considered, an quite dense even for that, but it was also strangely coloured -- honeyed brown striped with something very close to black.
"This is not my work," Garrick said finally.
Mrs Black's red-painted mouth twisted with the hint of a sneer. "No. It is not."
"It was my great-grandfather's wand," the boy explained, stretching up onto his toes to peer over the counter.
"Ah." Garrick leaned closer and drew his finger down the wand's length. Eleven and five-eighths inches. An uncommon measurement, but not completely unheard of. Particularly in older wands. "A family heirloom, then."
"His name was Cygnus," the boy continued. "Cygnus Black." He had clear, grey eyes, and his dark hair fell just past his chin, a pureblood habit Garrick rather didn't fancy. "He died before I was born."
"Be still, Regulus," Mrs Black warned, resting her hand on his shoulder. He subsided immediately, sinking back onto his heels and pressing his lips into a thin line.
Garrick subjected the wand to another frown. Lifting it, he found it a bit heavier than he had expected. It was also a hair off balance -- a tiny flaw, barely noticable -- giving it the tendency to list a pinch to the left. The handle was worn with use, but the remaining lines and swirls suggested the initial carvings had been exquisite, once upon a time. The material still nagged at Garrick, particularly the fine grain and unusual colouring. The striped pattern was not inlaid, but natural to the wood, itself.
"Makassar ebony," he declared suddenly, which meant the wand was far older than young Regulus probably realised. Cygnus Black might have used it, but Garrick doubted he had been its original owner. As a wand wood, standard ebony was fairly common, but Makassar ebony had gone out of fashion a good two centuries ago.
"Our family favours ebony wands."
Garrick thought briefly of the boy from last year, who had left with a whitebeam piece so pale it could've passed for bone, but decided it was wisest not to comment. "Makassar ebony, very unique." Contemporary wandmakers avoided variegated wood -- each type of wood had a distinct personality, and variegated wood of any genus tended to be temperamental -- but due to rarity, Makassar ebony was also costly beyond reason. "And the core material, if I may ask?"
Mrs Black tilted her head. "Runespoor scales."
Something else that was costly beyond reason, and Garrick gave it careful consideration. He had figured on Gregorovitch as the wand's creator -- not Markov Gregorovitch, the current supplier to Durmstrang hopefuls, but his grandaunt Olenka, a woman who had preferred mercurial woods and had often chosen form over function -- but the Runespoor scales told a very different story. Core materials were particular to each wandmaker and, to Garrick's knowledge, Runespoor scales had been particular to Tiberius Selwyn. This aged the wand by another hundred years or so; Tiberius Selwyn had died in 1794.
"Very unique, indeed," Garrick murmured. Selwyn had been a prideful man who had marked his initials on the heel of every wand he made, but time and centuries of use had left this wand with little indication, save for a faint, circular scratch. "Exceedingly rigid, I'm afraid, and far too volatile to use, given its age and core material, but I cannot say I'd be unhappy to take it." It was a beautiful wand, and one of the oldest Garrick had seen, yet. "I do have quite the personal collection. Oddities, mostly but a few historical pieces, and a handful of ordinary wands to which I simply took a fancy."
"This wand," Mrs Black said quietly, her red-painted mouth now edged like a knife, "is not for sale."
"Oh. Of course not." Gently, Garrick placed the wand on the counter, and not without a twinge of regret. He hadn't thought a Selwyn wand would ever cross his path, never mind one as well-preserved as this. "How may I assist you, then?"
"Regulus leaves for Hogwarts next week." At the mention of his name, Regulus started to fidget; Mrs Black reasserted the hand on his shoulder, curling her fingers into the fabric of his robes. "As you can see, the handle of his wand is in need of repair."
"His wand," Garrick repeated softly, sighed at another pureblood custom of which he did not approve. The practise of wand inheritance was slowly beginning to die out -- and good riddance, as far as Garrick was concerned -- but a few of the more stubborn families still clung to their archaic traditions. It was a tricky business in the best of circumstances, but with a wand like this, it could prove disastrous. "You intend for Regulus to use this wand?"
"That is precisely what I intend."
"If I may suggest--"
"You may not," Mrs Black said, raising a curt hand. She had the high cheekbones and delicate nose common to the older Wizarding lines. "He will use this wand."
"The wand chooses the wizard, Mrs Black," Garrick insisted. "That is simply the way of things." Strictly speaking, that wasn't always the case; Garrick had fitted a scant few wizards who could adjust their magic to any wand placed in their hand, but it happened very rarely. The older boy --Sirius, Garrick recalled -- had possessed that uncanny ability, which made Garrick doubt Regulus' already slim chances. It wouldn't occur twice in a singe generation, strike two brothers who were scarcely a year apart. "This wand, in particular, is extremely ill-suited to the task."
Mrs Black lifted her chin slightly.
"Perhaps if he was older, had more experience with guiding and controling his magic," Garrick continued. Mrs Black's face was carved from stone, her eyes hard and her mouth curved unpleasantly. "Runespoor scales make for a very unpredictable core." Selwyn's other preferred materials -- Hippogriff feathers and powdered Bicorn horn -- were also somewhat erratic, but Hippogriffs and Bicorns only had one head, not three heads prone to arguing amongst themselves without cease. "And, as I said before, the wood is exceedingly rigid, almost to the point of stubbornness. It will hamper his studies, especially in Transfiguration."
"He will use this wand."
"Mrs Black, I--"
"This wand has served my family well," Mrs Black stated. "Regulus is honoured to call it his own."
"Honoured," Regulus echoed, as his mother's hand returned to his shoulder. He looked quite small, seemed too young for his heavily embroidered robes. "Cygnus Black was the son of Phineas Nigellus, the last Slytherin Headmaster of Hogwarts."
Garrick gestured at the wand, letting his fingers just brush over the handle. "Have you a specific design in mind?"
"Yes," Mrs Black replied.
She made a soft, impatient noise, and Regulus stepped forward, presenting Garrick with a folded piece of parchment. Garrick scanned the drawing quickly; it was a house crest of sorts, complete with rampaging hounds. As fussy as it was, Garrick would have a difficult time forcing the image to curve without distortion. It would also make for an uncomfortable handle; Garrick suspected the upraised sword would leave a callus on Regulus' palm.
"When can I expect it?"
"About an hour, I think," Garrick replied, as he considered the usual woodworking spells. He would need to replenish the handle first, then reverse the original carvings. A good Whittling Charm would take care of the crest, and then maybe a touch of sanding, to take the bite out of that sword. "Perhaps you could return after you've visited Flourish and Blotts."
It was fairly warm for the middle of spring; Garrick could've done without the humidity. The air had finally thinned in the last three or four hours, relenting once the sun had begun sliding toward the horizon, but sweat still prickled at the back of Garrick's neck. A folded copy of the Evening Prophet sat on the edge of the counter; Garrick renewed the Cooling Charm and ignored the paper's vehement predictions of rain by Monday.
Diagon Alley was very nearly empty. A small handful of people still dotted the streets but, from what Garrick could see, they kept to themselves and did not loiter. They walked quickly, their heads down and their wands displayed, and they gave a wide berth to anyone they passed. Garrick frowned as a short, plump witch hastened by his window and debated closing up for the night. It wasn't yet nine, but it was close enough that it hardly mattered -- especially now, when most witches and wizards could not be persuaded to leave their homes after sundown. The Magical Menagerie had been shuttered since dusk, and Gambol & Japes no longer opened on weekends, at all.
Garrick snuffed the lamp on the counter and tucked his tape measure into its drawer. He favoured the shopfront with a considering look; the lettering on the window was starting to peel, and the carpet was balding in a manner that said another Restoring Charm was out of the question. Unfortunately, replacing it was also out of the question; business had dwindled too much for that sort of expense. The lights winked out at the herbology shop across the way, and Garrick decided it would be best if he followed suit.
Bells jangled softly, just as Garrick was heading for the back room. The sound was delicate and unexpected, and Garrick paused, taking a deep breath as he turned around.
The door banged open with a groan, revealing a tall young man whose face was obscured by shadows. He was dressed as a Muggle, wearing faded denims and a black shirt that was too tight by half, but he held a wand at the ready, a curve of the wrist Garrick had seen before. He paused in the entryway for a long moment, his shoulders squared and his free hand braced tightly on the lintel. Suddenly, he stepped inside the shop with a short, rough laugh.
"Wotcher, Mr Ollivander."
"Sirius Black," Garrick said, in the steadiest voice he could muster. "Back so soon? I do hope you haven't had another accident."
"No, nothing like that," Sirius replied, spinning his wand between his fingers. "I've still got the one you sold me last week, and it's as good as new." Hickory and phoenix feather, twelve and one-quarter inches, and extremely durable. His fourth wand, purchased after his third managed to catch fire and his second was splintered beyond repair. Sirius glanced around the shop, quickly but thoroughly, and cocked his head out the still open door. "It's clear, Prongs."
"Mahogany and unicorn hair, eleven inches precisely," Garrick recalled, as James Potter slipped inside the shop. Sirius shut the door, locked it with a spell, and leaned back against it, his arms folded across his chest. "As I have not seen you in several years, I can only assume it is still intact."
"Better than ever," James said brightly. His smile did not quite reach his eyes. "I'm not nearly as clumsy as the great oik behind me."
"I'm not clumsy," Sirius insisted. "Things just happen to me, is all." He'd never told Garrick what became of his first wand, a whitebeam piece of which Garrick had been particularly proud. "It wasn't my fault, this last time. I had no idea that Centaur would get so shirty."
"Right," James replied. He shook his head briefly, then turned his attention back to Garrick. "Sorry. I know it's late. I hope we're not keeping you."
Garrick waved him off. "Not at all, Mr Potter. Not at all." The junk shop on the corner went dark, its lights flickering out one by one. "Although, it seems neither of you require a new wand. I'm not sure what I can do for you."
Sirius coughed quietly. James approched the counter in slow, measured steps, and Garrick felt the air inside the shop change. A protective spell, of some sort, perhaps an obfuscation against prying eyes and ears. It was just a faint sweeping of magic, a slight echo Garrick would not have caught, except for the hundreds of wands lining the walls.
"We're here on business," James said carefully. At his side, he made a discreet hand signal Garrick recognised at once.
"Yes, of course," Garrick murmured, gesturing in kind. They were young for it, and Sirius was well known for his erratic temper and unpredictable moods, but Garrick supposed Dumbledore knew best. "Show me what you have."
Sirius tossed over a small haversack Garrick didn't remember him carrying when he walked in. James caught it easily, and four wands rattled onto the counter as he shook it open. They were in various states of disrepair; the longest and least derelict rolled into Garrick's copy of the Prophet.
"We, um -- we found these," James said, as Sirius resettled against the door. His shoulders slumped slightly, but his jaw was tight and his wand was waiting up his sleeve. "We're hoping you can identify the owners."
Garrick reached for the nearest, a slender piece that was severely injured at the tip. Soft tufts of orange-red peeked through the splintered wood.
"Ebony and phoenix feather, nine and one-half inches," Garrick disclosed. Peering at it closely, he decided it was beyond repair. "No chance of a Prior Incantato, I'm afraid, but I can tell you it belonged to Gendry Raines."
James nodded slowly. A scrap of parchment hovered at Sirius' shoulder, bouncing under the attention of a miniature quill.
"This wand, yes. I remember it well," Garrick continued, drawing his finger over the next. "Holly and unicorn hair, eight and three-quarters inches." It was in fairly decent condition, aside from a spidery crack that ran its entire length. "Slightly pliable, and quite suitable for Transfiguration." Garrick set it aside. "Milton Wilkes. He had a dreadful time finding the proper fit."
Sirius cleared his throat. James glanced over, and the pair had a quick conversation comprised of quirked eyebrows and lips. When James turned back to Garrick, his face was carefully blank.
"How does that look for a Prior?"
"Quite good, Mr Potter," Garrick repied, tapping the wand's handle. "The damage is minimal, so quite good, indeed." Holly could be stubborn, particularly when distressed, but unicorn hair was incredibly forgiving. "I'll need a day or two, but I am sure I can get it sorted."
"Brilliant." James smiled, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, and pointed to the wand resting on top of the Prophet. "What about this one, then?"
"This one, yes -- very interesting," Garrick said, rolling it against the palm of his hand. "Hornbeam, fourteen inches. A bit too thick for my tastes, and ridiculously rigid. Beyond that, there's very little I can tell you. I did not make it."
Sirius jerked away from the door, his mouth twisting. "Are you sure?"
"Quite sure, Mr Black," Garrick said patiently. He hoped Dumbledore knew best. They were young, less than a year out of Hogwarts. Sirius' hair was longer than it had been when he was eleven, and it fell in shaggy locks, rather than sleek lines. "I remember every wand I have ever sold, and this is not one of them."
James favoured Sirius with a frown. "That's all right. Maybe we can--"
"Although," Garrick cut in, noting a deep gouge near the handle. "If it helps, I believe I know who did make it." Small fibres struggled to escape the wound, greyish-green with a vaugely greasy air to them. "Yes, of course. Augurey feathers." Augureys were ghastly creatures; combined with hornbeam, they would make for a wand that was both dour and obdurate. "This is Gregorovitch's work."
"Gregorovitch," Sirius mumbled, as he and James shared an uneasy look.
"For a wandmaker, core materials are as good as a signature," Garrick explained. "Gregorovitch uses Augurey feathers, Hippocampus scales, and -- when he can get them -- Occamy plumes. Occamys are restricted, of course, so he's entirely dependent on trade from India."
The miniature quill paused, then made a sudden flurry of violent notations.
"Now, this one," Garrick said, cradling a pale piece that was ruthlessly mangled. "Rowan and unicorn hair, ten and one-quarter inches." It was snapped clean in two, the halves barely connected by a single, translucent strand. "Caradoc Dearborn."
Sirius hissed softly. James frowned at the floor.
"I'm sorry. I assume he was... one of yours?"
"Yeah," Sirius replied, running his hand through his hair. "We haven't heard from him in weeks, and -- he's a nice enough bloke, but he's not, you know. He likes the idea of taking a stand, but he rather doesn't have the stomach for it." He sighed and shook his head. "We'd kind of hoped he'd just done a bunk."
"I'm sorry," Garrick said again. "I wish there was more I could tell you."
"No, you've -- you've been great, really," James insisted. Sirius jerked away from the door again, this time to watch a pair of wizards hurry down the street. He studied them for a moment, his hand turning to catch the wand sliding out of his sleeve. Once the wizards passed the window, Sirius relaxed and offered James a tight-lipped nod. "Right," James continued. "We should get going, anyway. It's rather late."
Diagon Alley was desolate and dark.
"I have a Floo, if you are interested," Garrick offered quietly. Rumour had it that the Floo Network was monitored these days, and by more than just the Ministry, but they were young, and Dumbledore knew best, even if Garrick -- as Sirius had put it -- didn't have the stomach to take a proper stand. "It's just throught the back, no trouble at all."
For a handful of moments, there was blessed silence. But only a handful -- time enough to put some water to boil, and not a tick more. The kettle went on about its business, but its shrill whistle was soon interrupted by the delicate jangle of bells, a sound that was sudden, but not unexpected. The soft shuffle of feet followed shortly, then a sigh, as yet another pot of tea was left to grow tepid on the sideboard. The children would be off to Hogwarts tomorrow; the week leading up to the start of term was always a busy time of year.
A man and a woman lingered in the entryway. Their clothes named them Muggles, as did their expressions, which seemed caught somewhere between childlike wonder and mild panic. The man stood quite stiffly, his shoulders squared and set; the woman hovered at his elbow, her fingers twisted in his sleeve. Diagon Alley's usual bustle slipped inside the shop through the partially open door, and while the man and woman -- parents, apparently -- glanced about nervously at every noise, the young girl they flanked was as eager as any child born into a Wizarding family. She had bushy hair and unfortunately large teeth, and once she noticed that she was being watched, she approached without hesitation.
"Hermione Granger," she said boldly, extending her hand.
"Garrick Ollivander, at your service."
"Well," she began, holding out her Hogwarts letter, "I received this just last week--"
"An owl brought it," Mrs Granger whispered, disbelief clinging carefully to her words. "An owl."
Hermione took a deep breath. "Yes, it did come by owl," she said. Her voice was crisp, and despite her youth, rather businesslike. "I'm to start school tomorrow, at Hogwarts, and according to this --" she lifted the letter until it was just under Garrick's nose "-- I'll need a wand."
"Of course," he said, peering down at her. "Of course." She was of average height and build, and had not yet acquired the disaffected slouch common to adolescents. "You will most certainly need a wand, and I must say, you've come to the right place." He snapped his fingers, and his tape measure darted to her shoulder. "Britain boasts five wandmakers," he added, stepping back a bit to give the tape measure room to work. Mr and Mrs Granger watched it warily, but Hermione took it in stride, lifting her arm when it nudged insistently at her elbow. "Five, Miss Granger, and together, they've not made a single piece that's a patch on an Ollivander wand."
The bells jangled again, and Garrick paused to look toward the door. A boy several years too young was hanging on the handle; his mother promptly removed him by the collar.
Folding his hands, Garrick turned back to Hermione. "How old are you, Miss Granger?"
"I'll be twelve next month," she replied, as the tape measure wound itself around her ankle.
"Next month," Garrick murmured. She was slightly pigeon-toed, and the third finger on her left hand bore a small scar across the knuckle. "Eleven, then," he added with a smile. Dumbledore was often careful with Muggleborns not prone to accidental magic, choosing their ability to accept the situation over tradition, but first fittings could be difficult for children past thirteen. "That's the usual age, of course."
Hermione lifted her chin. "I read in Hogwarts, A History -- it was sent with my letter -- that during the time of the Founders, children were given wands as early as seven."
"Those were difficult times, Miss Granger," said Garrick. "Difficult and dangerous." He caught the tape measure gauging the width of her right kneecap, and dismissed it with a curt wave. "There was war and brigands. Goblin rebellions. Witch hunts. Centaurs roaming free in what Muggles now call Soho." He sighed sadly. "Eleven is the proper age. The best age. Much younger, a child's magic is often wild and unpredictable. Much older, it can be stubborn, and unwilling to bend its will to a wand."
"How are wands made?" Hermione asked. Her eyes were an ordinary brown, but they were very bright and very curious.
"Ah," Garrick replied carefully. "That's a secret, of course, a secret known only to my family." Her chin jerked higher -- that was clearly not the sort of answer she had wanted -- but Garrick ignored this, and guided her toward the counter by the elbow. "I use only the choicest sections of freshly-hewn wood, and core materials purchased from the most reputable suppliers."
After a short, tight silence, Mr Granger cleared his throat. "Um, Mister..."
"Ollivander," Garrick prompted.
"Right. Ollivander." He cleared his throat again, fumbling with the sort of leather pouch Gringotts gave to new account holders. "I'm just wondering..." he began, shifting from foot to foot. "That is to say... how much will this cost?"
"Charles!" Mrs Granger said sharply.
"That depends, Mister Granger, on various things," said Garrick. "Various things. Type of wood, length, core material. But I assure you, an Ollivander wand does not cost a Knut more than necessary."
"I want her to have the best, of course," Mr Granger continued. "But she's young still, and sometimes careless with her things. She'll need something sturdy," he added, as if the subject was shoes, "and with room to grow."
"Honestly," Hermione said, before Garrick had the chance. "I've already told you, it doesn't work that way. The wand chooses the wizard."
Garrick lifted an eyebrow. "Hogwarts, A History, Miss Granger?"
"A Muggle Primer to the Wizarding World," she explained. Her eyes wandered as she spoke, seeking every crook and corner of the shop, and the secrets she likely thought hidden within. "It also came with my letter."
"Hmm," said Garrick lightly. He found her tone quite interesting. "A Muggle Primer to the Wizarding World." This was a girl who was not accustomed to being wrong. This was a girl who was always, and very deliberately, correct. "And you do have the right of it," he added, as he brushed his fingers over the boxes lining the shelves. "The wand does chose the wizard." He paused, his hand frozen over a particularly ancient box. "Ah."
An utterly common plant, ivy. Common and ordinary, but tenacious. Never still, never satisfied. It was always moving and growing, always creeping, working endlessly to cover new things and wrap its tendrils around everything in its path. Garrick rarely worked with ivy -- it was prone to twist and curl, and often reluctant to receive a core -- but when he did, the results were always satisfactory.
"Vine wood, dragon heartstring, ten and three-quarter inches." Garrick lifted it from its box and offered it to Hermione handle first. "Grip it tightly, and give it a good wave."