Harry Potter looked around the wand shop with apprehension. The shop was dusty and there were long boxes stacked haphazardly everywhere he looked, and what looked like a workbench in the back covered in bits of everything from jars with specimens floating in liquid to wood chips and sawdust.
“Good afternoon,” said a soft voice. Harry jumped. Hagrid must have jumped, too, because there was a loud crunching noise and he got quickly off the spindly chair.
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. “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 fo 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 favorited it- it's really the wand that chooses the wizard of course.”
Harry looked at the wand in the display. “So, you're telling me that that wand over there in the window can think?”
Mr. Ollivander laughed, a strange weedy sound, coming from a strange man. “Not quite, but close. The wand is a semi-sentient creation, made to aid a magical in focusing their power. Imagine trying to direct a flood. With your hands you can do very little, but with a wand, it acts as a channel to direct where you want the water to flow. When you were a child, did you have bouts of accidental magic? Did you feel the waves of power you wielded in times of great emotion? The wand was created to help channel the waves, and with strong magic users, over time, the wand becomes part of the wizard, the sentience of the wand joins with the wizard. Each wand yearns to find the magical that will bond with them and give them form.”
Harry listened intently. This was more interesting than he could have imagined, and the more Ollivander talked, the more awestruck Harry became.
Hagrid had been listening as well, but had quickly become bored of the conversation. “Harry, do ye mind if I kip out to tha' Leaky for a pint? I'm still feeling tha' cart ride and I got a few more errands ter run, I'll come back fer ya in an hour if tha's alright with Mr. Ollivander?” he asked, the last part directed at the old man.
“Of course, Hagrid, I want to learn more about wands.” Harry replied. Hagrid smiled, thanked Mr. Ollivander, and left the shop.
“So, Mr. Potter, it seems that Wandlore has caught your attention” said Mr. Ollivander.
“Yes sir, it's very fascinating. Are there any books on the subject I can get from the bookstore? I want to read up on wands and magic.”
“Yes young man, I can suggest several for you, but we must be getting on with finding your wand, that is, after all, why you are here today.” Harry blushed and nodded.
“Well now- Mr. Potter. Let me see.”With a flourish, Mr. Ollivander swished his wand and a tape measure flew from 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 “A little on the small side, Mr. Potter, compared to your parents.” He looked the boy up and down, his gaze resting on the infamous scar on Harry's forehead.
“And that's where...”
Mr. Ollivander touched the lightening scar on Harry's forehead with a ling, white finger.
“I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it,” he said softly. “Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands... well, if I'd known what the wand was going out to do....” He shook himself, and refocused on Harry.
“ Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr. Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand.”
Harry suddenly 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, and the tape measure crumpled in a heap on the floor.
Harry watched as Mr. Ollivander started bringing over box after box, and stacking them on the counter. His eyes grew wide as it looked like he was bringing the entire inventory out for him to test.
“Right then, Mr. Potter. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it and give it a wave.”
Harry took the wand, but instead of waving it, he hesitantly asked, “Please sir, can you tell me about what the different parts mean?”
“Ah, a curious mind, hmm? Well, beechwood is a very subtle wood. While not the most powerful, the wood is known for it's finesse over strength. That can be counteracted by a strong core of course, but the wood takes to people who do not have a narrow world view. Now, dragon heartstring is one such core that is a powerful counter to the beechwood. It is a very flamboyant core, which bonds quickly to its owner and is very fast at learning new magics. The shorter length of the wand tempers the flamboyancy of core, aiding the beechwood in the refinement of the casting. A flexible wand is able to pass owners quite easily. Many wands are passed down through older families, but only the flexible wands are able to be easily passed on.”
“All that can be told about a person's wand if they know the specifics?” Harry asked incredulously. “And each wand here is different from any other wand?”
“While many wands may also be beechwood, dragon heartstring, nine inches, and flexible, each wand is unique in its creation. One wand may have a knot, the dragon heartstring may be from a different dragon, and flexible is such an objective term. While I love to teach the young in my art, you are meant to be finding your wand, young sir!”
Harry grinned sheepishly, but no sooner had he directed his focus to the wand, Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of his hand and thrust another at him.
“Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy, try-” but he stopped talking and shot Harry a pointed look as Harry had opened his mouth to ask another question.
“Please, Mr. Potter, I will try to answer as many questions as I can, but you really must attempt to find yourself a wand. Like I said earlier, I will give you a list of books that you can read, and feel free to owl me with any questions you might have. Now give it a wave!”
And on the process went. Mr. Ollivander would pull out a wand, give a brief description of the wand, then elaborate on the meaning behind the wand. Harry soaked up the information like a sponge, and over the next forty-five minutes, they started a game of sorts. Harry would try to guess the properties of the wands, and Mr. Ollivander would test him on the information he was given, wands piling up in the chair Hagrid had vacated, until finally-
“-I wonder, now – yes, why not- unusual combination- holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.”
Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on the walls. 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 is pale stare.
“I remember every wand I've ever sold Mr. Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather-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.”
Harry swallowed, but steeled himself and changed the subject.
“Sir, you said you had some books you could suggest?” he asked, and Mr. Ollivander seemed to snap out of whatever reminiscent trance he had fallen into.
“Yes, young Potter. The wand will be seven galleons.” As Harry counted out the money, Mr. Ollivander hastily wrote several titles down on a spare bit of parchment, and slid it across the counter.
“Please keep in touch Mr. Potter, there are so many who come through my shop but so very few who show even the slightest passing fancy in wandlore, it would be my pleasure to teach you more about my craft.” Harry took the list, and smiled at the old man. Looking into his eyes, again, he thought to himself, “His eyes aren't so creepy after all, just very intense.”
After leaving the wand shop, Harry convinced Hagrid to take him back to Flourish and Blotts for the books Mr. Ollivander had suggested. Once Harry had purchased all the books on the list and several more in the field, they left through the Leaky Cauldron and back to Muggle London.