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Chapter 134: Heartily Curious
"Look out for me," Bradley had told him. "Cole and I will be at the head of Ravenclaw table, waiting for you."
Sure enough, there they were, so close first years could reach out and touch them as they tripped up to the Sorting Hat. Bradley leaned out of their way, a blue Head Boy pin glinting on his chest. Beside him sat Cole, bearing a similar one with a broomstick on it to signify his captainship. Their simultaneous waves were the last thing Otto Ollivander saw before the Sorting Hat slipped over his eyes.
"Oh, you're easy," a slippery voice said in Otto's ear. "A Gryffindor if I ever saw one."
Panic flooded Otto's chest. That's impossible! he thought. Three generations of Ollivanders have been in Ravenclaw. This must be a joke. Or a mistake...
"I don't make mistakes," the voice replied. "You're a smart one, I know, and Ravenclaw would be lucky to have your brains. You have a memory to rival even the most serious studiers. But your head is one thing. Your heart says... GRYFFINDOR!"
The hat came off before Otto could further protest, and he was ushered towards a screaming table on the far right. As he passed his brothers, they exchanged identical looks of horror. Actual horror. Otto would know, as sharing a room meant sharing nightmares when one of them woke up sweating and shaking.
"Ignore your brothers," a severe-looking girl told him as he sank into a seat with the other Gryffindors. She was much older, at least Cole's age if not Bradley's. "This may be the end of the Ravenclaw Ollivanders, but it'll give you something to tell the grandchildren."
Otto was capable only of a helpless look, and she loosened enough to pat him on the shoulder. "I'm Minerva McGonagall. I've been losing Quidditch matches to Cole for years. You play?"
"No," Otto said. Now that the shock was edging away, he had the energy to notice her pin. It was identical to Cole's, except red.
"You should try out. First years rarely make it, but it's good to experience the process early on, so when you're a second year you know how things go."
"I don't like brooms," Otto admitted.
"Oh? And why not?"
Otto gulped. From that glare, you'd think he'd broken a big school rule or something. Cole had given him a similar one though, now that he thought about it. He'd made the mistake of cheering for the Chudley Cannons, unaware of their reputation. He figured he'd better choose his words carefully.
"My father says I've never liked anything I don't understand."
To his relief, Minerva grinned. "Not a bad outlook, I suppose," she said. She gestured to the wand sticking out of Otto's pocket, and the smile widened to something else. "Tried it out yet?"
"Yeah, a bit," Otto said, perking up. "My mother watched me. I got some sparks out of it."
"Know how it works?"
Otto's mental sparks spluttered out. And here he'd thought he was so special, talking to an older student. When all she'd wanted to do was make a fool of him. "...No."
"Go the library and see what you can find on unicorn hair, phoenix feathers, and dragon heartstrings. In the meantime, I'll see you Saturday on the pitch, nine o'clock. Don't be late. We may be able to beat your brother yet."
With a wink, Minerva turned to greet a few Gryffindors that had been Sorted while she interrogated Otto. He ignored his brothers' attempts at eye contact and clapped politely for the last Sorting, a Hufflepuff. He found it difficult to be excited when the food appeared magically on the platters around him, or even the desserts when they followed. He was wondering how hard it would be to find the library. He hadn't known hearts had strings, like puppets or drapes, nor that they could be related to such a flimsy piece of wood. He had half a mind to break his own wand over his knee and see what made it tick.