The Ferrari of Wands
Professor Gregor had just poured himself a cup of coffee when Edward DeVere came into the Hogwarts staff room. "Ah, Franz," said DeVere, "just the man I was looking for."
Gregor sat down in a plush leather chair and took a sip of his coffee. "What can I do for you, Edward?"
"You know how you were telling Sonja and I too keep an ear out for young Liam Wren asking a question far outside the scope of his studies? Well, I got a doozy of one from him today."
"What did he ask you?"
"Well, Miss Thompson did most of the talking. They're lab partners, you know."
"I didn't know that."
"I detect a bit of romantic attraction between them, as well. Completely innocent at this age, of course."
"Of course," said Gregor patiently. "What was the question?"
"They started off by asking about memory captures. You know, Pensieves and the like. Wren asked specifically if a memory could be grafted to a wand."
Professor Gregor stayed very still, but the creases of his brow deepened, rising high upon his forehead, the only sign that betrayed how unsettling he found the question. "What did you tell him?"
"I told him it was impossible."
"It's practically impossible."
"Not to mention pointless, considering the array of more suitable options."
"Stilgrevsen," muttered Gregor. "If anyone could do it, he could."
"Sure, Stilgrevsen," agreed DeVere, "but that's a bit far outside the scope of a First Year inquiry, don't you think?"
"I wholeheartedly agree."
"Wren's not in some sort of trouble, is he?"
"No." Gregor took another sip of his coffee. "He's an unconventional thinker. I just wanted to keep track of the direction in which his thoughts were leading him."
"He's a subtle and instinctive potion-maker. Best of his year by far."
"I'm glad to hear that."
Gregor sat and finished his coffee, then took a stroll down to the library, where Bitters, a Slytherin Fifth Year, worked behind the counter, checking out books. "Ah, Bitters," said Gregor. "Could you look something up for me?"
"Of course, Professor."
"Has anyone checked out Dragons of the Southern Hemisphere lately?"
"Let me check." Bitters flipped through the cards. "Sorry sir. It is checked out."
"Who has it now?"
"S. Thompson, R-1."
Gregor nodded. "Who had it before that?"
"Calais. Now that you mention it, sir, I recall Miss Thompson asking that same question. She said she was forming a club or something."
"Shall I see if we can get you another copy?"
"No thank you. It's not urgent that I read that book this minute. There's one other book that I'm interested in - I believe the library has a biography of Lars Stilgrevsen?"
Bitters looked quickly through his files. "Yes, that book is available for checkout, sir."
"Who had it last?"
"Calais, again sir."
"I see. When was this?"
"He checked it out before he left on Holiday, sir. He just returned it."
"The next time that book leaves the library, I want to know who checked it out. Can you do that for me?"
"I'll put a trace on it, sir. I'll let you know as soon as possible."
"Very good." Gregor turned and went up to his office, overlooking the lake. One of the house elves brought him his lunch. He ate his sandwich and enjoyed another cup of coffee while staring down at the green water, sparkling in the sunlight.
Without the clue from DeVere, Gregor would not have made the connection between Wren and Thompson. He would have overlooked the significance of Thompson checking out Dragons of the Southern Hemisphere, the one book in the library collection that would give the reader the best information on Madagascan Dragons.
Earlier that day, Meadows had mentioned to him that Philip Harkenborough, a better known associate of Wren's, had asked her about dream interpretations.
DeVere is right, thought Gregor. Wren is subtle. He works through intermediaries, hiding his inquiries from the staff, and leaning on two bright students for help. He would have made a good Slytherin.
The three pieces of information were, taken separately, insignificant. Even collectively, they didn't amount to much, unless one added the first clue: Wren had, earlier in the term, asked Cyrus Kane if he was dreaming of dragons.
This tidbit came from Calais, and Gregor had, on first hearing, dismissed it out of hand. Gregor was Head of Slytherin, after all. It was not the first time a precocious young student tried to impress him with a bit of innuendo.
But, after he had dismissed Umberto, the worries began to grow. Wren had handled Cyrus' wand twice that Autumn, and this new inquiry was on the heels of a third incident involving the two boys. This was a Stilgrevsen wand, after all - exotic, and notoriously difficult to master.
Had Wren triggered something when he wrenched the thing from Kane's hand? Is this the Secret Key, manifesting itself?
Something was plaguing Wren's sleep, driving him to research dragons, memory capture and dream interpretations. The question that Wren and Thompson put to DeVere was startling. How does one put a memory on a wand?
How had he done it? Like DeVere said, it was impossible. But, Stilgrevsen must have found a way . . .
Gregor was eager to know exactly what the children knew and didn't know about this experience, but he knew they wouldn't tell him. With a bit of luck, they'll go to Calais. He has already offered to help them. And, what he learns, he will tell me.
By Friday morning, Liam and Sadie had not come to any agreement as to whether they should ask Umberto for help. Sadie was intensely curious about what Umberto could tell them. Both Liam and Sadie were fearful, however, about the price they would pay for such information. They had several arguments about it over the next few days.
"Umberto won't tell Cyrus," said Sadie. "There's bad blood between those two. But we can't trust him to keep this quiet. Believe me, he'll tell someone. And, he'll have his own questions he wants answered. He's had a lot of time to think this over."
"What if he goes to Gregor?" asked Liam.
"Professor Gregor can't stop us from asking questions and reading books," said Sadie sternly. "As long as we're keeping up on our regular work, I can't see him interfering."
"He doesn't like me."
"You just say that because he gave you detention. He's really not out to get you."
"Yes he is!"
But in the end, they decided it was the only way forward. Sadie and Umberto sat close to one another during DADA. That Friday, before Professor Gregor got started with his lecture, Sadie passed Umberto a note. The Slytherin boy took it without surprise or protest, and pocketed it without reading it.
After class, Sadie and Liam came together. Sadie smiled up at Liam but didn't say anything. Liam looked away, in the direction of Umberto. He caught Umberto's eye, and the other boy came over to where they were standing.
"Good morning, Wren."
Umberto turned to Sadie and set a hand gently on her arm. "Sadie, I've been meaning to talk to you. I hope you weren't hurt in anyway by that nonsense of Morwena's a few weeks back. I must say, I didn't have anything to do with it."
"I'm fine, thank you," said Sadie softly. The blush was faintly on her cheeks.
"I'm glad. I was furious with Morwena afterwards. It was not at all what I would have done."
This was too much for Liam. As much as he tried to downplay his relationship with Sadie, the rest of the First Year students assumed they were a couple. Liam wasn't about to stand idly by while another boy flirted with his girl.
He stepped closer to Sadie and put a hand on her back. "That's not what we wanted to talk to you about."
Umberto let go of Sadie's arm and backed up a step, but there was a calm expression on his face. "I would be happy to help you, Wren," he answered, "but this is not the time or place for such a discussion."
"There's some empty classrooms on the second floor. We could meet there after lunch."
Umberto nodded. "Would you mind if Gordon came with me?"
Sadie had pressed herself against Liam's side. She gazed up at him, but he didn't look down at her. Instead he shrugged, but then added, "Just him."
"Of course. See you then." With a nod to Sadie, he retreated.
Nervously, Liam and Sadie moved apart. "I guess we're going through with it," said Sadie.
"He's the only one who'll tell us what we need to know," said Liam. "Let's just get it over with." He looked sternly at Sadie and said, "He was hitting on you, acting like he was your boyfriend or something."
Sadie blushed hotly, but said nothing back.
Right after lunch, during their open period, Liam and Sadie met Umberto and Gordon outside the Great Hall. Liam led the others up to the second floor, to their favourite empty classroom. When they were all inside, Gordon closed the door and leaned back against it.
"There's a spell for that, you know," said Sadie. "It keeps doors closed and locked."
"Yes," said Umberto, "but spells like that attract attention, and they can be broken. A closed door is always less conspicuous. What was it that you wanted to ask me?"
Sadie held up the green ribbon. "Was this yours?"
"You found my bookmark! Did it work?" asked Umberto, eagerly.
"It opened for me, Sadie and Hark," said Liam, "but nobody else."
"It should have worked for Bendrix, too," said Umberto. "I didn't have an opportunity to test it before hand, so I wasn't sure.
"You found the page then. The picture of the red dragon." Liam nodded in answer. "Is that the dragon from your dream?"
Liam wanted to snap back, "I'm the one asking the questions!" But, Sadie had warned him. "Umberto will have his price," she said. "He will ask his own questions. And he's good about picking up clues. He'll figure out more than just what you tell him."
"Yes," said Liam finally.
"Is Cyrus having the same dream?" asked Sadie.
Umberto smiled. "Believe me, my dear, Brother Cyrus is not nearly as subtle as Wren."
Gordon added, "If Cy were having these dreams, he would be broadcasting it from the rafters. The whole school would know about it."
"My thoughts exactly," concurred Umberto.
"So, 'no,' in other words," said Liam.
"No, he is not."
"We think Liam's dreams are being caused by Cyrus' wand," said Sadie.
This was more than Liam wanted said, but Umberto answered quickly, "So do I."
"Who's the wand maker? Do you know?"
"What?" Sadie stared at Umberto, incredulous. "Are you serious?"
"Believe me, I didn't take Cy at his word. I had it independently verified."
"But, that's absurd," Sadie sputtered.
"What's the big deal?" asked Liam.
Sadie was lost in thought, so Umberto spoke. "Do you like cars, Wren?"
"Sure I do."
"Stilgrevesen wands are like Ferraris: exotic, powerful, temperamental and expensive."
"It would be like your dad buying you a Ferrari for your first car," said Gordon.
"Not my dad," said Liam.
"I thought Stilgrevsen's wands blew up when you used them," said Sadie.
"His first attempts did in fact blow up at first use," concurred Umberto, "but his technique improved with practice and experimentation. There's a fascinating biography on Stilgrevsen in the library, if you're interested."
"You telling me that wand is worth a hundred thousand pounds?" asked Liam.
"Not that expensive, Wren," said Umberto. "Think about the cost of a Ferrari in comparison to an average car. The Ferrari is ten to fifteen times more."
"So," continued Sadie, "a wand from Ollivander's is usually about 10 galleons. Stilgrevsen's wands must run 100 to 150."
"Still a lot of money," said Liam. Umberto nodded.
Sadie shook her head. "Well, the wand chooses the wizard, right?"
"That's not what Professor Gregor thinks," said Liam.
"What do you mean?" asked Sadie, alarmed.
"Please," said Umberto, a wide grin on his face, "tell us what Professor Gregor thinks."
Liam thought back over his first detention with the Deputy Headmaster. "He said the shopkeeper chooses the buyer. I didn't understand what he meant at first. I guess the guy in the shop pushed the wand onto somebody who could afford to buy it."
"But, that's totally unethical!" cried Sadie.
"Must have been a Slytherin," quipped Gordon.
"Cyrus has got to have affinity with his wand," Sadie argued. "He uses it every day. His marks aren't that bad."
Umberto was silent, but the wide grin was still there: a glowing look of triumph that gave Liam the creeps. "If Kane has affinity with this wand," said Liam slowly, "why do I have this dream?"
"That's the Hundred Galleon Question, isn't it?" said Umberto smoothly.
For a moment, no one said anything. Sadie broke the silence. "Is there anything else you can tell us? I still have the feeling that I'm five moves behind you."
"Sadie," said Umberto kindly, "you know much more about this than I do. I don't know the contents of the dream."
Turning to Wren, he said, "As much as I would like to know, if I were you, I would keep it to myself. Here's some free advice: don't tell anyone else about this dream, especially not Cyrus Kane."
Liam and Sadie exchanged glances. Sadie shook her head. Liam turned to Umberto and said, "Thanks for your help."
"Of course." Umberto nodded to Sadie, then he and Gordon took their leave.
As soon as the door closed, Sadie said, "A Stilgrevsen! Utterly mad!"
"What's the next move?" asked Liam.
"Back to the library," said Sadie. "I better read that book."
As Professor Gregor came into the Great Hall for dinner that evening, Bitters approached him. Without a word, the boy passed Gregor a note, then returned to the Slytherin table. Gregor waited until he was seated at the staff table before glancing at the contents.
On a small strip of parchment, in Bitters' masculine script, were the words: "Stilgrevsen bio, S. Thompson R-1, 14:35 today." Gregor folded the note and slipped it into his pocket.
[Down the stretch we come! I'll do another batch of four chapters, and then we'll be at the endgame. Up next: More about the wand maker, Lars Stilgrevsen! Plus, Quidditch! And, someone new gets detention! In the meantime, spread the word, and thanks very much for reading! KJ]