Chapter 3 : Walnut and Dragon Heartstring. 12 and 3/4 inches. Unyielding
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Ollivander had no idea how long he had been trapped inside Malfoy Manor. His daily ritual consisted of being woken roughly, normally by Peter Pettigrew and being dragged bodily into a dark anteroom. He then spent hours, or what he assumed were hours for he had not seen the sun since he had been made captive and thus still had no concept of time, building wands for Death Eaters and being screamed at for information. If he was lucky he avoided the Cruciatus curse before being shoved back into his cell. He was rarely that lucky.
What confused him greatly was why he had been captured in the first place. In the initial stages of his imprisonment he had been told that Lord Voldemort needed him for a special task but so far he had not been informed of what that was. The wands he was building were for Death Eaters sent on assassination missions. Every piece of magic leaves its own mark, a kind of signature that skilled Aurors could then trace back to the wand that conjured it. The stronger and more powerful the curse, the larger the signature it left. Most of the Death Eaters were known to the Ministry, as were their wands, and thus every time they did a murder the Aurors would be able to detect, if they had that wand’s information on file, who was responsible. For most Death Eaters, this was not an issue as they did not care who knew that they were committing atrocities in the name of Lord Voldemort. Indeed some, like Bellatrix Lestrange, flaunted their statuses as enemies of the state but some, especially those under deep cover, needed new wands, clean and disposable ones that could commit the crime and then disappear without a trace. Constructing a wand was a very time-consuming business, and despite the fact that he was in captivity Ollivander still took pride in his work. Though he considered the wands that he was making to only be half-wands as they never had the chance to choose their masters, they were still Ollivander’s wands. It was not the fact that he feared a beating if his work was not up to scratch, it was his professional pride, even though he knew that these wands would be used for nothing but evil. He just did not have it in him to make a bad wand.
Ollivander was of course massively over-qualified for this task, but he suspected that another reason for his imprisonment was to deprive the other side his expertise. He was the best, he had never felt the need to be overly modest about this because everybody knew it, and he was a great loss to the Order and the Ministry. Though he did not know it, the wizarding public were being hit hard by his absence. Some indeed were having to travel abroad to Ponmercy’s in Avignon and some even as far as Gregorovich’s in order to get their wands, and even then they returned disappointed. Though there were other wand makers in Britain, they had neither the experience nor the expertise to meet the demand.
The workshop that he had been provided with was small, barely better lit than his dungeon and scarcely more comfortable. His light came from a candle fitting dangling from the low stone ceiling as well as a tiny amount that crept through the cracks in the thick oak door. The room, like his dungeon was clad in stone which meant that it was bitterly cold for most of the day. In one corner of the room lay sticks of various kinds of the most common woods from which wands were made: walnut, pine, blackthorn, oak and yew. The sticks were all at least half an inch thick, which was the standard measurement and varied in length from around 10 inches to some that were over a metre long. In the opposite corner was a large oak table which had upon it little boxes containing the magical cores that, when combined with the woods, would make a wand.
It was the great irony of wand-making that the creation of the objects that helped control and focus the magical abilities of witches and wizards was done in a way that could only be described as Muggle. While some did use magic in the process of building wands, none of the great wand-makers did so. Even great scholars of wandlore were divided on why this was the case. Some said that the presence of another’s wand in the creation of another meant that the new wand could never reach its full potential as it was just channelling the initial magic of the mother wand. Others said that no wizard could be the master of a wand that had been created by another’s magic. The wizard who had used magic to create the new wand would always be its master. These and other theories allowed for impassioned discussions on the rare occasions that wandlore scholars met, but they all agreed that the creation of a wand had to be done without the use of magic.
Ollivander had used the same technique for building wands since the day his father had taught him how to do it. His father had learnt it from his and so on back to the founding of Ollivander’s in the Fourth Century and possibly back even further than that. First he would trim the wand with a small knife with which had been provided. He was surprised that he had been allowed to have a knife in his unsupervised cell-come-workshop. It was only when his hand slipped in the semi-darkness, slicing bloodlessly across his palm that he realised that the blade must have been charmed not to puncture human skin. Once the wand had been pruned and smoothed till it was smooth and more-or-less straight, it was time to insert the core. This was the time consuming part, a process that was devilishly fiddly to do, doubly so in the dimly lit room that he was forced to use. Using a tiny hand-operated drill, he would make a hole in one end of the wand, drilling around five or six inches. He would then insert the core carefully, making sure not to break or tear it. Phoenix feather was particularly difficult as they were quite large when compared to most magical cores and very fragile. Once he had finished the insertion of the core, he would place the wand down on the table. If he had carried out the process correctly the hole would seal, and a new wand would be born.
Today he had been working on a yew wand, with a veela hair core. He had just received a large amount of veela hair, he shuddered to think about how forcibly that the hair may have been removed from its previous owner, and was experimenting with it. He had never a great fan of using veela hair in his own wands, he found it made them temperamental and unpredictable, but this incarceration gave him the opportunity to experiment a bit. He had spent the last hour or so coaxing the single hair into the yew wood when the door to his workshop burst open.
If Peter Pettigrew had been acting in the role of jailor, then Bellatrix Lestrange was the governor of his prison. She seemed to revel in causing as much pain as possible to him, and not just physical pain through the Cruciatus Curse. Her constant taunts about his age and frailty he could bear but her crooning over the deaths of witches and wizards that had died in the fight against Voldemort never failed to make him shudder and flinch. He knew that this only encouraged her further but it he couldn’t help it. He could tell by the joyful smirk on her face that he was in for more bad news. Despite the rising sense of trepidation building inside of him he looked down at his work, pretending to be checking the new wand for a sign that his fabrication process may have not totally succeeded. Bellatrix, however, was not fooled but decided to play along with the game.
“So old man, what have we here?” She strode across the room so she was standing directly above the seated Ollivander and picked up the wand. “Very nice, I think I will enjoy breaking this one in. There’s no better spell for a wand to warm up with than AVADA KEDAVRA!” A shot of green light burst from the new wand, whistling past Ollivander’s right ear and crashing into room behind him. Ollivander, nearly toppled off the back of his chair in fright. He bent over his little table in shock, breathing heavily. Bellatrix walked around him to where her curse had landed. She picked up a small mouse, the very same mouse that had been competing with him for his meals for much of his time in Malfoy Manor. She threw it onto the table by its tail, the dead rodent clattering into Ollivander’s knife, knocking it off the table. It lay to rest right in front of him, its lifeless eyes staring into his. Ollivander was so shocked by this he did not know what to say or do, he just stared open mouthed at the mouse. He had no particular affinity for it, indeed its passing would probably markedly improve his meal times, but the senseless and callous way in which Bellatrix had killed it chilled him to the bone
Bellatrix, well aware of the power that her spellwork could have on others let it all sink in before standing over Ollivander, this time directly behind him. “It’s important to christen every wand with a killing,” she said slowly, relishing every word. “You also can’t kill anything too lowborn first. So you give it a taste of a target like a mouse or little kitty-cat before you let it loose on filthy muggles and mudbloods. It’s not fair on the wands otherwise.” She was circling Ollivander now, her smirk widening into a grin that the Cheshire Cat would have been proud of. “That last wand you made, the yew and thestral hair? We warmed that up by killing a little puppy, tiny little thing could fit in your hand. We then went to the blood traitor’s house and smeared her across her kitchen.” Her voice was getting more high-pitched and girly, as it always did when describing an atrocity of which she had played a part or approved of. “Just thought you ought to know old man,” she continued, sweeping towards the door, “like the wand that first you gave me all those years ago, this wand will have a happy life doing the bidding of the Dark Lord, and stamping out the scum that oppose him. Do you remember that day?”
“I remember every wand that I have ever sold Mrs Lestrange,” Ollivander said, his voice quivering as he fought for control, trotting out the same line that he had told countless witches and wizards. He thought the best way to distract her and avoid the Cruciatus Curse from the new wand he had just created, “I came to the Black residence, your aunt insisted I come to yours directly...”
4th February 1960 – Grimmauld Place, London
Clouds obscured the sky over London as Ollivander walked across Grimmauld Place towards number 12. He was wearing a brown robes, topped with a grey flat-cap which he believed would help him blend into the Muggle world. He was carrying a large battered leather case, which rattled as he walked across the road towards the oak front door of the house.
He had never enjoyed these kinds of visits, but they were a customary part of Ollivander’s service that had gone back centuries. Most of his customers visited him in his shop, preferring to buy their wands in Diagon Alley. It made sense too; Ollivander kept his entire stock of wands in his shop, whereas if he sold it on a visit to the customer’s house, he could only bring a selection. It was of course also more expensive as they had to not only pay for the wand, but also Ollivander’s time. There was a reason, however, for why some people liked to do it this way. These people were almost all the traditional wizarding families; the purebloods who could trace their lineages back through hundreds of magical years. They did not stoop to buying wands like mere mortals; to making the most important purchase of their lives in a shop, they made him come to them.
The limited choice of wands was also part of the attraction. The old noble houses liked to keep certain cores in the family. Wands would be handed down through generations on occasion, but there was rarely enough to go around, but it was seen as important to, like their bloodline, keep their wand-line pure. It was all about status. The Black family were one of the most proud ancient families of them all. Under the control of the dominant matriarch Walburga Black, the Black family had relatives amongst almost all of the magical families in the country and while many of them did not even live at Grimmauld Place, they all made their pilgrimage to the mother-house of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black to obtain their wands. Indeed his customer today was not one of Walburga and Orion Black’s children, but their niece Bellatrix Black.
He knocked on the door using a handle shaped like a hissing serpent and was greeted by a tall house-elf, with a long crooked nose and a very sullen disposition. “Ah you must be Mr Ollivander. Please come in sir” He beckoned Ollivander inside, into a long halfway, lit with gas lamps and a huge chandelier. The walls were lined with portraits of Black’s of days past. The elf led him up a flight of stairs into the drawing room and announced “Mr Ollivander to see you my lady.”
The drawing room was a magnificent room. It had huge windows that looked out over Grimmauld Place and flooded the room with natural light which tinkled through the crystal glasses and ornaments that dotted the room to create dozens of tiny rainbows. On the wall facing Ollivander in the doorway stood the room’s most prominent feature, the Black Family Tree. Ollivander had visited Grimmauld Place before and, as an amateur magical historian, found it absolutely fascinating. It was incredibly detailed, covering the family through scores of generations. He recognised many of his customers, most of whom he had sold wands in this very room. On a large mahogany chair in the centre of the room sat Walburga Black. She was quite a small woman; greying hair tied tightly back into a bun, pursed lips and eyes that seemed to pierce right through anyone whom they fixed upon. She looked older than she was, an image that she no-doubt cultivated to add to her grandeur. Around her chair stood a number of other members of her family, including her husband Orion but there was no doubt whom was the dominant figure in this room.
“You may go Kreacher,” she said sharply. The elf bowed his head and exited the room, shutting the door behind him. “Welcome back to the House of Black Mr Ollivander,” Walburga Black said gesturing at him to take a seat to her left. “I trust you had a safe journey.” Her voice was deep and slightly masculine, quite strange to be coming out of such a small and relatively young woman
“Yes thank you Mrs Black, a most pleasant trip,” Ollivander said but it was clear that she was not much interested in his answer.
“You have of course already met most of the people here. My husband Orion Black, my brother Cygnus Black and his wife Druella of the Rosier family.” Cygnus and Druella nodded their heads at the mention of their names, their eyes fixed on Walburga. “And this of course is my niece, Bellatrix Black. Bellatrix, please step forward.” Walking cautiously but confidently forward came a tall, black haired girl. She was still a child, but it was clear that she was going to become a very beautiful woman. Her eyes were dark and mysterious and she carried herself already in a manner that belied her years. Her hair fell in cascades between her shoulders and swayed slightly as she came to face her aunt.
“Yes Aunt Walburga.” If she was nervous, she did not show it. Her voice was unwavering and her gaze unfaltering.
“You are the first of my three nieces to obtain their first wand. One day your sisters and my sons will also have their first wands, but you are the first of the new generation of the Black Family to get theirs. I hope you know the responsibility that lies on your shoulders today.”
“I do Aunt Walburga.”
Walburga turned to face Ollivander. “As you know Dragon Heartstring has been in the family for generations Mr Ollivander, as it has been in many other noble families such as the Malfoys. I trust you have brought a selection of Dragon Heartstring wands?”
“Yes Mrs Black, along with some others, in case young Bellatrix is chosen by another...”
“She will choose the Dragon Heartstring Mr Ollivander,” Walburga snapped. “It has always been so and thus it must continue. Please proceed.”
Slightly taken aback by this putdown, Ollivander gathered his wits and opened his case. It had been magically enhanced so it contained around a third of his stock of Dragon Heartstring wands, as well as a smattering of other choices. He looked up at Bellatrix, whose dark eyes twinkled with a hint of excitement. “Now Miss Black,” he started, “your mother owns an 11-inch walnut and unicorn hair wand, and your father has a 13 inch mahogany and dragon heartstring one. Let’s start you off with the material of your mother, and the core of your father.” He handed her a wand of a rich brown wood, completely straight. Bellatrix handled it carefully, and immediately a shower of green sparks shot from it, illuminating the room in an eerie emerald colour.
“Well done Bellatrix, magnificent!” Walburga said, her face breaking out into the smallest of smiles. “It has been generations since a Black found their wand on their first attempt. Tell me Wandmaker, what wand was it that Bellatrix has?”
“It is Walnut and Dragon Heartstring, Mrs Black. 12 and three quarter inches, unyielding. I believe it to be quite a powerful wand. Use it well my dear.” He addressed these last words to Bellatrix, whose dark eyes shone in the light of her new wand, which was still showering the room in the colours of Slytherin House.
Winter 1997, Malfoy Manor
The Bellatrix facing Ollivander now was a very different one to the one who had smiled so as she handled her wand for the first time. Years of imprisonment and murder had turned her pretty young face into an angular, lined and pale visage; her eyes no longer sparkled, her hair tangled rather than falling down her back. The brand new wand from nearly forty years ago was now pointing at him.
“You seemed to have drifted off old man! No matter.” She swiped her wand to her left, casting a spell that picked Ollivander up and threw him against his table, which split in half under the impact. “You will not have much time left for dreaming. Your happy wand-making time is nearly over. The Dark Lord has not forgotten the plan that he has for you. He has asked us not to harm you unless you resist.” She walked over to him, and stooped down so that her face was inches from his. “I will tell them you tried to run. This was why you ended up inside your precious table. You tell them anything different and I’ll make you wish you’d never been born.”
“Www-what does he want with me?” Ollivander asked, his body aching in pain.
“Well I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise would I old man!”
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