Author’s Note: The characters in these stories are the same as those in The Shadows Within, my novel set in the Marauder’s sixth year. The events in these stories are all part of that same universe and some of them have been alluded to or mentioned in passing in the chapters of the novel that are already up. What you will find here are the “missing moments” and major events that happened leading up to the events of The Shadows Within, from first year through the summer before sixth year.
If you recognize it from the Harry Potter books, it belongs to JK Rowling.
So, without further ado, I would like to show you Naomi’s first glimpse of the wizarding world.
Dragon Heartstring & Unicorn Hair
“This is Gringotts, the wizarding bank. You can change your Muggle money into gold galleons, silver sickles, and bronze knuts in here.”
Eleven-year-old Naomi O’Connor looked up at the building, confused. Ever since she had learned that magic was real, she had figured that you would be able to fix anything and that it would be easy to make things look nice. But the building in front of her was leaning to one side with crooked pillars and unevenly spaced windows. She wondered why they wouldn’t fix it with a simple spell if they could. As it was, the building looked like it could topple over if there was especially bad weather.
“You will have to exchange your money before you will be able to pick up the items on her school list, because the shops here do not accept your notes,” the man showing them around said to her mother. His robes were fluttering in the breeze but, weirdly, she felt like she was the one who was most out of place in her normal shirt and trousers. “The goblins do it often, so it should be a quick process.”
“Goblins?” her mother asked, sounding a bit faint. It was a tone she had been using a lot over the last week or two.
“Not to worry, ma’am. They are easy to work with,” he paused, twirled the end of his pointy beard around his finger, then added, “as long as you don’t try to cheat them, of course.”
He led them up the steps and through a set of heavy doors. Naomi followed closely on her mother’s heels to not fall behind and to avoid the stares of the goblins, who were a bit creepy. As her mother worked on exchanging a stack of Irish pounds into coins, Naomi looked around. She was staring through the massive glass dome on the roof, watching clouds float by overhead when her mother said, “Let’s go now, Naomi.”
Her mother sounded nervous, probably because the goblins were still looking at them. Naomi was eager to go, having seen all there was to see in the bank. This was probably the stop they had to make that she was looking forward to the least, but since they needed money there was not much she could do.
She could see her mother visibly relax when they were back out in the summer sun. “What would you like to do first?” her mother asked as she pulled the thick envelope with Naomi’s school supply list on it out of her handbag.
Naomi didn’t even have to think about her answer. “The wand shop!” she exclaimed, gripping her mother’s forearm. “I think I saw a sign for it earlier, when Mr. Jorkins was showing us where everything is.”
Thankfully her mother had no more experience with shopping for magical supplies than she did, so she was willing to do what Naomi wanted. “Will you be coming with us?” her mother asked Mr. Jorkins.
“No, no,” he said. “I will be waiting outside of Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, which we passed earlier. You will be able to find me at one of the tables outside or near the door, if the ones outside are full.”
Since they were going the same way he walked with them until they arrived outside of a shop with an old fashioned sign that read, “Ollivander’s Wand Shop.” Below it, in smaller letters, Naomi read, “Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.”
She wasn’t sure if it was possible that something could have existed for more than two thousand years, but she didn’t really care if the sign was exaggerating. As long as whoever worked here could give her an actual, working magic wand, she would let them make whatever claims they liked.
There was a soft chiming as she opened the door to the shop. It got the attention of a very old man, who must have been older than her granddad and the customers he was helping, a short girl with dark blonde hair and her mother. The man looked at Naomi as though he was trying to read her, which made her a bit uncomfortable, but he didn’t say anything. It made her nervous.
“I, uh,” she stammered. She took a deep breath before trying again. “I need to buy a wand for Hogwarts,” she said, much more steadily.
“Of course,” the man said. His voice was quieter than she was expecting. He gestured for her to step closer and, after excusing himself from the other girl, he pulled a measuring tape out of a bowl on his desk. “Wand arm?” he asked.
Naomi assumed that meant the hand she wrote with, so she said, “Right.”
She took a step back in shock when the plastic yellow measuring tape he had been holding began to move all on its own. It was measuring her from fingertips to shoulder when she looked over at her mother, mouth agape and eyes wide. Her mother, standing beside the other girl’s mother, looked just as surprised as she was.
The old man, who Naomi assumed must be Mr. Ollivander, had disappeared into the shelves that filled his store without another word. She was wondering how many different wands lined those shelves when the girl beside her asked, “Muggleborn?”
Her head snapped to the right, where the short girl was looking up at her. Mr. Jorkins had explained what Muggles were to her, so at least she knew what the other girl was asking. “Yes,” she said. She guessed her surprise had made it obvious.
“My dad is a Muggle,” the other girl said. “My mum’s a witch though. She got her wand from Mr. Ollivander here before she started school.”
Mr. Ollivander was back, having hardly made a sound. “I remember.” His pale eyes focused on the girl’s mother. “Dorothy Greengrass, now Gracin, daughter of Odin Greengrass. Spruce and unicorn hair and 12 inches long.”
“That’s right,” the girl’s mother – Dorothy – replied.
Mr. Ollivander turned back to the girls. “Aurora, take this,” he said, handing her something. Turning to Naomi, he tilted his head to see the measurement of the circumference of her head. She was not certain what it had to do with anything, but he said, “Excellent.”
The tape fell to her feet. Mr. Ollivander placed it back on his desk, then grabbed the wand out of Aurora’s hand. “No,” was all he said.
He was back a couple moments later, three more boxes in his hands. He pulled out a slightly crooked one and offered it to Naomi, saying, “Maple and unicorn hair, eleven and a half inches, bendy.”
She had hardly touched it before he shook his head and passed her a second one. “Mahogany, thirteen inches, with a dragon heartstring core.” As soon as she touched it, he was passing the third wand to Aurora. “This one is a springy spruce wand with a dragon heartstring core.”
Naomi watched as a series of silver stars came out of the wand, even though Aurora had not said any sort of spell. She was glad to see that the other girl looked just as surprised as she did. “What…” she whispered, looking confused.
“Excellent, excellent,” Mr. Ollivander said, speaking louder than ever. “The wand choses the witch and yours has just chosen you. Like I said, spruce wood and a dragon heartstring, measuring nine and one quarter inches long.”
As Aurora’s mother got money out of her change purse, Mr. Ollivander grabbed another box off the shelf in front of them. “Try this,” he instructed before moving to take the money Dorothy was offering as payment for her daughter’s wand.
Naomi watched, wand between her fingers doing nothing. As her mother was paying, Aurora looked at Naomi and asked, “What’s your name anyway? I never asked.”
“Naomi O’Connor,” she replied.
“I’m Aurora Gracin,” the girl said. “Maybe I’ll see you at Hogwarts!” She grabbed the bag that Mr. Ollivander was offering and, with a wave, followed her mother out of the store.
Once Aurora and her mother were gone, Mr. Ollivander’s speed increased tremendously. He was bringing back boxes of wands at a time and hardly let Naomi touch them before he would pull it from her grasp, claiming that something was not right. Once a bit of smoke had started coming out and Naomi had wondered if that was a good sign, but Mr. Ollivander was telling her that it was definitely not a match only seconds later.
She was starting to feel like it could be a very long process, having already tried to use a dozen wands, when Mr. Ollivander handed her another. “Try this. Pear, eleven inches, with a unicorn hair core.”
When the wand was placed in her fingers, there was no question in Naomi’s mind that this was the one for her. She wasn’t sure how she could explain it, but somehow she just knew that this was going to be the wand she went to Hogwarts with. She broke out into a grin.
“Ah, you can feel the difference,” Mr. Ollivander said. She wasn’t really sure, but she thought he sounded pleased.
Naomi’s mother pulled six of the golden coins and several silver ones out of her purse to pay Mr. Ollivander for the wand. As soon as she could, Naomi took it back from the wand maker, wanting to carry it rather than having her mother hold it. Now that she had her very own magic wand, one that had chosen her to wield it, she was starting to feel like maybe she really could be a witch. It was a weird feeling for somebody who had not even known that magic was real a few weeks prior, but it made her feel wonderful.