Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.
A Harry Potter Fan Fiction by Aaran St Vines
Disclaimer---What belongs to J K Rowlings is J K Rowlings'. What belongs to anyone else is theirs. Everything left is mine, I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun."
My gratitude to Ozma, the poster child of patient excellence in beta reading. - A St V -
Chapter One - Mr. Ollivander Starts The Story
Harry was bored. It was the summer before his third year at Hogwarts and Harry Potter was staying at the Leaky Cauldron. He had "blown up" Aunt Marge, and instead of being expelled, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge himself, had told Harry of his pardon. Harry had spent every day for over a week studying at a table at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. It would be several more days before he would meet his friends here at Diagon Alley just before the start of school.
Harry's curiosity had been aroused one day, when, about 1:30, he noticed Mr. Ollivander eating a late lunch at the other end of the seating area. They'd nodded politely to each other but had not spoken.
Later that day Harry had walked to the junk shop at the end of Diagon Alley to see if they had anything interesting. When he'd walked out of the junk shop he looked straight over at Ollivanders. "Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C." Curious. Harry had pondered before the fact that the Ollivanders founding date was much earlier than any other business in Diagon Alley. It was older by roughly 750 years than Gringotts Wizarding Bank, which had a founding date of 519 A.D.
There was a neatly hand lettered sign in the window that said, "Closed Afternoons This Week for Inventory." Harry had walked over and peered through the window. The place and its proprietor had given him the shivers when he'd bought his wand there two summers earlier. But things that inspire fear also possess a morbid curiosity. The dusty place was even dustier than normal because boxes usually precariously stacked along walls were precariously scattered everywhere. After a minute Mr. Ollivander had walked in from the back room and saw Harry peeking in. This had been Harry's cue to leave and go look at the new Firebolt at Quality Quidditch Supplies just one more time.
The following afternoon, at precisely the same time as the day before, Mr. Ollivander finished his late lunch and instead of leaving straight away he came over to Harry's table. "Mr. Potter, was there anything you required when I saw you looking in the window yesterday? Your wand is in fine shape I hope? Do you need a Wand Care Kit perhaps?"
Harry was a bit startled by this. He had only seen Mr. Ollivander approaching his table at the last second before he addressed him. "No, sir. Everything is fine. Er...I was merely curious. Um... How is the inventory going?"
"Slowly. My son usually helps me. However, as a part of his advanced training before I certify him as a journeyman wand maker, he is studying this summer with Hideyori Mashimoto, the Japanese wand master."
Ollivander's silvery eyes searched Harry's. He looked away for a moment as if making a decision. "Mr. Potter, would you perhaps have the next two afternoons free? I need an assistant. All you have to do is check off items on a parchment as I identify them. I will pay you of course, and you may choose partial payment in some of the wand support items in inventory. I mentioned the Wand Care Kit and we have some useful wand holders or "holsters" as the Americans are fond of calling them." The last bit was said with slight disdain.
Harry was not expecting such an offer, but he was bored with being bored. There was only so much homework he could force himself to do by himself before school even started. He agreed to help. Then, after a moment of hesitation, he asked a favor. "Mr. Ollivander, while we do this, would you please tell me how your firm was founded so long ago?"
The proper old gentleman considered this for a moment and finally agreed. "As long as you can listen to a story that is broken by me calling out wand descriptions every few seconds. It is tedious work and recounting the tales of my ancient forebears might speed the process. After all, it is time for you to hear it."
Once again Harry was startled by the cryptic manner and words of the respected wand maker. Harry took his books back to the Leaky Cauldron and made his way to the other end of the alley. The shop's door was open and it took over fifteen minutes for Mr. Ollivander and Harry to get into a rhythm of taking inventory. Then Mr. Ollivander began to speak.
"Some say that the great philosopher Aristotle was born in 382 B.C. Nine and three quarter inch rosewood with a unicorn hair core, made in 1947. Some say he was born in 384 B.C. Some say the same about the birth date of the Greek Orator Demosthenes. Eleven inch ash with a unicorn hair, made in 1971. In that same year, that is 382 B.C. not 1971, Philip II, King of Macedonia and the father of Alexander the Great, ascended to the throne. Ten and a half inches, olive wood, unicorn hair, made in 1592. These three events were of profound import in the formation of what is called Western Civilization."
(A/N - For the sake of the story and our sanity, the inventory will hereafter be edited out of the narration.)
"Mr. Potter, none of these historical facts have anything to do with the history of Ollivanders. This tale of my family, I must say in all modesty and candor, is of significant import to the world of magic, as we know it today. It starts 385 B.C., three years before our founding date."
Taking a deep breath, Mr. Ollivander began his story.
At a wide bend in the great river Tameas, known as the Thames today, there was a small but thriving community. The inhabitants were in the process of founding a world famous metropolis, but first they would have to survive the next three years.
It had been a wonderful year for the farming community and there was little else but farming on this island. Today it is called England or Britain or even Old Albion, but at that time, those that lived there just called it Albion, if they called it anything at all. Crop bins were full to bursting, craftsmanship had produced more trade goods than ever before, and more of the folk in surrounding areas were planning to attend the harvest faire than in years past.
This was exciting to the leaders of the community known as Loundon's Towne, but their joy from abundance would turn to despair before the faire was over.
At this time in our island's history such farming communities formed for several reasons. First and foremost these communities banded together to provide assistance in bringing in each other's crops. By mutual consent the planting of seed would be staggered over a few weeks so that the harvest times would not all be at the same moment.
Secondly, these communities were formed to foster early craftsmanship. Many years earlier Torban Loundon had learned metal-working and talked a number of his friends into migrating to this spot on the Tameas to form their own community. Others with the skills of grain milling, cooperage, clay firing for pots, and board sawing had joined him to start the community.
The third most common reason for such communities to form was for common defense. However, in the case of Loundon's Towne, their success as a community made them in some ways an obvious target.
Torban Loundon was a natural leader but some would have followed him anyway. He had a last name. Torban's father was a Keeper of land. Through the iron fist and quick swordsmanship of Torban's Gran-da, Loundon, Torban's family owned the land in an entire valley two moon's walk (about two months) north of the Loundon's Towne community. Torban's eldest brother would inherit the valley and the next two sons would be captain of the guard and farming manager respectively. Torban's fourth oldest brother would be in charge of anything else that needed oversight; and besides, number four wasn't too bright and had no ambition.
Torban was the fifth son when few had five children survive to adulthood. Torban was by far the brightest and most ambitious, but he quickly learned not to express his ambitions to his brothers. They thought that they had knocked sense into him by his fifth birthday. All they had taught Torban was to keep his own counsel.
Torban went looking all over the valley and to neighboring valleys for men and women of intelligence and similar dissatisfaction with their lot in life. By the time he had reached his twentieth birthday, Torban had gathered a band of like-minded and intelligent people ready to follow him. They formed the nucleus of the village they would establish. Each had been beaten into unwilling silence by those bigger or more powerful than them, be they parent or sibling or whoever. Each had found through Torban the opportunity to make their own way instead of submitting to another's plans.
In those days a boy became a man at seventeen, and at sixteen, a girl was a woman. When the youngest of his friends reached their majority, they followed Torban south to warmer weather, lush fields, and a ready water supply. Torban helped each build the home of his dreams.
They had honored Torban by naming their small village Loundon's Towne.
Torban had married Meala, a clever woman with a good heart and a sense of fair play. A childhood accident with a hot poker had left Meala with a scar on the right side of her otherwise pretty face, but Torban did not let the scar distract him from her true beauty, or the beauty inside her. Torban, a good judge of character and worth, knew that she would prove to be an excellent companion and a wise advisor.
Meala also had an eye for profitable opportunities. She quickly realized that every one of the craftsmen in Loundon's Towne had the materials and abilities to produce more than was needed by those of the village. One year, Meala convinced every craftsman to produce as many non-perishable goods as they could. At the time just before harvest they would send out word far and wide that a harvest faire would be held. Their own extra goods would be sold then, and one and all could bring to the faire anything they thought they might sell or trade.
The first harvest faire had been a smashing success. Everyone from miles around attended. More people with varying skills arrived each spring after the fall's previous harvest faire to join the community. Soon, Loundon's Towne was the biggest village within nine days ride on pony cart.
It seems that no good deed goes unpunished. At the end of the eleventh year of the faire, three armed men and a fourth smaller man rode into Loundon's Towne and announced that no one could leave without paying a protection share for a safe year. One part in three of all profits, proceeds, or produce would be given to insure their protection. There were over five score strong men and not a few capable women in the crowd. They could have taken the four easily, except for one complication.
The apparent leader of the four was easily the biggest man anyone had ever seen, and the strongest. Torban was a large and strong man but this man near dwarfed him. He was the spokesman for the four and it was his booming voice that delivered the proclamation. He declared, "I am Bonderman, and I am now Keeper of this village and the lands all around it."
The fourth unarmed man was a leathery looking little figure in a funny tall pointed hat and a black robe and he held a relatively straight stick by his side. He used the stick to concentrate the power of his "Touch." The villagers did not know this and therefore were not aware of what was going to happen. They thought the stick might be a back scratcher or pot stirrer.
Only one other person besides Meala had noticed that Bonderman seemed to glance at the little man during his short speech as if seeking advice or approval. At first Meala thought that the little man might be a counselor to the leader of the group.
A small but noticeable number of people on the island of Albion had a form of the "Touch." The Touch was what we think of in the modern era as magic. At the time of our story there were no training schools and no established methods of determining who had the Touch or what they could do.
Torban Loundon could feel how a piece of metal should be used. Quite often the metal would help him shape itself into its best use. Bengt the Miller could breathe in certain ways and then push around great baskets of grain that it would normally take three men to move. Pandan the Tiller just knew what to plant, how, and when. If you followed his advice you would reap two and sometimes three times the produce on the same field as in the previous year.
Egorn the Potter had figured out how to make clay pots that were especially durable, hard and long-lasting. He knew how to make his pots waterproof with a mixture of fine silt from the river and chicken liver oil, applied before the final firing. And Shulla, Egorn's wife, could fix broken pots and plates (for a small fee) by simply closing her eyes and concentrating.
Several of the men and women in the village could snap their fingers over a small pile of wood chips and see it light. Vanch the Cooper's wife, Taleena, could tell you which chickens were best for laying and which had slowed in laying and should be killed for eating.
When Bonderman made his proclamation to be Keeper of the village and extract his homage, the eleven nearest men of strength and determination looked at each other, nodded in agreement, and advanced on the four. They thought the big man was the threat and felt able to overpower him with their numbers. The real danger came from the least obvious source. The leathery looking little man in the funny tall pointed hat and black robe raised the stick from his side, waved it in their direction, and muttered a few words that none could recognize. A thin green light leaped from the stick and struck the nearest man in the face. The man fell dead in his tracks.
That ended all attempts at resistance.
Then Bonderman repeated his demands and added that they should build a storehouse for the goods that they would give him as tribute. He also said that he and his men would come for portions of it throughout the year and that it had better be there or else the oldest and the youngest members of the village would be killed.
Earlier, as the four men had reached the outskirts of the village, (and before they'd attracted the attention of the crowd), young Willen the orphan had run up to the little man in the funny apparel and asked, "What type of wood is that? There is none around here like it."
The little man in the tall pointed hat, Porto by name, looked at him and was ready to curse the person who wanted to know that fact. It was a secret worth guarding.
But Willen had always been a lucky boy after an odd fashion. He had a lazy eye. Many others agreed this meant he was going to amount to nothing but this lazy eye hid a sharp intelligence and a quick memory. The boy was also hard working. His strange luck continued this day because of a severe case of indigestion. At the moment he asked Porto that question Willen was hit by another digestive pang. What Porto saw was a lazy-eyed youth with a stupid look on his face, wood chips in his hair, and branches under his arm.
Porto decided this half-witted wood gatherer was too doltish to understand the importance of the information he had asked for, so Porto said, "It is olive wood from the southern coast of Gaul." After Porto told "the village idiot" this, Willen straightened from his stomach spasms and the look of stupidity was gone. Porto regretted his words as the boy walked away. In fact Willen was heading towards the narrowest of escapes from death and to his destiny. Willen's Luck.
Porto looked around and saw that his three cohorts were well ahead and could not easily deal with the boy. No villagers were near to see or hear. If he was going to kill the boy he must do it before he got out of range. Willen was only ten feet away and was the only one to hear the words, "Avada Kedavra."
But Willen's luck held. At the exact moment that the green light flashed straight for his head, he was seized by yet another stomach cramp. The pain was so dreadful that it nearly caused him to faint. He was down and still for almost a minute before the cramp eased. Willen had seen the green light and it had frightened him into stillness, despite the pain in his stomach. By the time the cramp was gone, the little man was gone as well and unable to see that Willen was still alive. As for Willen, he was left with the memory of the phrase he had just heard Porto speak. What odd words.
The sight of the village idiot lying dead in the mud slipped from Porto's mind not to return for some time. Willen would return to Porto's life in three years time but he would be almost unrecognizable to Porto then. Their future encounter would change the destiny of magic in what we know as the British Isles and even the world.
After he heard the horse go away Willen stood on wobbly legs. His curiosity outweighed his fear of the little leathery man with the olive branch. He made his way to a place where he could better watch the four strangers while safely out of their sight. Willen had plenty of practice making himself invisible to others. Few liked him or wanted him around. Orphans were unlucky to have lost their parents and who knew if their bad luck might spread. Not everyone felt this way. The place he chose to watch the four strangers just happened to be very near Torban and Meala's daughter, Constantia Loundon. Amazing how Willen always seemed to find himself near her.
Constantia was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. It was an easy statement to make because everyone at the faire was thinking the same thing. She had hair as black as midnight and skin as bright as Eagan the Potter's best plate after firing and glazing. Her eyes were a pale blue that captivated anyone who looked into them. She had a slightly toothy but contagious grin, and a splash of freckles on her nose after the summer sun had its way with her face. She would be considered "pleasingly plump" by today's standards but back then a healthy appetite and available food were things to be prized. Skinny people died more often. Constantia looked like a fully developed young lady who was merely shorter than others. In fact she was but thirteen years old and would grow five more inches. Anyone who did not know that Constantia's parents were both taller than average would have assumed that she was already of age, or very soon to be so.
Porto turned his horse to go so Bonderman could make his grand exit when the worst and the best thing that could have happen occurred. Bonderman saw Constantia and lost his heart. He had decided just that morning that after he became recognized Keeper of this third and most prosperous village, he would need a wife.
Bonderman decided to make a pronouncement of his own creation even though Porto was not there to approve and had already started to leave. "And there is one other act of obedience you must perform. The maid there with the hair of coal (thinking he was flattering her) is to be my wife in a fortnight."
Porto turned to say something but Meala beat him to it. "But, sire, she is merely a girl of thirteen. Though she looks older she will not be of age until three harvests from now."
"What, it cannot be," said Bonderman, wondering if he was being made a fool-a common occurrence it seemed since Porto had been pointing out his stupidity for weeks. "She looks full grown to me."
"She is my daughter, and there is her father," Meala continued, pointing to Torban. "Knowing we are both taller than most, it becomes plain to see that she still has some growing left to do. She will not be of age until three more harvests." She said this last sentence to Porto who had turned back and come up beside Bonderman. She could see Porto fighting to control his anger and wanted to give him a reason to stop Bonderman.
Porto did see the woman's interference as a good sign. Killing one of eleven men had quelled this large crowd earlier. However, taking a girl might get enough of those gathered to act so that another death or two might not stop them before they laid hands on the four. Porto whispered in Bonderman's ear, and with a stupefied look Bonderman made this grandiloquent pronouncement, "I will wait until she is of age but she will be my wife. Be sure to raise her in an appropriate manner."
As the four riders left Loundon's Towne and rounded the turn out of the villagers' sight, Bonderman wonder if it would happen. He did not have long to wait. "Crucio." Bonderman was hurled by this affliction to the ground and began to writhe in agony. Porto dismounted from his small horse and walked over to him. "Cess Sate."
Bonderman still felt the pain but was aware enough to hear the chilling voice, "If I wanted you to have a bride I would arrange one for you. You do not deserve one so lovely. In fact I was about to arrange a marriage for you in the next village. It is full of ruffians and wastrels and a woman suitably low for you will be ready at hand."
Porto continued in a scathing tone. "But you will stew in your own juices for now. You have twelve seasons (three years) to behave yourself and do as I bid. If your performance is just as I command, I may indeed let you marry that lovely. At any time that you do not I will let you experience this agony until your pathetic mind is gone and you bay at the moon with the other dogs. Three harvest faires from now I may reward you or I might just kill you anytime between now and then if you displease me. In the mean time, this will serve as a reminder."
As Bonderman began to half groan-half scream from the re-applied curse, Porto looked at the other two who suddenly felt as though they should be staring at their saddle blankets. They were smaller than Bonderman and about as bright. They were evil enough to gladly do Porto's bidding, but neither could replace Bonderman.
Porto's thoughts were not seen on his face. "Well, we will see. Perhaps I can conjure up a way to look as imposing as this great lump and install myself as Keeper. I will have to ponder this. The girl is a beauty and I would not mind taking her for myself."
Back at Loundon's Towne, the faire was over even though no one else but the four had left. No one spoke above a mutter. Meala was barely able to say a little louder than the others, "What will we do, Torban? How can we protect our daughter from such a strong Touch as the little man's? Bonderman will ask him to kill all of us if we refuse Constantia as his bride."
Constantia was shivering as if the winter winds had come much earlier than usual. She had a look in her eyes like she could see into the future, a horrible future. Her friend Naelly was half holding her from falling yet Naelly quivered as well. Willen could not stand the look on Constantia' face, nor could he bear the thought of Bonderman marrying her.
All thoughts of his stomach cramps were gone. A horrible and wonderful opportunity was before him. He had wandered into this village six moons before and was barely earning his bed in the stable hay and two meals a day. He could gather wood like a beaver but others could gather wood as well. He was not essential but a help to the community. But he was also rather clumsy and a bit accident-prone. Willen's Luck. Because Meala had a kind soul, Willen had not been run off and could keep from starving.
Though strong for his size, Willen was rail thin from lack of proper diet, and had lank flaxen hair. Were it not for his lazy eye he would be a handsome lad, but no one could see beyond that one flaw. No one except Constantia. She was kindness itself. She did not see that she was a beauty. She spent all her time looking for the good in others. She looked right past Willen's eye and treated him well. While Meala felt sorry for Willen, Constantia saw a man of talent. He had carved a number of small, beautiful figurines and had given them to her in secret. Constantia did not realize that this was not a talent that could earn Willen his keep, she simply respected him for his abilities. Alas, at seventeen he was a man by age but not a man by the definition of being able to provide for a family.
One more look into Constantia' eyes-the eyes that always saw good in him and could see nothing now but a terrifying future, and Willen gained the courage he thought impossible. He shouted out, surprising even himself, "I know we can fight him. That branch is of olive wood from the south coast of Gaul. It is the secret of his power. He has the Touch for destruction and focuses it with the stick. I will go to Gaul and bring back olive wood branches for all who have the Touch and we will fight them!"
There were murmurs of excitement until Caedric the Fisher spoke out. Willen had accidentally tripped Caedric one day when he had been playing with one of the guard dogs of the village. Caedric was returning from his nets and had dropped a portion of the day's catch because of Willen's antics. He had been furious that day and his fury had subsided little since then. Caedric spoke with all of the derision he could muster, "Dog boy, do you even know where Gaul is?"
Willen blanched at this monumental detail.
"Dog boy, it is over the sea to the land on the eastern shore. That is a fortnight's walk to the sea from here, and then two days hard rowing even if the seas run right. Then the south coast of Gaul is two seasons' walk through dangers you cannot imagine. There are giants and dragons and sirens and bands of marauders that will make those four look like plough boys. You will leave and never be seen by this village again. Good riddance as far as I am concerned, but do not give this girl and her family false hope for your return in this lifetime."
Willen shrank from this verbal onslaught. Caedric took too much delight in crushing him but in truth Willen had thought that Gaul might be a village on the Albion southern coast just a few fortnights away. This was a journey of over a year if everything went perfectly. With Willen's perverse version of luck three years would barely be enough time.
Then Constantia spoke haltingly for the first time since Bonderman's speech. "Willen, I have con... con... confidence in you." She shuddered and continued, "You bring in more firewood than any other man in the village. You create the most lovely figures in wood and I will always cherish the unicorn you carved for me in one afternoon. If you say you will return with olive wood and rescue me I believe you."
There had been hollow and shrill laughter at Ceadric's harsh words to Willen. Those few agreeing with Constantia, if there were any, said little. But Willen heard none of their scorn. She believed in him! He must not let her down. He must not let down the village. They had not taken him in but he now thought of Loundon's Towne as his home because Constantia lived there.
He smiled an odd smile with his lazy eye twitching and that smile somehow seemed to correspond to the one on Constantia' face. And with no other thought he turned to leave for the southern coast of Gaul.
"Willen," he heard Torban say. "You need provisions for your trip. Please come with me." As much to the others present as to Willen, Torban continued, "We will discuss our other options as soon as you are ready for your trip, but we must do whatever we can to ensure your successful journey."
At the storeroom behind Torban and Meala's cottage Willen received a new blanket and a water resistant covering. He was given a week's supply of bread and two weeks of dried beef and two of dried pork. Torban gave Willen a cloak that swallowed the youth. Willen was fairly tall now that he had reached his height but he still had filling out to do. Torban was over a head taller so Willen's new cloak almost touched the ground. He handed Willen a miniscule bag of gold pebbles to use in trading and wished he had more to give.
Lastly Torban went to his metals shop and took out a large knife or what might be a short lightweight sword. "This blade is the most perfect one I have ever produced. The metal told me how to shape itself for use. It may have the Touch all by itself. You can hunt and chop down a small tree with it. If you must, you should be able to kill with the edge or the point. I do not know if you can bring back a stick like that little man had or if it will help if you do. But the look on your face when my daughter spoke to you tells me that it will take a great effort to kill you to keep you from coming back to us.
"My wife and my daughter have been kind to you but I have not. From now on no one in this village will ever speak ill of you in my hearing. If you return...no. When you return, you will be a man of standing in this village and you will be my friend."
With that Torban turned and did not look back. Willen set out with something he had never had before. He had a purpose, a goal, and a dream. He would save Constantia and the village. He would reach the south coast of Gaul and return with olive wood. And he would dream of marrying Constantia every day and every night of his terrifying and magnificent travels.