Disclaimer: This story has been inspired on JK Rowling's brilliant works. The world is hers, the plot is mine ... unless (to my delight) this will turn out to be have resemblance to events in book 7. Then it's all hers again.
Author's Note: Many thanks to my wonderful beta readers Whimsy, CornedBee and Jo Wickaninnish. Also thanks to the people on the Horcrux thread, whose thoughtful comments prompted me to develop the theory on which this story is based.
A faint tinkling reached the back of the shop, halting Octain Ollivander’s precise movements. He carefully placed his pair of tweezers next to the unfinished wand and rose from his chair. He knew what to expect in the front of the shop, as it had happened a dozen times today already. Yesterday the Hogwarts letters to new students had been sent out, and today eager children, together with their just as eager parents, were flooding Diagon Alley.
This customer, however, was no eager new student, and Ollivander froze when he reached the main part of the shop. There was only one visitor in the shop: a full-grown wizard, bent over the single item in the display window. For a moment, Ollivander’s mind travelled back almost sixty years.
It was still early in the morning on what would become one of the busiest days of the year, shortly before the start of the autumn term at Hogwarts. The bell had tinkled, announcing the first new student to visit Ollivanders that day, but this student was unlike any of the others Ollivander had ever sold wands to. The handsome, dark-haired boy was alone, and even though Ollivander suspected that he was at least as eager as every other new student about to buy his first wand, he seemed much more composed. Rather than waiting nervously at the counter, this boy was standing at the window.
When he heard Ollivander enter, he turned around.
“Is this one for sale?” He pointed towards the wand lying near him on a faded purple cushion.
“Mr Ollivander,” the stranger said jovially, turning around and walking towards Olivander with his hand outstretched. “Pleased to meet you. My name is Gordon McClay.”
The man’s greying hair was glued to his head like a thick, gleaming helmet, and he was wearing expensive robes. Ollivander was certain that this man hadn’t bought his wand in his shop, and he regarded him with slight distrust.
“Nice collection you have here,” the man said, gesturing towards the plain boxes stacked against the wall.
“What can I help you with, Mr McClay?” Ollivander asked.
A sudden transformation seemed to come over Mr McClay. His smile vanished, his face turned serious, and he threw a wary glance over his shoulder. Taking a step closer to Ollivander, he said in a low voice, such that Ollivander could barely hear him, “There is something I wish to discuss with you in private.”
“No, it’s not,” Ollivander replied, a little more harshly than he had intended. It didn’t seem to bother the boy, though.
“But I like it,” he said, picking up the wand and giving it a wave. A few dark blue sparks flew from it.
“It’s not for sale,” Ollivander repeated, walking over to the boy. He gently pried the wand from the boy’s grasp and returned it to its cushion. “I’m sorry, Mr –?”
“I’m sorry, Mr Riddle, but that wand has already been owned by someone else. In fact, its owner was a very well-known, very powerful witch.”
At these words, Riddle’s expression changed. His handsome features became more rugged and there was a hungry look in his eyes. Ollivander had to strain his ears to catch the next words he spoke, slowly and with reverence in his voice.
“Could she talk to snakes?”
“Mr Ollivander,” Mr McClay said gravely when they had sat down in the back of the shop, “you are a very well-known wand-maker. Of course, your family has been in this profession for quite some time, but only in more recent years have you earned yourself the reputation of the best wand-maker of Great Britain. When I was eleven, Mr Ollivander, my parents took me to a local wand-maker in Bristol, but nowadays there are hardly any young witches and wizards who don’t buy their first wand at Ollivanders.”
As Mr McClay spoke, in a warm and low voice, Ollivander found himself trusting the man more and more. Therefore he didn’t doubt for one moment that the next words the man spoke were true, even though they shocked him.
“Having such a reputation, Mr Ollivander, unfortunately means having dangerous enemies. You are in danger, Mr Ollivander. Certain people are planning to murder you.”
After a moment of tense silence, Mr McClay continued explaining that he was part of a large organisation that could offer Ollivander protection.
“We care about the old wizarding families, Mr Ollivander. The wizarding world would not be the same if the pure-blood families ceased to exist. It will be an honour for us to protect the famous Ollivander family.”
These words made Ollivander realise who the leader of this organisation was, but that no longer frightened him. He had, after all, known him as a boy.
“No, she couldn’t talk to snakes,” Ollivander said, surprised. “But I know of someone who could. Have you ever heard of the Founders of Hogwarts, Mr Riddle?”
As he pulled out boxes with wands and young Mr Riddle tried one after another, Ollivander spoke about the Founders and the rare gift of Salazar Slytherin, to be able to speak to snakes. The boy’s eyes shone with interest throughout the story, and even more so when Ollivander revealed the history of the old wand that had attracted Riddle’s attention at the beginning of their encounter.
As Mr Riddle returned yet another wand to its box and waited for the next, Ollivander was hit by a sudden stroke of inspiration. These were the moments he enjoyed most in his job of selling wands: when the patterns became clear in his mind and the perfect wand for the customer was suddenly obvious. This boy was so interested in Hogwarts – why not try a wand connected to Hogwarts?
“Yew and phoenix feather, thirteen and a half inches.”
“We can move the wands to a safer place, of c—”
“You will not touch my shop,” Ollivander cut him off. “You will not offend my fathers by removing the wands from this shop.”
McClay flushed. “All right, we can leave them here. Maybe you should take your most valued possession, though –”
“But – anyone could walk in and take it –”
“That wand has been in this shop for several centuries,” Ollivander said slowly, emphasising every word. “It has rarely even been touched. It will stay here.”
“I can protect it. I will cast alarming spells on the door, so I’ll be notified whenever someone enters, and I can Apparate here if that happens. The wand will be as well protected as it is now. Nothing more is necessary.”
“All right,” Mr McClay said, though he seemed a bit more nervous than before while they prepared to leave.
“This is the one! It’s great!” young Mr Riddle shouted. For the first time since he had entered the shop, he smiled. He pulled some Galleons out of his pocket with his left hand, holding the wand tightly in his right. He happily looked at Ollivander.
“Thank you, Mr Ollivander!”
He was no longer handsome, nor young. Yet some of the excited young Tom Riddle was still there in his face as he surveyed Ollivander.
“Welcome, Mr Ollivander. It’s a pleasure to see you again.”