It is the strangest thing, that when after a long period in the dark, even the light from the smallest candle could be blinding. After so long in the pitch black, the insolent flame can sting your eyes as surely as if they had been staring directly at the midday Sun. The light dancing before his eyes could only mean one thing. They had finally come for him.
Ollivander had never been one for embracing the outdoors or appreciating the sunshine. He had spent most of his life in his dingy shop, which had every available surface covered with books, wands and his wand-making equipment. The little light that came through the twin bay windows had to penetrate thick layers of thrown-up dust before it could reach the counter. But it was still there, a comfort in dark times. All gone now. He had been imprisoned alone in his cell for days now. For exactly how long, he had no idea; day and night, morning and evening had no meaning in his lightless dungeon. There was just time, and lots of it. Other than a chamber pot in the corner of the room and the bowl which provided his meagre sustenance, the room was completely bare; bare of comforts and bare of light. Other than the odd mouse that competed with him for his one bowl of food that he received every so often, he had no company in this utter and complete darkness.
He had very little memory of how he came to be in this silent hell. He remembered the raid on his shop, the flash of light as his assailant knocked him unconscious. He did not know how long he had been out cold for, but when he came to he had a splitting headache and a bump the size of a snitch bulging from his forehead. He had been dumped unceremoniously on the floor of his dungeon and when he had stood up every muscle in his body ached, every joint creaked and he collapsed to the floor. For a long time he stayed there: unable to stand, unable to breathe in this total darkness. He crawled into a corner breathing heavily in an attempt to calm himself. He had had some time after that exploring the room, largely on his knees as he found balancing in the pitch black very hard. He discovered that he was in a fairly large room, clad in stone which narrowed towards a point where a thick wooden door stood. The iron hinges felt similarly large and sturdy and despite the fact that he could feel no lock or keyhole, the door would not budge no matter how hard he pushed. This door did not just deny him his freedom, it denied him all contact with the outside world. Initially he had beat against the door, pleading for more water, for some light, for anything to escape the solitude that he found himself in. As time went by, it could have been hours, days, maybe even week for all he knew, he spent less time banging on the door and more time sat in the corner opposite the door, trying to stay sane. He had read numerous books written by people who had been imprisoned for long periods and they all said that the most important thing was to stay calm and not to lose your mind.
Ollivander had always had an incredible memory, famous for being able to remember every wand that he had ever sold; every witch and wizard that he had ever matched with the tool with which they could carry out the wonders of magic. He would ply his customers with tales of the wands that their parents and sometimes even grandparents had been matched with. It was this knowledge that helped him help his wands choose their new masters and mistresses, and it was these memories that, other than the mice, were his only company in his solitude.
That was until of course the light appeared.
The candle dancing in the dark, blinding him, was carried by short plump man with watery eyes, protruding front teeth and grey hair that covered only a small portion of his head. The hand grasping the candlestick was not flesh but of silver which glistened in the candlelight.
“The Dark Lord has come, he demands that you come before him,” the man said, approaching Ollivander, “you must come with me.”
“Pettigrew? Peter Pettigrew? I thought that you were dead,” Ollivander said, his voice quivering.
“Shut up!” Although he was scared and weak, Ollivander could not help but notice that Pettigrew seemed as terrified as him. “I said, come with me.”
“But it said in the Daily Prophet that you were dead, it had an interview with your mother. She was so upset.”
“Don’t you talk about my mother!”
“I remember the day you came to my shop as a small boy.” Ollivander said, crawling towards Pettigrew. “You came with her. You were worried that no wand would choose you...”
“I t-t-told you,” Pettigrew stuttered, visibly shaking now, “the Dark Lord demands...”
“She was a kind woman, your mother. I remember the day she came to buy her first wand. A fine wand...”
“You’re not listening to me! Come with me, now!”
“You were a nervous boy then too Mr Pettigrew, I remember your mother practically had to drag you into my shop all those years ago.”
“No she never...” Pettigrew was sweating now, his hand of silver poised to strike Ollivander. Ollivander, however, seemed entirely oblivious to the danger as he continued to muse.
“It was a warm summer’s day...”
29th August, 1971 – Ollivander’s, Diagon Alley, London
“Come now Peter... I said come on!”
Ollivander looked up from ‘A History of West African Wandlore from the Earliest Times to the Present Day’ by Efgar Olfampton, at the scene playing out at the door of his shop. A kindly-looking tall woman was halfway through the door and seemed to be in the grips of quite a struggle with someone, the owner of which was obscured. She was dressed in light, blue robes cut at the knee topped with a straw hat which was askew due to the effort of tugging at the arm of a small boy. The boy it seemed was making a very determined attempt to escape, he was twisting his arm quite violently but appeared quite unable to escape her.
“Mum! Mum let me go.” The boy’s voice was shrill; he seemed to be in the grips of total panic.
“Peter,” she said, sternly, “you come in with me to buy a wand or you can’t go to Hogwarts. Now come on him, you’re embarrassing yourself and you’re embarrassing me.” With an almighty tug she managed to pull her son into the shop, shutting the door behind them. It was a warm summer’s day and that, coupled with their tussle at the door meant that they were both sweating and panting for breath. The boy was dressed in black robes, a satchel over his arm and a flop of black hair obscuring his eyes. The woman, still keeping a firm hand on her son’s arm approached the shop counter, which Ollivander took as his cue.
“Welcome to my shop, what can I do for you both?” Ollivander said, placing his book on the table and standing up to greet his customers. “Ah Irene Merton,” he said, recognising the woman before him, “it’s been a long time.”
“Oh hello Mr Ollivander, its Irene Pettigrew now. A long time indeed, I still have the wand that I bought from you twenty years ago though.”
“Ah yes,” Ollivander said, “13 and a half inches, oak and phoenix feather, slightly bendy wasn’t it?”
“Yes it was,” Mrs Pettigrew said, producing her wand for Ollivander to inspect. “It’s served me well for twenty years.”
Ollivander fished out his glasses from the inside pocket of his robes and examined the wand closely. “You clearly take very good care of your wand Mrs Pettigrew, it’s in remarkable condition.” He handed it back to her. “And is this your son?”
“Yes, this is Peter. As you can tell he is a little nervous.”
Ollivander chuckled at this understatement, and indicated that she should sit down in one of the antique chairs that lay to the side of his shop. Irene Pettigrew knelt down in front of her son. He was so short that even now she was still slightly above him. She let go of his hand and brushed his face clear of hair, tucking it lovingly behind his right ear. Ollivander was sure that Peter would bolt for the door but he did not, instead he burst into tears. “Peter, Peter, shhhh,” Irene Pettigrew soothed, pulling him in a tight embrace. “There’s no need to cry. I’m not angry with you.”
“B-b-b-but I don’t want to go away mum. I w-w-w-want to stay at home. If y-y-y-you buy me a wand, I will have to go to school,” Peter was blubbing so hard that he could barely get the words out.
“Mummy loves you sweetheart,” Irene said, pulling her son even closer into her chest. “Mummy will always love you and will never leave you. But you must get a wand, all the little boys and girls have wands. Think how silly you will look without one.” Sensing that her words had had the desired effect, she relaxed her embrace on Peter and, still kneeling, turned to face Ollivander, who was standing rather awkwardly at this very intimate scene. “Can I stay here while he finds the right wand for him?”
“Of course you can Mrs Pettigrew,” Ollivander said kindly, peering down at the two. “Are you ready Mr Pettigrew?”
“M-m-my name is Peter,” the boy’s confusion at this very formal title seemed to jolt him out of his fear as the tears started to dry up.
“I have always preferred to keep the formal titles in here Mr Pettigrew. There has been an Ollivander in this shop selling wands since the Fourth Century BC and what was good for my forbearers seems good enough for me.”
“See sweetheart, you’re growing up. Soon everyone will be calling you Mr Pettigrew, just like daddy. Let’s hope you keep your hair a little better than he did though.” She turned to Ollivander, I don’t suppose you remember my husband do you? His name was Robert Pettigrew.”
“Ah yes, Robert Pettigrew. 8 and three quarter inches elm and phoenix feather. An odd combination but in the right hands a very useful little wand, good all-rounder. Same core as you, interesting how that happens sometimes. I read about what happened to him in the Daily Prophet, I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Damn Death Eaters!” Mrs Pettigrew suddenly looked very stern, they weren’t even after him. They mistook him for an Auror. There were five of them against him, he never stood a chance.” She wiped away a tear that appeared in the corner of her eye. “It was very sudden, but we’ve got through it together haven’t we honey,” Irene said kissing her son on the top of his head.
“Indeed. Another tragic loss in this very appalling war. He was a kind man,” Ollivander said, scratching his head. “I hope it was some comfort that he fought gallantly.”
“He was a wonderful man,” Irene said wiping away a tear. “I just wish he had run when he was attacked. Bless his heart but he was not the cleverest soul, nor the best at spells but he was incredibly brave. Let’s hope Peter inherited his brains from me though eh.” she said, squeezing Peter around the waist.
Whilst Irene was telling this story, Ollivander was collecting a selection of wands for Peter to trial. All of the wands were kept in dusty black boxes, lined with fabrics of various shades. The first box that he offered to the boy was lined with cream velvet. “Okay Mr Pettigrew let’s start you off with this one. I often find that it’s best to start with wands with a similar core to your family members, wands often like to match themselves with many generations of families. The Bones family indeed have had unicorn hair in every one of their wands for five centuries.” He handed the opened box to Peter who picked it up nervously, holding it at arm’s length as if worried it might explode. “10 and a quarter inches, yew and phoenix feather, good for Charms work.” Ollivander peered expectantly at the boy, who seemed unsure what his role in this whole affair was supposed to be. “Well, try it out young man, see if it fits.”
“How can it fit?” Peter asked, his nervousness temporarily superseded by confusion. “It’s a wand, not a set of robes.”
“Wands are not just sticks of wood Mr Pettigrew,” Ollivander said, “you may be the one who buys the wand, but it is the wand that chooses its master.”
“Okay,” Peter said, still looking a little nonplussed, “so how will I know if it ‘fits’.”
“You will know,” Ollivander said sagely. “If the wand chooses you, you will know.”
Peter, still staring at like it was a stick of dynamite, his eyes closed shut and his face turned away, waved the wand around a little but nothing happened.
“No matter, no matter,” Ollivander said, taking the wand from a grateful Peter. He replaced the wand into its box and handed the boy the next wand. “Let’s stick with the phoenix feather, this one is 12 inches, maple and phoenix feather.”
Peter glanced at his mother, who nodded at him encouragingly. He picked up the wand from its felt box and held it out.
“Anything?” Peter shook his head. “Never mind, never mind,” Ollivander put the wand away in its box and stared at the pile of untried wands, contemplating which one to choose him next. “I wonder...” Ollivander handed Peter a new wand, the box thick with dust. “This wand is actually the twin of your father’s wand: 9 inches, elm and a feather from the same phoenix. I rather suspect that this will be more to your taste.”
If Ollivander had hoped that handing Peter a familiar looking wand would relax him, he was mistaken. He started shaking so hard that his mother had to stand up and steady him. “Don’t worry honey, just take it,” she said soothingly though Peter looked anything but soothed. He picked the wand up between his forefinger and his thump and shut his eyes, again holding the wand at arm’s length. He gave the wand the most tentative wave but nothing happened.
“Obviously not...” Ollivander said, taking the wand back. “So maybe the family wand is not the one for you. Not to worry, some wizards like to break the mould. Let’s try something completely different...”
“Don’t worry honey, I have a completely different wand from my mum and dad,” Irene said, squeezing her son’s shoulder. “Just relax and you’ll be fine.”
Minutes went by, and nothing seemed to work for young Peter. While he no longer looked like he was scared that the wands that he was handed may bite him, he certainly was not relaxed. His mother was supportive but even she was starting to get concerned.
“Mr Ollivander?” She asked him quietly after the fifteenth wand, “are you sure he will know. You can see how nervous he is.”
“Mrs Pettigrew,” Ollivander said patiently, “I have been selling wands for a long time, and every customer, when they find the right wand, they know. They always know.”
“Okay Mr Pettigrew,” Ollivander said, pulling out a brown box lined in orange satin and turning to Peter, “Chestnut and Dragon Heartstring. Nine and a quarter inches and slightly brittle. These wands are normally good for transfiguration, indeed the noted animagus Minerva McGonagall has a very similar wand.” He handed the wand to Peter, who took it and immediately his demeanour changed. All the fears he held, the worries and anxiety left him, leaving in their stead a feeling of calm serenity.”
“That’s the one,” Ollivander said, smiling. “This wand has chosen you Mr Pettigrew, use it well.”
“I’m so proud of you honey!”
October 1996 – Malfoy Manor
“I said shut up!”
Ollivander was brought back to the present by the Peter Pettigrew of the present. His face was screwed up in anger and frustration. Ollivander tried to compare the boy that he had first met twenty five years previously; the nervous boy who seemed scared of his own shadow and even more scared of the notion of growing up to become a wizard and the man before him, his emotions out of control, unable to get an unarmed old man to do what he was told.
What had happened to that sweet, nervous boy? The boy who had to be dragged into his shop by his kindly mother...
“Whatever happened to your mother Peter?”
“That’s none of your business old man.” Peter looked up to see Bellatrix Lestrange sweeping down the stairs. “Come on Peter, let’s stop chatting with our guest here, he needs to save his words for me. He and I are going to have a little chat.”
“Whatever it is you want, you won’t get it from me,” Ollivander said, more defiantly than he felt.
“Trust me old man, you will talk. They always talk.”
Write a Review It's the Wand that Chooses the Wizard: Chestnut and Dragon Heartstring, 9 1/4 inches, Brittle