A Treasure Beyond Gold
Queenie had no sooner arrived back in her room when the box she still held in her hand began to vibrate. She read the message: He asked, I said yes.
After she had placed the box on her dresser, she found that she was able to sleep. The excitement and lack of sleep due to the long conversation with Tina and Newt had exhausted her. It seemed she had no sooner lain down than she was awaken by her bouncing Pukwudgie. She was still tired as she explained to Jacob her visit to Tina and Newt, and headed off to work with only one extra pastry for Bob Holden.
She made an appointment with Bob Holden for the lunch hour. He would close his shop an hour early so they could work undisturbed and she would not be missed.
Once in Bob Holden’s wand emporium, Queenie could not wait. Before they were even seated at his workbench, she asked, “Is that hooked ring you used to change my ring, a wand?”
Holden nodded that it was.
“An unregistered wand?” she asked.
“Technically, yes,” he said. “However, it is a precision tool that all wand makers use. Tools for precision and delicate work were never included in the restrictions on wand use.—Probably an oversight, since the MACUSA seems intent on regulating everything.”
“You don’t seem very worried about it,” she said.
“No, I’m not,” he said. “Anything else before we start?”
“Yes,” she said, pulling out Jacob’s pocket watch. “Can we make a portkey out of a watch that would have several buttons to activate different portkey destinations in the same watch and a chamber under the cover for messages?”
“Hmm, yes there should be no problem. Although, a wrist watch would be more secure and the band could contain a chamber for messages,” he replied. “A sweep second hand could move to the activated button and—no, that’s too complicated. It would be better to not involve the watch mechanism at all—too many moving parts that touch each other. The button could activate the portkey. That way you could take an ordinary watch and simply allow the button to insert into a space within the edge of the case, activating the portkey in the same way that your ring activates when the catch is snapped shut. I think that no more than six portkeys would be practical. In order to squeeze the button in, you would have to grip it from the opposite side, so that the watch was pinched between two fingers and only one portkey activated. Activating two portkeys simultaneously would prove troubling.
“However, having multiple portkeys would not be necessary unless you wanted to portkey to and from places where apparition was blocked, because you could always portkey to a remote location and apparate from there.”
“I see,” she said. She found it fascinating and reassuring to witness Bob’s thinking as he worked his way through the problem.
“Of course, such a watch would be of great use to a muggle.”
This shocked her. The words came too quickly, the thoughts too spontaneously, for her to anticipate and prepare a response. Her shock was visible in her expression and he noticed.
“You intend this for a Muggle,” he guessed.
There was no malice in his mind. Even occlumency could not hide malice from a straightforward statement if it was present.
“It’s all right,” he said trying to comfort her.
She did not know what to say. He was too close. He suspected too much. She could only ask, “Are you a Legilimens?”
“No,” he said matter-of-factly. “It would have required too much work and I had no interest in healing. My interests lie elsewhere. I do not know of any wand maker who is a Legilimens. In any case, it is not that useful for building a life—for defending that life perhaps. And it is a magic that people would resent—even good people such as yourself—perhaps, especially good people such as yourself.
“Oh, I grant that there have been times when it might have been useful, but everyone is taught occlumency. I will occasionally employ occlumency for my own protection when I am in the vicinity of MACUSA witches and wizards—and you should also, if you are not already doing so. However, I have discovered that using it interferes with my work—too much concentration is needed for wand making; no room for occlumency.”
“I hadn’t thought about it, but now that I do I can see how it would interfere with work as demanding as yours. I do use it, when I’m in the presence of healers and aurors,” Queenie confessed. “My work is not nearly as demanding as yours.” She knew only too well the need to keep a Legilimens out of her mind—to keep anyone at the MACUSA from knowing she was a Legilimens.
“That’s a good practice,” Bob continued. “I’ve been closely observing people for longer than you have been alive. The real problem is knowing a persons character—knowing whether you do or do not want to associate with a particular person. This can be determined by observing whether a person is or is not honest in all his dealings, whether he treats his inferiors with as much respect as he treats his superiors, whether he does or does not treat people consistently the same, granting all the benefit of the doubt before he gets to know them well. Does he dissemble? Then you can arrange such people on a value continuum, with those to value at one end and those to be shunned and looked on with suspicion at the other end.
“A quick estimate can be had by observing, for example, how someone treats a house elf compared to how he treats some department head. There is no doubt as to where on this value continuum Ruggero Pantano is to be placed—and there is no doubt as to where you fall on this value continuum. So, do not fear that I may have guessed that you have a muggle friend whom you have introduced to magic. I will keep your confidence. A friend of honest character is a treasure beyond gold.”
Queenie began to feel that she should not be in Bob’s mind; he was so forthcoming with his words.—She continued with her legilimency. It was as he said defensive. She must know, but she would keep his secrets, although she learned nothing that he did not tell her outright.
“Bob, you used the English word muggle,” she said. “Are you originally from England?”
“No,” he replied. “I’m from here. There is little immigration from England now. No one wants to come here since the MACUSA began instituting wand registration and stricter controls on the use of magic. Even when I was a young man, the immigration had fallen off to a trickle.
“I decided very early on that I wanted to make wands. From my very first experience, before school, when I got hold of my father’s wand and used it to split open the trunk of a fallen tree, I knew that I would some day make a wand. Everything I did was toward that end. I pestered my parents until they took me to England to meet Gerbold Ollivander. He was grooming his young grandson to take over the business, but he agreed to take me on as a student for the summer on a trial basis. So for the last four summers before my graduation from Ilvermorny my father took me to England to learn wand making from Gerbold Ollivander. And, after graduation, I apparated in separate jumps to England to begin what turned out to be a four year apprenticeship. It was there that I met a muggle who would soon become my wife.”
“You shouldn’t tell me that,” responded Queenie spontaneously, alarmed at the thought of the danger Bob could incur with such a revelation. “You shouldn’t tell anyone.”
“It’s all right,” he replied calmly.
“It’s not all right,” insisted Queenie, still very much alarmed. “They will take your children and obliviate their memory of their mother and obliviate her memory of you and them, and if you do not consent to this, they will obliviate your memory of them also. I know, I saw the record. It said that no witch or wizard ever refused to consent, but I think that that is not true.”
Bob conjured a glass and add some water to it. “Here,” he said handing her the glass. “Take a drink of water and try to calm yourself. First, my children are grown and married with children of their own. And I know for a fact that they are all witches and wizards. Even the youngest who is only three has demonstrated magical abilities. Second, my wife is in England. She is English and we both agreed that given the hostility toward no-majs here, she should stay in England where we would raise our children—where they could attend school without being subject to indoctrination at Ilvermorny.”
Visibly relieved, Queenie said, “It must be difficult for you, being away so much.”
“But I’m not away,” he said. “What were we just talking about—portkeys. I portkey to my shop in the morning and back at the end of day. I have never been away. Ok, there is a five hour time difference, but I start the day early and end early. I will return home after our time together. You are one of only a few people who even know I am married—a treasure beyond gold.
“And, yes, unauthorized portkeys must also be authorized. However, my annual veritas serum examination about wand making does not include questions about portkeys. Now, tell me about your wand making.”
Queenie told him about everything she had done, including her punishment in the forbidden section of the library, her discovery of the law mandating that the child of no-maj/mag marriages be taken and the memory of the no-maj spouse and children be removed. She told him of her visit to the witch who after years seemed to be in a daze, forgetting things she had just done. She told him how she had duplicated the books, shrunk them and later printed originals from the duplicates so that her collection would not deteriorate over time. When she had finished, she handed him her diadem wand.
“I see why you were so shocked to hear I had a muggle wife,” he said. “Be assured, I am safe and your secrets are safe with me.”
“You should know that making a wand by splitting the living sapling to insert the wand core, as you did with the first wand you made, is a very closely guarded secret,” Bob continued. “The rudimentary wand that you made would have been not quite so rudimentary had you the proper tools and known about binding the wounded sapling with silver wire. We can work on that.”
“The books only mentioned the splitting of the sapling, saying that the method was not used because it took too long for the sapling to grow,” she said.
“Yes, that’s what the books say,” said Bob with a smile. “Well, it does take long for a sapling to grow, but you can easily insert six wand cores around the sapling and since the wand core is only about a foot long, you can insert a set of six wand cores, one set above another, for six to twelve sets, depending on the height of the sapling. This method is not slow. It is a method of creating wands in large batches. In fact, your wand was made that way. It only takes a few months for the sapling to heal around the wand core. All my wands are made that way. Most do not know this; you know—you figured it out yourself.”
“Now, this is fascinating,” he said. “The core is off center. Hmm, you made small cross cuts on the inner side of the wand so that you could bend it without breaking the wood. The wand core is actually along the outer edge of the diadem head band.
“Did you steam or soak the wand to bend it?”
“I tried both,” Queenie replied. “Both worked for bending, but steaming, while faster, reduced the effectiveness of the wand. I made the cuts to make the bending of the soaked wood easier.”
“You have accomplished a lot on your own; I would suggest that if you make another curved wand that you make the cuts in the living sapling, bend it, and allow it to heal along with the cut for the wand core,” Bob said. “The silver wire will hold the bend and you won’t have to soak it to bend it.
“Very few have gone so far without instruction. You should seriously consider wand making as a profession. You have a very real knack for it.”
“I very much appreciate your saying so,” Queenie said flushing with pride. “I will pursue it, but only for myself, not as a profession. I would find it unbearable to make a wand for Seraphina Picquery or even for Panty. I simply couldn’t do it.”
“I understand the feeling,” Bob said. “I too have experienced such reservations, but except for a few, at eleven we cannot tell who will be the ones to cultivate a vicious character—and even with those few we can only guess. It is not the fault of the wand but of the education. The wand just augments the wizards natural magical power. And,…”
“…And—Power corrupts,” interrupted Queenie.
“And—absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he said completing her phrase. “You are full of surprises, Queenie Goldstein. Yes, the power to command obedience from others is corrupting, but worse is the corrupting effect of magical power on the witch or wizard who employs it. Magic makes everything too easy for us. It destroys the spirit, the drive to achieve. It’s as if when the child completes his schooling and has learned a little magic, he has a fortune and does not have to work very hard to live a pleasant life.
“We don’t innovate—not even in our use of magic. Consider clothes washing; we do it the way the muggles do it. Oh, we use magic to make it faster and easier so that we can do something else at the same time, but why do we wash clothes at all, when we can duplicate an article of clothing, wear the duplicate and then disappear the duplicate when done—no washing necessary. Not only do we save on the time and expense of washing, our clothes that are kept covered, sheltered from water and dust, and never worn, never wear out. The original of the shirt I am wearing resides on a shelf, wrapped in paper, just as clean and pressed as when I bought it over ten years ago. But I know of very few who duplicate clothing for a single use. Do you know of any?”
Shaking her head she said, “No.” It was not something that ever occurred to her.
“Every witch and wizard, even those of modest ability, could be rich in comfort and time, but as you know they are not. We follow the lead that the muggles set, even in our poverty. That saying about power was from a muggle historian. We, with all our magic, live essentially as do the muggles.”
“Do you think that the International Statute of Secrecy restrictions on contact with no-majs is responsible?” she asked.
“It is much more complicated,” he answered. “The statute was a consequence of our problem. It was fear and panic that meant there would be no rational attempt to determine what should be done, and set the stage for statutes that relied upon oppressive force. It was our ability to wield tremendous power that caused the creators of the statute to look first to coercive force for the answer—they never looked beyond—they never innovated.
“It would be almost 200 years after the statutes before the muggle world began to consider the work of Erasmus and Charles Darwin in the area of human evolution, and Gregor Mendel in the area of heredity. I know of no one else in the wizarding world who is even aware of their work.”
“I don’t understand,” Queenie said. She had glimpsed his meaning but she would let him explain. “What does heredity have to do with the statutes of secrecy? I have never heard of these people.”
“You will now,” Bob replied. “When I met my wife and got to know her, she introduced me to a world of knowledge I never suspected. I will introduce that world to you.
“I was just as ignorant and suspicious of the muggle world as were most in the magical community, but I was beginning to cultivate a love with a muggle woman—an educated muggle woman. It was her character—and yes, her beauty—that bound me in devotion to her and opened my eyes to muggle history, and to wizarding history of which I had a better knowledge than most because history was important to wandlore which was passed secretly from master to student. I became aware of the truly oppressive nature of some of the statutes and why, while the statutes were necessary, the oppression was not. I will bring you copies of my history books and notes.
“The British Ministry of Magic does not encourage intermarriage with muggles, but they do not punish it when it occurs. Of course, the very real prejudice against—and fear of—muggles made working for the ministry out of the question, but that didn’t concern me. I would be making my own way. I would not depend upon government for my livelihood.
“Before we were married, we had worked out how we would live—how we would avoid officious bureaucrats at both the MACUSA and the Ministry of Magic.
“When I learned of the discoveries made by Mendel and the Darwins, I undertook an investigation of my own. I persuaded Headmaster Mordicus Egg at Hogwarts to allow me access to the school records with regard to the parentage of the students. Headmaster Egg had an interest in muggles. I reviewed records going back 200 years prior to the creation of the statutes. I discovered that while witches and wizards born to two muggle parents always had muggle siblings, the number of squibs born to muggle/wizard parents and wizard/witch parents did not vary—did not differ.”
As excited as she was to see what he meant by this, Queenie let him explain. “But very few children are born squib.”
“Yes—yes, we are evolving,” Bob said excitedly. “The statutes are interfering with the natural evolution of man into a species of magical beings. I will bring you some monographs on the subject of evolution and heredity also. It will help you to understand.”
“I think that I am beginning to understand,” said Queenie. “How long before the whole world is magical?”
“I cannot say,” he said. “I can’t even begin to guess. I only looked at the parentage of those who attended Hogwarts. There may be many intermarriages that result in no magical children. And very few witches and wizards marry muggles.
“But enough of this. We have spent too long talking. Next time you will make a ring wand so you can make a proper wand.”
“Yes, portkeys also,” he said. “You already know what to do. The ring wand will make it possible for you.
“But first, this.” Bob opened a cabinet and took out an umbrella, opened it, and told her to take hold of the umbrella. When she had, he twisted the handle. Queenie Goldstein found herself standing in the pouring rain in a forest.
Bob held the umbrella to shelter them both. “An umbrella makes a good portkey since it is often raining in England,” he said. “Come now; I will introduce you to my Hannah.”
Walking a stone path toward a small thatched roof cottage, he explained, “We have only a few minutes. It would not do for you to arrive back to your desk, late from lunch.”
Entering the cottage, he called out, “Hannah, I’m home and I have brought a surprise.”
Hannah was an attractive fair woman, tall with long red hair that was somewhat darker than Bob’s.
“Are you home for dinner?” Hannah asked.
“No, not yet,” said Bob. “I will return at the normal time after I take Queenie back. Are you alone?”
“Yes,” replied Hannah.
“Good,” said Bob knowing now that he was free to talk. “Hannah, this is Queenie Goldstein from work. Queenie, this is my wife Hannah. Hannah, I will be teaching Queenie wand making. She has also provided us with some very delicious pastries for desert. I will leave one for you.”
“I am very pleased that you will leave one for me,” Hannah said, playfully teasing him. “And I am very pleased to meet you, Queenie. Have you eaten?”
Queenie who had remained in Bob’s mind had to think for a moment. “I hadn’t thought about it; I suppose I will eat when I return.”
“That’s fine. I will just fix some tea while Bob shows you around.”
Bob led her through the house to a door that gave entry to a greenhouse. Stepping through, she saw a small vegetable garden in various stages of growth. Stepping through a glass door to a second room she realized that the greenhouse was expanded inside and filled with small diameter trees that were clustered in bunches.
“When I find a tree that I want to coppice, I cut it to ground level, allow it to produce shoots, and carefully excavate the stump and root structure which I transport here for replanting. The different sections of the greenhouse replicate the conditions appropriate for the various trees. Those that do well here in this part of England, I replant outside where we arrived. I cut off some of the new shoots so that they will sprout again the following year. That way each stump will eventually produce saplings that I can harvest each year.”
“Is this the way all wand makers create and harvest wands?” asked Queenie. “It’s not in the books about wand making.”
“No, it’s not in the books,” he said. “Only a few wand makers utilize the method of coppicing. And even this we learned from the muggles. They have been coppicing for thousands of years. Until modern times, they used it to make charcoal for use in smelting metals. It was one of the Ollivander family who first experimented with making a living wand sometime before the founding of Hogwarts. The use of coppicing took the making of wands from the hunting for the appropriate wood, to the farming of wands. So, even in this we only followed the lead of muggles—we did not innovate.”
“If we follow the no-majs’ lead, did the no-majs develop wands first also?” she asked.
“That is an interesting question,” he replied. “They may have. The history of wand making is rather sketchy before the Ollivanders. The Ollivanders are the oldest wand making family still in existence. It was with the Ollivanders that our written history of wands began. The little that is recorded is that before wands, there were talismans. Talismans were a part of the muggles’ superstition in ancient times. Some of these had actual magical properties. Witches and wizards would often become influential members of these various cults. Their magic made for them being the perfect shaman or priest. Witches and wizards were an important part of muggle life. It was a time well before the separation.
“It is believed that the first wands were modified talismans—there is no record of it, but it makes sense that it would be.”
“You said that the secrets of wandlore were passed from master to student, and yet you speak freely of this secret knowledge to me,” queried Queenie.
“But you are my student,” he affirmed. “You have expressed your interest in wand making and confided in me; you said that you would pursue wand making for your own interest and I have decided to teach you. I have no doubt that you will pass on what you learn, even though you will not make it your livelihood. There is no magical oath of secrecy binding the student. It is your character that is the guarantee of secrecy. It is your character that is the guarantee of your judgement.”
Queenie just looked at him. She saw in his mind that he was sincere and without guile in his high praise. She left his mind.
“There is something else that you should know,” he said. “It was as a result of the statutes that wand makers around the world secretly convened their own convention to consider the effects of the statutes on the wand making families in particular and wand making in general. The Wandlore Convention resolved only that the family history and methods of wand making should be shared but kept secret among wand makers and passed only from master to student. The convention with no means of enforcement, relied entirely upon the honor of each individual wand maker. This had the effect of encouraging the observation of individuals to conclude their character.”
“Is that why Gerbold Ollivander accepted you as a student?”
“Yes,” he said. “Some of the wand making families began to look outside the family for possible students. That and the sharing of knowledge and method meant that even if a family died out, the knowledge would not. Now, it is just a matter of seeking the very best in ability and character for passing on the knowledge. And that is why I will accept you as a student if you want to pursue it.”
“I do—I will pursue it,” she said. “Thank you.”
Back at her desk, occasionally taking a bite of the tunafish and egg salad sandwich that Hannah had made for her, Queenie reflected on everything that had happened as she moved mechanically about her afternoon’s work, eager to tell Jacob everything.
The first thing Bob Holden did when Queenie arrived at his shop the following day was to give her copies of his history books and journals. Shrinking them, she said, “I’ll just apparate home with these books and be right back.”
“It would be better if you did not,” he said. “You will have to go to the atrium at the elevator end of the concourse to apparate out and back. If I understand correctly, it is your intention to keep your apprenticeship secret. It will not do for you to be seen coming and going from my shop while I keep it closed to the public for my last hour. Your best option would be to go to some place outside for lunch and then portkey directly into the shop. When done, you can use the return portkey to return to the place from where you portkeyed in. That way you can always go to a different location before portkeying in—not establishing a pattern of movement that might be noticed.”
Excitedly, Queenie said, “I thought about a return portkey, but I didn’t know if it was possible. How?”
“Oh, it’s possible,” said Bob. “It requires a special portkey. We will start on this today. Are you familiar with the Prior Incantato spell?”
“Yes, the wand examiners use it when inspecting a wand for its annual registration,” she said. “I can do it.”
“Excellent, now ask yourself why it is possible to bring out the prior spells from the wand.”
“I hadn’t thought about it. We were taught the spell, but not why it was possible,” she answered. “I suppose the wand keeps a record of the spells.”
“Not exactly,” Bob replied. “The wand core has a memory—a sequential memory. When a wand core is incorporated into the making of a portkey, the portkey remembers and can be triggered to return to its point of origin. This is part of wandlore, secret and generally not known outside the wand making community. You will find that the portkeys that the MACUSA allows out for use are for specific locations; they have no wand core.”
“I see now,” Queenie said. “I’ve assisted the wand examiners at times. We would draw the memory of the wand, one spell at a time, directing it through a piece of spelled parchment to record the spell. The wand record is filed with the wand registration form.”
“That must be awfully tedious.”
“It is, but the examiner only extracts going back a few weeks,” she explained. “If he sees something that catches his eye, he will look further back.”
“What might be something that would raise the examiner’s suspicion?”
“Oh, obviously the Avada Kedavra curse,” she said. “But also something such as legilimency were the wand owner is not a registered Legilimens.”
“The imperious curse?” asked Bob.
“Yes, the owner would have to be authorized to use the imperious curse. Oh, I see. I don’t know if Panty is authorized, but he must be. I don’t have access to the files. I only see those wand registration forms that I handle. The files are kept secure in the Mr Abernathy’s office. Maybe I could try to take a look at his file. It might prove interesting to know what he has been authorized to do.”
“That would be unwise,” Bob said. “You have too much to loose. You are involved with a no-maj and you are required to register your intentions to study wand making as you would be if you were to study Legilimency.
“They would like me to report my students, but I have let them know that if they made it a requirement, I would close my shop. They have not tried to require that.
“And as I believe that you want your studies to be secret, I suggest that you borrow one of my returning portkeys until you make your own.”
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