Third Time's a Soul Bond?

BY : Wilde_Guess
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Harry/Ron
Dragon prints: 3645
Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter franchise, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Chapter 3, "Parabellum, Cognita Calliditate" where Ron first learns the craft…

The whole of 1988, and the spring of 1989 were also blessedly boring. I worked, I played, and I learned. I also studied for my GCSEs. With the old "O-Levels" and "A-Levels" being wrapped into one nasty little package starting in 1989, I needed to work and study hard on ALL of my Muggle subjects. But, I knew I could do it if I worked hard enough, so I would.

My apprenticeship to Master Garrick and my magical education were also continuing apace. I was reading about, researching about, and writing about the Grindelwald and Voldemort Wars, learning as much as I could, which quite a lot was surprisingly.

I was now doing actual wand-crafting and reconditioning work, instead of just cleaning, watching, and listening. My rapidly growing skill in the craft not only raised my stock with Master Garrick, it also raised my pay as well. It would also get me in some spot of trouble towards the middle of August.

Once I was good enough at reconditioning wands from practicing with scrap, Master Garrick had me work with actual wands, though it was under supervision until he could tell that I knew how to do good work and also recognize what I couldn't handle yet.

The Weasley household typically had twelve wands other than the ones that we actually used. Mum and Dad had wands they bought directly from Ollivander's. Each of us kids would use whichever one "from the box" worked best until we graduated, then we would get a new wand for passing our NEWTs. I had been rotating the "box-wands" through Ollivander's since I got good enough at reconditioning, though I hadn't bothered to ask.

The first two I did were previously Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon's wands. Like the uncles who bought them, and the brothers who would carry them, they were identical twin wands, 11 and three quarters, cherry, bendy, crafted from a single cherry branch with cores of dragon heartstring from the same Norwegian Ridgeback, which was taken on the First of April in 1931. Garrick carved the wand blanks handle to handle, threaded the core into each half, and only then separated them.

The wands were in good condition before I started, but afterwards, they sparkled like jewels. The Twins, ungrateful in general though they may be, would be 'officially' carrying the wands they had filched together on an off for years as they started their first year. Their wands would look just like brand new, minus that pesky Trace. Since I was processing them as 'shop blanks,' neither Master Garrick nor I was under any obligation to put the Trace on them.

By this time, I had worked with enough different wands that a wand would recognize me as a wand crafter, and allow me to do more with it than an ordinary wizard without choosing or rejecting me. This is important because if a wand rejects you, it will either do nothing or do anything but the spell you are trying to cast.

Master Garrick had taught me to get a "sparkle-swish," the Lumos and Nox spells, and the Avis spell without making a wand choose or reject me. Though Avis was far easier with magical bird based cores, it was easy enough if mastered with a patient hand that it worked equally well for any wand. While Master Garrick could cast far more spells with a "neutral" wand, Avis was best for an apprentice like me.

Wand-crafters typically cast these spells in the order I described them, for a very specific purpose; to diagnose the magical condition of the wand one is examining. Until your magical "feel" was good enough to tell what condition the wand was in magically otherwise, this is the only tool you have. Even knowing by feel, often times you still needed the results from the three spells to confirm your suspicions.

The sparkle-swish is just what it says. This is the normal reaction, when not cast, that a wand gives when it "chooses" a wizard. When deliberately cast, it simply gives off the stream of sparks, indicating that it is a wand. If you compare the quantity of sparks with the amount of magic you channelled when you cast the spell, you can get a vague idea of how good a wand it is, but this can also be misleading, which is why you use the other spells.

You can cast the wand-crafter's variant of the Lumos spell without forcing the wand to choose or reject you, with practice and a gentle hand. This is the simplest of spells that actually makes a wand work, and should always be followed up by 'Nox' to stop the wand from drawing and channelling magic.

Successfully casting this spell confirms that the wand can actually do work. If a wand chooses you and you can cast Lumos with it, then you should be able to cast anything else you are actually able to cast, if the wand is in full working order.

Also, for most reconditioning methods to work at all, you have to have enough of a wand "left" to cast the initial reconditioning spells on it in the first place. While a "non-working" wand sometimes can be reconditioned, it's a very tricky business, and usually don't work. The end result is still oftentimes a frail and delicate wand. In short, reconditioning a non-working wand is usually not worth the bother.

Finally, the Avis spell, the wand-crafter's variant of the Bird Conjuring Charm, gives an indication of the wand's overall health. Like all wand-crafting spells, you cast with very little power. The more birds you get, and the 'happier' the birds are, the better condition the wand is in. So, you cast the spells I described when checking a customers wand to find out, in order, Is it a wand? Is it a working wand? Is it a 'happy' wand?

If the wielder treats a wand poorly enough, either by overpowering it, overusing it, or just treating it like shite, it will quit working. Sometimes you can reverse this.

If the wand was magically damaged but not completely burned out, you use a potion of Essence of Murtlap with Phoenix tears, diluted with natural spring water, and draw the solution into the wand to heal the wand's core. However, you need to identify whether the wand was overpowered, overheated, or just overused to get the right mixture. If the owner overpowered the wand, which is quite rare but not unheard of, you use one dram of Murtlap to three phoenix tears to one-quarter dram of water if the over-usage was from a super-heavy-duty battle rather than just one or two excessively overpowered spells, you up the water to one full dram. If it's just overwork, like on an assembly line, you up the phoenix tears to five and the water to three drams.

You also use the last solution on a wand that is just plain old, and has been beat to shite. For those wands, you also need to condition the wood. For major dents, you use steam and water the same way you remove dents from wood in furniture restoration, since a wand is typically a wood product.

For chips, you can make a compound from the same type of wood as the original mixed with wand sealant glue, though this doesn't work very well on the handle or shaft, and doesn't work at all on the tip. If you are very lucky, you can bond a chip in from the same actual piece of wood the wand came from. While not perfect, this can be damned near perfect with effort.

If your wand came from Ollivander's, you might be in luck, since Garrick Ollivander keeps all the usable chips and scraps by wood and year made as did his father, grandfather, and so on. So, if you know who the original owner was, if the wand came from Ollivander's, and if the wand still works at all, you may just be in luck. Using a variation of the summoning charm normally only taught by one Ollivander to their successors in running the shop, you can summon every last scrap of the wood that came from your wand, leaving the others behind.

If your wand is too 'dirty,' you can clean it in magically extracted Lemon Oil, followed by polishing. If the surface is excessively rough from going a long time without polishing, you also clean it with magically extracted Lemon Oil, followed up by 0000 silver wool, and a fresh finishing with boiled linseed oil.

One of our most common repairs we need to do is trying to salvage a wand where the owner tried to smooth the finish with steel wool. The steel wool actually tends to neutralize magic. While we do on the rarest of occasions use steel wool, it is to try and remove the residue of a curse from the outside of a wand, not for general refinishing.

When these DIY'ers bring their wands in, they have typically ground so much iron into the wand that the core has magically collapsed. The wand is now a stick, and the customer owes us five galleons plus the cost of the new wand they will need to buy if they wish to cast any more spells.

I did the Twin's wands in February. They were also the easiest. I finished working through all of the 'box wands' by the end of April. The only "heirloom" wands left were the ones at school, namely Bill, Percy's, and Charlie's. The last one was the one that I was most interested in. It was the one of the lot that actually let me use it most easily. It would be the one that I took to Hogwarts in 1991. It was also in the worst condition, because Charlie always treated all of his stuff like shite.

I was also good enough that I was doing the simpler reconditioning jobs unsupervised, and I was also making new wands as well, though at first Master Garrick would usually perform at least one of the final steps in the crafting. Still, I was a quick learner. I was reasonably good with my hands, and had yet to actually 'scrap' a new wand, or for that matter 'scrap' a recondition job that should have kept the wand going better.

The seventh new wand I made all by myself was truly special. It was fourteen inches long exactly, willow, with a unicorn tail hair freely given by the unicorn stallion from whence it came. Everything seemed to go right with the crafting of this wand.

I made the wand seamlessly and threaded the core in through the butt of the handle. The unicorn tail hair went in perfectly, bottoming out at exactly the right length and distance from the tip. The tail-hair was exactly the right length, and when I collapsed the core-threading spell, the sealing glue came out gently and perfectly.

I was able to get the finish mirror-smooth with little effort. Each coat of linseed oil soaked in just the right amount. The finish cured perfectly, it was glass-hard and fully flexible.

Master Garrick watched me as I worked, and let me do every step myself, like had six previous times. My other six were all good enough to put up for sale, but this one was going to be special.

Finally, after three days, I was ready to test it. I cast the sparkle-swish and got a thick dense cloud of red and gold sparks. I next cast the Lumos, it was instantly on, instantly pure white, and dazzling even though I was using normal wand-crafter test (which means damn near zero) power. I cast Nox. The wand was instantly dark. I finally cast Avis. I received a cloud of happy singing and energetic songbirds. It was my first true masterpiece.

Of course, sometimes things will go sideways. As I sighed in relieved satisfaction and lowered my arm, still holding the wand in my right hand, I got an even larger shower of sparks than I did from the sparkle-swish - and I wasn't channelling magic!

I had never heard of a wand just going random after its first test, especially after getting such good results from the test! I asked, "Master Garrick, what happened? What did I do wrong?"

Master Garrick answered, "Nothing that I can tell. That might actually be a problem. You remember how I interviewed you when you came to me?"

"Yes, Master Garrick. What does that have to do with now?"

"Everything. The reason I made you an actual apprentice instead of the cleaning boy I thought I was hiring as a favour for a friend, the reason I was able to, was that a wand had already chosen you. Have you 'borrowed' wands at home, Ron?"

"Yes, Master Garrick. But all of our wands at home are 'heirloom' wands, and I've never tried to actually have one choose me; I've only ever borrowed them with the intention that they stayed with their 'chosen' or waited to choose."

"I believe that is true, at least as far as you understand. But I digress. If you had a wand that 'worked' for you, could you cast a levitation charm?"

"Of course, Master Garrick." I could actually cast a hell of a lot more than a levitation charm, thank you very much, and different coordinated spells from each hand!

"Levitate this mug, Ron." He set his now empty tea mug on the bench.

Not sure what to expect, I tried to do what he asked – and succeeded perfectly!

Master Garrick told me to levitate the mug out to the front counter, changing height and direction as I went. I got the mug all the way out to the front counter, and set the mug down with the slightest of 'clinks' from fifteen feet away!

Master Garrick summoned his mug with his wand, and we went back into the workshop.

He said, "You have just proved your answer. A wand will not normally choose you when you make it. If they did, you would only be able to make your own wand, never one for someone else. But on the rarest of occasions, they do. Did you have a wand of these materials in a previous lifetime?"

I answered with realization, "In my first lifetime, the first and only new wand I had was made to the exact same size with the exact same materials. It was also a 'tail-loaded' wand. In my second lifetime, the twin to my wand from my first lifetime was present, but it no longer fit. Instead, I was chosen by a yew wand with a dragon heartstring core, a wand that served me well but that was notoriously temperamental."

Master Garrick said, "Congratulations then, apprentice. A wand crafter's seventh and eleventh wands are typically their best early work, with the seventh being the better between the two. I cannot sell you this wand, nor can I sell it to anyone else. If you need a wand to cast with when you are here, you will use this wand unless you are casting a spell required to be cast by the wand being serviced. I will be able to sell the wand to you at the end of June 1991, and will not be able to even lay it away for you until then. Come the day I can sell you the wand, you will owe me four galleons, eight and fourteen. In the mean time, it will 'live' on the bench. Congratulations for making your first, if still unofficial sale."

With that, a customer entered the front shop, and we both returned to work.

§§§

I didn't have any wands to do from home in May. Mum and Dad both took care of their wands and the wands weren't that old. However, I made my ninth, tenth, and eleventh new wand no assistance from Master Garrick, oddly enough giving each one its final polish and test on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh of May.

The ninth wand was 13 inches long, made of cherry wood, and had a unicorn tail-hair core. The wand was particularly energetic, and seemed like it would work well in many fields. Hopefully, Neville Longbottom would be allowed to have it choose him far earlier than his sixteenth birthday.

The tenth wand was birch, 12 inches long, and had a dragon heartstring core. It was a fine wand, but not nearly as noteworthy as the ones made immediately before and after.

The eleventh, which Master Garrick assured me would only be equalled by my seventh for quite some time definitely lived up to expectations. It was ten and three-quarters inches long, Vinewood, with a dragon heartstring. I really hoped that I would be in the shop when Master Garrick sold it.

June saw me reconditioning the wand that had last been Bill's. Mum and Dad were still so proud that Bill was Head-Boy, and were so confident in what his NEWT scores would be, that they bought his Ollivander's wand the very Monday after Percy, Charlie, and he got home. I even got to be visible in the front-shop and help ring up the sale!

Bill's "heirloom" wand was actually in very good condition. I quietly had him 'loan' me his wand in the shop Monday morning. Thursday evening, it was back at home and indistinguishable from a new Ollivander's wand, besides not being in one of our boxes.

I did Percy's wand on the first full week in July. While Percy was top in class grade ranking, second year had been hard for him, and he was stressing out about which elective courses he had chosen to start in third year. He chose Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, and was starting to worry that he had chosen too tough of a course-load to keep his grades up. I asked him the Sunday night prior if I could take it into the shop with me to clean it up the next day. He thought I would just be cleaning it. After looking at it, and messing up by not testing it (last time I ever do that!) I thought I'd be returning it Monday evening.

His wand was actually in much worse shape than it looked. While at first glance it looked great, the look was all polish. I actually soaked it in Lemon Oil for hours, and wiped it good and dry. It tested out as overworked and 'tired,' so I hoped that I hadn't bitten off more than I could chew. While I had asked Percy, neither of us had asked Mum, and he was starting to worry seeing that it was Monday night, and his wand was still on the Alley.

Tuesday, when I got in to the shop, I asked Master Garrick what he thought. He tested the wand, and asked if it tested the same way yesterday. It had actually tested slightly worse, but close enough that you could say the apparent improvement was the tester and not the wand being tested. He asked me what I had done so far. I replied "just lemon oil."

He answered, "Give it 'overworked draft, but up the phoenix tears by seven drops. Whose wand is this?"

I answered, "It's my Brother Percy's wand. I don't know whose it was before."

He asked, "Was it almost ebony looking instead of hazel?"

"Yes, Master Garrick."

"Well, at least your brother is not a 'DIYer.' When they come in like that, they usually need reconditioning badly, but even at retail are typically worth the cost of doing.

"I'm sure you noticed that you had a lot of polish?"

"I had to SOAK it in lemon oil! It took an hour to get it all loosened, and another two hours of wiping. I left it overnight under and on lemon oil soaked rags under the fire-spell hood, and wiped it down again this morning. Right now, it's almost clean."

"Let me see it." Master Garrick told me.

I handed Percy's wand to him. He looked at again closely. He said, "I think if you give it the 'overworked draft' with seven extra drops and let it dry, we'll have a better idea what we're dealing with. The wood isn't dented too badly, but we'll see at 12:30."

Twelve thirty came around, and we checked on the wand. Ollivander gave it a quick look and said, "Use the silver wool on it for a bit, and let's have a look again." That I was 'staying over' on the clock to work on 'family business' was an unexpected and welcome boon. I thanked Master Garrick and carried on.

At five after one, Master Garrick checked on me again. "Well, you got one of the 'nicer' tough ones out of the way nice and early. When you get what I call a 'Crayola,' because it looks nice at first, but it's all beeswax and dirt; you actually were on the right track. Did you even ask your brother to borrow his wand to recondition?"

"Yes, Master Garrick. But neither one of us thought that…" The bell rang up front.

"Wipe this down with Lemon Oil again. This time, it should either be clean, or real close. If it isn't clean to my liking, I'll show you the wand-finish cleaning charm." I had yet to actually need that charm, believe it or not. Master Garrick believed in using magic only where you had to, when crafting or reconditioning wands. I worked my way into believing it as well, without ever considering otherwise.

He went to the shop front. He came back a minute later with someone I had hoped not to see right then.

"Percy? What are you doing here?"

"Looking for my wand, Ronald."

"I'd have told you what was going on when I got home, Percy.

"You take great care of your wand, Percy, but it was basically a polish and dirt crayon! I started on it first thing after testing it Monday morning, and I still don't have it clean! If I weren't having to talk to you, Master Garrick would be teaching me how to get the last of the crud off of it so I can refinish it. We had to use the 'overworked draft' with over double the normal amount of phoenix tears, and it still hasn't had time to digest all that yet.

"If I knew how long it would take, I'd have told you, and we'd have both asked Mum together! Mum's all about saving money; with all us kids to take care of, she has to be! When we're done, you will have gotten four galleons, five and seven worth of top-shelf work for free! Besides, the Twins already got their 'tune-up' back in March, and only Master Garrick and we know! Did you really want to go back to school with a crap wand, Fred and George with like-new wands, and Charlie too busy to run interference?"

"Ronnie, you being all 'mister I-think-I-am-a-wand-crafter,' told me you would have it back last night!"

We Weasleys can be stupid with our tempers sometimes. Before I even realized how stupid I was being, I already had 'Lucky Seven' off of the bench, in my off-hand, and had levitated Percy's glasses off his face. I brought them away a foot or so, and hovered them back perfectly onto his face 'neat as you please.'

"No thinking here, Percival Ignatius Weasley. I know that I made the wand I'm holding. Master Garrick knows I made this wand. He can't invoice me even for layaway until the end of June 1991. But then, I will pay him for it, have him put the Trace on it, and take it home with me."

"What's a Trace?"

"Something only I will have to worry about, Percival."

"Your first 'customer service talk' could use some work, Apprentice Weasley. You need to keep the customer's disappointment from becoming your own, even if they are your brother and know exactly which buttons to push. In addition, remember, don't promise work for the close of business without testing it first, no matter how nice it looks on the surface. Observe."

Master Garrick took the wand, and examined it. He said, "Dampen a clean rag with lemon oil."

I did so, and he continued. "The incantation, while wiping the wand with the off hand, is 'Purgeo Linaeus.' You repeat the incantation while wiping firmly. This is one of the few where you must wear your gloves… like you're already wearing, good job there. Take the wand and hand me a pair of gloves."

I did as Master Garrick asked, and we switched back again. He demonstrated the wiping and incanting. He flipped the wand around to wipe the handle.

"This is also one of the few spells cast while holding the wand shaft and not the handle." He continued to cast and incant, getting the last of everything off of the wand.

Master Garrick asked, "Apprentice Weasley, did you have any lawns today?"

I answered, "No, Master Garrick."

He asked, "Mr. Weasley, do either you or your brother have to be home any time soon?"

Percy answered, "No, Mr. Ollivander. I asked Mum if I could go out and visit with friends at Florean Fortescue's."

"Is your brother your friend, Mr. Weasley?"

"Of course, Mr. Ollivander! I was just upset…"

"We all get upset from time to time, Mr. Weasley. Apprentice Weasley, you are not in trouble with me. I'm just more formal in front of customers. Your older brother needs to understand that my next oldest apprentice is forty, and did not start his apprenticeship until the age of eighteen. He is a solid journeyman in Canberra today. I almost discharged him because in the first six months he scrapped enough wands to heat the shop in winter. He only remained in my employ because he was also my son. You, Apprentice Weasley have yet to scrap a single one in over two years.

"Mr. Weasley, you have found your friend to visit with at Florean's. Hand your brother the money to pay. He will get a discount, where you might.

"Apprentice Weasley, sign out on your card as of two. Then, take your brother out the front door. Flip the break sign as you close the door, and I will lock it from here. It's ten minutes before two. Return at three o'clock and Mr. Weasley's wand will be finished and like new, or at least as close as I can get it. It feels like the wand I sold William Prewett in 1914, which was one of the first wands I crafted, on the twenty-second day of August in 1897, as only the twenty-second wand I had made to date. If it comes all the way around, which it feels like it should, it should be a truly impressive wand to behold and use.

Percy and I did as we were told, and walked to Florean's. We each got a scoop of Vanilla; Percy's with hot fudge and mine with strawberry. As we sat down in front of the shop to enjoy our treats, Percy repeated his question from back in the shop.

"You never said what the Trace is, Ron"

I answered, "Unless you're over seventeen, it's illegal to use deliberate wanded magic outside of Hogwarts, or other 'approved magical-only-areas,' except to preserve lives or property. Even then, you will have some explaining to do with the Underage Magic Office.

"The Trace is the spell that lets the Ministry know that an 'underage' student is using magic outside of Hogwarts or other 'approved magical-only areas.' The Ministry maintains Underage sensors throughout the UK to monitor underage wanded magic use outside of magical areas or properties. The Bill of Rights actually forbids that any such sensor may be set to look inside of a dwelling maintained by an adult wizard or witch, or anywhere within the wards protecting the land of an adult wizard or witch who has wards surrounding their property that block Muggles from seeing magic. If all the adults are Muggles or Squibs, though, they can, and oftentimes do look. That doesn't mean that they will do anything about it, particularly before the underage Muggle-born actually starts Hogwarts, but they can if they see fit to do so.

"If an underage wizard or witch does magic with a wand with the Trace on it, the Trace puts a 'flag' on the spell so it can be picked up on the underage magic sensors.

"Every wand that we craft new or recondition where it can be proven that we know the wand is for an underage witch or wizard is supposed to receive the Trace, and be delivered directly to the underage customer over the front counter before they leave the shop. The Trace spell on the wand checks the age of the witch or wizard to whom it is bonded, and will automatically dispel itself upon the seventeenth birthday of the wand's wizard or witch. The Trace will not normally 'take' for a wand that chooses an adult witch or wizard, and only lasts for five minutes or so if applied to a wand that's 'going on the shelf,' so we can't put the Trace on every wand we make.

"All the wands I've done for the family have been inventoried as 'training scrap' for our records, and yours is actually only the first wand I've done for the family where I probably should put the Trace on it. I won't, because I haven't for any one else's 'box wand.'

"If I didn't grow up just magically casting what I wanted and not 'losing' the ability to do so, I reckon that Mum would be a lot stricter about magic use around the Burrow. And, it wouldn't be fair to put the Trace on your wand when it wouldn't take for Ginny's, won't take for Charlie's, and I didn't put it on the Twins.

"Whether I actually use it or not, the wand I grabbed off of the bench to levitate your glasses is mine. Since it already chose me, we can't sell it as new. I can actually cast with two wands at the same time, so I plan on reconditioning Charlie's wand, since Charlie could use a good fresh wand for his NEWTs, and I know the wand will choose me for Hogwarts. Once I've actually started Hogwarts, since I'm an apprentice wand-crafter, I can actually get a dual-wand permit from the Ministry, if Master Garrick turns in the application for me.

"I don't want to go to Hogwarts with a new wand where the rest of us didn't or won't, even though I apprentice for Master Garrick. It just wouldn't feel right or fair."

Percy nodded in agreement, and said, "Thanks for telling me, and for all the work Mr. Ollivander and you are doing for the family."

"You're welcome, Percy" I answered, partly lost in thought.

As we continued eating our ice cream sundaes, my mind was all over the place. I laughed at the most random thought.

"What's funny?" Percy asked.

"Something stupid!" I answered, "You might get this, since you're all about getting on with the Ministry after you get out of school. 'Better a Hot Fudge than a Cold Umbridge.'

"The Jones guy I mow for told me that when the Evil Rat Man went to trial, two Ministry officials and a Desk Auror were also tried. The guy named Fudge was going along with imprisoning that Black guy the Evil Rat Man framed. He got five years in Azkaban, they also fined him one hundred thousand galleons, gave him a lifetime ban from working at the Ministry, and a ten year total wand ban after he got out of Azkaban! I heard the poor bastard's wife divorced him, and that he's living in Council Housing in Chippenham.

"Umbridge was the 'assistant ringleader.' Everybody knows that Lucius Malfoy was making a play for the Black fortune through his wife, but he's so slick that not even Arcturus Black could spear him, and he never seems to run out of bribe money. So, Umbridge was left holding the bag.

"The Wizengamot wanted to really make sure with her! They had her kissed, threw her body through the Veil, and forced the Dementor that kissed her through the Veil too, just to make sure!"

Percy looked at me and said, "Ron, if you wanted my ice cream too, you could have just asked!"

"Sorry, Percy. Really, I am. I said it was stupid, though…"

"I bet your stakeout partner would be silently laughing his ass off."

"Not really, he's complaining about his partner's sick sense of humour and missed our subject, the amazing Penelope Clearwater."

Percy blushed bright red, and muttered, "We're only friends…"

I retorted, "Only because, you're thirteen and too easy to take the Mickey on because you're in puberty but are too scared of losing her friendship to ask her out.

"I wish Ignatius was here…" Percy sighed in frustration. Who?

I asked, "Who is Ignatius? The only one I know is one I can't take the Mickey for it because I'm Bilius."

"Mum never told you?"

I finished the last of my ice cream. No lunch, early breakfast, I needed something.

"No, she never even told me there was something to tell. Was he like Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon?"

"Yes, and no. There were two boys born in 1976 that are important to the family, at least I hope they are. They were Arthur Bilius and Ignatius Septimus. They were both the cutest little boys, or so I'm told. But they were several month premature, and didn't handle it well. They both nearly died. Ignatius Septimus… Weasley… Did.

As the horror began to dawn on me, Percy continued, trying to keep from sobbing as he went. "Things were really tight for us. Things were so bad, Dad says, that they couldn't afford a casket, or a vault, or even to have a grave dug in the Burying Yard in the Ottery with the rest of the Weasleys and Prewetts. He's buried on the slight hill that overlooks the pond and the field where we fly our brooms, in a coffin Dad made by hand, with his hospital blankets for a liner. There's a marker there that reads, 'Ignatius Septimus Weasley, August 22-September 5 1977, Beloved Son and Brother.'

"We were fourteen days old when Ignatius died. I was twenty seven days old when I came home, because St. Mungo's had done what they could, and I would live or die equally well either there or here. With here, being what Dad and Mum could afford. I was ten months old before they finally decided that I would definitely make it.

"Didn't you wonder why I'm the only Weasley or Prewett under ninety to wear glasses? I was physically marked by my rough entry into the world. While most of me eventually caught up well enough, my eyes didn't do as well. I'm not blind without my glasses by any means. However, I need them to read, and when I'm tired to even make out the finer details of faces unless you're right next to me.

"The day the healers finally declared that I would actually 'make it,' Mum, Dad, and I went to the Ministry, to the Vital Records Office. They changed my name that very day to Percival Ignatius Weasley. 'Ignatius' was for Mum's Dad and so Ignatius would in some way remain with me and see in some small way the world he would otherwise forever miss. I'm the first 'Percival' in either the Weasleys or the Prewetts… because I persevered.

"Mum and Dad didn't tell me until I was five. I never knew Ignatius, of course. But I always knew that something, that someone, was missing. There was a hole in my heart that would never be filled, never get better, and I didn't even know what, or why.

"They would have never told me, I guess, if I hadn't tripped over his headstone. I was four, waiting to turn five in about two month's time. It was a beautiful June day. The birds were singing, and the butterflies were fluttering so prettily. I decided that I had to chase them and get a closer look. I didn't even bother with my shoes and socks. I just ran out of the house to chase the butterflies flying over the hill. As I left the house, a cloud passed over the sun. A hole in the cloud cast a 'Stairway to Heaven' that landed on the top of the hill.

"I ran as hard and as fast as I could, up to the top of the hill. I ran like the wind, laughing like mad, because everything was so wonderful! I had Mummy and Daddy, two older brothers who were nice to me, two younger brothers that I could tolerate and was jealous of for a reason I couldn't figure out, and a little brother who might actually play with me when he got bigger. I made it to the top of the hill, and I was on top of the world!

"Then, I tripped on the Stone. I had never been to the top of the hill, so I didn't know the Stone was there. I skinned the toes of my right foot and my right knee, and it hurt. But I was almost five! I was a big boy, Mummy and Daddy said so! I even knew my letters and how to read! So, I looked at the Stone. I was actually mad at the Stone at first, because it tripped me when I was having such a wonderful day!

"But the Stone was a Stone, and not a stone. It had something to say to little Percy that morning. It had fifty-eight letters, six numbers, one dash, and one full stop. With those characters, it told me that half of me would never be happy, or sad, or anything – EVER.

"I broke down crying and couldn't stop, or at least didn't know when I would stop and start again. I don't remember if Dad had the day off or if Mum called him home from work in pure terror. You know now that the You-Know-Who war was still going full-bore. They didn't know if their little boy was made to quit 'persevering' or if he had had an accident and quit all on his own.

"They told me that it was two forty-five in the afternoon when the found me crying next to the Stone, the exact moment when they lost one Ignatius, but had yet to be sure they would have another. But they did explain who Ignatius was.

"They might have thought that if they didn't make a fuss either way that I might still be too young to remember. But I will always remember. The pain must be so great for them that I'm not sure they even talk about him to each other.

"I don't blame or resent them for that. My pain is just as great, just different, yet it is only by pure accident that I've told you. You are the seventh son, and never even knew before just now.

"Fred and George think they are the only twins of their generation, and that is why they honour Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon. If they learn, they will have to learn from you. They're old enough to know, and if Mum and Dad haven't told them by now, they never will. Maybe Mum and Dad will tell Ginny when she's old enough. I don't think she's there yet. I'm not sure I'll ever be there…"

Percy and I both broke down completely, holding onto each other for dear life, as if we had just lost a brother. In a way, I supposed we both had.

After the first war, I saw how poorly George had got on at first. I certainly didn't blame him, and didn't even pretend to know how much more painful the loss of an identical twin brother was when compared to the loss of an older brother. Some comparisons just make no sense to make.

He eventually came around. But the wound had never healed, at least not by the age of fifty-eight, which was George's age when I left that world.

What was more disturbing to me was the fact that this might not be a difference between the previous timelines. I knew the people involved, and all of them in all three timelines kept their own counsel when they believed it suited them. Sometimes, being exposed to magic your entire life makes you less aware of it rather than more. There was a grave on a hill in this world. There may or may not be a grave on a hill in the other two worlds, and I will never know.

We continued to cry and mourn together, Percy and me, until we were interrupted.

"Why are you here? Why are you crying?" Mum asked.

"You never told him" "I never knew," we both said, talking over each other.

"What?" she asked?

"Ignatius" we said in unison.

Not denying it at all, not that it would have worked, she instead asked, "What brought him up?"

I answered, "Percy wished he was here."

Mum said, "We all do, Ronnie." Her breath hitched, just a tick.

Recomposing herself, she said, "You two need to go back with me to Ollivander's. He Floo'ed me not five minutes ago, when he saw the two of you out here. Florean put up a notice-me-not charm on the two of you, but didn't realize you would be out here so long."

I looked up to see Florean Fortescue standing discretely by. Before I could apologize, he said, "Don't worry, Apprentice Weasley. We all find that we occasionally have 'unfinished business' from time to time."

As Percy and I stood, I answered, "Thank you, Florean."

Florean waived us off with a sad smile. Perhaps he had 'unfinished business' as well.

We returned to the shop to be greeted by Master Garrick. "I hope the two of you are doing better."

I answered, "It was for me the delayed receipt of horrific bad news. It predated me, but was still a shock."

Changing subjects, I asked, "How did the wand turn out?"

"Quite well, Mr. Weasley, please take your wand and give it a wave." Master Garrick answered,

Percy did, and received a thick shower of red and gold sparks.

Master Garrick explained, "I used a trade secret I haven't yet taught you, Apprentice Weasley. It is a rather tiring one to use, so I'll wait another year or so to teach it to you. However, I wouldn't have it if our customers didn't need it from time to time. The trade secret, like the rest of the supplies, counts against apprentice training materials, so the accounts are square. Did you have other business on the Alley, Mrs. Weasley, or would you like to use my Floo?"

"We'll use your Floo if we may, thank you," she answered. We each in turn Floo'ed home.

§§§

We sat down at the kitchen table. Mum said, "Ronald, if you borrow any more wands, you will ask your Dad or me as well as the one who is carrying it, ok?"

"Yes, Mum" I answered.

"That said, I'm more bothered by not knowing where Percy's wand was, and that I didn't know that I didn't know, then that you borrowed it to refurbish. Refurbishment of wands is not cheap, so we haven't done so without desperate need.

"So far, we've been able to get Bill a new wand for passing his NEWTs, and hope to do that for the rest of you. Ron, how many more heirloom wands do you have to do?"

"Only Charlie's, which is the worst of the lot and the best match for me. I did Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon's wands back in February, and we all know that the Twins always find and always use them!"

Speak of the devil, and they shall appear, "Good job, Ronnikins, for getting in trouble for getting us free wand work!" said one.

The other one added while the first one raided the fridge and grabbed two pieces of fried chicken, "We wondered why the wands got better. But we thought you were only sweeping up and listening to stories."

I raised my right eyebrow and right hand. They realized that yes, their impromptu picnic was outside, and they had better catch it. I shouted to their backs, "Not in the back garden! Let me invite some hags for supper and see how you feel!"

Getting back to wands, I said, "I've also already done Bill's old wand. I think that it will choose Ginny more readily than any of the others.

"Like I said, that only leaves Charlie's, which used to belong to Grandfather Septimus. It's the closest match of the lot for me. It will also be the hardest fix because Charlie doesn't take care of anything. He drums with it, he taps it on the table and counter all the time, I think that he even chews on it occasionally. That wand is a mess, and it's scary, which is part of why I left it for last. It was also at school with Charlie, and I've only gotten confident in my reconditioning work after January.

"But he doesn't cast a lot of magic, unlike everyone else, so I would like you to give me your permission to recondition it starting tomorrow, and taking as long as it takes. I can test it first right now, if Charlie is here or at least if Charlie's wand is here. And, even if the Underage Magic office watched places like ours, wand-crafting test spells, unlike the normal equivalents, don't trip the underage meters."

Mum thought about it and yelled, "CharLEEEE!"

Charlie heard, and came thundering down the stairs. He asked, "Yes, Mum?"

"Can you do without your wand for a while? How long, Ronnie?"

Mums always keep the 'little boy' name longer than anyone, particularly including you.

"Anyway, I'll need to test it. If it feels like I will have to have Master Garrick's help, I won't give you a time until he gives me a time, if it can even be reconditioned. I can test it right now…"

"Ollivander's lets the janitor fix wands?" Charlie exclaimed in shock.

I held my temper and replied, "I was a 'janitor' for only a week. I've actually been learning the Craft, and have already made complete new wands that are up for sale! You're also the ONLY Weasley kid in school with a beat-up wand. We just got Percy's back about twenty minutes ago. Show him your wand, Percy?"

Percy showed Charlie his wand, and Charlie tried to call 'shenanigans.' "No way! That's a new wand! Why does Percy get a new wand when he's only going into third year?"

Mum answered, "It's still your Great Grandfather Prewett's wand, Charlie. It's just been spruced up. Ronnie might be able to do yours, but he needs to check it. Hand Ronnie your wand."

Charlie wasn't looking for an argument, and for once wasn't looking for his wand, either. He handed the wand to me. The wand actually felt… frightened? Weird.

I said, "The third test generates birds, and won't go so well with the soup and bread on the cooker, so we need to go out into the back garden. How far along is the bread, Mum?"

"I've got a charm on it, Ron." Ok. Now, how to do that without upsetting her.

We walked out into the back garden. The twins were actually just past the pond, having decided that while teasing 'little Ronnikins' was cool; teasing the birds that created their breakfasts might not be such a good idea. I proceeded to explain and demonstrate the spells in order.

"If I may have your wand too, Percy, for a comparison?" Percy handed me his wand.

"Thanks, Percy. The first spell looks like what the wand does when it first chooses someone, but is cast instead of just happening. It is the spark-shower spell, and does just what it says. This is one of the odd old spells where if you use an incantation at all, you use the one of your native language instead of Latin or something else – unless of course your native language actually is Latin. The spell tells you that what you're testing actually is a wand, with some indication of what condition the wand is in.

"Here's Percy's first." I wave the wand and get another nice thick shower of red and gold sparks.

"Now, Charlie's." I got some sparks out of it, but not very many.

The next spell is actually the standard combo of Lumos and Nox. A wand can still be a wand, but be too damaged to work. This pair actually checks to see if the wand works. You look for how quickly it lights, the colour and intensity of the light, and how quickly the light goes out. Unlike the normal casting, you use almost no power at all. You are trying to check the wand, not claim it. Percy's first again."

I cast the spell-pair with Percy's wand, and got a strong and perfect response.

"Now, Charlie's wand." I cast the spell pair. The light was slow and dull gold, with a brighter gold fleck where the tip was chipped exposing the core. With Nox, the light slowly faded like in the cinema when a show starts.

"In the first test, Charlie's wand gave a weak response when compared to Percy's which is freshly reconditioned. In the second test, Charlie's response time was sluggish for Lumos, and very sluggish for Nox."

"The last spell is Avis. While this spell works best for bird-feather based wand cores, it does adequately for all other core types, unlike the test spells for those other core types, which are for one type only.

"The spell produces a flock of twittering birds. The over health of the wand can be judged by the quantity, liveliness, and overall activity of the birds. Percy's first."

I cast Avis with Percy's wand, actually for the first time since before I started reconditioning it. I got a huge flock of lively, friendly, singing songbirds. "Mum, a little finite would be a big help, please?"

Mum took her wand and needed four passes to send our conjured avian friends packing.

"Now, Charlie's" I announced.

I cast the spell, and got one bloated, badly moulting starling that could barely fly. It orbited us three times, landed in Charlie's hair, puked, shat, and dispelled.

"I didn't cast it to do that! It was the wand."

Everybody looked at me doubtfully. Mum finally broke the silence and said, "I believe you, Ronnie. But won't Mr. Ollivander insist on charging for all the work for this one, even with you doing the work?"

I answered, "No, Mum, and thanks for believing me. But it will take at least a week, and possibly, longer, with the condition it's in. The one thing we have going for us is that it is an Ollivander's wand, and that Grandfather Septimus actually bought it new.

"Once I told Master Garrick who had the before Charlie, and I described it a little, he remembered when he sold it to Grandfather Septimus, and when he made it. He has chip boxes sorted by wood type and year, for every wand his shop has made going back hundreds of years. He also has a spell that he taught me that can summon the chips that were actually cut off from Grandfather Septimus's wand when Master Garrick made it! At least, the spell will work if the wand still works, anyway."

Charlie interrupted, "I don't believe you. Professor Flitwick won't teach us the Bird Conjuring Spell until this year! And how would you have a gentle touch anyway, with all of your hand-waving stuff! If I wanted to, I could make a bird crap in your hair, too!"

"Not with this wand, Charlie" I retorted. "It is not in that good of shape, and I'm surprised it will still let you cast with it. You have teeth marks on it, really! The polite version of the difference in touch is that Mum caresses your ear like a feather when you're sad and she wants you to smile. Or she wrings it like a chicken's neck when you've messed up and she wants to get your attention. You learnt to wring necks only. Master Garrick taught me to use a 'feather's touch.' When I'm testing a wand, I'm like a healer with a sick child, not a Malfoy on a date!"

Mum asked the one question that really did make sense. "Even if Mr. Ollivander lets you try to refurbish the wand, will it be worth it?"

I answered, "Providing you realize there is a chance, particularly with a wand this far gone, that I might 'scrap' the wand, meaning that the wand will never work again ever. This is the worst wand I've tried yet, and Master Garrick has already had me work on some wands more to see how badly I'd mess them up than with any expectation that I would get them back into shape. I have never scrapped a wand under Master Garrick, ever. I've already made twelve wands completely on my own, that are now up for sale, waiting to choose a witch or wizard, plus many where I did most of the work, and a lot of reconditioning.

"Worst case scenario is that I try to recondition it, I fail, but that part costs you nothing. Charlie might make it past his NEWTs with the wand like it is, but I wouldn't bet on it. If you want, Mum, I can take it in tomorrow. How fast I get it done depends on how much paying business we have coming in. We have to pay attention to the cash customers.

"But the money Master Garrick saves by having an under-age and on-waiver student apprentice makes up for a lot of time on 'freebies,' provided I'm actually learning from the freebies. I've already done eleven wands for the family, and it hasn't cost us a Knut. So worst case, buy Charlie his NEWT gift two years early. Best case, I get the wand like new, Charlie promises and actually TAKES CARE OF IT INSTEAD OF POUNDING IT INTO THE GROUND LIKE A TENT PIN, and I have a nice relatively 'like-new' wand for Hogwarts in September of 1991. What do you want me to do?"

Mum thought about it for a moment, and asked, "Are you sure the wand won't last otherwise?"

I answered, "I'm not sure the wand will last. It's not quite the same thing, but the difference might be worse? Do you have the time to make a random trip to either Hogsmeade or the Alley, meet Charlie, go to Gringotts, go to Ollivander's, and so on?

"Or, what if the wand blows up in the middle of NEWT Practicals? That's one NEWT delayed until the hedges start their students through, which means a delay in Charlie's results. The worst is they actually flag him as a Troll for that test with a twelve-month bar to retesting. It depends on what mood the invigilator is in, and if they believe that you honestly thought you could show up to a NEWT Practical with a wand like that and expect to cast passing results with it."

Mum said, "Ok. Can you get us a discount if we have to replace Charlie's wand?"

I answered, "I'm not sure. I think so, but it's Master Garrick's shop. And I haven't learned enough to custom make a wand guaranteed to choose a particular person, even if I had my own shop and tools. So, if you have to, and you find eleven galleons, but the wand only ends up being five galleons, eight and five, that's better than only looking for half and having to pay the whole thing."

Mum thought about it for a moment before saying, "I'll have to talk to your Dad before saying. This is too big to just surprise him with. But I think it has to be done."

We made our way back into the kitchen just as the charm went off for the bread and Dad came through the Floo from work. The noise brought both Ginny and Bill downstairs. Bill had a holster on for his wand that got somewhere other than Ollivander's. Ginny had Bill's old wand in her sock, which wasn't fooling anyone.

I decided to ask Bill about the 'important stuff,' hoping that Ginny wasn't trying to completely cheat me by sticking me with Charlie's beat-up stuff. "Hi, Bill. May I have your telescope and scales? I start school before Ginny does, and your stuff still works."

He answered, "What, no 'how are you?' or 'how's the job search?' or 'May I have your wand?' even?"

"You spent the afternoon relaxing and playing with everybody's favourite sister, so I know you're fine. You have something in the works about the job because you're smiling that much more, and you'll tell us or not depending on how solid it is. And, while Ginny can use any wand in the house, yours is her best fit and is already in the sock holster right now. I'm stuck with Charlie's wand or having to get a new one since the box wands don't work that well for me. I even reconditioned the closest match, and it won't choose me."

"Yeah, you're starting to build a good name on the Alley, which is a good thing. I know this because I've only been back for a half hour longer than you guys, anyway. And I was at Gringotts today processing in with employee processes. I'm already on the payroll. Bad news is also the greatest part of the news. I'm going to train to be a curse breaker!"

Congratulations were given by all, including a relieved and smiling Dad.

"So, how much and how long of that is in London?" I asked.

"I'll train here until September or so before transferring to Egypt." he answered.

Supper was a happy affair, with everyone talking and listening, like many Weasley suppers when everyone was home. After supper, Mum asked Dad about the wand. He let out a long-suffering sigh, but gave his permission, especially after seeing just how badly Charlie had treated his father's wand. I didn't need to be a seer to forecast a squall of garden-de-gnoming in Charlie's future.

§§§

The next day, I took the wand into the shop. The first thing I did was to show it to Master Garrick. He looked it over, felt it, and performed the spark-swish and Lumos-Nox tests. He didn't even bother with Avis. He looked very closely at the tip, where the frayed little nib of unicorn tail-hair poked forlornly out. He handed the wand to me and spoke.

"Against my better judgment, Ron, and despite the fact that I have already let you work eleven other wands through the shop without charge, I will let you work on this wand exclusively until you either refurbish it or fail. It will be a learning experience for you. You will have to tell me what you do to the wand, and what you've learned from it. Were you comfortable with the 'wand-cleaning charm' when you used it on Percy's wand?"

"Yes I was, Master Garrick, and thank you. Do you have any other advice or guidance?"

He answered, "I will show you a few more tricks as the job progresses. You and I have both tested the wand, right?"

"Yes, Master Garrick. I tested it yesterday evening, before getting both Mum and Dad's permission to work on it. The Avis spell produced one moulting starling, which defecated and vomited on Charlie's head before dispelling itself."

"Interesting, Apprentice. What do you think the Avis result meant?" he asked me.

"Master Garrick, I'm only guessing for part. Only one bird meant that the wand was in very poor magical condition. A starling instead of a songbird, I'm guessing, would suggest irritation, since starlings are nuisance birds. Having a moulting starling also indicated extreme overuse. The starling vomiting and defecating directly on Charlie would suggest loathing and contempt."

Master Garrick said in reply, "Add 'fear,' and you're spot-on. Great reasoning, Apprentice Weasley.

"I will teach you more about the results from the Avis spell through this week. However, I'll tell you a bit more right now. Normally, you get songbirds, if you get any results at all. There are exceptions, though.

"Starlings indicate irritation with the last wizard or witch to bond to the wand. Pigeons indicate that the wand has rejected its last wizard or witch, but will not attack them. Multiple crows, ravens, and rooks indicate very heavy use of Dark or Combat magic. You will get this result from the wand of a Dark wizard or witch, or from a Hit-wizard, Battle-Mage, or Field Auror who has fought in many battles and taken many lives over many years. This effect will only last while the wand is still bonded to that particular witch or wizard.

"A single raven indicates that the wand, if given the chance, will attempt to take the life of its last wielder, and a single crow means that the wand will try to take the life of any who attempt to wield it.

"So, if you either get any number of pigeons, or a single raven or crow, scrap, snap, and burn. The 'pigeon' wand will not work for the customer, and you never want to sell used wands in your own shop. You will only ever be blamed for the lack of craftsmanship of other wand-crafters, and people will always have doubts of getting a new wand if you also sell used wands.

"Unless you are a magical zoologist, you can't tell one corvid from another in the second or so that the single corvid presents, and the crow wand will kill you while you attempt to recondition it.

"My older brother Gaston was supposed to get this shop, and I was planning to set up shop in the magical quarter of Amsterdam after I had my journeyman's card. Gaston thought he got a raven from a customer, and against what is now common sense, took it in for work on a Tuesday morning.

"He said that he thought he could get the wand to 'turn back' and not kill the customer by purifying the wand after reconditioning it, which at the time was not an entirely uncommon practice, though a wand that becomes a 'corvid' rather than burning out completely is not common. We buried what was left of him Wednesday morning, and also lost every tool, bench, and on-hand blank and core we had in the main workshop. He was only fourteen.

"Fortunately, our 'chip library' and most of our reserve stocks of blanks, cores, and so on were and still are kept in the basement. However, the losses as they were, were more than great enough, as I am sure you can imagine.

"Getting a wand to present a single corvid is quite rare. You can also feel if a wand is likely to present this as well. The last time I had a customer bring in a 'corvid-likely' wand was in 1954.

"So, the governing phrase here is, "Pigeon or crow, and out you go."

He finished up by asking, "What will you do, now that you've determined that the wand is safe to recondition and worth the bother of reconditioning?"

"First, I'll summon the chips and shavings for this wand, to see what I have to work with, particularly with the tip. Once I have an idea of that, then I can decide if I have enough for a solid chip-fill or have to build one up. Next, I will clean it with lemon oil to evaluate the condition of the wood better.

"I will also need your help on selecting a wand potion, since I have never gotten the results from the Avis spell like I did yesterday. After identifying and administering the correct potion, if the core feels like it has improved enough, I will strip the wand completely. I will need to shave the chip edges without nicking the core. I will also need to see how much of the exposed core tip is frayed beyond what the potion will heal, and make a clean trim. With that sorted, I will make a threadable cap, to minimize the reshaping and length loss to the wand. If I get as far as to get the cap to take and have the wand's aim accurate, I will evaluate the condition of the shaft and handle again, and decide how many of the dents and bite marks I can remove. I hesitate to say more, since right now I'm not sure I'll get that far."

"Well-thought out, Apprentice. For the potion, use 'tired wand' with twenty-one extra phoenix tears and only half the spring water. As for the reaction, it was not merely a tired wand; it was also badly mistreated. As we've discussed already, having the bird or birds defecate on the one who normally wields them shows contempt, and vomiting indicates fear and revulsion."

I nodded my head. Master Garrick spoke again.

"Let your Mum and Dad know that should it be needed, I will extend a very generous discount should they need to buy another wand soon, and will also allow them to make payments if they need to. What you will not tell them yet is this. If you do succeed, this wand will likely no longer be a good fit for Charlie because of how he has treated it in the past.

"I know that I could recondition this wand, though the time it will require would make it uneconomical for me to do it, since it would cost half again as much to refurbish this wand as to buy a new one. I also know that you can also successfully recondition this wand, and learn a lot about the craft even if you actually scrap your first wand with this one. I will quiz and test you as you work, of course.

"For work while waiting, there's a nice short block of Hawthorne on the bench, that should yield a serviceable wand when cored with the rather short unicorn tail-hair that I got as part of our latest spring delivery from Hogwarts."

Hogwarts does not have the largest unicorn herd in Europe, or even in the UK. However, especially with Rubeus Hagrid as gamekeeper, they have the most productive one for unicorn tail and mane hairs, as well as producing the finest quality of tail and mane hairs for wand cores.

With that sorted, I got to work at 7:51 that morning. First things first, I pulled the shavings box for "1925 Ash." Master Garrick had already told me that he had made the wand in 1925, and had sold it to Grandfather Septimus in 1931 as a first-wand for Hogwarts. I got several promising pieces, including the one I actually intended to try first. I reserved the rest into a 'chip-cup' that I labelled as 'S. Weasley, 1925, Ash', which I put on the upper bench to have on hand. If the reconditioning took, the remaining chips would go back to the '1925 Ash' box. If I scrapped the wand, I would bin the lot. If the first chip didn't take, but things looked hopeful that a second or even third try might, I had the chips handy; since by then I would not be able to summon them at all.

With one almost 'sure-fire' chip for a solid fill, I proceeded to clean the wand with the lemon oil. There was no polish on the wand, only dirt, grime, and what was left of the linseed oil. The first deep cleaning revealed almost no finish left on the upper two thirds of the wand, some finish in the 'middle,' and many worn areas on the grip.

I mixed the tired-wand potion as Master Garrick had suggested. I placed the wand in the 'drinking pitcher,' cast the wand-potion-imbibing spell with the ash wand, and started to carve the Hawthorne wand blank. Of course, since this was going to be Draco Malfoy's wand, the bastard had to strike me with it while it wasn't even a wand, yet!

My 'coarse whittle' had a chip which I hadn't noticed when I inspected it. The whittle skipped, and somehow cut my left index finger. Not good!

"BLOOD! BLOOD!" I shouted, as I got well away from the bench and staunched the (in any other circumstances fairly tiny) amount of bleeding. Master Garrick immediately locked the door and came back to help. This reaction may seem to you like 'making a mountain out of a molehill' with the cut being shallow and only a quarter of an inch long, but this is far from a minor thing in the workshop end of a wand shop!

If you contaminate a wand with all but the slightest amount of blood while making it, you will blood-bind the wand to you as well as to whomever it chooses. This is not good for business. It is also actually one of the more arcane and more closely guarded secrets in all of wand-lore.

Blood contamination can also cause wands, even if not blood-bound, to behave erratically even years later, thus lowering the reputation of your shop. So, while you seldom wear gloves, since the delicate carving required prohibits the dexterity loss of non-magical gloves, and magical gloves would literally destroy a wand as you made it, blood contamination is a very serious issue.

Master Garrick was back in the workshop almost before I finished shouting, with the med-kit phoenix tears at hand. He put a drop on the cut, sealing it with a bubbling hiss and leaving unblemished healthy skin behind. He next cast 'Sanguis Evanesco' on both whittle and Hawthorne, which I dropped onto the floor and not the bench precisely as Master Garrick taught. Finally, he cast 'Sanguis Deprehensio' through the entire shop. Finding the shop clean, he put the whittle in the trash bin. He got a fresh whittle from the tool locker, checked it for sharpness, and whittled off the possibly contaminated wood directly into the bin. He cast 'Sanguis Deprehensio' much more deliberately on the blank.

Nodding in satisfaction, he asked, "Are you alright, Ron?"

I nodded in return, still in shock and embarrassment for my first 'blood incident.'

Master Garrick said, "You handled it well, Ron. Going this long without an incident is a good thing, and you're not in trouble."

He cast 'Sanguis Deprehensio' repeatedly one last time over the bench area, checking the bench area where I was working, leaving no crevice unchecked, or so we thought at the time. He even cast the spell on the now empty and dry 'drinking pitcher,' my 'ready cup,' the chip inside it, the rest of the chips, and the ash wand itself. Finding no contamination, he spoke again.

"There is no contamination. This could have been a lot worse. Just the same, I won't have you whittling or carving anything else today.

"The ash wand has also drained the 'drinking pitcher.' How much of the solution did you make?"

I answered, "I didn't want to take any chances on making a second draft with the shape the wand was in, so I made seven ounces total. It drank all of that?"

"It would seem so," he answered. He drew the wand from the pitcher and cast the 'spark-shower' spell. He got a decent flow, particularly since the potion needs to be 'digested' by the wand for up to a full day to show full effect.

"Based on the time involved, and the sparks, would you think the wand needs more potion?"

I answered, "You've always taught me that 'a dry pitcher was not full enough.' I'll mix another seven ounces."

He said, "Myself, I would only make three, but this wand just might be thirstier than I had suspected. Let's prove out your first guess of seven ounces."

I mixed the seven ounces of potion, and poured it into the pitcher. Casting the 'wand-potion-imbibing' spell again, the wand visibly drank the potion down to less than an eighth of a dram.

"Curious" Master Garrick said.

He continued, "It is now 10:30. I will clean up. You will clock out as of 12:30 and go home. You will still be on the clock. Write me at least nine inches, exactly like Hogwarts Homework, on what happened today, how you could have prevented it, and what could have happened had things gone even worse.

"You are an apprentice, which means that you are supposed to be learning. This is not a punishment, but I need to evaluate your learning every bit as closely as if I were 'Professor Ollivander and this were 'Third year wand-crafting.' When you test for your journeyman's license, whomever I have test you for me will see every written assignment I've set for you, as well as your time records and samples of your work. I will see you, and your assignment, first thing in the morning."

I thanked Master Garrick and Floo'ed home.

You might think I'm going on too much about this wand. I've written this much, and will write more, because my wand-crafting experience has shaped me in this lifetime. You've also already seen the beginning of why I ended up in the Hogwarts infirmary, along with Charlie, the following Saturday; and why things were well and truly strained at The Burrow for the rest of the year.

§§§

That was Tuesday. With another grant of Master Garrick's 'special trade secret' tricks to finish things out, the wand was ready Friday afternoon, though I worked 'off the clock' to do the last of the polishing. I tested the wand before leaving the shop. I got a thick and generous shower of sparks, instant response to Lumos and Nox, and a full and lively flock of songbirds. Master Garrick had Mum and Charlie come in the front as customers at half-five.

I gave the wand to Charlie, and had him give it a wave. He had to give it three waves to get it to respond, but on the third wave, it accepted him. The sparks, though full and thick, seemed almost hesitant, though. He cast Lumos, Nox, and hovered a tea mug that I had for him to test with on the front counter. I asked him what his verdict was.

"Ron, you've surprised me! This wand has never worked so well for me!"

I handed him a can of Polish and replied, "Thanks, Charlie! The polish is a gift from me. Use it, please? That's going to be my wand after you pass your NEWTs, after all. Please promise me you'll take care of it?"

He nodded and said, "Thanks, and I promise."

He and Mum left and Apparated home. I went home via the shop Floo. It was Friday, the seventh of July. Though I didn't know it, it would be mid-September before I returned.



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