Tom Riddle looked at the list in his hand, and then looked at the shop sign overhead. In a few weeks he would begin his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He had been shopping for most of the day; obtaining supplies for the coming year. The markets and shops of Diagon Alley were a bewildering mass of magical and mundane, and he had sternly reined in his initial impulse to explore.
Now he needed only one more item, an item he had deliberately saved for last. Tom had been exceedingly frugal with all his other purchases, buying second hand when he could; robes, books and a cauldron. But not a wand. He wanted the very best he could buy. He guessed that a wand was what sent one Wizard apart from another, and he had great trust in his guesses being right. I always know he thought to himself. So he faced this shabby shop and frowned as he looked at the narrow, dilapidated store front. The sign over the door said “Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 B.C.” He saw but a single wand on display in the store front window, the cloth surrounding it faded from age. He gave an annoyed sigh. This was the only wand shop in Diagon Alley; it would have to do for the present. Still frowning Tom opened the door and stepped into the shop. He started, hearing a bell tinkle somewhere, and looked about to see innumerable stacks of narrow boxes lining the walls. A rickety stool stood by a small counter placed at the rear of the shop. He shivered slightly then gasped as he realized what he was feeling. He could feel it, the place was steeped in Magic. There was power here, power that wanted to be shaped and used. For the first time that day Tom’s smile reached his eyes.
His thoughts were interrupted by a voice. “Good afternoon young man, here for your first wand, for school, I assume?” said an old man with oddly luminous eyes.
“Are these good wands then, what you sell?” Tom asked dubiously.
“Oh yes, you will find almost every Wizard and Witch in England, and quite a number on the Continent, use an Ollivander wand.”
Tom remained dubious as the man introduced himself. “I am Mr. Ollivander and this is my craft; one I am quite skilled at, if I do say so myself. And what is your name young sir?”
“Riddle” he answered warily. “My name is Tom Riddle.”
“Riddle?” Ollivander puzzled. “I remember every wand I ever sold, but I do not remember selling one to a Wizard by the name of Riddle.”
“I have been raised in an orphanage. I am told Riddle was my father’s name” Tom said defensively. “I think he died before I was born. I don’t know my mother’s name but I doubt she was magical, she died shortly after I was born. She was weak,” he added bitterly.
“Well, that is no matter” Ollivander continued. He pulled out a measuring tape and it began to measure from the Tom’s fingers to his elbow; wrist to shoulder; waist to knee; floor to chest, and around his head.
“Is all of this necessary?” Tom snapped in annoyance. Ollivander pinned him with a long stare and Tom finally added a meek “sir.”
“It helps, it helps. Although in the end, Mr. Riddle, it is the wand that chooses the Wizard. Shall we begin?” Ollivander retrieved a wand box. “Vine, unicorn hair, 10 inches; supple and good for charms work.” Tom had barely touched the wand when it was pulled away. “No, definitely not” Ollivander muttered. “Oak, dragon heartstring, 11 inches; stiff and quite excellent for conjuring spells.” Tom actually held this one for a few seconds before it too was pulled back. “No, no, no. Hmm… Mahogany, phoenix feather; 8 inches -” but he didn’t even hand the wand to Tom before he sighed and returned it to its box.
“Hey you! Give me a chance.” Ollivander paused and stared, unblinking, at the boy. “Let me hold it” Tom commanded. Ollivander again fixed him with a prolonged stare and Tom again added “sir,” softly.
“I understand all this is new and you are nervous, young man. But that is never an excuse for poor manners,” Ollivander chided. “I can tell you are used to a significant amount of independence, but in this instance you must trust my experience.” Ollivander began to place a dizzying number of wands in Tom’s hand. His frustration mounted as he touched these wands without a response from any of them. Ollivander suddenly stopped pushing wands at him and stood silently, staring at nothing, for a moment.
“You are a most difficult case Mr. Riddle. Difficult in deed. Perhaps,” he mused, “something outside the ordinary?” Ollivander noticed a flicker of excitement in the boy’s eyes. “Let’s try this one, shall we?” He reached behind the counter and pulled out another box. “Yew, phoenix feather, 13 and a half inches. I warn you Mr. Riddle, only a powerful Wizard would be able to wield this wand, but give it a try.”
Tom’s eyes widened as he grasped the wand and held it firmly. Unlike the others it felt warm and seemed to mold itself to his hand. He waved it in an arc over his head and it showered the shop with vibrant green and silver sparkles. He looked at Ollivander, unable to keep the amazement off his face. Then he pointed the wand at the floor in front of him and muttered a hissing sound. He did not notice Ollivander’s raised eyebrows. A jet of smoke issued from the wand tip and became a snake that slithered around Tom’s feet.
“Young man, that is enough” Ollivander said sternly.
Tom looked at him, grinning. “Its alright, I can talk to snakes you know. We understand each other.” But Ollivander continued to look on, disapprovingly, so he hissed again and the snake vanished in a puff of more smoke.
“This is a unique wand Mr. Riddle; it would choose only an extraordinary Wizard to wield it.”
“It chose me because I am extraordinary?” Tom whispered his voice full of awe.
“I am absolutely certain I will hear great things about you in the future.”
Tom was pleased he could afford this wand and still have change to convert for bus fare; he would not have to walk back to the orphanage. With his new wand securely boxed with the other school supplies Tom cast one more look about the shop, completely ignoring Ollivander. Then he opened the door and left, never to return.
Later that evening, after he closed shop and had dinner, Ollivander went to his study and set out a quill, ink bottle and parchment. He was lost in thought for a few moments, then dipped the quill into the bottle and began to write in a flowing elegant script;
16 August 1937
Professor A.P.W.B. Dumbledore
HogwartsSchool of Witchcraft and Wizardry
My Dearest Albus,
I write to tell you of a most extraordinary boy who visited my shop today…