The pieces of his loyal, holly and phoenix feather wand lay scattered across Salazar’s desk. Harry brushed his fingertips over them. Cold, smooth wood rolled beneath his fingers.
‘They broke your wand,’ Salazar hissed. ‘Strike back! Take from them what they took from you!’ Slytherin’s wand fountained a stream of silver sparks. His snake reared and bared its fangs. ‘A wand is like a piece of you. They might as well have carved a chunk from your flesh!’
‘I’m not going back. I’ll never go back.’
Salazar released a long breath. ‘Perhaps that is wise. I’ve always had a temper and a tendency to try and see others suffer the pain they’d inflicted on me. Revenge is the Ouroboros, never-ending and self-devouring.’
I’m done with trusting them, that’s all the vengeance I’ll take.’
‘A bond for a bond. The friendship they held for the wand they broke. I suppose that’s fair.’
‘You told me I would need my friends.’
‘Individually weak creatures hunt in packs to bring down stronger prey,’ Salazar said. ‘You were weak, striving to become powerful. This is no longer true and you continue to grow. There are still many wizards and witches stronger than you, but few here at Hogwarts can threaten you, Harry. Even if you stand alone.’
‘I don’t wish to stand alone.’ Harry stared up at a dust corner of the ceiling. ‘I was alone for a very long time before I came to Hogwarts. I don’t want to go back to that dark place.’
Salazar’s green eyes softened and darkened. ‘Neither did I. I found equals who understood me. I built this school with some of them, and I would not be addressing my descendant if I had not one to spend my life with. You will be no different.’
‘I need a wand,’ Harry murmured.
‘You do.’ Salazar offered Harry a small, gentle smile. ‘Think of it not as replacing your old wand and its bond, but forging a new bond for the wizard you will one day become.’
‘You changed wands.’
‘Twice. Once though my own foolishness and once from a loss such as your own.’ Salazar eyed the sad remnants of Harry’s wand. ‘I burnt my mine to start anew, but perhaps you should take the fragments to whomever the best wand-maker is and ask about the subject. You might be able to keep an echo of your old partner with you.’
‘Ollivander,’ Harry muttered.
‘The name of the best wand-maker I know is Ollivander.’
‘I know the name,’ Salazar said. ‘The family’s been crafting wands for longer than this school has stood. My final wand came from the hands of a member of that family.’
‘I’ll have to go to Diagon Alley.’
‘Go now. The tournament must be soon approaching.’
Harry let out a short laugh. ‘The wand-weighing ceremony is tomorrow.’
So go now. You can apparate. Nothing is stopping you. Go. And take a vial of the basilisk venom with you. A wand-maker is an alchemist. This Ollivander will appreciate the gift of such a rare substance if he’s worth his salt.’
Harry stepped around his trunk and plucked one of the vials from the desk.
‘Take the fragments, Harry,’ Salazar murmured. ‘It’s worth asking, even if it comes to nothing, but do not come back without a wand. You have no time to wait.’
Harry picked up each splinter and placed them into his cupped palm. He took a deep breath, then in a disorienting whirl of the world, appeared in front of Ollivander’s.
He patted himself down and glanced over each limb. Nothing’s missing. Good.
Harry stepped into the shop.
‘Mr Potter.’ Ollivander appeared from behind a teetering stack of wand boxes. ‘Of all the people to next set foot in my shop, I was not expecting you.’
‘Mr Ollivander.’ Harry edged out of the man’s path as he swept round behind his desk.
‘I remember selling you your wand, Mr Potter. Even if I forgot every single moment one of my wands found its partner, yours would be the last of my creations to fade from my memory. Holly, a supple wand, I daresay, and eleven inches.’
‘Not anymore.’ Harry poured splinters onto the desk. Bright crimson beads welled up across his palm as he brushed them off his hand.
Ollivander’s pale eyes misted. ‘It is a terrible thing, Mr Potter, to witness the destruction and end of something you have created. It does, however, explain why you have come.’ He extended a long finger at the top of the vial sticking from Harry’s pocket. ‘Is that basilisk venom, Mr Potter?’
Harry presented him with the vial. ‘It is.’
‘I am not going to ask how you came by this, Mr Potter. I have heard rumours of the events of your second year. I’m not going to ask how you came to be here when you should be far away, either. I will ask if you are sure?’
Harry blinked. ‘Sure?’
Did I miss something?
‘When a wizard or witch brings me a magical substance to create a wand from for them, as some of the most dedicated to tradition do, I always ask if they are sure. It is not easy for one not very well educated in wand lore to make the best decision. We shall check, just in case.’ Ollivander bustled into the back of the store, then returned with what seemed to be a pair of silver scales. ‘A little blood if you please, Mr Potter. You have my word as a wand maker, I don’t intend to do anything more with it.’
Harry extended his hand.
Ollivander pricked his finger, then squeezed. A single drop fell into one of the tiny silver bowls. He set it down, then unscrewed the vial and poured a single drop of the venom into the other bowl. ‘The basilisk’s venom will not be an easy thing to use as a wand core, Mr Potter. The venom consumes all that is alive, even the strongest wand woods. However, there are ways to counter its burn. Alchemy is an essential subject for a wand-maker.’
Harry stared on as Ollivander hovered over the small set of scales, tapping his long, thin, pale wand against them every few seconds and murmuring beneath his breath.
‘Blood is a very potent magical medium, as all wizards know. It is easy to check whether your magic is strongly aligned to the substance, if you have the right tools and know-how.’ Ollivander tucked his wand away. ‘The brighter the blue, the better the match.’
Harry gestured at the pieces strewn on the desk. A slim golden strand protruded from one of them, like a string of flame. ‘I was hoping I might not have to have a completely new wand. I gathered every splinter.’
The scales emitted vibrant, bright, blue light.
‘Mr Potter.’ Ollivander’s pale eyes focused on a point somewhere between Harry’s ears. ‘If I did not know better, I would assume you to be competition for my role as Britain’s premier wand-maker.’
Harry raised an eyebrow. Definitely missed something.
‘Don’t be modest, Mr Potter.’ Ollivander smiled, revealing crooked, white teeth. ‘We both know basilisk venom dissolves organic substances completely. You cannot wander into my shop with such a substance, carrying the pieces of your former wand, and request a new wand that is not entirely new, then expect me not to realise your solution.’ He swept the pieces of Harry’s former wand into his cupped palm. ‘Perhaps this is not so much the destruction of your partnered wand as it is its rebirth. How very appropriate for a phoenix feather wand core.’
Ollivander took a firm hold of Harry’s shoulder and ushered him toward the back of the store. A small crafting area lurked beneath towering shelves of wand boxes.
He’s stretched the space. Harry mentally placed the size of the back of the store over the shop. It’s three times as big in here as it looks from out there.
‘I shall, of course, carry out your idea, ingenious that it is. I heard Gregorovitch once attempted something similar. His effort failed, but I feel this will work, and when it comes to wands, Mr Potter, feelings are everything.’
Harry watched Ollivander extract every piece phoenix feather under the assistance of a large magnifying lens. He fed them into the vial of venom with a pair of silver tweezers. Tiny streams of silver bubbles rose until the strands of feather were gone.
‘Your finger, Mr Potter.’ Ollivander set the same pair of silver scales down on the desk beside the basilisk venom and thrust a slim silver needle into the ball of Harry’s forefinger.
Harry frowned at the nip of pain, then dabbed the bead of crimson onto the scales. Ollivander dripped a droplet of the venom that now contained Harry’s old wand core onto the scales and stared at them as if the meaning of life was reflected in their gleaming surface.
A bright blue flash stabbed at Harry’s eyes.
‘Perfect,’ Ollivander whispered. ‘Your magic seems to respond especially well to a fluid core, Mr Potter. It flows within you. The effect of certain misunderstood rituals, perhaps?’
Harry met the man’s pale eyes, picturing the circle of dark ink on white parchment in the eye of his mind.
‘Don’t fear, Mr Potter. The Ministry disapproves of many things it feels might not suit its purposes or propaganda. I’ve no doubt that if they did not want wands for themselves, they’d label many of my techniques dark as well. You’ll receive no judgement from me. The only question I have for you is what wood should your wand be?’
Ollivander wiped the silver scales clean with a black cloth and placed them to one side. A piece of parchment covered in thin slivers of wood floated down onto the desk in front of them.
‘I’m not sure,’ Harry said. ‘Holly again?’
‘Perhaps,’ Ollivander murmured. He extended a long finger at Harry’s hand. ‘A third time if you would, Mr Potter. No need for blood this time. You will feel warmth from the wood that best suits you.’
Harry eyed the parchment. Holly. Oak. Ash. Hawthorn. There’re more woods here than I’ve heard of.
Ollivander seized Harry’s hand and pressed his forefinger against a sliver of holly. Ollivander’s skin was as cool, soft, and papery as the worn pages of Salazar’s oldest books. The piece of wood felt no warmer than Harry’s skin.
‘Anything, Mr Potter?’
Harry shook his head. ‘I don’t think so.’
‘If you are unsure, then it cannot be holly.’ Ollivander’s silver eyes trailed down the parchment. He pressed Harry’s finger against the darkest shard of wood. ‘Perhaps this one.’
Heat flashed through Harry’s fingertip.
He flinched away.
Ollivander smiled. ‘Ebony, Mr Potter. Not such a far cry from holly, you know. They are both woods that symbolise protection, but where holly is associated with sacrifice, ebony is associated with power.’
The tape measures Harry remembered from before swept around the bookcase to envelop him in their grasp. They clicked and whirred as they swirled round him, covering what felt like every inch of his body.
‘Eleven and a third,’ Ollivander said. ‘Best to be as precise and thorough as possible with a wand of such potential.’
Harry smile. ‘Thank you, Mr Ollivander.’
Ollivander’s white, crooked teeth gleamed back. ‘This part, Mr Potter, you cannot witness, despite the ingenuity of your idea. All wand-makers must have some secrets.’ He snatched the vial off the desk and vanished into the shelves, muttering beneath his breath.
A small thrill rippled through Harry. I’ve just witnessed something almost no other person to come here has seen.
Harry leant on the desk and read the labels off the tower of boxes. Bright, eldritch light flickered from somewhere on the far side of the shop’s back room.
Salazar’s going to be delighted my new wand isn’t phoenix feather. He chuckled and shook his head. I wonder if the senile old picture had the same argument with Tom Riddle.
‘I took my time.’ Ollivander appeared from behind a stack of wand boxes with all the warning of a particularly stealthy ghost. ‘I could never rush a wand, let alone one like this.’
Harry clenched his jaw until the ice faded from his veins and his heartbeat stilled.
‘Ebony with a phoenix feather consumed by a basilisk’s venom. A subtle wand but one of great power and emotion. This wand will excel at anything you put your heart into.’ Ollivander presented Harry with a thin, long box just as he had over three years ago.
A long, dark length of wood lay inside. Warmth rushed from his palm to his shoulder as he touched the wand.
‘Go on, my boy,’ Ollivander whispered. ‘Give it a wave.’
Harry twirled it in a small circle.
Another wave warmth ran over him from head to toe. Intricate patterns of frost spread across the floor from his feet.
Harry grinned. ‘It’s perfect.’
‘The rebirth of a wand, Mr Potter,’ Ollivander murmured. ‘A beautiful thing. Something I never thought I would witness. I daresay I won’t make a wand quite like it ever again.’
‘I can’t give you enough to compensate for this, Mr Ollivander,’ Harry said.
Ollivander shook his head. ‘My wands cost seven galleons, Mr Potter, no more, no less. I would give you this for free, were ebony not so dear. I will likely never have the chance to create such a wand again. The venom you supplied is worth enough gold to buy you every wand in this shop.’
That’s a lot of wands… and gold. Harry glanced around at the towers of boxes as he fished in his robes for the correct number of coins.
Ollivander tucked the galleons away. ‘I have not sullied this wand by adding the Ministry’s crude trace enchantment to it. Do you understand what I am saying, Mr Potter.’
‘I do. Thank you.’
No more restrictions. Harry’s smile turned thin and cool. The Dursley’s are going to be very upset when they find out I can cast as much magic as I like now.
‘Thank me by hurrying back to where you are supposed to be and trying a few of your best pieces of magic out before I see my work at the wand-weighing ceremony tomorrow.’ Ollivander laughed a soft, dry little laugh. ‘Who else would conduct such a ceremony?’
‘I certainly can’t think of anyone better.’
‘You are too kind, Mr Potter.’ Ollivander led him back to the front of the shop and ushered him out the door. ‘Take care, Mr Potter. It is a long way for anyone to apparate, even for an emergency such as this.’
Harry took a deep breath and span the world back past him until he stood in front of Salazar.
‘Fuck.’ He poked at the soft skin where his left thumb nail ought to be. ‘Well, better this bit than anything more important.’
‘Nails grow back,’ Salazar said. ‘It’s a good trade for a wand.’
Harry rubbed at the skin covering the top of this thumb.
‘You do have a wand, yes?’ Salazar peered down at him. His serpent slithered up atop Salazar’s head and stared down at Harry, too. ‘What is it?’
‘Ebony, eleven and a third inches. My old phoenix feather dissolved in basilisk venom at its core.’
‘He dissolved your old wand core in the venom and it worked as a new core?’ Salazar stroked his chin. ‘Most intriguing.’
‘He tested to see whether my magic was compatible with the venom and then with the venom with my old core. It was.’ Harry smiled. ‘He thought this was what I wanted from the beginning. I was lucky to come away with it, I suppose.’
‘Carry me outside and show me a spell,’ Salazar urged. ‘I want to see.’ He straightened up and gathered the serpent back off his head. ‘I mean that it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with your wand as quickly as possible.’
Harry hid his smile as he carried the painting over the bridge.
‘Reducto.’ He whipped his wand in a sharp, small, sideways vee.
His magic leapt forward like an eager puppy, flowing like water, but as neat and fine as ink from the tip of a fountain pen. A flash of red light reduced one of the nearby serpent effigies into fine powder.
Salazar sighed. ‘Stop breaking parts of my Chamber of Secrets.’
‘I’m going to fix it.’ Harry waved his wand at the dust and the serpent statue reformed. ‘You sound like an old housewife.’
Salazar crossed his arms. ‘I’m Salazar Sytherin. One of the greatest mages to walk the world I do not sound like an old housewife.’
‘If you say so.’
Salazar tutted. ‘How did the wand feel?’
‘It’s no stronger, but it feels right. Like I’ve been painting with my finger all this time only to finally pick up the finest brush.’
‘More refined, then?’
‘Ollivander said something about my magic flowing and reacting well to a liquid core,’ Harry said. ‘He said if my heart was in my magic, this wand would always work well.’
‘I’ve never seen a liquid core wand. They’re supposed to be very hard to create without making the wand fragile. Such a shame I can’t take a look at yours.’ Salazar released a long sigh. ‘Try the disillusionment charm, that’ll be a better test of your control.’
Harry twirled his wand over himself and squinted his arms. ‘I see no difference. I’m still camouflaged.’
‘I do,’ Salazar said. ‘When you move your arms, your charm keeps pace, even with fast movements. A bit of practice and you’ll be virtually undetectable.’
Harry slipped his new wand into his sleeve. Little rushes and jolts warmth washed through and up his arm.
‘Don’t put it away yet,’ Salazar groused. ‘Do something exciting with it! Test the limits of your capacity! Try that basilisk conjuration you showed me the first time you carried me out here.’
Harry grinned and let his wand slide into his hand. Heat vibrated through his fingers like a warm, summer wind through green leaves. He pictured the serpent rising from the waters of the pool and swept his wand up.
Every drop of liquid rose into the air. The conjured serpent swirled into the air over the bridge, coiling over itself, maw poised to strike, and every bit as large as the corpse lying on the ground.
A deep, throbbing ache tugged at Harry’s limbs. He resisted it for a minute longer, then the ache began to drag right at the core of his being and he slashed his wand forward.
The conjured basilisk crashed against the chamber wall like a breaking wave.
‘Was that exciting enough?’ Harry grimaced as the weariness settled into his bones. ‘It still took an awful lot out of me.’
‘Very.’ Salazar’s eyes were sparkled. ‘Your control with that wand is superlative. No longer do you waste so much of your strength. You’re going to be a very powerful wizard when you reach your majority, Harry.’
‘I have to survive until seventeen for that,’ Harry muttered
Salazar cackled. ‘The Triwizard Tournament won’t know what hit it. I hope there’s a duelling event. You’re a much more promising heir than Tom Riddle ever was. He was refined and oh so focused, but lacked your natural power. He must have undertaken many rituals after he left here to become so feared as Lord Voldemort.’
‘I suspect you’re exaggerating.’
‘I am, but I’m not lying. Tom Riddle was incredibly talented and very powerful, but so are you. You’ll be the real Heir of Slytherin, myheir, and I have every faith that you will outdo him.’
‘I’ll certainly have to try,’ Harry quipped. ‘He’s not exactly going to just leave me alone.’
Salazar buffed his nails on his robes. ‘Where now, back to your common room?’
Harry stiffened. ‘I said I’d never go back. I meant it.’
‘There must be other members of your house who were not involved?’
‘I will wait for them come around as I initially intended,’ Harry replied. ‘I won’t be returning to Gryffindor Tower any time soon, though.’
‘Where will you sleep? I enjoy your company, Harry, but it’s cold down here, even in the study.’
‘The Room of Requirement, of course.’
‘Oh, choose their room, why don’t you,’ Salazar grumbled. ‘Some Heir of Slytherin you are.’
Harry chuckled. ‘You’re going back on the wall, then I’m going to go get some food. I haven’t eaten since yesterday lunch and most of that ended up on the floor in here while I was trying to apparate.’
‘Fine,’ Salazar muttered. ‘I want to see you again before the first task, though. I have a few things I should start teaching you. My fields of specialty.’
‘Blood magic and parselmagic?’ Harry raised an eyebrow. ‘I can’t use those in the tournament without provoking a lot of questions and, well, I don’t want to follow in Tom Riddle’s footsteps if I can avoid it.’
‘It’s not evil.’ Salazar sighed. ‘You still have some preconceptions to lose, I see. If it reassures you, the greatest piece of blood magic I ever created is the parseltongue language you can speak. There’s not really such a thing as parselmagic. I’ll explain properly when I actually start teaching you. It’ll all make sense then.’’
Harry hung him back up on the wall over the study’s entrance. ‘Tournament useful stuff first, I think.’
Salazar shot him a wicked grin. ‘If you do well at learning the arts the Heir of Slytherin ought to be paramount at, I’ll show you how to take the anti-levitation charm off this painting.’
Harry smiled. ‘Well, how could I refuse such boundless generosity? He left the chamber to the sound of Salazar’s echoing laughter.
A still, quiet atmosphere rested over the Great Hall. Grey, autumn clouds drifted across a pale blue sky.
Harry took a seat at the end of the Gryffindor table and helped himself to some cold chicken.
That’s very very good. He moaned under his breath and gulped down the rest of a breast and half a leg.
‘I heard your wand got snapped, Potter.’ Malfoy swaggered up to the table, an ugly sneer on his pale face.
Crabbe and Goyle grunted and cracked their knuckles, looming over either of Malfoy’s narrow shoulders.
Harry pulled his best smirk onto his lips. ‘I see you took my advice, Malfoy. You should never leave home without your trusty lackeys.’
‘I haven’t forgotten that insult, Potter, and now you’ve no wand and no friends…’
A freckled hand came down on Harry’s shoulder. ‘I wouldn’t say that.’
A second freckled hand came down on his other shoulder. ‘He has just many friends as you do now, ickle Draco. Run along.’
‘After all the trash you’ve dragged your name through, you still can’t get rid of the blood-traitors, it’s pathetic.’ Malfoy swaggered off, Crabbe and Goyle in tow.
I don’t think I’ve heard them ever actually speak.
‘So, Harrikins.’ The twins seated themselves either side of him, pushing him further along it. ‘We heard you had a run in with some of our fellow Gryffindors.’
‘We’re sorry about that, Ginny is too–‘
‘–but not as sorry as Ron was after our little sister finished with him, George. She hit him with so many hexes he had to go to the hospital wing.’
‘He’s still there, Fred.’
‘It was the first time I’ve ever seen Snape give points to Gryffindor, George.’
The twins refocused on Harry. ‘Anyway, we just dropped by to say that we’re working on Angelina and Alicia. It’s slow, Angelina’s still right pissed at you and Alicia’s always followed her lead, but Katie’s helping a lot.’
She wants something from me. Harry’s thoughts spilt forth from the well of his mind in Riddle’s smooth, cool voice. We’re friendly, but not that close.
‘We still have to keep our distance.’ George, or possibly Fred, stole a piece of chicken and grinned. ‘But not as much as before. Either way, don’t worry about slime like Malfoy.’
‘He’s probably more worried about having to compete in the tournament without a wand, Fred.’
‘I have a wand. Thank you, though.’
The pair put their heads together. ‘Where did you get a wand from, Harrikins?’
‘From a wand-maker, of course.’
‘Harrikins is getting smart, George.’
‘We’d better watch out, Fred.’
Harry spotted the tall, dark-haired figure of Angeline drifting across the far side of the hall. ‘Angelina’s coming, so you had better watch out.’
Fred smiled and stuck both his thumbs up, ‘Thanks for the warning.’
‘Decent of you,’ George said. ‘This mess with Angelina won’t last too much longer if we can help it. Gryffindor house will have your back like it’s supposed to.’
Fred lean forward. ‘Sorry for the wait, Harrikins, but all’s well that ends well.’