22nd July 1991
"The Goblins are a prideful race, Mr Smith", McGonagall informed Mark as they exited Flourish and Botts. "Despite a bloody history marred by many wars between the two races, wizards and goblins now enjoy the longest period of peace recorded. You will learn all about it in your History of Magic Classes", she concluded as they walked past the various shops around them on their way to Ollivander's.
They had already finished all the other stops on their list, including at Madam Malkins for the robes as well as at the apothecary for the potion supplies. John seemed to want to pamper Mark. When she had commented on it in Mark's absence, she had learned of the early passing of Sarah Smith, and also of the poor health of John.
She understood immediately that John seemed to want to make up for everything he might miss, and didn't object any further.
Her quarry had been extremely inquisitive during their shopping trip, asking questions about potion supplies and the various equipment required by the school list, as well as the various rules and regulations of Hogwarts and the Wizarding World on the whole. Minerva had been impressed by both father and son; Their questions were complex and were giving her quite an intellectual challenge in answering.
"Since 382 BC?", John said in an incredulous voice as they entered the shop in question.
It was a bit dusty everywhere, and the smell of old musty paper and curing wood wafted through the shop. He closed the door behind him, the small bell over it jingling once. He looked around, examining the tall shelves filled with boxes that seemed to dominate the interior, not unlike an old library. His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of an old man with pale eyes and wispy white hair.
"Good afternoon", greeted the old man in a voice that had an undertone of wisdom.
"Good Afternoon, Mr Ollivander", Professor McGonagall seemed to cut in, hoping to avoid the eccentricities of the old wandmaker.
"Ah, Minerva McGonagall. Fir, nine-and-a-half-inches, very stiff. Excellent for transfiguration, if I recall."
"Indeed", came her reply, followed by a tired sigh. 'He does this even yesterday. Must be a tactic to impress the new buyers,' she thought to herself. 'Or maybe I'm just used to it'
"And who is this?" he enquired.
"Mark Smith, sir", came the excited reply from the boy in question.
"Well, Mr Smith, let's find you a wand shall we. Now, which is your wand arm?"
"Both, I guess", came the noncommittal response. "Does it matter?", Mark added with a thought.
"Yes, it does. It means for you we will possibly have to try twice the wands", Ollivander replied in an excited voice, as his tape rolled out and began taking various measurements, from Mark's shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round Mark's head. John's eyes bulged out at the seemingly sentient tape measure, and he almost missed the next exchange.
"Each Ollivander Wand is unique to the wizard, and you will never get the same results with another wizard's wand. As each wizard is unique, so are the magical creatures that give their cores to the wands", Ollivander informed to his audience. "We here at Ollivander's use the heartstrings of Dragons, Unicorn tail hair, and sometimes the feathers of Phoenixes", he continued as he returned with a box.
Opening it he offered the wand inside to Mark, "Ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches. Go on try it".
Mark picked up the wand and gave it a wave. Weak sparks emerged from it, to the surprise of Professor McGonagall.
"Interesting. Very Interesting ", Ollivander commented as he picked the wand from the hand of a now confused Mark.
"Do you have any control on your wandless magic, Mr Smith?" asked Ollivander, as he went to get more wands.
"I'm not sure. I mean, I can float a coin in my hand," Mark answered weakly, not wanting to get into his mind reading abilities, which did not seem common amongst wizards. John seemed to pick up on it, and he kept quiet, choosing to just be a spectator.
"You can?" McGonagall asked, clearly shaken by the proceedings. Mark just nodded, unsure of himself.
"Do not worry my boy. It just makes you a trickier customer," he said with a kind smile as he returned with a small pile of boxes. After going through them with almost the same results, Ollivander returned with a single box.
"I wonder now. Here try this. Holly and phoenix feather, eleven-and-a-half inches." Mark picked up the wand, and he felt an unwelcome warmth in his fingers. He kept it back, almost involuntarily.
"Curious. Very Curious", Ollivander seemed to be talking to himself. "I think I have an idea about the wand which is yours, Mr Smith."
23rd July 1991
"So Albus, what is this about?" asked Minerva tiredly, her Scottish brogue seeping in as she slumped on an armchair in the Headmasters office. "I still have two more muggle-born students to meet," she informed her mentor and boss, and this seemed to wake him from deep thought.
"Oh! How were the students that you did meet? Do tell me about them. You know I love hearing about your interactions with the new muggle-borns, Minerva," he enquired with genuine curiosity.
Minerva smiled and answered, "Ms Granger is an enthusiastic witch. Her parents seemed to indicate that she is a studious pupil and that she strives hard for the best grades. She was quite excited to join the magical world and kept asking questions about everything. She reminded me a little of the Lily Evans I had met all those years ago," she said fondly, before continuing,
"Not completely, mind you. Ms Granger is far more competitive and academically inclined. She doesn't seem to have many friends at her primary school; I hope she does manage to do that here. Her parents seemed to be worried about that"
"A possible Ravenclaw?" Albus tried to posit, somehow looking sophisticated while sucking on a lemon drop.
"Maybe," Minerva said noncommittally.
"It seems she would be a good addition to whatever house she is sorted into," Albus remarked. Minerva seemed to agree half-heartedly, before continuing.
"Mr Smith, on the other hand, was quite an interesting study," she said in a loaded tone, dangling the juicy information to Albus.
"Do tell," Albus seemed to catch on.
"Would you believe he can do a controlled levitation charm, wandlessly?"
"Really?" Albus said, looking like a deer caught in the headlight.
"Yes. He demonstrated it to me with a galleon, after we left Ollivander's." She took a pause before recalling, "He seemed quite disturbed by my initial shock. It took some reassurance from my side before he could proceed. It was quite impressive; He even spun the coin in the air!" she added, chuckling.
"Interesting," Dumbledore murmured to himself, before enquiring in a cautious tone, "Did he seem studious?"
"In a manner of speaking," came the drawn-out reply. "From what his father told me, he voraciously pursues anything that interests him, but only makes passing efforts in the rest."
After a moment she added in an amused tone, "Evidently Mr Smith is fond of muggle music, and enquired whether he could bring his guitar"
Albus chuckled at this, seemingly relieved of whatever that had seemed to bother him.
"You know what I say, Minerva-"
"A magic beyond all we do here", Minerva chimed, almost involuntarily.
"Just out of curiosity, what kind of wand chose Mr Smith?" Albus asked almost hesitantly.
"Applewood and phoenix feather," came the tired reply. "Apparently it was the oldest wand in the shop, even older than Ollivander himself. It took us over an hour to find it," Minerva explained.
"Indeed? Mr Smith seems to be quite the interesting wizard," Albus said in a tone which indicated that the matter was now closed. He then added in a grave voice,
"Minerva, I need your help with something. Something extremely sensitive," he paused.
"We need to protect a certain artefact inside the castle, and I need you to devise protections for it." He let the information set in before continuing
"Dark forces are likely to be involved in its search. I have already recruited Severus for this. I will also ask Filius and Pomona, but only he and you are to know that the real objective; We mean to trap the would-be thief."
Minerva straightened at this, cocking her eyebrow.
"And what is this artefact?" she asked. The response was almost hesitant.
"The Philosopher's Stone"
25th July 1991
"-we can see that by only depicting a single open curtain, the author seems to portray loneliness in-" Mark had already zoned out, his hand propping his head on the desk in front of him. Of all the subjects, languages were the worst.
'And English is the worst,' he thought. 'No, the author just probably forgot the other curtain,' he piped in his mind.
His mind wandered to the subjects he'd be studying at Hogwarts. He had already finished the book on Magical theory by that 'Waffing' guy. It had quite a lot of information, but most of it was just anecdotal and empirical. He hoped to buy some more comprehensive books on the subject when he went back to Diagon Alley on Sunday. He also hoped to browse all the other shops more thoroughly. There were probably interesting things to find in Knockturn Alley, but Professor McGonagall had specifically forbidden him from going there, and the place was probably not welcoming to an eleven-year-old.
Upon John's insistence, they had actually purchased an upgraded trunk, as well as some other wizarding robes during their trip. The trunk had three compartments, all somehow occupying the same physical space. It had been quite expensive, but Mark agreed with his father's reasoning that it was a one-time purchase supposed to last several years, and money had never been an issue for him while growing up. His mother's family had been quite rich, and now all the wealth had passed on to them.
Marks hand subconsciously went underneath his shirt to feel for the locket around his neck; it was one of the few mementoes of his mother. He felt the worn-out edges of the silver locket, which once belonged to his maternal grandfather, and had passed on to his only daughter, and then her son.
Sarah Smith had been a kind and loving woman, and Mark hated that he could barely remember her. She had died less than a month after giving birth to him, on the night of that Christmas. The main source of information had actually been Edwin since Mark knew how much it pained his dad to relive old memories. He knew what she sounded like because he had heard her in the few memories that he had gleaned from them both.
And now there was a very good chance that his father might die in a few years. He wasn't naïve; Mark was well acquainted with death, and John had gone over everything with him. They had even dubbed it 'Protocol Valkyrie', referring jokingly to the real Operation Valkyrie during the Second World War.
But all the humour in the world couldn't mask the cold hard truth behind it. Mark wished it would take as long as possible to become reality and give him just some more time.
Shaking those thoughts his mind went to his new wand, ironically the oldest in the shop. Ollivander had seemed quite excited handing it over to him; he was just glad a wand had finally chosen him.
'I need to figure out a way to properly carry it on me,' he pondered. The applewood wand was fourteen-and-a-half inches, longer than even his forearm. He had studied the old piece of wood all night under a magnifying glass, hoping to understand what seemed to an extremely sensitive form of magic.