The Wand (1)
We were about a month into our first year of classes when my friends Malcolm and Robert had a discussion speculating on how wands were made. They were both Muggle-born and looked to me as the expert in all elements of the magical world they were just discovering. I quickly exhausted my store of wandlore, but it was enough for the moment. I thought the topic was closed as we made our way to dinner.
The next morning, however, as Malcolm and his fellow Hufflepuffs and I with the rest of the Slytherin first-years made our way to Transfiguration, he began to muse on topic again as we trailed behind our classmates.
“Do you think they will teach us to make wands?”
“No, that's the kind of thing you learn after you leave Hogwarts.” At least I was certain of that much.
“At another school, like a university?”
“No, I don't think there are schools for wand-making. I think you have to be an apprentice to somebody who will teach you.”
“Like Mr. Olivander?”
“I suppose, but there are other wand makers.”
“I wonder what kinds of things you have to know.”
“We could ask one of the teachers. Why don't you talk to Professor McGonagall after class?” Malcolm got noticeably paler, but we had arrived at the classroom and had just enough time to take our seats before class started.
Class passed as usual. Malcolm seemed a bit on the pale side, but not otherwise different in his manner. As the other students left for their next class, I stood up and gestured toward Professor McGonagall's desk. While he never hesitated to come to the aid or support someone else, I had begun to realize how personally shy he could be. I had noticed that he was rarely one of the students to raise a hand even though he usually knew the answer. He sat without moving, his eyes getting bigger and bigger. So I gently pulled him to his feet, then, putting my hand on his back, applied just enough pressure to get him moving forward.
The professor looked up from the papers in front of her, her expression softened as Malcolm managed a soft noise.
“You have a question, Mr. Ramsey?”
Ah, um...” I realized we would never get to his question before bedtime if I didn’t help him get started,
“Malcolm was wondering what you need to do to become a wand maker.”
“A very good question,” she said lightly. “First years don’t generally consider possible careers, it’s very forward looking of you Mr. Ramsey.” Malcolm started breathing normally again. “Perhaps you should take some notes?” Given something to do, he managed to pull himself together and both take notes and ask intelligible questions.
When she had finished, Malcolm was sounding his normal self as we gathered our things to go.
“Thank you, professor. I promise I will keep the list.” And he did, I found it years later when I closed our house, safely tucked away with careful check marks next to each completed item. I had it framed and gave it to Minerva.
We had got to the hall when told him I had forgotten my homework for the next class.
“Go along, I’ll see you after lunch.” I went back into the classroom and picked-up the scroll I had carefully tucked in my desk.
“Did you forget something, Miss Denbeigh?”
“My homework, Professor.” I paused, “He’s not always so shy, Malcolm, but I don’t think he likes to ask for things for himself.”
“Then it was kind of you to help him.”
“Well, I’m going to marry him, so I guess I’ll need to do that from time to time.” I couldn’t believe I had just said what I heard coming from my own mouth. It was true that’s what I had decided—I just hadn’t intended to say it out loud. To her eternal credit, Minerva managed to refrain from any change in facial expression or voice.
“Then, it’s a good start.” And it was.