Rounding the corner to finally go to Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Professor Dumbledore was nearly flattened by two running girls. He stumbled backwards as the girl with the auburn hair collided against him, and in his turn he knocked all my belongings out of my arms. Apologizing profusely, the girls bent down to pick up their fallen bags. I leant down also, my frozen fingertips reaching out to collect my own possessions. As I looked around to see whether I missed anything, my eyes locked with the eyes of the other girl, the one with curling black hair. Her green gaze met mine steadily and I could feel her eyes assessing me and judging me. I stared at her also, this girl whose curls were breaking free of their pins. Her emerald sweater matched her eyes and she had the clothes of a well-loved daughter from a respectable family. Her red lips parted slightly as she looked at me, and then suddenly she furrowed her brows. Her eyes wore a scared look as she peered into mine, and I hastily gathered my bags to me and stood up. In those short seconds she had seen more of me than I would ever let anyone see.
“Now I believe I should introduce you to the newest member of Hogwarts,” said Professor Dumbledore’s voice from behind me,” Minerva, Augusta, this is Tom Riddle. Tom, this is Minerva and Augusta.”
“Nice to meet you,” said the girl with the auburn hair, reaching out her hand to shake mine, “Call me Gus.”
I reached for her hand and shook it, and despite myself I felt a little bit happier. The twinkling look in Gus’ blue eyes were that contagious.
“Nice to meet you too,” said the clear voice of the raven-haired girl who must be Minerva, “I’m Minerva McGonagall, second year Gryffindor.”
“You can call her Minnie,” chimed in Gus, smiling at me, “She hates being called Minerva.”
“I love being called Minerva, thank you very much!” said Minnie, “Mind your own business next time Gus.”
“Well, we must be off to visit the junk shop,” Gus said, ignoring Minnie’s last comment, “You’re not heading that way are you?”
“No, we were just there,” answered Professor.
“We’re on our way to Ollivander’s Wand Shop actually,” I said.
“Well, good luck being found by your wand,” chirped Gus as she dragged Minnie away, “Hope to see you at Hogwarts.”
“Good bye,” said Professor and I as Gus waved us good-bye. Minnie turned around after some hesitation and inclined her head slightly in a farewell.
Resuming our walk back to the more polished side of the alley, I turned to Professor Dumbledore.
“What’s a Gryffindor?” I asked.
“A house at Hogwarts,” he said, “The school is divided into four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherine, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Both Augusta and Minerva belong to Gryffindor, the house of the courageous.”
“What about the other houses?” I inquired.
“Well, Slytherine is for those who excel at magic and are very cunning,” explained the Professor, “Ravenclaw is the house for the wise and intelligent. And Hufflepuff is the house for those who aren’t already taken by the other houses.”
I nodded as I took in this information. I knew which house I wanted to be in. Gryffindor, the house for the courageous. But I wasn’t sure whether I cut the criteria.
“Look like Ollivander’s busy with a customer,” said Professor as we came to the doorstep of Ollivander’s Wand Shop, “We’ll just wait in the corner of the shop then. There’s no point standing here in the cold when there’s a perfectly good place to be.”
We pushed open the wooden-framed door of Ollivander’s and walked into the most magical shop I’ve ever seen. The interior was nothing spectacular, just endless shelves of wand boxes, some so dusty and worn with age that the inscription on the case were no longer legible. Behind the counter stood an old man, one with white hair and a wizened face. His hands were nimbly opening boxes upon boxes of wands as he passed the chosen wands to his customer to be tested. A boy stood on the other side of the counter, his blue eyes bright as he picked up wand after wand and did a little flick with his wrist. A woman stood a few feet behind him, her eyes full of maternal adoration. I didn’t know this boy at all and already I was green with envy.
“The McGonagalls are everywhere today,” said Professor Dumbledore from beside me, “First Minerva and now Diana and Achilles. I must walk over to greet Mrs McGonagall.”
As he stepped away from me to engage in conversation with Mrs McGonagall, I stared at the boy whose name was apparently Achilles. He shared the same dark hair and light complexion as Minerva, and had that shame magnetic aura that drew people to him. Minerva wasn’t all too friendly this morning, but I could feel that magnetic aura that made me want to be in her company. I watched as Achilles (their parents sure knew how to pick complicated names!) picked up yet another wand and flicked his wrist. To my surprise coloured light streamed out of the tip of his wand like firework, lighting up the shop in its rainbow tinge. All I knew then was that I wanted to do something just like that. I wanted to make magic.