The oddest things make their way into the Diagon Alley pawn shops. Oh, nothing Dark Arts, of course. You have to go down Knockturn Alley for anything dodgy.

But odd things like rings made of unicorn tail and potion ingredients of questionable quality. I rarely buy those. I'm too thrifty to spend good gold on something I have to check for potency.

Each shop also has a little closet of secondhand clothing and a basket of nearly worthless rags. I especially like the basket. You never know what might be lurking at the bottom.

I've been shopping pawn shops for as long as I can remember.

Mum bought my first wand at a pawn shop. Six sickles for any wand in the case.

"Go ahead, Ginny." She said, pensively, hopefully. "Try them out."

This was the third and last shop. If we didn't find anything suitable here we would have the choice of trying out Knockturn Alley for possibly shoddy work or biting the bolt and going to Ollivander's.

Ollivander would have what I needed, but then we'd be reduced to the rag basket at home to find my school clothing.

You can anticipate my sense of urgency that one of the dozen or so six-sickle wands would work for me.

They didn't of course.

Mum eyed me despondently.

I sighed. "Let's see if they have anything we could alter for school robes." I was nearly resigned to looking like a raggle taggle gypsy for my entire first year at school.

The proprietor grunted. "Bin at the back. Each piece is tagged. Hope you find something."

Then he went back to his magazine. Wand choosing might be interesting but digging through the rags was not.

We were early enough in the season that there were actual Hogwarts robes that only looked a year or so old. Something at the bottom of the bin caught my eye. It was green, pretty like it might suit my hair.

I grabbed up the robe. Ah, it might even fit. I turned over the tag, three knuts.

I looked over at Mum. She had that sad look.

I could feel my face fall. I'd almost forgotten that we still had to go to Ollivander's. I started to set the gown down.

"No." Mum said sadly. "You should have something for casual too. Go try it on."

I practically ran to the changing room. I had it on in moments. I piled my hair up.

Merlin, I could almost look sophisticated in this.

I ignored the torn hem and the stain on the lace collar. It was too long anyway, and I hated itchy lace. Both would be removed.

I smoothed the cloth over my girlish hips and gasped when I felt something in the lefthand pocket.

I drew it out breathlessly. A wand. Ten inches, rowan wood.

Surely it was a fake. A toy like Fred and George used on Mum.

Without daring to breathe, I gave the wand a little wave. Golden sparks flew out of the end.

I gasped. A real, working wand. Not only that, it was well suited to me.

"Ginny dear, are you alright in there?" Mum called out.

"What?" I shook myself out of my reverie. "Yes, I'll be right out."

I gawped at the wand.

"Uh, Mum?"

"Yes, what is it?"

"There was something in the pocket." I mumbled.

"Oh dear, was it sticky?" She asked.

"Um, no." I slid the changing room door open and showed her the wand.

Her eyes widened. "Does it…?"

I nodded slowly and she laughed.

"Congratulations, dear. You have stumbled onto the best reason to buy things second hand." She chuckled and pointed to the sign on the wall.

I don't care what it had in its pocket. Its yours for the price of the robe.

"Slip it back in the pocket, Ginny-girl. The dress is yours. Although I think it will fit better in a few years."

After that, we turned to the more expensive things, the ones actually hanging in the Expanding Wardrobe. Some of these things were as much as a whole sickle apiece. Mum found me a cloak there. Not even stained, and the warming charms still worked.

Mum counted our purchase up carefully and when we got to six sickles she declared we were done.

Our total raised the shopkeeper's eyebrows. Then he sighed. "Found a wand somewhere in the lot, didn't you, Molly?"

Mum laughed. "Are you sure you want to know, Augustus?"

"Might as well see what I missed." He grumbled.

Mum nodded to me and I drew the wand from the pocket of the green robe.

"Humph. Nice. I would have tried to sell that down the row." He shook his head. "Test it, girl."

I waved the wand again and sparks flew.

"Take care of that wand. It has chosen you." The shopkeeper advised. "It will serve you as well as one brand new, maybe better."

He was right.