Late Summer 1971
“Hurry up, child,” Grimm complained one late August morning. “I would like to return before tea. My experiments cannot be left unattended for too long a time.”
He stood before the large hearth in his office, impatiently tapping his booted foot on the stone floor, while Emma furiously searched through books and piles of parchment.
“I know it’s here somewhere,” she replied, sounding worried. “Just one more minute, Uncle. I’m sure I left it on your desk yesterday evening during my lesson.”
Grimm sighed and rolled his eyes. “You won’t need the letter to buy your supplies. After two decades of teaching, I’m sure to know everything you will need. Now please come, my patience is waning, Emma.”
She looked up from the book she had been holding upside-down, a strange look of exasperation crossing her face. If his patience for her was nearly gone, then her patience for him was quite the same.
"I don't know where it could have gone," she said, shaking the book in her hands. "Peeves must have taken it, there’s no other way..."
Grimm, his patience at its extreme furthest, crossed the room, took the book from her hands, and placed it back onto the desk.
"If you want to go to Diagon Alley today, I would suggest that you abandon your search and come with me now. The letter is unnecessary, I assure you."
Emma scuffed the ground with her shoe, looking properly embarrassed. She had tried as hard as she could to postpone their trip, but it seemed as though Grimm had won out in the end; they were to travel to Diagon Alley, and not by train as Emma would have preferred. Without another word, Grimm stepped into the hearth, grabbing a handful of powder on the way from a small, tin cup that hung from the stone mantle.
"Now," he instructed, turning back to face Emma. "As soon as I am through, take some Floo powder and throw it down, clearly saying 'Diagon Alley' as you do so. Understand?" She nodded, feeling the pit of her stomach drop. "Good," he replied, then a smile appeared on his face. "Just speak clearly and it should be fine."
With that, Grimm threw the greenish powder onto the ashes of the hearth, saying "Diagon Alley" in a clear voice. Green flames erupted around him and he disappeared.
Emma stared at the hearth for a moment, wondering if travelling by Floo powder was an entirely safe method of travel. What if she ended up in wrong place? Such thoughts had plagued her since the previous week when Grimm had promised to take her to Diagon Alley. It was the real reason she had 'lost' the letter of admission to Hogwarts which outlined all the supplies she would need for the coming year. Taking the list from her robes, she looked at it for what seemed to be the millionth time since receiving it a month before.
"I'm a witch," she said aloud to herself, as though to make the fact more true than it was. Her gaze resting back on the empty hearth, Emma carefully folded the parchment into her pocket and reached out to take some powder from the tin cup. Its sandy texture brought forward a distant memory of a pretty woman helping her fill a bucket with sand. Nearby on the rocky beach stood a man, smiling brightly as he watched.
Feeling the memory float away like the outgoing tide, Emma stepped under the mantelpiece and threw the powder down at her feet.
A moment later, after the most exquisite feeling of being sucked through a tube, Emma tumbled out of a fireplace, landing with her eyes facing a pair of soft brown leather boots. Shakily, Emma stood and brushed off her now-dusty robes.
"It seems that you made it through alright," Grimm said, looking down at her. "The first time I used the Floo network, I ended up breaking my arm.”
Emma blanched, remembering the horrible feeling she had while being sent across the country. “How did that
happen?” she asked worriedly.
“My friend came too soon after I did and fell on top of me,” Grimm replied calmly, turning to walk away. “Enough of that, now. We have some things to get for you, Emma.”
He continued down the stone walkway as Emma ran to keep up with him. Upon rounding a corner, she stopped and stared at the bustle before her. People filled the narrow cobblestoned street, which was lined with shops of all sorts. She was barely able to fathom how such a place could exist in the midst of such as city as London.
Only magic could do this
, she thought, trying to take in everything she saw.
When a hand grabbed hers, she gasped, thinking the worst.
“Stay close now,” Grimm warned her, clasping her small hand within his. “There have been many reports of trouble, even here.”
Emma nodded and moved closer to him as he led her through the witches and wizards walking along the alley. As she walked down the street, her hand in Grimm’s possession, Emma couldn’t help but stare at the goods in shop windows and the food at the small cafes along the street. She’d never been to a place like this before; Hogsmeade was no comparison to the grandeur and size of Diagon Alley.
“Starting off with a wand would probably be best,” stated Grimm, who raised his voice slightly above the crowd. “It’s the most important thing that you’ll need and anyway, I have many of the things on the list already. May I see it for a moment, just to check?”
Without thinking, Emma took it from her robes. As she handed it to Grimm, she suddenly realized that he had discovered her fib.
“I - It was in a book on your desk,” she lied. “I found it just after you left...”
He looked at the parchment, his eyes running over the lines of supplies. “Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I’m dull-witted. Now look at this,” he added, pointing to the list. “You won’t have to worry about a cauldron or the phials, I’m sure Slughorn won’t miss them if they were to be borrowed. My old set of scales should do fine, I could swear that my grandmother charmed them to never tarnish. Most of these books are far too easy to find in the castle, but we will have to go and buy The Standard Book of Spells
because I’m afraid that mine is rather - “ He paused for a moment, a lopsided smile appearing on his face. “Unusable. A bit of wartcap was spillt across the cover years ago and the book has never looked the same since.”
While he spoke, they had come up to a narrow, shabby-looking shop. Emma looked up at the gold letters painted above the door: “Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.”.
“Ah, here we are,” Grimm announced, ushering Emma through the door of the shop.
The interior reminded Emma of the antique store in Derbyshire her aunt Cloeia always liked going to. It was extremely dusty and filled to the ceiling with piles of boxes. In the middle of this melee was a desk, on top of which was a silver bell and a very old, hand-bound volume that seemed to be a ledger of sorts.
Grimm strode up to the counter and rang the bell, his face emotionless. From the depths of the store came a slight rustling that sounded more like a very large mouse than a human. When the source of the rustling emerged, Emma saw a set of strange, silvery eyes staring out at her. She backed into Grimm, who pushed her forward.
“It’s only Mr. Ollivander,” he told her. “He will not bite you, unlike me.”
Hesitantly, Emma went further into the shop and soon stood before Edward Ollivander.
“Ah,” he said, leaning forward on the spindly chair he sat on, squinting at Emma. “Indeed, Tiberius Grimm, you have brought an interesting child with you. There is more to her than most could believe at first sight. Yes, much more.”
Grimm said nothing in reply, only grunted.
Ollivander ignored it and continued. “I remember your parents very well, Emilia Goldwyn. Your mother was a very pretty girl, liking everything she looked upon. Never have I seen someone so incredibly happy with life. Then your father was - “
He was cut off by Grimm, who was leaning over the front desk, a strange look of impatience on his face. “Mr. Ollivander, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but we really don’t have all day to stay and chat. Could you simply assist Emma in choosing a wand?”
Ollivander sniffed, but did not argue. “The wand chooses the wizard,” he stated, reaching for a box on a shelf beside him. “Here,” he said, handing it to Emma. “Try this one. Oak, nine inches, unicorn hair.”
Emma opened the box and picked up the wand from within it. This would not be the first time she had used a wand, having ‘borrowed’ Grimm’s from time to time when he wasn’t looking, but somehow she felt that this occasion would be far different. Raising the wand before her face, she looked at the light-coloured wood, closed her eyes, and gave it a swish.
“Bloody hell!” came Grimm’s voice from the other side of the room. Opening her eyes, Emma saw the black mark on the floor where he had been standing near the desk. Now he was sprawled on the floor, apparently having jumped out of the way of the blast of magic.
“Definitely not that one,” Ollivander sighed, handing her another box.
This strange tirade continued for what seemed like, to both Grimm and Emma, over an hour. Neither of them was extremely happy: Grimm because he had to keep dodging stray spells, and Emma because she was beginning to feel that no wand would ever suit her. Finally, Ollivander, who had been digging around in the shelves for the last ten minutes, produced an old dusty box.
“This one should work,” he announced happily, opening the box. With a flourish, he handed the wand inside to Emma. “An eleven inch rosewood wand with a gryffin heartstring core. Very rare, but perhaps suitable for a rare individual.”
Emma faces flushed slightly as she reached for the wand, which to her looked beautiful with its rich, dark red wood and delicately tooled handle. As she raised it in the air to give it a swish, Grimm automatically ducked, but no blast of magic fired from the wand, nor did any of the shelves threaten to fall over. Instead, a multitude of coloured sparks erupted from the end of the wand, disappearing into the air around Emma’s head.
“Good,” Ollivander said with a smile. “It seems as though the right one found you, Miss Goldwyn. Take good care of it, such a rare wand as that may never be found again.” He turned to Grimm. “That will be seven Galleons, please, Professor Grimm.”
A few moments later, Emma and Grimm exited the shop, he leading her towards Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions. She was almost going to ask him the meaning behind her so-called ‘rare’ wand when a woman suddenly stepped in their path. Grimm stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes widening and his lips becoming a thin line.
“Hello, Dolores,” he said, his voice low and dangerous.
The woman laughed, sounding more like a frog croaking than a person laughing. Emma looked at her, wondering why Grimm would seemingly hate someone so much; usually he kept to himself, hating nor liking anyone except for a select few. With a closer look, however, Emma could not blame him for responding in such a way. The woman was short and rather plump, with short curly hair topped by a large pink bow. The look on the woman’s broad, flabby face was smug in the way that made one want to hit her very hard in order to make it disappear. Her eyes were large and bulging, just like those of a giant bullfrog. Emma disliked her right away. She would have taken her aunt Fulvia any day rather than spend a minute with this woman.
“Oh, Tiberius!” the woman exclaimed with a very fake smile. “How incredibly nice to see you again. It’s been so
Grimm stiffened. “Too bad it wasn’t longer,” he mumbled to himself so quietly that Emma could barely hear him.
The woman’s face fell slightly. “What did you say? I didn’t quite catch it.”
His eyes were blazing, but his face remained emotionless. “I said it’s quite a surprise to meet you here, Dolores. Certainly I expected you to be in the Ministry building, especially after hearing about your promotion.”
The woman smiled again, fluttering her eyelashes at Grimm. The sight of it made Emma itch to use her new wand. Perhaps a slug-belching spell...
She reached for it stealthily, slowly taking it from the pocket of her robes.
“Why hello, little girl. I didn’t see you there,” the woman said, clapping her hands together. She looked once more at Grimm, a question in her eyes. “Is this your daughter, Tiberius? She seems like such
a sweet girl!”
Grimm’s eyebrows raised at this, nearly meeting the hair that flopped over his forehead.
“My daughter?” he asked, his voice breaking slightly. “Merlin’s beard, Dolores, what ever would make that thought come into your head? For the child to be mine, it would mean that there was a mother somewhere in the picture, and Minerva was never the type to allow herself to stoop to that level.”
This time, it was Emma’s eyebrows that raised. The fact that Grimm would ever say something like that not only surprised her, but it very nearly appalled her as well. What made up for this, however, was the look on the woman’s face, which had first turned as red as a raspberry, then paled to a colour as white as the skin on Emma’s left hand.
Seeing that he had the upper hand, Grimm couldn’t help but smile. “Dolores, allow me to present you to my cousin, Emilia Goldwyn. Emma, this is Dolores Umbridge, an old schoolmate of mine who is now the junior undersecretary to the Minister.”
Dolores Umbridge stared at Emma as though she had two heads. “Goldwyn? Indeed very interesting, Tiberius. I
didn't think there were any of them left.”
The smile vanished from Grimm’s face, replaced by a look of severe distaste. “Well, I'm afraid you're wrong, Dolores. Emma is Lyra's only grandchild.”
A knowing smile appeared on Dolores’ face. “Oh, I see.”
“I’m sure you do,” Grimm returned. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have some shopping to finish up before the day is over. Good day, Dolores.”
Before she could reply, he clamped his hand on Emma’s shoulder and practically dragged her over towards Madam Malkin’s. Emma stumbled beside him to keep up to his much longer stride, her mind racing.
“Why was that woman so horrible?” she gasped, trying to catch her breath.
Grimm slowed down a bit to accommodate Emma’s shorter legs before he answered. “We went to school together and she got it into her head that I was a possible future husband for her. Ha! If she only knew...” He paused for a moment, then continued. “She discovered that such a thing was impossible when I eluded her at Slughorn's party in seventh year. I had made the mistake of asking her.”
“What happened then?” Emma asked, her mind piquing with curiosity.
He sighed, as though the memory pained him. “Well, she came looking for me and discovered my hiding place in the library. It would not have been so bad if I had been alone, however... To put it lightly - and I think you’re mature enough to handle this - it went around the school the next day like wildfire that I had been in the library snogging Minerva McGonagall.” With this he coloured slightly while Emma burst out in giggles.
“And were you?” she managed to say between giggles.
Grimm had the grace to look affronted. “No, of course not. We were doing our homework together. Dolores was just jealous because I refused to spend a moment in her presence.”
Emma was still giggling when they reached the door of the robe-maker’s shop. Grimm handed her some galleons from his leather pouch and ushered her into the store with an excuse that he was unable to accompany her as he had some other errands to run. Upon entering the shop, a small bell above the door tinkled. A short witch wearing lavender robes appeared from one side of the shop, a huge smile upon her pleasant face.
“Hello, hello. I suppose you’re here to get yourself some robes for school,” she said, without bothering to ask whether or not this was the truth. “Come, come, child. I already have another customer waiting.”
She led Emma into a curtained-off area where a boy about Emma’s age already stood upon one of the three pedestals where a dwarf-sized man with a measuring tape in his hand was taking measurements. Madam Malkin motioned for Emma to stand on the pedestal beside the one the boy stood on. Out of pure curiosity, Emma looked at the boy, who seemed to be quite nervous. He had light brown hair and was of average height, but extraordinarily thin and lanky. His face was tired looking, as though he rarely got any sleep, with a scar across it that went from his right temple to the left side of his jaw.
“Hi,” Emma said shyly as she stepped onto the pedestal. “How d’you do?”
The boy smiled back just as shyly. “Hullo.”
With that greeting, all talk stopped between them. Both seemed to be far too shy to begin an actual conversation with each other. Madam Malkin and her assistant rushed around, taking measurements, recording numbers, and deciding on fabrics. Emma became bored rather quickly, wondering where Grimm had disappeared to. She smiled to herself, most likely it was the bookshop or the apothecary.
“Turn around now, dear,” Madam Malkin’s voice said from beside her. “And face the mirror, it’ll be just a couple more minutes. You’re probably excited about going to school, I’m sure. Master Lupin told me he was as well.” She added, nodding at the boy, who blushed when Emma met his ambiguously-coloured eyes.
“Are you going to Hogwarts?” Emma asked.
“Yes,” the boy replied, his voice quiet, but euphonious. “I wasn’t sure that they’d let me.”
Emma was just about to ask why, then decided not to. She never liked to pry.
“I am too. It’ll be my first year,” she said instead.
“Me too,” the boy confessed.
Once again, the conversation ended with neither of the children knowing what to say next. Emma, who was so used to playfully arguing with Grimm, had never really met anyone of her own age and therefore was very unsure of herself. So, she turned to face the mirror like Madam Malkin had instructed, only to be surprised in what she saw there.
A short girl, not yet five feet tall, with sun-darkened skin looked back at her through a curtain of long, perfectly straight, brown hair. Her eyes were the colour of melted gold with spots of green mixed in. In all, she seemed to be an utterly normal-looking girl except for the pale, white hand which peeked out of her left sleeve. There were very few mirrors at Hogwarts castle and Emma had never really seen her self closely before. She was so used to watching others that she had nearly forgotten about her own appearance.
“That’s it, miss,” Madam Malkin told her, waking Emma from her brown study.
“Oh, right,” she replied, looking around. The boy had already left, it seemed, and Emma was now the only customer in the shop. “Can you deliver them to the Leaky Cauldron? I’ll be there until the train comes.”
After leaving the shop, Emma stood out the street alone, watching the people pass by. She didn’t want to go off to another shop in case Grimm came here looking for her. Yet, she didn’t see him anywhere.
“Are you lost, little girl?” a male voice asked from behind her.
Emma turned to face the voice, inwardly cursing the fact that everyone was calling her a ‘little girl’. Just because she was abnormally short... Her thoughts came to a screeching halt when she saw who the speaker was. A tall, shadowy figure stood before her, the hood of his dark robes covering much of his face.
“No,” Emma stammered. “I’m quite fine, really. Thanks anyway.” She began backing away towards the bookshop which she had noticed beside Madam Malkin’s.
The man leaned forward. “You had better look out. Danger lurks in every corner, especially for mudbloods.”
Rage suddenly built up in Emma’s mind. “Well then, it should be no trouble for me, seeing that I’m a pureblood. Now, if you’ll excuse me - “
He grabbed her arm roughly. “Your mother was just as pretty as you,” he whispered into her ear. “And now she’s dead. Don’t think that your blood will keep you safe, you will learn the truth eventually.”
Emma was just about the grab her wand and curse the man with whatever she could think of when he disappeared with a swish of his robes. No trace of him remained.
EDITED - 28/10/07
Chapter title from Keane's "Hopes and Fears"