Chapter 2 : Diagon Alley
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2. Diagon Alley
The local children were congregated on the parched and browned village green, relieving themselves from the heat of the mid-August sun with a loud and energetic water fight. From his bedroom window, Remus Lupin watched them with a smile; a smile that had not left his face since yesterday afternoon.
Remus had always dreamed of attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but he’d always thought it was just that - a dream. When July 31st had come and gone, Remus had begun to feel down-hearted and despondent; the thought that other young wizards and witches his age had all received their letters and sent back their replies had made Remus dwell on his past and brought back the memories he tried so hard to forget.
Yesterday Remus’ dreams had come true though, yesterday Remus had received his Hogwarts letter. After opening the letter in total bewilderment, he read and re-read it several times before it finally sunk in. He was going to Hogwarts.
The letter explained that arrangements had been made for his transformations each month, meaning he could attend Hogwarts without jeopardising the safety of the denizens of the castle or the surrounding areas. It also stated that Remus should attend a meeting with Professor Dumbledore before breakfast on his first morning at Hogwarts to discuss the arrangements.
Remus had been speechless for a few moments, unable to believe that this was actually happening to him. Unable to believe that he, a werewolf, had been invited to attend Hogwarts with all the other young witches and wizards. The shock soon wore off, his stomach filled with bubbles of excitement and his mind raced with thoughts of the place he never thought he would go to. Dumbledore would never know just how much it meant to Remus, or Mr Lupin.
Mr Lupin had been almost as excited as Remus when he heard the news. He had always blamed himself for Remus’s condition, as he called it, and had felt terrible when he thought Remus could not attend Hogwarts. Knowing now that Remus would not miss out on his magical education eased the pain of the guilt he’d been carrying around for the last six years, although only slightly. Mr Lupin had immediately contacted work, and managed to get the following afternoon off work, wanting to make a family trip to Diagon Alley to get Remus’ school things as soon as possible.
Ever since, Remus had been unable to think about, or concentrate on, anything else. So now, after trying to read the Muggle book his grandmother had given him, but finding himself reading the same paragraph over and over without taking any of it in, he stood at his window waiting for his father to return home from work.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Remus heard the ‘pop’ of his father Apparating into the living room downstairs.
His smile widening, Remus bounded out of his room, down the stairs and into the living room. His parents were already standing by the fireplace, ready to leave.
‘I was just about to call you, Remus, but I guess you’ve been listening out for your father,’ Mrs Lupin said, a smile playing on her lips.
‘Of course he has, this isn’t just any old shopping trip. This is a very special occasion.’ Mr Lupin smiled widely at Remus. ‘I never thought we’d be taking a trip to get Remus’ school things, but obviously Dumbledore saw what great potential our Remus has. I’ve always said Dumbledore was a great man.’
‘He certainly is,’ Mrs Lupin agreed. ‘We have a lot to be grateful to him for. Are you ready then, Remus?’
Remus nodded enthusiastically, thinking about how happy his parents were about him going to Hogwarts, if he hadn’t known better he would have thought they couldn’t wait to get rid of him. But he knew for certain that that wasn’t the case. He grinned to himself, wondering what they would be like on the first of September if they were this excited about a shopping trip.
Mr Lupin grabbed the pot of floo powder off the mantelpiece and held it out to Mrs Lupin. ‘You go first, dear, Remus and I will follow after.’
Remus watched as his mother took a pinch of floo powder, stepped into the fireplace and then disappeared in a flash of green flames. Mr Lupin then held the pot out to Remus. Remus did as his mother had and stepped into the fireplace with a pinch of floo powder. He hated travelling by floo network, it always made him feel slightly nauseous, but he wasn’t going to complain.
Dropping the floo powder into the grate as he said, ‘the Leaky Cauldron,’ Remus took one last look at his father before being engulfed by green flames and began whirling through the floo network. He kept his eyes tightly shut and his arms firmly clasped by his side until he stopped spinning and felt his feet hit solid ground.
When he opened his eyes Remus found himself in the Leaky Cauldron, his mother standing in front of him brushing the soot off her robes.
No sooner had he stepped out of the fireplace - brushing the soot off his own robes before his mother had a chance to do it for him - than his father appeared in the grate and immediately led Remus and Mrs Lupin through the pub out into Diagon Alley.
‘Right, are we set?’ Mr Evans asked, standing by the front door, car keys in his hand, as eager to leave as Lily was.
‘Nearly, Dad,’ Lily replied, pulling her hair neatly into a ponytail, securing it with her favourite scrunchie.
‘Good, we ought to be leaving soon.’ Mr Evans tapped his watch to indicate it was getting late. ‘We’ve got at least an hours drive, and we don’t know what time the shops shut, or if they shut for lunch. I’m sure you want to have plenty of time to look around. I know I do!’
Lily laughed as she nodded. Her father was right, she did want plenty of time to browse the magical shops, but his obvious eagerness to leave amused her. He usually hated shopping.
It wasn’t only her father’s new attitude towards shopping that amused Lily; her parents’ whole attitude to magic did too. She had been surprised by how readily her parents had believed and accepted the fact that she was a witch. It had taken several meetings with Severus for her to believe it herself, but her parents seemed to have no doubt about the existence of the magical world.
Lily put this down to the fact that she had had Petunia putting doubts in her mind, providing a logical argument to counter anything Lily had heard from Severus. Although Petunia’s outburst the day the letter arrived had exposed her real feelings about the magical world, and had revealed that she did indeed believe in the existence of magic, she had now reverted to her denial.
When she wasn’t storming out of the room at the mere mention of magic, Petunia was making snide remarks about the whole situation, and clearly thought her family was deluded. Just that morning at breakfast, Petunia had scoffed at the invitation for her to join them on their trip, saying it would be a waste of time as the place didn’t even exist.
Lily was really hoping Petunia would change her mind about joining them today. She had been disappointed that Severus had been unable to meet her at Diagon Alley today, but that was nothing compared to the disappointment she felt at not having Petunia by her side during her first visit to the magical world. Petunia had been with her for all her ‘firsts’ and it would not feel right for Petunia to be absent from such a momentous one. Lily had also hoped that if Petunia was able to be part of this experience with her, even if only for a shopping trip, it may just change her views of magic – and of Lily!
Just as Lily found herself thinking about Petunia, she came down the stairs with Mrs Evans. Petunia headed straight for the front door, ignoring Lily and Mr Evans.
‘Are you not going to say goodbye, Petunia?’ Mr Evans asked, more harshly than he meant, as Petunia pulled the front door open. ‘Or have you decided to come with us?’
‘Oh, please come, Petunia,’ Lily pleaded. ‘I want you to be a part of this.’
Petunia turned in the doorway, glaring at Lily.
‘Well, I don’t want to be a part of this… this…farce!’ she spat, then turning to her mother, added, ‘I’m staying at Belinda’s tonight, I’ll be back in the morning.’
‘Just don’t be late back, don’t forget we’re going to get your school things tomorrow.’ Mrs Evans knew there was no point getting angry with Petunia, it only made her worse.
‘I’ll be back by ten,’ Petunia replied before storming out of the house and down the drive, muttering about how her father wouldn’t be coming to get her school things.
Mr Evans was about to comment on Petunia’s attitude, but one look from his wife stopped him. Instead, he turned to Lily, forcing a smile onto his face.
‘Come on then, love. Let’s go.’
Lily led the way out to the car, her excitement dampened. She could hear her mother and father muttering as they locked the front door.
‘I won’t put up with that behaviour from her, Rose. I can’t see what her problem is.’
‘Please, Roger, she just needs time to adjust. Don’t let it spoil Lily’s day; this is a big thing for her, for us too.’
‘I know, dear, but she has become a different child, and I don’t like it.’
‘Well, let’s just concentrate on Lily today; we can deal with Petunia later.’
Lily really didn’t want her sister and her father to fall out, especially because of her. Although Petunia was acting strangely towards her, and had upset her, she agreed with her mother, she just needed time to adjust.
Lily was very quiet as they climbed into the car and started their journey, but by the time they reached the motorway the mood of all three Evans’ had brightened. Lily got out her Hogwarts letter, examining the list of items she needed to get for about the hundredth time, and excited chatter filled the car.
When they finally turned into Charing Cross road, Lily peered out of her window, looking for the Leaky Cauldron, the pub which the letter said would lead them into Diagon Alley, hoping and praying that it really would be there. As they neared the end of Charing Cross road, just as Lily began to feel panicky, she spotted it sandwiched between a book shop and a record shop, just as the letter had said.
‘Dad, there it is, look!’
Mr Evans pulled the car into the nearest parking space - the only parking space left on that stretch of road – which, luckily, was right outside the Leaky Cauldron. Mr Evans hadn’t even turned the engine off before Lily jumped out of the car, urging her parents to hurry up.
It was only as they neared the shabby little pub that Mr and Mrs Evans actually noticed it was there; if Lily hadn’t led them up to the door they would have walked straight past, oblivious to its existence, as every other person seemed to be doing.
The inside of the pub was just as gloomy and shabby as it had looked from the outside. Mr Evans headed straight to the bar and the old, balding man standing behind it.
‘Good morning. My daughter is attending Hogwarts in September and we were told that Tom would assist us in getting into Diagon Alley.’
‘Ah, that would be me,’ the barman replied cheerily, ‘follow me. Don’t be helping yourself to my fire-whiskey while I’m gone, Bert.’
After warning the man who was leaning on the bar cupping an empty glass, Tom the barman led the Evans’ through the pub and out of a door at the back, into a bright courtyard. Lily watched in amazement as Tom tapped the wall three times with his wand, making the bricks move and slowly form an archway.
Having thanked Tom and watched him scurry back into the pub, the Evans’ hurried through the archway into Diagon Alley. Lily could hardly suppress her excitement now and although she wanted to go in all the shops straight away, Mrs Evans managed to convince her to wait until they had exchanged their money. This didn’t stop Lily from peering through all the windows they passed, pointing things out to her parents, and if she hadn’t felt it was rude, she would also have commented on the strange way everyone was dressed. She felt a bit out of place in her flowery summer dress while nearly everyone around her were wearing long robes. It didn’t faze her though; she was too elated for that.
After changing their money into Galleons, Sickles and Knuts (large gold, silver and bronze coins which fascinated Mr Evans) they decided to start at the furthest end of Diagon Alley and work their way back to the Leaky Cauldron.
The first shop they entered was Ollivander’s wand shop. It wasn’t as impressive as the other shops they had passed, the window display comprising of a lone wand sitting on a faded purple cushion, but Lily felt that this was a shop that didn’t need a fancy exterior to draw in the customers. Or a fancy interior Lily decided as she stepped inside, passing a young boy on his way out of the shop, smiling widely.
The shop was small, gloomy and dusty. The walls were completely hidden behind hundreds of neatly piled, narrow boxes, a spindly chair stood on one side of the shop and on the other stood a tall, white haired man – Mr Ollivander.
‘Good morning, miss,’ he said softly.
Good morning,’ Lily replied, feeling a little nervous under Mr Ollivander’s unfaltering, silvery eyed gaze. ‘I need to get a wand.’
‘Well you have come to the right place,’ Mr Ollivander smiled. ‘Hold out your wand hand.’
Lily looked at her parents, who smiled at her encouragingly, then turned back to Mr Ollivander, holding out the hand she wrote with, unsure as to whether it would also be her wand hand.
Mr Ollivander pulled a measuring tape from his pocket and began taking all sorts of measurements from Lily. When he’d finished he turned to the pile of boxes behind him and carefully pulled one out. He opened the box, took out the wand and handed it to Lily.
‘Give it a wave.’
Watching Lily intently as she waved the wand in front of her, his smile turned to a frown and he almost instantly took the wand off her.
‘No, no, that one’s not for you,’ he muttered as he turned his back on Lily and started searching through the boxes behind him.
Lily felt disheartened and the nagging feeling she thought she had left behind when she entered Diagon Alley returned. Although it had been proved that magic existed, that didn’t prove that she was a witch. What if it had all been a mistake, if Severus and the people at Hogwarts had been wrong about her? What if the wand hadn’t worked because she didn’t have any magical abilities? Now that she’d had a glimpse of the magical world she didn’t think she could bear to not be a part of it.
‘Try this one,’ Mr Ollivander said, interrupting Lily’s thoughts, holding out another wand for her to try. ‘Willow and unicorn hair. Ten and a quarter inches. Swishy.’
Taking the wand, Lily felt the warmth spread through her fingers instantly, and when she waved it, gold sparks erupted from the end of it, filling the gloomy shop with glittering light. The negative thoughts of only a moment ago vanished, and the excitement came back doubled. With the wand in her hand Lily felt complete, like she truly belonged in this world.
‘Oh, very good,’ Mr Ollivander said with a spark in his eyes. ‘I expect you will excel in Charms with that wand.’
Lily watched delightedly as Mr Ollivander placed the wand back in its box and wrapped it in brown paper while her father tried to work out which coins he should hand over.
When Mr Evans had finally handed over the right amount of money they made their way back down Diagon Alley, going from shop to shop acquiring more and more packages as they went. By the time they were back where they started and had entered Madam Malkin’s Robes for Every Occasion, Mr and Mrs Evans’ arms were overloaded with packages, and they still had much more to buy.
‘Hello dear, Hogwarts?’ a squat witch, who Lily assumed to be Madam Malkin, asked as they walked through the door of the shop. Before Lily had time to answer, Madam Malkin whisked her off to the back of the shop where the young boy Lily had seen coming out of Ollivander’s was having robes fitted by a second witch.
Lily smiled at the boy as she stepped up onto the small stool, ready to be measured for the second time that day. Madam Malkin quickly took Lily’s measurements, then slipped a set of Hogwarts robes over her head and started working pinning up the hem.
‘Is it your first year at Hogwarts too?’ Lily asked the boy, noticing his robes were identical to the ones she was wearing.
The boy smiled back shyly. ‘Yes.’
‘Well, pleased to meet you. I’m Lily.’
‘Remus, Remus Lupin,’ the boy replied.
‘Do you know much about Hogwarts, Remus?’
‘I’ve never been there, but my parents say it’s great.’ Remus went on to tell Lily everything his parents had told him about Hogwarts while Madam Malkin and her assistant silently made adjustments to Lily and Remus’ robes.
‘What sort of magic will we be learning?’ Lily asked, despite having made Severus tell her all he knew about the lessons they would be taking – more than once. Maybe Remus would know something Severus didn’t know or had forgotten. Although she had heard it before, when Remus began describing the different branches of magic they would be learning, Madam Malkin had to tell her to keep still as she was practically bouncing on the spot with excitement.
‘Wow, I don’t think I can wait another two weeks,’ Lily exclaimed. ‘It was quite a shock when I found out I was a witch, I wasn’t sure whether to believe it or not at first. But now... I’m just so excited!’
Remus grinned. ‘I didn’t quite believe it when I got my Hogwarts letter either.’ As soon as the words had left his mouth, and he’d seen Lily’s puzzled face, Remus regretted saying it. He’d been so caught up in the conversation about Hogwarts he’d forgotten himself.
‘Why? I thought your parents went to Hogwarts.’
Remus felt himself redden. ‘Um… they did. It’s just that… we thought I may not have any magical ability.’
‘Oh,’ Lily replied, interpreting Remus’ stuttering as embarrassment. ‘I bet you were really pleased when the letter came then.’
‘Yeah, I was.’ Remus was glad that at least this was true. He hated lying and he suddenly got the feeling he’d have to tell quite a few once he got to Hogwarts.
Lily didn’t seem to think any more on Remus’ comment or notice that Remus had become much quieter and less talkative all of a sudden, but Remus was still relieved when Madam Malkin finished her adjustments a few moments later.
‘All finished, take them off and I’ll get them wrapped up for you, dears.’
After taking off the robes and handing them to Madam Malkin, Lily and Remus stepped off the stools and joined their parents at the counter near the front of the shop.
‘Well, it was really nice to meet you, Remus. See you at Hogwarts.’ Lily said when her new, neatly folded and wrapped robes were in her hands.
‘Yeah, see you at Hogwarts,’ Remus replied, smiling despite his dampened mood.
Lily left the shop feeling, if possible, even more ecstatic than when she'd left the wand shop, while Remus left subdued and deep in thought.
Later that evening as he sat down at the kitchen table with his parents, a mug of hot chocolate cupped in his hands, Remus finally voiced the thoughts that had been plaguing him since his conversation with Lily.
‘What if… what if someone finds out about me?’ Remus asked quietly, staring into his mug.
‘Sweetheart,’ Mrs Lupin started, her voice full of concern, ‘don’t worry yourself with thoughts like that.’
‘I nearly slipped up talking to that girl in Madam Malkin’s. If anyone finds out about me I’ll have to leave Hogwarts.’
‘Nearly, Remus, you nearly slipped up! As long as you are careful and responsible there is no reason for anyone to find out, or for you to leave Hogwarts,’ Mrs Lupin said in a firm but comforting voice.
Remus looked up at his mother, not finding her words soothing as he usually did. ‘But what if something happens, like it did before? I wasn’t very responsible then, what if it happens again?’
‘Remus, you know as well as I do that you would never put yourself in that situation again. That was three years ago, you were a child, you’ve grown up a lot since then. Don’t let your past experiences ruin your new ones.’
‘Your mother’s right, son,’ Mr Lupin said seriously. ‘You should concentrate on having fun and getting your education, not thinking about what could go wrong. The school years are the best, and you should enjoy them.’
He knew his parents were right, but Remus couldn’t help but think about the what-ifs, now that the negative thoughts had entered his head he found it hard to shift them. He’d had fun today, for one whole day he had felt like a normal eleven year old boy, but now the reality had sunk in. He wasn’t a normal boy, he never would be.
AN: I apologise for the length of time it has taken to update, this chapter has been written, re-written and completely changed twice, and I'm still not entirely happy with it. Any feed back would be gratefully received :-)
Also, thanks to PhoenixStorm for her helpful advice and opinions!
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