Chapter 2 : Down Diagon Alley
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Ginny was rushing around, checking whether they had enough money or if they would need to pay a visit to Gringotts, consulting the list of what Rose needed, searching the house to see if there was anything else the family needed, as they were going shopping, before finally taking down the floo powder.
Harry sat in his usual armchair, reading the Daily Prophet and tutting over some issue that he didn't think had been reported accurately. He seemed to take no notice of the fact that his wife and children were evidently ready to leave.
"Aren't you coming with us, Dad?" Rose asked, realising that neither her mother nor James seemed impatient at his lack of activity.
Harry lowered the paper and shook his head.
"I think it's best if I don't. We were besieged by reporters there, just before James started at Hogwarts. If I'm not around, I think they should leave you alone."
"But Dad, I want a chance to talk to the reporters," Rose whined, all concerns about it not being a good time to annoy her mother, forgotten. "It's not fair! Nobody ever takes any notice of me, just 'cause I'm the youngest. The entire world was excited about James starting Hogwarts, but you don't even want them to know about me."
Harry chuckled. "Oh, they'll know about you all right. You don't have to worry about that, my dear. For some reason, anything this family does appears to be news. They've made me promise them an interview here, next week, just before term starts. I'm sure they'll want to talk to you then. But today, there is a lot to be done, and I'm sure your mother could do without reporters bothering her the whole time."
"I certainly could," Ginny replied. "It's not that I'm not proud of you, dear. I love seeing your name in the paper and I can't help taking pride in the fact that it's my husband who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named all these years ago. But there is a time and a place for everything, and today is certainly not a good time for interruptions of any kind. Now, we're late enough as it is. James, why don't you go first, dear."
She handed him the powder, and James stepped into the fire.
"Diagon Alley," he called.
Rose followed, with Ginny arriving seconds later.
"I wonder if Diana is here yet, or Steve and his family. We agreed to meet up at the Leaky Cauldron, remember? Come on, Mum."
"I do hope nobody's late," Ginny fussed. "Maybe we shouldn't have arranged to meet with so many people. It's bound to mean some delay."
She was in luck, however. The Weasleys and Remus and Diana Lupin were waiting outside the Leaky Cauldron, when the Potters got there and the Matthews arrived only a few moments later.
"I hope we're not late," Mrs. Matthews apologised. "I always find getting here a little confusing, and then there was a delay on the Tube."
"Pity Granddad's not here," James said. "He'd love to here about your journey.
"More of a good thing, I would have thought," Ginny commented, but she was smiling as she said it. "Honestly, my dad would have you driven mad with his interest in Muggles. I don't know how my husband puts up with him sometimes. He spent half our wedding reception asking Harry if it was different from Muggle wedding customs."
"Your husband is, um Muggleborn?" Mrs. Matthews asked. "Like Alice?"
"Well, not exactly. It's complicated, but anyway, he was raised by Muggles. Dad finds it fascinating. But, anyway, we'd better get on. We have a lot to do, and I'm sure you do too."
The four families headed to Gringotts.
"Better to be sure than sorry," Ginny mused. "I think we've enough with us, but all the same. Wands don't come cheap, after all."
Mr. Matthews handed Ginny a couple of coins that were left over after he had changed some money into wizarding currency.
"Perhaps your dad would like these," he said. "Souvenirs of the Muggle world!"
"Oh, he'd be delighted. They're not worth much, though, are they? I wouldn't want you wasting money on his hobbies."
Once Mr. Matthews had assured Ginny that the coins were worth very little, the families left Gringotts and made their plans for the day. The older kids were allowed to go off by themselves.
"Just make sure you actually get what you need," Hermione warned them. "Don't spend the entire afternoon hanging around Weasley Wizarding Wheezes or the sweetshops."
"We won't," James, Michael and Alice promised.
"We'll get our books first," Michael told his mother. "Then we'll go and enjoy ourselves."
Harriet didn't want to go with the others. She wanted to look around Flourish and Blotts properly, she said, and there wasn't much chance of getting Michael and James to spend much time there. They would be out the door as soon as they'd their books paid for.
"Would you mind your mother coming with you?" Hermione asked, with a smile. "I want to get you a reward, anyway. Did I mention that Harriet's been made a prefect."
"Michael told me in his last owl," James replied. "I forgot to say congratulations though. I would have owled you, Harriet, but I knew I'd see you today anyway, so there wasn't really any point."
"Yes, congratulations Harriet," Ginny said and Remus also added his congratulations.
"From what I've heard, you are just like your mother," he continued. "She was a model student too. Don't think I've forgotten that year I taught you, Hermione."
Remus and Ginny decided that they would do their shopping for their daughters together.
"I don't think Diana and Rose would be too happy if we split them up," Remus smiled.
Steve, Selina and Tommy all wanted to go along with them, and Remus and Ginny were happy to take them.
"Are you sure?" Mrs. Matthews asked. "We can take Selina and Tommy to the sweetshops and toyshops if you think they'd be a nuisance. They'll be quite happy."
"Not at all," Ginny replied. "We'd be delighted to have them along, wouldn't we Remus?"
Remus nodded and Ron invited Mr. and Mrs. Matthews to come for a drink with him, while the others shopped.
"I'm sure you've never tasted Butterbeer, and I think you'd really enjoy it. Besides, as Ginny said, Dad would have a fit if he knew we'd met Muggles and that neither of us had had time for a proper chat with them."
So Rose, Diana, Steve, Selina and Tommy set off with Ginny and Remus to get Rose and Diana's school stuff.
Madame Malkin's was the first stop and Steve, Selina and Tommy waited impatiently, as Rose and Diana were measured and tried on robes. Neither girl was too excited about getting their robes, but there were other, more exciting things to get.
Ollivander's was far more interesting, and neither Rose nor Diana could wait to try out each wand and see what reaction they could get. Firstly, however, they had to listen as Mr. Ollivander gave the history of wands in each of their families.
"I remember every wand I ever sold," he told them, before telling them exactly what type Harry, Ginny, Remus and Tonks had bought before they started Hogwarts. He then turned to Steve.
"And of course, your father needed a new wand only a couple of years after he started Hogwarts," he chuckled. "Quite an interesting story behind that, there was. I believe your father was involved too, young lady."
He pointed at Rose.
"What happened?" she asked, finally intrigued by something the man was saying.
"Oh, I don't remember it all now. That's what happens when you get older. I don't have quite as good a memory for event as I do for the wands I've sold, but as far as I can remember the two young scallywags missed the Hogwarts Express and they decided to get to Hogwarts themselves. Stole a Muggle car or something. Oh, it caused quite a stir at the time, I believe."
"It didn't happen quite like that," Ginny interrupted. "And in case any of you were thinking of doing anything silly like that yourselves, I ought to tell you that they were almost expelled. I was only a first year myself at the time and I was really upset. Everybody kept saying they were going to be expelled. Or even that they had been expelled. Anyway, maybe we ought to take a look at the wands."
Rose went first and to her disappointment only got to try four wands before finding a perfect match. 8 inches, yew and phoenix feather.
"Ah, a phoenix feather. Your Dad's wand was made with phoenix feather too," Ollivander began.
"Can I try now?" Diana asked impatiently.
It took her a little longer to find the right want and she swished a number back and forth with gusto before getting any reaction.
"Can I have a go?" Tommy asked, when she had finally found the one that suited her.
"I'm afraid not," Remus explained. "You're too young. Boys your age aren't allowed to use wands. You wouldn't get any reaction out of one anyway. Don't worry. We'll find you something nice before you go home this evening."
Selina and Tommy's parents had given them each a few Sickles to spend in Diagon Alley, with the warning that they weren't to spend them on anything that would be too noticeable in the Muggle world. Something like sweets would be ok.
"Don't worry. We'll keep an eye on their purchases," Ginny had promised.
"I wish I was starting Hogwarts next week with you guys," Steve commented sadly. "It's boring at home on my own."
"At least you get to go next year," Selina retorted. "I never will. Tommy might be going in a couple of years. He seems to be able to make strange things happen too, just like Alice. But I never have. I'm just all-Muggle, I guess."
"There's nothing wrong with that," Ginny reassured the girl.
"Yeah, I know, but, well, I'll be going to the local Comp. in a year's time. It's a good school and all; it's supposed to be anyway, but it's not quite as exciting as Hogwarts seems to be."
This impression was strengthened when they got to Flourish and Blotts and Selina got a glimpse of the schoolbooks used at Hogwarts. Of course, she had seen her sister's books before, but now she could see the entire range of books available, some for school and some for personal interests. The books had pictures that moved on their covers weird titles. There was even a cage, full of books called The Monster Book of Monsters. One look showed exactly why they were kept in a cage. They were fighting and tearing one another, and when she looked at them, Rose realised they had teeth.
"Oh, that's the book Michael has to get for Care of Magical Creatures," Steve commented.
"I didn't think they'd ever stock them again," Remus chuckled. "Hagrid couldn't get them stocked here his second year teaching. But, I guess that must have been about thirty years ago now."
"Yes, it must have been," Ginny agreed. "Hagrid started teaching in my 2nd year, just after......" Her voice trailed away.
"Anyway," she changed the subject quickly. "Show me your booklist there, Rose. Thank Merlin, you don't need one of those."
Hermione and Harriet were still looking around the bookshop, and the five children went to join them, while the adults were buying their books. Selina and Tommy started flicking through some of the books on display, while Rose and Diana asked about Hogwarts.
"Ok, time to go," Ginny called. "We've still got to get your cauldrons and stuff. And Remus said Diana needs an owl."
"Why can't I have an owl, Mum?"
"Because you are only allowed to bring one animal to Hogwarts, and you wouldn't want to leave Midnight behind, now, would you?"
"I guess not," Rose admitted. "I love her, even if she doesn't carry my mail for me."
"You can always use mine," Diana offered generously.
"Please," Tommy put in quietly. "Can I just buy this? I won't take long."
He held up a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages.
"Go on," Ginny smiled.
Once the books, robes and wands were bought, it didn't take long to get the rest of their supplies, although Diana dawdled quite a while in the pet shop, before finally choosing a large tawny owl.
"I'm going to call him Fortuna. Dad says that some Muggles think it's lucky to see an owl."
Once she had admired him properly, Rose turned to her mother.
"Do we have time to go to Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes?" she pleaded.
"Oh, yes, please, can we?" Steve asked, and Selina and Diana joined in.
Ginny and Remus exchanged looks. Remus took a watch from his pocket and gave her a quick nod.
"All right," she said.
The five children cheered and raced down the street.
George was standing at the counter as they entered the shop.
"Where's Fred?" Rose asked.
"He's at our Hogsmeade branch this week," George replied.
"I knew that," Steve announced. "Dad took us in there the other day."
"Yes, well, somebody had to be there. As soon as Hogwarts starts back, there'll be owl orders every second day. And we're always rushed off our feet the Hogsmeade's weekends. Now, I'm sure you children will want to see all of our stock."
Of course they did, so George left his young assistant minding the till, as he showed them what was available.
"Our new disappearing drinks. Pour them into a glass and it will look completely full, but as soon as anybody tries to drink it..." He shrugged. "Nothing there."
They rummaged through fake wands.
"One of our first ever creations these were," George explained. "Apart from these Skiving Snackboxes of course."
Selina examined the Skiving Snackboxes carefully.
"How cool are those?" she asked excitedly. "My teachers would never suspect a thing, if I suddenly became ill in class. They're very expensive though. I don't know if I have enough."
"What are those?" Rose asked, pointing at something that looked like spools of thread.
"Ah, our Tightly Tying Thread," George replied. "One of our more recent creations. All you have to do is throw them at somebody, and they immediately begin to tie the person up. Handy if somebody aggravating is hanging around. Or if you want to ensure a teacher doesn't turn up for class."
"But it's only thread," Steve protested. "Surely, they'd be able to free themselves quite easily."
"Hold out your hands. Both of them."
George dropped the thread into Steve's open hands and it started tying his wrists together.
"Now, can you get that off."
Steve tried to pull his hands apart, then tried to wriggle a hand out of it, then pulled at it again. Nothing seemed to work.
Laughing, George tapped it with his wand. "Open sesame," he said, and the thread fell off.
"See, not as easy as you'd think. That's how you free the person. You say 'open sesame' and tap your wand against it. Fred was going out with a Muggle girl there some time ago and she told him that that was a term that Muggles think is magic, so we thought it'd be amusing to use it for some of ours. She didn't know Fred could do real magic, of course. He found it quite useful that she didn't. Witches know all the tricks."
Rose took a few spools of thread in her hands, before turning to look at some of the other items that George had to show them.
"You've seen our Shield Hats and Shield Cloaks before, of course. Oh, here's something you girls might be interested in: Unnoticeable notes." He pointed to small piles of note paper. "You write the name of the person the note is to at the top. It's important that you don't forget that. Then if anybody else tries to pick it up or read it, the page dissolves into nothing. Handy for passing notes in class."
Rose, Diana and Selina each took a stack.
"I have to have this," Selina declared. "The teacher'd hardly believe it was magic, would she? She'd just think she dropped it or something. All the same, will you distract your mum and your dad, while I buy it?"
Steve and Tommy went to talk to them, while the others made their purchases. Rose got some Tightly Tying Tread, a fake wand and some Unnoticeable Notes, Diana bought the Unnoticeable Notes and a Spell-Checking Quill. She generally did very well in school, but spelling was her weak point. Selina got the Unnoticeable Notes.
Then the girls went to distract the adults, showing them the items such as the fake wand, which they were willing to admit to buying, while Steve bought some items with which to fool his parents.
"Ok, if you are all quite finished," Ginny said. "I think we have just about enough time to meet everybody for a drink in the Leaky Cauldron before we head for home.
Despite how much the children had enjoyed their day, it had been a hectic one, and they were all glad of a chance to sit down and have a glass of Butterbeer. The adults gossiped, and Tommy showed his parents the book he had bought, while Rose and Diana questioned the older boys and girls about Hogwarts and the houses they were likely to be in.
It seemed as though they had only sat down for a moment, when Mr. Matthews looked at his watch and stood up.
"We'd better go, if we want to make our bus," he reminded his wife and children.
They got up and headed for the Muggle side of the street.
"It's time we were going too," Ginny said, getting up and taking out the Floo powder.
Reluctantly, the younger people said goodbye, and headed home.
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