Chapter 9 : Chapter IX - Soul Selling
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This part of the cobblestone path was not as clean, friendly, chatting, bright or busy as Diagon Alley. It was like a complete opposite; people were in a hurry to get things done and rushed from shop door to shop door. The shops themselves had no tinkling welcome bell and looked dark and mysterious. Merope took a closer look, letting lonely curiousity snag her, at one of the closer shops.
"Borgin and Burkes," the sign read. "Your Source For Buying And Selling."
Buying and Selling, eh?
Merope's small hand reached out tentively to grasp the shop door's handle, the cold metal reaching her fingertips and sending a chill up her spine; as if on cue, a slight breeze swept through the alley and she wrenched the door open, more to get out of the cold chill than curiousity now. Once the door settled back into it's place behind her, she allowed herself to look around. Many strange, and powerful (she reconed just by the look of most of them) items were strewn about counter tops, delicately placed on higher shelves so children, if they even dared to enter, could not reach them. A strange hand on a plaque sat off to her right, and just in front of her, sitting on the dusty floor, was a hound-dog, with floppy ears and a black, cold gaze.
Gulping, the young witch approached the counter and her hand was half way down on the bell that sat on top, before a man, looking eager as ever to have a customer, appeared graciously from a back room. "How may I be of ser - why, you look far too...young to be in here!" The man gaped. Merope kept her gaze firmly ahead, showing no signs that she was young other than her looks. She placed a hand on her growing tummy, patting it and shaking her head. The shopkeeper's gaze was intense, staring at her, taking in her appearance.
Before his eyes aquired a greedy look within them and settled upon the hollow of her neck, widening with pleasure and a bony finger reached out, shaking and pointing. "Wassat you've got, m'pretty gal?" His voice echoed throughout the shop happily, a tone he had probably not used in a far far long time.
Criss-crossed eyes glanced down at her neck, the Slytherin emblem proudly boasting on the tarnished silver. Those eyes went alight with a new found glory. But could she dare part with a family heirloom? Merope looked around. There wasn't anyone in sight that would stop her, and there was no chance of living unless she got rid of this amulet, this piece of ancient history. Sighing, Merope tugged at the silver chain and approached the man at the counter, extreme sadness on her face. "I-It's a f-family h-heirloom. . . " She explained slowly, her voice shaking with uncertainty. Thoughts wheezed through her head. How much could she get for this?
The man's elderly and wizened hand snatched the serpent crested locket from her hands, running the chain through his fingers and brushing the pad of his calloused thumb over the enscriptment. His whiskery brows furrowed as he examined the locket and Merope shifted her weight from foot to foot anxiously. "You sure you didn't snitch this from summun'?"
Merope's eyes narrowed. How dare he accuse her of stealing something? She had had that around her throat since before she could even remember her mother! Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. "No. I didn't steal it from anyone! That locket has been in my family's possession for a long time. All I ask is a price, please." Instead of her crosseyed eyes staying narrowed, they widened in a pleading gesture.
The counter man sighed. What could be of possible value in his hands? He turned the locket over and over in his hands, trying to brush off the tarnished parts of the silver, but nothing would give way. The only thing that could give him a clue, was the serpentine 'S' on the front. He blinked and peered closer, his reflection showing barely in the metal. That 'S' was faintly familiar. Where did it come from? A minute or two of thinking, and soon the old man had an answer in his head. This locket was a direct discendant from Salazar Slytherin himself!
A sharp intake of breath had him gasping in awestruck wonder. How did a petty peasant such as this mere teenager come across this? Even if it was a family heirloom?! It was near impossible. "How much do you want for it, m'girl? You've got an awfully expensive and rare, one of a kind item here? Would you sell your soul for it?"
Merope shook her head. She didn't want something big. It would go to her head and she didn't need much to live off of. She could survive, couldn't she? "I don't need much. I don't want too much for it, I insist." The shopkeeper's eyes widened.
"Not much, m'lady? You gotta understand this is one vauable piece - " He saw the look on Merope's face and ceased his arguing, beginning to start at an offering point. "What about 300 galleons?" Shake. Eyes widened. "250? 200?" Shake shake. Sigh. "100?" Soon, the price was lowered to a mere ten galleons. Baffled, the shopkeeper let her go happily, bemused that she had taken such a low price.
The young teenager held the ten coins in her hands, the gold reflecting off of the slight sunshine that was beginning to work it's way through the clouds. How could she live off of a meager ten galleons. The money in her vault was gone, and there was no use to put the galleons in there for safekeeping, they'd collect dust and gather up space, and then she'd eventually have to pay to keep the money in there for a long amount of time. Then - it'd be gone. Hopelessly, carelessly gone.
She stuffed the coins in her pockets and continued down the streets.
Had she done the right thing?
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by Phoenix Quill