Chapter 1 : The Slytherin's Secret
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“It could be worse.”
“Oh really, how?”
“Fred and George’s shop could’ve closed down too!”
“They just opened Hermione.”
Hermione Granger was standing with her two best friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasly, at the entrance to Diagon Alley, looking out at the depressing image of about thirty shops all closed down, as if they were hiding from Voldemort’s return. Sixth year was going to be difficult, but hopefully not as bad as fifth year, Hogwarts then was beyond a nightmare.
The trio began to walk slowly down the pebbled road. Fred and George’s bright and exuberant shop was looking very out of place, what with everything else swimming in despair. The joke shop was painted with happy colours, and had large windows with every pranker’s dream on display; however, walking in was an entirely new concept. If the ‘You-No-Poo’ sign at the front of the shop made Hermione smile, this made her spirits fly to the heavens and circle the clouds. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes was the most extraordinary place Hermione had ever seen. It was every child’s dream, from the way it was set up, to the people who owned it. Looking around, Hermione couldn’t see Fred or George, so she decided to amuse herself by wandering around the shop. Harry and Ron had gone to look at the nose bleed nougats on the skiving snack box shelf.
Squeezing through a tough crowd, Hermione found a display of something called ‘Patented Daydream charms.’ “Wow.” She breathed. “That’s amazing; of course, no-one should be daydreaming in class-”
“Oh come off it Hermione, it’s just a joke, the whole shop is full of them!” said Ron, who had just walked over and was looking around eagerly.
“I think you’ll find, this shop, is very serious, younger brother.” George came striding out of no where, Fred close behind him.
“Indeed, the noble art of pranking is a very serious business.” stated Fred. But the two dropped their pompous manner and grinned widely.
“Well,” began George, looking around the shop proudly. “What do you think?”
“Wicked!” beamed Ron standing beside his older brother. Fred turned to Hermione. “Where’s Harry, Hermione?”
“Oh, he was looking at the skiving snack boxes last time I checked.” Hermione spun around, scanning the room for her best friend. However, Harry stood facing her, grinning widely.
“Present.” He said, raising his hand as though answering a teacher doing the roll call.
George and Fred walked over. “Hello Harry.” They said together, holding out their hands to shake Harry’s. Ron looked a little annoyed at his brothers taking more interest in Harry than himself. But Hermione smiled and stood beside Ron, make him smile appreciatively.
“C’mon Harry,” he said. “Let’s go find Ginny.”
The trio waved goodbye to Fred and George and made their way through the crowded shop.
They finally found Ginny gazing hopefully at a shelf full of little fuzzy things in different colours. Reading the label, the little balls of fluff were called ‘Pygmy Puffs.’
“Aren’t they sweet?” Squealed Ginny.
“Yeah.” said Harry, and walked over to observe the balls of fluff that had captured Ginny’s attention.
“Oh God!” cried Hermione, slapping a hand to her forehead. “I have to get my new Arithmancy book from Flourish and Blotts!”
“Why do you take that subject Hermione, it looks like a load of Hippogriff droppings.”
“Oh no it’s fabulous! Anyway, tell Mrs Weasly where I’m going, I’ll be back in about fifteen minutes.” And with a wave, Hermione departed from the joke shop.
According to her booklist, Hermione needed to purchase ‘The Official guide to Arithmancy Level four.’ She raised her head from the sheet of paper to see a boy with white blond hair disappearing around a corner and out of sight.
Hermione stopped in her tracks. She could recognise Draco Malfoy’s carefully groomed hair anywhere. She knew that that passage led to Knockturn alley, not exactly a place where pleasant people go. On one hand, she could follow Malfoy and find out what he was up to; after all, he was a prefect and shouldn’t be setting that sort of example for the first years. On the other hand, she could go get her book and be back at Weasly Wizard Wheezes like she’d promised. “I suppose they wouldn’t mind if I was gone another five minutes or so. Ron seems more than a little absorbed in that place.” Hermione thought to herself, and crept after Malfoy.
Hermione followed him down the dark, narrow, bricked passageway until she arrived at an opening in which sat Knockturn alley. The entire paved road consisted of no-one but Malfoy, herself, the many shops filled to breaking point with dark objects and the shadows that sneered at her, as though they too were on Voldemort’s side. Hermione hid in the laughing shadows, as Malfoy quickly turned into Borgin and Burkes. Hermione snuck forward so as to peek into the shop window. Malfoy was speaking to a scruffy looking old man Hermione suspected to be Borgin, the man Harry had described to her after having a rather close encounter with him in second year. Hermione desperately dug in her pockets for the set of extendable ears Harry had given her back at the Burrow in case she needed some. She fed one end under the shop door, and the other end in her own ear, as Malfoy’s malicious and deceitful voice spilled out from it:
“-to fix it. You can owl me at school regularly; but choose your words carefully, in case the post is being intercepted.”
“I’m not sure about this Mr Malfoy.” Borgin wheezed nervously. “You’re not sure?” Malfoy questioned dangerously, a smirk on his face. “Well what would it take to persuade you? Gold? A visit from a friend of mine, Fenrir Greyback?” Borgin gulped. “Or, perhaps… this.” And Malfoy drew back his sleave on his left arm, to reveal a black skull entwined with a long snake branded upon his arm. The Dark Mark. Hermione yanked the end of the extendable ears out of her ear and clutched it against her heart. Her breathing was heavy as she gulped back a scream. Draco Malfoy was a death eater; she’d just witnessed proof with her own eyes.