Chapter 5 : Diagon Alley
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“Hermione, dear, won’t you please come have breakfast. We aren’t leaving for forty-five minutes!” Mrs Granger called from the kitchen where she was having her usual oatmeal.
Hermione sighed and trudged down the hall to the kitchen and flopped into a chair. Her father set a plate of eggs and bacon in front of her. As she tucked in to the breakfast (which was more of a shovel then a tuck) she began to wonder about some of the things she had seen in Modern Magical History. She was curious about people it mentioned, like the headmaster of Hogwarts, a interesting sounding game called Quidditch, and some awful sounding disease called dragon pox. Another curious thing had been about a boy who had lived through a killing curse. Hermione didn’t know much about curses but thought it might be rather extraordinary for someone to live through one – perhaps like surviving a gunshot wound.
Either way, Hermione just wanted to jump right in. Was there any faster way to get to London than the hour and a half drive she had to endure of her parents crooning to the Beatles and imported Beach Boys music? If she didn’t die on the way there Hermione was sure she could make it through Hogwarts.
As the kitchen clock called out eight thirty, Hermione jumped from her chair and headed for the door. “We’re right behind you, dear,” her father called. Hermione rushed down the front stairs, waved to Mrs Fitzherbert and threw herself in the backseat of the car.
“Here I come,” she whispered.
After listening to too many “yeah yeah yeahs” over the radio, Hermione finally arrived in northwest London on Charring Cross Road. She had her face nearly plastered to the window to keep an eye out for the pub called The Leaky Cauldron. Her father drove down the road slowly, bearing the off hand honk from another frustrated driver or two. At last Hermione shouted, “There it is!” Indeed, a tiny and grubby-looking pub sat sandwhiched between a book shop and a record store. Mr Granger found a place to park and the family piled out onto the sidewalk.
Mrs Granger seemed skeptical for a moment. “Dear are you sure this is the place we are supposed to go? It looks just about ready to fall in on itself!” she drew a bottle of hand sanitizer out of her purse and squeezed some into her hands as if that might keep the building upright.
“Yes, Mum. Mrs Betwixt said to go on in and ask for Tom – that she would send an owl ahead of us and let him know I was coming,” Hermione took the lead and marched her parents up to the front door.
“An owl?” Mrs Granger asked Mr Granger in confusion. He shrugged in reply.
Hermione pulled open the pub door and strode inside. The pub was dark and shabby, but Hermione felt that it was welcoming enough. A few faces turned to look at her but no one seem too interested in a young girl and two Muggles. She stopped, took a deep breath, and made a beeline for the bar. An old maid was serving pints of golden liquid to a few men as Hermione piped up with an assertive, “Excuse me!”
The old bar maid, who had a large wart on her chin but a kind smile, said, “What can I help you with dearie?”
“My name is Hermione Granger and I’m looking for Tom,” she said confidently.
“TOM!” shouted the bar maid and she walked away to collect some abandoned tankards.
“Ah, whatchuwant, Penny?” a grizzly voice called back.
“Some girl wants to talk to you!” Penny shouted.
From the back of the pub, a thin older man made his way up to the bar where Hermione was standing. “Ah, yes, Daisy told me you’d be stopping’ in,” Tom smiled at Hermione and she noted that he had no teeth. “Come with me, the lot of ya,” he let them through to the small courtyard behind the pub where there was nothing but a spit of grass and a brick wall.
“Now, watch carefully so you can do this on your own next time,” Tom said and drew his wand. Hermione watched as he carefully tapped the bricks in the wall, three up and then two across. The moment he had lifted his wand from the last brick, the wall seemed to melt away as if someone had thrown a bucket of water on a painting. Tom stepped back to allow them to pass through the archway that lead into a busy street.
Hermione felt her face break into a wide grin. “So this is Diagon Alley?” she walked through the gate as her parents followed after her giving one another quizzical looks. When she looked back to that Tom, the wall was whole again.
Hermione pulled her school supply list and the note from Mrs Betwixt from her pocket. “So we should probably head to the bank first, that’s what was suggested,” Hermione explained to her parents. They set off in the direction of the largest building on the cobbled street - Gringotts Wizarding Bank. As they approached the door the enormous size of the building was apparent and its white marble façade dared anyone brave enough to rob it to come in and have a go.
“Hermione, dear, you and your mother should wait outside… I’ll take care of this,” Mr Granger said and strode inside the bank.
After Mr Granger had been inside for about ten minutes, Hermione could see her mother was getting fidgety. “Mum I’m sure he’s fine… Dad’s a dentist after all he can handle it,” she smiled reassuringly at her mother. Ten more minutes later Mr Granger did emerge from the bank with a rather satisfied look on his face.
“Well, that’s all taken care of then,” Mr Granger said, “this is the key to your vault at the bank and it should not have enough money in it to last you the year.” He handed Hermione a velvet bag, “And this is plenty of money to help you get all your supplies.” Hermione hugged her father. It was nice to have parents who supported you.
As they were leaving Gringotts, a very large man in a furry coat with a boy about her age with very unruly hair entered the bank. “I suppose I’ll have you get used to things like that,” Hermione mused to herself.
She pulled out her school shopping list as they began passing shops advertising everything from broomsticks to bedknobs.
Hermione poured over the list of uniform items, required odds and ends, and book titles. She was curious about the dragon hide gloves and the Monster Book of Monsters.
“Well where should be start, Hermione?” Mrs Granger asked.
Hermione looked around at the names of the shops nearby: Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream, Flourish and Blott’s, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. “I suppose we should start at the top with my uniform,” Hermione waved her parents in the direction of the robe shop.
When Hermione entered the shop it was full of people around her age. A squat, smiling woman woman buried under piles of black robes appeared beside Hermione and asked what she could do for her. “I need robes for school,” Hermione replied. Before she knew it, the tiny woman had her up on a platform and a tape measure was whizzing around her on its own accord while the witch in mauve pinned her up. I really DO need to get used to this, Hermione thought and laughed.
After about half an hour, Hermione and her parents left the shop with all of the uniform items they needed. The tiny witch who had helped them before, Madam Malkin herself, even embroidered Hermione’s name into her robes. Mr Granger held the door for his ladened wife and daughter. As Hermione was just stepping out of the shop a pale boy with a pointed face pushed past her, nearly knocking everything from her hands. “Excuse me!” Hermione scoffed.
“You’re excused,” the blonde boy said cooly without passing a glance over her.
Hermione made a mental note not to get mixed up with that boy.
As Hermione shopped through Diagon Alley, she picked up parchment, quills, and ink that self corrected spelling errors. At the bookshop nearby Hermione had picked up all of the required books as well as a copy of Hogwarts a History. She tipped her books into the cauldron her mother and father had picked up while she was browsing the bookstore. Taking a peak at her list again, Hermione concluded that she had everything on her list except a wand. She figured that might be important.
Past Gringots, Hermione spotted the shop sign for Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC. When she had gotten close, Hermione overheard the conversation of a plump red-headed woman and a freckled boy, “I know you wanted a new wand but dear we simply can’t afford it.” Hermione passed them and entered the shop where two people were already inside. One was a very round boy who seemed to be rather clumsy as he waved a wand frantically – making an inkwell explode on a desk. The other appeared to be his grandmother; she was continually squawking at him with a disappointed look on her face.
The man who appeared to be helping was fifteen feet off the ground on a ladder that stood the entire height of the walls which were stuffed with small boxes. “Why don’t we try this one Mr. Longbottom, 12 inches, beech, unicorn hair,” the man handed a wand to the round boy who waved it slowly – the only thing that was disturbed was a piece of parchment that did a backflip. The man on the ladder sighed, “I think we’ve finally found it.” The old woman paid and the pair left the shop, the boy still being scolded.
Hermione turned back to the front of the shop and jumped. The man was standing directly in front of her, his wide, pale eyes had shocked her at first. “Hello, I’m…”
“Looking for a wand my dear precisely why you’ve come to see me follow me this way – don’t step in that,” the old man said before flicking his wand to make the puddle of ink and glass disappear. “I’m Ollivander of course you see so I know you must be here for a – 8 and a half inches, rose wood, phoenix feather,” Ollivander handed Hermione a wand with a subtle pink shade to the wood and delicate carvings in the handle. She gave it a small wave like she had seen when she was at the library. It blew red sparks and a dozen boxes flew off the shelves. “Ah, not it then… try this,” Ollivander drew a box with a very yellowed label on it from the shelf and withdrew a longer wand, “10 and three quarters inches, vine wood, with a dragon heartstring core.” Taking it from Ollivander, Hermione rolled it between her fingers and could have sworn that it felt warm. With her right hand, she swished it gently and produced a stream of purple sparks which she used to write her name in the air.
Ollivander climbed down the ladder. “Very impressive Ms Granger. You will do great things with it I have no doubt,” he smiled gently at her. Hermione thanked him and left the stop with her parents.
“Sweetheart, is there anything else on the list?” Mr Granger asked.
Hermione reviewed it, checking each item off with a new quill. “It looks like I have all of the required items,” she said and folded up the parchment, stuffing it into her pocket.
“Ugh, finally,” Mr Granger growned and slumped against the side of a nearby shop.
As soon as Hermione arrive back home, she laid her books out on the ground and began her studying.
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