Chapter 5 : Of School Things and a New World
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I continued to look around at all the shops with growing excitement. There were so many things to know, to discover. Professor McGonagall pulled me from my musings by gently directing me towards a shop, the sign out front said Madame Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. The shop was empty except for a bustling woman whom I took to be the shopkeeper.
When she heard a small bell ding she rushed forward asking, "Here for your first-year robes are you dear?"
To which I simply nodded, as I wasn't to keen on everyone knowing I was American, no need to stand out more than necessary. Because contrary to the belief of some of my former classmates I really didn't like to stand out, I just liked being my weird, slightly abnormal self. After I had my robes we went to a shop selling quills and parchment. I looked curiously around the shop.
Seeing my obvious confusion McGonagall said, "In the wizarding world we use quills and parchment instead of pens and paper."
To which I simply replied, "Oh."
But my now frequent smile returned when McGonagall told me that I could get colored ink, I had always used colored ink in school. So I got plenty of parchment, a few quills, and both regular blue and bright purple ink. At the next shop I got a cauldron, phials, and potion ingredients. I was very excited about the potions lessons I would have at Hogwarts, as it seemed rather similar to chemistry and I loved chemistry. Next we stopped to get a telescope and a set of brass scales. It had been a good three hours since we had begun so Professor McGonagall had us stop at a small cafe, or something as I wasn't quite sure what one would call it in England let alone in the magical world. We had some ice cream as it was rather warm and a cool drink. I looked at her slightly confused when she ordered me what was called a butter beer, but as she seemed to be very patient McGonagall easily explained that it was a popular drink among my age group. Tentively I took a sip, and its new and unique flavor found it fit to please me.
As we sat she asked, "So would you perhaps like to get a pet?"
I nodded enthusiastically saying, " Most definitely, I absolutely love animals." I was so happy at the prospect of getting a pet that I didn't even notice the whispers that sprung up around us about my 'strange' and 'odd' American accent.
Seeing my excitement she added, "Well then would you perhaps like a cat?"
Easily seeing her preference to the animal in question I quickly held back my nearly automatic response of disgust. I did not like cats. But easily finding a more civil response I answered, " No, actually I'm not to fond of cats. Do you think it would be alright if I got an owl?"
Thankfully still smiling seemingly liking my diplomatic answer she said, "I think that would be alright," I smiled hugely as she continued, "I'm just a bit surprised most children from the muggle world prefer a pet that they are familiar with."
To which I automatically responded, "I'm full of surprises."
McGonagall smiled slightly and said, "Off we go now, we have a few more stops on our list."
We had soon gotten me a school trunk, it was a light blue-purple color and at one end my initials 'AEM' were painted in silver. I found it simply fascinating how Professor McGonagall shrunk everything we purchased with a flick of her wand and then tucked them into a small bag. Our next stop was Eyelop's Owl Emporium. When we walked in, I heard the gentle ruffle of feathers all around me. With my future Professor's blessing I began to look around. Almost immediately I spotted a beautiful owl up high in the rafters, nearly out of sight. Instinctively I raised my arm and with a quick movement the deep brown owl was resting gently on my outstretched arm. As I looked closer I saw black and silver mixed in with the earthy hue. I smiled as the owl affectionately nibbled the hand I had raised to stroke his head. As the shopkeeper turned around and saw the owl that was sitting on my arm he attempted to shoo him away, but the owl stayed firmly put nipping at the owner's hands.
Looking exasperated her said, "Sweetheart you don't want that owl, he's mean and bites."
I quickly countered, with a flash of my temper showing in my eyes, "He seems quite sweet to me, I'm sure he's just misunderstood." I smiled as this owl nibbled at my fingers again and hooted, which sent me into a fit of giggles.
The shopkeeper asked me with a bit of confusion, "What's so funny?"
I replied with a slight blush, "Um, well...he says he just doesn't like you." The owner spluttering slightly as I quickly paid for the owl, and then left the shop with Professor McGonagall.
When we had stepped out of the shop, my new owl in a cage held steadily in my left hand, she asked me, "Why did you say the owl didn't like him?"
I replied, "Because Beau said he didn't like him."
She looked at me, a touch of confusion in her eyes, and said, "But who is...oh you've named your owl Beau..." to which I nodded still listening and she continued, "But what do you mean Beau said he's an owl?"
I said in a voice one would use explaining a difficult formula, "When Beau hooted that's what he said."
She smiled in sudden understanding and said, "I believe you may have a rare gift, we'll have to test it out when you arrive at school." I would have asked her more questions regarding this 'gift' she believed I had, but at that moment we entered another shop, Ollivander's Wands. As we entered the very old looking shop a small bell above the door chimed. I looked around with interest and saw hundreds of shelves with thousands of thin, rectangular boxes. I looked up at the sound of footsteps, to see a thin, but very kind looking old man stroll up behind the counter.
He smiled at me and said, "Here for your first wand are you? Hello Professor McGonagall." As I nodded happily and the professor expressed her own greeting he continued, "So what is your name dear?"
As a tape measure began to take every possible measurement of me, I replied, "Ashley McDonald."
"Oh! An American attending Hogwarts? You're sure to be something special."
As I blushed Mr. Ollivander began pulling a few boxes off the shelves and setting them on the counter. And as the tape measure snapped back together he handed me a wand. I gave it a swish as instructed, but nothing happened. This same pattern of wand, swish, nothing continued on. But strangely the more wands that didn't work the more excited Mr. Ollivander became. While he was becoming excited I was becoming anxious, what if I didn't find a wand? As I tried out yet another unsuccessful wand my worries raced through my mind. When I handed this wand back, something strange happened, a box from the back of the shop zoomed off the shelf and straight into Mr. Ollivander's waiting hands.
I saw a flash of surprise in his eyes but he said simply, "How very interesting why don't you give this wand a try."
As I reached out and took it a warmth spread from my fingertips into the rest of my body, and when I gave this wand a slight swish a soft golden glow filled the shop and my auburn curls moved as if in a gentle breeze.
Ollivander said, " I stand by my previous statement, you are sure to be something special. That wand is very old, it's been here since the time of my great-grandfather. Eleven and 1/4 inches, spiraled shaft, elder wood, phoenix feather core bonded with mermaid scale and phoenix tears, supple yet pliable. Very good with healing magic and defensive magic. Exceptionally powerful..." As I paid he went on to explain that elder wands were very stubborn and difficult to master, but then so was I, and how he had never thought he would sell a wand of elder, especially as a first wand. As he explained I asked him interested questions about the wandlore and he seemed surprised by my apparent knowledge of the properties of plants and wood. But we were burning daylight, so soon Professor McGonagall and I were off to the final shop on our list, Flourish and Blotts, a magical bookstore. As we took the few minute walk I could tell that there was something that she wanted to ask me, but she never did. As we entered the bookstore I smiled at the smell of paper and ink. I had always loved the way a new book smelled, simple and common, yet elegant. I quickly gathered the required course books and a few others that seemed particularly interesting or informative. One these was recommended by Professor McGonagall, Hogwarts a History. And so a rather large stack of books was shrunk down to pocket size and tucked out of sight.
I quickly rechecked my list, and seeing that we hadn't missed anything proceeded out of Diagon Alley trailing slightly behind the professor. But before long we were back in what I had heard an older woman call muggle London. We walked down a few blocks and I took in the sights with interest, just catching a glimpse of Big Ben way off in the distance. We turned into an alleyway and disapparated back to my home.
I was now standing on my front porch with a trunk full of spell books and other magical items, an owl, and a real magic wand. A grin spread across my face, this was going to be fun.
Hope you like. Please review they are to me like extentionalist jokes to Spencer Reid.
A note on Ashley's wand:
Spiraled Shaft- quick witted and open minded
Supple- good for protective and defensive magic, kind yet protective
Pliable- good for transfiguration, easy going but strong willed
Phoenix Feather- great for all sorts of spells but especially defensive magic
Phoenix Tears- great for healing magic, caring and very protective
Elder- defensive spells and counter courses
Partially made up on my part and from absitomen.com
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