Chapter 2 : A Touch of Madness
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The kids at the orphanage were actually really nice. At lunch and dinner, I had quite a few conversations and made a great many friends, which I was extremely grateful for. I've always been a rather social person.
The Coles, who ran the orphanage, turned out to be a nice family. Caroline had introduced me to her husband, Jeremy, his brother, William, and William's wife, Elizabeth. So far, my theory was that they had all just woken up one morning and thought, 'what the hell, let's run an orphanage!'. Apparently it wasn't too bad, seeing as they were all still here.
Overall, it was a fairly nice place. Better than that hell hole I'd called home for so long. With the fake, slimy gits who called themselves my par-
Optimistic. Optimistic. Think optimistic. In, out. You are zen.
Ok, that's better. I haven't quite gotten over what happened to me, even though it's been a week. I really wonder how Andrew is faring. He's never been the strongest...
Lost in thought, I hadn't realised I was about to run into someone else walking down the hall. Apparently he hadn't been watching where he was going either. With a crash, we collided. After quickly hopping up, I noticed it was an old man I had run in to. I felt despicable. "Oh my God, I am so sorry! I didn't see you in front of me! And-" I stopped when my eyes fell on his attire. Great...
"That's quite all right," he said, helping himself up. "I don't suppose there's some place we could go to talk privately, is there?"
"Errrr..." I said, still recovering from how much he reminded me of Creepy Lady. "The lobby's empty right now," I replied, having just remembered that everyone was on their free day. I couldn't help wondering why on Earth this old man wanted to talk to me in private.
"Splendid!" exclaims the strange fellow. "Let us be off, then!" Incredibly enough, he set off in the right direction. I still get lost fairly often around here.
When we made it to the lobby, me a bit behind (what?! He walked fast for an old man...), he sat down in my favorite chair (curse you, whatever your name is), and looked up at me expectantly. Role-reversal, much? "So," I asked hesitantly, "who are you?"
He stared at me over the top of his half-moon glasses (what is this? The 1800s?). He had a deep look, a look that made you squirm and feel as though someone was staring right into your soul. Mind reading isn't possible, is it? Who knows, what with all that's been happening to me lately.
The idea of him reading my mind scared me, so I decided to test something out. I imagined a gate lowering around my mind, and I stabbed out at him with my subconscious. I tried to focus solely on this, so he wouldn't find any gaps into my head.
The strange man's expression changed to shock, and I could feel him lay off his efforts of getting into my brain. He quickly masked his emotions, and said, "My, my, my, this is an interesting development. The other potential Hogwarts student who lived here also had some interesting abilities..."
I stopped listening at the name Hogwarts. Who the hell names a school Hogwarts? The idea of it is just disgusting. Only one way to find out... "Sir, what on Earth is Hogwarts?"
"Well you see, Alexandria," he replied, "Hogwarts is a school of witchcraft and wizardry; a school for people with magical abilities."
I blinked a few times. Then rubbed my ears. Then blinked a bit more. He merely looked amused. Okay, he knows my name. "I'm sorry, I think I heard you wrong. Did you say-"
"Magic?" he cut me off. "Yes, I did, in fact. Hogwarts is a school for witches an wizards. Haven't you ever made something unexpected happen, something you couldn't explain?"
His question got me thinking; yes, I suppose I had. Once, when I was 8, the local bully had tried to take my pocket money. The moment he put his hands on me, he was laying on the ground, nearly unconscious. It had scared me badly, that I had been able able to hurt someone like that, but it had also maybe me jump for joy. Literally, embarrassingly enough. No one tried to bully me after that.
And sometimes, Mum or Dad would make something utterly disgusting to eat, and I figured out that I could vanish the food. I had no idea where it went, and honestly I didn't care, just as long as I never had to see it again. "I...I suppose I have, sir."
He nodded. "Of course you have. Do you have any questions?"
"Might you prove it?" I asked him. I couldn't be sure this wasn't a practical joke. That I hadn't been, what is it Americans say? Punk'd?
I was yanked from thoughts of synonyms and television when what's-his-name (I really should ask him his name) lit the coffee table on fire. I jumped up, enraged. "How dare you?! Who the HELL do you think you are? You have no right to do that! What-"
He waved his hand, and the fire went out. I stared, astonished, at the untarnished wood. "Well. I guess that proves it."
The man looked a bit amused. "So anyway, I'm Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts. Unless you're doing something today, I would recommend that we go and get the supplies you will be needing for school now."
Well that was sudden. All I'd planned to do today was eat, hog the one television the orphanage had, and maybe attempt to skateboard. And yet here I was, about to go buy wands and pointy hats, cauldrons and broomsticks. Wait a minute...
"Professor, I don't actually have any money. My parents kind of disowned me." Even I was astonished at how easily I could talk about that now. I suppose I'd always known I didn't belong.
"No need to worry, Ms. Scott! Our school has a fund for just this situation!" Good. I don't fancy robbing a bank.
A moment later, Mrs. Viola Cole, William and Jeremy's mum, walked into the lobby. When she saw the professor, she froze. "What are you doing here?" she asked.
"It's all right, Mrs. Cole," I started, but was cut off (for the thousandth time that day), when she said,
"Tom was never the same after he left. All because of that school of yours!" Is it just me who's confused? Who is this Tom person? And why does he matter?
Dumbledore seemed to know who she was talking about, however, because he turned very pale. "I can assure you," he said, "that his change was merely a decision of his. It it not a side effect of attending Hogwarts. I will try to the best of my ability to insure nothing happens to Alexandria."
"Well..." she said hesitantly, "I suppose. But Alex," she said, turning to look at me, "please behave. I don't want something bad to happen to you."
I nodded. "Yes, Mrs. Cole. I will." With tears in her eyes, the old woman came up to me for a hug. It made me smile, how affectionate of a person she was. While I have never been overly thrilled about the prospect of openly displaying emotions, I must admit I cried. Here was this woman, who I'd known no longer than a week, and she already loved me. It definitely felt nice, being loved.
I realised I was getting a little sulky, and tried to stop thinking like that. I didn't have much time to focus on my zen, however, as Professor Dumbledore had started talking again.
"We're off, then! Let's go, shall we?" he said, ushering me towards the door and waving Mrs. Cole goodbye. Pushy, ay? Honestly, what's the rush?
When we were outside of the orphanage, he said, "In the wizarding world, there are several different types of transportation. Today, we will be apparating, which is similar to teleportation. Take my arm, and we'll be off. It is slightly uncomfortable the first few times, so I apologise for any discomfort."
I hesitantly took his arm, and we started to spin. Before I could say 'oh great it's a psychopath with the ability to set things on fire', everything suddenly went black. I was being pushed tightly in every direction; I couldn't breathe at all; my eyes were being pushed into my skull; I was beyond reasonable thought and had come to the conclusion that surely, this was death-
I drank in the cool air eagerly and snapped my eyes open, despite the sting of the sun. I was actually alive! Maybe I should have given the old man a bit more credit; he might have the slightest idea of what he was doing. Then I snuck a glance at him eagerly grinning at random people who happened down the little alley we had landed in. Never mind, he's definitely mad. But wait...
"Sir, what if someone saw us? I thought normal people didn't know about magic?"
He looked at me, seemingly shocked I could actually think. Hey! I'm not THAT stupid! I made straight As all through primary school! Though I do have my moments, as you will notice-if you haven't already that is.
He then proceeded to smile. "Actually," he said cheerfully, "they can't see us! I've disillusioned us with a nonverbal spell." I stared at him uncomprehendingly. That last sentence made absolutely zero since to me. "You'll learn about it in school," was his response.
Before we set off walking, he told me to wait for a moment. When no one, save ourselves, was left in the alley, he pulled out a stick and waved it around a bit. Ever two steps ahead of me, he explained that it was, in fact, a wand that he was holding. I was a bit disappointed that I missed out on questioning his sanity for the hundredth time.
And finally, we started walking. And walking. And walking. And walk- never mind. I'm sure you understand by now. If not, I'm afraid I can't help you. You ought to call a loony bin. After a while, we fell into a rather awkward silence. Though I doubt he actually found it to awkward, seeing as he merely grinned at everyone and everything we passed. On second thought, maybe he should call a loony bin.
After what felt like ages, but was probably closer to minutes, we walked down one of my favourite streets. Right next to a grubby looking restaurant bar place that I often overlooked was an amazing, 3 story shoe store. Someone help me; I think I just died and went to heaven.
However, when Dumbledore started walking towards the store, I was once again worried. Hadn't he realised from the many heels and flats in the windows of every level of the store that it was for women? Then I realised he was heading towards the store next to it, the shady, dingy one. I tried to stand as close to him as possible so that people would know I was with him (hopefully not everyone hated him), but far enough away that I wouldn't be put into the same insanity category as him. Surprisingly difficult, and just the slightest bit contradictory.
When we walked in, we were greeted by quite a few people. Thank God. I wouldn't be associated with a social outcast!
Alright, so maybe I'm a little bit shallow. And I put the slightest bit of effort into being popular. So? Don't try and tell me that you're not secretly shallow. I was possibly a bit defensive as well....
My hand was becoming sore from shaking hands with so many people. I really hopenone of the people I was just introduced to are very important.
Because I already forgot all of their names.
Honestly, I've never been good with names. In fact, I couldn't even remember my middle name until I was 8. A little sad, I know, but I could always have worse problems.
When we finally got through the hordes of people (I've never been claustrophobic before...) to the back of the store, we walked out the backdoor. I was beginning to wonder what the point of going into the restaurant was, when Dumbledore turned towards me and said, "I would pay close attention to this, if I were you. You'll be using this a lot." He then faced the brick wall in front of us and began tapping randomly on the bricks. I wasn't really surprised at his strange behaviour anymore, in fact I would have been shocked if he did something normal for once. What I didn't expect, however, was for the wall to decide to rearrange itself into an arch. I was close to fainting when I saw the bustling street behind the arch.
"Welcome, Alexandria," Dumbledore said, "to Diagon Alley."
I know this chapter is slightly AU, as you may or may not figure out, and I'm sorry 'bout that. It couldn't be helped:) So can you guys figure out what Alex couldn't? Just who is this Tom character, ay? Free fantasy cookies to anyone who can!