Chapter 2 : Shopping: For Magic Stuff (?)
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Hi all! Thanks for reading. The plot thickens! XOXO
When I was finished, they just sat there.
“Holy fucking Merlin,” James finally said. “So you really have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into?”
“No,” I admitted, stirring the remains of my drink. “None.”
“No idea,” James repeated. “Holy fucking Merlin. You’re crazy.”
“I know. I just—I just needed to get out of the city. And it’s one of those things, right? That you just give up on, but always wonder?”
“I get it,” Albus said. “That was pretty brave.”
“Of course it was brave, Albus,” James shot back. “Bravery is out of the question for this young lady right here. The new question is what the hell is she going to do. Does Hogwarts even have a transfer policy? Blimey. She doesn’t even have a wand!”
“I know, I know!” I was through with all the ambiguity and talking about-me. “Look, I don’t have a plan. If there’s one thing that’s clear at this point, it’s that I don’t have a plan. But” — I took a deep breath— “and honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying this right now—but if magic is real, which you’re telling me it is—”
“Oh, it is, love,” James said.
“IF magic is real, then I want to do it! Of COURSE I want to do it!” I sounded like a giddy kid, but I couldn’t help it. If magic was real? Was I re-living my childhood fairy tales? Was this real life?
As if on cue, Albus clapped his hands. “Let’s do this, then!”
“YES!” I shouted, pumping my fist. “Uh… do what exactly?”
“Get you ready. If Hogwarts is going to take a former-muggle transfer 5th year, you best have a wand.”
We stood up, and James waved us off. “I’ll take your tab,” he told me gallantly. “Look, Al, I’ve got to go meet Kendra. You good?”
“Sod off,” Albus said happily. “Tell Kendra I said hello.”
James scowled. “Oh, shut up,” he replied irritably. “Don’t forget, mum wants us home at six.” He disappeared outside.
“Bye James!” I called after him.
“Lovely meeting you, Cassie!” he called over his shoulder. I smiled at his receding figure. These were nice guys.
“Ok, Cassie, you ready to go to Diagon Alley?” Albus gestured grandly toward the back of the store.
“YES!” I had no idea where I was going, but at this point, life was too good to say no.
“So,” Albus said, leaning up again the grimy brick wall between the bathrooms. “Notice anything about this wall?”
Ummm. “It’s gross?” I offered. “It says, WITCHES MAKE ME CRY on it?”
“I don’t know, Albus, why don’t you tell me what’s so special about this wall?”
“It’s a MAGIC WALL!”
I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. “Is it? You know I don’t know these things.”
“Stand back,” he instructed, then pulled his wand (everyone has one!) out of his back pocket and tapped the bricks in a seemingly random pattern. “Two… four… eight… seven” he muttered under his breath. “Ah, bullocks, I’ve messed up. Don’t laugh.”
He went at it again. “Two…four…eight…seven…three…”
Suddenly, the bricks groaned and began to move, wriggling to the side.
“Yes way,” he said, mocking me in a pseudo-American accent as an archway appeared. “Welcome to Diagon Alley.”
"Let's get your wand first," Albus decided, pointing toward a sketchy shop labeled "Olivanders." The shutters were peeling and gnarled with age. I still couldn’t believe this random arch was a portal to what seemed to be an indoor magical shopping mall. Maybe this was all a dream…
“Is it even open?”
“Olivanders is always open,” Albus said, walking up to the door. “Hell, it’s been open for hundreds of years. That’s what my dad says, at least. Ladies first?”
“Eh. You go on in.”
“Don’t be a wimp,” he taunted, holding open the shop’s door. Warm, dusty light spilled out onto the walkway.
I shot him a look, and he softened again.
“Cassie, it’s ok,” he said in that voice again. “I promise.”
Fine. I took a deep breath and stepped inside.
The store’s hallways twisted into a murky labyrinth. A strange smell hung in the air, thick, like black licorice and books. I certainly wouldn’t admit it, but I liked it. It reminded me of my Grandmother, always puffing on a heady cigar and dressed in tawdry silk.
No one seemed to be there, so I rounded on Albus. "While we’re waiting, why don’t you show me a bit of magic?"
Albus cocked an eyebrow.
"Please," I added, smiling my most winning smile. It didn’t seem to be working.
"Hmm," Albus pondered dramatically. "I'm afraid a humble setting such as this shop couldn't hold in my magic, I'm much too powerful."
“Are you serious right now?!” I was started to get pissed. “Do a fucking spell!! I know you can do it! I’m dying over here! Make some sparks or something, I don’t care—anything—come on, please?”
“Fine, if you insist.” He whipped out his wand irritably. “So impatient.”
"Al? That you?" a new male voice rang out from behind a shelf. Around the corner stepped a tall, thin blond with the build of a long-distance runner. Upon seeing Albus, he let out an easy grin.
“Bring it in!” he boomed. The two embraced with a hearty bro hug. I tried not to roll my eyes. Did these types really exist in England too?
"Who's the blond?" whispered the boy. Seriously? Did he honestly think I couldn't hear him?
"Scorpius, this here is--”
“Cassie Andrews,” I interrupted, introducing myself. “Nice to meet you.”
“She’s a new transfer at Hogwarts,” Albus explained. “In our grade, I might add."
Scorpius let out a laidback smile and reached for my hand. "You can call me Scorp," he added, winking. Albus shook his head. Scorpius’ pale fingers were unusually cool around my hand. “Now, how’d you end up hanging out with this idiot?”
“Shut up,” Albus scoffed. The boys began to quarrel about something stupid, until a shuffling noise immediately diverted my attention.
There was an odd man wandering down the aisle. He looked incredibly old and wrinkled. His hair was reduced to a sparkling white lint neatly piled atop his freckled scalp.
He turned abruptly and hobbled over to where I was sitting. Well, this is awkward. His eyes were sharp and ice-blue. I felt I had been challenged to a spontaneous staring contest.
“No fighting in the store, boys," the man snapped without breaking eye contact. I squirmed uncomfortably and he finally blinked.
"Going to Hogwarts, I presume. Have you had a wand before?"
"No sir, I've never done any magic either," I admitted.
He frowned, thinking.
"Let's start out with a 12 1/2 inch maple and dragon heartstring, excellent for transformations." Olivander (was this him?) closed my fingers around a thin rod. There was a brief, uncomfortable silence.
"What should I do?" I whispered, completely mortified.
"Don't worry dear, it's wrong, just terrible," Olivander sighed, snatching back the wand.
"Just terrible," mimicked Scorpius behind me. Turning, I faced the boys.
"How will I know if the wand is right for me?"
"You'll see, love," Scorpius answered, wiggling his eyebrows in a much-too-flirtatious manner. It was so absurd I had to laugh. Albus shook his head again, rolling his eyes.
Olivander returned and quickly began thrusting wands into my wand. Each one felt cold and lifeless, like a stick. He animatedly continued the process until I was sure I had gone through almost half the store.
"I know," Olivander cried suddenly. "Try this, 11 1/4, unicorn hair and a tad phoenix, oak, excellent craftsmanship, will--"
I stopped listening as soon as my fingers closed around the frame. A slight ringing filled my ears and a lovely warmth spread throughout my fingers. Excitedly, I flicked the wand and shouted something, I think it was gibberish. Immediately a stream of white flakes flew from its tip. I bent down and rubbed some between my fingers. "It's snow!"
Olivander beamed. “Excellent. That will be twenty-six galleons, please.”
Shit. Galleons? “Um, I’m sorry—I have pounds? Do you take those?” I asked, desperately fumbling through my purse.
“Muggle money?” Olivander sounded extremely insulted. “I think not!”
Albus stepped in, placing a neat stack of gold coins on the table. "I’ve got you, Cassie. Trust me, money's not a problem for the Potter family," he explained. I frowned. It looked like a lot to me.
"What a gentleman," Scorpius declared. "Honestly, Albus, you should take my marriage proposal a bit more seriously, I'm wildly attracted to a man with chivalry. I’d like to lay my claim before Cassie swoops in.”
“It’s not like that,” I said quietly, looking at the ground. I felt an emptiness on my ring finger and David’s face flashed through my mind.
"So, what do you think?" Albus asked, completely ignoring Scorpius and snapping me back to the moment, where I was holding a honest-to-god magic wand.
"It's brilliant," I enthused. "Just fantastic."
And just like that, we moved on.
The afternoon that ensued was the best I'd had in a long time. I got all sorts of stuff and Scorpius insisted on buying me an owl, but the boys thought it would be incredibly funny if they got me the weirdest one, a strangely tiny speckled brown owl who wouldn't stop staring at me.
I couldn't help but like the owl, though, after all, he was mine and mine alone. "Ferdinando," laughed Scorpius. "Please, it's the only name. Blink, Ferdinando, please," he begged, "do us a favor! Blink!"
“Nah," I deliberated. "Sasha."
"NO!" cried Scorpius. The gimp owl attempted a cluck that sounded like a chainsaw starting up, sending the boys back into hysteria.
"Isn't Sasha a girl's name?" Albus managed after a while.
"It can be a boy, too," I decided. "Lots of Russian boys are named Sasha. I think. And stop laughing at him. He hates it.”
"No, Sasha is definitely a girl's name," Scorpius insisted.
"Shut up," I replied. "It's Sasha."
"Poor owl," Scorpius said, sticking his finger into the cage, trying to pet him. "You got a girls name, I'm so sorr-- OW!!! HE BIT ME!!"
I couldn't help laughing as Scorpius hopped around madly with his finger in his mouth.
"Get that out of your mouth," scoffed Albus. "That's disgusting. Can’t you get, like, bird flu or something?”
"HE BIT ME!"
Albus turned to me. "Let's leave, Scorp can be quite the embarrassing companion in public. Bye, Scorp!"
"DON’T LEAVE ME," wailed Scorpius, on his knees in the square. Laughing, Albus escorted me away from the strangely hilarious boy. We were quiet for a moment or two.
“Sorry,” Albus apologized again as we walked down the street. “Scorpius is rather strange. And, well, rather forward.”
“It’s fine, he’s perfectly normal,” I said, brushing him off. “Don’t worry about it.”
I pulled the wand out of my pocket again, I couldn't help it. Muttering gibberish, I waved it about. Unfortunately, only a feeble drizzle of grey sparks were emitted this time.
“You’re ok,” Albus said. “I was absolute rubbish for the first three years.”
“But it’s not like that! I’m a transfer!” I moaned. "I don't know anything!”
Albus paused to think for a second. He was making a decision that would change my life forever.
"I know," he exclaimed suddenly. "This may sound crazy, but hear me out. What if you come stayed with me—my family that is. Mum's already hosting Rose, Teddy and Kendra, one more won't change anything. We could teach you magic and that way you’d have a place to stay. Besides,” he added. “Someone’s got to make sure you find your way to Hogwarts after all.”
It felt like my breath had caught in the back of my throat. Was this random kid seriously inviting me to stay with his family for two weeks? I was basically a stranger, after all!
“Ok,” I finally agreed, surprising everyone, including myself. “I mean, that'd be great-- I'd love it, if it’s okay with your family and everything.”
Albus grinned, and for the second time today some tyrant in my brain reminded me that this was indeed a very attractive boy. "Well then, let's drop by the hotel and grab your stuff."
It took me all of three seconds to vacate my hotel room.
“Have a nice stay?” the receptionist asked cordially as my receipt printed.
“It’s been fantastic. By the way, would you mind telling your blonde co-worker that a girl wanted to thank her generously for her café recommendation!”
“Excuse me, ma’am?” He frowned at me kindly. “I’m afraid you must be mistaken. I’m the only receptionist here.”
“What? I’m talking about that the woman who was here this morning? I talked to her. She was at your desk.”
“Miss Andrews,” he said, looking at my name on the computer. “I was here all morning. I really apologize for the confusion.”
“My bad,” I muttered as I left.
What was that about? I certainly didn’t imagine that woman.
Willing my wandering-mind to focus, I joined Albus on the curb. Speculating was worthless. So it goes.
"That's all?" Albus asked, surprised. I shrugged.
“It’s crazy what happens when you put your life into boxes. Not much fits.”
Albus took off at a brisk pace down the street. I practically had to run to keep up. "Why are you holding your wand like that?" Albus asked when he noticed I was running with my wand in hand.
"I don’t know! Wizard stuff?!”
"Put it away!" he hissed. "Muggles can't see you out here flaunting your wand like that. You’ll look like a fool."
Frowning sulkily, I stowed my wand in my back pocket like he had. "For the record," I whispered, "I wasn't flaunting it." Albus rolled his eyes. "Where are we going, anyway? The nearest tube station was back that way."
"We're going to the nearest Flu station," Albus explained, still sprint-walking.
“Flu station? That sounds terrible. Is it like a doctor's office? Also, can we slow down?"
"Noooo! Floo station-- F-L-O-O. It's-- I dunno how to explain it, we're here, see for yourself."
Albus pointed toward a solid brick wall with a faded sign hanging lopsidedly-- "Flannery's Whiskey 100 yd. ahead."
"That's it?" I asked skeptically. "Frankly, I'm disappointed."
"No," Albus huffed, taking my arm and yanking me forwards. I tripped and braced for the impact but instead found myself standing in a crowded corridor lined with roaring bluish fires.
“Should I be worried about ventilation?" I whispered, dumbfounded yet again by the magical world. “Or death by smoke inhalation?”
Nothing would’ve surprised me right then. If a unicorn had begun break dancing, I would just have assumed that was normal. At this point, I was game for anything and determined not to be caught off-guard again.
Albus chose to ignore my question and led me over to a fire. "Ok," he began, grabbing a handful of grey powder from a nearby urn. “You're going to step into the fire and say--very clearly, mind it-- 'Harry and Ginny Potter.' Understand?"
"Excuse me, I’m supposed to step into the fire? What's going to happen? My skin is pretty sensitive to open flames."
"It's going to transport you there, magically."
"Does it hurt?"
"No. Look, do you want me to go first?"
"No, no-- I'm fine, I can do it." The idea of being left there alone terrified me.
"Take a handful of floo powder."
I stepped into the firepit, initially wincing before realizing there was no pain. The fire felt like cool fabric playfully lapping at my legs. “Wow, unexpected.”
Albus’ eyes crinkled with a smile. “You ready?”
"Yeah," I answered shakily. After taking a deep breath, I threw down the dusty powder and shouted in my best pronunciation: "Harry and Ginny Potter!" The flames spontaneously roared up over my head and sucked me straight down and I was engulfed in a squeezing, tickling sensation. Then the flames died down and I was thrust forwards, stomach rising, and promptly ejected into a living room. Dust flew up my throat.
Coughing, I looked up. The furnishings were modest but tasteful and the space was airy and cozy at the same time. The walls were olive green.
"Uh, may I help you?"
I couldn't stop coughing as I looked up on all fours to see a lovely lady, middle aged with shiny red hair. To this day, I don't why I blew my first impression or why I was so confused. But of course the first words Ginny Weasley would ever hear from me had to be humiliatingly terrible.
"Are you Harry Potter?" I asked stupidly.
Yikes! Hope you liked it. Let me know what you think.
AUTHORS NOTE: so I’ve been doing some editing, and part of my work has been seeing if I can make Cassie into a bit of a stronger lady and a little less drooling over Albus. Do you like it? Seriously, let me know! XOXO.
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