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Chapter 3 : Friends
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Viktor Krum wasn’t yet sure if he should enter Diagon Alley, though he was standing by the muggle bust stop right in front of it. He didn’t want to get attention from the crowd there. But he needed to exchange his galleons and take muggle money to hire a hotel room. He craved silence and peace. And he wouldn’t have had it anywhere but in a quiet and remote muggle hotel. But he was sure that someone would spot him exchanging his galleons and the newspapers would be full of gossip about him stepping into the muggle world. That would not only make his parents suspicious but would cause his fans and reporters follow him throughout his break. This was the last thing he wanted to happen. Britain was crazy for Quidditch; even more that Bulgaria and Viktor was quite a sensation amongst the youth. Besides, he had done a poor job as a captain.
Viktor wouldn’t have made his decision for a long time if he hadn’t noticed that the muggles around him were glaring his robes curiously. Two young ladies, who were standing a few inches away from him were whispering things to each other and were giggling. No doubt they were commenting on his dress robes. He looked at them, frowning to realize that no one was wearing clothes like him. Realizing that he was looking rather odd to their eyes, he quickly moved towards the shabby old ‘Leaky Cauldron’. It was the official entrance to the Diagon Alley. It was better than apparating directly amongst the people.
Viktor had been to Diagon Alley once, when he was visiting Britain for the Triwizard Tournament. He had hardly enjoyed the visit, for the Daily Prophet had snapped loads of pictures of him standing by various shops and an irritating reporter had pestered him to accept that he was sickeningly in love with Hermione Granger. The newspaper had filled the whole front page with the article and hundreds of extra copies had been sold. Even today, though he was twenty-eight, the newspaper was keen to do a promotional photo shoot with him, accompanied by a brief interview.
Sunk into the bittersweet memories, he entered the shabby place and was taken by surprise at once. The place was totally different now. The old and ancient feel, the dust, the old stock and the shabbiness was now gone. The place was extremely clean and hygienic, without a single dust particle. The tables were covered with white tablecloths, the goblets were pretty, slow music was playing and smoking was not allowed. Four barmen now served the customers, dressed in professional uniforms, while a young man was supervising them.
As Viktor looked around curiously, noticing the obvious changes, the young man approached him. He was tall, tan and good looking. He must’ve been in his twenties. His dark brown hair and boy blue eyes were really impressive. He had quite attractive. He gave Viktor a bow.
“Up for a drink, Sir?” he asked, smiling brightly. “Do you want the menu card?”
“No thank you.” Viktor muttered. He was never good in conversations. “Are you the owner?”
The man smiled again, but Viktor could see a shadow of sadness in it.
“Yes, I am the owner. I’m running this place for a couple of years now; my Grandpa left me this in his will.”
Viktor recalled that he had been greeted by an old man called Tom last time. He assumed that this Tom was his grandfather. He just gave a nod.
“I’m trying to make this place even better,” he continued. “It was like this when Grandpa was young, but as he aged, it became hard for him to manage such a big place. My father never helped him.”
Viktor wasn’t really interested in his family history, but tried to be sympathetic.
“You’re doing great,” he said. “Anyways, I want to visit Diagon Alley. I’m here after a long time, so can you show me the way? I just remember a brick wall.”
The man chuckled.
“It looks like you’re here after years, Mr. Krum.”
Viktor was taken aback by the sudden mention of his name. Before he could ask anything, the man gestured towards the wall behind Viktor. He saw an extremely old poster of himself.
“I recognized you,” he said casually, “but I thought you would enjoy a normal treatment. Come on, I’ll show you the way.”
The man opened the back door of the pub and led him through a dark corridor.
“The brick wall is now replaced by a new security system,” he informed as they walked through it. “The Aurors have designed it five years ago, just as a precaution. They don’t want any kind of Dark Magic inside the alley. You’d have to get your wand and your belongings checked.”
They now reached the end of the corridor. There stood a tall and dark wizard, waiting for them. He asked Viktor to empty his pockets and hand his wand over. He just moved his own wand across Viktor’s as if he was scanning it and returned it with a smile.
“Welcome to the Diagon Alley.” He beamed, moving out of his way. The man smiled as Viktor thanked him and went back through the corridor, while Viktor stepped into the alley.
In spite of the security system, the alley was still the same. The shops, the sellers, the customers and the busy atmosphere everything. The street and the shops were crowded as September was approaching. The students of Hogwarts hurried to various shops with their parents and some other weird people were goofing around. Some of them were heading to Gringotts to collect their savings. Viktor thrust both of his hands in his pockets and walked around. The buzz and the air of excitement lifted his spirits a bit. But the feeling was gone when a teenager licking an ice cream gasped at the sight of him. He startled, eyes widened and shouted,
“Viktor Krum? Mark! Hey, Mark! Look who’s here, it’s Krum-it’s Krum!”
Viktor groaned as the people around him began to look at him with surprise. They all started to murmur and began to surround him. Some of them rushed to his side and asked for autographs. Viktor signed a couple of papers just to get rid of them, but it made things worse. More people emerged, holding papers, quills in their outstretched hands and even a flash caught him. Viktor tried to tell them that he wanted a private moment and had an errand to run. He also promised that he’d give him autographs if they’d let him be, but nothing worked. His fans weren’t ready to let them go.
Viktor began to walk again, pushing people that surrounded him. He intended to go to Gringotts, get his money and flee, but his fans didn’t let him go. He had a glimpse of the marble building gleaming in the sunlight. To his relief, he was very close to the bank. But before he could even lift his foot, a middle aged witch blocked his way. She had curly honey-blonde hair, sharp features and blue eyes. She wore huge glasses and a fake smile was plastered on her face. She was clutching a Quick Quotes Quill in her hand.
“Hello, Mister Krum.” she said sweetly. “I would like to ask a couple of questions, if you please. Reportedly you’re here to attend your former girlfriend Hermione Granger’s wedding. What are your feelings right now? Do you still like her? Or are you really married to your teammate Ivanova? What are the reasons behind your poor game during the World Cup?”
Viktor felt a swooping sensation in his stomach. How did she know? Well, he wasn’t dating Ivanova, but no one knew about him attending the wedding.
“Look,” he began to speak but was interrupted by a loud noise that certainly wasn’t by a fan or reporter. Someone was fighting with someone. They were probably quarreling over something. The voices grew louder and louder and in no time, a few figures emerged through the crowd.
There were four people, but only two of them were shouting at the other two. The shouting men looked rich, for they wore elegant dark robes, accessorized by rings and lockets that seemed to be family heirlooms. One of them was tall, tan and handsome but the other was short and simple looking. The other two had pinned Ministry badges over their robes. ‘The Missing People Rescue Squad’ was written on the bright yellow badges. One of them was a man and the other was a woman. They looked quite annoyed.
“Calm down, Mister Weinberg,” said the woman sounding irritated. “We are trying our best to find your sister.”
But the tall man was eyeing her furiously. He looked a bit scary.
“You are doing nothing, woman!” he yelled. “We told you that she must be here as she’d need money to survive and still you kept checking our whole mansion!”
“We have no witness, Mister Weinberg,” the woman protested, looking a bit scared. “and please don’t shout, there’s something going on in here and we’re disturbing them.”
“Excuse me,” the reporter promptly turned away from Viktor and rushed towards the four. She was clutching her quill excitedly, knowing that she’s going to get breaking news. The men were most probably members of the famous Weinberg family. The family was the richest and the oldest amongst all the pure-blood families. Viktor’s father had told him about the family a while ago. He had told him that when the Weinberg family won’t have a son to carry the surname, the Krum family would be the oldest. The Black family was the oldest until Sirius Black died without kids and Weinberg family had taken the place. If one of the Weinbergs was missing, that’d certainly be breaking news. The people around them too began to look at them curiously to Viktor’s relief. Their attention slowly drifted towards the quarrel which was getting serious with every sentence. The two mad men were eager to find their sister and take her home while the Ministry employees had to complete some formalities.
“Mister Weinberg,” the reporter was speaking to the handsome fellow sweetly, “can you tell us what happened? We might help you with it.”
The handsome man looked confused, but he didn’t let go of the opportunity. He quickly cleared his throat and began to describe the whole thing.
“I am Matthew Weinberg and this is my younger brother Richard. Our younger sister Amelia or Amy is missing.”
The reporter looked disappointed. She had expected more from him.
“How and when did she disappear?” she asked.
“Well, she is a bit naughty from childhood,” Matthew continued, “but we expected her to be normal when she grew up. But I’m afraid that she still likes to pretend she’s a kid. She may have ran away just to tease us, but we cannot take any risks with her. She’s our only sister and we have to find her.”
“She is getting married this weekend.” Richard informed gravely. “She was marrying the love of her life. She was very happy.”
“Then you think she ran away?” asked the reporter, raising an eyebrow.
“She likes to create drama in her and our life.” Matthew rolled his eyes. “She used to read too much about romance and that thing has gone in her head. Heroines run away a few days before their wedding, so I’m afraid she’s creating the drama. She’s tried to run away three times now.”
“We were a bit suspicious about her yesterday,” said Richard. “We had seen her packing her clothes and everything after lunch. She had even ordered our house elf to wash all of her stockings. Our parents told us to keep an eye on her and we did, but she just- ran away.”
The quill was scribbling something on the parchment rapidly. The reporter looked happy and asked them for a photograph.
“We have an enlarged one,” Richard said proudly and pulled a photo out of his pocket. It was really big. A girl was smiling from the photograph wickedly and was even winking. She was rather good looking. She had brown hair, hazel eyes and delicate features. The reporter snatched the photograph from his hand and thrust it in her pocket.
“Thank you very much. Now just one last question.”
And that was when Viktor realized that he could easily escape now. No one surrounded him now as everyone was listening to the Weinberg brothers and the reporter. He swiftly moved forward and escaped through the crowd. Now he couldn’t see the reporter. He gave a sigh of relief and began to walk towards the bank, but nearly bumped into a girl, who was hurrying back towards the crowd from Gringotts.
“Oops, sorry,” the girl apologized, but when he saw her face he nearly shouted.
She was the girl from the photograph. She was the girl everyone was looking for. She had the same brown hair, hazel eyes and delicate features. The only difference was that she was scared.
“You are the-“but before Viktor could finish this, she pressed her hand on his mouth, giving him a warning look. She looked so scary that he nearly jumped back.
“Don’t you dare!” she hissed and released his mouth, but just then caught him by the front of his dress robes. She pulled him closer and gave him another fierce look.
“Come with me.” She said and walked right in a small alley, dragging him with her. Viktor struggled for a while and then pushed her hand away. They were now in a deserted small alley.
“What the hell were you doing?” he nearly shouted.
“Don’t shout, Mister,” she whispered earnestly. “What were you doing? Telling them I was right there behind them?”
Viktor couldn’t find any words to say. He hesitated for a moment and said,
“They’re looking for you! They’re so worried-“
“Oh, come on,” she rolled her eyes, with her hands on her hips and walked a bit away from him. Viktor followed her. “I don’t wanna go back. They’d search me for like an hour or two and then they’d go away. You’re not gonna tell them that you saw me, okay?” she demanded.
“Okay,” he said. She looked relieved and smiled at him sarcastically.
“That’s good for your health,” she said. “If you would’ve tried to go tell them, I would’ve hexed you.”
“You needn’t do that,” he assured her with a smile which was not sarcastic at all, “for I don’t give people away.”
“Boy, is your accent weird,” she murmured, walking around him, frowning. “and your face looks familiar. Where have I seen you? Are you an actor or something?”
“Or something.” He said. “Never mind that. I have to go to the bank unnoticed, can you help me?”
She thought for a moment.
“Are you famous?”
“Then it’s hard for you to go to Gringotts right now. They might connect you with my disappearance.” She said uncertainly. “I have got some money. You can come with me if you want to. We can spend time hanging around in the muggles and you can come back in a couple of hours. Matthew and Richard are lazy. They’d give up soon.”
Viktor gave it a thought. He thought that the girl made sense. The reporter might link him with her disappearance. But chatting or ‘hanging around’ was almost impossible for him.
“I don’t really like to talk, you know,” he said awkwardly, but the girl- Amy- waved the idea off with a laugh.
“Don’t worry about that,” she said. “I can make anyone talk. Now come on, I know a way out from here.”
“There’s a way out from here?” he asked, surprised.
“Yes, a way in too. This place happened to be Knockturn Alley long ago.” She told him.
He nodded and began to follow her. After a minute, she suddenly stopped.
“I’m Amy,” she said outstretching her hand. “and I’m your new friend.”
Viktor took it and shook it quickly.
“I’m Viktor,” he said. He had had a female friend for the first time.
Another chapter! I haven’t updated any of my stories so fast, but I just can’t help updating this ASAP! I think when you really want to mark a story as ‘completed’ and when you get amazing feedback from lovely people, you could do everything. :) Oh and this is the longest chapter I’ve ever written.
Thanks for the support and please leave a review!
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