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Chapter 3 : Diagon Alley.
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As McGonagall had promised, Rose’s booklist arrived just over a week later.
“Not too bad at all,” her father said, glancing at it. “Looks like you’ll be using a lot of the same books as last year.” He sighed. “Boy, do I feel sorry for my parents. Full sets of Lockhart books our second year.”
Rose giggled, remembering Year with the Yeti. Somehow she doubted anybody’d learnt much from those books.
“Is that all that matters to you?” her mother said. “How much they cost! It’s not as if we can’t afford it.” She glanced at the booklist. “Hmm, The Standard Book of Spells. Just as we expected. Transformations and Switches.” She nodded. “That’s sound. Dealing with Dark Creatures. I’m not familiar with that one. A reasonably new publication.” She put the list down. “Not bad at all.”
Rose smiled. Her mother’s evaluations of her textbooks were usually pretty reliable.
“When can we go and get them?” she asked.
“Well, I’m meeting McGonagall later this week. We’re going to try and organise a memorial to the Hogwarts teachers killed in the war. I’ve a pretty busy week actually. I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we contact Harry and Ginny and see if we can all meet up, maybe over the weekend? Having Lily there would be more fun for Hugo too.”
“YES!” Hugo cheered.
Rose would’ve preferred get her books sooner. Immediately would’ve been ideal. But she had to admit it’d be good to meet Albus too. She’d hardly seen him so far over the holidays and it would give them a chance to discuss the meeting she’d overheard.
She’d already used one of her Unnoticeable Notes to give him the gist of what had happened, but that wasn’t the same as actually talking about it.
In Diagon Alley, they’d hopefully get a few moments to slip away and talk privately.
“I’ll suggest it to Harry at work tomorrow,” her father said. “See if this weekend suits them.”
Apparently it did. Albus would be back from Derek’s on Friday and the Auror Office was fairly quiet for a change, which meant her father and Harry just might be able to accompany them.
Hugo cheered at this news.
“Uncle Harry’s coming!!”
“We don’t know that,” their mother reminded him. “You know how busy your dad and Uncle Harry’s jobs are.”
“So is yours, Mum,” Rose reminded her.
“Well, yes, but at least my hours are usually fairly standard. Your dad and Uncle Harry don’t have that certainty. If there’s a crisis, they can be called in at all hours. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often at the Ministry. There were one or two occasions, when we were drafting the code of house elves rights for example. That got…rather heated. But it’s not very common. And heading the Department means I’ve a certain amount of leeway to schedule meetings and so on.”
Rose knew though, that that wasn’t always true. Her mother occasionally had to liaise with officials from other Ministries, which sometimes meant working late into the night or early in the mornings in order to accommodate their time zones.
And then she’d other commitments like organising this memorial at Hogwarts.
The meeting about it seemed to be a long one and it was late on Friday evening when she returned home.
“Well? Did you decide anything?” Rose demanded.
Her mother smiled. “We made a few decisions, yes. Which is probably just as well. We don’t exactly have much time. Of course, with magic, the memorial can be erected immediately and Professor McGonagall has already arranged for Harry to unveil it.”
“Really?” Rose tried to look surprised.
Her mother nodded. “So that’s organised. The biggest question that came up really, was whether to not to include Mad-Eye Moody, since he never actually taught us, you know. Professor McGonagall and some of the others insisted he be included though. She said it’s what Dumbledore would have wanted and that pretty much decided it. He may be dead for twenty years, but people are still pretty reluctant to disagree with anything Dumbledore wants.”
Rose laughed. “I wish I’d known him.”
“He was an amazing man. Totally unorthodox, but you soon came to learn there was method in his madness. I must admit, I was somewhat doubtful at first. At our first start-of-term feast, his speech consisted of just four, completely random, words. For a moment, I wondered what I’d gotten into.” She broke off from her reminiscences. “But you’re lucky to have Professor McGonagall. She’s a wonderful teacher and a brilliant administrator as well. It’s rare you get both.”
McGonagall was a good Headmistress, but Rose couldn’t help thinking Dumbledore sounded a good deal more interesting.
The following morning, the family gathered in the living room and their father took down the Floo Powder.
He took a pinch of it, then handed it to their mother, before tossing into the fire, saying “Diagon Alley,” and disappearing into the flames.
“Me next!” Hugo grabbed the powder from their mother, spilling half of it out on the floor.
“HUGO WEASLEY…” their mother began angrily, but he tossed the powder into the flames and was gone before she could continue.
Determinedly, their mother threw some powder on the fire.
“Diagon Alley,” she said and followed him.
Rose bent to scoop up as much of the powder as possible and return it to the container, before following her family.
“…out of my hands like that. If you want something, you ask for it. It’s only common politeness, you know.”
“Oh, let it go, Hermione. He was just excited.”
“Let it go, is it? And who’s going to have to tidy up once we get home, I want to know? I don’t imagine you’re going to do it.”
“I tidied most of it up, Mum.”
Seeming to notice her for the first time, her mother smiled at her. “Good girl, Rose. Your brother could do with taking a leaf out of your book.”
Hugo scowled at her.
“And where are Harry, Ginny and the kids?” Their mother still sounded slightly annoyed.
“We’re early, Hermione.” Her father shrugged. “As usual. Why don’t we have a Butterbeer while we’re waiting?”
Rose was slightly surprised to see Neville serving in the Leaky Cauldron. She’d gotten so used to thinking of him as the Herbology Professor.
“Hi Ron, Hermione. Getting Rose’s back to school supplies?”
Her mother nodded. “We’re supposed to be meeting Harry and Ginny, but we’re a little early.”
“Hannah’s just upstairs, changing Frankie. I’ll give her a shout. I’m sure she’ll want to say hi. HANNAH!”
She bustled down the stairs, carrying their twenty month old son, Frankie, just before the Potters arrived noisily into the pub.
“HUGO,” Lily shouted. “Oh, is that Frankie? Can I hold him Hannah? I promise I won’t drop him.”
Hannah smiled. “If you sit down, you can take him on your lap.”
Lily did as she was told and Hannah handed her the toddler.
“Hi Frankie. I’m Lily. Can you say Lily? Lil-lee.”
“No. I’m not Dada.” Lily giggled. “I’m Lily. Lil-lee.”
“He’ll get it eventually,” Hannah said, “but maybe not today.”
“Um, could I hold him for a moment?” Albus sounded slightly embarrassed.
Lily dumped him unceremoniously on her brother’s lap.
“Careful,” Hannah reminded her.
James moved away slightly, making it clear he’d no intention of holding a squirming baby.
Albus and Lily continued playing with him and trying to teach him to say Lily’s name.
Bored with watching them, Rose looked around and noticed her mother and Neville talking quietly at the bar. She got up and moved closer to them.
“Have you heard from Lydia at all?” her mother was asking.
Neville shook his head. “I owled her earlier this week, but didn’t get any reply. I’m concerned about her actually. The Daily Prophet hasn’t exactly been mincing its words.”
“I know Teddy's been talking to her…” Her mother stopped suddenly and stared at her. “What do you want, Rose?”
She thought quickly. “Um, I was just wondering if you knew who the new Potions teacher is?” She turned to Neville.
“All I can really tell you is that his name’s Philip Fairfax and he’s supposed to be extremely talented at Potions. Got one of the highest results ever achieved when he did his own N.E.W.T.S., I believe. Beyond that, I really don’t know. I haven’t met him yet.”
Her mother was still looking at her suspiciously.
“Does that answer your question, young lady?”
Rose could see she wasn’t convinced. Her mother had a sixth sense for when either of her children were up to something.
At the other end of the bar, her father was paying for their Butterbeers.
“Everybody ready to leave?” he asked as she returned to her brother and cousins.
“Where are we going first?” Hugo jumped up and down.
“Let’s go to Ollivanders,” Lily suggested.
“Lily, nobody needs a wand,” Ginny reminded her.
“But I want to try them. I’ll have to get one next year after all.”
Ginny rolled her eyes.
“Can we go to Flourish and Blotts?” Rose asked.
“Now, there’s a sensible suggestion,” Ginny said.
“How about we take Rose, Albus and James there?” Rose’s mother suggested. “And Harry and Ron can take Lily and Hugo to Weasleys or wherever.”
“Can’t I go off by myself?” James moaned. “I am nearly fifteen after all.”
Rose rolled her eyes. He wouldn’t be fifteen until February.
“You can go off by yourself after we get your books,” Ginny said. “I know you. If you don’t come with us, you’ll spend the whole time in the Quidditch stores and completely forget we’re supposed to be shopping for school stuff.”
He sighed, but didn’t protest and reluctantly followed them to the bookshop, which was filled with familiar faces.
“Look, there’s Professor Cavendish,” Rose pointed out.
The middle-aged Ancient Runes Professor was browsing the Transfiguration books.
“Tut, tut, tut,” he mumbled, stepping back and knocking over a display of books. He picked one up and flicked through it somewhat distractedly.
“MUM,” Rose called. “Transformations and Switches is over here."
She saw her mother lean over to say something to Ginny. Then she came over, dodged Professor Cavendish and took two copies of Transformations and Switches from the shelf, before heading across to scour the shelves for Dealing with Dark Creatures.
Rose eyed Professor Cavendish for a moment. “I wonder if I should ask him about Ancient Runes. I’m thinking of taking it next year.”
“There’s no rush, is there?” Albus sounded nervous. “You’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk to him at school.”
“I suppose so.”
The opportunity was gone anyway, as he’d now wandered across the shop, still holding the book he’d picked up off the floor.
Rose glanced around the shop once more.
“Oh, there’s Angie!”
“Where?” Albus looked around.
“ANGIE!” Rose called.
She came over to join them.
“Hi Rose, Albus.”
“Are you getting your schoolbooks too?” Rose glanced around. “Where are your parents?”
She shrugged. “I came on my own.”
Rose remembered she was Muggleborn. Maybe her parents didn’t understand things like Diagon Alley.
“Do you want to join us, so? I’m sure our parents wouldn’t mind.”
They headed over to where Rose’s mother was waiting.
“Ginny’s still getting James’s books,” she said. “They’ll be ready in a moment.”
“I don’t mind looking around here for a while,” Rose said. “I just wanted to ask you if it’s OK if Angie joins us. She’s here on her own.”
“That’s fine, of course. Good to meet you, Angie.”
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Weasley.”
Ginny and James joined them, James dragging his heels reluctantly.
“Now, can I go?”
Ginny nodded. “All right. Just meet us back at the Leaky Cauldron in an hour, OK? Are you listening to me, James?”
“Yeah, yeah, the Leaky Cauldron, that’s fine,” he said vaguely.
He sighed. “In an hour.”
“OK, off you go.” She turned to Rose’s mother. “What else do we have to do?”
“Well, Rose could do with some new robes. Other than that, she’s pretty much all right, I think.”
“I need some Potions ingredients too,” Rose reminded her.
“Oh yes. What about Albus? What does he need?”
“He could probably do with new robes as well. They fit fine at the moment, but I doubt they’ll last the year. And of course we’ve promised him a new broom.” She grinned at her son.
“So I suppose Madame Malkin’s is our next priority,” Rose’s mother said. She turned to Angie. “Do you need new robes as well?”
Slowly Angie shook her head. “Mine will do for another year.”
“You’ll come with us anyway, though?” Rose said.
Madame Malkin’s was packed with what looked like a gaggle of incoming first years.
“Are you sure you want to wait, Angie?” Rose’s mother asked. “We could be here a while.”
The first year being fitted squealed as a pin pricked him.
Angie giggled. “I don’t mind waiting.”
Leaning back against the wall, the three young people began to chat. Albus had had a great time at Derek’s and he and Angie started discussing some TV show he’d apparently watched.
Rose sighed. This would be the perfect opportunity to discuss what she’d overheard.
“Do you get the Daily Prophet at all, Angie?” she interrupted them.
Angie shook her head.
“I guess you haven’t heard about Professor Blackburn then?”
“What about her?”
“Well, it’s kind of a long story…”
“No, it’s not,” Albus said. “It’s perfectly simple. She’s a werewolf, that’s all.”
Rose turned to stare at him. He didn’t usually disagree with her.
Angie screwed up her face, as if trying to remember what she’d heard about werewolves.
“Didn’t you have a friend whose dad was a werewolf or something?”
“Yeah.” Rose nodded. “Remus Lupin. He died before we were born, though. In the war. He was a martyr who died for our freedom. You’d think that would have changed things and I guess it did a bit, but there’s still a lot of prejudice against werewolves. People are calling for her to be fired.”
“Why?” Angie sounded confused.
“’Cause they’re idiots,” Rose replied. “Werewolves are no threat so long as they take wolfsbane and they nearly all do nowadays. She was teaching us for a year without anybody even realising she was a werewolf. It’s really stupid.”
Not that that was entirely true, as Dora had realised, but if she brought that up, she might have to explain about Dora’s father being the head of the Anti-Werewolf League and McGonagall’d forbidden that.
“I like Professor Blackburn,” Angie said. “She was kind to me when I was upset about something back before Christmas. Do you think they’ll really fire her?”
“I don’t think so. McGonagall’s on her side.” She lowered her voice. “And the Ministry are staying out of it. But things are getting pretty nasty. This Anti-Werewolf League has started up and they’re really out to get her. You should see some of the letters they’ve been writing to the Daily Prophet.” She glanced over at her mum and Ginny to be sure they weren’t listening, then continued quietly. “There are people fighting back against them though. Our parents are involved.” She indicated herself and Albus.
“What are they going to do?” Angie asked.
“Shush, I’m not supposed to know all this. They want to bring in legislation protecting people from being fired for being werewolves, but they’re coming up against a lot of opposition. And Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister for Magic, seems to be in a pretty difficult position. If he openly supports it, they could try and have him replaced, with somebody really anti-werewolf.”
“We’re next.” Ginny interrupted their conversation.
“You go ahead, Albus,” Rose said.
He moved forward to where Madame Malkin was waiting.
“What’s wolfsbane?” Angie asked.
“It’s like a potion that allows werewolves keep control during full moons. It used to be really rare, because it’s supposed to be terribly hard to make, but the Ministry had people specially trained to make it after the war. I think it was one of Mum’s initiatives actually.”
“Rose,” her mother said. “You’re next.”
She pushed her way forward and allowed Madame Malkin to fit her for her robes.
“Maybe we should split up for a moment now,” Ginny suggested. “I’ll take Albus to get his broom, while you take the girls to pick up whatever Potions ingredients they need. We’ll follow you along when we’re done.”
It didn’t take that long to collect their ingredients and they were finished and waiting outside the shop when Ginny and Albus joined them. Albus was carrying a broom.
“A Swiftstick 12,” he said, grinning. “Just out on the market.”
“It’s a good broom,” Ginny said. “Not quite in the Golden Arrow’s class, but I told him if he wants one of those, he can wait for his birthday. Those brooms are expensive. “
“This is fine,” Albus said. “Scorpius’s Golden Arrow caused enough problems last year. And I don’t suppose I’ve much chance of getting on the Quidditch team or anything anyway.”
Rose snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous, Albus. ‘Course you’ll get on, if there’s a vacancy. You’re a brilliant player.”
“She’s right, Albus,” Ginny said. “Of course, there’re no guarantees and you’ll be up against players a lot older than you, who’ve been practicing longer, but you’ve certainly as good a chance as anybody.”
He shrugged. “Even James didn’t make it until third year and he’s much better than I am.”
Ginny glanced at her watch. “We’d better get your Potions ingredients. It’s almost time to meet James at the Leaky Cauldron.” She tutted. “I should have told him an hour and a half. I didn’t realise we’d be so long in Madame Malkin’s.”
“Does this mean we won’t have time to look in Weasleys’?” Albus sighed.
“Well, I suppose the three of you could run down there on your own once we’re finished here. You won’t get up to any mischief, will you?”
“No, Mum,” Albus said.
“They’ll be fine, Ginny.”
Rose smiled at her mother gratefully.
“I suppose I’m used to James,” Ginny said. “Just don’t be too long, all right?”
They agreed immediately and once Albus had his Potions ingredients, they headed down the street to Weasleys.
“Your mum’s a bit overprotective, isn’t she?” Angie grinned at Albus.
“Ah, not really. She just knows what James got up to. And her brothers too, when they were at school. And Dad. So she’s not willing to take too many chances. You’re lucky being the oldest, Rose.”
“Yeah, I suppose I am.”
Angie sighed. “What’s so special about Weasleys’ anyway?”
“It’s a joke shop,” Rose said.
“Our uncle runs it,” Albus said.
“I know it doesn’t sound like anything special,” Rose continued, “but it has a lot of cool stuff there. It’s not all joke stuff. They’ve branched out into pets and some defence stuff and things like spell-checking quills.” She paused. “Didn’t you see it when you were getting your school stuff last year?”
Angie shrugged. “I couldn’t really take everything in. I was so confused. All this existing in London, where I’ve lived all my life and I never knew anything about it. I was just trying to figure out where to get the stuff on my school list. Didn’t really even think to look at anything else.”
She stared around in amazement as they entered the shop. There were floor to ceiling displays of every kind of magical toy, joke and gizmo imaginable. A toy train, about six inches high, travelled in a circle around the shop, occasionally running off the rails, taking flight, disappearing or letting off fireworks.
“Your grandmother gave me the idea for that.” George appeared behind them. “Remember last Christmas when she was complaining about me being late for dinner because of Fred’s train set.”
“That’s not quite how I remember it.” Rose grinned.
“Yeah, well…” He waved her objections aside. “I thought it would be a good way of showing off some of our products. That’s our Instant Invisibility Powder,” he added, as the train disappeared again.
“How much?” Rose asked.
“Eight Sickles. It only lasts a maximum of five to ten minutes though. It wouldn’t be much replacement for something like an Invisibility Cloak.”
She thought for a moment. Five to ten minutes wouldn’t be much use for actual spying like they’d done at the end of the previous term, but it was long enough to get you out of a jam.
“I’ll take it,” she said.
She also got some Unnoticeable Notes and a couple of Self Inking and Spell Checking Quills.
Albus picked up a Sneakoscope.
“I’m going to keep this in my dormitory,” he said. “So I’ll know if a certain person tries to get in.”
Rose laughed. “I think if I kept one in my dormitory, it’d be constantly going off.” She glanced around at Angie. “Are you getting anything?”
She shook her head. “I don’t think I’ll bother.”
Once they’d paid, they headed back to the Leaky Cauldron. Lily and Hugo were standing outside the pub, blowing huge, differently shaped bubbles.
“They’re Believin’ Bubbles,” Lily called excitedly. “They turn into whatever you believe they will.”
“This one’s going to be a giant panda,” Hugo said.
He blew into the wand and a panda shaped bubble, larger than himself, began to form.
“This one’s going to be a witch’s hat,” Lily said.
Rose, Albus and Angie headed into the pub, leaving them to their bubbles.
“Ah, you’re back,” Harry said. “I suppose we’d really better get going, shouldn’t we, Ginny?”
“I suppose so. I’ll go and call Lily and Hugo in.”
“I should go too,” Angie said.
Rose accompanied her to the door and glanced out at Muggle London.
“I’ll see you on the Hogwarts Express,” she said.
“Write to me, OK?” Angie said. “Let me know if anything else important happens over the holidays.”
“I will,” Rose promised.
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