Chapter 2 : Diagon Alley
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Not that many people believed Harry had any faults at all, judging by their reactions as the Potter family entered Diagon Alley to purchase James’ school things during the last week of August. They travelled by Floo powder, despite Harry’s joking comments that he had bad associations with that stuff, so they avoided the reception which always seemed to await Harry in The Leaky Cauldron.
“You should have seen them the first time I ever went in there,” he had told James more than once. “I had only just found out that I was a wizard at that stage, never mind that I was famous! It was a bit scary, I can tell you; meeting all these people who seemed to believe I was something special, when I knew nothing whatsoever about magic. And I certainly hadn’t been encouraged to believe I was anything but an annoyance by the Dursleys.”
Maybe that explained why Harry was so apparently unaware of James’ failings as a wizard. Having grown up in a family where he received nothing but abuse and criticism, he seemed to make a point of ensuring that his children would receive plenty of praise and encouragement. Unfortunately, this only had the effect of convincing James that he could never live up to his father’s expectations.
And surely he should understand how difficult it was to start off knowing that everyone already expected you to be a great success. According to his own stories, he had started Hogwarts in the same fashion himself, with everybody in the wizarding world knowing he was a wizard before he knew himself- before he even knew there were such things as wizards, for Merlin’s sake. It was strange!
Not that his father’s experience would have been quite as bad as his, James decided. At least, at that point, Harry had merely been “The Boy who Lived,” whereas now he was also the man who defeated Lord Voldemort and ended once and for all the terror which the wizarding world had suffered during Voldemort’s lifetime. And not only that, but Harry had also been instrumental in the capture of several other Dark Wizards as well, including a large number of the Death Eaters- Voldemort’s supporters. As had happened the first time Voldemort had been defeated, many of them claimed to have been bewitched, but it was a little more difficult to convince people of this when you were being accused for the second time.
And surprise, surprise, Harry with a little help from Ron and Hermione had been among those who proved that certain Death Eaters were lying. Sometimes James wondered if there was anything his father hadn’t done.
It seemed that many other witches and wizards felt the same way. Harry had been famous before he was two years old, and as he had grown up, he had become more and more famous. Therefore, it was hardly surprising that so many witches and wizards wanted to stop and speak to him in the street.
James knew that this often irritated his father, particularly when, like today, he had something he wanted to get done. However if he was annoyed, he didn’t show it, and spent some time greeting his fans and answering their, mostly repetitive, questions.
“Yes, my son is starting Hogwarts this year. We’re just getting his things today. I’m sorry I can’t talk longer, but he’s anxious to be getting on. Weren’t we all the same when we were starting?”
This was a complete excuse. Harry himself was far more anxious to get on with it than James was. James and his sister actually quite welcomed the chance to wander off a little and look in shop windows while their father was otherwise engaged. It sure beat looking for boring school stuff.
Unlike his previous trips to Diagon Alley, however, a number of people wanted to speak to James as well this time. The ordinary people, for the most part, weren’t particularly interested in him, but the family was also stopped by a number of reporters and these were interested in hearing about things from James’ point of view, as well as from his father’s.
With the exception of one, Harry was willing to talk to these reporters. The exception was Rita Skeeter who Harry had long ago warned James and Rose about.
When James had been eight years old, and Rose, nearly six, Harry had pointed her out.
“See that woman,” he’d said. “I want you both to promise me that you will never speak to her, no matter what she might say. She’ll try and get you to talk about me, pretending she just wants to know what a nice daddy I am or something, but then she’ll make up you said bad things about me even if you didn't really.”
Naturally, both of them had promised they would never speak to her and on the one occasion she had tried to talk to them, James had replied, “Mummy and Daddy told us not to speak to strangers.”
Then he had moved on quickly before Rose could try to curse the woman or something.
Now, in Diagon Alley, they once again managed to avoid her, by blending quickly into the nearest crowd.
Most of the other reporters, however, were simply interested in getting a nice human interest story about Harry Potter’s son starting Hogwarts. James didn’t like the attention much and he didn’t really think his father did either. It was Rose who got the most enjoyment out of the situation.
“I’ll be starting Hogwarts too, in two years time,” she interrupted her brother. “I’m better at magic than he is, already, aren’t I James?”
“Be quiet, Rose,” ordered Ginny. “Stop showing off! The reporters are trying to talk to your father and brother, not you!”
“It’s not fair. Nobody ever wants to talk to me, just because I’m the youngest. And I am better at magic than James is. I am.”
Ginny dragged Rose off to the nearest sweetshop, while Harry and James continued to deal with the reporters.
“We’ll meet in Ollivanders in half an hour,” she muttered to Harry. “If you’re finished before that, go and get some of James’ school books.”
By the time they were finished there was only five minutes left until they were meant to meet Ginny and Rose, so Harry simply bought James a Butterbeer before heading to Ollivanders.
Within two minutes of entering the shop, James had decided that he did not like Mr. Ollivander. He could not have said why, except that his eyes were a bit creepy. That and the fact that he spent a little too much time talking about when he had first met Harry twenty-six years ago. But if James were to dislike everybody who talked too much about Harry, he wouldn’t like many people. Not wizards, anyway.
“Ah,” Mr. Ollivander began. “It seems no time since you were in here yourself Harry, buying your first wand. Holly and feather, eleven inches, wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” Harry replied.
“I thought so. I remember every wand I’ve ever sold. And there was a special reason why I should remember that particular wand. Did your father ever tell you the strange thing about that wand, young James?”
“Eh, no, I don’t think so,” James replied, but then his father had told him so many stories that it was not impossible that he should have forgotten this particular one.
“That wand had a brother. The phoenix feather came from the same bird as that in the wand I sold to You-Know-Who. That was the wand he used when he gave your father the scar on his forehead.”
Most people still referred to Voldemort as You-Know-Who or the Dark Lord or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. James had asked his father once why this was, and Harry had replied that people had been so scared of him that they feared to even use his real name.
“You wouldn’t understand. It was before your time,” he continued.
But James didn’t think people were still scared now. After all, it was twenty years since Voldemort had been defeated. The use of the pseudonyms just seemed to have become a habit. Despite his explanation, Harry believed that the practice was just silly, and encouraged his children to refer to Voldemort as Voldemort, which they did.
It took a few tries before James found the ideal wand for him.
“Though not as long as it took with your father,” Mr. Ollivander commented. “We nearly went through every wand in the shop before we found the wand which suited him.”
The wand which suited James was made of mahogany (“just like your namesake’s,” Mr. Ollivander put in.) and was 10 ½ inches long.
By the time it was chosen, Rose had become really bored of waiting.
“I want a wand too,” she complained.
Ginny sighed. “You know you’re not allowed to have a wand yet. Tell you what, we’ll get you a cat when we’re getting James’ animal. That suit you? What animal would you like, James?”
“How come he gets to choose and I don’t?”
“Because he is eleven and you aren’t nine yet,” Ginny explained. “James?”
“I think I’d like an owl,” James replied.
Finally the shopping was done. James had his wand, his school books, his robes and his owl, and Rose had her cat.
“Now all we have to do is wait for September the first, when you will start your time at Hogwarts,” Harry announced.
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