I wrinkled my nose in distaste as I heard a tapping. Why couldn't Aunt Petunia let me sleep in and savor my dream for once? It was a good one, too. Some giant came and told me that Harry and I were magical, and that we got to go and learn spells at some school called Pigfarts or something…
"Alright, I'm getting up," I heard Harry grumble. He pulled away from me and stood up. I let out a quiet groan of distaste as I lost his body heat and clutched my blankets closer.
Except these weren't my normal blankets. I'd gone to sleep last night under a threadbare sheet. This thing felt much thicker and sturdier. There were no holes and no thin spots. In fact, this felt like treated canvas, the kind that repelled water. It was really warm…
I opened one eye a slit and peered down.
I snapped upright, eyes coming open, and ran my hands over the huge overcoat I was sprawled under. It was the same one from my dream… that apparently wasn't a dream. Hagrid was snoring softly on the couch and Harry was slumped tiredly at the window where an owl was waiting with a newspaper tied to its leg.
He looked up and saw my expression, the way I was clinging to the coat, and smiled slightly. "Yeah, not a dream."
"So I noticed," I said, eyes flicking from Harry to the owl to Hagrid. "Erm, Hagrid? Hagrid!"
Hagrid groaned in response. The owl swooped into the window and dumped the newspaper on Hagrid's face. He gave a small shout of surprise and opened his eyes. I blinked in shock as the owl alighted next to me and pecked at the material of the coat expectantly.
"I don't know what you want," I said helplessly.
"Pay him," Hagrid grunted as he sat up straighter.
"What?" I asked in confusion.
"He wants pay for delivering the paper," Hagrid said, unrolling said paper. "In the pocket."
Hagrid's coat was nothing more than a conglomeration of pockets, it seemed. I stared at them all helplessly for a moment before beckoning Harry over to help. We came up with dog treats, keys, string, tea bags, and an odd looking root that pulsed unnervingly in my hand when I pulled it out. I hastily shoved it back into the pocket.
"Got it!" Harry said, tugging free a bunch of strange coins. "Erm… how much?" he asked, staring at the gold, silver, and bronze coins helplessly.
"Five Knuts," Hagrid said, opening the paper up.
I looked from Hagrid to the coins. "How much?" I repeated.
"The little bronze ones," Hagrid explained. Harry quickly picked out five of the knuts and passed them over to me, who was closest to the owl. I reached out and tucked the coins into the pouch on the owl's leg before giving it a little stroke on the head. The owl hooted happily and took off out the open window.
However this brought up an interesting point.
"Hagrid," harry said, shooting me an uncomfortable look as I passed Hagrid back his coat. "We don't have money."
"Course you do," Hagrid said dismissively, shrugging his coat on and tucking the paper into it.
I reminded him, "You heard Uncle Vernon, he said he won't pay-"
"Blimey, d'you think yer parents left you with nothin'?" Hagrid chuckled.
"But I though the house-" Harry began uncertainly.
"Well they didn't keep their money in the house! They kept it in a bank!"
"Wizards have banks?" I asked interestedly, standing up and stretching.
"Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins."
I choked midway through a yawn. Across from me, Harry paled slightly and whispered, "Goblins?"
"Yeah, so ye'd be mad ter try and rob it. Nasty creatures, goblins. In fact, I've got ter go to Gringotts anyway, an errand fer Dumbledore. He sends me to do lots o' important things," Hagrid said proudly. "Goin' ter Gringotts, fetchin' you two. Knows he can trust me, see."
After a quick breakfast of cold sausages, we took off. Hagrid said he'd flown to the island, but we took the boat back. Hagrid magicked it to row itself along while he read the paper and Harry and I clustered together, eyes bright with interest while he explained a few random things about the magical world to them. The Ministry of Magic, dragons, Gringotts and its defenses.
When we got to the train station, Hagrid definitely attracted stares. He was huge, for one, and he pointed at normal things and remarked on how odd they were. When we finally got on the train, Hagrid took out a pair of knitting needles and began working on what seemed to be a bright yellow camping tent but could have been a sock for him.
"Can we find all of these things in London?" I asked, scanning my list. I'd been going over it constantly, trying to imagine it all; waving a wand, striding around in wizard's robes, sending letters with my very own owl, bending over a cauldron and cooking up a potion.
"If you know where to go," Hagrid said with a conspiratorial wink.
'Where to go' turned out to be a grimy pub called the Leaky Cauldron, situation between a record store and a book shop. The Muggles who walked past glanced over it like it wasn't there. I got the distinct impression that, to them, it wasn't.
Hagrid said that the place was famous, but it certainly didn't look like it. Inside it was small and smoky. There were only a few people scattered around: some witches with their shopping, a twitchy young man, a guy with a top hat, and a wrinkled, toothless old bartender. Everyone looked up and waved when Hagrid entered.
"The usual, Hagrid?" the bartender called in a friendly way, reaching for a glass.
"Can't Tom, official Hogwarts business," Hagrid said proudly. He pushed Harry and I forwards so that Tom could get a better look at us. The old man's mouth dropped open.
"That can't be-" Tom gasped. The bar went still and silent as everyone turned to look at us. I shifted uncomfortably and we pressed closer, a solid front.
"Harry and Lorena Potter," the bartender whispered. I flinched. Hagrid had said that we would be famous, but I wasn't sure how I felt having some random old man I'd never met greeting me by name.
I was sure, however, that I didn't appreciate the flood of clients who rushed forwards to greet us.
"Doris Crockford, such a pleasure to meet you!"
I found my hands scooped up and shaken enthusiastically. The man in the top hat bowed and his hat fell off. My eyes widened as it triggered a memory.
"You bowed to us in a shop once!" Harry exclaimed, surprised. He'd clearly remembered the same thing. The man in the top hat grinned so wide it looked like his face might split.
"He remembers me, you hear, he remembers me!"
I didn't much like the attention, the way all these wizards and witches were beaming at us like we were particularly adorable kittens Hagrid had just brought in. But I did notice that most of them contented themselves with a brief greeting and a handshake when it came to me. Doris Crockford kept coming back to shake Harry's hand and people seemed much more interested in speaking to him than me.
I smiled slightly and hugged myself. Well, I didn't defeat the biggest bad the wizarding world had faced in the last century, did I?
That was true for most people. Not the twitchy young man though.
"L-L-Lorena P-P-P-Potter, such a pl-pl-pleasure!" he announced. I plastered on a smile – it wouldn't do to be impolite – and offered him my hand. He recoiled as if I'd just tried to stab him, giving a weak smile.
"Ah hah, I-I'm not m-m-much for sh-sh-sh-sh-shaking h-hands," he explained.
"Professor!" Hagrid greeted jovially. "I didn see yeh there! Harry, Lorena, this is Professor Quirrell! He'll be teachin' yeh Defense Against the Dark Arts!"
"F-F-Fascinating subject," Quirrell stammered, though he looked like he would have rather said 'f-f-frightening.' "N-Not that y-you n-need it, e-e-eh?"
Hagrid let the other patrons have us for a few more minutes before whisking us off into the back alley behind the pub. Trash littered the area. Hagrid pulled us to a stop in front of a brick wall.
"Told yeh," he said pointedly, tugging out his umbrella. "Yer famous. Even Professor Quirrell was tremblin' to meet yeh. Mind yeh, he's usually tremblin'."
"Does he need some kind of medication?" I asked.
Hagrid explained something about him getting in trouble with some vampires while on a sabbatical, but I pretty much tuned him out after the word 'vampire,' taking the chance to process it. When I stopped imagining a Dracula monster sinking its fangs into my neck, I looked up to find Hagrid tapping his umbrella against the bricks on the wall. My eyes widened as they began to spin around each other, pulling back to reveal-
"Welcome to Diagon Alley," Hagrid said grandly.
Witches and wizards bustled everywhere, some tugging children along. Some seemed eager to get on with tier shopping, but some were lingering and chatting happily. A cluster of young witches were gathered around a clothing store, cooing over some glistening black beaded robes. A young boy was pointing at a sweet shop hopefully. A few old men were gathered in the shade of a patio outside of a little café, talking about the Ministry. A couple of guys in their mid-twenties clustered in front of a shop, staring at a gorgeous, streamlined broomstick in awe.
It was like a normal street, but… magical. Vapors and sparks drifted from the doors of some of the shops. Owls fluttered overhead, lighting on lamp posts. Some of the shops had floating signs outside that repainted themselves with sales every few seconds. The people were walking around in robes and pointed hats, a few even twirling wand absently as they walked.
It was gorgeous.
And so was Gringotts, I mused as Hagrid guided us towards it. It was made of snow white marble with a pair of bronze doors, people filtering in and out casually. Past the bronze doors was a set of silver ones with a poetic warning against thievery – basically steal anything and we kill you, I observed – and standing beside those doors in a red and gold uniform was
"Yeah, tha's a goblin," Hagrid confirmed.
The goblin had a pointed beard and a clever face. It was a head shorter than I was and it had very long fingers and feet. It seemed oddly disproportioned, I mused, and I vaguely wondered how he kept balanced.
Past the silver doors were more goblins. Some tottered around under piles of records as large as they were. A few were dealing with customers. Some were weighing coins and gemstones carefully against a series of weights, and my eyes widened at a pile of rubies the size of her fist. Still more goblins bent over thick ledgers, making notes every now and then with quill pens.
Hagrid approached one of the free goblins and cleared his throat. The goblin looked a little irked as he set aside his quill and asked, "Yes?"
"The Potter children wish to make a withdrawal," Hagrid explained.
The goblin leaned over his counter, looking at us calculatingly. "And do they have their key?" he asked as he sat back, sounding unimpressed.
"Oh, uh…" Hagrid fumbled in his pockets. He pulled out a live dormice and some dog treats before finally plucking out a golden key. He held it up triumphantly, stuffing the dormice back where it came from. The goblin took the key and examined it, looking infinitely pleased as Hagrid removed the dog treats from where he'd dropped them on the counter.
"An' I've got a letter from Dumbledore about the thing in vault 713," Hagrid added, thrusting out his chest importantly as he offered the letter to the goblin. He scanned the letter through, nodding to himself before passing it back.
"Everything seems to be in order," the goblin said. "I'll have a goblin take you to both vaults. Griphook!"
Another goblin ventured forwards and gestured for us to follow him.
"What's in vault 713?" Harry asked curiously.
"Can't tell yeh," Hagrid said mysteriously. "Hogwarts business, very secret. Dumbledore trusted me with it. More'n my jobs worth ter tell yeh."
I had expected to be led into a labyrinth holding rows and rows of vaults. Instead, we entered a cavernous chamber that dropped away under my feet, going so far down that if it weren't for the torches running down the walls at varying depths, I wouldn't have even been able to see all of the way down. Mine cart tracks ran around the place wildly, like some kind of ride at a theme park. Dimly, I thought I could hear water rushing.
"Get in," Griphook ordered as a mine cart rolled up to us. Hagrid looked a little green as he crammed himself into the back. Harry and I climbed in front of him, and Griphook took point. The cart lurched under us and we were off, whizzing down the track, making turns on its own and taking us deeper and deeper.
"What's the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite?" Harry mused aloud.
"Stalagmites got an m in it," Hagrid groaned. "I hate these carts, they make me sick."
"Stalagmites are the ones on the ground," I recalled, observing Hagrid. His lips were pinched together like he was trying to hold back vomit. At the risk of being sprayed with what could potentially be buckets of sick, Harry and I kept quiet and didn't ask him any more questions.
We ground to a stop by a little door in the wall. Hagrid got out to lean against the wall, steadying himself. Griphook climbed out as well and took the key, sliding it into the lock and turning it. He opened the door and a puff of green smoke exploded out. When it cleared, I stared in awe.
Heaps of gold, columns of silver, and piles of bronze. Faintly, I wondered what the exchange rate from wizard to Muggle currency was, and whether it fluctuated with the prices of gold and silver. No matter what the rate was, I was positive I was looking at more money than I'd ever seen before. The idea that I had this vault full of precious metals and… yeah, I saw some jewelry cases sitting on a table, barely visible in a heap of Knuts.
"If the Dursleys had any idea they'd lose their minds," Harry murmured.
"I think we might be richer than they are," I said, smothering my laughter in a hand. The idea that I had to beg and plead for new clothes from the Dursleys now seemed hysterical, when I could probably buy their whole house several times over.
Hagrid helped us shovel some money into a bag for each of us, explaining as he did so, "Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon, twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle. Righ', that'll be enough for a couple'a terms. We'll keep the res' safe here fer yeh. Vault 713 please, and can we go a bi' slower?" Hagrid almost begged the goblin.
Griphook smiled unpleasantly. "One speed only."
We went even deeper into the vaults, the air getting colder and damper around us. The torches seemed to be a little more infrequent, leaving us in short patches of darkness. When we stopped beside vault 713, Harry and I both looked forwards eagerly. After our vault, we were expecting something equally impressive. Perhaps mounds of precious jewels or secret spell books or ancient artifacts.
"Stand back," Griphook ordered. The door had no keyhole, but when Griphook stroked it with a long finger, the door simply dissolved into nothing. "If any but a Gringotts goblin tried that, they'd be sucked inside and trapped."
I couldn't resist asking, "How often do you check to see if anyone's in there?"
Griphook gave me a nasty grin. "About once a decade."
I wished I hadn't asked.
Inside was rather anticlimactic. No jewels, no books, no artifacts. In fact at first it looked totally empty, not even a forgotten Knut sparkling from the corner. But then Hagrid stepped forwards, scooping up a grubby little package about the size of my palm. It was tied with brown twine. Hagrid shoved it into his pocket before we could really notice anything else beyond that.
"Bes' not mention this to anyone at the school," Hagrid advised. "Now come on, back in the bloody cart, and don' talk to me on the way back. I think I migh' vomit."
When we emerged into the sunlight, I felt a bit of sensory overload. After the dark vaults the bright sunlight and bustling noise of the street was a little dizzying. The pouch of money was heavy in my hands and I was debating about where to run first. There were so many things I wanted to look at. A little junk shop nearby with a lovely chess set in the window, a shop sporting brooms in its display case, a pet store that let off growls, howls, chirps, and hisses every few seconds.
"Migh' as well get yer robes first," Hagrid said, pointing to a nearby store, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. "Yeh mind if I pop off to the Leaky Cauldron for a pick me up? I hate those Gringotts carts."
Harry and I exchanged glances. We would have preferred to have Hagrid go with us on our first errand, but we could both tell that he still wasn't feeling exactly fresh. His skin was no longer green, but it was a lot greyer than normal, and his eyes were slightly glazed. Besides, we wouldn't exactly be alone, either.
"Go ahead," I approved, squaring my shoulders. Hagrid gave a grateful smile and hustled off towards the pub. I reached over for Harry's hand.
"It's just clothes shopping," I assured myself. "Should be boring, right?"
"Magical clothes," Harry pointed out. "They might… I dunno, try and strangle us or something."
I scowled at him. "Thank you Harry Potter. I was thinking more about getting stuck with pins, but now I'm worried about homicidal jumpers too."
"Sorry," Harry apologized as we stepped inside.
A squat, smiling witch dressed in mauve hustled up to us, presumably Madam Malkin. "Hogwarts, dears?" she guessed before we could say anything. "I've got the lot here… Another young man being fitted just now, in fact."
Standing in the back of the shop was a pale, pointy-faced boy, a second witch hemming up the robes he was dressed in. Madam Malkin ushered us towards two other footstools and helped us up. A blonde witch bustled out with two sets of black robes in her hands. Madam Malkin took one, unfolded it with a grand flip, and slid it over Harry's head. The blonde witch tugged another set over my head and set about pinning it up properly.
"Hogwarts?" the boy asked. He had a drawling kind of voice.
"Yeah," Harry said. I just nodded, observing my reflection. The robes would definitely take some getting used to, but I actually quite liked the breezy way they fell around my wrists and ankles. And besides, anything was better than the ill-fitting second-hand stuff Aunt Petunia usually gave me.
"Me too," the boy said. "My father's next door getting my textbooks and my mother's looking at wands. Then I think I'll drag them off to look at racing brooms. I think it's so unfair that first years aren't allowed to have them. I think I'll bully father into buying me one and smuggle it in anyway."
I glanced sideways and saw Harry staring at the pale boy, nonplussed. I caught his eye and puffed out my cheeks, screwing up my face into a pout and holding out my hands to illustrate fatness. It was a passable interpretation of Dudley. Harry bit his lip to keep from snorting and nodded in agreement.
"Have you got your own broom?" the boy asked.
"No," Harry replied, and I echoed him.
"Do you play Quidditch at all?"
We exchanged completely lost glances before shaking we heads. The boy didn't seem to require an answer, because he went on to say, "I do. Father says it's a crime if I'm not picked to play for the house team, and I must say I agree. Know what house you'll be in yet?"
"No," Harry said, and by now I was feeling like I was listing to the pale boy speak French. Although, judging by the snooty way he talked, he might very well know some French too. The wizarding world apparently had its own terms that I was completely ignorant of. Like Quidditch. It sounded like a sport, I gathered it was played on brooms, but personally I thought it sounded more like an uncomfortable sort of rash.
"Well no one really knows until they get there, obviously," the boy said, although there was nothing obvious about it. "But I'm sure I'll be in Slytherin, all my family have been. Imagine being in Hufflepuff!" he scoffed. "I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"
"Mmm," Harry said noncommittally. I amused myself with imagining what 'Slytherin' and 'Hufflepuff' sounded like they could be. I'd just settled on Slytherin as a mouthwash and Hufflepuff as a children's toy company when the boy suddenly announced, "I say, look at that man!"
I turned to see Hagrid smiling at us through the window, waving and pointing at three ice creams held in his hands to show why he didn't come in.
"That's Hagrid," Harry said, smiling back at the gamekeeper. "He works at Hogwarts."
"Oh, I've heard of him," the boy sneered, turning up his nose. "He's like a servant, isn't he?"
"He's the Keeper of Keys and Grounds," I corrected, speaking out loud for the first time.
"Yes, exactly," the boy nodded. "I heard he's sort of savage – lives in a hut on the edge of the Forbidden Forest and every now and then he gets drunk and sets fire to his bed."
"He's great," I said sharply, narrowing my eyes at the boy. He turned to look at me and narrowed his eyes condescendingly.
"Why is he with you? Where are your parents?"
"They're dead," Harry said shortly.
"Oh, sorry," the boy said dispassionately. "But they were our kind, right?"
"They were a witch and wizard, if that's what you mean," I snapped, getting increasingly annoyed. I wondered if there was a spell that would set the boy's robes on fire. Or maybe not on fire, maybe just make them smoke a little. Or if I could just levitate a pin from the cushion on Madam Malkin's wrist and make it stab him right in the rear…
"I really don't think they should let the other sort in. They're just not the same, they haven't been brought up to understand our ways. Some haven't even heard of Hogwarts until they get their letters, I imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families. What's your surname, anyway? Are you two related?"
Harry opened his mouth. I opened mine, too, intent on giving the boy a verbal thrashing. I may not have understood half of what he was saying, but I understood condescension very well, having been on the receiving end for a lot of my life.
"That's you done, dear," Madam Malkin said to Harry, and the blonde witch working on my robes patted my leg and told me I could get down too. I obliged, saving the boy from diatribe that likely wouldn't have been very polite.
"See you at Hogwarts," the boy said as we moved off.
Madam Malkin made the necessary adjustments to our robes and wrapped up a few spares as well before passing them over. We paid for our purchases and headed for the door. Harry quickly exited, claiming his ice cream from Hagrid and frowning to himself. I had no doubt he was deep in thought about what the boy had said.
He seemed like the smug sort that had been raised to think that because he could trace his family back a couple of centuries people should bow at his feet. But I also had an ace up my sleeve. I was a Potter. My father and mother were James and Lily Potter, who from what Hagrid had said were both very impressive. My bother defeated the big bad You-Know-Who, and even I'd faced him down and lived to tell about it.
"Hey, you," I called back to the boy as he hopped off the footstool. He looked a little nonplussed at being called 'you,' but he straightened up and asked, "What?"
"To answer your question," I began. "We're siblings. Twins, actually. And our surname? It's Potter."
I took a moment to delight in his gob smacked face before sweeping from Madam Malkin's, feeling rather smug.
We took shelter in the outside patio of a small café. Hagrid distributed our ice creams. I took mine happily, looking around the café with interest. There was a sign advertising a butterbeer latte and firewhiskey chocolates sold inside.
Harry bit into his chocolate and raspberry ice cream with nuts, giving out a loud crunch. Hagrid had already polished off his triple scoop of chocolate and I was quite happily lapping at my own cookie dough ice cream.
"Hagrid?" Harry asked suddenly. "What's Quidditch?"
"It sounds like a rash," I added absently.
"Blimey, I keep forgettin' how much yeh don' know!" Hagrid exclaimed. "Not knowin' about Quidditch!"
"You're not helping," I pointed out. Harry explained to him about the pale boy from Madam Malkin's and all that he'd said, ending with his opinion on kids from Muggle families.
"Yeh're not from a Muggle family," Hagrid corrected. "If he'd known who yeh were – he'll have grown up hearin' yer name if his parents are wizardin' folk. Look at how people were like in the Leaky Cauldron. Anyway, what does he know? Some o' the best witches and wizards came from Muggle families. Look at yer mom and what she had fer a sister."
Harry nodded, looking a little happier. I was privately smirking to myself, reveling once again in the look on the pale boy's face when I told him who we were. Oh yes, he knew who we were.
"So what is Quidditch?" Harry asked again.
"It's our sport, played on brooms up in the air. It's like soccer, ev'ryone follows it."
"And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?" Harry pressed.
"Sounds like mouthwash and a toy company," I said, sharing my thoughts from earlier. Harry snorted into his ice cream and Hagrid smiled.
"School houses," he explained. "There's four. Ev'ryone says Hufflepuff's are a bunch o' duffers-"
"Bet I'm a Hufflepuff," Harry said glumly.
"Now, we will be in the most awesome house," I said, licking my ice cream and looking down my nose in mock superiority. "Our presence will make it so."
Harry gave me a look and I snickered into my ice cream, breaking the act.
"Better a Hufflepuff than a Slytherin," Hagrid said darkly. "Not a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn' in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one."
"Vol- sorry, You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?" Harry corrected himself quickly.
"Years ago, yeah."
After we finished their ice cream, we headed into a shop called Flourish & Blotts. I gaped. I loved to read, but I never got to unless I got books from the school library, and Dudley's gang usually stole them before I got to finish them. I'd learned to read very fast if I wanted to get through them. Like a kid in a candy store, I stared at the different books bound in exotic silks and colored leathers, some with runes or gems embedded in the covers.
Harry and I ventured through the shelves and around other students shopping, collecting their textbooks. I stared down at the titles happily. I supplemented it with a few titles I saw that looked interesting. Things like Beginner's Magizoology, How Not to Kill Yourself with Herbs, Wand Care and Maintenance, Seers Through History, Basic Mediwizardry for the Accident-Prone, and Wandlore for the Curious were added to my pile, despite the fact that I could barely support the large stack of books. It was definitely more than I should have spent, but could I really be blamed for wanting to read up on things that looked interesting?
"I was trying to figure out how to curse Dudley."
I looked up from a copy of Hogwarts: A History and found Hagrid escorting Harry down the aisle.
"I'm no' sayin' tha's not a good idea, but yer not allowed ter do magic in the Muggle world except in very special circumstances," Hagrid warned. "'sides, it'll be a while before yer ready for spells like that."
Harry looked a little disappointed, and then his eyes landed on me and my pile of books. By this point, it was about half as tall as I was.
"Are you buying the whole shop?" he demanded pointedly. I glared, smacking the book in my hand down on top of the pile pointedly.
"I wanted to do some background reading," I said loftily.
"Can you even pick all of those up?" Harry asked skeptically.
"Uhh…" I frowned and bent down. After some awkward maneuvering, I managed to worm my fingers under the bottom of the stack and pick it up. My arms trembled and I had to tuck the top under my chin, but I was holding it. Over the top of my pile, I stuck out my tongue.
"So take that, brother dear."
Next we went to the north side of Diagon Alley. At Potage's Cauldron Shop Harry and I picked up our pewter standard size 2's, despite Harry's interest in a golden cauldron. We got scales and a telescope each from Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment. I had looked around that shop with interest, examining different Astronomy equipment that I had no idea how you might use.
We passed a place called Madam Primpernelle's Beautifying Potions. A few small cauldrons bubbled merrily in the display, signs advertising them as skin-clearing, wart-removing, and pimple-popping. There was also a display of Impervious Lipstick – It Never Wears Off ! – and some Color-Change Eye shadow – Matches Your Outfit! I shook my head. Maybe in a few years, but not now.
Hagrid took us into Amanuensis Quills to get our writing equipment. Harry and I gaped outright at the idea of writing with quills and parchment, but at the same time, I was eager to try it. We wandered around, staring at the different feathered quills and the various colors of ink. I admired some gold-leafed parchment while Harry examined a peacock-feather quill. I snorted at the size of it. I couldn't help but think that would be kind of obnoxious to write with. I did splurge on some ink that changed color depending on the writer's mood. I imagined watching the color get steadily redder as I wrote a particularly difficult essay for some class and couldn't resist.
I was fascinated by Slug & Jiggers Apothecary. Harry was too. We ran around, holding our breath as much as possible to block out the horrid smell, peering into barrels of slimy things and examining the labels on jars of herbs. We got basic potions kits, which came with phials, utensils, and starter ingredients in a hard case to protect them.
Once we left the apothecary, things were starting to get tricky with all of our packages. I was starting to regret getting so many books. I was also cursing whoever required us to have a pewter cauldron and that damned potions kit. Those things were heavy.
Hagrid consulted our supplies lists again thoughtfully. "Jus' yer wands left – and I need ter get yeh a birthday present."
I looked up at him in confusion and Harry blushed.
"You don't have to," Harry assured him.
"Yeah, the cake was amazing enough," I added. "It's better than anything the Dursleys have gotten us."
"Tha's not sayin' much," Hagrid snorted. "I know I don' have to. Tell yah what, I'll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads went out of fashion years ago. Yeh'll be laughed at. All the kids want owls, they're dead useful, carry yer mail an' ev'rythin. I'll get yeh both owls."
I was awed at the inside of Eeylops Owl Emporium. It was full of glistening eyes and fluttering feathers. I'd stared in awe at all the different kinds of owls and the different things that went along with them: bronze cages, owl treats, claw care products, and little pouches for holding small objects.
When we left, Harry and I were stammering our awed thanks, gaping at our new owls. Harry had picked a gorgeous snowy owl with an imperious gaze. I had selected an elegant barn owl with black eyes, and was busy trying to figure out what to name her.
"Don' mention it," Hagrid said gruffly, but he seemed pleased that we loved our gifts so much. "Jus' Ollivander's left now. Only place fer wands, and yeh've gotta have the best wands."
I glanced at Harry, a smile spreading across my lips as my eyes fairly glowed. This was what I'd been waiting for – a magic wand. My mind kept alternating between the classic black and white one used by stage magicians and the elaborate carved stick you saw in fantasy movies. I tried to imagine what my wand would be like.
Ollivander's was fairly unassuming. It was narrow and shabby, with peeling gold letters over the door reading Ollivander's: Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 B.C. Displayed in the front window was a single wand on a dusty cushion of purple velvet. I stared at it curiously and wondered why it was the only one sitting out.
A bell tinkled and they stepped inside. My breath caught ant the rows and rows of long, thin boxes. Dusty floated in the air. The whole place had a sort of quiet energy, like a library. Something about it made me soften my steps like I would if I were trying to sneak food from the kitchen during a punishment.
"Good afternoon," said a quiet voice. Harry whipped around and I let out a soft yelp of surprise. From one of the stacks emerged a hunched old man with big, silvery eyes. I watched in slight awe as he easily maneuvered around the piles of wands on the floor. He looked like he was either blind of close to it.
"Hello," Harry said awkwardly. I gave a small, awkward incline of my head in greeting.
"Ah yes," the man said quietly. "Yes, yes. I knew I'd be seeing you both sometime soon, Harry and Lorena Potter. Lorena, the spitting image of your mother, and Harry, you with her eyes. I seems like only yesterday she was here buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Good for charms work." He stepped closer, observing us carefully. "Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for charms work. Well, I say your father favored it… It's really the wand that chooses the wizard, after all."
Mr. Ollivander was close enough that I could feel his breath on my left cheek. It stirred the hair that was always pulled forwards the cover the scar. Mr. Ollivander raised his hands. One pressed against Harry's forehead over his scar, flicking his bangs aside to get at it. The other crept under my red locks, finding the pale, slightly raised S carved into my cheek.
I hated my scar. It set me apart, drew eyes. For as long as I could remember, I'd worn my hair with at least half of it falling over my left shoulder. Usually it covered the left half of my face from the middle over. I could see through the strands, but no one else could. Occasionally I'd pull it all over my shoulder and braid it or put it in a ponytail starting at my chin, but my cheek was always, always covered.
"I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," Mr. Ollivander mused. "Yew. Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Powerful, very powerful. If I'd known what that wand would go out into the world to do…" He shook his head, catching sight of Hagrid, who was seated very gingerly on a spindly-legged chair in the corner. "Ah, Rubeus Hagris. Oak, sixteen inches, rather bendy, wasn't it?"
"It was, sir," Hagrid nodded.
"Good wand, that one. But I supposed they snapped it in half when you were expelled?" Ollivander seemed more present in the conversation than he had thus far, as if they very idea of destroying a wand was a personal affront. Then again, he seemed to see people as the wands he'd made, the wands that chose them, so maybe it was.
"Er, yes, yes they did," Hagrid admitted. "But I've still got the pieces," he added brightly.
Ollivander's eyes sharpened. "But you don't use them?"
"Oh, erm, no sir," Hagrid said, tugging his flowery umbrella closer. I narrowed my eyes at the umbrella. That would explain why he'd brandished it when threatening Uncle Vernon and why he used it to tap the bricks behind the Leaky Cauldron. I was pretty sure that the pieces of his wand were in that umbrella.
"Hm." Ollivander didn't look convinced either, but he turned back to Harry, tugging a long tape measure with silver markings from his pocket. "You first, I think. Which is your wand hand?"
"I'm right-handed?" Harry said, holding up the hand uncertainly. Ollivander went to work, measuring him from wrist to elbow, elbow to shoulder, knee to ground, around his head… all kind of different things that I couldn't for the life of me figure out how they might be relevant. Actually, it was more accurate to say that the tape measured him, because Ollivander had moved off into the shelves, mumbling to himself.
"Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance," he explained. "We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand. That's enough, now her," he added to the tape measure, which was measuring between Harry's nostrils. It switched to me and I held out my right hand obligingly. "Now Mr. Potter, try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it and give it a wave."
Harry took the wand and waved it around a bit. I watched interestedly, but Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of his hand almost at once.
"Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try this…"
Harry had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.
"No, no, here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out."
I watched the growing pile of wands with awe. Wands of walnut, ash, and cedar were tossed aside. Some were bendy, some unbendable. Nothing seemed to satisfy Ollivander, and I couldn't quite tell if he was getting increasingly excited or frustrated as the pile grew larger.
"Tricky customer, eh?" the old man observed. "Not to wonder, we'll find the perfect match somewhere… I wonder… Holly and phoenix feather, quite an unusual combination. Eleven inches, nice and supple."
Harry took the wand from Ollivander, looking a bit weary from all the wands he'd been testing. But almost immediately, I could tell that something was different about this one. He straightened up, looking down at the wand in surprise. Red and gold sparks shot from the tip like fireworks. Hagrid applauded and Mr. Ollivander smile, but there was something behind it, almost like the reaction unnerved him.
"Bravo, yes, very good. Curious though… very curious… Curious, curious… Miss Potter, I wonder… I wonder… Very curious indeed," he murmured, pinning me with those eerie saucer-like eyes of his before moving off into the stacks. Instead of combing the shelves, he went straight for one box, plucking it from its resting place and opening it up. Mr. Ollivander returned to the front and offered the box to me.
I looked inside, curious and also slightly wary. Mr. Ollivander seemed tense now, like he was expecting something, but he wasn't sure whether it was good news or bad yet.
No matter the wandmaker's reaction, I had to admit that the wand inside was gorgeous. A slim, elegant white wand speckled with black spots above a handle carved with curving patterns. When tilted one way they looked like vines, but then the light caught it a different way, they could have been some kind of runes.
I reached out and pushed away the thin gossamer fabric laid over the wand. I reached inside, hand trembling slightly, and took the handle in my fingers, lifting it up. I held it between the tips of my fingers, then shifted my grip so that my pointer finger extended along the shaft. The wood felt smooth and welcoming against my skin. A strange sort of warmth welled up, tingling my palm, and I knew what had caught Harry's attention when he'd picked up his holly wand.
"Give it a wave," Mr. Ollivander sighed. I felt like I'd been jerked out of some kind of trance by the old man's voice. It was now lower, almost suspicious. The old man had fixed his eyes on me intently. I turned away from him and flicked my wrist elegantly. Sparks burst from the tip of mine, but unlike Harry, mine were gold and silver. I smiled, raising the wand again so that it was parallel to my face.
"What's it made of?" I asked curiously.
"Twelve and a quarter inches. Very supple." He paused. "Yew, with a phoenix feather core."
My head snapped up, recognizing the last two qualifications. My hand jumped to my cheek. "Y-You said-" I began uncertainly.
Ollivander nodded. "I remember every wand I've ever sold," he said slowly. "It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather resides in your wand, Mr. Potter, gave another feather. Just one other. I find it curious that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar. And Miss Potter… wand wood is hard to come by. You can't simply cut a tree and turn it into dozens of wands. At most you can get a few branches from the same tree. The yew from your wand came from a particularly fine specimen of a yew tree… several centuries old, in fact. I got exactly two branches from that tree. One is in your wand-"
"And the other is in his," I finished for him, staring down at my wand. I looked up at Mr. Ollivander. "But the core-"
"From a different phoenix," Mr. Ollivander assured me. "I have heard of wands with cores from the same animal coming against each other… but there is precious little information on wands with wood from the same tree."
I looked at my wand with a new respect. The wood from this wand was the same wood that had killed my parents. But for an accident of fate, this wand might have been the one that took me parents from me. The wand, which had originally seemed elegant and lovely, suddenly took on a slightly more menacing cast. I realized that, pretty as I found my wand to be, it was still a weapon.
"It's curious how these things happen," Ollivander said, looking between us. "The wand chooses the wizard. We must expect great things from the both of you. After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things… terrible, yes… but great."
Mr. Ollivander seemed almost awed by what the wand he'd created – the wand that had killed our parents – had gone on to do. I shuddered, placing my wand back in the box and wrapping the fabric over it again. I took the box from Mr. Ollivander and put the lid back on, holding it close to my chest.
I wasn't entirely sure Mr. Ollivander was a good man.
We paid seven Galleons each for our wands and left. Left the shop, left Diagon Alley, left the Leaky Cauldron, left the magical world behind. I didn't pay much attention to the eyes that lingered on our large, oddly-shaped packages and owls got on the Underground. I sat with the box holding my wand in my lap, trailing my fingers up and down it thoughtfully.
I looked up and realized we were in the train station. Hagrid pushed a hamburger towards me, looking concerned.
"You both're quiet," he observed.
I looked back down at my wand, which was still in its box on my lap, and ran my finger the length of it. This had been my best birthday ever: a pet, a wand, a ticket to a magical school, information about my parents. So much that I hadn't realized how desperately I wanted until I had it.
And yet there was the matter of my wand. Mine, Harry's, and Voldemort's. The way Ollivander spoke of wands was almost like a proud grandfather cooing over his many grandchildren. He talked like they were alive, like they had their own distinct personalities and quirks. And while that may be true… what did it mean that our three wands were all connected?
It had to mean something. It was too much of a coincidence not to, and I couldn't come up with a positive spin to it. The idea of having a connection to the man who'd taken my parents from me and almost taken my brother… He'd already carved a sign of his presence into my flesh, and now the instrument of my magic had a touch of him to it as well.
And yet I couldn't bring myself to hate the wand. I almost felt defensive of it. Such a beautiful wand, and such beautiful magic I'd done with it too. I could still see those silver and gold sparks dancing behind my eyelids, lighting up the shop and making the dust motes in the air gleam like drop of ichor. It didn't deserve to be tainted by the ugly reputation of Voldemort's wand.
And suddenly it clicked. I wouldn't allow it to be. This wand may have a connection to Voldemort, but it was mine. I would direct and it and tell it what to do. This wand would bring me power, but not through murder. It would make me strong in a different way – whatever way I saw fit.
"Everyone thinks we're special," Harry said suddenly. I tugged myself from my thoughts, removing my hand from the box. "All those people at the Leaky Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander, but I don't know anything about magic. We're famous for something we can't remember. I don't know what happened that night, I don't know what I did. How can they expect great things from either of us?"
Hagrid smiled kindly. "Don' worry, Harry. You'll learn fast enough. Ev'ryone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts. Jus' be yourself. Yeh've both been singled out, an' tha's hard. Yeh'll have a great time at Hogwarts. I did. Still do, 'smatter o' fact."
Hagrid escorted us to the train that would take us back to the Dursleys. Before we parted, he handed us each an envelope.
"Yer ticket fer Hogwarts. First of September, King's Cross Station… It's all in there," Hagrid explained. "If yeh've any trouble with the Dursley's, send yer owl, she'll know how to find me."
He bid us adieu. I looked down at the wand in my lap once more, and when I looked out the window next, Hagrid was gone. I reached over to Harry and he took my hand willingly, holding them locked together on his lap.
"We'll be okay," I whispered. "We will."