Discliamer: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: The only OC here is Livia Sprout. I took creative license with Minerva's bday. She was actually born in 1935, but for the purpose of this story, she was born on October 4, 1926. She is 3 months older than Tom.
Rubeus hated shopping. Rubeus loved shopping. There was a reason for his love and hate relationship with shopping, not counting the lingering trauma of the fact that it had been a shopping trip that had sent him swirling into the past. No, it wasn't that that made Rubeus hate shopping (nor was it what made him love shopping). What made him hate shopping was the crowd. His bulk gave him an upper hand in mowing through the crowds (a fact that Livia took shameless advantage of), but that didn't mean he liked to be boxed in by the busy people. What made him love shopping was the unexpected treasures he usually ended up with, whether for himself or to gift it to someone else (treats for Aragog, good fertilizer for his garden, Hedwig for Harry, snake food for Tom, Rue for Mona, and so on). What made shopping even more enjoyable was when he went with his family. Usually.
Turns out shopping for Hogwarts was actually a good deal more important than Rubeus had ever thought.
Who knew? Rubeus could barely recall his own Hogwarts shopping the first time around, all he retained now was the memory of his dad joking as to how he didn't have to worry about losing Rubeus in the crowd. And later when he had taken Harry shopping, he had been more concerned with making sure that Harry did not end up buying the pure gold cauldron, the whole book-store, the diamond and ruby studded telescope, and other things that would have bankrupted the lad. And when Rubeus was re-enrolled into Hogwarts, to finish his schooling, Harry, Ron and Neville had decided to make it into a celebratory outing, which had led to Hermione buying the materials Rubeus needed, as the boys and Rubeus had been too hungover to do it.
But, according to Livia, Hogwarts shopping was almost a rite of passage for the young witches and wizards entering a new chapter of their lives. It is also a time when the new students might get a chance to meet each other, as many of the students would be in Diagon Alley for their school shopping. Honestly, Livia has a List, detailing exactly what they are going to do and when. As such, the shopping for Tom's school things called for a completely different mindset than the one Rubeus initially had. The trip that Rubeus had thought would be a couple hours at most, has now turned into a day-long trip. Beginning with a breakfast at 8 and ending with a celebratory dinner at White's, the magical restaurant, with all the shopping to be done in between (with a break for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron). It is to be a busy day.
Rubeus can hardly wait. (He is careful to be only sarcastic in his mind. Livia can be terrifying if given a reason).
(Tom, on the other hand, is honestly very excited for this trip! He's going to Hogwarts! He wonders if he'll be allowed to bring one of his snakes with him to the trip.)
Livia has a List, and Merlin help anyone not under the age of 15 coming between her and her List (yes, the capital letter is needed). Even Rubeus, with his half-giant strength and immunity to most grievous spells and potions, trembles at the very thought of denying Livia and her List. As it is, it is only the fact the Minerva McGonagall is a eleven year old girl that saves her from Livia's formidable wrath at interrupting the properly Listed and Scheduled Shopping Trip (again, capitals are needed). That, and the adorable and highly intelligent (seriously, aren't the kids eleven?) debate both Tom and Minerva dwell into over their shared love for knowledge and the proper ways of gaining it (book-reading with a side of supervised and safe experimentation. Safe and Supervised being the key words).
They had bumped into the McGonagall family at Flourish and Blotts. Or rather, Tom had bumped into Minerva, literally, as he had been very distracted, having been allotted only an hour (just one Hour!?) to do his book shopping. As it is, Tom would have been quite happy to go on his way ("I only have 45 minutes left! So many books still to choose! Have to hurry!") if not for the fear he had about facing Aunt Liv's wrath over not minding his manners ("I would rather slather myself in honey and kick a beehive, than go through Aunt Liv's Lectures on Manners again. No, I am not joking.") The apology had somehow turned into insults, which had then turned into the aforementioned debate over the merits of taking things at book-value v/s experimentations.
Kids, who knew what went on in their heads? Livia certainly didn't. What she did know was the fact the her List was now no longer useful, unless she wanted to snub the parents of her godson's soon to be best friend and whisk her family away to maintain the Timing of her List. Which she didn't. Oh, well.
Wait. Wasn't that Isobel Ross? Livia had wondered what had happened to her, they had been in Hogwarts together, though in different houses and years. Last Livia had heard Isobel had cut all ties with her family. Looking at her husband staring at Rubeus in astonishment, Livia could divine the reasons why. So, Isobel had married a Muggle, and left the Magical World behind for him. Isobel looked happy enough, maybe a little lonely. Perhaps Livia should stop contemplating her, and go over and make conversation. And just maybe, Tom wouldn't be the only one to gain a friend today.
Decision made, Livia scooped Mona from where she was trying to shadow jump Tom, and made her way over to Isobel.
(The brightness of Isobel's smile, as Livia talks to her without prejudice or pity, cements the fact that Livia has made the right decision. And, yes. She does gain a friend that day, a friend who soon becomes a beloved sister.)
Isobel misses magic. Don't get her wrong, she loves Robert and the family she has made with him, but the need to constantly hide a very big part of her has taken its toll. She misses Magic as she would a limb. Curiously (heartbreakingly) the magic she misses most is not the flashy ones, but rather the ones she used every day. She misses Charms. The spells for doing the dishes, for cooking, for maintaining the household. These were the spells she missed. She had never realized how much of her life had been immersed in magic, until she caught herself from instinctually doing it. She doesn't regret marrying for love, but a part of for does long for the freedom to use her magic as freely as she had done before.
Minerva being magical and going to Hogwarts is both a point of pride and envy for Isobel. Minerva would have the chance to be and use her magic freely, and that make Isobel happy and jealous at the same time. Isobel is used to this longing though and she puts it out of her mind, as she takes her family to Diagon Alley to buy Minerva's school supplies. They have left the boys, Malcolm and Robert Jr., with their paternal grandparents for the day as Isobel doesn't want to gain the scrutiny of the prejudiced Magicals today. It is good that Robert has a stoic face that only those close to him could read, otherwise the increasing astonishment and awe with which he viewed Diagon Alley would have made a lot of Wizards suspicious. As it is, the sight merely makes her smile. Especially since Minerva is sporting the same look of astonishment and awe.
Isobel takes them to the bank first, exchanging the muggle money for the wizarding one. While making sure that her family doesn't gawk too opening at the goblins, (they had only heard about them from her, seeing them was different from their imaginations) she started planning for the shops they needed to visit. Deciding to keep Ollivanders as the last stop, Isobel steered her family towards Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions for Minerva's school uniform. Isobel would hand down the trunk she had used for her own schooling to Minerva.
It was as they were in Flourish and Blotts that Isobel's life changed once more. Knowing her daughter's thirst for knowledge, Isobel had put a monetary limit on how much Minerva could spend on books (Minerva had come very close to pouting at that). Isobel had expected many things at the shop -like stopping Minerva from camping out at the store, to stopping Robert from camping there. She had not expected to meet a sister in the form of Livia Sprout, a brother in Rubeus Hagrid, a nephew in Tom and a niece in Pomona. She had not expected to find friends who would soon become her extended family. To find a place where she would not have to hide a part of her.
Not that Isobel knew this at that time. She had merely been amused at the debate between her daughter and the young boy who had bumped into her. She had later been overjoyed at not being the object of pity or prejudice when Livia comes to greet her like an old friend.
(Isobel can never express in words how good it felt at not being scorned for choosing love over tradition and prejudice. Livia understands anyway.)
A/N 2: Does anyone want a Timeline for this story? If so, I can put it in the next chapter. Do let me know!
Thank you for reading! And thank you for commenting! Thanks!