As funny as the boa constrictor incident at the zoo had been, it had resulted in a rather boring rest of the summer for Harry and myself. For nearly a month Harry hadn't been allowed outside of his house. He had been trapped in that stupid cupboard under the stairs, only let out a few times a day to go to the bathroom and stretch his legs. They fed him his dinner through the slot in the bottom of the door. Every time that I knocked on the door to see if Harry was around I was told that he was 'busy with chores.' It really meant that they were giving him slave labor.
Every now and again I did actually go over and hang out with Dudley for lack of something better to do. I wanted to go to Diagon Alley - which was supposed to be one of the best Wizarding World shopping areas around - more than anything else. My parents seemed to think that I wouldn't be okay to go there by myself. I couldn't just Apparate. I wasn't old enough. And I didn't know where exactly Diagon Alley was. I was pretty sure that it was somewhere in London. I had asked my parents once before if I could take a cab but they said that an hour in the cab was too long. And they refused to let me go anywhere with the Floo system without their supervision.
Just because I had accidentally wound up in India one time they thought that I was unable to use it properly. It had been an accident. When I was six I'd walked into the fireplace, as I saw my parents do frequently, and mumbled something that was next to unintelligible. Apparently the fireplace thought that I had said Dubai because that was where I'd ended up. It had taken me hours to find my way back home and I was a sobbing mess when I got back. I hadn't wanted to use the Floo system without them for months.
My parents promised me that today they were going to take me to go see Diagon Alley. We were expecting my Hogwarts letter today and I could barely sit still with anticipation. I knew that today would be the day that I could finally tell Harry what he was. I would get to tell him all about the Wizarding World. We would be bringing Harry with us. My mother and I would Floo together and my father would follow with Harry. There we would be able to take him to Gringott's and get him his school supplies.
I wanted to leave now but I knew that I had to wait. Patience was key. That was what my parents always said. Besides, I knew that I would have to wait for them to get back from work. They were both at the Ministry until midday. Most of the parents of First-Year age Hogwarts students would be forcibly dragged back home by their children once the letters came. It was somewhat of a tradition to be brought back home at midday and forced out to Diagon Alley to get the school stuff. Well, more like wands. They were always the first things that kids got.
Just as I was thinking about what it was that kids were going to be getting a large owl started pecking at my kitchen window. It was a Horned owl. I jumped up from my spot on the couch and pushed the window open. The owl flew into the kitchen and landed on the table, dropping the letter on my table. It hopped over to me and nibbled softly on my shoulder. I laughed softly. "Alright, just a second. I have to find the treats." I walked into the cupboard and grabbed the owl treats, feeding him two, just because he'd brought the letter that I'd been so excited to get.
It took me a few minutes to shoo to owl on his way. I knew that he had more letters to deliver. After giving in and feeding him another treat he went on his way. I shut the window behind him and ran back over to my kitchen table. I quickly scribbled a note to my parents, telling them that my letter had finally come and that it was time to go to Diagon Alley, and shouted out for Hale. When the owl finally came over to me he looked less than thrilled that I had woken him up. After a few minutes of a one-sided argument, Hale finally picked up the letter, swiping me across the forehead with his wings as he made his way to the Ministry.
Finally I was able to glance down at the letter written to me. It was on old parchment and written in deep emerald. Whoever wrote it had stunning penmanship. It was clearly written with a quill and ink. It was the one thing that bothered me about the Wizarding World. Why couldn't we write with pens like the No-Maj's? I stared down at the letter.
Miss T. Nox
Third Bedroom to the Left on the Second Floor
5 Privet Drive
My hand was shaking in anticipation as I turned the letter over. There was no return address. Most kids would know what to do, and I assumed that there would be instructions on the inside of the letter. Turning it over I saw that there was the sigil of Hogwarts. It was a purple wax seal with a large gold H in the center. Surrounding it was the four House symbols; the serpent for Slytherin, the badger for Hufflepuff, the eagle for Ravenclaw, and a lion for Gryffindor. My heart gave a little leap as I broke the seal.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Miss Nox,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on September 1st. We await your owl by no later than July 31st.
Despite the fact that I'd known for years that I would be accepted into Hogwarts it made my heart leap with joy at the thought that I would be going to a real school. Some part of me always thought that when I was taken away from Ilvermorny no one else would want me. The thought of going to Hogwarts, one of the greatest magical schools in the world, made me let out a little screech. Next door I could hear Vermin shouting through his open window for me to pipe down. I laughed softly and continued reading on the second piece of paper.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils' clothes should carry name tags
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginners' Guide to Transfiguration by Emetic Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
I already had a few of the books. I had The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1), A History of Magic, A Beginners' Guide to Transfiguration, and The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection. That only left a few books left to buy. Somewhere around here I also had Magical Drafts and Potions. Or at least I used to. Until I had spilled something on it. I still wasn't sure what it was but I was glad that it was not on me. It had completely dissolved the book. When my parents had asked me where it had gone I'd lied and said that I lost it in the move. My eyes continued to scan down the page.
Cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
Set of glass or crystal phials
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS.
That was the one part that bothered me. I wanted my own broomstick. My father had promised me that if I managed to make it onto the Quidditch team of whatever House that I was in he would get me the new Nimbus 2000. It was the best broom in the world. He had one. First-Years at Ilvermorny were allowed their brooms but they weren't allowed to have them in their rooms. They had to be kept in storage. At least they were allowed to have one. Now, even if I was on the team, I'd have to use one of the school's brooms. Probably a Cleansweep, like the one that I had now.
Hale flew back in through the open window and landed on the table. I shooed him away from my Hogwarts letter and he nipped at my hand as he gave me back the letter from my parents. The letter read that they would be back in about half an hour and to go over and see if Harry's letter had been delivered yet. They told me to start explaining to him what was happening so that Diagon Alley would be somewhat less of a shock.
By now I knew that Harry was allowed out of the cupboard. I dashed out of my house, startling some of Ms. Figg's cats. They went running back to her home. I ran up the drive to the Dursley's household and let out a few deep breaths. I had to pretend to be just a little bit calm. Especially since the Dursley's were probably in a bit of a tizzy right now. I finally knocked on the door. It opened a moment later and I gave Dudley a fake smile. "Hey Tara," he greeted me. He was wearing his Smelting's uniform.
"Dudley," I greeted simply. He stepped aside to let me into the house. I could tell that he was hoping for a comment on his Smelting's uniform but I ignored it. I knew that he and Piers, along with their other friends, Dennis, Malcolm, and Gordon, had all been 'Harry Hunting' for the latter part of the summer.
As I walked into the kitchen to face Harry and Horse-Face I smiled. Although my smile faded quickly when I caught the horrible smell. Horse-Face was in the kitchen, standing over a metal tub. Harry motioned me forward and I smiled softly at him. The letter hadn't come yet. I could tell by the still calm air of the house. I looked over the tub and saw that there were dirty rags in the grey water. "What is that?" I asked Harry is disgust.
He shrugged his shoulders at me. "Not the slightest," he said before walking to stand next to Horse-Face. "What's this?" He asked her. Her lips tightened to the point where I was sure that they were going to crack in half.
"Your new school uniform," she said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. I wrinkled my nose in disgust. They were going to try and force Harry to wear that? At least Hogwarts uniforms were better.
Harry looked in the bowl again. His face of disgust matched mine. "Oh," he said, "I didn't realize it had to be so wet." I snorted under my breath and stomped on his foot. If he wanted food until the end of August he was going to have to be somewhat nice.
Horse-Face appreciated the comment much less than I had. "Don't be stupid," she snapped. "I'm dying some of Dudley's old things gray for you. It'll look just like everyone else's when I've finished." Oh God. He'd look like an elephant in Dudley's old clothes. Even Dudley's baby clothes would more than likely be too big on Harry.
Vermin and Dudley both came into the living room, wrinkling their noses at the smell. Vermin took a seat on his old recliner and began to read through the newspaper. I couldn't understand why he found it so fascinating. The pictures didn't even move. Dudley was banging his Smelting stick, something that I assumed was to be used for smacking around younger and smaller Smelting students, on the table. The mail slot clicked open and I smirked. Somewhere in there would be Harry's letter for Hogwarts.
I tapped my foot impatiently. "Get the mail, Dudley," Vermin said from behind his paper.
Dudley continued to bang his Smelting stick against the table. I wanted to use the Levitating spell to smack him across the backside with it. "Make Harry get it," Dudley insisted.
"Get the mail, Harry," Vermin parroted to Harry.
"Make Dudley get it," Harry insisted.
"Get the mail!" I snapped at Harry. All eyes turned to me curiously, including Harry's. I never agreed with the Dursley's. On anything. It must have been weird to hear me agree with them to make Harry do such a mundane thing.
"Listen to her. Poke him with your Smelting stick, Dudley," Vermin put in. I watched as Harry dodged the Smelting stick that was jabbed his way and went to the grab the mail. I could hear his shoes scuffing against the floor as he walked back into the main living room. There were three letters in his hand. My heart was pumping loudly, so loud that I thought that they could hear it.
My eyes traveled over the letters with Harry's. The first was from Vermin's sister, Marge. She was ten times worse than he was. She was probably one of my least favorite people in the world. When I was younger I had accidentally broken the chair that she was sitting in after she had called Harry a useless waste of space. The next was more than likely a bill. The third was the one that I was looking for. It was written on old yellow postage with bright emerald, looping handwriting. It was addressed as:
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Harry's hands trembled as he flipped the letter open. Just like mine, it had the Hogwarts shield on the back. I nudged Harry with my arm. I knew that he was shocked. He never got letters except for the occasions last summer when my parents had taken me back to the States for a few weeks. I had written to Harry with a promise that I would keep in contact with him. "Go on. Open it. It's addressed to you," I whispered to him.
Like myself, Vermin was not fond of waiting. "Hurry up, boy!" Vermin shouted from the kitchen. We were standing on the edge of the living room. "What are you doing, checking for letter bombs?" He chuckled at his own joke. Harry went back to the kitchen, still staring at his letter. He handed Vermin the bill and the postcard, and sat down on the couch. He slowly began to open the yellow envelope.
I wanted to shout at him to hurry up but I kept calm as I watched. Harry looked over to me, as if he was asking me whether or not he should. "Go on. What's the worst that can happen?" I teased softly.
He laughed and looked slightly more relieved, but his hands were still shaking. In the kitchen Vermin ripped open the bill, snorted in disgust, and flipped over the postcard. "Marge's ill," he informed Horse-Face. "Ate a funny whelk-"
"Dad!" said Dudley suddenly. I realized that he had seen Harry opening the letter. I debated on attempting to set his pants on fire. "Dad, Harry's got something!" Harry had pulled the letter out of the packaging and was about to unfold it, when it was jerked sharply out of his hand by Vermin. I went to reach for it, but my arms were too short. I missed by a mile.
"That's mine!" Harry barked, trying to snatch it back. It was no use. Vermin was holding it out of the both of our reach.
"Give it back! It's his!" I shouted.
"Who'd be writing to you?" sneered Vermin, giving a cruel laugh. He shook the letter open with one hand and glanced at it. His face went from red to green faster than a set of traffic lights. And it didn't stop there. Within seconds it was the same color as my old parchment, the ones from Ilvermorny that I'd never used. "P-P-Petunia!" he gasped.
They knew. They knew exactly what this letter was. I glared softly and moved to grab the letter. They were not going to hide this from Harry. Dudley tried to grab the letter to read it, but Vermin held it high out of his reach. It wasn't really like Dudley could jump and reach it. Horse-Face took it curiously and read the first line. For a moment it looked as though she might faint. She clutched her throat and made a choking noise. "Vernon! Oh my goodness - Vernon!"
They stared at each other, seemingly forgetting that Harry, Dudley, and I were still in the room. Dudley wasn't used to being ignored. He gave his father a sharp tap on the head with his Smelting stick.
"I want to read that letter," Harry said loudly, "as it's mine." The tactic did not work the way that Harry thought that it would.
"Get out, all three of you," croaked Vermin, stuffing the letter back inside its envelope. My blood boiled. They were not going to do this. Harry had to know who he was. He had to go to Hogwarts. Harry didn't move. Neither did Dudley or myself.
"I want my letter!" He shouted.
A moment later Dudley demanded the same. "Let me see it!"
"Out!" Vermin roared. He took Harry and Dudley by the scruffs of their necks, Harry grabbing me by the arm, and threw us into the hall, slamming the kitchen door behind him as he walked back into the living room.
Harry and Dudley promptly had a furious but silent fight over who would listen at the keyhole; Dudley won, so Harry, his glasses dangling from one ear, lay flat on his stomach to listen at the crack between door and floor. I had stayed in the background during the fight. Now I was pressed behind Harry and Dudley, just barely able to make out any conversation.
"Vernon," Horse-Face was saying in a quivering voice, "look at the address - how could they possibly know where he sleeps? You don't think they're watching the house?" She asked. I nearly laughed. Everyone knew that Albus Dumbledore knew everything. We didn't know how but we all knew that he was one of the smartest wizards on the planet.
"Watching - spying - might be following us," muttered Vermin wildly. Even from here I could tell that he was probably sweating and pacing. They had been avoiding this for ten years. Now it was coming back to them.
"But what should we do, Vernon? Should we write back? Tell them we don't want-" Horse-Face said before being interrupted by her husband.
"No," he said firmly. It didn't matter anyways. We weren't going to let them tell us that Harry didn't want to go to Hogwarts. He was going. One way or another, he was going. "No, we'll ignore it. If they don't get an answer... Yes, that's best... we won't do anything..."
"I'm not having one in the house, Petunia! Didn't we swear when we took him in we'd stamp out that dangerous nonsense?" Vermin asked his wife. I rolled my eyes at them. Magic was not dangerous unless is was uncontrolled. That was why kids were usually more dangerous than adults were. They didn't know how to manage their magic.
The room went silent and I fought to press against the door. Dudley was blocking most of it. "What's going on in there?" I asked Dudley, to see if he could actually see anything. I couldn't see, I could only hear.
The door to the living room swung open and the three of us dropped onto our backsides. I was sure that I'd never seen Vermin that angry before. "Go to your cupboard!" Vermin shouted at Harry. "Go to your room!" He then shouted at Dudley. "Get out of my house!" He roared at me. Harry stepped in to say something but before he could, Vermin had backed me up to the door.
"Give Harry the letter! It's his!" I tried to argue once more. Vermin didn't care. He opened the door from behind me and pushed me roughly out. I fell over my own feet and hit the concrete sidewalk roughly, groaning at the sharp pain that went through my tailbone.
"Tara!" I heard Harry yell. That was the last intelligible thing that I could hear anyone say before the door was slammed shut in my face. It was bolted a moment later, shouts echoing through the neighborhood.
I could have unlocked it, I knew the spell, but I didn't. Harry would have to wait. I needed to get to my parents and make sure that someone knew that the letter was not going to get to Harry in the traditional sense. If I knew Vermin he was going to burn it and make sure that Harry thought that it was just a cruel joke. I had to make sure that another letter was sent to Harry. Or maybe it would make sense if Dumbledore came here himself and delivered the letter. One way or another, I was going to make sure that Harry was at Hogwarts with me on September 1st.
So instead of continuing to gripe to myself I stood and marched over to the door to my house. I threw it open and saw my mother and father fawning over the letter. They were probably happy to know that I was definitely going to be going to Hogwarts. Not that anyone thought that I wouldn't get in. My name had been down since birth. My parents had both gone there. Dumbledore had apparently even paid me a visit a few times when I was an infant. Harry was in a similar position. Not that he knew that.
My parents turned around to see me pop into the kitchen. They were both grinning madly at me. "I see you've already opened your Hogwarts letter. It's exciting, isn't it? How is Harry taking the news? Oh Tara, you should have brought him back here! We're just going to be taking him with us anyways. Maybe it's for the best that we speak to Vernon and Petunia," my mother babbled.
"Mom!" I shouted, cutting her off. She stared at me curiously. "They took the letter from Harry before he got the chance to open it. Vermin burned it! They're going to try and hide it from him," I told them.
My parents both stared at each other in shock. "Did he see anything about the letter?" My father asked.
I shook my head. "The only thing that he saw was the Hogwarts shield on the back. He was about to unfold the letters inside when Vermin grabbed it from him. Mom, Dad, how are we going to get Harry to realize what he is? They destroyed the letter! I should go over there and tell him what he is," I muttered before turning towards the door.
"No!" My mother shouted. She grabbed me and put me back in my spot. "No one can tell Harry what he is until he gets that letter. We're under strict direction from Dumbledore not to tell him what he is. And Harry still has a few weeks to get the letter back to them," my mother said.
I rolled my eyes at them. Some adults were so thick. "You don't get it. They burned the letter! There's no way that Harry's going to know what the letter said. We have to tell someone back at Hogwarts. Maybe Dumbledore can come and tell Harry himself," I said hopefully.
My father shook his head. "Tara, there isn't a thing that happens that Dumbledore doesn't know about. Harry is going to get that latter one way or another. Trust me. If it makes you feel better I'll send an owl to Dumbledore, telling him what happened. Even if Harry doesn't get the letter he could maybe send Hagrid or someone else. Don't worry, Tara, no matter where they try and bring Harry, he's going to find out what he is," my father told me with a smile.
"Now, what do you say that we go to Diagon Alley and buy you your Hogwarts supplies? I know you've been looking forward to it for almost a year," my mother told me with a smile.
She was right. I had been looking forward to getting my school supplies, with Harry. It wouldn't be nearly as much fun doing everything by myself. I knew that I would be alone. My parents had to run errands. They were going to let Harry and I get everything by ourselves. "I don't want to go school shopping by myself. Harry was supposed to come with me," I said sadly.
My mother and father both exchanged a look and sighed. They grabbed me in for a hug. "Sweetheart, we can wait to get you your school things until Harry can come too. But how about we go to Diagon Alley anyways? That way you'll know all about it when Harry can come! You can give him a tour. There's no point in staying here. It seems that Harry is on lock-down," my mother said softly.
"Can't we just adopt, Harry?" I asked bitterly.
They both laughed softly. "Perhaps one day we will," my father told me with a smile. He went rooting through his pockets and grabbed a handful of coins. He gave them to me to put in my pouch, which I did. He gave me twenty Galleons, ten Sickles, and five Knuts. "Go take these and do something fun, yeah?" My father asked me.
I smiled. "Yeah. Can we go?" I asked softly.
We walked over to the fireplace and stood inside it. My mother had a hand on my shoulder and my father was holding my mother's other hand. He grabbed a handful of Floo powder and cleared his throat. "Diagon Alley!" He shouted before throwing it into the green flames. They shot up and we were pulled through the Floo network. My stomach felt like it was turning inside out and my intestines felt like they were falling out of my throat. Finally we came to a fireplace and my father jumped out, with my mother and me in tow.
Without giving me a moment to recover, my parents pulled me out of the fireplace. Someone else almost immediately took our place. It was another family. Probably another First-Year. We were in a bookstore that was poorly organized. With the exception of the schoolbooks section. That was currently being combed through by well over a hundred kids. I smiled and turned away. I would come back here later, maybe when there were less people roaming around. As much as I liked books, I didn't want to have to deal with the crowd. It was called Flourish and Blotts.
Once we were on the edge of the store my mother and father pulled me close into them. "We're heading to Gringott's, dear. We have to sort a few things out. We'll be back for you in two hours, you understand?" My mother asked me. I nodded happily. "Good. Go buy yourself something and make sure you save room if you get any food. Dinner is soon!"
My father shook his head with a fond smile over my mother's shoulder. He grabbed onto her and pulled her away slowly. They gave me one last wave before disappearing through the incredibly thick crowd. Most of the people here were families. I could tell that most of them were students who had just gotten their Hogwarts letters. Many of them were running around with others who were clearly their friends. I suddenly felt extremely alone and I didn't like it. I wished that Harry was here.
Turning towards the main walkway of the Alley I gasped softly. This place was amazing. It was incredible. Shops lined the entire street. Each one was more magical than the next. At the end was a large grey building that my parents had just walked into. It was Gringott's. Most of the shops seemed to be family-owned. Young witches and wizards were running in and out of each one. Some came out empty-handed and others came out with bundles of things. Each person made me smile. They were all so excited. So was I. This place was enough to make everyone feel like a No-Maj. The magic seemed to be better here and it seemed like it was oozing out of every crack and crevice.
The first store I passed was for second-hand brooms. There were a handful of kids in there. They all seemed to be buying. None of them were my age. They were all a little older. Most of them seemed in between twelve and fourteen. They were probably the kids that were wealthy enough to buy brooms but too poor to actually afford a brand-new broom. I thought about walking in but I decided to pass. I really wanted to check out a store that had new brooms. Maybe I wouldn't get one now, but I intended to eventually join one of the Hogwarts Quidditch teams, and I would take my father up on his promise to buy me the Nimbus 2000.
Next to it was Amanuensis Quills. Like its name suggested, it was a store that sold all sorts of quills. I thought about picking something up but I passed. My parents would buy me all of the quills that I needed when I actually went Hogwarts shopping. Next door to that was a store that I knew my mother would eventually drag me into. Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions. I passed without going in. There were quite a few kids in there. It actually looked rather nice but I decided to wait until I actually was forced to go in. I had a feeling that it wouldn't be too long.
A few shops down was an Apothecary. There was everything that someone would need in there. In the front window were sets for each year of Hogwarts student's needs. I made a mental note to return there. Next to that was Broomstix. It was the shop that sold broomsticks. I spent most of my time in there. As I had figured, most of the kids inside were crowded around the Nimbus 2000 display. I checked the price tag on it. It was well over two-hundred Galleons. I frowned and turned to leave the store. I wasn't getting that broom without my parents' money.
The other store that was overly-crowded was called Gambol and Japes Wizarding Joke Shop. I smiled and went in. It seemed that they sold almost everything that someone could want. Although you could barely move, considering how many kids were walking back and forth in the store. There were things as simple as Invisible Ink and Inflatable Tongues. The Inflatable Tongues were to combat the Tongue-Tying Curse and allow someone to speak again. There were Dung Bombs that I passed quickly. I knew all too well what they were. There were Fanged Flyer's - Frisbee's with fanged edges that would cut you - that I knew would give my mother a heart attack. There were also Screaming Yo Yo's and Sneakoscope's. I thought about buying a multitude of things but I left empty-handed. If I didn't find anything else I would definitely come back here.
There was a junk shop that I passed without a second thought. The only thing in there that was of mild interest were broken wands. I supposed that someone would be able to fix them. Next to it was the Leaky Cauldron. It would apparently dump someone out on the No-Maj side of London. It was how witches and wizards got back here. It was invisible to No-Maj's. I decided that I would have to go and check it out later.
Not far from the Leaky Cauldron was Madam Primpernelle's Beautifying Potions. There was a fair amount of older teenage witches in there. I knew that it was a store that I would have to stop in in a few years. Acne was not something that I was planning on dealing with. Next door to that was Magical Menagerie. It was a store full of pets. I smiled and walked in, spending a good amount of time playing with the cats, toads, rats, and others. There were no owls though. I sighed and left the store, determined to go find them. Hale was alright, but I wanted an owl that wasn't going to bite me every time I tried to tell it to deliver a letter.
Obscurus Books was next to that. I liked it. It had a number of odd books that were hard to find in other stores. It was also pricier. The cheapest book that they had was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And I already had that book. I left with a promise to come back when I had more money. Ollivander's had a line out the door. He was the sole wandmaker in Diagon Alley. I wanted to go in more than anything but I was waiting for Harry. So I sighed and passed it by. Potage's Cauldron Shop was next to that. Like many of the other stores, most of the customers were Hogwarts students, looking to buy their supplies.
Rosa Lee Teabag was a tea store that had mostly older women perusing through the shelves. I smiled and passed by it. I was more of a coffee fan. It came from living in the United States. Scribbulus Writing Instruments was next to it. I passed it. It was extremely busy with people that looked old and young. People always needed to write. There was a Second-Hand bookshop and robes shop. Neither one of them were doing very good business. I sighed but passed by anyways.
There was Slug and Jigger's Apothecary. They seemed to be selling most of the Hogwarts supplies as well as the other Apothecary in the front of Diagon Alley. They were slightly more expensive. Sugarplum's Sweets Shop was next to it. I could smell the sugar emanating into the air and I grinned. My mother would kill me if I went in. I begrudgingly passed it. TerrorTours was next to it. It seemed like a Wizarding World traveling agency. The Ministry Press was next to that. It was a publishing agency that worked with the Ministry of Magic.
On the other side of the store was The Daily Prophet's main office. It was one of the largest stores. The Daily Prophet was one of the most popular Wizarding World newspapers. My parents read it, as did most people. Nearly everyone loved it. Although they had a rather nasty new writer named Rita Skeeter. Twilfitt and Tatting's was an upscale clothing store. I passed by it with a snort. I was not going in there unless my mother made me. Which I knew she would. Whizz Hard Books was another book store. It sold only wizarding books. Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment was at the end of the street. It had nearly everything that the other stores didn't.
There were lots of vendors in between and a few of the stores. There was a flower vendor, a man who was selling roasted chestnuts, and a small jewelry vendor. I turned around and went to head back to the stores that I had passed. I went back by Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour and smiled. My parents would take me there later. My eyes locked onto a store that had been covered with students before. There was finally enough room to make it in the door. Quality Quidditch Supplies. I grinned madly and made my way in.
It was like candy to me. I knew that I would have to bring my father back through here. It sold Quaffles, Bludgers, and Snitches. There were even Spiked Bludgers that most parents were trying to keep their kids away from. It also sold the bats and mini goal-posts. Quidditch Starter Kits were flying off of the shelves. Literally. Broomstick Servicing Kits seemed to be almost gone. Quidditch uniforms for every Hogwarts House were all over the place. Gryffindor seemed to be the most popular. There was also a Chudley Cannon's jersey that I snorted at. There were Quidditch gloves and helmets - that some parents were forcing their kids to buy. In the corner were robes and rope belts that the players wore.
On the back wall was what everyone was crowded around. Once I saw a break in the crowd I walked forward and scanned over all of the brooms. There was the Comet 260 that seemed to be reasonably popular. It was what most kids were buying. Others were also buying versions of the Cleansweep that I had. They were decent brooms. In the far corner, up out of reach, was the Nimbus 2000. Everyone was staring at it and whispering about what a great broom it was.
"Why do you waste all of your money on these things?" I heard an older voice drone. It was definitely from an older teenager. For a moment I thought that he was talking to me until another voice spoke up.
"The same reason you waste all of your time on being a pesky git," the other voice said. I snorted softly and realized that the voices had probably heard me. I blushed and looked down towards the ground. That was embarrassing.
"C'mon Perce, pretend like you're having fun," a third voice spoke up. It was startlingly similar to the second voice. I had a feeling that the three were somehow related. They all sounded the slightest bit similar. Probably brothers.
I ran my hand over the Cleansweep. I couldn't afford it. I couldn't afford anything in this shop that I actually wanted. "Quidditch players do not contribute anything to society. They only grunt and swing and yell at each other. It's a waste of time," the first voice spoke up once more.
That time I couldn't hold my tongue. Just like my father, I had a temper that was about as short as I was. "Excuse you!" I snapped, whirling around on the boy. He looked like he was about fifteen. He had bright red hair and green eyes. He looked stunned that I had even spoken to him. "Quidditch players are not useless! They have to use all of their senses while determining what to do at least five moves ahead of the move that they are about to make. In school they have to keep up their grades and most are well-mannered. The only waste around here in the breath that you're using," I snarled at the older boy.
He looked absolutely shell-shocked at my choice of wording. "And who are you?" The boy asked me after a minute. The other two, who I had yet to face, were laughing loudly behind us.
"Tara," I answered.
"Do you go to Hogwarts?" The boy asked me.
I nodded proudly. "I'm going to be a First-Year," I told the boy.
He smirked at me. "Well, Tara," he accentuated my name, "I'll have you know that I am one of the Prefects for Gryffindor House. I do so hope that you get sorted there as well. I know that we will be enjoying our time together as I watch over you in detention," he told me proudly.
Before I got the chance to say anything else the other two voices stepped forward. "Lay off of her, Perce. He isn't going to do anything to you. Fred Weasley. That's my twin George, and this twat is Percy, our older brother," the first twin introduced themselves. The twins shared the same red hair and green eyes that Percy did. They were younger though. They looked like they were in between Percy and myself. They both had mischievous smiles on their faces that brought an infectious smile to my face.
I held out a hand for Fred to shake. He took it and George took his place a moment later. After a beat passed I even turned to Percy and shook his head. It was very professional but better than nothing. Percy was not smiling but Fred and George still were. "Like I said, I'm Tara. Tara Nox."
Some hint of recognition came into Fred and George's eyes. Percy was nodding at me. "I know that name," Fred finally said.
A small grin appeared on my face. If they were in here I assumed that they were pretty big Quidditch fans. "You guys wouldn't happen to like following professional Quidditch, would you?" I asked them. Percy shook his head no while Fred and George nodded theirs vigorously. "You might know my father. Marcus Nox. He played as a Chaser on the United States Stars a while ago," I told them.
"That's where your accent is from," Percy said suddenly. I smiled at him and nodded as Fred and George began to smack each other.
"That's awesome!" They both shouted. I smiled and nodded. It was pretty awesome. I wished that my father still played. I missed going to watch his practices. "So are you a Quidditch player too?" George asked me.
Despite the fact that I couldn't see myself I knew that my eyes had brightened. "Absolutely! Mostly I play Chaser with my father. Although I'm a halfway decent Keeper too. I was hoping that once I got to Hogwarts I could try out for the Quidditch team of whatever House I end up getting sorted in. Although I don't know how well First-Years do," I said softly.
"Not well at all," Percy cut in.
Fred and George both stomped on his feet. He cringed in pain. "Not that Percy isn't wrong but there's always a chance. Especially if you're half as good as your father. George and I are on the Gryffindor team. We're the Beaters," Fred told me. I smiled and nodded. "There's only room for a Seeker on the Gryffindor team right now but we need an alternate Chaser too," he said.
A frown filled my face. I was a pretty lousy Seeker. I wanted to be a Chaser. I supposed that an alternate wouldn't be too bad. Especially as a First-Year. "You think that she'll be in Gryffindor?" Percy asked his brothers.
"Absolutely," Fred said.
"Definitely," George added.
The smile came back on my face. "Well come on Miss Nox, let us take you for a Butterbeer." I smiled and nodded as Fred took one arm and George took the other. Percy rolled his eyes and walked with us anyways. The three brothers walked with me towards the Leaky Cauldron. We were coming down to the twenty minute mark of when I had to meet my parents. They sat me down at a small table in the middle of the bar. Fred and George took the seats at my side. Percy sat across from me.
They ordered the three of us Butterbeer's and I dropped back into my seat. "So is it just the three of you?" I asked them as we waited for our drinks to be brought to us.
This time all of the brothers laughed. It must have been a large family. I'd heard of the Weasley's before. They were an old and large Pureblood wizarding family. "Our father is Arthur Weasley. He works at the Misuse of Muggle Artifact's office in the Ministry. Our mother is Molly. She's a stay-at-home mother. Bill is the oldest. He works at Gringott's as a Curse-Breaker. Charlie is next. He studies dragons in Romania. I'm next and in my fifth year at Hogwarts. Fred and George are after me; Third-Years. Ron is our younger brother. Like you, he's going to be a First-Year. Ginny is the youngest. She's our only sister. She's a year younger than Ron," Percy explained.
My jaw nearly dropped. That was a huge family. That was their two parents along with seven kids. I could only imagine how busy that household was. "Sounds like you guys have quite the fun house," I said with a smile.
"It's a disaster," Percy told me with a wry smile. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that he really did love his brother and his family.
The Butterbeer's came to the table and I took a small sip. The twins laughed as the foam left a small mustache on my upper lip. I giggled and accepted a napkin from Percy. "So where is the rest of your family?" I asked them.
They weren't carrying anything. I assumed that Fred, George, and Percy all got hand-me-down books. Bill must have gotten all the new books and the kids must have each used his. Although Fred and George would probably need an extra set of Third-Year books. "Charlie is off in Romania and Bill is at work. Ron is getting the things that he needs for Hogwarts. Ginny and Mum are with him. Dad's at work too," Fred explained.
I nodded and took another sip of the sweet drink. Fred and George had already finished theirs and I grinned. They were certainly teenage boys. "What about you? Shouldn't you be shopping for Hogwarts? Letters just came out today," Percy told me.
"Yeah I got my letter this morning but I'm waiting to go shopping. My friend is still waiting on his letter. Must have gotten lost in the mail," I lied. "Once he gets his letter I'll come back and get my things. Besides, I already have a few of the books and things that I need."
Percy looked confused about how I knew which things that I already had. "How do you already have some of the things that you need for Hogwarts?" He asked.
Sometimes I forgot that Hogwarts didn't do a summer program like Ilvermorny did. They had to wait until a month before school started to actually get the things that they needed. "I forget that Hogwarts is so different from Ilvermorny. It does a summer program that kids start when they turn eight. They do it until they can come as First-Years. We don't have wands or anything like that but we practice theory and spoken, wandless, magic. So I have some books and the cauldron, scales, and telescopes; stuff like that," I explained to the boys.
"What's an Ilvimerny?" Fred asked, painfully butchering the name of my former school.
I laughed and shook my head at him. "It's the school that I thought that I would be going to. Il-ver-mor-ny," I accentuated slowly.
"Ilvermorny," Fred parroted back to me slowly.
With a small smile on my face I nodded at him. Percy broke our concentration. "What is Ilvermorny like? And where is it? I've only ever seen Hogwarts. Besides Durmstrang and Beauxbatons I don't know about any other magical schools," he said.
I dug through the back of my brain to think about everything that I knew about Ilvermorny. "It's on Mount Greylock in Massachusetts. The Headmaster is Agilbert Fontaine. It's castle and there's almost always a mist over everything. It makes it look like something out of a fairy-tale. It's newer than Hogwarts, it's six hundred and thirty years younger than Hogwarts. Like Hogwarts, we have four Houses. The founders of the school each created their own Houses. Isolt Sayer created Horned Serpent. Webster Boot created Wampus. Chadwick Boot created Thunderbird. James Steward created Pukwudgie. They say that Horned Serpent represents the mind of a witch or wizard. It also tends to favor scholars. They say that Wampus represents the body of a witch or wizard. It tends to favor warriors. Thunderbird represents the soul of a witch or wizard. It tends to favor adventurers. Pukwudgie represents the heart of a witch or wizard. It tends to favor healers," I explained.
The boys all nodded. I knew that they were processing what I had just told them. "Did the kids in the summer programs get Sorted too?" George asked me.
I nodded at them. "Yeah. Not everyone came to the summer programs. Lots of Half-Bloods choose to just wait. Some Purebloods let their parents teach them until it's time to come. And No-Maj-Born's don't get their letters until they turn eleven and are put in the registry," I explained.
"No-Maj?" Fred asked.
He didn't know what a No-Maj was? What kind of Third-Year didn't know what a No-Maj was? But it wasn't just Fred and George that didn't seem to understand. Percy looked lost as well. "You know? Like someone with no magical blood in their veins," I explained slowly.
"Oh! That's right, different countries have different terms for it," Percy told me. I cocked my eyebrow at them. "Muggles. That's what we call them here in England. Most of Europe call them Muggles. Muggle-Born's. That's what we're used to," he explained.
I nodded. "Two years here and no one ever bothered explaining to me that you guys call No-Maj's, Muggles. I like that. It takes a little less effort," I said. Fred and George both laughed. Even Percy cracked a smile.
"So how do they do the Sorting at Ilvermorny?" Percy asked.
My hands shook slightly. I was so terrified during my Sorting I had thought that I would keel over and die. I had never been as happy as when it was over. I couldn't believe that I'd have to go through it again at Hogwarts. "We're led in first. We step onto a Gordian Knot on the floor in the center of the entrance hall. These huge wooden statues of the mascots for the four Houses face us on the knot. The carved statues react if they want that student in their House. The older students watch in silence from a circular balcony on a floor above them," I explained.
Percy looked absolutely enamored at the knowledge of what was going on in another magical school. "So do the statues just speak and say that they want you?" He asked.
I shook my head. "No. They do things if they want you. For Horned Serpent the crystal in the forehead of the serpent glows. For Wampus, its carving roars. For Thunderbird the carving beats its wings. For Pukwudgie their carving raises its arrow."
"But it gives you a choice of where to go?" George asked me.
"Yeah. Well sort of. I mean if you get more than one House that wants you," I explained.
The three of them looked floored by that. "So more than one House can want you?" Fred asked me. I nodded. "What happens if more than one House wants you?" He asked.
"You pick which one you want," I explained.
"Wow. At Hogwarts we have the Sorting Hat. It combs through your mind and picks out which attributes you have the most of in your mind. It tells you where to go," Percy explained. That certainly sounded easier than Ilvermorny. "So when you were Sorted, what happened?" Percy asked me.
I very nearly fell over my own feet and destroyed the carvings that had been there for over three hundred years. I decided not to say that. "The Wampus roared first. A moment later the Thunderbird beat its wings. I wasn't sure. For a long time I stood and waited. But I finally decided that I wanted to be an adventurer. So I picked Thunderbird," I told them.
The boys all turned and shared a grin that only brothers could, before turning back to me. "Definitely Gryffindor," Fred said. I laughed and smiled, polishing off the last bit of Butterbeer. "We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks, Tara. Make sure you come and find us. We'll give you the grand tour," Fred told me, a devious look in the back of his eyes.
"You most certainly will not!" Percy snapped at his brothers. "Don't listen to anything that they tell you. They'll get you detention for a month. If you know what's best for you, avoid them at all costs," he warned me. I snorted and nodded.
"Oi! I resent that!" George shouted. He looked like he was about to continue arguing with his older brother when a startlingly loud voice rang out through the restaurant.
"Fred! George! Percy!" The feminine voice hollered.
The whole restaurant turned back to see a short and stocky red-headed woman. She had a young red-headed girl clinging to her skirt. Most likely Molly and Ginny Weasley. Fred, George, and Percy's mother and sister. Their mother seemed to be steaming. "You have the time?" Fred asked me, without taking his eyes off of his mother.
I glanced down at my watch. "Half past four," I told him. His eyes bugged. Percy and George whipped back to me in horror.
Molly Weasley shifted slightly on her feet and turned to head out the door. My mother was something like theirs. I knew that they were going to get a big chewing out when they got back to their house. "Well, we should go before she actually kills us. See you around, Tara! Come find us on the Hogwarts Express!" Fred shouted before tearing off through the restaurant. I laughed and waved off the three.
Once they were out of the restaurant I chuckled and looked down at the table. One of the boys had left three Sickles. I sighed and picked the money up, pocketing it. When I found them on the Hogwarts Express I would return it to them. With seven kids I imagined that they needed the money. So I placed my own Sickles down and walked out of the Leaky Cauldron. They sun was starting to sink as I headed out into the main stretch of the street. I was out in front of Twilfitt and Tatting's when I saw my parents.
"Tara!" My mother chirped. I greeted her and walked over. "Did you enjoy your time out here?" She asked me. I nodded happily at her. "Good. Come on in here. I saw a coat that you would just love," she said.
I groaned under my breath. I knew that she would drag me in here. It wasn't that I hated going shopping I just hated how long my mother took while we were out. "Did you meet any friends out here?" My father asked me as my mother went combing through the racks. She was clearly trying to find the coat that she thought that I would love.
We walked through another rack and I nodded at my father. "Yeah. I was in Quality Quidditch Supplies. Three boys that I met. Two are Third-Years and the other was a Fifth-Year. They're brothers. They have another brother that's going to be a First-Year with me," I explained.
My father's eyebrows knitted. "What are you doing speaking to boys that are in their Third and Fifth year?" My father asked huffily. I smiled and shook my head. I opened my mouth to explain to him that they were just talking with me when I heard a crash come from behind us. Both my father and I turned back to see my mother and another woman fighting to hold up a rack.
The both of us went dashing over to the rack. We grabbed them from my mother and the other woman and I helped my father straighten out the rack. The owner of the shop was glaring at us and I gave her a bashful smile as I turned back to my mother and the foreign woman. I was about ready to give them both a what for. The woman that I'd never seen before was a little older than my parents with the strangest hair. It was a white-blonde on the sides but the top, going all the way down, was black. She was clearly very wealthy. Pureblood too, judging by the way that she was dressing. She also clearly knew my parents.
She was staring at them both with a mix of false pleasantry and disgust. My parents were both staring at her like they had just seen her throw up. Bad blood was here. It was easy to see. "Narcissa Black," my mother snarled softly.
"Malfoy," the woman snapped. "Lucius and I got married not long after we graduated from Hogwarts," the woman, Narcissa, explained.
"Lovely," my father put in. The conversation was beyond awkward. My father pushed me forward and I stumbled slightly. I stared at the woman and gave her as pleasant of a smile as I could muster. "This is our daughter. Tara," my father showed me off proudly.
Narcissa extended her hand to me. I shook it very briefly before standing awkwardly. I wasn't sure if I should have said anything or not. "How old are you?" Narcissa asked me after a moment.
"Eleven," I told her. "I'll be a First-Year at Hogwarts this year."
She gave a tight-lipped smile. It looked like she had done way too much of that No-Maj thing, liposuction. Or something like that. I didn't understand it. "Lucius and I have a son your age. He'll be attending Hogwarts for the first time this year too." My mother quipped about how nice it was that our kids were the same age but I didn't hear it. I only heard the deep voices behind me. Probably her husband and her son. I wanted nothing to do with them if they were anything like her.
Giving a sharp turn I backed off quickly. I assumed that it was Lucius Malfoy that I stared at first. He was startling to say the least. He was huge. He was just a little bit taller than my father, probably standing close to six feet tall. He had whitish hair that went down over his back. It was longer than mine. He was dressed in long black robes and carried a cane. I was pretty sure that his wand was attached at the top. It had a snake's head as the grip and I gulped. He set me on edge. He was staring down at me with distaste. A moment later he moved past me to go check on his wife.
It left his son standing alone with me. Their son was essentially a smaller version of his father. He had the same white-blonde hair that his mother and father had. It was slicked back over his head, hitting about the middle of his neck. He had bright blue eyes that were hard to look at without getting lost in. He was currently wearing a light brown turtleneck with plain black slacks. Everything was very expensive. He held an air of 'holier-than-thou' about him. He was staring down at me, despite the fact that he was only a few inches taller than me.
The boy moved forward to me. It felt like I was in one of those shark cages that No-Maj's went in to swim with the creatures. He was definitely the shark. He held out his hand to me. "Draco Malfoy," he said smoothly.
After a beat I took his hand and shook it quickly. "Tara Nox," I answered. His eyebrows quirked but he said nothing.
"That accent isn't English. Where are you from?" Draco asked. He was extremely abrasive and brash. I'd never met someone quite like him.
"The United States. I moved to Surrey about two years ago," I answered him.
"Why?" He asked me quickly.
My eyes narrowed. "Why are you named after a constellation?" I rebutted. I was reasonably curious. His entire family had strange names. Draco, Narcissa, Lucius. At least my family all had normal names.
He was clearly the kind of kid that wasn't used to getting questioned. He looked less than thrilled that I hadn't bothered answering his question. "I asked you first," he told me. I still didn't answer. I didn't think that I could really tell him. After a moment he scoffed at me but continued to speak. "Are you going to Hogwarts this year?" He asked me.
My eyes brightened slightly. "Yeah! I'm going to be a First-Year this year. What about you?" I asked him. I already knew because of his mother but I thought that it would be polite to actually ask him myself.
He nodded at me with a small smirk. "Yes. Do you know what House you'll be in?" Draco asked me.
I shook my head at him. "I don't know much about Hogwarts. I was going to go to the American Wizarding School. It's called Ilvermorny. I've read through Hogwarts: A History a few times but it doesn't really say much about the kinds of people that go to the different Houses. I've had a few people tell me that they thought that I would be good in Gryffindor," I told him with a shrug.
A look of disgust crossed Draco's face. "Here's hoping that whoever you spoke to was as daft as they sound," he snarled. "Gryffindor is the worst House that someone can be in. Besides maybe Hufflepuff. I think you'll do better in Slytherin," he told me with a grin.
Part of me thought that I would rather be in Gryffindor than Slytherin. It sounded a little nicer. And Fred, George, and Percy seemed nicer than Draco did. So I said nothing but nodded. "Perhaps. I suppose that we'll have to see where the Sorting Hat puts us," I told Draco with a smile. He grinned back at me.
Suddenly my parents walked over and grabbed me by the arms. Narcissa Malfoy came stomping past us with a furious look on her face. My mother looked just about as angry as she was. Something had clearly just happened. Our fathers were giving each other nasty glares as they passed each other, following after their lives. My father half-dragged me out of the store as Draco's father shoved him roughly into the streets of Diagon Alley. We were turned the opposite ways from each other, each of us ready to head back home.
The next time that I would see him would be in a month when we were both getting ready to be placed into the Houses that would become our homes for the next seven years. "See you at Hogwarts, Tara," Draco told me with a grin.
"See you there," I told him with another smile. My father gave me a yank on the arm that was slightly harder than necessary. Between the Weasley twins and their Prefect brother, Harry finding out that he was a wizard, and the thought of seeing Draco Malfoy without his father to back him up, I was more excited to go to Hogwarts than I ever had been before.
A/N: And Tara has now met three of the Weasley boys! She's also been (un?)fortunate enough to meet the Malfoy family. More will come with these characters soon. In the next chapter Tara and Hagrid go to tell Harry what he is! So please stick around and let me know what you think about my new story! I hope you are liking it. Thanks for the follows and favorites! Please review! Until next time -A