August passed in a blur and Rick spent most of it avoiding the neighbourhood bullies and practising magic in the garden. Although Harewell had warned him about practicing magic in public, Rick couldn't find anything else to do to relieve his boredom and as he had not yet gotten a wand, he felt he was still safe. Before he knew it, it was the end of the summer holidays and Rick had still not told Mad Maggie that he would be leaving for Hogwarts at the end of the month and that he would be gone for the better part of a year. She had been hysterical after Harewell's visit but after a few bottles of her favourite drink, she had apparently decided that the whole scene had been a dream and to make his own life easier, Rick had decided not to help her out of it. So on the last day of summer, Rick packed a backpack with a few clothes, personal items and enough money for a single trip to London, announced he was leaving for boarding school and promptly left the Clayton house. The entire walk to the train station he expected Mad Maggie would come running after him to try and stop him. Rationally, he knew she wouldn't as she'd have to care about him for her to do that but he wanted this more than anything and he was wary of anything that could come between it. Naturally, that meant that he kept imagining the most horrific things to happen, no matter how implausible.
The journey to London was long, tedious and uncomfortable as the other passengers kept throwing disgusted glares at his unkempt appearance. Most of them probably thought he was part of the underclass with his unruly hair, his worn out clothes and his general look of negligence. He was glad when he finally reached the capital to get away from their stares and whispers. Disappearing in the mass of people in the busy London streets, Rick went in search of a little pub called The Leaky Cauldron using the instructions Harewell had given him. His search was made more difficult by the many people bumping into him. However, if it hadn't been for that man who had crashed into him, nearly making him plant his face on the pavement, he would probably have walked straight passed his destination. The pub was exceptionally small with only an inconspicuous sign above the front door that said 'The Leaky Cauldron'. Rick felt a rush of fulfilment and a sense of comfort now that he had found the pub and with it, his doorway to the magical world. He hadn't had any reason to doubt
Harewell's story about wizards after her demonstration but still, he had had some pangs of doubts, as often happens when one finds oneself alone in an unknown situation. Happy that at least this part of Harewell's story was correct, Rick opened the
heavy door. It became clear immediately that this was not a regular pub - not that he had ever been to one - he just did not think 'muggle' pubs managed to collect such a strange assortment of clientele. Sitting at a nearby table was a man with a turban and a gown, slurping at a bowl of something green and lumpy that looked really disgusting. Bent lowly over the bar was a man - or woman, he could not tell - completely swaddled in a hooded cloak. The most ugly midget he had ever seen was sitting at the table to his left, gnawing at a piece of raw meat and some fungi. Rick quickly looked away when the creature caught him staring and threw him a very menacing look. Rick passed the smaller tables and took a seat by the bar, wondering if he could pilfer a drink without the innkeeper noticing.
Just then, a young family walked through the front door, consisting of a mother, father and three children, two older teenagers and a girl that looked to be around Rick's age. Like Rick, they were looking around in wonder, making Rick suspect they were 'muggles'. The father, a tall man with light brown hair and startling blue eyes stepped up to the bar.
"Is this where we can find the entrance to something called Diagon Alley?" He asked the innkeeper unsure.
"Yes, sir. Just go out the back, walk up to the wall and tap three times on the third brick up and two across." The innkeeper explained.
"Thank you." The man said. "Also, can I order five soda's for that table over there, please?"
"We don't serve soda's." The innkeeper replied. "Perhaps butterbeer for the little ones?"
"Butterbeer?" The man repeated, sounding a little amazed. "Er, sure." The innkeeper busied himself with glasses and five butterbeers as the man walked back to his family, who anxiously waited for him to relate what he had learned. The innkeeper moved away from the bar to deliver the drinks and Rick saw his opportunity. He focussed on the bottles of butterbeer behind the bar and made one fly towards him. He deftly grabbed it and tucked it under his jacket before he got up and quickly made his way to the backdoor. He had just put his hand on the door handle when the innkeeper's voice made him freeze.
"Are you going to pay for that, boy?" Surprised the innkeeper had even seen him, Rick decided acting innocent was his best bet.
"Pay for what?" He asked.
"The bottle you have under your jacket." The innkeeper clarified, approaching him. Several of the customers had stopped what they were doing to watch the scene unfold, including the little family.
"What bottle?" No sooner had the words left his mouth or the innkeeper flicked out his wand and the bottle left its hiding place and flew to its owner's hand.
"This bottle." The innkeeper said dryly.
"Oh that bottle." Rick replied as if he'd only just noticed it now.
"I should report you to the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol." The innkeeper said so only Rick could hear him. Rick supposed that the Law Enforcement Patrol was the magical version of the police. "Where are your parents?" The innkeeper asked disapprovingly.
"They're dead." Rick replied callously. The innkeeper's demeanour changed immediately.
"You're here alone?" He asked, his anger turning to concern.
"Yes." Rick replied again. The innkeeper contemplated Rick for a moment and then placed the captured bottle back on the shelf, poured a glass of water and placed it in front of Rick.
"Water's free." He said. "Don't let me catch you stealing again or I will report you." Rick nodded and downed the glass of water gratefully. He noticed the other customers were giving him disapproving looks.
"I need to get to Diagon Alley." He told the innkeeper, eager to get out of the pub now.
"Your first time to Hogwarts eh?" Rick nodded. "Very well, come with me." The innkeeper led Rick through the backdoor which opened into a small enclosed courtyard that looked rather shabby and unclean. "Three up and two across." The innkeeper explained as he tapped said brick three times. Immediately, the brick began to wriggle and move and to Rick's great surprise, all the bricks around it cleared to form a passageway to a narrow but busy shopping street. "There you go, Diagon Alley." The innkeeper announced. Rick stepped through the portal. It was incredible. Every shop was as interesting as the next. To his left was Potage's Cauldron Shop which sold cauldrons in all colours and sizes. On display was a massive cauldron, it's golden colour catching the sunlight and next to the entrance was a cauldron that appeared to stir itself. To his right was a narrow apothecary where different ingredients were on display. Rick didn't go for a closer look as the smell coming from the shop was appalling but he could make out a barrel full of what looked like maggots, another filled with bugs and another with what looked like small eyeballs. It looked disgusting but at the same time oddly fascinating. He passed a shop with all sizes of owls, another with broomsticks that could fly and he even passed one with a strange metal object in the window that made noise and spun around. He really did not have enough eyes to take everything in, he could spend days walking around here and still not be bored. He did not think there was anything you could not find here. About halfway down the street, the quaint little shops gave way to a huge white marble building called Gringott's Bank. Rick admired it for a few minutes, almost sorry that he did not need to enter it until he heard someone clear their throat. Looking for the source of the noise, Rick stepped back in alarm when he saw two weird looking creatures by the bank's doors. They must have been related to the ugly midget he saw at the Leaky Cauldron because they had the same long pointy noses, huge ears and the same menacing look on their faces.
"In or out, human." One of them croaked and Rick decided it was best to get a move on.He took out the list he had gotten from Harewell and tried to decide what to buy first and where.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
First year students will require:
sets of plain work robes (black)
plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupil's 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 Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
The Art of Potion Making by Silas Selwyn
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 set brass scales
Students may also bring and owl OR a cat OR a toad.
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS
He decided to get his wand first because it was the thing he had most been looking forward to getting. Down the street to the other end of Diagon Alley he found a shop called Ollivander's: Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 B.C. It looked like a good place to start. The bell above the door rang as he entered the little shop and the three people in the shop looked up to see who had come in. Rick assumed the man with brown hair dappled with specks of grey who stood behind the counter was the shop owner, Mr. Ollivander. The other two were obviously customers, a woman and a boy about the same age as Rick, probably there to buy his first wand as well. The boy and his mother were dressed in rather fancy robes which stood in stark contrast with Rick's torn jeans and faded T-shirt. They did not pay him much attention and while they continued shopping for a wand, Rick took the time to take a look around. It was dark and cramped in the shop, owing to the walls being packed to the ceiling with long small boxes, which he could only assume contained wands. He tried to make an estimate of how many there were but it was simply impossible. How did anyone ever choose? Suddenly, the shop owner cheered and Rick looked over to the young boy holding a wand. Apparently, he had found his wand.
"An excellent choice, Mr. Mordaunt!" Mr. Ollivander said. He packed the chosen wand back in its box and handed it over to the boy's mother who paid several gold coins for it.
"Come, Livius." She said haughtily and she made her way to the door. Rick tried not to stare at her but he could not stop himself, the woman was oddly fascinating. She was very pretty and looked quite regal in her dark green robe, detailed with small gems and she carried herself as if she thought herself better than everyone else. When she caught sight of Rick near the door and looked him in the eyes, there was a hint of surprise in her beautiful face, quickly followed by obvious disgust. Rick figured she was quite appalled by his appearance.
"Mother?" The boy inquired as he came up to see what had captured his mother's attention. He was about the same height as Rick, with the same jet black hair, only his was combed neatly in place while Rick's was quite messy. The boy followed his mother's gaze and looked at Rick with disdain, as if he was a speck of mud on his newly polished boots. Rick felt quite indignant and uncomfortable under their stare, as if he was some zoo animal but the son's voice shook the mother out of her daze and she quickly averted her gaze and exited the shop, her son trailing behind her. Rick's eyes followed the boy and his mother out onto the street and into another store named 'Twilfitt & Tattings' and he decided he did not much like them.
"Good day. Welcome to Ollivander's, makers of fine wands since 382 BC, Mr…?" Rick jumped slightly when Mr. Ollivander suddenly appeared right next to him.
"O'Connell." Rick answered. "Rick O'Connell."
"First time going to Hogwarts then, Mr. O'Connell?" Mr Ollivander asked.
"Yes." Rick replied. "I need a wand."
"Excellent, you have come to the right place. Ollivander's makes the finest wands, even if I do say so myself. The business has been in our family for centuries and each generation has made its contribution to wandlore in order to produce the finest wands." He smiled as he got out a measuring tape. "What is your staff arm?" He looked at Rick expectantly.
"Er, well, I'm left if that's what you mean." Rick answered and Ollivander began measuring his height, the length of his arm, the length of his finger, the length from his wrist to his elbow and so on.
"Good." Ollivander said and left to rummage through some boxes while the measuring tape continued its work all by itself. Rick tried to see what the shopkeeper was doing while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on the tape that was currently measuring the width of his head.
"Every wand is different, Mr. O'Connell and no two are alike, just as no two persons are alike." Mr. Ollivander was saying from the back of the shop. "We use cores which enhance magical abilities like a unicorn hair, dragon heartstring or the feather of a phoenix. Each have unique properties. We may guess which wand will go well with a wizard but ultimately, it is the wand that chooses the wizard. Wandlore is not an exact science." Ollivander came back carrying a couple of the thin boxes and waved his hand. The measuring tape fell to the ground.
"Here, try this one." He said as he got out a wand and presented it to Rick. "Ash and phoenix feather, 10.8 inches, nice and bendy. Well, give it a wave!" Ollivander instructed when Rick just stood there with the wand in his hand. Rick obliged and waved the wand around a bit, feeling rather silly but the older man quickly removed it from his hand.
"No, no. Here, try this one. Holly and unicorn hair, 11.2 inches, has a nice swing. Excellent for charm work." Again Rick took the wand and waved it around and again Ollivander took it from his hand. The process repeated itself several times and the pile of discarded wands grew bigger and bigger. Rick wondered what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for. He tried and tried but the old man just never seemed to be completely satisfied. After what felt like the millionth wand he had held, Mr. Ollivander came back from one of the shelves at the back of the store carrying a very dusty small box. He took out the black wand that was inside it and presented it to Rick.
"Maybe this one. Yes, an uncommon combination, ebony wood combined with a dragon heartstring core, 13.4 inches, reasonably pliable and quite good for transfiguration. Try it." Rick took it and immediately felt his hand grow warm. He lifted the wand high and let it swoosh back down, creating a fountain of silver and gold sparks.
"Bravo! Well done." Ollivander cheered and Rick could not help but smile, relieved he had found a wand. He handed his new wand back to Ollivander who put it back in its box and began to wrap it.
"Interesting." Ollivander said. "You are sure to become a powerful wizard, Mr. O'Connell. This particular wand has lain in this store for quite a while. It was made by my grandfather who collected the heartstring from a particularly powerful and nasty dragon. Combined with ebony wood, this wand will only align itself to those that are worthy of its power." Rick grinned, he quite liked the sound of that. He paid Ollivander for his wand and left the small shop feeling elated. This had been the first step towards becoming a true wizard and starting his new life. Wand in possession, Rick checked his list again to get some idea of where to go next. The purchase of his wand had been a costly affair, he would have to buy a lot of things second-hand if he hoped to be able to get everything on his list. He was so engrossed by the list that he did not notice where he was going and next he knew, he bumped into someone and fell to the ground.
"Sorry." He mumbled immediately and he looked up to face his victim. It was a boy about his age. He was a bit smaller than Rick, had quite fair skin, short blond hair and piercing blue eyes that were almost unnatural. The boy quickly crawled around on all fours to gather all the things he'd dropped when Rick bumped into him.
"It's nothing. My fault anyway. I shouldn't have stopped in the middle of a busy street." He was saying as he grabbed his copy of Magical Theory and stuffed it back into his cauldron with his other books before he jumped up and introduced himself.
"I'm Robert." He offered his hand in greeting and Rick shook it.
"Rick. Are you going to Hogwarts as well?"
"Yes. You too?" Rick nodded. "I can hardly wait. I can't believe it's my turn to go. I've heard so many stories about Hogwarts from my dad and, well, I guess your parents must have too." Robert said a bit embarrassed.
"No." Rick replied neutrally.
"Oh. Are your parents muggles?" The other boy asked curiously.
"No, my parents died." Like everyone who found out, Robert faltered and looked embarrassed, unsure how to react.
"Oh, sorry." He apologized. Rick shrugged as if it was nothing and quickly moved away from the topic of his dead parents.
"So where are your parents?"
"My mom didn't come and my dad is doing something for work in there." He gestured behind him. It looked to be some kind of travel agency with posters plastered on the window depicting scenes of exotic locations. What was funny about them, was that the pictures were moving! Rick was still taking in that new discovery when Robert interrupted him.
"So, what house do you think you'll be in?" Rick tore his gaze from the moving pictures. He did not have the slightest clue what the other boy was talking about.
"Uh, what?" Understanding dawned on Robert's face.
"Oh, of course, you don't know. Well, Hogwarts has four houses and we get sorted into one of them. There's Gryffindor, home of the brave, Ravenclaw, that's where the smart ones go. Huffelpuff is where the honest and hardworking go and Slytherin... well Slytherin is the house of the underhanded and slimy ones." Rick had to smirk at the boy's colourful description.
"So where do you think you're going then?" He asked Robert.
"I hope it's Ravenclaw, same as my dad." Robert explained.
"Do kids always get into the same house as their parents?" Rick asked.
"Not always." Robert explained. "I heard this one student, his parents were both in Hufflepuff but when he got sorted-" Rick never learned where the student got sorted because that moment his attention was drawn by the arrogant boy from Ollivander's and his mother walking by again. Neither noticed him this time but Robert caught him staring at them.
"The Mordaunts." He said darkly.
"You know them?" Rick tore his gaze from young Mordaunt's back and turned to look at Robert.
"My dad told me about them. They think themselves better than others because they're purebloods. Rubbish, but they do have a lot of influence."
"How so?" Rick asked.
"Lucius Mordaunt is good friends with Burwell."
"Tobias Burwell, the Minister of Magic. My dad says it's because the Mordaunts fill the minister's pockets. And I'll bet that Mordaunt's son will be just as slimy and sneaky as his father. He'll be in Slytherin for sure." Just then a man walked out of the store behind them and came their way. He was unmistakably Robert's father, he looked exactly like him.
"You ready, Rob?" The man asked his son.
"Yes." Robert answered. "I guess I'll see you around at Hogwarts then." He said to Rick.
"Yeah." Rick answered and he watched Robert and his father disappear into the crowd. Robert seemed like a nice enough boy but somehow Rick felt they would not become best friends. Robert described Ravenclaw as a house for smart students and Rick was pretty sure that was not the house for him. He hated studying, had never been a good student and found that most people who were or wanted to be, were brownnosers. He put Robert and his father out of his mind and looked around, trying to get an idea of where to go next. His eye fell on the sign of a shop 'Second Hand Robes' and he thought it best to check it out. It was really quite a large shop but inside it looked exactly the opposite because of the sheer quantity of robes displayed. Along the back wall, between racks of old robes that had probably been in fashion a hundred years ago, Rick found a rack of regular black Hogwarts robes. There wasn't much choice. There were robes with holes in them, others had clearly been patched up several times and still others were so worn that they were not even black anymore but a shade of grey. Rick picked out the ones that still looked somewhat decent, they were a bit too large but he supposed he would grow into them. He didn't like having to buy things second-hand but he had no other choice and at least they were better than the worn and tattered clothes he wore now. After he paid the witch from the second hand robe shop, he went to a junk shop where he was able to get most of his books, a collection of glass phials all different sizes and shapes, a cauldron, scales and a telescope for a small price. The books had stains on them which made some pages difficult to read and the scales were missing some weights but he did not mind it, he doubted he would be using them much. At least the cauldron he bought did not have holes in it like some of the others did. He passed Gringott's again and stopped at Flourish and Blotts, a book shop where he picked up a copy of The Art of Potion Making by Silas Selwyn, the only book he had not been able to find in the second-hand shops. The book shop was quite impressive, the sheer quantity of books stacked on the shelves made Rick think that there was not a book you could not find here. He leafed through some interesting ones about curses and jinxes but they looked quite advanced and after some inquisitive looks from the shopkeeper he just paid for The Art of Potion Making and left. He stopped in front of Quality Quidditch Supplies to admire the brooms for quite a while. He tried to imagine what it would feel like to fly and really wished he could buy a broom but he knew he didn't have enough money. He left the store with a hollow feeling in his stomach but it did not last long. Even if he could not afford most of the stuff in the shop windows, Rick had a great time looking at them, there was so much to see and be enchanted by. He briefly considered buying a pet as he stood in front of Eeylops Owl Emporium ('All Kinds of Owls for All Your Mail') but then decided against it. A post owl would have been great but who would he write to? He certainly did not wish to write to Mad Maggie when he was at Hogwarts and he knew no one else he could write to. Finally, he bought his potion ingredients at the apothecary and by the time he had everything on his list, the day was drawing to a close. Rick's muscles were aching from hauling all his stuff back and forth and when he finally got back to the Leaky Cauldron, he realized he did not have a place to sleep that night. He deposited his trunk full of school supplies in a corner of the little pub and took a seat at one of the tables.
"If it isn't our little thief." The innkeeper greeted him. "What can I get you?" Rick checked his money pouch.
"What can I get for 2 sickles and 36 knuts?" He asked.
"Planning on paying this time?" The innkeeper chaffed. "Let's see, for that amount I can get you some pea soup." Rick paid the innkeeper who came back a few minutes later with a plate of weird looking green soup. It was a meagre meal but he had had worse. To try and divert his attention from his still grumbling stomach, Rick entertained himself by observing the other patrons. Hour after hour, the pub became more deserted, until it was close to midnight and the last customer left, leaving only Rick behind.
"You are quite possibly the worst customer I've ever had." The innkeeper grumbled as he cleared the tables and turned the chairs. "First, you try to steal from me and then you come back and occupy a table, ordering one single soup for the entire evening. Don't you need to go home and get some sleep?" If he had not been so tired, Rick might have told the innkeeper to mind his own business.
"I can't go home," he explained. "I need to catch the train tomorrow."
"It is tomorrow." Said the innkeeper as he moved to clean the bar. "I can rent you a room for the night, if you like."
"Thanks, but I haven't any money." Rick replied again.
"Well, you can't stay here all night, I'm about to close."
"You're tossing me out on the street?" Rick asked innocently. "All alone, young and helpless?" The innkeeper lifted an eyebrow.
"I'm not sure you fit that description." He grumbled. Rick became a little alarmed now. Where was he going to go with a trunk full of magical things?
"Please?" He pleaded. The innkeeper looked at him, seemingly trying to decide if Rick was being sincere. Finally he sighed and took pity on the boy.
"Come on, you can sleep in my office." He said.
"I thought you said you had free rooms?" Rick asked confused.
"Those are for paying customers." The innkeeper replied curtly. "Be thankful I don't toss you out on the street." He led Rick to a back room with a desk in it and magically made a bed appear. If he hadn't been so tired, Rick would have asked how he did that. Instead, he watched fascinated as the newly formed bed magically sprouted a pillow and blanket. The innkeeper left Rick to get settled but hesitated before closing the door.
"Don't bother trying to steal anything, I counted everything." And with that, he closed the door behind him. Rick plopped down on the bed and was asleep within seconds.