Chapter 2 : Diagon Alley
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Lea was up and ready to go in the crack of down the next day. She fidgeted with the letter in her hands – she had read it at least fifty times since she woke up – and paced nervously up and down her small room.
The clicking clock hanging on the pale, bare wall said 7:13, which was probably too early for this Professor McGonagall to come and take her. She sighed and sank down on her bed, but her feet continued to rap against the floor nervously. What to do? What to do…
Aha! She'd read. She always got distracted by a nice book. She nodded to herself and got up on her feet, but just as she was about to grab Persuasion from her desk, the door opened.
Miss Higgs stood at the threshold along with a tall, stern woman dressed in a dark, elegant coat and long dress. "Lea, you have another visitor." Miss Higgs sounded confused, and a little grumpy. She fixed the woman beside her with a glare, but the woman paid her no heat.
"Hello!" Lea greeted brightly. "Miss Higgs, this is a teacher from the school I told you about yesterday." Miss Higgs hadn't believed Lea yesterday when she told her about Hogwarts, especially when she refused to give her the letter Professor Dumbledore had given her.
Miss Higgs frowned slightly and looked Professor McGonagall up and down appraisingly. "I see." She said at last.
"Good morning, Miss Black." Miss Higgs looked at Professor McGonagall, startled. Lea was known just as Lea around the orphanage, because no one had any information on her parents. "I trust you slept well?" Professor McGonagall's hawk-like eyes fixed on Lea's face and she nodded quickly.
"Perfect." She said with a grin. "Are we ready to go?"
"If you are ready, Miss Black, then by all means we are ready to go."
"Off we go then!" Lea exclaimed brightly. She grabbed her thin grey jacket and threw it over her T-shirt. She tucked her letter down her pocket and followed the two women into the hallway. "I'll see you later, Miss Higgs." She told the matron.
"Don't be late." Miss Higgs said sternly, but there was a hint of concern in her eyes.
"I won't." Lea promised.
Miss Higgs nodded and straightened, her eyes clearing of any emotion. "I will walk you out."
"This, Miss Black, is Diagon Alley."
Lea stared around her in absolute amazement. She had never seen anything quite like that. The street would look like any other shop street in London, if it wasn't for the shiny brooms displayed on the windows, the caged owls, and moving posters stuck on the walls.
"It's interesting, isn't it?" Professor McGonagall asked as she led her down the street.
Lea nodded, speechless.
"We will visit Gringotts first." Professor McGonagall said, nodding at a few people who greeted at her. Lea felt rather out of place in midst of all the wizards and witches dressed in cloaks and robes.
"Gringotts?" Lea asked, eager for knowledge.
"The wizarding bank." Professor McGonagall answered. "Your parents' families both have special vaults there."
Lea blinked. "Really?"
Professor McGonagall nodded. "Yes, they both came from old, wealthy pureblood families." At her blank look, Professor McGonagall sighed. "Pureblood families are the ones from purely magical heritage, meaning every member of the family has been magical. That is rarely true and doesn't say anything about your magical abilities."
"I see." Lea said with a nod. "Professor McGonagall… what about my grandparents? Are they alive?"
"They are not." Professor McGonagall said, sending Lea an apologetic look. "Your grandfather on your father's side, Orion Black, died in 1979 and his wife, Walburga, followed him six years later. Both your grandparents on your mother's side were killed in 1979. You don't know, but in the years you were born, the wizarding world was at war. This is the reason your parents are gone now."
"They were killed as well." Lea stated. Professor McGonagall nodded. "Who killed them? Do you know?"
"We don't know names." Professor McGonagall said. "We have a few suspects, but nothing more. I'm sorry, Miss Black."
Lea sighed. "It's alright. Professor… can you tell me my parents' names? Professor Dumbledore didn't tell me yesterday."
"Of course. Their names were Mabel Sawyer and Sirius Black."
"Sirius…" Lea smiled. "That's a funny name."
"For a funny man." Professor McGonagall replied, and Lea couldn't help but notice how her eyes darkened slightly. She decided not to ask, and she had a feeling that even if she did ask, she wouldn't get an answer.
"We almost reached Gringotts. Look ahead, you'll see it."
Lea looked up and felt her jaw drop at the magnificent sight. Gringotts was a tall, imposing building made of snow-white marble that towered over the neighbouring shops. "It's beautiful." She breathed.
"It is." Professor McGonagall agreed. "When we walk in, don't stare. Goblins do not like to be stared at."
"Goblins?" Lea asked in a hushed whisper as they climbed up the grand marble staircase.
"Goblins are the creatures that own and control Gringotts, Miss Black. They are very easily offended and I will ask you to leave the talking to me." Lea nodded quickly and held her breath as they walked inside.
Gringotts didn't fail to disappoint from the inside as well. They walked into a vast, brightly lit marble hall – about a hundreds of strange-looking small creatures were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, doing their work; such as weighing coins and gems in brass scales and examining valuable, precious stones through eyeglasses.
Lea tried hard not to stare at the goblins, but they were strange. They looked tiny, with ugly, pointed faces and long, talon-like fingers. It amazed her that they managed to get anything done with those fingers, especially when they handled such small objects like coins on daily basis.
"Don't stare, Miss Black." Professor McGonagall said quietly next to her, just as one of the goblins looked up from his work and stared straight at Lea.
She looked away quickly and forced herself to stare ahead. Professor McGonagall led her to a miraculously free goblin at the end of the counter, and together they waited for him to finish reading through the parchment in his hands.
"Good morning." Professor McGonagall said once the goblin had put his parchment down. "We have come to visit one of the old vaults. Miss Black here will give you some of her blood."
The goblin rose slightly from his seat and looked down at Lea with beady eyes. "Doesn't Miss Black have a key?"
"No, we'd like to fashion her keys for two vaults; Vault 711 and vault 689."
"Very well." The goblin said curtly as he settled back on his stool. "Miss Black, if you will-" The goblin extended his long-fingered hand and waited. Lea stared up at Professor McGonagall, who reached out and took her hand, placing it in the goblin's hand.
"Ouch!" She yelped when she felt a sharp pain in her finger. She stood on her tip toes and grimaced when she saw blood pooling from a small cut in her index finger. The goblin turned over her hand and let the drops fall on two separate pieces of parchment.
She sucked on her finger when the goblin released it, and attempted to look at the parchments but the goblin snatched it out of her eye sight. "Which vault will you be visiting today?"
"Vault 698." Professor McGonagall said without hesitation. "This is your mother's vault." She told Lea, as the goblin shuffled with something behind his counter.
"Miss Black's keys." The goblin said, placing two small, golden keys on the counter in front of Professor McGonagall. "I will have someone take you down to both vaults. Bogrod!"
Bogrod was yet another goblin. As he passed by Lea and McGonagall, Lea noticed he was at least a head shorter than her. They followed him through one of the many doors leading off the hall and Lea blinked as she was greeted not by marble, but by a dark narrow passage way lit by flaming torches. It led downward and there were thin railway tracks on the floor. The goblin whistled and a small cart hurled up the tracks to them.
Professor McGonagall helped her climb in, and when they were all into the cart, it started to move. Lea mirrored Professor McGonagall and gripped the edges tightly as they speeded down the tracks. She tried to keep track of the many turns they made, but it made her head dizzy so she stopped. The cart seemed to be moving on its own because Bogrod wasn't steering it.
Finally they stopped sharply by one of the many doors in the passage wall and Professor McGonagall hurried to get out of the cart. Lea climbed out on her own and grinned. She rather liked the cart, even if it made her feel a bit dizzy in the head and queasy in the stomach.
Professor McGonagall handed one of the small golden keys the goblin had given her to Bogrod. He plunged the key in the small key hole and the heavy door swung open. A lot of green smoke came out, causing Lea to cough, but it soon cleared and revealed a staggering amount of gold.
"I rather not go in." Professor McGonagall said as she handed her a leather money pouch. "There are enhancements put on everything, and only a member of your family can touch anything in there without activating them."
"Oh, okay." Lea said with a nod and walked into the dark vault. She was even more shocked when she saw the whole size of it, and the rest of the fortune that belonged to her family. There were mounds of gold, silver and bronze coins, but not only that. There were piles of treasures by the wall; golden goblets, silver and bronze armours, glinting jewellery, small bottles full of liquids in all kinds of colours, weapons – she even caught a sight of a golden crown encrusted with emeralds in a glass box on one of the shelves. "All mine?" She whispered to herself as she walked over a large pile of golden coins.
She reached out, a bit cautious due to Professor McGonagall's words about the enhancements. What If she wasn't a Sawyer? But the blood test the goblin made seemed to be positive…
She shook her head, along with her worries, and grabbed a handful of the coins. She waited with bated breath, but nothing happened. She looked at the exit and saw Professor McGonagall standing there.
"Hurry up, Miss Black. We don't have all day." She chided and Lea nodded quickly, stuffing handfuls of coins in the back. "Take some of the sickles and knuts too." Professor McGonagall said. "The silver and bronze coins." She explained when Lea gave her a confused look. "The golden coins are called Galleons, the silver ones Sickles and the bronze ones Knuts. Seventeen sickles make one Galleon, twenty –six Knuts make a Sickle – you'll learn soon enough. "
Lea nodded along as she moved around the vault and stuffed the coins in her pouch until it was hard for her to tie it close.
"I think that's enough." Professor McGonagall's voice rang in her ears and she nodded. She took one look around the large room and walked outside. The door closed almost immediately after her. "You can give me that if it's heavy." She said to Lea, gesturing to the overstuffed pouch in her hands. Lea nodded and handed it to Professor McGonagall, who took it in one hand. "Come on." She said, and gently pushed Lea forward with her free hand.
"Let's go to Madam Malkin's first." Professor McGonagall said as they left Gringotts. "It's where you'll get your robes fitted." She explained automatically.
"Oh, okay." She said, trying not to show her disappointment too much. She wanted to buy her wand first, but she supposed she could wait.
Professor McGonagall led her into a small shop with a sigh saying "Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occassions". A short, middle-aged witch dressed from head to toe in forest green greeted them with a smile. "Minerva!" She exclaimed when she saw Professor McGonagall. "How are you, Professor?" She asked, using the title rather teasingly.
Lea watched as Professor McGonagall's thin lips twitched into a small smile. "I'm fine, Magnolia. I'm here because of Miss Black."
Lea smiled. Madam Malkin tore her startled look away from Professor McGonagall and fixed her light blue eyes on Lea. "Miss Black, is it?" Madam Malkin asked, her face melting into her earlier warm smile. "Why don't you follow me?"
Lea and Professor McGonagall followed her at the back of the shop, where another witch stood. She was much younger, but looked like Madam Malkin and had the same sunny disposition. "Hogwarts?" The witch asked brightly as she helped Lea onto the footstool and took off her jacket. "My, my, aren't you a pretty thing?" She asked as she ruffled a bit of Lea's long black hair. "What's your name?"
"Lea." She answered, staring at herself at the mirror. She looked sickly pale next to the young witch, who had a healthy creamy colour to her skin.
"What a pretty name!" Madam Malkin said as she suddenly appeared beside her shoulder. She handed a folded piece of clothing over to the young witch, who unfolded it quickly and slipped it over Lea's head.
"I'm Selene." The young witch said as started to pin the right length of the long black cloak they had forced Lea into.
Selene continued to chat to Lea, while Madam Malkin talked to Professor McGonagall, who suddenly looked much less tense and stern. They were ready in no time, and Lea left with a heavy bag, which Professor McGonagall immediately took from her hands.
"Next stop is Flourish & Blotts – the bookshop." Professor McGonagall said as they maneuvered their way through the thick throng over people. "I noticed you had a few books in your room. Do you like to read?"
"Only things I'm interested in." Lea replied as she looked around curiously. She felt like she wouldn't ever get sick of the sight. "Otherwise I'm dreadful at concentrating. Miss Higgs used to give me pills for that, but nothing really helped."
"You don't have to worry about that, I suppose." Professor McGonagall said after a slight pause. "Your father was the same."
Lea looked up quickly, but Professor McGonagall seemed interested in something else and didn't meet her gaze. "We are here." She said, and Lea looked ahead. They stood in front of a small, slightly lopsided shop with a wooden sign above the upper windows, which were covered with banners of a smiling blonde wizard, who winked cheekily at Lea, making her wrinkle her nose slightly.
"Gilderoy Lockhart…" Lea read out loud. "He seems important."
"Hardly." Professor McGonagall scoffed by her side. "Thank Merlin we came here earlier, otherwise we'd have to fight our way in. Come on."
Lea followed her inside and stopped by the first bookshelf she saw. "Professor McGonagall?" She called, looking away briefly from the books with the moving covers. Said woman turned around and raised her eyebrows at Lea. "Can you get my books while I have a look around? You won't need the list, will you?"
"No, of course not." Professor McGonagall answered with a sigh. "Be careful and don't leave the shop!"
Lea nodded and watched as the Professor disappeared further inside the shop. She grinned to herself and grabbed a brand new, leather-bound book with silvery text at the front saying "Curses and Countercurses" by Professor Vindictus Viridian. It looked like a helpful book, and she rather liked the introduction, so she hugged it to her chest and plunged deeper into the shop.
She picked a few more books she liked until she was interrupted by Professor McGonagall, whose hands were full of books. To her slight disappointment Professor McGonagall insisted they left, and once she had paid at the counter, the two of them left.
She bought her pewter cauldron (she was disappointed she couldn't get a golden one, or at least silver…), scales for weighing potion ingredients and a brass telescope next, and the basic potion ingredients from the shop next door, which smelled absolutely terrible. Lea was glad when they left and walked into the shop across the street, which smelled much better. She bought parchment, a few quills and a few bottles of ink and left quickly with Professor McGonagall, finding nothing particularly interesting in the shop to gawk at.
By the time they walked into Eeylops Owl Emporium, Lea's stomach had started to growl angrily. She pressed a hand to her empty stomach and gave Professor McGonagall an apologetic look. In all the excitement, she forgot she hadn't gotten any breakfast this morning.
"It's alright." Professor McGonagall said. "We only have Ollivanders left."
Lea nodded and focused her attention on the animals around her.
"You can only a toad, owl or a cat. Choose wisely. A lot of children buy owls these days, and I'll not deny they are useful but-"
"I want a cat." Lea interrupted her, her eyes on a small, pure white cat in a cage at the far end of the shop, beside the cash counter. She quickly ran up to the cage and shoved her face closely to the bars. The cat looked up and stared at Lea with intelligent, yellow-green eyes. "I want this one."
"Oh, that's a smart choice!" An elderly witch said as she suddenly appeared behind the counter. "This breed of cats is very intelligent and loyal. They make the best pets, and aren't they just gorgeous?"
"Yes." Lea said with a nod, a smile pulling at her lips. The cat slowly made its way to the bars and her small, wet nose touched Lea's own between the bars. She giggled softly and patted the cat's head with two fingers.
"How much?" She heard Professor McGonagall ask.
"Nine galleons." The witch answered happily.
"I'll take it!" Lea said, interrupting Professor McGonagall once again. She looked up at the Professor, her mouth a firm line. "I want this cat, Professor. I have more than enough money anyway."
"You shouldn't spend your money so freely, Lea." She said with a slight frown, but it was obvious she was going to give in.
"I won't!" Lea promised. "But I want this cat."
''Alright." Professor McGonagall said finally, nodding. "We will take the cat."
The witch grabbed the cage from the shelf and handed it to Lea, who hugged it tightly. The cat rose on two legs and tried to scratch Lea's nose, which was peeking between the bars. Lea giggled softly at her new pet's playful antics.
"She doesn't have a name yet." The witch said as she took the galleons Professor McGonagall spilled on her counter. "We got her just a week ago."
"It's a she!" Lea exclaimed, delighted. "I will think a pretty name for you." She promised the cat.
"Alright, Miss Black, we're ready." Professor McGonagall said as she put away Lea's significantly thinner money pouch. "We only need to get your wand and then we'll go to the Leaky Cauldron and have lunch."
Lea perked up immediately at the mention of the word "wand" and left the shop with an extra skip to her step. The wand's shop was small and shabby looking, with peeling gold letters over the door reading: Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.
"Whoa." She breathed as she saw the date.
They walked inside and heard an echoing sound of a ringing bell from somewhere in the depths of the tiny shop. She looked around in wonderment and was met by thousands of narrow, black boxes piled up to the ceiling. Professor McGonagall took a seat on the only chair in the shop and waited.
Lea looked at her and opened her mouth to ask where Ollivander was when a soft voice cut through the silence.
"Hello." Lea jumped and whirled around.
An old man was standing before her, his eyes even paler then Lea's, shone through the darkness of the tiny shop. "Ah, but you look familiar, young lady." He said. Lea shifted slightly under his curious gaze and thankfully, he looked away from her. "Minerva McGonagall – why, it seems like only yesterday when you came here to buy your wand! Nine and half inches long, stiff, made of fir and with a core of dragon heartstring. I trust it has worked well for you?"
"Excellent, in fact." Professor McGonagall answered, not quite smiling.
"And now, this young lady is here to buy her first wand as well. What is your name, dear?"
Lea hesitated slightly before speaking. "Lea Black."
Ollivander started, and looked down at her. His pale lips formed a small, enigmatic smile.
"Now, which is your wand arm?" He asked as he took out a tape measure from his pocket.
Lea's eyebrows furrowed. "Well, I'm right-handed…"
"Hold out your arm. Ah, that's it!" He measured her from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round her head. Finally, he was over and put his tape back into his pocket. He hummed softly as he turned around and walked over to the large pile of boxes, his fingers hovering above them.
"Aha, try this one. Unusual combination; Ten and half inches made of hazel with a core of phoenix feather. Powerful and stringy – excellent for casting hexes and countercurses."
Lea picked up the wand from the box and fell warmth spread all over her body. The wand started to emit sparks and a faint glow, which illuminated Ollivander's surprised face.
"Oh, a wand hasn't picked an owner that quick in many years!" He exclaimed.
Professor McGonagall spoke before Lea could ask what was so curious. "That's rather curious..."
"How much, Ollivander?" She asked she took out Lea's money pouch.
"Eight galleons." He answered distractedly, his eyes still fixed on Lea.
Professor McGonagall put the right amount on the counter and placed one hand on Lea's shoulder. "We'll be going now. Have a good day, Ollivander!"
"You too, Minerva."
Lea walked out of the shop, carrying her cat's cage and gripping her new wand in her other hand. She could still feel the warmth in her hands. "Is it weird that my wand picked me so quickly?"
Professor McGonagall glanced down at her and shook her head. "No, of course not. Why would it be weird, Miss Black?"
"I don't know." Lea shrugged. "Mr. Ollivander seemed really surprised and interested…"
Professor McGonagall smiled thinly. "He's like that, Miss Black, nothing to worry about. Now, let's go to the Leaky Cauldron – I can hear your stomach growling."
Lea blushed slightly and followed Professor McGonagall through the busy streets. She fingered her wand then looked down at her cat, which now lay sleeping and smiled to herself.
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