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Title: Year One: Search for the Dragonsphere (02)Author name: Abbi GrantAuthor email: obecalp@earthlink.netCategory: GeneralSub Category: DramaKeywords: dragonsphere mcfitz rose evans mwppRating: PG-13Spoilers:S/PS, CoS, PoA, GoF, FB, QTTA, OoTPSummary: Eleven-year-old Lily Evans is invited to study at Hogwarts School, she can hardly wait! Along with her cousin Charlotte, a Ravenclaw fourth-year, her new friends, and her mischevious feline Colonel McFitz, Lily embarks on a search for a magickal gem that can cure all Muggle Ailments!DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

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CHAPTER TWO -- A MOST UNUSUAL DAY

"DiagonAlley," Charlotte said to Lily as the took their seats on the London-bound train, "is easy to find, if you know where to look. Of course, I have most of my things already. There are just a few books I need this year: The Standard Book of Spells Grade 4, Numerology and Gramatica, and Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles. The last one's for Muggle Studies - you'll get to take that in year three, if you want. I wanted to be in Professor Kettleburn's Care of Magical Creature's class, but he's been very selective since a student lost a finger last year."

Lily sat, horrified. 'Lost a finger?' she thought to herself.

"Don't worry," Charlottesaid. "That rarely happens."

"Oh," Lily said, trying to sound comforted.

"You'll be fine, dear," said Aunt Georgia. "When Charlottefirst told me the story, it unnerved me, too. But it all turned out well: His finger had grown back by the next morning."

Lily's mind was a whirlwind of thoughts: Lost a finger? It grew back? Care of Magical Creatures? Muggle Studies?? For the first time since she had gotten her letter of acceptance, she was beginning to think she had gotten herself in over her head.

As the train slowed, Lily felt herself grow increasingly nervous. What if there had been a mistake? Her thoughts kept with her as she and her Aunt Georgia and her cousin Charlotte entered a run-down pub called The Leaky Cauldron.

The small, shabby-looking inn was squashed between a newly-opened book shop, and an appliance store. Lily looked around at all of the strange-looking characters in the pub. Scattered about were various men and women drinking various drinks; one was smoking a long pipe, one was vigorously talking, motioning and gesturing wildly with her hands, one was wearing what looked like a new top hat - he seemed to be asking whether or not it suited him.

Behind the counter was a balding man with only one tooth, right in front. "Diagon alley?" he asked, then motioned with his head to the rear when Aunt Georgianodded.

Lily made sure to stay by Charlotte and Georgia as they made their way down a long, narrow hallway and out into an alley in the back.

"Here we are," said Georgia.

Lily looked perplexed. They had traveled all this way to see an alley at the back of a pub? There had to be some mistake.

Before she could express her thoughts, however, her Aunt was making her way through the tipped-over garbage cans to the far wall. "Now," she said as she rummaged through her pockets to find a crumpled and torn piece of paper. "Three up, two across," she said to herself, tapping lightly on bricks and checking the piece of paper to make sure she was doing it correctly. When she was finished, she stepped back. Lily's mouth gaped open in awe when in the center of the wall, a small crack appeared, then began to widen until it was large enough for the three of them to go through at once.

Charlottesmiled. "That's something, eh?" she asked. Lily was still in too much shock to reply.

Aunt Georgiaushered the girls through the opening. As soon as they stepped through, Lily looked back to see that it was once again a solid wall. Normally, she would've asked herself how that was possible, but she had a feeling that she'd see a lot of things today that she'd never before thought possible, so it was best not to question it.

"Now, Lily," Aunt Georgiaasked. "Did you bring your list?"

"Yes," Lily said, fumbling around her person to find her entrance letter. It was in her right coat pocket.

"Ah," said her Aunt. "You'll need a little bit of everything, looks like."

Lily nodded.

"Tell you what," she said, while giving the list back to Lily. "I'll go to Gringotts and exchange the money. You two girls stay together and I'll meet you back here in half-an-hour."

The two girls nodded.

"C'mon," said Charlotteas she went inside the first shop: It had dozens of bright, metal - Cauldrons? - stacked by its door out front. Lily looked to the sign above and sure enough, that's what they were: 'CAULDRONS - All Sizes - Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver- Self-stirring - Collapsible' it said.

"How do I know which one to get?" Lily asked Charlotte quietly. She hadn't yet realized how many options she would have when it came to her supplies.

"Maybe I can help," said a man behind her. He was tall, middle-aged, and was wearing a black dress-coat with tails over his emerald green robe. "My name is Wilbur Whitby," said the man as he pushed his glasses up his nose. He was so tall that as he stooped to Lily's height, he was nearly bent at a right angle.

"It's nice to meet you," said Lily.

"First year?" he asked.

Lily nodded.

Wilbur Whitby smiled. "You won't need any of these," He said, motioning to the massive gold and copper and self-stirring and collapsible cauldrons lining the side of the store Lily and Charlotte were standing near. "You'll need one of these." He motioned for Charlotte and Lily to make their way to the far-right side of the shop. Lily picked up a medium-sized silver-looking cauldron. It was light, and not as pretty as the others.

"Pewter," Whitby said. "Standard size two."

"Thank you," Lily said.

Aunt Georgiareturned, and paid for the cauldron with the small bag of gold, silver, and copper coins. The coins, Lily noted, didn't look like anything she'd ever seen before, and she was curious about how much they were worth. I'll have to ask Charlottelater, she thought to herself.

Once they were all in the street once more, Aunt Georgiafished around her bag for her reading glasses and observed Charlotte's and Lily's lists once more. "Hmm. . ." she said as she looked around at the numerous shops and vendors. "We'd best get you fitted for a robe," she said to Lily. "This way, come along."

And so Charlotte, in need of a dress robe, and Lily were fitted for their robes by a short, round, smiling sort-of witch who was dressed head-to-toe in mauve. After that, they bought their textbooks, inks and quill and parchment, and potion supplies.

"What are those?" Lily asked as they passed a window with what-looked-like a gigantic tortoise with a jewel-encrusted shell. Every now and then, a small spark of fire would escape its derriere, making the colorful gems lining the shell sparkle.

"Wow," Charlottesaid as she pressed her face up to the glass. "I've never seen anything like that before!"

"They are extraordinary," agreed Aunt Georgia. "I wonder what they are?"

"If I may, Madam," said a voice beside them. "They are Fire-Crabs, and young ones at that."

Charlotte, Lily, and Aunt Georgia looked to where the voice was coming from, but there wasn't anything there. Dumbfounded, they turned in all directions, looking for the owner of the deep, masculine voice that had just spoken.

"Ahem," the voice said again, trying to direct their attentions to its precise location. Lily was sure the voice was to her left, but when she looked up, no one was there. Just then, a large, gray tabby cat wearing a mud-colouredjacket and a sour look on his face jumped onto the ledge in front of the window. Lily, Charlotte, and Aunt Georgia stared at the cat as he placed his small, round spectacles atop his small, cat nose. "My name," he said in a haughty tone, "is Colonel Wesley McFitz."

Everyone fell silent. The look on Col. Wesley McFitz'sface turned from sour to annoyed. "And you are?" he asked exasperatedly.

"Oh," said Aunt Georgia, her own voice taking her by surprise. "Well, um. My name is Georgia Bouvier, and this is my daughter, Charlotte -"

"It's nice to meet you," Charlottesaid.

"--and my niece, Lily."

"How do you do?" Lily added, tipping her head in the cat's direction. Colonel McFitz acknowledged each in their turn, but kept his stiff disposition.

"You live here?" questioned Aunt Georgia, trying to break the tension between themselves and the talking cat. Although Colonel McFitzwas polite, she was still wary around him. It wasn't every day that she was introduced to a cat, let alone a talking one, and she felt she was coping with the situation as best she could.

"At the menagerie?" replied Colonel McFitz. "Hmph. I most certainly do not. I am not for sale."

After Colonel McFitz'soutburst, Lilly could only manage to reply with a small 'Oh.'

"My apologies, young one," he said, polishing his spectacles with the back of one small paw. "'Tisjust a bit of bad luck that has brought me here. I lost my home in a gambling match some days ago."

"That's horrible," Lily cried as Colonel McFitz continued his story.

"There, there, child," he said calmly. "It was not my fault, of course. Aye, it most certainly was not. Had a card up his sleeve, don't you know."

The three ladies nodded in both sympathy and agreement. If he said it was not his fault, it probably was not, and that made the situation even more unpleasant.

Lily watched as the silence grew most unpleasant. Her Aunt was now shuffling her feet, watching for something to either take flight in air or crawl across the ground. Charlotte, too, was fidgeting an unusual manner. Lily cast a glance at Colonel McFitz, who was busy washing his face with a cat-sized handkerchief. Suddenly, she had an idea.

"Mister McFitz," she began.

"Colonel," he corrected her, his voice stern and unwavering.

"Colonel McFitz," she said again, careful to get it right this time. "Have you ever been to Hogwarts?"

The bright yellow in the old, grey tabby's eyes sparkled and shimmered like, Lily supposed, never before. "Hogwarts School?" he asked, slight disbelief detectable in his voice. "Have I ever been to Hogwarts School? Why, indeed I have! I studied transfiguration there under Mrs. Marlena Mathison. Good woman, she was; good witch, too, if my memory serves correct." He stopped as he noticed that once again he was getting off the subject. "Why, might I ask, would it matter whether or not I had ever been to Hogwarts School?"

Lily gulped. Her mother would not be pleased to have a cat in the house - a talking one, at that - but she did need a familiar, according to her supplies list, and he did need a home. At least, temporarily.

"I want to know if you'll come live with us, myself and my family." Lily took a step backwards and looked at the ground upon finishing. Then, once more, there was complete and utter silence.

After a few moments, Colonel McFitz answered: "Why, I would be honoured, Madame. That is, of course, if it would be alright with your family." He shot a look at Georgia, who was in as much shock as, she was sure, her sister Geraldine would soon be.

Georgialooked between the Colonel and her niece with uncertainty. "Lily, darling," she said as she took hold of Lily's shoulder, "Can I talk to you for a moment?" Lily nodded and allowed herself to be pulled aside for the moment. "Are you sure your mother will be okay with this... arrangement?" Aunt Georgiaasked when they were out of earshot. "After all, you know how important it is to keep a low profile when you're not at school, not all children are as... gifted as you are, and I can't think of anything more obvious than..." Aunt Georgiapaused as her eyes scanned the gray-striped coat-wearing cat, now sitting smugly upright, wiping his spectacles down with the back of his paw. "...that."

Lily understood very well what her Aunt was trying to say. While it was quite common to see a cat on her street, it was not common at all to see one dressed in a jacket, especially one that talked. Still, Lily felt sorry for Colonel McFitz.

"I know mother won't be entirely pleased," she said after a moment's thought. "But I don't see why she would object. After all, I will need a familiar - it says so on the list. And he is familiar with Hogwarts -- Charlottehas told us both how tricky it is to find your way around, especially in your first year."

"True, true..."

"And he does need a home," Lily continued.

"But you know how allergic your mother and sister are to cats," Aunt Georgiaurged.

"Yes, but I'll only be home in summer," Lily protested. "And who knows? He might've found a new home by then."

Aunt Georgiathought of this for a moment. Lily did have several good points: He did know his way around, he does need a home, and as for the summer... well, they could easily work around that when the time came. "Alright," she said. "But I'm on record as having nothing to do with this!"

Lily's face brightened as Aunt Georgiasmiled and winked at her.

"I'm sure it would be quite alright if you were to stay with Lily and her family," Georgiasaid to Colonel McFitz as the two joined Charlotteonce more.

The light in Colonel McFitz's golden eyes sparkled again. "Well, that's wonderful, wonderful. Yes, indeed, it is," he said as he jumped down from his box. "If you'll just be so kind as to carry my bag for me, we'll be on our way."

Lily noticed a small, red carpet bag near where Colonel McFitz was now standing. Adjusting her cauldron from one arm to the other, she reached for the bag's handle.

"Oh!" she cried as she tried to lift the bag. Even with all of her strength and might, she could barely get the bag to lift the ground. "What do you have in here?" she asked.

The tabby turned to her in surprise. "Odds and ends, really," he said. "A little of this, a little of that. Nothing you should be concerned about. Carry along, now. Chop chop." And off they went, one by one, down the road to their next stop.

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