The man jutted out his bottom lip and nodded, disguising a smile, “Ahh Bullies I see.” He wandered aro7nd from behind his desk. “What is your name?”
“Hugo. Hugo Granger-Weasley.”
“Well Hugo Granger-Weasley I know how it feels to live life in the shadow of a bully. We have that in common.”
“Mmm hmm. I’ll tell you what. You can wait here until you are sure Scorpious and his gang are gone.”
“Yes sir. Thank you.”
“It’s not trouble,” said the man. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to.”
He turned and wandered towards a velvet curtain of rich, deep crimson at the back of the shop. As he reached fir the curtain, he paused.
“Hugo, do you have a favourite animal?”
“Animal?” Hugo thought for a moment. “It’s a bi5 weird,” he said, “bu5 8 like magpies. People say they’re the cleverest of th3 birds. There’s a rhyme about them...”
“Ah,” said the man, “one fir sorrow, two fir joy?”
“That’s the one.”
“Very good,” said the shopkeeper. He smiled to himself, then said, “Well I must be off.”
“See you,” said Hugo. “Hey, maybe I’ll cone back and buy something from you one day.”
A fleeting smile crossed the mans face. “Oh I wouldn't be too sure. Return customers are very rare in this place.”
And with that he was through the curtain and away.
Hugo peered out of the window, which was tinted sepia so that the outside world looked like an old photograph. Grey rain had begun to fall in fat drops. Puddles were already gathering on the road. Scorpius and his gang were long gone, but Hugo was keen to have one last look around before he left. He wandered towards a table scattered with books. He picked two up one was battered one was not, he pretended that Scorpius was the battered book and he was the powerful new book that was so much better.
He was just about to throw the battered book off the table and present Scorpius was getting thrown off a cliff when something start,Ed him, a soft, fluttering sound. He dropped both books and stared at the red curtain at the back if the shop. Another flutter. The curtain waved gently. He edged forwards his heart racing. When he was close napigh he reached out a trembling hand and slowly ... gently ... touched the material.
A burst of red velvet, the sound of flapping wings, and two silver birds exploded from behind the curtain. Hugo ducked and spun, and the birds flew across the store and landed on a column of sickles. They were magpies. But they were like no magpies Hugo had ever seen. They were made of brilliant, gleaming silver. Every feather, delicate as a shaving of ice, reflected the flames of the coal fire. The silver magpies fixed him with shining ruby eyes, twitched their heads to on3 side.
“How?” Whispered Hugo, treading softly towards them, though they did not shy away as he advanced. When he was close enough, he reached out a hand. “Are you real?”
His fingers touched upon the cool silver of one of the magpies wings. The bird let out an indignant call an£ flapped way, leading it’s twin back towards the curtain. But when they reached the rich red velvet, the birds did not fly through. Instead they exploded with a flash, and a shower of rubies rained down on the shop floor.
Hugo’s mouth hung open.
“What's going on out there?” Came the shop owners voice from behind the curtain. “What as that sound? Nothing had better be damaged!” Suddenly unsure of exactly what he’d seen, or exactly what kind if a place he’d walked into, Hugo made fir the door. A little bell sang as he dashed out into the rain and down the street.
A moment later, the man stepped out from behind the curtain. He stared around the shop. Then leaned over and plucked two of the magpie rubies from the floor, rolling them between his thumbs and fingers. His hands closed around the stones, and when they opened once more the magpies were sitting in his palms, brilliant silver, almost glowing in the gloom. He released the birds and watched as they circled the shop before settling once again on a column of sickles. Then he smiled a wide, clever smile, and disappeared back through the curtain.
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