Chapter 1 - An Odd Occurrence in Diagon Alley
Barney walked through the now familiar surroundings of the Leaky Cauldron, which he had passed through many times, and with nothing more than a passing hello to Tom and Perry who were busy at work he made his way to the small courtyard out back. He pulled out his wand and tapped the exact brick he needed. The solid wall started to vibrate and the bricks began to move revealing an archway and Barney stepped back into the wizarding world.
Diagon Alley was a buzz of activity as parents and children busily did their shopping for everything a student needed for the new term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was the first year that Barney's mum had allowed him to go alone to Diagon Alley now that he was sixteen and he had made the most of this new freedom and had visited it several times over the summer to meet up with his friends. They had enjoyed ice cream at Florean Fortescue's, cakes from Nutcomb & Honeybutter's Bakery, brought copious amounts of sweets from Sugarplum's and purchased the odd practical joke item from Weasley's. But today he had the serious job of buying everything on the list he had been sent of items required for his sixth year at Hogwarts. Luckily the list only included five new textbooks and apart from buying some new robes (he seemed to outgrow his every year) and restocking his potion ingredient supplies, he'd be able to enjoy the rest of the day with his friend once he'd finished his shopping.
Since his first year at Hogwarts Barney had grown a lot but he was still one of the shortest in his year. He was still slim but had put on some muscle due to the many hours of flying practice he did on his broom. His brown hair was an untidy mess as usual and his face just as freckled as that of the nervous and excited eleven year old boy who had been told five years ago that he was a wizard.
His mum had given him enough muggle money to cover his purchases and after a quick stop at Gringott's to change it to wizard money, he headed to Madam Malkin's for his robes and then the Apothecary for his potion supplies. As he was making his way to Flourish and Blott's he passed the window of the Quidditch shop and he stopped to admire the display. There floating in the window with an almost golden glow was the Lightningbolt, supposedly the fastest and most agile broom ever developed. It made Barney's own Nova X5 broom look pathetic as he looked on with a longing look in his eye. If only he could have afforded it then he would have had no problem making the Slytherin Quidditch team before.
"Hi Barney," a voice called out but Barney was almost too adsorbed in admiring the broom to notice and it wasn't until Thomas was standing right next to him that he finally realised he was there.
Though when they had started Hogwarts Thomas had only been a little bit taller than Barney, Thomas had some what of a growth spurt and was now over six foot tall, a good few inches taller than Barney.
"Oh hey, you alright?" Barney said but his eyes were still fixed on the Lightningbolt.
"Yes I'm good thanks. I've got all my shopping done now. Mum and Dad have taken it back home and left me some money to get lunch. Have you eaten yet?" he asked as he took off his glasses to clean them on his t-shirt, but Barney didn't reply. "That thing looks like a deathtrap if you ask me. A hundred and sixty miles an hour?! You'd never get me on one of those!"
"Huh?" Barney replied having not really been listen to a word his friend had been saying.
"Never mind. Do you want to go get some lunch?"
"I just need to get my new books and then we can go grab something."
Barney reluctantly left the glow of the window and followed his friend back up Diagon Alley.
"So do you think you'll make the team this year?" Thomas asked as they walked through the crowds towards the book shop.
"There's no one else currently on the team or who's tried out previously that plays in a Seeker position and I can't see any one from first or second years coming through."
Barney had been the reserve Seeker for the last three years and now that Corinne Blake the Slytherin's previous Seeker had graduated he felt he was a shoe in for the position.
Barney purchased all his new textbooks and as they left Flourish and Blott's they spotted Tabitha, with her blonde hair messy as usual, further up the street with Hamish Meriwether, a Hufflepuff from the year above.
"I feel like we've barely seen her all summer. She's been too busy with him," Barney moaned as he watched the pair of them lock lips.
"I hear they're official now," Thomas noted as Tabitha said her goodbyes to Hamish and headed towards them.
"What does she see in him anyway?"
"Besides the fact he's captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team and he has led us to the Quidditch Cup for the past two years?"
"Geez Thomas, sounds like you want to date him too," Barney joked.
Before Thomas could respond Tabitha reached them and she was hugging them both.
"I can't believe how quick the summer has gone. We've hardly had time to hang out," she said as Barney bit his tongue not to say anything.
"We're about to get some lunch. Do you want to come?" Thomas asked.
"Or are you too busy with Captain Hamish?" Barney quipped sarcastically, which resulted in an elbow to his ribs from Thomas.
Luckily Tabitha was momentarily distracted by a newly purchased owl that had escaped it's cage and was flying overhead to fully get Barney's jibe.
"Oh he's gone off for some flying practice with his friends," she said. "I need to go to the junk shop to get my brother a birthday present first. Will you come with me and help me pick something out?"
"From the junk shop?" Barney said rather surprised.
"Yeah. I want to get him something quirky. He's coming back next week to visit."
"Why don't you get him a big box of sweets from Sugarplum's instead?" Thomas suggested, not likely the idea of buying a birthday present from a junk shop.
"I mean we can go to Knockturn Alley if you like? They'd have loads of quirky stuff down there."
"No the junk shop is fine," Thomas replied quickly, fancying a trip down there even less than a visit to the junk shop.
The three of them headed to the junk shop at the end of Diagon Alley and stepped inside and a bell above the door rang out. Everything inside seemed very dusty. There were piles and piles of items all stacked up in a haphazard manner. There were boxes full of chipped and broken tableware and pottery, old furniture, a pile of canvases stacked up against one wall, shelves full or worn and tattered books and clocks on the walls that didn't tell the right time amongst many other things. The shop was so rammed with things it was hard to walk through it without knocking something over.
"Can I help you?" a voice called out but there was so much stuff it was hard to see who had said it.
Tabitha moved further into the shop and round a stack of crates and saw a very elderly gentlemen sat in an even older looking armchair next to the counter. He had a long white beard and a few tufts on white hairs on his head. He wore very thick glasses which magnified his eyes so they looked ridiculous and he was dressed in a brown waistcoat and green shirt which had probably once fitted him but now he looked thin and frail and they seemed many sizes too big for him.
"Oh hello there," Tabitha said in a rather loud voice, presuming the man might have trouble hearing. "I'm looking for a present for my brother."
"A pheasant for your mother you say? I'm afraid we don't stock those here," he replied as his magnified beady eyes looked at her.
"No a birthday present for my brother," Tabitha said even louder this time.
"A curse day present for your lover? I didn't know there was such a day."
"Never mind we'll just have a look around," she replied frustratedly and rejoined her friends.
Barney was busy flicking through some books while Thomas was rummaging through a box marked 'muggle items'.
"Hey how about one of these?" Thomas said holding up a small black item that he had found.
Tabitha took it from it and examined it. It had numbered buttons on the front and a small screen. "What is it?" she asked rather puzzled.
"It's a mobile phone. Muggles use it to speak to other people. It's a bit like a fire-call."
"Yeah but what good is that to her brother if he doesn't know anyone else with a phone?" Barney added as he put back the book he was looking at before selecting another one.
"Oh yeah I didn't think of that."
Tabitha continued to look through the numerous items in the shop and eventually settled on a small hand held muggle video game and a book on muggle magic tricks that she thought her brother would enjoy. Barney had picked up a rather worn and faded book called Myths, Legends & Truths of Ancient Magical Artefacts that he'd found rather interesting and had decided to buy for himself.
When they got back to the counter the old man was now standing behind it. An owl was perched on top waiting patiently as the man was starting to wrap up a small wooden box in brown paper.
"Will be with you in a moment," he said as they approached the counter. "Oh fiddle sticks," he exclaimed as he struggled to tie the parcel up with string.
"Why doesn't he just use magic to wrap it?" Thomas whispered to Tabitha as they watched him grapple with the wrapping.
"I hear he's a squib," she whispered back even though they could have spoken in their normal voices and he wouldn't have heard them.
"Here let me help," Barney said as he placed his book down on the counter.
"A deer and kelp? Where?" the old man said very puzzled.
Barney didn't bother replying and started to fold the brown paper around the package neater so it was more easy to tie up.
"Oh thank you," the old man replied appreciatively as Barney held the package and the old man once again tried to tie it up but Barney could see his hands were shaking and his hand slipped and knocked the package out of Barney's grip and it fell on the floor.
"Oh Merlin's beard!" the old man cursed as Barney bent down to pick it up.
But as he did the small box moved out of his reach. Barney looked at it rather confused as he tried to grab it again but the box started to jump up and down and crashed into a stack of pans, knocking them all over the floor.
"What's going on?!" Tabitha yelled as the box was now bouncing all around the shop, whacking furniture and crates over, smashing the glass fronts of clocks and knocking pictures off the wall.
Thomas had sought refuge behind the counter with the old man as they both looked on helpless as the item continued on its path of destruction around the shop. The owl that had been perched on the counter had flown off and out an open window after being startled by all the commotion.
"Immobulus!" Tabitha shouted with her wand drawn trying to take aim at the box but missed and instead hit a book that had fallen off a shelf and now floated in the air, frozen by the charm.
Barney reached for his wand too and started casting the spell at the feverishly moving item along with Tabitha but the box was just moving too fast for them to hit it as it clattered around the junk shop.
Suddenly the box was heading straight for Barney and he had to duck as it narrowly missed hitting him in the head and smashed into the wall behind him. The broken pieces of the wooden box fell to the floor along with it's contents - a small black porcelain cat about five inches in height. Barney looked at the statue laying there motionless, surprised that it hadn't smashed when it fell to the floor. As he looked at it he noticed that the cat had strange glowing green eyes that were pulsating and had sharp fanged teeth that were bared. Just then the figure started to snarl at him and it's fanged mouth opened and headed straight for him. Barney instinctively dived behind a stack of boxes and then turned waiting with his wand held out in front of him for the statue to strike.
Tabitha saw the cat statue scuttling fast across the floor and tried to stun it with a spell but missed as it ran out of sight behind a bookshelf.
"Where'd it go?" Thomas said nervously as he peered over the top of the counter from where he was still taking cover.
Tabitha cautiously scanned around the room as she slowly approached the bookshelf. Barney had now got to his feet and moved hesitantly towards her.
"What was that?" she asked as Barney now stood at her side.
"I think it's just a statue but someone must have cursed it," he suggested as they both nervously inched forward with their wands at the ready.
The shop was silent as they all listened intently waiting for any sign of where the cat statue was now. There was a crash towards the front of the shop and Tabitha and Barney ran forward to find only a clock smashed on the floor, knocked loose from it's wall hook previously and it had finally fallen down. They turned again when they heard Thomas' yell and raced once again to the back of the shop where they found him fending off the cat statue with a large leather bound book. The statue was ferociously trying to attach him and was clawing at the leather of the book.
"Immobulus!" Tabitha cried out and blue light shot out of her wand.
The cat statue jumped away and the spell hit the leather book Thomas was holding and froze it in mid air so that when he let go of it it stayed floating where it was.
"It's over there!" Barney shouted as he saw it dart behind some boxes. "Stupefy!"
The spell hit a box and sent it flying out the way but Barney couldn't see where the statue was now as Tabitha had joined him by his side.
"It's over there somewhere," Barney said as he could feel his heart thumping fast. "Must be behind that other box."
"OK you move the box and I'll stun the statue," Tabitha suggested as Barney nodded in agreement and they both readied their wands. "On the count of three. One... two..."
Before she could finish the statue had burst out from behind the box and had run behind a bookshelf, knocking it over. Barney and Tabitha just managed to get out the way before it toppled over and sent books flying everywhere across the shop floor. Barney turned towards Tabitha to check she was alright.
"Look out!" Tabitha screamed.
Barney turned around to see the statue leaping at him with it's teeth bared. He dropped his wand as the statue flew towards his face but managed to grab it in his hands before it could bite him. As he caught it he stumbled backwards and knocked into Tabitha who dropped her wand too.
Barney fell to the floor, still holding the statue that was furiously writhing in his hands, trying to attack him. Tabitha frantically searched the the shop floor that was littered with broken pottery, books and all sorts of stuff as she looked for her wand in the chaos.
"Help!" Barney shouted as the statue tried to constantly bite him and he struggled to hold it off.
Just then the shop door burst open and in stepped Professor Sinistra, having heard the commotion from outside.
"Subsisto!" she commanded and a stream of purple light shot from her wand and struck the statue, shattering it to nothing put tiny grains of sands that rained down to the ground.
Barney lay on the floor exhausted as Sinistra stepped over the piles of junk and made her way towards them.
"Are you two OK?" the Professor asked looking at Barney and Tabitha and having only just noticed Thomas and the shop keeper who were now only emerging from behind the counter. "Ah Mr Pond, whatever has been going on here?"
The old man still looked confused as Sinistra picked up his armchair that had been knocked over and Thomas helped him over to take a seat in it while Tabitha helped Barney up and they both found their wands amongst the clutter.
"I haven't the foggiest," the old man replied scratching his head. "That statue has been in this shop for years and it's never tried to attack someone before."
"Has anyone been in your shop recently and looked at it?" Sinistra asked as she crouched down beside the old man who looked even more frail than he had done before the attack.
"Well yes someone had bought it. I was just wrapping it when it went berserk."
"Who purchased it?" she asked inquisitively.
"I don't know who they were. See the oddest thing happened when they came in. I couldn't find my glasses which is weird because I never take them off. So I couldn't see who they were. They just brought the item to the counter and then asked me to have it wrapped and sent as a present."
"Who did they asked for it to be sent to?" the professor asked as Barney looked down beside the counter and saw the brown wrapping and noticed a tag.
He picked it up and saw what was written on it - 'Professor Grim. Hogwarts'.