The light blinded Harry momentarily as he stepped out into the bright sunlight streets of Diagon Alley, not much had changed since he'd entered the goblin bank. The streets were still crowded with a veritable swarm of color as wizards and witches traipsed around in colors that would give muggle fashion designers a heart attack. Harry was left idly wondering if the wizarding world had been cruelly affected by the sixties and never recovered, or whether they were just this color blind. Sadly, he suspected the later.
"Alright," Hagrid muttered, sounding a bit sickly, "firs' thin's firs'. Yer goin' ter be needin' yeh robes. Bes' place fer that be Ma'am Malkin's, this way Harry."
With that the huge man stepped into the crowd, initially looking like he was wading through water until the crowd noticed him and started going around him. Harry just stayed behind Hagrid in his 'wake', having to jog to keep up with Hagrid's walking pace. Otherwise he was worried that he would get swept away by the busy moving crowd of people that packed the alley.
Lilith who was resting on Harry's shoulder suddenly disappeared from existence, there was no phasing out like one of those teleporters that you saw on Star Trek. No, this was quite simply there one second and then completely gone the very next. Not that this was particularly important as Harry barely registered her disappearance, so used to the fact that she would come and go as she would please. The part of him that did register her disappearance was somewhat concerned that she would be inflicting some form of bedlam on the area as she was prone to do whenever she was 'hungry'. As long as it didn't come back and bite him in the ass, Harry really didn't want to know some of the stuff that his companion got up to, as he suspected he wouldn't like it in the slightest.
The disappearance of Lilith occupied his mind for long enough that he almost crashed into Hagrid when the larger man suddenly stopped in the middle of the street. He wasn't the only one that nearly crashed as the flow of the crowd was once again forced to move around this giant man standing in the middle of the street.
"Ah, that be Ma'am Malkin's," Hagrid said, explaining his sudden stop. The shop itself looked a lot like most of the others in the alley except it had a range of surprisingly tasteful robes and other clothing in the window. "Listen, Harry, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate 'em Gringotts carts."
He did look a bit nauseous and Harry was hopeful that he could at least get clothing without some sort of epic disaster so he nodded before entering the shop.
The shop seemed considerably larger inside than the outside had suggested and there was an even larger selection of clothing hanging on racks, shelves or on manikins all around the shop. A quick glance around the shop showed it to be occupied by a group of girls, some very good looking girls his mind pointed out, what looked like one of their mothers and a few shop assistants who were busy rushing around doing their jobs. With nothing better to do, Harry walked towards the group hoping to be noticed and eventually get served.
"Stop bloody poking me!" cried one of the girls, the most distinctive of the lot with bright pink hair, as she moved out the way of the assistant witches needle, much to said witches frustration
"Now young lady, if you don't stay still then I'm never going to be able adjust the robes to you."
"Not when you keep stabbing me in the bloody boob," replied the girl scathing, "I'll just adjust myself to fit."
The older woman standing next to the group muttered something quietly that Harry couldn't make out, although the pink haired girl must have heard it well enough as she turned bright red.
"Mother!" screamed the outraged pink person in the way only a mortally embarrassed child could but she eventually settled down to get adjusted with a scowl on her face.
The lull was enough for the battle between her assistant and her customer to cease taking up most of her concentration, and madam Malkin brain then kindly informed her of an unnerving chill that had settled down her spine. Turning around curiously she noticed Harry standing behind her and was all business again, "Oh hello dear, here for your Hogwarts robes?"
Harry wordless nodded.
"Well get on the stool next to the young lady and I'll be over to serve you in a moment," She informed him cheerfully before wandering down to the back of the store.
The pink haired girl scowled at the retreating shop owner and was vowing to burn the store to the ground under her breath. Harry gave the girl a concerned and alarmed look at the vow, it should probably be noted that Harry's sense of what is an honest threat and what is merely exaggeration had been somewhat warped by Lilith's actual willingness to carry out any threat no matter how extreme.
Whilst Harry was worrying about the girl, one of her friends turned her attention from the dresses lining the side of the shop and focused on Harry as something vastly more interesting, "So your a first year huh?" questioned the fairly plain looking girl, she seemed to have that type of warm friendly voice to her that made you want to talk to her.
"Erm, yeah," Harry's voice on the other hand embodied just about every piece of teenage awkwardness possible. The only mercy was that his voice had yet to break.
The girl smirked a look that seemed out of place on her face, something slightly darker alight in her eyes. "So nervous?" she spoke inconspicuously with that same warm voice.
"Yeah," Harry nodded honestly and was rewarded with the girl's smile.
"I'm Laura. Laura White. A Hufflepuff," The girl announced herself before looking to the side of Harry, "and the girl rudely staring at you would be Nymphadora Tonks"
Harry turned just in time to see the pink hair girl change her center of attention from himself to the brunette Laura, "Don't call me Nymphadora!" she demanded, although her voice hinted that this was an old, old argument. That and the fact that Laura paid next to no attention to the comeback.
The pink haired girl snorted in a most unladylike way before turning to attention to Harry, scowling at the shop assistant sharply again because he presumed she'd just been stabbed again. "Sorry about this," Nymphadora apologized in what seemed like her friendliest manner so far, "I don't want to seem rude but your not a metamorphmagnus are you? I mean your eyes..."
The girl trailed off as Harry shook his head, deciding to set the score straight here. He had been told by Lilith that once you started lying that it requires more and more lies to sustain, especially if it was a lie which was likely to come up regularly. Besides it would be a difficult lie to sustain as he couldn't do any form of metamorphamagnus transformations.
"No, I'm not. My eyes are caused... by a vision correction spell, it was done by a friend of the family," Harry replied expanding on his original negative answer of shaking his head. He was rather proud of that answer as every single part of it was true. Lilith was a friend and he was family, so hence friend of the family.
Nymphadora seemed to sag, almost literately at the news. "Oh well, it was a long shot anyway," she sighed and Harry looked at her wondering why that was so important to her.
Obviously he wasn't very good at concealing the question from his face because Laura easily picked it up and answered, "She's just a little off put that your not another Metamorphamagnus like her. They're kinda rare and I think she wants someone else to do magnus-esq stuff with..."
Nymphadora looked at Laura annoyed, "Yes, thank you miss 'blurt-out-Tonk's-private-business-to-complete-strangers'."
Harry coughed, feeling somewhat awkward. He was saved from the awkwardness for about five seconds as someone suddenly dumped half a ton of fabric over his head before finally pulling his head through, it was now Harry's turn to glare at the assistant before turning his attention back to the girls. "Well... we don't have to be complete strangers..." Harry suggested, he pressed onwards even though the pink haired girl... Nymphadora... was looking at him with increasing dubiousness, "my name is Harry Potter," he said offering her his hand.
Harry could quite explain it but the very mention of his name caused Nymphadora to stand up straighter and her eyes... Sharpened... for lack of a better word. She gave a friendly smile and shook his hand, "Hello Harry. My name is Nymphadora Tonks but please just call me Tonks. I ca..." the girl shoot a look over at her mother as if wondering if she was in hearing distance. Deciding she was, Tonk's obviously cut off the rest of the sentence to Harry's curiosity and changed topics.
"So this is your first year at Hogwarts is it Harry?" Tonks asked curiously, although from her tone she already knew the answer. Most likely because she was at least a second year.
"Erm.. yes," Harry answered, wincing as the assistant stabbed him with the needle whilst adjusting his robes.
"You're not the only ickle firstie," Tonks teased him friendly and leaned back slightly so Harry could see another girl, "Zabini here is in her first year,"
Harry could see that, if just by the size difference between the girls. "Harry Potter," he stated offering his hands
"Blaise Zabini," The dark haired Italian girl said with a cultured accent shaking his hands, past tonks. Neither of them were able to get off the stools with the swarm of assistants buzzing around them.
"Excellent, you kn.. OW!... damnit, stop poking me!" Tonks scowled yet again at the assistant whom made vague apology noises. Tonks was not satisfied, growled under her breath before returning to the matter at hand.
"As I was saying, me and Laura here are third years at Hogwarts. Our friend over there..." Tonks pointed over to the other end of the shop where a girl was looking at various dresses and some of them Harry had to admit looked rather pretty, "... who is more interested in her dresses than meeting people is Rachel, she's a second year. If you have any problems at Hogwarts come and find us, I have friends in pretty much every house so getting in touch wont be a problem."
Harry frowned. "Why would it be a problem otherwise?" Harry questioned, curious to know something before he actually started term.
"Ah... Each of the four houses...Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor are fairly isolationist. People from those houses tend to stick with each other and you'll hear all sort of silly rumors about this and this house being evil. Usually Slytherin," Tonks explained, anything to distract her from the tedium of getting these cursed robes adjusted. She could swear they'd done the same parts over and over again. If she was being used as a test dummy for some new shop assistants she would be extremely displeased and demand... a ...discount for blood spilled. Yes.
"Why is Slytherin evil?" Harry wondered.
"It's not!" Tonks practically exploded, "Just because its the house of ambition and we've had a few ambitious dark lords here and there, the whole house gets a negative reputation."
Tonks scowled for a long moment before turning and poking her finger right at the tip of Harry's nose dramatically, or at least that's what she tried to do. Unfortunately this was Nymphadora Tonks and with her co-ordination she managed to stick her finger up his nose. "Yuck...Icky..." She expressed her mature opinion as she recoiled her hand in disgust immediately, whilst Harry yelped in pain. She then preceded to wipe her finger clean on one of the assistant's cloaks, said assistant retaliated by 'accidentally' poking her again.
"Charming Tonks truly charming..." Laura muttered at her friends actions.
Tonks scowled but focused on Harry, "Anyway, as I was going to say. If you want an evil house look no further than..." she pointed her finger at Laura, " Hufflepuff! They're evil, they're all judges, social workers and disgruntled paper pushers! All positions of power! Forget the minister of magic, an army of paper pushers who all know each other and can cover each over has vastly more power than any minister of magic, especially when backed up by judges and social workers who can make your life that much more awkward!"
Laura raised an eyebrow skeptically at Tonks, "You sound like something out of the Quibber," she spoke quickly and dismissively. Too quickly for Tonks liking and the older pink haired girl settled into dark thoughts of Hufflepuff world domination... and chocolate frogs. Her stomach growled.
"Are we done yet?!" Tonks snapped down at the assistant, her patience reaching its absolute limit.
The shop assistant finished putting in the last few pins and then looked up at her, "Yes," he answered.
Tonks eyes lit up and she jumped down off the stool, stepping on the edge of her cloak in the process and nearly landing flat on her face. However by some miracle she managed to stay on her feet and cried out triumphantly at the achievement.
"You are also done dear," Madam Malkin informed Harry, who turned to look at her surprised. Before he knew what was going on there was a quick exchange of coins and Harry found himself the proud owner of a set of Hogwarts robes which he was now holding in two bags. He had the distinct feeling that Madam Malkin didn't want him in her shop for a moment longer than needed.
"Well I suppose this is goodbye for now," Tonks said walking up behind Harry, "we've got to stay her waiting for Blaise and the rest of our friends to arrive so... I'll see you at Hogwarts."
"Bye Harry," Laura said coyly.
"Goodbye," Blaise nodded politely, still stuck up on the stool.
"Bye," Harry waved as he left the shop with his purchases, the girls watching him leave. Tonks watching him with a sharp eye until he was out of sight, it was noted in a corner of her mind that the room temperature seemed to rise once he'd left the shop, she thought for a moment before seeking out the other member of their group.
"Rach! Why didn't you come over and introduce yourself?" Tonk demanded as she strode over to the other girl.
"I was looking at the dresses," Rachel answered a bit confused and on the defensive as she pointed at a rack of very nice dresses, "why? Who was that?" Rachel questioned curiously.
"That was bloody Harry Potter you twit!"
"Ah..." Rachel nodded in understanding before frowning, "who the hell is he?"
Tonks started to say something and then stopped, snapping her jaw shut.
"It's not important," Laura reassured their muggleborn friend, "and Tonks here needs to calm down. Perhaps she'd like some nice ice cream?"
"She really would..." Tonks the living pin cushion bemoaned.
"Ah Harry, I bin wonderin' where yeh'd gotten too," Hagrid stated cheerfully from where he was waiting outside the shop, "Did yeh get yer robes?"
Harry lifted the bags containing the robes to show him, that yes he had actually gotten the robes he'd meant to get.
"Ah good good. I'll carry 'em," He offered and Harry passed the bags to Hagrid without a complaint, the bags practically disappearing between Hagrid's huge dustbin sized hands.
"Hagrid... Do you know anything about the Hogwart houses? I mean I was talking to someone earlier and they said the houses were fairly separate..." Harry rambled slightly, not exactly the smoothest at extracting information without Lilith's near constant encouragement and instruction. Speaking of Lilith, Harry pondered were precisely she had gone. Her presence lingered, just not in the immediate vicinity.
"Ah, yer int'rested in the houses? Well... There's four of 'em. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Yer right tha' the houses tend ter remain separate, each house is based on a diff'rent thin'. Gryffindor is the house of the Brave, yeh can't go much wrong there. Hufflepuff is the house of the loyal, now people say Hufflepuff's a load of duffers but it was my house and it was a good house..."
"One of the girls I meet in the store was in Hufflepuff," Harry commented, "she seemed pretty nice"
"Yeah... where was I? Ah Ravenclaw... House of the smart, clever people 'em Ravenclaws but some of them are trouble makers," Hagrid scowled slightly towards the end.
"Last house is Slytherin, nothin' good ever came out of tha' house Harry. Mark my words..." Hagrid opinionated, "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-know-who was one."
"How do you get chosen for each of the houses?" Harry wondered, how could they decide if you were brave, loyal or whatever
"Nah... Can't say... big secret that is... yep," Hagrid answered firmly before nodding his head at the shop besides them, "Time ter get yer books Harry,"
The pair walk into the shop and start picking up books. The shopping in the book store went pretty much without incident except for when they bumped into another boy, one carrying a book titled 'Battlemagic'. It became obvious that Hagrid and the boy knew each other as tension in the air suddenly became thick enough to cut through. Fortunately the boy seemed to shrug the incident off and walked away ignoring Hagrid's eyes digging into his back. Harry had wanted to ask what that was about but something told him that it probably should be left alone.
After they left the shop Hagrid seemed to pick up slightly, especially after looking over the sheer number of books that Harry had purchased. "Bloody Hell, I've seen Ravenclaws with less books, not that there ain' nothin' wrong with Ravenclaw," Hagrid amended after getting several people outside the store glaring at him, Harry presumed they were all Ravenclaws.
Hagrid shook his head and smiled down at Harry, clapping a hand down on his shoulder. "Yer smart… a lot like your mother. She could have been a Ravenclaw if it weren't for that fiery temper of 'ers."
The pair began walking down the street interrupted only when Lilith swooped down from the roof's of the shops to land gracefully on Harry's shoulders. Hagrid looked at the raven with a knowing glance and nodded to himself as if confirming something. It wasn't a look that Harry was particularly happy with and he wondered if Lilith had blown her cover at some point in time. He was about to say something when he found himself distract by Lilith or rather the fact he could feel that Lilith was being very, very distracted by something.
Following his companions eyes, he could see that the Mazoku's attention was focused on a girl standing just in the shadows by the entrance of another street. Now that he was looking at her he could also sense something... familiar about her. Something inside of her called to him, it became obvious that he was not the only one feeling the sensation as the girls eyes suddenly snapped up to meet his. Green gazed into blue and something passed between them.
"Hagrid. Who's that girl? Does she go to Hogwarts too?" Harry felt the words coming out of his mouth as he stared at the girl, not wanting to take his eyes off of her.
Hagrid followed his line of sight and then suddenly his posture changed, "Yeah... she goes to Hogwarts bu' she ain' the type of person yeh should be with" He states firmly with authority, trying to knock Harry away from that line of questioning with some firmness in his voice.
Harry frowned, looking at Hagrid as he recognized the tactic but already making his mind up to find more out about the girl, "Why not? She looks sad."
"Why not... why not..." Hagrid muttered desperately under his breath as he tried to think of something "OH LOOK! We're here at the wand shop" Hagrid exclaimed loudly attracting most of the streets attention to him, "quickly now, inside."
Harry found himself being practically shoved into the shop and had to struggle not trip. Lilith violently ruffled her feathers not liking having her observations cut short but settled down on Harry's shoulder, although her could feel her wishing much negative will towards Hagrid. Harry paid little attention to that and looked around the shop, it seemed that they had come in during the middle of a conversation between a girl and a man.
'That girl we saw was very interesting...' Lilith muttered into his mind, Harry wanted to ask what had been going on but knew she wasn't in the mood to answer by her mental tone.
"... blame. Hardly my fault," The red haired girl stated firmly as she stood in front of a man. Harry presumed that the man was the shop owner.
"Miss Fortune, this is your seventh wand in two years, you do understand my concern," the man 'Ollivander' Lilith filled in, spoke, "A wand is a piece of art meant to last a lifetime. Not to be treated like a disposable cauldron!"
'How do you know his name?' Harry questioned mentally as he watched the conversation in front of him unfold.
'What do you think I've been doing whilst you were shopping?' Lilith asked rhetorically.
'Feeding...' Harry replied dryly.
'Besides that... I've been scouting the shops out, there are several interesting items and characters here. A lot of them down that Alleyway where that interesting girl was standing...' Lilith answered, actually feeling in the mood to be helpful for once but her tone implying this was the last question she'd take at the moment. Of course she failed completely to mention what the interesting items were but Harry was long getting used to things like that.
"Hey, I'm the only reason you stay in business. So quit complaining and make with the wand matching," The girl shooed him and then paused in thought, "try unicorn hair this time. Ten inches."
Ollivander raised an eyebrow but went to get one, "Dare I ask what happened to your last wand?"
The girl looked shifty, "It... exploded," she said slowly.
He looked at her.
"Accidentally," She clarified.
He still looked at her.
"Really!" she promised
He walked up to her and just wordlessly handed her the new wand.
The girl waved the unicorn hair wand around a bit and some vague sparks come out the end much to Harry's interest. "Hmmm... that's not quite right," Echoed both Ollivander and the girl, they looked at each other startled. Obviously whatever had happened was not the desired effect.
"The birch isn't right, yew's probably better. Damn... I've done this so many times I actually know whats going on," she muttered under her breath.
Ollivander handed her the yew wand and with a single flick of her wrist she blew up half the shop, nearly causing Harry to have a heart attack. "Ha! Bang on," the girl cried out in triumph as pieces of box and stuffing fluttered down all around her.
Ollivander just looked mournfully at the devastation, "Some times I think you just come back to demolish my shop..." he sighed.
"Now that's just being silly," the girl exclaimed, "So yew and unicorn hair comes to... what nine galleons?"
"Nine galleons and five sickles," Ollivander corrected.
"Right... bloody rip off," the girl muttered as she dug around in her pocket for some loose change, counting it quickly with an experience that showed the was used to handling money a lot and then dumping the correct amount on the counter.
"I'll see you around Olli!" The girl stated as she saluted him at the door before turning around and nodding to someone that Harry couldn't see, "Hey, Twy!"
Harry's own wand selection seemed slightly more mundane compared to the girl before him and seemed to take a hell of a lot longer as Harry went through wand after wand. Strangely despite the increasing destruction to his shop Ollivander seemed to be getting more and more excited at this 'tricky customer'. Eventually, Harry picked up the destined eleven inches holly and phoenix feather wand, brother to the wand which gave him the scar on his forehead. Out of curiosity, Lilith pushed him to ask if it was possible to have a second wand. A question which seemed to surprise the wand maker before he responded that no it was quite impossible to have two wands, as only ministry aurours were allowed to have more than one wand.
Not knowing what an aurour was or any of the wizarding world laws were Harry left the issue allow, if just to get away from the creepy gaze that Ollivander seemed to have. He also didn't like the number of times Ollivander's eyes shot to the raven resting on Harry's shoulders, despite the fact Lilith had done nothing that would give her away since they had arrived in the shop. Lilith herself had noted that Ollivander was one to watch, although the same could be said of several of the 'interesting' people she had observed today, it was heartening to see that there were still pieces of darkness that hung around even after the world had been so butchered by the dragons.
Once they'd left the shop Hagrid stopped him, "Look Harry, I was plannin' on gettin' yeh a pet but I finds out yeh already got that charmin' raven," Hagrid explained with a glint in his eye as he looked at his young charge. Something Harry had done was pleasing him for some reason, Lilith noted. The giant was giving off a fair bit of happiness much to her disgust.
"It's not an ordinary raven is it?" Hagrid said smiling knowingly and perhaps a little creepily. Hagrid didn't do stealthy interrogation very well.
"It's not a problem," Hagrid laughed as he clapped a hand down on Harry's shoulder, like he did every time he wanted to reassure him, "I used ter be the same at yer age, used ter think exotic pets were far better than those duffer cats or owls or toads that everyone else had."
Hagrid huffed as he thought about it, "Still do ter tell truth. So I got yeh this," Hagrid reached into his coat pocket, rummaging around for a long while before passing him a large book.
The book was covered in leather as was typical with a lot of the wizarding world books but this particular book had no title on the front but instead had the outline of a silver two tailed fox on it, a kitsune.
Harry looked up at Hagrid questioningly.
"It's a book on spirits, mostly thin's like kitsunes and spirit ravens like yer bird. It'll help yer take care o' it better as some o' these pets can be a bit tricky if yer don't know how ter handle 'em proper and if yeh ever have any problems with it come see me," Hagrid stated pointing his thumb to himself, "I've dealt with the like before."
Harry nodded and smiled gratefully, "Thanks Hagrid!"
"Heh, it's no problem. Oooh, before I forget, yeh tell everyone that I got yeh that bird," Hagrid said pointing to the raven, "Most people ain' happy about adoptin' wild magical creatures, they just don't understand... Even with somethin' as harmless as a spirit raven. They'd try and kill the poor thin'. So tell 'em I got yeh it, yeh got that?"
"Good good, now how abou' I get yeh a butterbeer before we head home alright?"