Twist of Fate

Chapter One – Madam Malkin's

Harry walked nervously into the shop. Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, read the sign. Harry had never been clothes shopping before; not for himself, at least. All his life, he had had to put up with his cousin Dudley's overlarge hand-me-downs, and he had no idea what it might be like, buying new ones. Harry only knew that Dudley hated clothes stores with a passion; he found them boring and uncomfortable. Then again, that didn't mean much. Harry liked many things his cousin didn't.

No, Harry's nerves owed more to the fact that, for the first time, he was about to enter a wizarding establishment completely alone. Hagrid had ducked back down to the Leaky Cauldron for a drink, leaving Harry to face whatever lay within Madam Malkin's. Aside from that seedy pub, the only other wizard building Harry had seen the inside of was a bank run by rather unfriendly-looking goblins. Harry tried not to think of what kind of beings the clothes store might have – vampires?

But as it turned out, Madam Malkin's looked almost exactly like any normal store, with a smattering of shoppers and assistants inside, and no vampires as far as Harry could tell. A short, dumpy witch in mauve robes, who Harry figured must be Madam Malkin herself, came straight up to him.

Harry opened his mouth to speak, but there was no need.

"Hogwarts, dear?" Madam Malkin said, smiling genially, and Harry nodded gratefully. "Got the lot here – there's a young lady in your year being fitted up just now, in fact."

Harry was curious. He still hadn't yet met a wizard or witch his own age. He had never had any friends at his old school – Dudley had made sure of that. Perhaps the wizarding world might be a fresh start.

Madam Malkin led Harry up to the back of the shop, where he saw a pretty girl with dark hair and matching eyes standing on a footstool by the wall as an assistant pinned up a set of plain black robes. The girl stood perfectly still and didn't acknowledge Harry's arrival.

Madam Malkin pulled out a second footstool and stood Harry up on it. She pulled a plain robe over his head and set to work pinning it up in the same way. For a few moments, Harry just stood there patiently, and then, mustering up his courage, he decided to try speaking to the dark-haired girl.

"Hello," said Harry. "What's your name?"

At first, the girl didn't respond. Three seconds… five seconds. Perhaps she didn't hear me, thought Harry, but no sooner had the thought come to mind than she spoke at last.

"Daphne Greengrass," the girl muttered.

Harry opened his mouth to introduce himself, but then abruptly thought better of it, remembering the reaction of the patrons in the Leaky Cauldron. He didn't need to be mobbed again while Madam Malkin was pinning up his robes.

Instead, Harry said, "So you're going to Hogwarts, too?"

"Of course," said Daphne Greengrass.

Harry tried to think of what to say next – Are you excited? Have you done any magic yet? – but something held him back. He got the strong sense that this girl didn't care for small talk.

Madam Malkin told Harry to put his back flat up against the wall, and he complied. Then, just when he'd almost forgotten she was there, the girl spoke up unexpectedly.

"Are you Muggleborn, then?"

"Come again?" said Harry. He'd never heard the word before.

"Your family," said the girl, "are they magical or not?" Her voice had a dull, flat monotone to it, sounding bored and disinterested, as if she couldn't care less how Harry answered.

Harry turned his head as far as he could without disturbing Madam Malkin, and could just make out the girl's blurry image in the corner of his eye. As far as Harry could tell, she hadn't moved an inch since he had entered the room.

"Sort of," said Harry. "My parents were magical, but they died. I live with my aunt and uncle, they're Muggles."

"Oh," said the girl. "Sorry." She said this in the same monotone, so Harry really couldn't tell if she was actually sorry at all.

"It's okay," Harry told her, hoping to keep the conversation going. "I don't remember them. They died when I was one."

Daphne Greengrass didn't reply, but Harry thought he saw something flicker in the corner of his eye. "Why'd you ask?" he added.

"Mother and Father think you shouldn't be allowed to go to Hogwarts if you don't have magical parents," said the girl. "They think you're not really a witch or wizard if your parents aren't."

"That doesn't sound very fair," said Harry, taken aback. He wasn't used to speaking his mind – don't ask questions, Aunt Petunia had said – but he wasn't at the Dursleys' anymore. "Does everyone think that? It sounds sort of like wizard racism."

"You mean how Muggles think people with white skin are better?" said Daphne. She sounded derisive.

"Not all Muggles do!" said Harry hotly, wondering exactly how little magical people knew about Muggles. "It's only a few – but yeah, that's what I mean."

There was another pause. Then Daphne said slowly, "Not all witches and wizards look down on Muggleborns either. But a lot of the important and powerful ones do. You probably shouldn't go around saying stuff like that to the wrong people."

Not sure what else to say, Harry replied a little coolly, "Thanks for the advice."

They both lapsed into silence again, and Harry pondered his newest acquaintance. He wasn't too sure if he liked Daphne. One thing was for certain, however; she was very different from the few other magical people Harry had met so far.

"What do you think?" said Harry. "About – um – Muggleborns?"

Once again, Daphne didn't reply straight away, and for a minute, all Harry heard was the rustling of the two sets of robes. Then, at last, Daphne said, "I don't know yet. I've never met one. Why does it matter to you, though? You're not a Muggleborn, so it doesn't affect you."

Harry thought about arguing – saying that yes, it mattered to him if people got treated badly because of who their parents were – but then Madam Malkin pulled down the robe, saying, "That's you done, my dear."

Harry turned to Daphne. "See you at Hogwarts, then," he said to her, hopping off the footstool.

After taking a couple of steps, Harry heard a voice behind him. "I never did catch your name."

Harry froze for a second, and then turned back around to face Daphne. "It's Harry," he said, a little more coolly than he'd intended. "Harry Potter."

If Daphne Greengrass was surprised, she didn't show it. Instead, she just gazed at Harry calculatingly, as if she didn't know what to make of him. Well, thought Harry, I certainly don't know what to make of her.

"Then I'll see you at Hogwarts, Potter," she echoed.

"Bye, Daphne," said Harry. And at that, for some reason, she did seem a little taken aback.

Harry paid for his new robes and then left, all the time mulling over his strange conversation with the girl. As he stepped out of the store, where Hagrid was waiting, he glanced back to see Daphne Greengrass's eyes follow him out the door.

"Hagrid," said Harry, accepting the chocolate and raspberry ice cream he handed to him, "do wizards really think people from Muggle families shouldn't be allowed…?"