The Lost Potter and the Philosopher's Stone – Chapter Eight
"We need to get some muggle fireworks from elsewhere," Lily said to James, at the back of their little group "Ever since the time you and Frank got hold of waterproof fireworks I've lost my fondness for the wizard type." Chuckling at her own joke his wife moved away from him and up to the front of the group with her final comment "I'll get them with after we get Daniel his wand."
Daniel and the other boys were having fun gawping at the various brightly coloured shops that lined the cobbled street. They don't have to fear the constant attacks from Death Eaters, James thought, remembering some of the more eventful times he'd had to go shopping after his first visit to the Ally when he was eleven. Another wizarding law introduced during the times of he-who-must-not-be-named – no child under the age of acceptance at Hogwarts is to be allowed entry to Diagon Ally.
The early morning shoppers of the Ally didn't pay them much attention, too busy getting all their things before the onslaught of daytime shoppers. Even as they walked the short distance into 'Flourish and Blots' more people were arriving from the Leaky Cauldron, looking at the street with bleary eyes and coffee scented breath – a state of consciousness that James was all too familiar with.
Entering the bookstore, James wondered at the piles of books that swayed slightly as the door let in a breeze. They won't fall, he rationalised, but there are some things that magic doesn't make any easier to walk under. Noticing that Lily and the others had moved over to the far side of the store to talk to one of the shop assistants, James busied himself by looking around at the various other customers in the store.
There were two middle-aged witches giggling at the latest book by Gilderoy Lockhart and a couple of older teenage boys – probably sixth or seventh years – arguing about which of the two books on the introduction to the wizarding world was better. Another family was talking to the other shop assistant – James recognised the mother as one of the better members of the department of magical games and sports. There was a lone boy, shuffling around the edges of the store, he had black hair and pale skin, and walked with a slight limp. Where're his parents? James was about to go over to the boy to ask the question, when one of the two teenagers approached the boy and murmured something in his ear.
Logically, James thought, it could be the younger cousin of a mature Hogwarts student, he might be new to the wizarding world and his mother had asked his more knowledgeable cousin to show him around. There was something familiar about both the boy and his cousin – had they been to the ministry with one of their parents?
His contemplation of the two people and their strange companion – who looked on with a fond look – was bought to an end when Lily lightly touched his elbow "We're leaving now," she said "we have to get new robes for the boys." He smiled at her and allowed himself to be pulled out of the store and handed three heavy bags full of books.
They entered the robe store and Madam Malkin rushed out to meet them "Three of you for Hogwarts?" She said, smiling at the group "We've another boy back here getting fitted up too."
"Three for Hogwarts, yes," Lily struck up a conversation with Malkin about the proper sizes or robes for the boys. Mrs Weasley ushered into the back of the store – coming out of the back of the shop with a flushed face.
"It's the young Malfoy boy," she said as an explanation to Alice's look of confusion. This is going to be interesting, James thought wearily.
"I'll go back there," he volunteered "He probably isn't going to cause trouble when there's someone else in the room who has a wand and can tread on him if necessary."
"James really," Lily exclaimed, but she let him into the back of the shop. Behind a curtain in the shop, the four boys stood on separate stools in front of mirrors. The Malfoy boy was on the stool furthest to the door. Neville was on the second stool from the end, and looked nervous about it, Daniel was between the shaking Longbottom and Ron Weasley. They didn't look happy.
The Malfoy boy was saying something that ended with "Out of Hogwarts before you can even send a letter him to mummy."
I want to knock some sense into the little arse, James thought but he suppressed the feeling and instead just put his hand on Daniel's shoulder "How's it going?" He asked quietly.
"This street's awesome Dad," Daniel said, excitement clear in his voice "Why on earth aren't we allowed to come here before we get our Hogwarts letters?"
Ron chimed in with an agreement to the question "There's nothing that could harm us here surely."
I really shouldn't tell them anything, James didn't want to break the promise that he'd given to Lily when they first heard about the new law being implemented even after the fall of Voldemort at their house that night. But they have a right to know, said a little voice in the back of his head, they have every right to know now that they're on the street and old enough to understand their history as members of the wizarding world.
The other two boys also looked interested at the idea of learning something that they had never been allowed to hear – Neville had turned his head slightly to hear better the conversation between the father and son duo, and Malfoy had gotten to be very still. Madam Malkin took that exact moment to enter the back section.
Thank Merlin, James thought, rubbing his forehead at the thought of what he had been about to tell the boys.
Madam Malkin measured up the boys for their uniforms with the help of several flying tape measures and silence ruled the store for a few minutes. James had been in Malkin's robe store when one of the attacks happened all those years ago.
He'd needed robes to go to the Ministry Christmas function – dress robes were compulsory and …. Sirius (the traitor) had ruined his best dinner robes in an ill-fated attempt at a prank. It had been midday and freezing cold. There were lots of families out getting presents for one another for Christmas – last minute shoppers with their youngest children who they were too scared to leave on their own in the house or even to leave with a nanny. Some couldn't afford a nanny. Either way, there were many young children and babies in the street.
The first sign of the attack had been when all the animals in the street – all the owls for sale, all the cats prowling the sidewalk – had gone silent. Then there had been an explosion – a loud, roaring explosion that pulled most people off of their feet.
Then the death eaters had arrived. They wore masks to cover their face, their wands were outstretched.
Looking back James wondered if Sirius had ruined his robes on purpose – if he'd wanted James out of the way - so that he would die in the attack. Maybe Sirius had been one of the people in the masks, maybe he'd been on the street when everything turned to hell, and maybe he'd narrowly escaped from the aurors arresting him when they arrived. He would have faked the tears that James had seen when the other man had arrived to try and help in the finding of people who had gone missing in the blast.
Had Sirius laughed when he got home? Had he laughed at the massacre that had happened in the streets of Diagon Ally? Did he and Remus – because Remus would have had to be a traitor there was no doubt about that – invite other Death Eaters over to their home and kick off their shoes and have a good old laugh about the faces of all the children that had been killed on the street? All the squibs who had been unable to save themselves from the oncoming Death Eaters?
That was the reason that young children weren't allowed into the streets of Diagon Ally. It was the reason for the squib law.
"Dad?" Daniel asked, snapping James out of his thoughts "We're done here." The others had filed out of the shop and were waiting in the middle of the street – patiently waiting for the two Potters to leave the shop. The Malfoy boy was still getting fitted.
Next on their visitation list was the apothecary, then it was to buy cauldrons, then to buy owls for the boys (Lily and James had promised to buy Ron an owl as a late birthday present). After a while of seemingly endless shopping, James was relieved when Lily at last announced that they would be getting the boys their wands next.
Molly and Alice both drew their sons away at that – Ron was getting his brother's old wand and Neville had already gotten a new wand. Both mothers made their sons say goodbye to Daniel and promised to see the family later that evening at Daniel's party.
The two teenage boys from the bookstore were outside Ollivander's with the black haired boy, they entered just before the family. "Do we know them?" Lily wondered out loud to James.
James shrugged "I had the same thought when we were in Flourish and Blots but I can't think of where I've seen them before." The two boys smiled at them kindly as they entered the wand shop. The dark haired boy's head was looking down at the floor.
"Hello," one of them said to the Potters, Ollivander was nowhere in sight "Cillian Franks."
"Oh," James said "The Cillian Franks, I knew I knew you from somewhere – you were at the meeting earlier this year weren't you."
Cillian Franks, he'd visited the house a few times when he was younger with Helena and the other members of Helena's group, he hadn't visited in years. While not the most talkative of her group, by all accounts he was one of the leaders of her little study group. I wonder who the other boy is, James thought, and then made the realisation just before the boy shook his hand.
"Aaron Smith," they said at the same time.
"Yes," said Smith "You recall?"
"You two came round to our house once, didn't you?" asked Daniel, finally sick of not being involved in the conversations of the adults "You're Helena's friends?"
Franks nodded, "We were her friends, yes."
"Why are you here?" asked Lily, but no answer was able to be given before Ollivander entered the room. He gave the gathered wizards an apprising look.
"It's rare that I have this may wizards in one room, I would appreciate it if you didn't all use the wands that I sold you against one another in here," James' hand had been creeping to his wand the entire time that he'd been talking to the two young wizards – his reasoning was simple, he didn't trust a Franks as far as he could throw them. He was not at all surprised to see Franks hastily withdrawing his hand from his pocket also.
"I will deal with you first," he said to the unknown boy, who continued to look at the floor.
How long does it take to find a muggleborn a wand? James asked himself, several minutes into that time, impatient to finish the shopping trip and to get away from the undoubtedly evil teenager that was standing in the same room as the saviour of the wizarding of the world.
Ten minutes later the other boy – Smith – left the room after quietly saying something to Franks. It's getting rather hot in here, James admitted to himself as he watched the seventeen year old – he was the same age as Helena if James remembered correctly – left the shop then moved to lean against the window, wincing slightly as if in pain. Shifting his weight uneasily. Lily watched the back of the unknown boy, wincing every time that the boy made an explosion with the wands he wasn't meant to wield.
It took half an hour to find the boy a wand.
It took James by surprise when the boy did, golden and red sparks exploding out of the end of the wand forming a fountain of fire like light. Lily gasped at the light, it was a beautiful sight. "Eleven Inches, Holly with a Phoenix feather." Ollivander exclaimed, just as James tripped over his own feet in an attempt to untangle himself from the position he had held for the last half an hour. "A good show Mr Potter."
James blushed, the boy turned to Franks who smiled at him. Once again, James got the idea that he knew the boy from somewhere. Somewhere just out of the reach of his mind. As the boy left the shop, new wand in a package held in front of him, James realised who the boy reminded him of.
"That boy looks a lot like you when you were younger," Lily said calmly as Ollivander started handing Daniel wands "From behind that is – I didn't see his face."
"He's how I'd have thought Harry to look when he was older," James said, he then thought about it for a second "Wait, you looked at the back of my head when we were that age?"
"I was looking at a target James," Lily smirked at him "I didn't want to miss when I had to throw things at you to make you shut up."
"I love you too dear." James said taking her hand. His mind off the matter of the mysterious boy as the wand in Daniel's hand burst out into a similar show to the one they had just witnessed – red and gold sparks flying left right and centre in an impressive show of magic.
"That was close," Cillian said as he and Aaron made their way back to the Leaky Cauldron, Harry – distracted by his new owl – didn't hear him. "Are you sure we're doing the right thing? Keeping him from his family."
"Okay," Aaron said, voice raised slightly "It's the only way that he'll be safe."
"How is keeping him away from his family keeping him safe?" Cillian looked over to Harry "I can't do this Aaron, I think maybe they're the best people for him. Do you think they'll trust him when they know that I've spent time with him – the grandson of a prominent Pure Blood Family? I don't!"
"Do you trust me in the matter of what's going to happen in the future?"
"Yes," Cillian said, "I've followed your instructions this far haven't I?"
"You just answered a question with a question," Aaron said, changing the subject. "But to answer, yes you have followed my instructions and if it makes you feel any better I can tell you that as soon as he gets on the Hogwarts Express at the begging of the school year, the input that you have into his life can be as little as one more time for him to be safe."
They reached the Leaky Cauldron "Are you coming back to mine?" Asked Cillian "Or are you going to go back to being your normal silent self, and go back to the home?"
"I'll drop all of my shopping at your house, in a day or so I've got permission to join you there for the next month," Aaron smiled and then turned to Harry "Will you be alright then, Mr Potter, if I leave you alone with this bag of misery?"
Harry smiled slightly "He's not that bad."
"He's not that bad," Aaron repeated, and he nodded. "I suppose you'll be fine. See you in a few days."
He used the floo in the fireplace in the Leaky Cauldron. Cillian treated Harry to lunch in the Leaky Cauldron. While they were having lunch Harry flicked through some of the books that they'd bought at the beginning of the day. Cillian contented himself with playing with his food – he wasn't hungry.
I know it's a short chapter and it's been a long wait – I couldn't write any more as this seemed like the natural point to end the chapter. There's been a few things that prevented me from posting for the last few months which is why this went from being very active with the updates to being very slow (well… non-existent).
Merry Christmas (because I last posted in October of last year) and a Happy New Year (In my defence I have only been back from holiday for four days so J) The next chapter will be slightly longer and will move along the story a wee bit.
See you soon (well… you know) Feel free to leave a comment :-)