Title: Nothing is as it seems...

Author: Marcielle's Musings

Summary: A lonely figure walks in Diagon Alley at night and sees the wonder of the Night Market and realises that nothing is as it seems...

A/N: I really enjoyed writing this piece and I hope you, my lovely readers, enjoy reading this just as much. This little two-shot is my practice run at the atmosphere of the next chapter of Survival of the Fittest.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter but the ideas of this wonderful 'world-within a world' are mine. I don't mind if other fanfiction writers borrow my ideas as long as they say something like: "this amazing fanfiction was inspired by Nothing is as it seems by Marcielle's Musings"

As for this fanfiction... This little wonder was inspired by Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and the Beka Cooper books by Tamora Pierce.

Nothing is as it seems...

Deserted; at night Diagon Alley is but a depressing shadow of its normally joyful and bustling self. Without the press of happy witches and wizards clambering about doing their daily shopping the Alley looked gloomy and abandoned. All the stores are closed and their doors, locked to the wandering, cloaked figure who was currently ambling down the shadowed street. The only light available in the gloom of the empty street was the light of the moon and the light that peaked out from some of the second storey windows of the flats above the shops. The faint golden glow of The Leaky Caudron was fading with each passing hour as the last few patrons made their way home.

As the figure walked past Slug and Jiggers Apothecary, they stopped in front of the window display to peer into the gloomy depths. All that could be seen was the faint outline of some jars of pickled newts, baskets of salamander eggs and the ever present 'potion quality frogs legs' that floated around in jars. Hanging from dangling hooks on the ceiling were bushels of hellebore, vervain and sage, tied snugly in bundles by tightly wound string.

Moving on, the figure continued wandering down the abandoned street with only the moon to guide them. The figure strode past Flourish and Blotts and Florean Fortesque's ice cream parlour with its small café tables and chairs laying empty on the sidewalk, until they came to a stop in front of a narrow alleyway nestled between The Junk Shop (which sold things like broken wands, lopsided brass scales and old cloaks covered in potion stains) and Obscurus Books, the rundown, second-hand bookstore which is owned by the elderly Baird Opusculus, whose family had been selling books and scrolls for almost as long as the Olivanders have been crafting and selling wands.

Spilling forth from the alleyway was an intermittently flickering acid green and neon purple light that was occasionally replaced by the golden glow of a doorway as it opened. After taking one last look around the gloom of Diagon Alley to ensure that no one had been watching the figure's progress down the street, they silently strode towards the entrance to the alleyway and slipped inside.

As the figure slowly meandered down the candle lit steps at a leisurely pace and past the ever present sign of the gnarled hand pointing down into the depths of the alleyway with the painted words in blood-red paint; 'Knockturn Alley'.

You see, at night Diagon Alley is reminiscent of a ghost town but the creepy Knockturn Alley becomes a vibrant marketplace full of colour, light and music once the purple glow of twilight descended each night. While the Alley may seem foreboding and sinister during the day when majority of the shops are closed, at twilight the famous (among certain circles) Night Market of Knockturn Alley began with a flicker of light and opened for business.

The cloaked figure smiled from the cowl of his cloak as he strode confidently, past Zoe's Poisonous Candles with its glowing display of brightly coloured candles and playfully ominous coloured smoke and fog that furled out from underneath the front door. The cause of the acid green and neon purple light that flickered in the entrance of the Alley, revealed to be the result of some of Zoe's more luminous displays.

Just across from Zoe's neat little establishment (if not slightly eccentric) was the infamous Borgin & Burkes which sold the typical 'Dark Arts' items that Knockturn Alley is so well known for such as shrunken heads that scream like banshees if disturbed, cursed objects, Dark Arts books and other 'novelty' items.

Standing on one of the last steps down into the Alley, past Zoe's and Borgin & Burkes, is the ever present hag selling human fingernails who the is actually a very nice old witch by the name of Hagatha who has been employed by the Knockturn Council for decades to scare away curious 'light walkers' from Diagon Alley during the day. With a grin, the figure greets her like an old friend;

"Good Evening, Hagatha. I hope you are well?" greeted the cloaked figure with a tip of his head.

"I'm fine, young-un'. Now off with ye'. Stop your eye-battin' at poor little ol' me. Old enough to be your grandmother I am," said Hagatha as she glanced up at the figure from her hunched-back position, with a grin of her crooked teeth.

"Ah, but that is where you are wrong, my darling, Hagatha. For not even my grandmother is as beautiful as you," replied the figure with another smile as he swooped down and kissed Hagatha on the cheek.

"Now, none of that! Off with ya', ya' cheeky little tyke," Hagatha teasingly replied and with a final shooing motion of her hands she turned back to her 'work' and the figure, once more continued down into the depths of Knockturn Alley.

Reaching the bottom of the steps was like entering an entirely different world. All the shops were open and all different assortments of wares were for sale. There were book stores, furniture and interior design stores, stores that sold rare and exotic magical creatures, stores that sold robes and cloaks, an apothecary, a few taverns, and even stores which sold supplies for rituals. Not only were all of the stores open for business but there was also a crowd of street vendors hat lined the street, shouting out the prices of their wares;

"Luminous Toadstools! Half-Off Tonight and Guaranteed to make your head spin!" shouted the Apothecary's assistant as he set up the window display.

"Freshly Squeezed Mandrake Juice, restore your inner beauty!" shouted one of the more shady vendors who sold shoddy potions.

From another of the food vendors an exotically spicy-sweet scent was tempting the figure as he strode past.

Continuing down the Alley, the figure walked under multiple archways of charmed red roses that spit small blue balls of flame if any foolish shopper got too close, past window displays of orange, blue, green and red fairies fluttering about in glass balls from Madame Magick's trinket store.

After physically pulling himself away from the exciting displays of the Night Market and the exotic smells of Tajal's food stall which sold the figure's favourite spiced apple and current fritters... *drool* the cloaked man turned into a small side street that was hidden in a crack in the wall only to hear the sound of an upbeat melody floating out the door of The Poisoned Apple, the local Knockturn pub, from which a golden glow was filtering out through its stained glass windows.

With a final look at the vision of Knockturn Alley at night the figure slipped silently through the crack in the wall into the gloomy side street. The buzz of the Night Market in full swing beginning to fade with each step until the figure stopped in front of a battered old green door which was partially hidden in the shadows cast by the wall.

"Home at last," sighed the figure as they reached for the doorhandle. "Sssia-hasss-ssssaah" the figure whispered to the engraving of a snake on the door handle. With the magic words spoken the charmed snake slithered into the door itself and unlocked the door with a 'clunk'.

You see, Harry had always enjoyed his work as an auror but someday he just couldn't wait to come home to Knockturn Alley because nothing is as it seems...