Blinking rapidly, a deep frown tugs my mouth as I warily glance at my surroundings. Dark shadows lurk and cover dusty cupboards, glass cabinets and antique pieces of furniture. An uneasy vibe creeps down my back and my body tenses, still in the crouch that I landed in. If this is the Ministry of Magic, I’d hate to see any other public place these Brits have. Slowly, I rise from the ground, dusting off the black soot that has covered my clothes like a plague and shaking out my bandana. I frown, the flowers on it now dulled from the dirt.
Somehow, I don’t think I’m meant to be here. Turning around, I glare at the seemingly innocent-looking fireplace from which I landed, until I notice the numerous darkly shaded jars sitting on top of the mantelpiece. I grimace at the sight of various dismembered body parts, pickling in the dirt-stained liquids.
I whip my head back around, all previous feelings of dizziness gone. My eyes narrow as sharp memories of Rack’s hole come filtering back in. Images of Willow and Dawn bleeding flash past. This place has way too much dark magic. I step quietly through the dust-covered floor, carefully eyeing the different items on display throughout what is obviously, a magic store. Occasional shards of light trickle through, mostly from the moldy windows that line the store. I hear voices from ahead.
“Always a pleasure. Always, Mr. Malfoy,” a soft voice sounds.
Immediately, the name sparks a barrage of emotions: mostly anger. My fists clench, and a strong desire to charge in there and smack his blonde-haired ass all the way back to his spineless Voldie erupts in my gut. Don’t be stupid, I yell in my head! Once he steps out of the shop, you’ll be freaking arrested for harassment or something. I chew on my bottom lip as I stay back in the shadows, hoping that Malfoy won’t decide to do more shopping.
Cautiously, I peer around the musty cupboard that I’m standing behind, and a piercing gaze of grey holds mine for a second, causing me to whip back. Gasping slightly, I realise that this must be his son.Like father, like son…
My words echo back to me in my head as I tense my body, ready to make a dash for the door if it comes to that. I briefly shut my eyes with relief as Malfoy’s voice drifts back.
“Come, Draco. Don’t stand there gaping like a Mudblood,” his dangerously sleek voice calls.
After hearing the sharp taps of their boots fade away, I wait a moment longer before peeking back around. Shopkeeper gone? Check. Now to get out…The hairs on my arm prickle warningly as I feel the bent form of the owner try and creep up behind me. Slowly, I turn around.
“Can I help you?” he asks with a tone that makes me scrunch my nose. Or maybe it’s the smell.
“No, I’m dandy!” I say with false cheer as I turn back around and head towards the door, scowling as I hear a sinister chuckle from beside me.
“I couldn’t interest you in a treat?” the old man asks, baring blackened teeth with a gross smirk as he pulls out a jar with some eyeballs floating in what seems to be blood. I don’t bother resisting the urge to roll my eyes.
“Look buddy, I’m not in the greatest of moods,” I bite back with a raised eyebrow, one hand on a rust-speckled doorknob, “Your fireplace seems to have plucked me from orbit and thrown me in your store. Now I’m all for hobbies, but some of the stuff you have is just junk. Who uses blood-soaked eyeballs, anyway?”
The shopkeeper just continues to stare, but instead of feeling unsettled, an itch of annoyance creeps up. I’m about to twist the doorknob when a gleam of steel catches my eye. Looking beyond the balding and discoloured head of the owner, I peer down at a deeply shadowed corner. The silver hilt of a broadsword glitters in the small beam of sunlight that has managed to seep through the grimy windows of the store.
“Can I see that sword?” I say, tearing my eyes away from the weapon to ask the owner, who considers me with cool regard.
“It’s on reserve,” he replies softly, and I know he’s lying through his rotting teeth. My eyes narrow irritably.
“Reserve, my ass,” I say, “Show it to me.”
He shoots a glare my way, but I bat it away with a pointed look towards the gleaming weapon. Reluctantly, he inches towards the corner, picking the sword up with some difficulty. He manages to heave it over the counter, letting it fall with a resounding clang on the glass panel. The blade is sheathed in a worn, leather scabbard, but it’s the hilt that I’m interested in.
The thick silver coils in a detailed knot surrounding the dark wood of the grip. And when I pick it up to measure its weight, I notice that the metal is imprinted with a flowing script. Remember to ask someone about that, I say silently, making a mental note. Drawing off the case, the blade rings richly before I press my hand against the back of it, approving of the cold metal against my warm palm.
“How much is it?”
“I told you,” the owner snaps, “it’s on reserve.”
“How much is it?” I repeat with an edge in my voice.
“2000 galleons,” he replies curtly, the set of his shoulders clearly showing that he really did not expect me to pay for it. He’s right. I’ll wait for Giles to officially get access to the Council’s funds, then
Sheathing the sword, I lay it back on the glass counter, pushing my body forward slightly as I speak to him. I hide the grimace as the stench of unclean reaches my nose.
the reserve now. When I return, I want
He simply leers at me, and I tremble slightly as I resist the urge to throw a right-hook at him. Instead, I shove off the counter, hard enough to send a large crack through the glass and walk out the door without a backward glance. The muffled choke is all I need to hear from the shopkeeper.
Well if this isn’t the real Sesame Street, I don’t know what is. Dark shadows cling to huddled figures that sidle against black walls. The place reeks of darkness and my fingers start to twitch, as if trying to draw the darkness from the stones lining a path. I’m lost. The path I’m standing on stretches in front and behind me, and branches off into more gloomy lanes.
“Wass a ‘lil lass doin’ all by yer lonesome down here?” a sickly voice asks, placing a grubby hand on my arm.
“EW! Get off me!” I yelp, slamming my arm down hard on his, just hearing the bone break before the sound is lost with the man’s screams.
“I second that revulsion,” I hear Faith drawl from behind me, and I shoot her an appreciative look, “How’d you land yourself in this hole, B?”
“Transportation hates me. Notice how I never got my driving license? It’s a conspiracy, I tell ‘ya,” I say as I follow her through a total maze of creepy alleyways, “How’d you find me?”
“Mr. Weasley panicked when you didn’t show,” she says, continuing her quick pace through the gloom, “So he cast this spell. Sorta Hansel ‘n’ Gretel style. I’m just following the trail back.”
It’s only when we round a corner that I see the faint silver line on the ground that we’ve been following. But looking behind me, there’s only the dirty stone pavement and no sign of a trail. Ahead, I can see the light and bustle of the busy street, and the two of us jog towards the end of the alley, where a nervous Mr. Weasley stands.
“Oh thank goodness,” he exclaims, untangling his hands to dust off the soot from my clothes.
“I’m fine Mr. Weasley,” I reassure him, retying my bandana on my head, “Just landed in some weird store. Almost bumped into my favourite Death Eater, Mr. Malfoy.”
By now, the red-headed man has ushered us into the busy street, and my eyes take in the intriguing surroundings. It’s incredible, all these witches and wizards walking around, buying stuff out of magic stores. This has got to be the best trip I’ve been on!
“Malfoy?” Mr. Weasley muttered, “I’m not surprised. Knockturn Alley is second home to him.”
Ah. Dark Arts place and Dark people blend well. I cast a sideways glance to Faith, noticing that she’s been unusually quiet. Her face seems drawn, and I wonder if the darkness of that alley has taken its toll on her. I’ll leave her for now, she’ll probably just close up more if I ask.
Now we’re outside a store called Ollivanders
. This must be the wand place. Mr. Weasley stops with a huff, his cheeks slightly flushed as he waves us in. The store seems small at first, but then I notice the endless cupboards lining the back of the shop. It’s cool inside, and I cross my arms to stop a slight chill.
A young boy is just finishing being served by who I assume is Ollivander. He looks like the typical bookkeeper, his old fingers trembling slightly with age, but knowing every inch of the store. The wand that the boy holds gives off a warm shower of bright green sparks, and his mother lets a relieved sigh out as she pays the man.
“Ah, Dumbledore’s guests,” the old man says, catching the interest of the departing mother, who turns back as she closes the door, “I’ve been awaiting your arrival.”
I look to Faith, who doesn’t seem impressed. Turning back, I catch Ollivander’s studying gaze on me.
“Hmm…yes…quite a mix, aren’t you, Miss Summers,” he mumbles to himself, wandering to the back of the store.
Quite a mix indeed, since I end up trying at least ten wands, each feeling incredibly awkward and uncomfortable in my hands. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, since I’ve never used one before, but I guess it’s like all other weapons. It has to have a good weight, grip, control, but most of all, make you feel like you have power.
Then finally, he pulls a mouldy box out, and not saying anything, opens it to reveal a light, honey-coloured wand nestled in blood-red velvet.
As my fingers move in to pick it up, I can feel the power crackle off it, and my eyes widen. This is it, this is the one. Gripping it, a huge grin lights my face as a surge of power charges up my right arm, and a beautiful arc of golden sparkles shoots out.
“Ah, yes, I should have guessed right at the start,” Ollivander states with a satisfied smile, “Honey-ash, ten inches with a core of dragon heartstring, a sturdy wand that will see you through many battles, Miss Summers.”
I nod my pleasure, letting Faith step up to him. He looks at her for a few moments before shuffling away into the back again. She flicks a look to me, and I shrug. Hey, I had to go through ten wands to find the right one.
He returns with a determined look on his face. Faith seems sceptical, but picks up the wand anyway, and I’m surprised when her eyes widen in awe. Looks like the old guy scored. Her wand’s much darker than mine, longer too. A misty blue stream of smoke emerges from her wand, but disappears almost as quickly.
“Yew, eleven inches, core of griffin feather,” he says, smiling at the delighted look on Faith, “take good care of it. It’s supple, and will bend to your will, but be careful. Dark magic will break it.”
A shadow passes over her face, and I can tell that she’s really taking his words to heart. Let’s just hope that good stays on the side of good this time.