Cauldrons and Fashionistas
Notes: Yes, I actually went and looked up the exchange rates for pounds sterling to American dollars in 1997. Technically Dawn opened her bank account in the very last week of 1996, but let's not be too picky. ;-)
I wrote large sections of this chapter while tipsy, and even though I edited sober, there still might be a few mistakes I missed. Sorry.
As usual, this is for the amazing Shulik
Jet-lag was a horrible thing, Dawn decided. California was eight hours behind England, so she felt very out of sorts. The first night in America, Dawn collapsed into her bed and cried herself to sleep. She was frustrated and scared and lonely. She wanted to be at the Burrow, getting ready to go back to Hogwarts, not in California getting ready to start at muggle secondary school! It just wasn't fair.
There was about a week and a half of Christmas holidays left before the mid-winter term, and Dawn was trying to get used to the new town, and the new timezone. Because the hellmouth offered a sort of magnetic pull for vampires and demons, Giles asked her not walk around alone after dark, but they were so distanced from the wizarding war, that Giles believed she was completely safe to walk around town alone, during the day. Dumbledore had assured them that the Death Eaters wouldn't be able to find her there. Especially with the common misconception that magic didn't work on the hellmouth. Two days after they made it to their new house, Dawn decided she was going to walk around explore the town.
“Do I look muggle enough?” Dawn asked Giles. She was wearing a floor-length brown skirt and a white button-down shirt with the sleeves neatly rolled up. She wore her regular black Mary Janes over pantyhose. Honestly, she was a little warm, but she didn't have a lot of clothes for the proper climate.
“Yes,” Giles said. “You look fine. A bit warm, maybe.” He adjusted his tie, obviously noticing that Sunnydale was a bit warmer than England in December.
“I think we're going to need to find a shopping center. I need to have my money changed over from pounds to dollars, but then I definitely need to buy new clothes. I only brought winter clothes, and my winter clothes are definitely not appropriate for California.”
“Well, I need to go to the bank as well,” Giles said. “I need to open an account. Why don't you bring your money, and we'll both open up bank accounts. Then you can walk around and explore the town afterward.”
“Alright,” Dawn said, smiling. “I've decided I'm going to make the best of this situation. Nobody I know has ever been to America before, or to a Hellmouth, so I'm going to learn as much as I can.”
“That's right,” Giles said, “You're a Ravenclaw, the portion of Hogwarts with a thirst for knowledge.”
“Yes,” Dawn agreed. “I love research.”
“You'd make a fair Watcher,” Giles noted. “Let me just find my shoes, then we'll drive down to the bank.”
“Do we have to drive?” Dawn asked, worried.
“Don't you trust my driving?”
“It's not that,” Dawn said. “It's just scary. The cars are backwards and everyone drives on the wrong side. I don't want you to get in an accident.”
“I suppose you'll have an advantage on me, then, since you're signed up for Driver's Education. You can learn on an American car. Anyway, I think I'll be fine. I've been here before, and I'm not a bad driver.”
“Okay,” Dawn said. “Cars frighten me. Uncle Vernon gets road rage. When I was very little, he told us our parents died in a car crash, so I was afraid of them for a long time. Then my older brother and his best friend crashed a flying car into a whomping tree, and were almost killed. I've been on a motorbike once, and on brooms a few times, and as long as I can ride behind someone and hold on, it's not as scary. Horses aren't as scary either. But cars are just scary. There are deaths every day from car crashes.”
“I understand,” Giles said. “And I promise to drive carefully and signal properly. You'll need to get used to cars in America. Most people have them.”
“Okay,” Dawn said. “I'll try to get over it. Let's go.”
“Do you have your house keys, your passport and your wand? Not that you're allowed to use magic in front of people, but in case of an emergency?”
“Check thrice,” Dawn said, patting her mother's shoulder bag. “I could fit the whole house in here.”
“Let's go then.”
Giles and Dawn got into Giles' inexpensive second-hand car, and drove to the local bank. They waited in line for a while, until they made it up to the counter.
“Hello. My niece and I have just moved to Sunnydale, and we would both like to set up bank accounts. I didn't know your policy on minors starting accounts.”
“Well, we require that at least five dollars be kept in the account at all times, to keep it open, and your name will need to go on it as well, but we have no problem.”
“I only have pounds sterling. Can you exchange it?” Dawn asked, pulling the envelope out of her bag. “It's all my money. I don't feel safe carrying it all around with me.”
“No problem,” the bank teller smiled at her. “Why don't you fill out these papers, and we'll set you up with a checking account.” She waved Giles over to a different clerk, while she helped Dawn set up her first muggle bank account. It turned out that her 500 pounds translated to $820 American, and the bank teller, a kind woman named Sherry McNally, advised Dawn to put $400 into a savings account, to draw interest, and put the other $400 into a draft account so that she could write checks. She also gave her the additional $20 in cash, so that she would have some American money on her.
“If I need to spend more than the $400, not that I think I will, but if I need to, can I come here and switch it from savings to checking?”
“Yes. Very easily.”
“Oh, thank you. I need to buy some new clothes. It's much warmer here than in England, and I only brought winter clothes with me. I'll need new school books, too.”
“Oh, you don't buy your books here, honey, the school keeps the text books on stock, and you check them out of the library at the beginning of the year.”
“Oh, thank you, I didn't know.”
“What grade are you starting in, sweetie?” the matronly woman asked her. She reminded Dawn of Mrs. Weasley, if Mrs. Weasley wore big earrings and chewed bubble gum.
“Oh, my boy Jesse is in your grade. I'll tell him and his pals Xander and Willow to keep an eye out for you when school starts up.”
“Thank you. I'm very nervous about starting up at the new school We studied different subjects in England, and I'm afraid I'll be behind.”
“Oh, I can help you there,” Mrs. McNally said. She wrote a phone number down on a piece of paper. “This is Willow Rosenberg's number. She's top of her class in all subjects. Gets straight As. Give her a call and tell her Jesse's mom gave her your number.”
“Thank you,” Dawn said, slipping the number into her bag. She had a feeling it would fall to the bottom of her bag, but she could summon it when she got home.
“Uncle Rupert,” Dawn said, approaching Giles when she was done. “I'm going to walk around Main Street. I know how to get home.”
“You'll be home before dark?” Giles asked.
“Yes,” Dawn said.
“Do you have the phone number, in case you get lost?”
“I don't think so,” Dawn said.
Giles quickly jotted down the number on a piece of paper and handed it to her.
“Excuse me, what coins does a telephone booth require here?” Giles asked the bank teller.
“Quarters. Twenty-five cent coins.”
“Do you have any?” Giles asked her.
“No, I only have notes,” Dawn said.
“Could you change two notes for her?” Giles asked the teller.
“Sure,” he said, smiling at the teenager, as he handed her eight quarters.
“Thank you,” Dawn said, slipping the quarters into her coin purse with her galleons.
“Call me if you need me to pick you up in the car.”
“No!,” Dawn said a little too forcefully. “I mean, no, thank you. I like walking.”
“All right dear,” Giles said. “Run along.”
“She doesn't want you to pick her up?” the teller asked, “Most teenagers hate walking if they can avoid it.”
“The American cars scare her,” Giles explained to the teller, and Dawn blushed as she walked away. She sort of wished he hadn't revealed her secret. “We only got here two days ago, and in England we drive on the other side of the street. She worries we'll get into an accident.”
Dawn hurried out of the bank and started walking down the street. She found a coffee shop called “The Espresso Pump,” and turned inside. It was a bit early for tea, but she found herself missing home, and thought tea might calm her down. When she saw the sheer number of tea and coffee choices she thought she'd gone mad. But she managed to order something called “English breakfast tea,” and a scone and sat herself down at a table while she waited for her order to be finished.
“Fake accent much?” a brunette said from a few feet away.
“I know, right? She probably thinks sounding British will get her boys, since her outfit is très suck,” the brunette's blonde companion agreed.
“Pardon me, but are you referring to me?” Dawn asked the girls, as she went to fetch her order.
“Totally. What's with the accent?”
“I just moved here from England. My uncle is the new librarian at the high school.”
“Oh, so the accent is real?”
“Yes,” Dawn said.
“Well, if you want to succeed in Sunnydale, you have to dress better. You look like a little old lady.”
“All of my clothes were winter clothes,” Dawn explained. “And winter in England is much colder than here. Everything I own, that isn't school uniforms, it too warm. I've only been here two days, I fully intend on visiting a shopping center before school resumes.”
“Oh, well, that's not so bad,” the girl mused. “I'm Cordelia, and this is Harmony. We can help you find new clothes, if you'd like.”
“That would be much appreciated. I've not gone to a school without uniforms before, and I've no idea what's in style.”
“Oh, poor girl,” Harmony said, “Pleated skirts and ties?”
“We have to help her,” Cordelia said. “Consider it public service.”
Dawn barely had time to respond. Before she knew what was going on, Cordelia, Harmony, and two girls named Aura and Aphrodesia had Dawn at two or three boutiques, trying on clothes and picking things out. By the end of the afternoon, Dawn had several new outfits, and a small dent in her brand new checking account. Even though they were strangers, Cordelia and Harmony had insisted on buying Dawn clothes with their fathers' credit cards, calling it a "public service." The girls kept prattling on about boys and make-up—which Dawn rarely wore—and every time Dawn attempted to bring up the school curriculum she was ignored. While Dawn was grateful to have new friends—if they were her friends, she was unclear on the matter—she was relieved when the ordeal was over. Those girls didn't strike her as friend material. They reminded her of the girls back home who cared only about how they looked, and which boys paid attention to them, like Marietta Edgecombe and Romilda Vane.
They left her back on Main St, her hands full of bags. When nobody was looking, she put all her purchases into her magic satchel, knowing they'd all fit. The girls had given her their numbers, but she wasn't sure she wanted to call them. While she was walking, she heard talking coming from her shoulder bag. She looked around, and found a bench to sit on. There didn't seem to be anyone around, so she pulled out her mirror.
“Harry,” Dawn said. “I shouldn't be answering this, I'm out in public. But there's nobody around.”
“Well, we're all here,” Harry said. “We haven't gone back to Hogwarts yet.”
“Who else is there?” Dawn asked. Harry moved the mirror around to show George, Fred, Ginny, Ron and Hermione.
“Where are you? It looks like daytime.”
“Well,” Dawn knew that the mirrors couldn't be traced. “I'm in America. I can't tell you any more than that. It's interesting here, though. I'm staying with a friend of Dumbledore's, and I'm going to start muggle school next week.”
“That's horrible,” Ron's voice said through the mirror.
“I just met a group of muggle girls, who helped me shop for clothes that were in style. I swear, some of them are practically indecent.”
“I want pictures,” George's voice was heard, and Dawn laughed.
“Listen, I'll try to contact you later, if you're still awake, but a couple of muggles just walked by, and they have to be curious as to why I'm talking into a mirror. I love you all.”
“Love you,” Harry said, and Dawn saw his sad smile before she shock her mirror to end the call, and then slipped in into her bag. She was definitely glad she cast and unbreakable charm on it. Charms always came relatively easy to her. Seeing her friends on her mirror was nice, and her mood definitely raised a bit. She continued down main street, and stopped when she saw a magic shop.
Giles had told her that there might very well be magic practitioners in Sunnydale, but likely they'd be practitioners of Wicca or shamanism, or one of the older types of "earth magic." He didn't want her telling anyone that she was a wand-carrier, just in case. She opened the door and walked in.
“Ahh, velcome, velcome,” the man behind the counter said, in a heavy accent. “Is there anything I can help you vith?”
“Just looking,” she said. The store seemed to be a hodge podge of half the stores in Diagon Alley. There was a wall of books, a section of potion ingredients, and a display of various magical tools. The front section of the store was full of different muggle things that she thought were odd in a magic shop. Kitschy ceramic unicorns and little fairy figures; prisms and crystals; cheap costume jewelry. The crystals would be useful, but some of the other things seemed worthless to Dawn. There were various divination tools, like decks of cards and crystal balls, but as Dawn had never studied divination—Harry, Ron and Hermione had all warned her that it seemed to be a rather useless subject—she didn't find them necessary. There were also some of the things she recognized from Fred and George's display of muggle magic tricks.
“Actually, yes,” she said, walking up to the man behind the counter. “I could use a new size 2 cauldron. Do you have pewter? I only saw iron and bronze.”
“Ah, a girl who knows what she's looking for.” His accent changed, and Dawn realized he'd been faking it. “You're pretty young to know what you're doing. Most of the teenagers we get in here are kids who've stumbled onto the witchcraft books in the library, or the new age section of Barnes & Noble.”
“Family tradition,” Dawn said, not wanting to go into much detail. “Lessons passed down and all that.”
“Ahh, we do get a few with that answer. Anyway, yeah, I think I've got some pewter in the back. Not much call for it, most people go for iron 'cause it looks like the cauldrons in the movies. Don't know about size 2, though. Let me see what I've got.” He disappeared into the back, and came back out a few minutes later with a pewter cauldron a size larger than the small one she used in potions class. “Sorry, looks like size three is the smallest I've got.”
“It will do,” Dawn said. “It's just me and my uncle living here now, so I don't need to brew any lots too large.” She combed through the potion ingredients for a while, picking out a few things to fill out her stores. Because she'd left in the middle of the night, she only had in her truck whatever she'd had left over from the term, which wasn't much. And since she fully intended to keep up her studies, even while hiding out in this muggle town. Hopefully Dumbledore would fetch her before O.W.L.s, so she'd be able to take her tests. There was a small nagging sensation in the back of her mind, however, that had been there ever since Dumbledore had given her the money. Somehow she knew he didn't plan on fetching her any time soon.
“Wow, it looks like you mean business,” the man said as he began ringing up her purchases.
“Just practice,” she said. “I'm a decent potioneer, but I could be better. My godfather tells me my Mum was an expert potioneer, and I'd like to become her equal. That requires practice.”
“That it does, kid, that it does. My name's Mike, what's yours?”
“Dawn,” she said. She wrote him a check, and took her purchases. Like before, she waited until nobody was looking to fit her purchases into her bag. After that, she turned and started walking home.
Dawn's room in Giles' new house was pretty decent. She'd started decorating it to her tastes. Giles had told her that the trace didn't work on the Hellmouth. That witches and wizards born on hellmouths were never sent letters to attend magic school, because their existence was overlooked. However, even though she knew that she could cast spells, she was a little worried at first. But once she got into the swing of things, everything felt natural. She used her want to rearrange the furniture, to change the colors on things, until, after a couple of hours, her room was decorated in a way she found pleasing. She had photos of her friends and family, a blanket Molly had made her, and her mirror was propped up on her desk. If she waited until it was eleven or twelve, she could catch Harry when he woke up in the morning. Once her room was too her liking, she went downstairs to find Giles putting away groceries in the kitchen.
“May I use the telephone, please?” Dawn asked politely.
“Who do you want to call? You aren't to call anyone back home.”
“No,” Dawn said, “The woman and the bank gave me the phone number of a friend of her son. Apparently she's got top marks in the tenth grade. I wanted to see if she would meet with me before next term began.”
“Oh, of course, that's a great idea,” Giles said. “Now, I'm not a brilliant cook, so how about a simple fry-up for tonight?”
“That's fine,” Dawn said, “And I am a decent cook, I always help my Aunt and Mrs. Weasley in the kitchen. I can take up some of the cookies duties.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Giles said, “From what I understand, I am expected, as your guardian, to assign you chores and duties around the house, and in exchange I'm to pay you a monetary allowance.”
“I do believe that it the standard guardian/ward contract,” Dawn said, “Although Uncle Vernon never gave us anything, but he's a right foul git.”
“I believe I'm also expected to tell you to watch your language?” he asked, a hint of a smirk on his lips.
“Yes, technically. But as a fifteen-year-old, is it not expected that I should attempt to rebel against authority?” Dawn asked, giving Giles a cheeky grin.
“Fair enough. Why don't you make your phone call now.”
“Okay,” Dawn said, going into the living room, where the phone sat on an end-table. It was an older rotary phone. They used to have one at the Dursleys, but Aunt Petunia had declared it old-fashioned, and insisted on buying new, fancy cordless phones. Dawn looked at the scrap of paper, and dialed the number.
“Good evening. May I speak to Willow Rosenberg, please?”
“This is Willow, how can I help you?”
“Oh, hello. My name is Dawn Potter, and I've just moved here from England. I'm going to be starting in the tenth grade, and I was told by Jesse's mom—whom I met at the bank—that you would be the best choice to help me catch up with the curriculum before school resumes.”
“Oh, sure,” Willow said. “I'd love to help you catch up. Are you doing anything tomorrow?”
“Let me ask my uncle. I'll be right back,” Dawn set the phone down on the table and ran into the kitchen to ask Giles if there was anything he expected her to do tomorrow. He answered in the negative, and she ran back to the phone to answer Willow. “Uncle says he doesn't have anything planned for tomorrow, so we can get together.”
“Alright, let me give you my address,” Willow relayed the address to Dawn.
“Is it far from here?” Dawn asked, giving Willow her address.
“No, it's only two streets over. About five or six blocks,” Willow said. “You can come over any time tomorrow, and you're welcome to stay for lunch and/or dinner.”
“Alright,” Dawn said, “I'll walk over after breakfast. I am unsure of my class schedule.”
“Well, I can catch you on all of the classes I'm taking. Do you know which foreign language you're signing up for?”
“Well, I already speak French, and I've been teaching myself German. I know some Latin, though I'm by no means fluent, since it is a dead language, of course. I've also been reading up on the basic grammar structures of Spanish and Italian, since they're so similar to French. Well, they would be, since they're all Romance languages. I really like languages, and I'd love to someday learn them all.”
There was a pause on the phone, in which Dawn wondered if she had scared Willow off with her enthusiasm for learning. Then Willow spoke up.
“I think we're going to get along great.”
I love how proper Dawn and Giles are. IT makes me giggle.
I'm definitely enjoying writing Dawn in Sunnydale. :D