Chapter 3: Diagon Alley
Remus was not the first or last child to be attacked by Fenrir Greyback. The savage werewolf strived to infect the masses with lycanthropy. Children became his primary target. Taylor watched on helplessly as her brother thrashed wildly against his bed restraints. St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries admitted him promptly after the assault, and the healers worked tediously to monitor his condition. There was nothing the staff could do to prevent his metamorphosis. Their only option was to temporarily contain Remus during his first transformation. For weeks, deliria flickered tumultuously behind his eyelids and his skin drowned in waves of sweat. The Lupins watched in horror as their son withered away into a sickly shell of flesh. Thankfully, news of his sickness did not spread far within the magical community.
When Remus was allowed to return home, Taylor remained by his bedside. Controversy circulated about whether or not Remus would be allowed to attend Hogwarts in September. Ministry officials condemned the idea of placing students in jeopardy, simply because a werewolf wanted to learn basic magic. Defensively, the Lupins kept a ready supply of Wolfsbane Potion with them at all times. The potion allowed their son to maintain his consciousness during full moon transformations.
As the adults debated the morality of the issue, Remus remained reserved and soft-spoken. He refused to utter a single word in Taylor's direction. Without just cause, she became his scapegoat. The chasm between them widened deeper than the Mariana Trench. Despite her parents' reassurance, Taylor could not find any solstice to ease her guilty conscience. The pendent around her neck weighed cumbersomely with survivor's remorse. While she survived unscathed, her brother suffered social and physical disaster. Eventually, Remus began to avoid Taylor altogether, and when he was forced into her company he glowered. I might as well be a castaway on a desert island. Taylor Crusoe on the Island of Despair.
The headmaster at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, agreed to house Remus despite his medical condition. Provisions would be made to contain Remus during full moons, and the potion's master could eagerly supply Wolfsbane Potion. Otherwise, no one needed to know about the mishap. Remus chewed on the news like a piece of bacon. He would not squander the gift Dumbledore gave him.
With September right around the Gregorian corner, the Lupins were required to gather their supplies. Mr. and Mrs. Lupin escorted their children to Diagon Alley. The cobbled wizarding alley opened into an avenue of storefronts. Taylor watch in amazement as the alley bustled with men and women dressed in flamboyant colors. Cloaks and witches hats decorated every available space. Spicy smells of cinnamon and cider swirled about in the air.
Remus's parents distributed a few sickles, knuts, and galleons to each of them and ushered the children off. Whatever money was left over after the course of the day could go towards buying any additional item they wanted.
"Stay together now. Meet near the Leaky Cauldron in four hours." Mr. Lupin warned. Mrs. Lupin watched nervously as her children disappeared amongst the crowd. After the attack, it was hard to let Remus out of her sight.
Taylor tried to follow her brother, but as the throng of people became thicker she lost sight of him. Deep down she knew he disappeared on purpose. Now you are stuck here all alone. Enjoy yourself. There is magic here! She brightened up and observed the stores around her. Eeylops Owl Emporium, Amanuensis Quills, and Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions were the nearest shops. Mentally she memorized her location and continued down the street.
On her own quest, Taylor searched the window fronts for the specifics on her list. She stood cautiously in front of Ollivanders Wand Shop. It was the only wand shop she saw on the street. Hazy gold letters over the door of the shop read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 B.C. In the window, a lone wand laid on a faded dusty cushion. She swallowed and pushed the door open. The shop was relatively empty. Behind the cracked old counter she could see thousands of narrow battered boxes containing wands. The boxes piled right up to the ceiling of the tiny shop, and the whole place had a thin layer of dust about it. Taylor stifled back a sneeze.
An ancient man with white hair and pale silver eyes bustled about. He accidently knocked a bunch of boxes off a shelf when he noticed Taylor standing in the center of the room. She ran to help him, picking up the boxes gently and handing them to him.
"Thank you, thank you!" The man sang. His voice was lively and full of unadulterated cheer. Once the boxes were carefully placed back in a haphazard order, he turned to assist her.
"So, you must be Mr. Ollivander." Taylor half-joked.
"Indeed! Your wand hand." Taylor paused in bewilderment.
"Well, I'm a righty if that's what you mean." He grabbed her right arm and instructed her to hold it out straight. He began to take her dimensions with a magical measuring tape, while muttering phrases that did not make sense.
"Let's see, let's see." He hobbled to a row and pulled a black box off the shelf. "Phoenix and Willow 9 ½ inches. A nimble young lady like yourself seems fiery and nimble." He pried open her fingers and pushed it into her hand. Taylor stared at the lifeless stick in her hands. Well that was simple. She admired the curvature of the wand. But much to her disappointment, Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of her grasp. "Blast. Wrong."
Taylor was speechless, wondering how this process actually worked. "Holly and Unicorn Hair 11 ¼ inches." He placed it in her hand and eyed her suspiciously. She gave the wand a flick, but nothing happened. "Complex. Very complex. Well dear, I like a good challenge and I haven't lost a customer yet." Mr. Ollivander climbed a ladder and tossed her another wand box. "Kelpie Hair 8 ¾ inches." She shook her head, unsure of what a Kelpie was. The wand felt cold and unappealing. "Maybe…" He closed his eyes deep in thought.
She was about to interrupt him, when he slid down the ladder and hurried into a backroom. He emerged with a narrow mahogany box, much more ornate than the cardboard containers she had seen. He shoved the open box under her nose.
"Holly and Basilisk Scale 12 ½ inches. Very rare, I've never sold one before." Taylor felt intimidated to pick up the wand, it seemed powerful. She picked it up between her thumb and index finger, and instinctually she moved it to her palm. The hilt fit perfectly, and the wand vibrated violently. Sparks flew out of the end and a surge of warmth flooded her organs. She knew it was hers. "Yes! Brilliant!" Mr. Ollivander clapped. He took the case to the register and motioned Taylor toward the counter.
She fingered the wand in her hands. It was smooth and polished, with tendrils curling up the handle. Without hesitation, she paid Mr. Ollivander.
"Mr. Ollivander. If you don't mind my asking, what exactly is a Basilisk?"
The old man's eyes twinkled. "The King of Serpents. His eyes have the power to instantly kill anyone who looks into them." Taylor swallowed and looked down at her wand. She thanked him hollowly.
"Their scales are imperviously armoured like that of a dragon's. Spells just bounce off them." He looked up at the ceiling curiously, tracking dust particles through the air with his pupils.
"How did you get it? The scale, I mean." Taylor fit the wand snuggly into its cavern.
"That's not important my dear. But I am curious to see what great things come from you." Taylor's eyes widened at the compliment. Remus would have died if he heard Mr. Ollivander say that to his estranged adopted sister. "Something wrong?" Mr. Ollivander asked soothingly.
"Nothing sir. Have wonderful day and thank you for all your help." He nodded and disappeared into the back without another word. Taylor thumbed the box as she made her way back onto Diagon Alley.
"Sirius, don't dawdle." The tall elegant woman snapped. Peacock feathers brought glistening colors to her dull gray hair. They matched her birdlike eyes, aquiline nose, and predatory screech. "I expect you to take down those vile decorations the moment we get home."
"Motorcycles aren't vile, mother." Sirius muttered.
"I will not tolerate muggle posters in my home." Her infuriated demeanor frightened away the peddlers of Knockturn Alley. Dressed in black, Sirius's mother could obliterate anyone foolish enough to cross her. Sirius folded his arms and trudged along, keeping his eye on Regulus.
"I like them." He snapped. Refusing to obey was dangerous, but giving into her malcontent was deadly.
"Don't take that tone with me." Walburga Black growled. Regulus peered into the Borgin and Burkes shop window. The display was elaborately decorated with human skulls, glass eyes, and rusty spiked instruments.
"Mother, can I have a shrunken head to put on my bunk this year?" Regulus asked sweetly.
"Of course you can, darling. Go buy yourself one." Her tone softened from jagged diamond to gelatin. Calmed and composed she handed Sirius a purse of coins. "Go out to Diagon Alley and fetch your things, but come home before nightfall!" She pushed him forward. Pushing was unnecessary, he did not need to be asked twice.
Sirius purposely kicked the old door as he entered Flourish and Blotts Bookseller. "Home before nightfall, Sirius. Buy your books, Sirius. Yeah right. I'll take my sweet damn time." Judging by the stacks of books, he was one step closer to completing his task. Procrastination was an art, and he excelled at it. He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from his pocket: Standard Book of Spells, A History of Magic, Magical Theory, A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration, One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi… His list bored him. It was doubtful that he would be spending much time reading them anyway. Hogwarts hosted wicked Quidditch matches and forbidden secrets ripe for the unraveling.
Noticing the rows were situated alphabetically, Sirius slipped behind a bookcase labeled "A" and searched for A History of Magic. "What a boring topic: History of Magic." A boy with hazel eyes and jet black hair slinked into the aisle. The stranger, who looked about Sirius's age, plucked a random book from the shelf nonchalantly. Look at this wanker. Showing off like he knows what he's reading. Licking his finger, the boy flipped through the pages. Sirius grabbed an available copy of A History of Magic. Opening to the middle, he brought his nose to the book's spine, examining the authenticity of the paper. An awkward stillness ensued, which caused Sirius to look up at the other boy.
"Your face looks better hidden behind a book mate." The boy snorted playfully. Snakes hissed inside Sirius's stomach, gnawing to escape.
"Shove off git." Sirius replied irritated. Who does he think he is? Anger forced Sirius to rip out a page from the book he was holding.
"Bit tempered are we?"
"I said shove off!" Sirius shouted moving to another aisle. The troublemaker did not follow him. Like an archaeologist, he scuttled into a tomb. A shrine of bound paperbacks rose upon either side of him. One by one he balanced the books in his arms, until his collection was complete. On his way to the register, however, Sirius tripped face first to the plush carpeted floor. Looking back he saw the outstretched boot of his newest enemy. The obnoxious boy walked around him and picked up his books.
"Thanks for finding my books mate." As he turned to walk off, Sirius grabbed the boy's ankles and pulled him down to the floor.
"Get your own books you skanky plonker." Rolling from side to side, in a struggle to get up, the boys crashed into a tower of volumes. An avalanche of grimoires fell upon the two fighters, bruising the crowns of their skulls. Unfazed, the boys grasped at each other, pounding their fists mercilessly into their opponent's shoulder.
"Get off me you nutter!" Yelled Sirius.
"Look at the mess you're making, bampot!"
Unwilling to lose the fight, Sirius spat in the boy's face just as his attacker lifted a book to swat him over the head with. The black haired boy recoiled wiping his face off.
"You dirty cheat! Spitting in my eye! Damn it." Rubbing his eye, the stranger stood up, and walked over to help Sirius to his feet. "I like you though. Smart moves there." Customers had stopped to stare at the pair of miscreants. Sirius wiped some blood from his cut lip and laughed at the scene they had caused. The fight lifted his spirits. Is this bloke serious? Once on his feet, Sirius held out his hand in a friendly way. A fellow so bold at least earned his respect.
"I'm Sirius Black." The boy took his hand firmly and shook it.
With a smirk, the boy replied. "James Potter."