Chapter 4: Folio Bruti
Gradually each item on Taylor's supply list was victimized by an impending check mark. Her knapsack bulged with books, quills, and robes. Much to her surprise, the pack was surprisingly light. Magic disregarded the laws of gravity and physics. Wandering in a random direction, she discovered Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment. Brass scales and a cauldron. The last items on my list. This seems promising. If I have any coins left over, I can take a look at some magical creatures. Owls are intriguing creatures. The Goddess Athena loved her owls, so they surely must be nature's wisest beings. Lost in the corners of her Grecian daydream, she knocked shoulders with a girl heading out of Wiseacre's.
"I'm so sorry!" The girl apologized, red hair falling into her green eyes. A pale boy with greasy black hair and black eyes slipped off to the side, annoyed by Taylor's ineptitude.
"No, no. Totally my fault." Taylor admitted with a little laugh. The girls smiled at each other, and as Taylor turned to enter the building, the redhead called out to her.
"Excuse me, do you happen to know where we can get our wands? We can't seem to find the wand shop anywhere."
Taking a step back down onto the street, Taylor pointed southward. "Sure. It's just a few shops down on the left. Mr. Ollivanders." She smiled warmly at the pair. "You can't miss it."
"Thanks so much. You have no idea how overwhelming this place is for me. I never even knew magic existed before my acceptance letter." Wild energy beamed from the girl's bright smile.
"Same here." Taylor's heart lifted upon a cloud of air. The girl's friendliness was contagious. It was also comforting to know that she was not the only one who was uninformed. "I'm sure we'll get the hang of it sometime though. What's your name?"
"Lily Evans." She reached up and shook Taylor's hand. "And this is my friend Severus." The boy made no motion to move forward.
"Well it's nice to meet you, Lily. And you too Severus." Taylor adjusted her backpack. She balanced on an awkward limb and asked, "If you two aren't busy after wand shopping, do you want to meet up for some ice cream at Florean Fortescue's?"
"Sure!" Lily knew no hesitation. Severus disappeared within himself.
"Okay! I'll meet you outside Eeylops Owl Emporium whenever you're done?" Lily hesitated and her expression turned to sour milk. Taylor's breath caught in her chest. Did I say something wrong?
"Be careful at the Emporium." Lily warned. Taylor exhaled. "The toe-rag troublemakers are up to a nasty sort of trouble." Taylor's confusion expanded Lily's explanation further. "Potter and his pikey friends! Switching prices and antagonizing that poor old man's owls! Eeylop will be rearranging his stocks for weeks because of them!"
"Potter?" The name did not seem that intimidating. Ceramics after all were fragile.
"The terror four! James Potter and his new best mate Sirius Black are posh pureblood muppets! Peter and that Remus are no better." Taylor stood paralyzed by words.
"Remus Lupin?" The words burned like hot acid. Lily nodded dramatically.
Severus broke his vow of silence. "So you HAVE heard of them? It is impressive how quickly their reputations spread."
"You'll know if you see them." Lily spat as if she tasted bleach. "Potter is always messing with his hair and Black has that nasty sense of entitlement." Remus with troublemakers? That's not possible.
Taking Lily's advice, Taylor decided to visit the Magical Menagerie in lieu of the nearby Owl Emporium. Once inside, her wildest imaginations were answered. The shop was cramped with cacophony. The walls were covered with aquariums, ornate cages, and tonics. Animals chattered about, desperate for Taylor's attention.
Cats of every color and pattern groomed their fur coats. Giant orange snails with poisonous black spikes slowly digested the walls of their aquariums. Glossy gray blue rats chased their tails, while owls watched them hungrily. Taylor curiously peered into a cage labeled "Clabbert: Do not touch!" Hidden behind leaves, a soft red light shimmered eerily. A webbed hand pushed leaves out of the way, revealing an inquisitive froglike chimpanzee creature. A bulbous pustule at the top of its head flickered. Razor sharp teeth gleamed viciously in an intimidating manner. Taylor stepped back from the cage and moved along, admiring the normalcy of the ravens and toads.
A bell on the door rang, announcing the store's newest arrival. While studying the owls, Taylor did not notice Sirius dodge into her aisle. A snowy owl ruffled defensively as he tapped upon the cage. Gently, Taylor poked her finger through a cage and stroked a barn owl's underbelly. Noticing the quiet girl, Sirius silently vowed himself to tomfoolery. Nonchalantly, he approached his victim, took hold of her hair and yanked on it playfully. She yipped, creating a caucus of animal shrieks.
"Whatcha looking at there, duckie?" He chuckled, amused at her yelp. A store clerk hollered a warning to the pair, simultaneously trying to calm the animals. Taylor whirled around to face her tormentor. Their eyes locked. Even as her fierce gaze hardened, he did not flinch under it. Figures. I wonder which pest I have the pleasure of meeting. She turned around and ignored him. A sponge for attention, Sirius pushed passed the proper threshold. He lifted her skirt obnoxiously.
Surprised, Taylor turned and smacked him across the face. Sirius took a step back and held his face, but snorted at her aggressive demeanor.
"Leave me alone!" Taylor hissed. Sirius rolled his eyes at her dismissal. He pushed passed her and switched the price tag of a tawny owl with a blue dart frog. Well, a sense of entitlement and he hasn't touched his hair. It must be Sirius Black.
"Stop that." She warned. A haggard employee saw the mischief and hurried over.
"Get out!" He shouted at both Taylor and Sirius. Irritated, he reorganized the prices. Taylor opened her mouth to protest her innocence, but his pointer finger toward the door spoke firmly. I am sure Cicero did not have such issues when he spoke in the forum. She sulked out of the store with Sirius close behind her. His hands danced deeply in his pockets.
"You think you're really funny, don't you Mr. Black?" He lifted his hands in a shrug and smiled.
"I don't know what I am. But I know I am having a good time." Sirius was surprised she knew his name. She fumed and walked away without another word. He watched her disappear toward the ice cream parlor. He twisted on his heel and walked down the street, whistling proudly to himself.
Mrs. Lupin worked diligently on a departure dinner. The smell of maple glazed ham permeated the air joyously. Robes, books, quills, parchment were packed neatly into a red secondhand suitcase. Inspecting the luggage, the contents did not seem like that much, but it was Taylor's new life. Like any competent witch or wizard, her wand remained safely by her side. She daydreamed about making new friends and learning spells. Lily promised to save a seat for her on tomorrow's train. I wonder if the Hogwarts Express runs on magic.
Taylor walked out of her room. With anticipation, she peeked inside Remus's room to see him already reading an assigned book.
He did not reply. She rapped on the door frame politely. All hopes were dashed of talking to him about their new friendships. He got up and slammed the door shut, refusing to make eye contact.