Three Up, Two Across
months later Grandmother Abby returned, this time to take Emily to get her
school supplies at a special place called Diagon Alley. Emily had been wondering for a while about how
she would be able to attain an iron cauldron or a magic wand in 1997 London. It
would be a feat to even get anyone to look at her normally if she mentioned
anything about looking for a magic wand or something else wizard-like on the
It had taken some getting used to the fact that she was a witch, but once she had, she’d done a bit of reading up on the book Grandmother had given her for her birthday present, entitled Remedial Magic for the Muggle Born, and according to that her magic wasn’t restricted to use with only a wand. That was how she’d managed to do some of the impossible things like passing straight through a door. However, according to the book, once she was aware of her own magic ability, it would be much harder for her to perform any magic at all without a way to channel it. Only advanced wizards were able to do things like that.
Her parents had taken care of all the paperwork required to pull her out of Elridge (their excuse was that she was going to a boarding school outside of England), and even managed to borrow an owl from somewhere that they paid in a strange coinage to deliver the letter that the McGonagall lady had requested in the acceptance letter. The only thing left for her to do was get her school supplies, and her parents had assured her that the only person who could do that was Grandmother Abby.
Emily was lying on her bed reading the aforementioned book for about the twentieth time when she suddenly heard a loud crack, followed closely by the sound of a glass breaking, and then her mother yelling, “MOTHER, I TOLD YOU TO STOP DOING THAT!”
Slowly sitting up, Emily marked the page in the book (now heavily dog-eared and with post-it notes stuck in several places) and began to cautiously walk towards the kitchen. She was pretty sure of who it was that had caused the commotion, but her mother had sounded furious, and when her mother was angry, whoever was around got burned from the nuclear bomb that was her outrage. Emily typically tried to avoid that.
As she tiptoed down the hall, she saw Grandmother, this time dressed in a cloak, dusting herself off and putting away a withered stick Emily could only assume was her magic wand inside the garment.
“Well, I’m sorry, Samantha, but I just can’t figure out the public transportation systems,” Grandmother Abby said in retaliation to her daughter. “Why do muggles think that those infernal schedules are better than walking on foot? Honestly, if they weren’t entirely nonsensical, they might be more efficient!”
“I’M ONE OF THOSE MUGGLES, MOTHER!” Emily’s mother was angrier than she’d ever been. It seemed that her birth was a touchy subject. As Emily walked in the room, she appeared to try to calm down, sweeping some of her orange hair that had fallen into her face back and letting out a huge sigh. Even still, Emily waited a few seconds just to make sure it would be safe, her timidity getting the best of her once again.
“Um, hi,” she said quietly.
Grandmother looked at her and broke out with a grin that seemed almost too enthusiastic. It was disconcerting, and made Emily wonder once again whether studying magic was such a good idea. “Emily, dear! It’s good too see you again!” She spread her arms wide for a hug, but lowered them awkwardly when Emily didn’t take it. “Well, are you ready to pick up your school supplies?”
Emily, instead of responding vocally, held up the list she’d kept in her shorts’ pocket for seven weeks now, and then looked at her mother for permission.
Her mother sighed and waved her hand dismissively, bending down to clean up the shards of glass that had once been a plate. “Yes, just go–teleport out of here before I change my mind!”
“Actually, Samantha, it’s apparating.” Grandmother corrected. “Teleportation is completely different–”
Grandmother Abby didn’t bother arguing, and instead pulled out her wand once more, strode over, grabbed Emily by the shoulder and in a gut-wrenching shift of space and scenery, the house was gone, replaced by a mostly brown-colored… bar?
Emily didn’t have time to worry about that, though, because she was now very nauseas, and, clapping a hand over her mouth to make sure she didn’t lose her lunch all over the floor, ran to the nearest bucket-shaped thing she could find and let loose the contents of her stomach into it.
“Ay, ‘asmy puke buk–hic–bucket,” a man’s voice slurred, and Emily, now less nauseas and more woozy, looked up to see a heavily-warted man in a black cloak, red wizard’s hat, and a bright green scarf looking down at her lazily from a stool at the bar.
On second thought, though, that laziness may have actually been drunkenness, and the mismatched clothing proof of it. Either way, she backed up quickly and wiped her mouth. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” she apologized hurriedly, trying to avoid a confrontation.
“It dunn’treally matter much, do it?” the man snorted, shifting his gaze back to his mug of buttery yellow liquid. “’Sall puke anyway, innit? Still, sumpersons like myselfs migh’take offense, y’know?”
Emily was saved from having to respond by Grandmother, who put a hand firmly on her shoulder and resolved the situation decisively by saying, “Puke buckets are public, sir. They’ve always been that way,” and then guiding Emily a bit forcefully to what looked like the back entrance of the bar, where they went through the door and stood in the back alley, faced by a wall of bricks.
Emily’s eyes felt like they couldn’t go any wider, as shocked as she was with how sudden everything now seemed after the ‘apparation’, or whatever Grandmother had called it. She gulped, getting the sinking feeling that she’d done something wrong. “I–sorry…” she said, staring at her feet to attempt to steady her vision.
Grandmother shook her head, looking back at the door and seeming almost frightened at what had just happened. “No, no, it’s my fault. I apparated to the wrong spot. Anyway, you didn’t know about Mismatched Dan.”
“Mismatched Dan?” Emily asked, wondering if she’d heard that wrong. She allowed herself to look up, but instantly regretted it, and looked back down as her headache increased tenfold.
“The Leaky Cauldron’s drunk,” Grandmother explained, now walking over to the brick wall and trying to find something on it (now that Emily thought about it, it was odd that the alley was completely enclosed, and that there weren’t any garbage cans to be picked up). “He’s half-troll, and never really sober. He usually challenges people to fights over stupid things like puke bucket infringement, and wins by using his troll-stench to knock them out. It’s just bad luck we came here on the same day he did.”
Emily tried to sort out what she’d just said with her still-recovering brain. “Leaky Cauldron. Drunk. Half-troll. Puke buckets.” For some reason her mind told her to ask a question about the last item on that list rather than the first or, most blaringly, third. “What are puke buckets?”
Grandmother grunted. “Believe me, if you had some of the stuff they have in the wizarding world, you’d want a bucket too. I mean sure,” she waved her hand in the air like she was pushing aside potential arguments like metaphorical bees. “You have a better tolerance than muggles, being magic, but still, it’s powerful stuff.”
Emily put her hand on the wall to stabilize herself and took a deep breath, giving herself another chance to look up without her vision swimming. This time she recovered well enough, and she now saw Grandmother counting bricks on the wall. “Grandmother, wh-what are you doing?”
“Finding the right one, of course,” Grandmother explained, not taking her attention away from the wall. She seemed to start at one particular brick, then count three rows upward and two bricks to the left, and then she drew her wand again and tapped the brick she’d landed on.
Emily wasn’t sure if what happened next was part of some vivid hallucination from the ‘apparation’ or not. All she knew was that the bricks were now moving, folding back upon themselves like some sort of machine and working their way from the brick Grandmother had tapped outward until they opened up entirely, exposing that the wall wasn’t a wall at all, and instead a doorway to…
Emily nearly passed out at what she was seeing. From the ‘apparation’ to the point where the bricks had started moving, her mind had told her, “Okay, sure. It’s all too weird anyway, so why not?” But when she saw the crowded street behind the wall, chock full of impossible things, another wave of headache smashed down onto her, and she put a hand to the side of her head to stop herself from fainting.
Grandmother Abby didn’t seem to notice her granddaughter’s overload, and she grabbed her forearm, pulling her along through the brick portal and into the wizarding street. “Welcome, dear, to Diagon Alley.”
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