“Raven Chronicles” Chapter 3: Diagon Alley – Part 3
It would be my first pair of robes. Alice and I only had Muggle clothing; though, by the looks of it, most wizarding children wore Muggle clothing. That morning we’d been forced to wear matching blue button-down denim shirts – Alice’s was too long for her – but thankfully, we hadn’t been asked to wear the exact same thing. Alice had some black leggings on and similar boots to Mum’s, while I wore khakis and blue shoes.
Mum had brought gold from home, so we skipped what I’m sure would have been a riveting trip to Gringotts. Instead, we arrived at Madam Malkin’s at 9:00 in the morning, just in time for it to open. Yet we had to wait for two people to finish – siblings by the look of it. One was a young girl with her hair in a long blonde ponytail. She was as pale as she was thin, and she glanced over at the three of us before looking away and not making eye contact. I noticed long scars poking out of her collar, descending the right side of her neck. Her sibling was a scraggly boy, thin and taller than my mum – though not that old looking. He had dark hair and dark eyelashes to match them. While the girl was being fitted for black robes – the sign of a first year – the boy’s robes had green trim at the collar and a green lining.
Obviously, the boy was in Slytherin, which – unfortunately in my opinion – has a bad rap. Though the founder of the House was evidently and abhorrently evil – as was the second most famous Slytherin, Voldemort – the House itself puts out a lot of normal and diligent witches and wizards. It’s not as if Salazar Slytherin wanted his House to be the evil House. No, the House is for those who are ambitious, cunning, and resourceful. Dumbledore was ambitious, Newt Scamander was resourceful, and like I said, my father was a Slytherin. Slytherin doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. But since Voldemort’s second rise to power and because of the amount of Death Eaters that ended up being Slytherins, there’s something of an “everyone hates Slytherins,” which has translated into a “Slytherins vs. everybody” mentality on the other side. I’ll tell you this. I’d rather be a Slytherin than a bashful and brainless Gryffindor.
I flashed a quick smile to the boy, but he averted his eyes.
Madam Malkin walked into the room and gave a small shriek of surprise, dropping the fabric in her hands. She apologized, citing she didn’t know we were there, and went about measuring the girl and boy. I couldn’t see their parents anywhere.
The shop was full of cloth, robes, measuring tape, elevated round platforms to stand on, and huge lamps. There are great big windows on the front and right side of the shop, and a lot of light gives the shop the feeling of being much bigger than it actually is – especially while the interior is usually so busy.
The room was incredibly dusty, and my sister sneezed and sneezed throughout the entire wait. Mum removed herself from the shop because of the dust. When the two siblings were done, Madam Malkin ushered them off the platforms and whispered, “Back upstairs, my dears.” She caught my eye as I watched the children take off the robes and leave without saying a word. “My nephew and niece. Little Shelby is starting Hogwarts this year.”
“Us too!” Alice said, trying to catch Shelby’s eye.
“I know,” Madam Malkin said, giving us a smile. “Haven’t seen you yet. Come up here.” She gestured to two other platforms with a wave of her wand. Instantly, the dust vanished, Madam Malkin apologizing about the state of the shop. She hadn’t realized how close it had been to opening.
She was quick about her work, though had to excuse herself when we heard a bang and some shouting above the shop. Mum came in then, asking if we were done and where Madam Malkin was. But soon enough, we were out of the shop, having bought our robes at a discount.
Buying potions supplies at Potage’s was not an enjoyable experience. Many families and their students had arrived, and we waited for an hour in line before we could request gloves. Mum tried to talk down the price on the required cauldrons, but the shop owner – a very old Welsh bloke with an enormous bald spot on his head – said he hadn’t change the price in 72 years. His assistant gave my sister and me our dragon hide gloves, but I had to ask for a bigger pair. By the time he came back with them, Mum had given up trying to talk down the price of the cauldron and said we couldn’t afford dragon hide, so we ended up getting the elastic horned-toad hide – a cheap knockoff from a little-known magical toad that can levitate for a bit when catching prey or escaping from a predator. Not exciting. The shopkeeper told Mum they wouldn’t protect against heavier potions, but she wasn’t having it. Alice and I left with our heads down.
Flourish and Blotts was also filled with families, but this store seemed prepared for the mass amounts of people. An assistant, a Frenchman with a pencil-thin mustache and flamboyant black and pink dress robes, came to Mum’s aid at once. I believe he could sense shoppers’ rage inside Mum, and he acted instantly upon it. He waved his wand with panache, and all our books floated into a neat stack. Mum’s annoyance ebbed and vanished completely when he conjured a small tote bag that fit all the books and was weightless.