Hate at first sight

Everybody talks about 'Love at first sight', but what about hate?


3. The Dandy Cockeral & the Portwall

Standing at the Dandy Cockeral (at 2:55 pm), I puzzled over why Dumbledore had wanted to come here. To describe it nicely you would say it had seen better days, bu to be honest it was an absolute tip. It's sandstone walls were streaked with grime, the roof tiles chipped and often missing. The (probably) once magnificent sign was held up with dirty string and Duct Tape, as well as having an ominous vermillion-rimmed hole through the middle. Just like the sign, the door was held on with string. all but one of the windows were boarded up, so - curiosity getting the better of me - I went over to the last remaining piece of glass to have a look.
The front of the pub was covered in neon graffiti. Most of it was typical graffiti: swear words and rude pictures. Around the window, however, one piece in particular caught my eye. It was an amazing picture, a physodelic pattern made of multicoloured swirls that seemed to change colour, all lading down to a small prick of white in the centre; similar to the end of a tunnel.
Still staring at the picture, my thoughts meandered to home, where I wanted to be most. it was eerily quiet in the alley where the pub was located, and a strange chill was in the air. It was just the place where you would hear stories about a girl being raped, or a stabbing. I didn't like it one little bit, I longed to be back in my room.
Suddenly the swirls became clear, the multitude of colour becoming a picture of my room, detailed down to the spotty sock I had left strewn on my floor last night. My mouth became an 'O' of wonder, and my mind wondered again to why Dumbledore had brought me here. Could it have anything to do with this picture? I glanced up again at the graffiti, but the picture of my room wasn't there! It had gone back to the same swirly colours leading to a white dot in the centre.
Deciding after a few seconds that it was an optical illusion, I advanced towards the window. Peering through the filthy pane, my cheese sandwiches threatened to re-appear; I felt sick all over. Inside it was revolting, a pile of mouldering things covered in dust and dirt. There must have been squatters at one point, as there was an old armchair inside, with a ripped maroon cover and springs showing. However, it only got worse. There were corpses of many things, from cats to spiders, mice to blackbirds. I'm pretty sure, in this un-official mausoleum, that there was a fox body. I saw the slumped head, the flea-ridden fur, the empty eye sockets.
But before I could take in anymore of the gory scene, I felt a hand on my shoulder, and a make voice said: "Hello Ria."

My heart stopped. My mouth went dry. I had been stalked. Someone was behind me, I was going to die. I would never get to meet my real mum, never even know who my real dad was. I would never find out about the letter, if it was genuine or a birthday-surprise thing. I would never know what love felt like, never get married, never have kids. Soon my life would be over. This was the end.
I did the only thing I could; I screamed. My loud, piercing voice echoed round the narrow alley. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, but I was determined not to die without a fight.
Abruptly my scream stopped. I still felt like I was screaming, but no sound came out. The man's hand was joined by another hand, also his, and he turned me around. I looked up, by now I'd given up screaming, and saw an old man with long, silver hair, crimson robes and half-moon glasses. "I'm Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore," he said, sparkling blue eyes gazing into mine.
I let out a huge sigh, my whole body relaxed. "I'm sorry about your voice," he continued, while flicking his wand, "but your scream might have attracted muggles, and we would have been discovered. Memory spells are a messy business, which I don't particularly want to do right now."
Dumbledore stated at me, his intense gaze seemed to look right at my innermost thoughts. He, just like he said, was wearing a long robe/dress thing, along with aladdin-style shoes. At first glance, he looked a bit like a member of a strange Druid cult, which did sacrifices and stuff. I still wasn't quite sure that he didn't...
While thinking the above thoughts I remembered something that he had said. "What's a muggle?" I enquired.
"Ah," he replied,with a twinkle in his eye, "it's our word for a non-magical person. It's quite affectionate really, a bit like calling a cat 'puss'. I am quite fond of muggles myself, especially their confectionary. My my Ria, have you tried a sherbet lemon? They are the best of all! But ah, I had better show you how to use the Portwall, I have important business to attend to."
"What's a Portwall?" I asked, but then I realised what it was. "Its that swirly graffiti thing isn't it?" I looked up into his baby-blue eyes. Dumbledore chuckled good-naturedly. "Yes Ria," he replied, "yes it is. You could easily be a Ravenclaw, but I must explain that later. I suppose you have already worked out how to travel by it," I thought back to when I was thinking about my room and it appeared, so I nodded, "but as you have never seen Diagon Alley, or know what it looks like, hold my hand and I will take you."
I hesitated. I had known Dumbledore for less than 5 minutes, and who knows where he might take me. Sure, my mum and dad knew him, but that was 14 years ago. People change - Dumbledore might have become evil.
I glanced up at him. He was facing the Portwall and for a moment I saw past the wisdom and magic, and saw an old man who was over 90 with no family (Mum and Dad had told me that) living alone. Somewhere inside me there was a pang of sympathy, so I took his hand and let him guide me into the Portwall...

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