Hoping For a Better Future: BOOK ONE

One day after the end of Harry's third year, he wanders the castle when suddenly a whole package of books falls on his head. Read my version of Reading the Harry Potter Books! =D

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8. V - Diagon Alley (Part 2)

One wild cart-ride later they stood blinking in the sunlight outside Gringotts. Harry didn't know where to run first now that he had a bag full of money. He didn't have to know how many Galleons there were to a pound to know that he was holding more money than he'd had in his whole life – more money than even Dudley had ever had.

"Might as well get yer uniform," said Hagrid, nodding towards Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. "Listen, Harry, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate them Gringotts carts." He did still look a bit sick, so Harry entered Madam Malkin's shop alone, feeling nervous.

Madam Malkin was a squat, smiling witch dressed all in mauve.

"Hogwarts, dear?" she said, when Harry started to speak. "Got the lot here – another young man being fitted up just now, in fact."

"Ooh," said Tonks excitedly. "Perhaps you can make a new friend!"

In the back of the shop, a boy with a pale, pointed face

"Never mind," she hastily said as soon as she realized who it was. Harry snickered at her.

was standing on a footstool while a second witch pinned up his long black robes. Madam Malkin stood Harry on a stool next to him, slipped a long robe over his head and began to pin it to the right length.

"Hullo," said the boy, "Hogwarts too?"

"Yes," said Harry.

"My father's next door buying my books and mother's up the street looking at wands," said the boy. He had a bored, drawling voice.

"Can I guess who it is," asked a grinning Sirius.

"Sure you can, but the first three guesses don't count," said Harry with a quirk of his lips from where he was sitting, still snuggled into Remus' embrace. Sirius just rolled his eyes and ruffled Harry's hair.

"Then I'm going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I don't see why first-years can't have their own. I think I'll bully father into getting me one and I'll smuggle it in somehow."

Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley.

"Have you got your own broom?" the boy went on.

"No," said Harry.

"Play Quidditch at all?"

"No," Harry said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.

"I do – Father says it's a crime if I'm not picked to play for my house, and I must say, I agree. Know what house you'll be in yet?"

"Gryffindor," said Ron teasingly. Harry on the other hand, once again became nervous. What would they say when they heard what the Sorting Hat had to say? This time, Snape noticed his nervousness and quirked an eyebrow at it.

"No," said Harry, feeling more stupid by the minute.

"Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I'll be in Slytherin, all our family have been – imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

"There's nothing wrong with Hufflepuff," huffed Tonks.

"Mmm," said Harry, wishing he could say something a bit more interesting.

"I say, look at that man!" said the boy suddenly, nodding towards the front window. Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Harry and pointing at two large ice-creams to show he couldn't come in.

"My second ice-cream," Harry said, and immediately regretted it when he saw the looks of sorrow and anger on his friends' faces.

"That's Hagrid," said Harry, pleased to know something the boy didn't. "He works at Hogwarts."

"Oh," said the boy, "I've heard of him. He's a sort of servant, isn't he?"

"Hagrid is not a servant," Hermione said, insulted on Hagrid's behalf.

"He's the gamekeeper," said Harry. He was liking the boy less and less every second.

"Same here mate," Ron said fervently.

"Yes, exactly. I heard he's a sort of savage – lives in a hut in the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic and ends up setting fire to his bed."

"I think he's brilliant," said Harry coldly.

"Do you?" said the boy, with a slight sneer. "Why is he with you? Where are your parents?"

"They're dead," said Harry shortly. He didn't feel much like going into the matter with this boy.

"Oh, sorry," said the other, not sounding sorry at all. "But they were our kind, weren't they?"

"That inconsiderable, prejudiced git," Hermione mumbled into Ron's hand that he had clamped in front of her lips as soon as she started her rant.

"Didn't you call him a foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach not too long ago," Harry asked her 'innocently'. Her eyes widened and she grinned as she remembered the punch to the nose she gave him. Even Snape had to smirk at that.

"Yeah, Hermione," Ron agreed. "That was brilliant… scary… but brilliant."

"Thank you, Ron," Hermione said, with a satisfied voice.

"They were a witch and wizard, if that's what you mean."

"Nice comeback, mate," Neville commented.

"I really don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They're just not the same, they've never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, imagine. I think they should keep it in the old wizarding families. What's your surname, anyway?"

But before Harry could answer, Madam Malkin said, "That's you done, my dear," and Harry, not sorry for an excuse to stop talking to the boy, hopped down from the footstool.

"I wouldn't be sorry either," Tonks said.

"Well, I'll see you at Hogwarts, I suppose," said the drawling boy.

Harry was rather quiet as he ate the ice-cream Hagrid had bought him (chocolate and raspberry with chopped nuts).

"What's up?" said Hagrid.

"Nothing," Harry lied.

"You're such a bad liar, Harry," Hermione teased.

"I'm getting better every year!" Harry challenged her with a grin. Hermione just sighed and remained quiet.

They stopped to buy parchment and quills. Harry cheered up a bit when he found a bottle of ink that changed colour as you wrote. When they had left the shop, he said, "Hagrid, what's Quidditch?"

"Blimey, Harry, I keep forgettin' how little yeh know – not knowin' about Quidditch!"

"Don't make me feel worse," said Harry. He told Hagrid about the pale boy in Madam Malkin's.

"– and he said people from Muggle families shouldn't even be allowed in –"

"Yer not from a Muggle family. If he'd known who yeh were – he's grown up knowin' yer name if his parents are wizardin' folk – you saw 'em in the Leaky Cauldron. Anyway, what does he know about it, some o' the best I ever saw were the only ones with magic in 'em in a long line o' Muggles – look at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!"

"So what is Quidditch?"

"It's our sport. Wizard sport. It's like – like football in the Muggle world – everyone follows Quidditch – played up in the air on broomsticks and there's four balls – sorta hard ter explain the rules."

"No, it's not," Ron said scandalized.

"And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?"

"School houses. There's four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o' duffers, but –"

"Hagrid," scolded McGonagall.

"I bet I'm in Hufflepuff," said Harry gloomily.

"Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin," said Hagrid darkly. "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one."

Snape glared at the book. Just because one Slytherin went bad didn't mean every Slytherin was evil. But the Dark Lord left the stigma on the Slytherin house and Snape could do nothing to repair its reputation. He hated it.

"Vol– sorry – You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?"

"Years an' years ago," said Hagrid.

They bought Harry's school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all. Even Dudley, who never read anything, would have been wild to get his hands on some of these. Hagrid almost had to drag Harry away from Curses and Counter-Curses (Bewitch your Friends and Befuddle your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying and much, much more) by Professor Vindictus Viridian.

"I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley."

"Good on you, mate," Ron said with a big grin. "He deserves it, the fat git."

Harry just smiled at him.

"I'm not sayin' that's not a good idea, but yer not ter use magic in the Muggle world except in very special circumstances," said Hagrid. "An' anyway, yeh couldn' work any of them curses yet, yeh'll need a lot more study before yeh get ter that level."

"I wouldn't bet on it Hagrid," Remus said thoughtfully. "We all saw that Harry has powerful magic at his command. I wouldn't be surprised if he did manage to master the spells."

Harry blushed and ducked his head at the compliment, much to Remus' amusement.

"And he still can't take a compliment," he added and received a small nudge in his ribs for his efforts.

Hagrid wouldn't let Harry buy a solid gold cauldron, either ('It says pewter on yer list'), but they got a nice set of scales for weighing potion ingredients and a collapsible brass telescope. Then they visited the apothecary's, which was fascinating enough to make up for its horrible smell,

Harry was once again rewarded with a peculiar look from Snape. It was as though he was a potions ingredient that Snape was trying to figure out. It made him feel quite uncomfortable.

a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor, jars of herbs, dried roots and bright powders lined the walls, bundles of feathers, strings of fangs and snarled claws hung from the ceiling. While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of some basic potion ingredients for Harry, Harry himself examined silver unicorn horns at twenty-one Galleons each and minuscule, glittery black beetle eyes (five Knuts a scoop).

Outside the apothecary's, Hagrid checked Harry's list again.

"Just yer wand left – oh yeah, an' I still haven't got yeh a birthday present."

Harry smiled at the reminder of his faithful owl Hedwig. He missed her something fearsome and was sad that he wouldn't be able to see her until the books were over with. To his surprise, a window appeared on one of the walls and through it, his white feathery companion flew in.

"Hedwig," he exclaimed happily as the snowy owl descended on his knee and snuggled close to her master. Everyone in the room watched the two of them with happiness in their eyes as they witnessed the love between Harry and his pet.

Harry felt himself go red.

"You don't have to –"

"I know I don't have to. Tell yeh what, I'll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads went outta fashion years ago, yeh'd be laughed at – an' I don' like cats, they make me sneeze. I'll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they're dead useful, carry yer post an' everythin'."

Twenty minutes later, they left Eeylops Owl Emporium, which had been dark and full of rustling and flickering, jewel-bright eyes. Harry now carried a large cage which held a beautiful snowy owl,

Hedwig perked her head up and fluffed her wings proudly. Everyone smiled at the proud owl.

"How did you find her?" asked a curious Hermione.

"Actually, it was her that found me," said a proud Harry as he scratched Hedwig's favourite place. "The moment I stepped into the shop she flew down from her perch and that was it."

Hedwig nodded.

fast asleep with her head under her wing. He couldn't stop stammering his thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell.

"Don' mention it," said Hagrid gruffly. "Don' expect you've had a lotta presents from them Dursleys. Just Ollivanders left now – only place fer wands, Ollivanders, and yeh gotta have the best wand."

A magic wand … this was what Harry had been really looking forward to.

"Everyone does," Sirius said and ruffled Harry's hair again.

The last shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold letters over the door read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC. A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window.

"Whose wand is it?" Tonks asked.

"It's just a plastic display wand," Dumbledore explained.

"What's plexic?" asked Ron, once again butchering a muggle word. Harry and Hermione took one look at each other and burst out laughing.

"It's plastic, Ron," Hermione said once her giggles subsided. "And it's a muggle material made from polymers…"

She didn't get further in her explanation because Remus had hastily started reading again, before she went into an in-depth explanation, complete with technical words that Ron would probably never understand.

A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It was a tiny place, empty except for a single spindly chair which Hagrid sat on to wait. Harry felt strangely as though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a lot of new questions which had just occurred to him and looked instead at the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the ceiling. For some reason, the back of his neck prickled. The very dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.

"Good senses," Moody grunted into the silence that followed. Harry was starting to think that every time something like that happened, the people in the room would be shocked into silence. Hedwig nudged his fingers and he immediately became distracted with scratching her again.

"Good afternoon," said a soft voice. Harry jumped. Hagrid must have jumped, too, because there was a loud crunching noise and he got quickly off the spindly chair.

"So, that's why the chair was broken when we went to buy my wand," Ron's eyes shone in understanding while everyone started either snickering or chuckling.

An old man was standing before them, his wide, pale eyes shining like moons through the gloom of the shop.

"Hello," said Harry awkwardly.

"Ah yes," said the man. "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon. Harry Potter." It wasn't a question. "You have your mother's eyes. It seems only yesterday she was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy, made of willow. Nice wand for charm work."

"Wow, he has a great memory," said Hermione, who herself possessed an eidetic memory, though she didn't like to brag about it. In fact, no one knew she had this particular talent.

"He loves his work," was the only explanation she was given.

Mr Ollivander moved closer to Harry. Harry wished he would blink. Those silvery eyes were a bit creepy.

"Your father, on the other hand, favoured a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favoured it – it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course."

Mr Ollivander had come so close that he and Harry were almost nose to nose. Harry could see himself reflected in those misty eyes.

"And that's where …"

Mr Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry's forehead with a long, white finger.

"That was really creepy and really uncomfortable," said Harry while flattening his fringe to hide the scar from view.

"I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," he said softly. "Thirteen and a half inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands … Well, if I'd known what that wand was going out into the world to do …"

"You couldn't have known that," said Dumbledore soothingly.

He shook his head and then, to Harry's relief, spotted Hagrid.

"Rubeus! Rubeus Hagrid! How nice to see you again … Oak, sixteen inches, rather bendy, wasn't it?"

"It was, sir, yes," said Hagrid.

"Good wand, that one. But I suppose they snapped it in half when you got expelled?" said Mr Ollivander, suddenly stern.

"Er – yes, they did, yes," said Hagrid, shuffling his feet. "I've still got the pieces, though," he added brightly.

"But you don't use them?" said Mr Ollivander sharply.

"Oh, no, sir," said Hagrid quickly. Harry noticed he gripped his pink umbrella very tightly as he spoke.

"No, of course you don't," Tonks said, grinning mischievously. Remus liked her sense of humour.

"Hmmm," said Mr Ollivander, giving Hagrid a piercing look. "Well, now – Mr Potter. Let me see." He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his pocket. "Which is your wand arm?"

"Er – well, I'm right-handed," said Harry.

"Nice answer, Harry," said Hermione. "I was completely confused about what he meant by it."

"Hold out your arm. That's it." He measured Harry from shoulder to finger, then wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round his head. As he measured, he said, "Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr Potter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers and the heartstrings of dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just as no two unicorns, dragons or phoenixes are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another wizard's wand."

"Is that true?" Neville suddenly asked, gripping the pocked in which his wand resided.

"It is true, Mr Longbottom," said McGonagall looking at him weirdly.

"Then," said Neville, visibly gathering his courage, "could you tell that to my gran please, because I'm using my father's wand and I don't think it likes me."

Both McGonagall and Snape were surprised at the revelation. Neville Longbottom didn't have a wand that chose him and yet he still passed his classes with rather average grades. They looked at each other and knew they were thinking of the same thing – that Neville was a rather powerful wizard if he could use a wand that didn't like thim.

"Of course we can," said McGonagall encouragingly. "I shall write a letter to Augusta as soon as we read the books."

"Thanks," Neville said, relieved that perhaps with the right wand he might do better in magic.

Harry suddenly realised that the tape measure, which was measuring between his nostrils, was doing this on its own. Mr Ollivander was flitting around the shelves, taking down boxes.

"That will do," he said, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the floor. "Right then, Mr Potter. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it and give it a wave."

Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit, but Mr Ollivander snatched it out of his hand almost at once.

"Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try –"

Harry tried – but he had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back by Mr Ollivander.

"No, no – here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on, go on, try it out."

"Just how many wands did you go through, before you found yours?" asked a perplexed Hermione. "I only went through five."

"I went through ten," Tonks piped up.

"Two," said a cheerful Ron.

"I took about four," said Sirius.

"Seven for me," Remus inserted his own comment.

"Twenty-five for me," added a jolly Dumbledore. Everyone looked at him surprised. They really should get used to him commenting at the least expected things.

"I went through about forty," Harry admitted, red in the face.

Harry tried. And tried. He had no idea what Mr Ollivander was waiting for. The pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more wands Mr Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.

"Of course he did," said Dumbledore again. "He loves a challenge."

"Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we'll find the perfect match here somewhere – I wonder, now – yes, why not – unusual combination – holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple."

Harry perked at the mention of his wand.

Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls. Hagrid whooped and clapped and Mr Ollivander cried, "Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well … how curious … how very curious …"

"What's curious?" said Sirius curiously.

He put Harry's wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still muttering, "Curious … curious …"

"Sorry," said Harry, "but what's curious?"

"You're so unoriginal Sirius," said a cheeky Harry. "You're still parroting us. First with professor Dumbledore, now with me?"

And then he started laughing as Sirius started tickling him.

"I give, I give," Harry managed to gasp out after a few moments of torture and let Sirius pull him up and into an embrace.

Mr Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare.

"I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather – just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother – why, its brother gave you that scar."

"What?" Remus said in shock. Everyone in the room, except Dumbledore and Harry, were shocked as well.

"I am sure that all will be revealed by the end of the books," Dumbledore tried to calm them down. Remus continued reading, after he realized that nothing more was forthcoming.

Harry swallowed.

"Yes, thirteen and a half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember … I think we must expect great things from you, Mr Potter … After all, He Who Must Not Be Named did great things – terrible, yes, but great."

Harry shivered. He wasn't sure he liked Mr Ollivander too much. He paid seven gold Galleons for his wand and Mr Ollivander bowed them from his shop.

The late-afternoon sun hung low in the sky as Harry and Hagrid made their way back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall, back through the Leaky Cauldron, now empty. Harry didn't speak at all as they walked down the road; he didn't even notice how much people were gawping at them on the Underground, laden as they were with all their funny-shaped packages, with the sleeping snowy owl on Harry's lap. Up another escalator, out into Paddington station; Harry only realised where they were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.

"Got time fer a bite to eat before yer train leaves," he said.

He bought Harry a hamburger and they sat down on plastic seats to eat them. Harry kept looking around. Everything looked so strange, somehow.

"I know the feeling," said Hermione, who was the only muggle-born in the room.

"You all right, Harry? Yer very quiet," said Hagrid.

Harry wasn't sure he could explain. He'd just had the best birthday of his life – and yet – he chewed his hamburger, trying to find the words.

"Everyone thinks I'm special,"

"That's because you are," said a, for once, serious Sirius. Harry reddened uncomfortably again. Snape blinked at that, but said nothing.

he said at last. "All those people in the Leaky Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr Ollivander … but I don't know anything about magic at all. How can they expect great things? I'm famous and I can't even remember what I'm famous for. I don't know what happened when Vol – sorry – I mean, the night my parents died."

The room grew sad again, at the reminder of Lily and James' deaths.

Hagrid leant across the table. Behind the wild beard and eyebrows he wore a very kind smile.

"Don' you worry Harry. You'll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning at Hogwarts, you'll be just fine. Just be yerself. I know it's hard. Yeh've been singled out, an' that's always hard. But yeh'll have a great time at Hogwarts – I did – still do, 'smatter of fact."

"Hagrid always knows how to cheer me up," said a calmer Harry.

Hagrid helped Harry on to the train that would take him back to the Dursleys, then handed him an envelope.

"Yer ticket fer Hogwarts," he said. "First o' September – King's Cross – it's all on yer ticket. Any problems with the Dursleys, send me a letter with yer owl, she'll know where to find me … See yeh soon, Harry."

The train pulled out of the station. Harry wanted to watch Hagrid until he was out of sight; he rose in his seat and pressed his nose against the window, but he blinked and Hagrid had gone.

"Wait a moment," McGonagall said in realization. "He never told you how to find the platform!"

Ron and Harry looked at each other.

"Don't worry, professor," said Harry soothingly. "I found my way on it alright…" He paused for a more dramatical effect and then added, "It was in second year that I couldn't get on it."

Everyone rolled their eyes at the reminder of the flying car.

"Let me read the next chapter," said an excited Neville and took the offered book.

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