I pushed the door into Flourish and Blotts, breathing in the beautiful smell of new books. The little bell above the door jangled noisily, announcing my entrance to an already-full bookshop. Elbowing my way through the crowd, I walked over to the Second Year section and started scanning the shelves. Ma had taken my brothers into Potage’s Cauldron Shop to get Archie his required school cauldron, and Pa had decided to sit down and discuss the coming war with his friends from the Ministry over a cup of coffee. So that left me to navigate around Diagon Alley alone, buying whatever books and school items I needed. Plucking The Standard Book of Spells – Volume 2 from the shelf, I added it to the growing pile of books in my arms and turned around to walk to the counter. A hand shot out from the jostling crowd and tapped me on the shoulder, startling me to the point of dropping a few books from my arms.
“Minnie! How are you?” asked the chirpy voice of Augusta Harris, my fellow Gryffindor and also my best friend, as she bent down to retrieve my fallen books.
“Gus! You’re shopping late this year! Usually your Ma’s the first to buy school equipments for you,” I said, balancing the books on one arm to try and hug Gus with the other.
“Ah, letters came late this year,” she answered, hugging me hard, “I nearly thought I got expelled from Hogwarts and no one told me about it. What about you? You’re usually the first to get to Flourish and Blotts.”
“Our letters were late too,” I said, dropping the books in my arms onto the counter, “We didn’t get them until yesterday. Talking of Hogwarts, you won’t believe what class I got into this year.”
“That’ll be two sickles and three knuts,” said the kindly voice of Mr Blotts Jnr as he wrapped up my books.
I doled out the money from my green purse and paid, then tucked the parcel of books under my arm as I thanked Mr Blotts. Gus paid for her books as I waited, and we left Flourish and Blotts together.
“You need to get anything else?” Gus asked as we stood with our books on the crowded sidewalk.
“Only new robes. I’ve grown so much over summer, it’s ridiculous! You’re taller too. Are you getting new robes made?” I asked.
“I’ve already been to Madame Malkin’s,” Gus said, “She told me to come back in half an hour to pick up my robes, so I guess I might as well come with you.”
“Do you need to go anywhere later? Ma said that I could use whatever change’s leftover to buy something for myself,” I said, “I was thinking we could drop by the junk shop round the back of the alley, and then if I still have two knuts left over we can both have ice-creams at Florean’s.”
“No, I’m finished shopping. That sounds like a good plan,” Gus told me, “Count me in.”
We walked the short distance to Madame Malkin’s, where I dropped off all my books with my mother. She had been there for ten minutes, waiting while Archie got fitted with his robes. Gus sat down at a waiting bench as I slipped into the fitting room to get my robe made. Madame Malkins herself was busy serving another customer on the next dais next to mine, so I was served by a soft looking young woman with flyaway curls.
“Good morning. Is this your first time fitted for a robe?” she asked, her pink lips curled up in a welcoming smile.
“No, I’m getting two new robes made for my second year,” I said.
She nodded and indicated with her hands for me to stand up straight and lift my arms. With a flick of her wand, a measuring tape flexed over me and took all the measurements. I relaxed my arms as she called the measuring tape back and walked into the storeroom.
“Here, try this on,” she said as she walked back, handing me a brand new robe, “I’ll make some small adjustments and then you’re free to leave.
I stood still as she tucked the hem of the robe with silver pins. After a few minutes she stood back and nodded, and I shrugged my way out of the pin-ridden robe.
“There, we’re all done,” she said as she took the robe from my hand, “Remember to come back in about half an hour to pick up your robes.”
I murmured my thanks and left the fitting area. Gus had gotten her robes packed and ready, and as she saw me coming out she stood up and moved towards the door.
“About time! You took forever in there,” she mock-scolded me, “Now, the junk shop is it?”
I nodded and pulled her after me into the back of the alley. We half-ran, our skirts stretching tight against our thighs and our hair coming out of its pins. As we rushed around a corner, we collided into someone.
“Minerva McGonagall and Augusta Harris, what are you doing running around like that?” asked the familiar voice of Professor Dumbledore.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” we apologized simultaneously while bending over to retrieve our fallen parcels.
Another face levelled mine as I stooped to pick up Gus’ bag of robes. It was a boy’s, one of no more than eleven. He had the aristocratic features of a high class child, with a well-defined face and sharp nose. His dark brown hair was brushed perfectly, and his eyes were intelligent. But something unsettled me as I stared into the eyes of this boy. There was a hint of all-consuming darkness there that chilled me to the bones. Before I could figure out what that darkness was, he straightened up and clasped his pile of parcels to his shabby shirt.
“That’s all right girls,” Professor Dumbledore said, “Now I believe I should introduce you to the newest member of Hogwarts. Minerva, Augusta, this is Tom Riddle.”