The next morning, Criss rose from his sorry excuse for a bed at exactly 5:57, as always. After rubbing the crust off of his eyes, he gathered his makeup and walked gracefully to the bathroom.
"Wait, I don't have a bathroom." Criss folded his arms and stomped his left foot. Dust fell from the ceiling and onto his dark hair.
What am I to do? I cannot go out in public looking like this, but if I go downstairs to use the bathroom there, I will surely be seen! Criss painfully pondered the thought of being seen by other magicians with no makeup on. It had already happened the previous night with Mr. Plutker, and it most certainly wouldn't happen again.
He gently eased the door open and crept down the hallway and toward the stairs with his makeup bag in hand. Conveniently, each step croaked loudly as he tiptoed downward. He had no watch on, of course, but his mind told him that the time was exactly 6:01.
I'm already behind schedule! he thought. He sped up and the croaking steps got even louder. He finally reached the last step, tripped on a loose nail, and toppled to the ground.
"Hey, who's there?" a raspy voice called out from the darkness. The lights flicked on. Criss looked up and saw the slimy old bartender running toward him. "Wha' are ya doing up at this hour, Boy?"
"DON'T LOOK AT ME!" Criss covered his face with his makeup bag and hopped up from the floor. He attempted to run away and into the bathroom, but he had a tough time locating it without being able to see. He slammed into the wall, and then into a table. Still, he kept the bag over his face in fear of being seen.
Suddenly, a pair of old hands grabbed his shoulders from behind.
"AHHH!" Criss turned around and took the bag off his face. The bartender, with one lazy eye, was glaring at him, confused.
Criss finally saw the bathroom after shaking the man off. He entered as quickly as he could, and locked the door behind him.
"Thank goodness that is over," he sighed. He brushed his teeth and applied his makeup with twice as much speed as usual, in fear that he wouldn't have enough time to meditate. When he finished, he unlocked the door and peaked outside. The man was nowhere in sight. While the coast was clear, he made his way back upstairs as fast as he could. He meditated until 6:52, then got dressed.
Mr. Plutker said to eat before I met him downstairs. Hmm...
Someone knocked on the door. "Morning room service!"
"Mind freak!" Criss squealed while, once again, fluttering his hands with pride.
"What was that?" asked the voice.
"Oh, nothing," Criss replied. He opened the door to see the face of the old bartender with a breakfast plate in hand.
"AHHH!" Criss slammed the door and locked it.
I think I'll skip breakfast this morning...
At exactly 9 o' clock, Criss went downstairs to meet Mr. Plutker.
"Ready, then?" he asked.
"Ready as I will ever be!" Criss replied excitedly, "Where are we going first?"
"We'll just head to Diagon Alley and get your supplies, but it's important that ya stay close to me, Criss. These are dark times, and ya never know who ya could run into out there."
"Dark times?" Criss asked, "What is happening?"
Plutker sighed, "He Who Must Not be Named is on the move..."
"Who is that?"
"We do not speak his name. The most powerful wizard that ever lived..." said Plutker, lowering his voice.
"Oh, no Sir! I know all about him! I've been a fan of his work as long as I can remember!" Criss explained much too loudly. Everyone in the pub froze and stared at Criss with disgust. Plutker sighed again and stood up.
"I'll explain later, Boy," Plutker was still flustered from Criss' remark, "Right, so off to Diagon Alley!"
Criss was still unsure what ‘Diagon Alley' was, but he followed Plutker regardless. They exited the pub through the back door and entered a small, outdoor square surrounded by tall brick walls on each side. This place seemed vaguely familiar to him.
"Isn't this where we landed last night?" Criss looked around and saw the table where the hag-looking women had sat before, and the ashtray they'd used for their long cigarettes.
Plutker smiled and nodded, "Stand back , please." Criss did so, and watched closely as Mr. Plutker drew a slim, fashioned stick from his robes. He tapped the brick wall in a few random spots and took three steps back beside Criss. Then, the wall started to rumble, and the ground beneath his feet began to shake. The bricks began to separate, revealing some sort of light from the other side.
"EARTHQUAKE!" Criss turned around and reached for the door to get back into the pub, but before he turned the doorknob, the shaking stopped. He turned back around to find that the brick wall had disappeared, revealing a narrow road with shops lined all the way down either side.
Criss blushed furiously "Oh, I was just-"
"Not to worry, my boy. Happens quite a lot, actually." Mr. Plutker flashed yet another skeptical smile at Criss.
"But really, I was only-" but before Criss could finish, Mr. Plutker had strolled off onto the road. Criss trailed after him, still embarrassed.
The shops in Diagon Alley towered high above his head, each a different shape and color. The people walking the streets looked absolutely ridiculous, in Criss' opinion. Many of them wore tall, pointy hats and brightly colored robes. Criss was amazed as he looked around at the setting. The shops had peculiar names like Potage's Cauldron Shop, Magical Menagerie, and Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. Regardless of how bright and gaudy everything looked, the people seemed tense. None of them stopped to talk to each other or rest. They walked quickly and timidly from store to store.
The first store they visited was called "Flourish and Blotts." The first thing Criss noticed after entering the store was the bookshelves rising higher than any non-magician could possibly imagine. The second, an old wrinkly woman standing behind the counter. Her nose was twice as long and pointy as the average human's, large, hairy moles were scattered across her face, and her clothes were ripped and worn-out. She was, Criss thought, the ugliest woman he'd ever seen.
"Charles!" the woman said in a raspy, nasally tone. "How can I help ya?" she winked at him.
"Hello again," Mr. Plutker said uncomfortably, "I'm just here with young Criss getting school supplies," he handed her the list of books.
"A first year, eh?" she gazed over at Criss and cracked a snaggletooth smile. Criss nodded, noting that her breath smelled dreadful, as she disappeared behind one of the giant shelves. After a moment, she returned with a stack of books.
"Yes, here's everything," she placed them on the counter and pressed a button on the old-fashioned looking cash register. "That'll be 20 galleons," she looked at Criss.
"Galleons? You mean money? " Criss asked, "I do not have any..."
"Oh, not to worry," Mr. Plutker pulled a small, velvet sack from his robes and poured a few gold coins out of it, "The Ministry has a special fund just for muggle-born students."
Criss glared up at Mr. Plutker, "Muggle-born..?"
"Means you haven't got any magical parents."
Criss thought about it, It is true... Mother and Father do not have a drop of magical power in them.
After leaving the book store, they shopped for the rest of his supplies, including quills, ink, robes, a cauldron, and even a telescope.
"Right, so you're allowed to bring a cat, owl, or toad. Would ya like to go the petstore?"
"Athena!" Criss remembered his cat.
"What's Athena?" Mr. Plutker asked.
"My cat! I told her she could come to Hogwarts with me, but I left her home in New York!"
"Well then, I'll make arrangements for Athena to be brought out to Hogwarts immediately!"
Criss sighed with relief, "Thank you..."
"So that means we can finish up at Ollivander's," Mr. Plutker led Criss down the road and to a dark, narrow path. The shops here were much different compared to the ones they'd seen before.
"Now don't wander off, Criss. This is Knockturn Alley, and it's full of bad folks. You don't want to get their away, okay?" Criss nodded, and they slowly made their way down the road, not stopping for anything. But Criss didn't keep his word for long. One shop caught his eye. The front window displayed various skulls, dark jewelry, and other ancient magical artifacts. The sign above the door read "Borgin & Burkes."
"Let's go in there!" Criss raced off toward the shop.
"No no no!" Plutker pulled him back, "That's not the kind of place ya want to shop at, Criss." An old man with pale blue eyes smirked at Criss through the window. The continued down the road until they reached Diagon Alley again.
"Now here's Ollivander's. This is where we'll get your wand."
Criss froze, "Oh, I won't need one of those. I perform my tricks by hand."
Mr. Plutker chuckled and kept walking, "Well it's on your list of required supplies, so I'm afraid you'll have to get one anyway.",