First Year: Chapter Three
“This is it. The famous Leaky Cauldron,” said Mum.
“This?” I asked. “This is famous?” I asked in disbelief.
“Yeah,” laughed Mum. “I didn’t think much of it either.”
I had woken up excited, ate a hurried breakfast, then Mum and I took the subway to London where we would get my robes, schoolbooks, and my wand. The Leaky Cauldron was a tiny, grubby-looking pub. If Mom hadn’t pointed it out, I wouldn’t have noticed it was even there. The people hurrying by obviously didn’t either, their eyes slid from the big bookstore on the right, and the famous record shop on the left.
“Come on! Let’s go get your books,” said Mum, steering me through the front doors. For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby.
A few old women were sitting at a table in corner both drinking glasses of sherry. One of them was smoking on a very long pipe. A little man in a top hat was talking to the bartender, who was quite bald and looked like a toothless walnut.
She led me out of the bar and out into a small, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a battered tin trashcan and a few ugly weeds.
“Alright,” said Mum, taking her wand out of her purse. “I believe its three up…two across….” She said tapping the brick wall with her wand.
The brick she had touched with her wand quivered—it wriggled—in the middle, a small hole appeared—it grew wider and wider—a second later we were facing a large archway.
“Welcome,” said Mum smiling widely, “to Diagon Alley.”
She laughed at my surprised face. “C’mon,” she said taking my hand and leading me out of the courtyard. I turned my head around quickly and saw the archway shrink instantly back into a solid wall.
The sun shone brightly on a stack of cauldrons outside the nearest shop. CALDRONS—ALL SIZES—COPPER, BRASS, PEWTER, SILVER—SELF-STIRRING—COLLAPSIBLE, said the sign hanging over them.
“You’ll be needing one,” said Mum, “but we need to get our money first.”
“Why? Why can’t we just use our money?” I asked.
“Well, wizards have a different kind of money. We use “Muggle Money”. There are Galleons, Sickles and Knuts, which is wizard money. Seventeen Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it’s easy enough to remember.”
I wished I had about twenty more eyes. I tried to turn my head in every direction trying to see everything as Mum led me down the crowded street. There was a broom shop, a pet store packed with sleepy owls, meowing cats, croaking toads, big chameleons, and a bat, hanging on the sign. There was another cauldron shop, four bookshops, a wand shop, three robe shops, and an ice cream shop along with many other stores.
“This is Gringotts,” said Mum. “The wizard bank.”
We had stopped at a white marble building that towered over all the other tiny stores. Standing beside its fancy bronze doors, dressed in scarlet and gold was a—
“That’s a goblin,” said Mum softly. “They guard the bank. They are a bit like leprechauns.”
We walked up the white steps and the goblin bowed as we walked through the doors.
Another pair of goblins bowed when we went inside but I hardly noticed as I looked around. About hundred or so goblins were in the vast hall. The goblins were busy at work scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, and examining pretty stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet, more goblins were showing people in and out of these. Mom led me to a long desk in the back.
“Morning,” said Mum to a free goblin. “We need to change some Muggle money into wizard money, please.”
“This way please,” said the goblin.
He walked away and we quickly followed him. He led us to the side and then he stopped. “The money please,” he said holding out a thin hand. Mum dug in her purse and quickly took out a wad of green pounds. “Here you go,” she said, placing it in his hand.
The goblin quickly counted the money, placed it in a drawer, and opened another drawer. Inside were bronze coins, silver coins, and much to my amazement, thick golden coins. He took a woolen sack and took a few handfuls and placed it in the sack. “Here you go,” he said tightening the string and handing the bag to mum.
“Thank you,” she said, taking the bag and putting it in her purse. “Come on, Emma,” she said, taking my hand. She led me out of
the hall, through the door and back into Diagon Alley.
“Let’s go get your robes next, Emma,” said Mum. She led me through the busy street and then stopped in front of a building with the store name printed in gold lettering above the door:
MADAM MALKIN’S ROBES:
FOR ALL OCCASIONS!
Mum led me inside and a squat, old smiling witch dressed all in mauve greeted us. “Hello! Do you need Hogwarts robes?” she asked when Mum opened her mouth. “Yes,” said Mum.
“Alright then, if you’ll just wait here, Mrs.?”
“Roth,” said Mum.
“Well then Mrs. Roth, I’ll just take Miss?”
“Emma,” I said shyly. She smiled at me.
“I’ll just take Miss Emma in the back, and fix her some robes, though you can come on back if you prefer,” said Mrs. Malkin.
“I think I’ll come,” said Mum.
After getting me four pairs of plain black robes, we went to a bookstore called Flourish and Blotts and bought all my schoolbooks and a few others that look interesting. I got a nice set of glass phials and a good cauldron. I also got some ink, parchment, and some plain quills, and Mum gave me a silver Sickle to buy something I wanted. I chose a small bottle of ink that changed colors whenever you wrote. Finally, after getting some basic potion ingredients and my other things, there was only one thing left on the list: a wand.
“Mm…” said Mum looking down at the list. “Well, I got mine at Ollivanders, lets just go there.”
“Okay,” I said.
She took my hand and led me down a street and once, she asked another witch where his shop was. She pointed the other way, said some quick words to Mum, before running off with her crying baby.
“Alright…. Here it is!” she said stopping. The shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold letters over the doorway read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on the faded purple cushion in the dusty window.
A small bell tinkled when Mum opened the ancient door and we stepped inside. It was a tiny place, filled with lots of shelves full of small boxes that I supposed had wands in them.
“Good afternoon,” said a soft voice. I jumped in surprise and so did Mum. A very old man stepped out of the shadows. He had pale skin and a cloud of snowy white hair on his head.
“Hello,” said Mum.
“Ah yes,” said the man. “Miss Helen. I remember you well. I believe your wand is that of hawthorn wood, ten inches and with the hair of a unicorn tail?” he asked.
“I believe so,” replied Mum.
“Ah well, let’s find your wand Miss?”
“Emma Roth,” I said, smiling.
“Ah yes. Well, Miss Emma Roth, lets find that wand of yours, shall we?” He walked away and reappeared holding a small, thin box. He opened the lid and took out the wand inside. “Right then Miss Roth. Try this one. Beech-wood and a mermaid scale. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it and give it a wave,” he said holding out the wand. I took it from his pale hands and waved it. There was a loud sound of breaking glass and a vase on a shelf fell down and broke. “No, no,” he said taking the wand back. “Maybe this one,” he said coming back with another box. “Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite bendy.” I took it and waved again. Twenty or thirty boxes flew off a shelf and crashed onto the floor.
We tried several more wands and all of them did something bad. The seventh one when I waved it was the worst. An entire shelf tilted over and fell to the floor, taking a few other bookshelves with it. “Mm,” said Mr. Ollivander snatching the wand back. “Tricky customer, eh?” He once more came back holding another box. “Ivy wood, with the hair of a very beautiful unicorn—he wasn’t too happy when I plucked it! Nine and a half inches. Very good for charms. Go on, try it out,” I hesitantly took it from his hand. As my hand wrapped around it I felt a connection. I waved it excitedly and silver and gold sparks like fireworks shot out of the tip.
“Bravo! Bravo!” said Mum clapping excitedly.
“Oh, yes! Bravo! Indeed, oh a very fine wand Miss Roth,” said Mr. Ollivander. Mum paid him seven gold Galleons for my new wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed us out of the shop.
“Wow, Emma. You have a wand now!” said Mum excitedly as we walked down the still busy road.
“Yeah! I can’t wait to learn some magic!” I said happily. I waved my wand again and different colored sparks shot out of it.
“Come on. Let’s get some ice cream to celebrate,” said Mum. She led me into a bright looking shop where we bought ice cream sundaes with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
We then walked around looking at all the different shops, before going back through the wall, into the Leaky Cauldron, and then back out in the busy London Square.