Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Aftermath

Diagon Alley

by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

Arriving in Britain, Ryan visits Gringott's, is amazed by Diagon Alley, and happens to run into a tall red-haired Wizard with no left ear...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Humor - Characters: Arthur Weasley,George,Hermione,Ron - Published: 2016-07-17 - 5195 words - Complete



Do you know how long it takes to cross the Atlantic in an airplane? Almost eight hours! Unbelievable! You sit for hours and hours, just waiting until you finally arrive. They did give us dinner, which might have been passable if I’d been able to eat it in peace. Then they showed a movie, a Muggle comedy that would have made no sense at all to anyone raised in the Wizarding world, and was pretty lousy even for me. But at least it mesmerized the blob and the needle, my seatmates, and I actually went to sleep.

When we landed at Heathrow, it was raining. And it was dark, which, I learned, also happens regularly in England. Admiral Blackstone had told Loretta not to book me into any hotel the Department had ever used before, and I ended up with a reservation at something called the Tottenham Arms Hotel. It was not a fleabag, but it was not luxurious unless you had just been rescued from a shipwreck. Dear Loretta.

At least my rollie-case didn’t get lost; Blackstone’s mus followalongus charm worked perfectly. I unpacked a bit, showered and changed, and then set up my computer. It had come through all right, shrunk to the size of a pack of cards, with the keyboard about as big as a stick of gum. Geoffrey had said the AC power (he called it “the mains”) was different in Britain, so I reconfigured the power supply with a few taps of my wand. I really prefer a physical keyboard (and of course if you’ve got a wand you don’t need a mouse), but I’m glad I don’t have to lug around one of those CRT displays that are so heavy even when you shrink them, and have such a tiny screen. With my wand I drew a nice big display in mid-air, and connected it up with a multipair charm as the machine booted. My version of that charm makes each datastream glow in a different color; all black or invisible is lame.

Finding an internet connection was no problem, although my search spell only found a comparatively few really high-speed links. I settled on some bank I’d never heard of, Barclays. It had multiple passwords and all kinds of security, but I figured it was urgent Department business, so I typed in my Oz-override spell on the keyboard, tapped the display with my wand, and I was in.

We had set up a separate Wemail account on a completely different server, and I used that to write Arrived safely and intact. Will go to Gringotts tomorrow as arranged, then explore the Wizarding community and seek the best way to contact the Ministry. Will report further by tomorrow night. RJ Then I invoked an encryption hex I am not going to write down, tapped the message with my wand, and it became Lovely spring weather here. Can’t wait to tour the gardens, the tulips are just gorgeous! Going out now to chip some fish. Say hello to Mikey for me. Love, Emily. Only Interim Secretary Blackstone’s wand would be able to decode that, even if someone knew the exact hex we were using. I hit send.

I dissolved the monitor and shut down the computer. I could have left it on the desk (it was protected by both a password and a spell that would turn any thief's or unauthorized user’s skin bright blue), but decided to take it with me, so I re-shrunk it, along with the keyboard, and put them in my pocket. Then I put on my windbreaker and left the room. The corridor was empty. I pointed my wand at the door and said “occlumensio portal” which ensured that nobody, not even the chambermaids, would notice the door, or be able to find it even if they were looking for it.

The desk clerk readily suggested where I could get “a nice pint, and some decent fish and chips” (another of Geoffrey’s suggestions). “Chips” turned out to be French fries, served with vinegar instead of ketchup. Not bad at all, but different. A bar – make that “pub” – on the corner served a truly delicious, smooth porter, and I lingered for three pints. Back in my room, I slept like a log.

The next morning, I put on my Wizarding robes and took the Gringotts card out of my wallet. Grinslash, the goblin manager of Gringotts’ Washington branch, had assured me the card would take me right to the front of (not inside!) Gringotts in London – the first time. “After that, you ought to be able to find it for yourself!” he had rasped disdainfully. I held it in my left hand and Apparated.

He was right. I was looking up at the gleaming white, columned marble front of Gringotts, much like that of their branches I had seen across from the Treasury in Washington, and on Wall Street in New York. But the street! “Diagon Alley,” Geoffrey had said it was called. I had never seen anything like it. It was like a theme park. Witches and Wizards everywhere – that I expected – but it wasn’t a broad, tree-lined thoroughfare, it was narrow, twisting, and jammed on both sides with shops and buildings, at least half of which looked like they were about to fall down. The street was paved with stones, and the buildings were built out of wood and stones and everything except straight lines, it seemed. It all looked old. Really old.

My business in Gringotts was straightforward, to start with. I changed my American money for galleons, sickles, and knuts, reflecting that if a sickle was worth 59 cents in American Muggle currency, (or 38 and a half pokes in American Wizard money) and there were 17 sickles to a galleon, and 29 knuts to a sickle, it was going to take me some time to get a feel for costs over here. I opened a personal account, depositing most of the cash, and then asked to speak to a manager on “confidential business.”

The goblin at the counter looked at me suspiciously, but goblins look like that all the time, so I wasn’t worried. He called a superior, who introduced himself as Dreadneedle, and waved me through a heavily carved oaken door I would have sworn wasn’t there a minute ago, into a small room with two even more elaborately carved chairs facing each other across a small table. I presented my credentials from the Department of Magic, which didn’t seem to impress him much, and a scroll from Grinslash, which did. He subjected it to several tests, and when it didn’t burn up or melt away, he clapped his hands. A very large book appeared on the desk before him, and he leafed through it, reading the last page carefully. Then he looked up at me. I held up the tiny golden key, and he said “Very well, I will take you myself.”

I know it’s hard to believe, but the vaults in Gringotts London are even deeper, and even scarier to get to, than the ones in America. The passageways are raw stone, not tile, and lit by flaming torches – not even oil lamps, much less electric lights. The carts don’t even have seats – forget seatbelts! – and they go down the rickety, curvy tracks like the bullet train. When we got to the vault door connected with my key, my hair was a mess and I was very glad I hadn’t stopped for breakfast.

Dreadneedle seemed nervous, even embarrassed (although I’m not sure about that: I’ve never seen a goblin look embarrassed. But his eyes wouldn’t meet mine, and the tips of his ears started strobing in a shocking-pink shade). He palmed the door, which vanished, and stood aside.

The United States Department of Magic’s London vault was empty.

“Gringotts can take no responsibility for this,” the goblin said hastily. “The bank was taken over by the Ministry of Magic, until two weeks ago, and the records they left indicate that this vault was emptied over a month ago.”

“Who took the money?”

“Everything in the vault was removed, again according to the Ministry’s records, on April sixth by an official of your Department of Magic, a Wizard named Palindrome Cutpurse Joey.”

I recognized the name, but gave no sign. “Pal” Joey was listed as Comptroller with the American Wizarding Liason Office, and I would have to ask him, if I could find him. I was disappointed, but not very surprised; this was one of the contingencies we had covered in our planning sessions.

Back on the street, I decided that breakfast was a pretty good idea after all. A couple of plump little Witches directed me to a café called The Magic Pot, which had a sign offering “any sort of omelet you can imagine!” Their waitress recommended the platypus-egg omelet, and I went along, as I’d never had one before. It tasted good, if rather strong, but I couldn’t be sure if she was kidding me when she explained that since the platypus was an Australian animal, they were always served upside down. We had a moment of confusion when she asked how many “rashers” of bacon I wanted. I had visions of whole sides of crackling pork, and hesitated, but it turns out that a “rasher” is simply one slice. The pomegranate juice was excellent, but the coffee made me wonder if the cook had served in the Royal Navy.

Wandering down Diagon Alley was a trip. I was reminded at first of Franklin Along, the street in Williamsburg that Muggles never see. But this was not a carefully-preserved reminder of what once was, this was a place that still was, and apparently wasn’t going to change. I had a funny feeling, like I might meet old Ben Franklin wandering along the cobblestones in his Wizard robes, looking like the cheerful, winking figure in Arsfardel’s famous portrait that hangs in the lobby of the Department of Magic, and then realized that he probably had wandered here, during his many years in London. The funny feeling got stronger.

Many of the shops were plastered with signs saying things like “Grand Re-Opening!” or “Back In Business” and quite a few had displays in their windows with placards announcing “Victory Specials For Hogwarts Students.” The snatches of conversation I overheard in passing were mostly busy and cheerful, but there was a sprinkling of sorrow and regret, here and there – an elderly couple with downcast eyes, being shepherded along by a young Witch saying “…and we’ll get it all back, don’t you worry about that…” – and suchlike. Children were in evidence, and several times I spotted small groups apparently meeting for the first time in awhile, with excited waving, smiles, and handshakings.

What I did not encounter was fear. There was a sense of rebirth and renewal, but nothing of oppression, not a whiff of terror. If dark magic was nowhere to be found, old Voldemort must be dead for sure. It was a only first impression, but it was a strong one. At any rate, if this was the atmosphere, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find out more about the situation at the Ministry.

I window-shopped like a tourist. It seemed quite natural – after all, I was a tourist! There was an “Apothecary Shop” which seemed to be a drugstore, carrying all sorts of potion ingredients in glass jars, no pre-measured portions or bubble-pack displays to be seen. Scribbulus was a stationery store, selling (I kid you not) quill pens and pots of ink. I wondered what they would think about a line of self-filling fountain pens, eternal Magicball pens, or modern white parchment cut into sheets with Wizzi-Clip charms embossed in the upper left hand corner. Still, the vast array of different feathers in their window made a lovely multicolored display, and I made a mental note to pick up a few unusual ones to bring back as souvenirs.

Quality Quidditch Supplies had a cluster of young people in front of their window, and when I joined them I heard a lot of happy, excited comments about the sleek, graceful Firebolt XT broom in the front window. European racing brooms were incredibly expensive in the States, and I wondered how it would stack up against souped-up American muscle brooms like my Eagle 409. Looking at the lines of the Firebolt, I guessed that it might be more maneuverable, but felt sure the Eagle would take it down handily when it comes to acceleration and speed. Well, fairly sure, anyway.

The cauldrons on display in Potage’s Cauldron Shop looked practical enough, and came in a considerable variety of materials including solid gold, but I didn’t see any pressure cauldrons – it seemed people were content to let their potions simmer slowly. That was typical: while there was a cheerful, bustling sort of feeling to the crowd, there was nothing of hurry or urgency like you find in New York.

Ollivander’s Wand Shop was closed and shuttered, which was disappointing. Geoffrey Smythe-Farrington had spoken very highly of him, and was proud of his own Ollivander wand. There was only a small card on the door reading “Please watch this space for further announcements.”

Another shop was unfortunately closed – Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. I would have happily bought an ice cream cone, but there'd obviously been a death in the family. The windows were boarded up, the sign was hung with black crepe, and the space in front was crowded with flowers, both cut and potted. The cut flowers looked exactly like they had just been snipped this minute; the preservative charm someone had used was clearly better than anything I was used to seeing from florists back home. Dodging aside for an elderly couple coming the other way, I got too close to the potted plants and two of them lunged at me.

Not long after that, I came upon the most unusual shop on the whole street, which is really – really! – saying a lot. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes was a joke shop, and its front was full of colorful signs and displays, but it too was closed and dark. Two of the W’s were hanging askew. It looked like it had been closed for some time. There were scorch marks around the front door and a large crack in one of the display windows. The glass was sooty, and I went over to the left window, wiped off a spot, and peered through it, shielding my eyes with my hand. There was a display of something called “Ton-Tongue Toffees” (Now Positively Guaranteed to wear off in 30 minutes or less, or your money back!) and I was wondering if that would make a nice souvenir for Loretta Peebles.

“Hello! May I show you something?” A tall fellow in bright green robes, with red hair and no left ear, had come up behind me.

“I was just looking. Too bad they’re closed.”

“Not for long.” He summoned up a smile. “George Weasley. I’m – the proprietor, and we’ve just come to open up.”

“Cool! I’m Ryan Jenkins, pleased to meet you!” We shook, and I suddenly realized he was accompanied by three others – an older man and a younger one, both with red hair, and a pretty young Witch with brown hair, who was holding hands with the younger fellow. George introduced them as his father, Arthur, his younger brother Ron, and Hermione Granger.

“Looks like our protective hexes held up, for the most part at least,” said George thoughtfully. “Damage seems superficial. Tell me, did you feel anything when you wiped off the glass?”

“No, I didn’t. Should I have?”

“A tingling, nothing painful unless you tried to break the glass.” He shook his head. “Good job we came down today, if the spells are wearing thin.” He looked through the place I’d wiped. “Doesn’t look bad, but I can’t really see much. All right, be best if you all kept back ten feet – fifteen would be better – while I just make sure all the protective spells are deactivated.”

He shepherded us back into the street, and I saw my cue. “You folks must have a lot to do, and I’d better be getting along and leave you to it. I might stop by later though –“

“Not on your life!” George interrupted me with a jovial grin that seemed just a bit forced. “Chase off the first customer on the first day back? That’s no way to remember Fred. Please, do wait here just a mo. I’ll have the place open in two shakes. Well, maybe three.” He moved off as he spoke, drawing his wand.

Hermione Granger was a sharp cookie; she cut to the chase right away. “Are you an American?”

“Yes I am, Miss Granger. I’ve never been to Diagon Alley before, I just got here yesterday.”

“Oh, well, that explains it – you haven’t heard. But please, let’s not be so formal, you just can’t, anyway, at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes!” Once again, a smile that seemed slightly forced, but deeply in earnest. “I’m Hermione.”

“Thanks. I’m Ryan. Or Hey You! Or anything, except late for dinner.”

She laughed, and the two men smiled. The younger one said “Ron,” and looked at his father, who said “Arthur, yes of course.”

“Thaaaat’s got it!” from George was followed by the door swinging open with a groan. He said “Wait – don’t come in just yet – I’ll just nip inside first and make sure…” He walked on in, wand at the ready, and we waited expectantly for a few breaths. Then there was a loud explosion, and a cloud of purple smoke whuffed out the door, followed by a thick, high-speed burst of spinning metal stars, which melted into little silver puddles after they passed the doorway. Then with another bang! a large orange-and-green dragon’s head emerged, opened its mouth and belched forth a spout of blue flame that went all the way across the street, licking at the window in a bakery shop, before dragon and flame suddenly turned into little puffs of smoke and blew away. I looked around, startled, but the others took all this in stride, nodding their heads knowingly, and the baker across the way came out with a big grin on his face and applauded.

George appeared in the doorway, coughing. He scraped off what looked like bright yellow slugs from his left sleeve and tossed them into the street, used a large scarlet handkerchief on the slimy spot, and bowed us ceremoniously inside. “Doesn’t look so bad, but let’s just see.” He raised his wand and said “Lumos Omnius!” and lights came on. All the displays looked dusty, but all looked as if they had not been disturbed, except along the central corridor. Shelves and merchandise there were disarranged, and some lay on the floor, in an area about halfway back.

“That was my doing,” said George. “I was concentrating on remembering all the spells we cast when we shut the place up, and completely forgot about the ordinary night security jinx. Doesn’t look like anything else is disturbed.”

I was looking around at Fanged Flyers, Dungbombs, Screaming Yo-Yos and Nose-Biting Teacups, and thinking of how Jamie Two Eagles and several other school friends would absolutely love to be here. “Wow! Cool!”

George smiled at my enthusiasm, a genuine smile all the way through this time. “You like it then? Everything’s a bit dusty, don’t mind that, go on and have a look round. In fact – Ron, Hermione, why don’t you show our first customer round the place, and just have a squint as you go for anything that needs tending to. Dad, come with me and we’ll have a look in the back.”

He and Arthur headed down the aisle, and Ron led the way between the front shelves and the windows. We stood and looked over a rack of fireworks, and I decided to probe a little. “Listen, can I ask a question? What did George mean when he talked about remembering Fred?” Ron gave a big sigh and suddenly looked sad, and I felt I’d said something wrong. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to pry or anything.”

“No, it’s all right, really it is.” Hermione patted Ron’s shoulder. “We ought to just tell you. George founded this shop with his twin brother, Fred, but Fred was killed in the battle at Hogwarts, fighting Voldemort.” Ron winced, and she squeezed his arm.

I was taken aback and felt like an intruder. “Oh, wow. Your brother too, of course, Ron – I’m really sorry. And – his twin brother?”

“Identical twins, actually,” said Ron. I couldn’t say anything, but I must have looked stricken because he nodded. “It’s been right hard on all of us but especially George. He and Fred always had so much fun! For awhile it looked like George was going to just chuck it. The store, I mean. But he came round to thinking that would be like letting Voldemort win, letting him kill off their fun, and so now he’s decided to re-open the business, have even more fun, and make even more money.”

“That sounds like a great way to remember Fred.”

“Yeah, it is, although it’s going to be – well, anyway, when George announced he was going down to the shop today, we came along for moral support, like.”

“Good for you.”

“Mum couldn’t face it, not this soon, and Ginny stayed with her. Charlie's gone back to his dragons for a few days, but Percy and Bill said they’d come along later, and Dad got leave from the Ministry, and here we are.”

At the word “Ministry” I was suddenly alert, but Hermione spoke up. “Did you hear about Lord Voldemort in America?”

“Oh yes, we heard of him, but – he attacked Hogwarts? There was fighting at the school?”

“Oh yeah,” said Ron. “Big battle, lots of people hurt and cursed and – killed...” He hesitated, then filled his lungs. “ – but in the end, Harry got Voldemort and he’s dead. Gone for good this time.”

“Harry? Harry Potter? Do you know him?”

They looked at each other and the corners of their mouths went up. “We've met,” offered Hermione. “Passing acquaintance,” agreed Ron. Understatement is a national sport over here, I thought. This seemed like maybe too much good luck, too quickly, but then I remembered something Admiral Blackstone said to me just before I left.

“Plans are fine, son, but in the Navy, we always say that no plan survives contact with the enemy. When you get to Britain, you’re going to have to react to circumstances, to make it up as you go along. I know you can do it, you’ve done it – so go out there and Whack this problem, take your best opportunity and build on it.”

I realized my decision had already been made, and took the plunge. “Did you say your father works at the Ministry of Magic?”

“Yeah, he does.” Ron's brow was slightly furrowed.

“Can I ask – what he does there?”

Ron's furrow deepened, and he didn't speak. After a moment, Hermione did. “There's no reason not to share public knowledge, Ron. Arthur was in charge of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office, but since – the battle – he's been helping the Minister directly.” Ron looked her, and she told him, “Even the Daily Prophet has reported that much.”

“Uhhh, listen, can we be overheard here?” I was looking around.

“I don’t think so,” said Hermione, “why?”

“Well, I’d really like to talk to your – to Arthur, privately. I mean, you guys can listen, that’s all right, but I wouldn’t want to be overheard by just anyone.”

“What’s this all about, mate?” Ron sounded suspicious, and Hermione was looking at me with a very steady gaze.

I lowered my voice. “Well, I said I’d just gotten here, and I have, but really I was just sent here – by the United States Department of Magic. I’m supposed to find out what’s going on and see if Lord Voldemort is really dead.” Ron’s mouth opened, but no sound came out. “I’ve got credentials on me, I can prove it.”

Hermione looked skeptical. “Why didn’t you just go to the Ministry? And doesn’t your Department of Magic have some sort of an office over here?”

“We don’t have any contact with anyone over here now. Even our own people haven’t responded and we think they might be dead.”

Ron shook his head slowly. “But….how did...”

Hermione put a hand on his sleeve and interrupted him. “Wait, Ron. We’d better let Ryan show his credentials to your Dad before we go any further.” She gave him a very direct look, and after a moment, he nodded. “Right. Let’s go on back.” Ron and Hermione followed me, and I noticed they were holding their wands in their hands.

In the back room, we found George looking over shelves of stock, while Arthur sat on the corner of a desk, looking unhappy. Hermione stood in front of him. “Ryan would like to talk to you for a bit – it looks like it’s Ministry business – and we think you ought to hear what he has to say.”

“Ministry business? But – aren’t you an American?”

“Yes, I am. That’s why – “

“Oy! Ron! Who’s minding the store?” George came hurrying over.

“This is important, George, sorry, but we’ve got to be back here for a bit.”

“But – “ George started to protest but stopped when Hermione gave him a look and a shake of her head. “Right, then, I’ll just watch things out front.” He hurried away.

I took a deep breath. “Arthur – Mr. Weasley – I am an official representative of the United States Department of Magic, and I’ve been sent over here to assess the situation and establish contact with the Ministry of Magic. It’s a little complicated. No, actually, it’s a lot complicated. But maybe it would be best if I started by showing you my credentials.”

Arthur's surprise was obvious. “Yes – yes, I should very much like to see those.”

I pulled the red leather case out from my robe, and tapped it with my wand. The Departmental Seal appeared on the front, embossed in gold; the eagle spread his wings and looked around, then folded them and sat down again. I opened the case and took out the scroll, wrapped in broad red tape.

Arthur Weasley took out his wand and tapped the tape, which fell away as the scroll unrolled. “I’ve had dealings with your Department before,” he said, and pointed his wand at the Seal on the scroll. “E pluribus unum, locomotor insignae.” The eagle in that Seal spread its wings and took off, circling the document three times and flying off in a straight line; when it reached the wall it vanished and reappeared on the document.

“Let me see – south-southwest – yes, that’s right.” He picked up the scroll and read it through, his eyebrows climbing, and then looked at me. “This appears to be quite genuine. The signature, however – I thought your Secretary of Magic was a Wizard called Parboil.”

“Was is correct. Parboil's dead. We think he was one of Voldemort's people.”

“Really!” Arthur (and the others) looked at me with fierce intentness. I looked straight back at him.

“Yes sir. Interim Secretary Blackstone is in charge now.”

“I see. But you know, you’re quite young. Forgive me, please, but are you really the Undersecretary for Foreign Wizarding Relations?”

Ron and Herminone looked startled. I gave him a lopsided grin.

“Believe me, I find it hard to believe too, but yes, I really am, and have been for almost four whole days now. I have one other credential, if that’s what it’s called, that may answer your questions. Some of them, anyway. If I may show it to you?”

Arthur nodded. I lifted my wand and drew a comfortably large display screen in the air, positioned so everyone could see it. I dug the little golden Random Access Magic charm from my inside pocket and set it on top. A tap of my wand brought the screen to life, showing Admiral Blackstone, sitting at his desk. He spoke.

“Hello. I’m Alistair Blackstone, Admiral, United States Navy, retired, and currently serving as Interim Secretary of the United States Department of Magic, by Presidential appointment under Emergency Magical Decree 1138. If you are watching this, you have been identified as an appropriate audience by our new Undersecretary for Foreign Wizarding Relations, Ryan Jenkins.”

My face, turning from side to side and nodding gravely, my USDM identity card, and my wand, shown in great detail, filled the display for a few seconds, and then Blackstone returned.

“The following is confidential. It now appears that over a period of many years, our Department of Magic has been infiltrated, influenced, suborned, and recently almost entirely controlled, by agents of a British dark Wizard calling himself Lord Voldemort. His chief American operative was, apparently, former Secretary of Magic Sylvester Koch Parboil, who has been deposed and is no longer living.

“We believe that black magic, and other nefarious influences, have been used to poison and strangle communications and relations between the Wizarding community in the United States and our friends in the United Kingdom. We have some strong indications, but as yet no concrete proof, that Lord Voldemort is now dead, and his people are no longer a threat. On the other hand, we have not been able to get in touch with any of our own officials in the Wizarding Liason Office in London; do not know, at this point, the status of the Ministry of Magic or its various officials; and can not be sure who, among the British subjects currently in the United States, should be trusted.

“Accordingly, I have instructed Undersecretary Jenkins to proceed at once to the United Kingdom, and have fully authorized him to take all measures necessary to re-establish contact and good relations with the Ministry of Magic, and the Wizarding community in general. Your help and cooperation in furtherance of his most important mission will be deeply appreciated by everyone here in the Department of Magic – especially me. Thank you very much.”

The display dissolved, and I caught the RAM charm as it dropped. They all looked at me. Arthur’s eyes were shining. Ron’s eyes were wide open, as was his mouth. Hermione looked thunderstruck, and turned to me eagerly. “A – a magical videotape! How did you do that?”
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