A Sentinel at Hogwarts
Part II: Visit at Diagon Alley
by Meanthis and Lime-chan
After a seemingly never-ending trip on the plane, Jim was more than ready for a quick shower and then some sleep. Since they both knew how long it would take getting from northwest America to Great Britain, they had booked a hotel-room close to the airport. Jim had been a bit nervous when Blair started mumbling about a wizard-hotel being cheaper, but thankfully (at least from Jim's point of view) his friend hadn't given in to the temptation to introduce his Sentinel sooner than anticipated to the wizard-world. If he was honest with himself, Jim had to admit that he had grown nervous about his visit in this strange world. The policeman inside him was wondering the whole time how it could be possible for a community like this to live without anyone noticing. He had asked Blair, but his friend hadn't given an answer. All he had said was that Jim would probably understand as soon as they went to their shopping-trip. This comment hadn't done much to distract Jim from his worries.
The next day started pretty early for them. The train was leaving this afternoon and Blair's plans for shopping seemed to take the dimensions of a minor expedition.
The evening before Jim had taken it upon himself to study the map of London in search of the "Diagon Alley" his partner had mentioned as their destination. It had been in vain. He simply couldn't find this particular street and he had the suspicion that this was one of the reasons why it was a wizard-place.
After a ride with the Underground they ended up in a completely normal appearing street and Jim already wanted to ask Blair if they were lost, when the younger man started walking towards a building Jim had completely missed before. Come to think of it, no one seemed to notice this particular run-down shop. The sign above the door was weather beaten and nearly unreadable, but thanks to superior senses Jim thought he could read The Leaky Cauldron.
Before entering Blair turned to his friend and regarded him with a long serious look.
"Okay my friend, you're about to enter the wonderful world of witchcraft and wizardry. About nothing is normal here…at least not after your definition of normal. So please stay calm and use your usual teeth grinding stoic in cases of emergencies…"
Blair was doing a really good imitation of the flight attendance from their trip yesterday with his overly happy singsong tone of voice. He was apparently highly amused with whatever was about to happen which made Jim slightly nervous. He had been aware that he would be way out of his depth on this journey from the moment Blair had started to train, but this didn't mean that he had to like it.
"You're enjoying this way too much for my taste, Chief!"
If even possible Blair's grin widened a bit more:
"And why shouldn't I? It's Karmic, my friend! All those times you and Simon and about everyone else telling me 'Sandburg, you are not a cop!' or 'Stay in the truck!'. I'll finally get my revenge!"
Jim's reply to this statement remained unheard, because Blair simply turned and pushed open the door to the pub. The inside was only dimly lit and numerous different (and mostly foreign) smells registered all at once, but thankfully none of them strong enough to bother the Sentinel. There were only a few customers inside, but Jim didn't get the chance to get a closer look at them for Blair, after a short greeting to the man behind the bar, left the establishment straight through the backdoor. Jim had no other choice but to follow suit. They emerged in what looked like a completely normal backyard but more importantly it looked suspiciously like a dead end. Before Jim could ask what was going on, Blair pulled out his wand and started tipping it at several bricks of the wall. The next thing that happened rendered Jim completely speechless. Suddenly the bricks started to move and to shift and finally revealed a passage.
"Welcome to Diagon Alley!" was all Blair said, before he moved forward, pulling Jim with him. The street was unlike anything Jim had ever seen, and he had seen American malls during Holiday-time! It was as crowded as any shopping centre would be on a Saturday but there ended all likeliness to normal shopping.
Apart from the fact, that the design of the houses seemed to date back to the 17th or 18th century some customers fashion sense did, too. But it didn't look odd in the colourful chaos around. Jim didn't have much time to complete his reverie, because Blair grabbed his arm and pulled him into the busy street.
Shortly before the start of the new school year there was much activity on the Diagon Alley. The normally calm everyday life converted to a controlled chaos of colours and people, because now was the time when every young witch and wizard in Britain came here to buy books, ingredients for potions, new clothes or whatever else they needed for the upcoming year. It was normal for the people who worked here to see the parents and children shopping. Sometimes you even got to meet some Muggles, clearly recognisable by their astonished behaviour. Most people just smiled about it.
Mr. Ollivander smiled about the awe in the faces of the Muggles in front of his shop, too. His shop was always the last one they visited. You could clearly see that the summer-break was over and Hogwarts had once again sent its letters out into the country. Alone today, Mr. Ollivander had sold twenty-four wands for beginners. He looked over the rim of his glasses to the shop on the other side of the street: The bookshop. A little commotion had formed in front of it, probably due to the biting books required by Hagrid.
The clear sound of the doorbell distracted him from the street. His eyes fixed on the strange pair which had just come into his shop.
Jim sneezed once again. Despite the fact that he had dialled down his sense of smell as far as he dared, he couldn't escape the strange and foreign smells around him.
"Bless you!" Blair murmured at his side and unconsciously laid a hand on Jim's back, which helped settle his senses immediately. Blair manoeuvred himself systematically through the mass of people, knowing exactly where he wanted to go.
Jim was carrying the shopping bags, which Blair had accumulated in he last few hours. Most of the stuff he had seen in the v arious windows of the stores he had never imagined able to buy. Blair's persistence to drag him into the clothes-store had also been an… interesting experience. And Jim had finally figured out what was the source for his friend's steady amusement during the last days. Blair had marched into the store, demanded a new outfit for his friend and himself and then even managed to make Jim wear the strange thing. Jim had tried to argue, he really had, but when his guide set his mind on it, the Sentinel had no other choice but to humour him. And Jim had found out that he was looking absolutely ridiculous in the clothing, but when he tried to tell Blair that, his friend had just said:
"Without proper clothing, no Hogwarts!"
And that was the end of this particular argument. The witch who was running around them with her meter trailing behind her - without her touching it! - looked a bit surprised but said nothing.
At his first good look into the mirror, with these clothes on, Jim nearly choked. Ridiculous was a much to nice word to describe the way he looked. He would come back to Blair for this one, that was sure.
"Aw, come on man, it's not that bad. Could be even worse, don't you think?" Blair muttered sentinel-soft and pointed out on the street where a wizard couple was passing by.
He wore a fine woven purple robe and an emerald green hat; she was clothed in a pink blouse and auburn skirt. Her hair was bond in a tail – hold by a nice orange ribbon.
Jim choked. That was too much even for his eyes. - Maybe the plain black robes were not that bad after all…
While Jim was still thinking about how crazy those people had to be for wearing such an hideous combination of colours, Blair paid the robes with his money (he had been at the wizards bank back in America to spare Jim the wild ride through the dungeons. It could have been funny perhaps to observe his companion's reaction, but Blair wasn't a complete fool either. One should definitely not mess with a bad tempered sentinel.)
Some time later they were off on the street again. Shopping. In Jim's opinion this word deserved to get a new definition. They had been rummaging through at least two dozen different stores were one could buy the strangest things. Blair bought books with absolutely unpronounceable titles, glasses, bottles, phials, half a dozen feathers for writing, books, a cauldron (Jim didn't need to carry that one; it would be delivered to Hogwarts), books, many, many roles of parchment, ink (emerald green!), some special sweets – that hadn't been on the official shopping list for sure – books, spices of which Jim could not definite their use (and didn't really want to either) and even more books. Jim thought that it was generally not a good idea to let his friend inside a bookshop. Finally Blair vanished into the pharmacy and left Jim in front of it. The sentinel was glad about this, he had only gotten a little bit of scent when Blair opened the door and decided not to like it.
So he watched the crowds of people passing by and the colourful bustle on the street. By now he had gotten somewhat used to the clothing favoured in the wizard-realm, from screaming colours to buckled shoes.
Blair on the other hand was truly in his element. His heart was beating furiously and he was highly excited even if he would never admit it.
And Jim slowly started to understand what connected his friend to this strange world. His huge, bright eyes viewing the displays behind and in front of the windows, his quick pace, his purposeful movements, all this told Jim how happy his younger friend was.
Suddenly Jim regretted not knowing about Blair's true identity sooner. His friend wouldn't have needed to hide then.
Another wizard-couple walked by and again he shuddered at the choice of colours. Jim himself wore normal jeans, shirt and jacket. Nobody noticed because of the Muggles–parents around whose children had been invited to Hogwarts and now also had to make their little shopping trips.
Now and then Jim discovered a witch or wizard dressed in normal clothing. He wasn't sure how he knew; he kind of felt the difference - even with his senses dialled down. It was like he could sense their magic without knowing how he did it. He hadn't told Blair yet. He would probably just come up with some new tests and that was something Jim tried to avoid.
Before he could think about it any longer Blair left the pharmacy (why the heck was it called like that???) and directed his partner to another sidewalk. They went past broom stores, a flower shop for exotic plants including man-eating giant-octopus-lilies, daisies breathing fire and grass seeds which would work even in the deepest arctic, past Gringotts, the wizard-bank, until they finally stood in front of a very old shop.
Jim read the bright golden letters above: Ollivanders – fine wands since 382 B.C.
What promptly led Jim to the question how old wizards and witches could get. Blair did not answer but a small almost sad smile crossed his features for a moment. This shop was different from the others they had visited this day. No one beside them was in here and it was dead silent. All the louder seemed Jim's sneeze.
Absent-minded Blair handed a handkerchief to Jim. Here lay the dust of the centuries.
"Sandburg! Cedar, twelve inches. Unicorn tail and Elbenhair, gentle but very powerful. One of the most unusual connections I ever sold."
Jim had gone stiff the moment the voice was heard from the back of the shop. Blair reached out and laid his hand soothingly on Jim's back, while going to greet the speaker.
"Hello uncle Olli. Long time no see."
"Hello Blair, my boy. I must say I'm surprised to meet you only now. How is your mother?"
"On a tour through Asia. Please, don't ask why!"
Uncle Olli- or Mr. Ollivander, like Jim suspected, smiled happily.
"Yes, that's her, all right. But pray tell who's here with you?"
"This is my partner, Jim Ellison. Jim, this is Mr. Ollivander. But only I'm allowed to call him uncle Olli."
"Good morning." Jim greeted and sneezed again.
"Jim is reacting a bit allergic on the surroundings." Blair explained, handing his friend another tissue.
"Understandable. If my senses were so sensible, I could close my shop."
Jim tensed up and stared at the man in front of him but Blair remained completely calm.
"Has it gotten around already?"
"Like usual. Half of the ministry knows that a Sentinel is travelling to Hogwarts. But the pupils don't know. It isn't something they need to know about, is it?"
Mr. Ollivander winked at Blair, and Jim could have sworn that it was for the first time at all. Something about this thin, elderly man was making him uncomfortable.
"Now, lets talk about the reason why you're here."
Blair nodded and pulled out a small box, not unlikely those piled up to the roof in the back. Mr Ollivander took the box, opened it and took the slim wand.
"Yes, a beautiful piece of work."
Mr. Ollivander's searching look ran over the wand, his fingers following an invisible pattern. Jim stood beside Blair all the time, not knowing what to do. Of course, he hadn't known what to do since the moment they arrived in London so he remained quite and pretended to understand what his guide and Mr. Ollivander were talking about.
"It's feeling kind of sluggish." Blair explained, "It takes more power to use it."
"Of course, you have neglected it, so it's gone brittle. Tell, how long exactly haven't you used it?"
Blair blushed bright red.
"Nearly seven years. Apart from an occasional trick."
"Needless to say that this is way too much time. What are you expecting?"
Mr. Ollivander moved the wand in his hand gently, and then shook his head. He gave it back to Blair and let him do the movement again. This time a swarm of golden and blue sparks came from the tip of the wand. Mr Ollivander looked thoughtful.
"It is amazing, every time again. Back then I thought it was a fail creation, but you really get along with it…"
Digging around in his pockets, Mr. Ollivander pulled out a small flask of oil and gave it to Blair.
"You should treat it with this oil. After some time it should react like before. But don't tell anybody that I'm just giving it to you…"
"I know. Thanks uncle Olli!"
Blair was smiling brightly. Shaking hands the two said their good byes, and Blair was just about to drag Jim out of the door, when Mr. Ollivander said silently:
"Look after your Sentinel, my boy. I don't want to see you two in trouble."
Lime-chan: This story was written by me and translated (and commentated) by Tis-chan and myself. So, be merciful since my English is reeeeeaaaaaally bad! I even started to kick this ****** stupid dictionary around…
Meanthis: I know, it was MINE! By the way, we're still looking for a patient beta-reader. Any volunteers out there? 'Cause my English isn't much better.
Lime-chan: Yeah! Unless you'd like to read the next part with mistakes, too. --- Yes, next part's almost ready. If there wasn't that dictionary… and the bad German – English grammar program of Winword… *glares at the computer*
Meanthis: She's ranting again…So read, give (hopefully positive) feedback and be patient. Next part coming as soon as possible (RL can be a bitch). Goodbye!
Lime-chan: (*snickers* Soon…Well, if we'd manage to stay on topic for more than ten minutes…) OWARI!
PS: Happy new year!!!
On to next part.
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