Of course anything that you recognize is J K Rowlings. The rest is mine!
Two Feet at a Time and a Wand
When the world stopped spinning and Taylor's feet finally touched firm ground again, Mrs. Briggs guided her out of the fireplace and said, "I guess I should have warned you about that. Traveling by Floo powder takes a little getting used to. Ah well, you will get used to all things magic soon enough. Sit here for a minute, dear. Professor Dumbledore tells me that you just found out that you are a witch, how exciting! He also told me that you are from Canada and that you lost your uncle just a few weeks ago. You poor dear. Was your uncle a muggle? Oh well, you will catch up with the rest of your class soon enough. I have a great-niece on poor Mr. Briggs side. He passed away almost 20 years ago now. She is in Ravenclaw. You'll meet her on the Hogwarts Express. I was in Hufflepuff myself; Oh, that was so long ago. Why Professor Dumbledore was only in his first year as a teacher. I always thought that he was so handsome, not the marrying type though, if you know what I mean, and there was Mr. Briggs…" Mrs. Briggs sighed as she looked over at Taylor, who was sitting at the table where she had helped her to sit. "Don't mind me dear. I just love to talk. That's what Mr. Briggs used to say."
Taylor and Mrs. Briggs had a nice dinner, much like it used to be at home, except this wasn't Uncle Herbert; and this wasn't the farm. It seemed strange but Mrs. Briggs never waited for an answer to any of the questions that she asked. However, this suited Taylor just fine. The memories were still too painful to talk about anyway.
It was a very nice cottage, as Mrs. Briggs called it. A little bigger than the house she grew up in and it had what looked like a lovely garden outside. Mrs. Briggs loved to talk and she told Taylor all about her family who, it seemed, lived all over Europe and did many amazing things.
The sun had dipped below the treetops when Mrs. Briggs finally showed Taylor to her room on the second floor. "This used to be my poor Mr. Briggs' study, but it will make a nice bedroom for you. Feel free to read the books if you like. I'm not much of a reader myself, just the Daily Prophet and maybe the Quibbler once in a while, but, oh, how Mr. Briggs loved his books… Well get a good night's sleep dear, cause it's off to Diagon Alley tomorrow. Make sure you find your list of school supplies to take with us. Night, deary," and with that Mrs. Briggs smiled and shut the door. Taylor could hear her making her way back down the stairs.
Taylor's head reeled as she slowly sat on the bed in the corner of the room. Mrs. Briggs had talked about more magic things and places than she had ever heard of. I wonder what or where Diagon Alley is, Taylor thought as she pushed her glasses up. How am I supposed to find a pair of dragon-hide gloves? And the books they listed… Taylor's eyes were drawn to the books that lined three and a half walls of her room, floor to ceiling. She stood and trailed her fingers along them, books with names like Magic and the Common Wizard, or How to De-Bug Your Floo. Oh my, Uncle Herbert, I wish you had told me, she thought again for the thousandth time since she had found out that she was a witch. Not that Taylor wasn't good in school. Hadn't Mr. Nelson said that potions was just like cooking? She was a good cook, having done all the cooking for Uncle Herbert. She had grown up on a farm so she knew something about plants and growing them. Maybe witches and wizards didn't grow wheat or barley, but it couldn't be that different could it? One of Uncle Herbert's favorite sayings was, "We all put our boots on one foot at a time."
Taylor bent down and started to rummage through her suitcase. It wasn't much, but everything she owned - a few changes of clothes, and a couple of pictures of her Uncle Herbert, Aunt Helen and herself as a toddler. Her fingers automatically went to the pendant that hung around her neck. It had belonged to her aunt. Uncle Herbert had given it to her shortly after Aunt Helen had died. When he gave it to her, he said, "Keep this near your heart and those you lost will never be far away." She clutched the pendant tightly, feeling very small and alone.
The next morning, the sun was just starting to paint the tops of the trees with its first rays when Taylor awoke. After the initial feeling of confusion of where she was had passed, she put her glasses on and laid there, looking out the window and watching the sun come up over the trees. It was a beautiful sunny morning. The birds were singing, the sky was blue, and there was the hum of insects going about their work.
Taylor was suddenly struck with the naked truth: she was all alone. The last two weeks had just flown by. It didn't seem possible that it was that long ago that she had gone out looking for her Uncle, and yet it felt like a year had passed. The tears that she had fought off for so long threatened to fall. "Alone. Alone," the birds' songs seemed to say. Come on Taylor, get over it, she told herself angrily. What had Uncle Herbert always said? "Tears don't make the rain go away." She giggled. That had to be the stupidest saying in the universe! Oh uncle, what am I going to do? Her fingers reached up and found the pendant around her neck. It always made her feel a little better when she felt sad or alone.
"Taylor, dear, are you up?" called Mrs. Briggs.
"Yes, I'll be right down," answered Taylor and she gave her head a shake. It wasn't like her to lie in bed and feel sorry for herself. She took her glasses off, wiped her eyes and cleaned her glasses on her pajama top. She picked out a clean t-shirt and pulled on a pair of pants, noting the hole in the knee. I'll have to fix that before I go off to school she thought as she put on her sneakers, one foot at a time and smiled. She had gotten used to getting ready in a hurry because on the farm there were always things that needed to be done before breakfast and school.
"Good morning Mrs. Briggs," said Taylor, arriving in the kitchen less than five minutes after Mrs. Briggs had called. "Can I help you with anything?"
"Oh, no, dear, I just wanted to make sure you were up. I hope you like toast and hash browns for breakfast. All Mr. Briggs ever wanted for breakfast was porridge and curds. I can't stand curds myself but… the things you do for your husband. You'll understand someday." Mrs. Briggs said knowingly, as she put a pile of toast on the table and lifted the frying pan off the stove with a flick of her wand.
Taylor watched, wide-eyed in amazement, as the frying pan glided over to the table and stopped in front of her. "Just say when," Mrs. Briggs said as the hash browns poured onto Taylor's plate.
"Thank you, that is enough." Taylor replied. Mrs. Briggs sent the frying pan over to her plate then back to the stove.
"Wow, can you teach me that?" exclaimed Taylor, as an owl swooped in through the open window with a paper, dropped it on the table and flew back out.
"Ah, the Daily Prophet. I have a 5-year subscription I just got last March. Don't you worry, you'll be making things fly with your own wand soon enough. I still say they should teach a course on how to use magic around the house at Hogwarts, but that would be too practical! Posh! Oh, don't listen to me deary," sighed Mrs. Briggs "I just think that some of the young folks today could use a little more… shall we say, domestic training." With another sigh, Mrs. Briggs started to read the paper and eat her breakfast.
After the breakfast dishes were cleaned up, magically, Mrs. Briggs asked Taylor if she had her list of school supplies. She did, so they went over to the fireplace and Mrs. Briggs picked up a hand full of green powder. She placed her hand on Taylor's shoulder again, stepped into the fireplace and said "The Leaky Cauldron."
There was a flash of green fire and they spun away once more. This time, though, Taylor was more ready for the unusual sensation. If only she hadn't eaten breakfast! By the time the world stopped spinning and they stepped out of the fireplace into the dark interior, Taylor was wondering if maybe flying on a broomstick might be more her speed.
"Welcome to the Leaky Cauldron, Mrs. Briggs." said a stooped man at the bar.
Taylor looked around, her eyes adjusting to the dim light. 'It's a bar.' was her first impression, or what she thought a bar might look like. There were a few people sitting at tables; a couple of witches at one table, a neatly dressed wizard at another and what might have been a hag at another. Taylor looked away. It wasn't polite to stare after all.
"Oh, hello Tom. How are you today? I am taking Miss Porter here to buy her school supplies. She starts at Hogwarts this year, you know." Mrs. Briggs said, with a touch of pride in her voice. 'As if the whole world should know that I'm starting school.' Taylor thought and she smiled to herself.
"Bea! Is that you? Why, I didn't expect to see you here today." exclaimed one of the witches sitting at the table. "Did you say that this young lass is starting at Hogwarts this year? Do you know who else is starting this year? Well, Bea, you'll never guess," the witch said, almost bouncing in her seat. "Harry Potter! Yes! The-Boy-Who-Lived!" The witch was so excited that she was clutching her chest.
"Yes! I saw him in here just a few weeks ago with Hagrid." said the other witch, just as excited. "He has that scar and everything! Shaped like a lightning bolt it is!"
"Oh, Flo, Joyce, really? Oh my soul! Well isn't that just amazing news, Taylor!" Mrs. Briggs said excitedly.
Taylor, who had been listening but not knowing who they were so excited about, managed to say, "Oh yeah," before Mrs. Briggs and her two friends resumed talking very excitedly about this Potter kid.
"Oh, my, I'd love to stay and talk but I have to run. Taylor and I have a lot of things to pick up if she is going to be ready to go to school next week. I'll see you at our next bridge game!" With that, Taylor and Mrs. Briggs headed out the back of the Leaky Cauldron into a small courtyard. Mrs. Briggs flicked her wand at a brick in the wall, which rolled back and revealed a narrow, winding street full of people in robes and shops full of magical things. Taylor's eyes grew large and her head turned this way and that, trying desperately to take it all in as she followed Mrs. Briggs down the street.
"Now, let's see. You will need robes, books, potion supplies and your wand, of course." Mrs. Briggs said as she counted the items on her fingers. "Well, why don't we start with the wand. You can go and get fitted for your wand, while I go to Gringottsand get the money Professor Dumbledore set aside for you. He said it was from your uncle's farm, deary." Mrs. Briggs put her hand on Taylor's shoulder and patted it gently.
Taylor was finding it hard to feel sad in a place with so many witches and wizards, all shopping in the stores full of things, many of which Taylor had never seen before. They passed by a shop with a broom in the window and a sign proclaiming it to be the fastest ever, a shop with owls and a shop selling cauldrons.
"Ah, here we are. Ollivander's. They make the best wands there are." Mrs. Briggs said as she pushed open the door and entered the shop. "Mr. Ollivander, so nice to see you. I've brought Miss Porter in to get her wand. She starts at Hogwarts next week you know."
Taylor smiled in spite of herself. 'You'd think the way Mrs. Briggs talked, that I was doing something special, not just going to school with all the other young people I've seen in Diagon Alley.' she thought.
"Yes, well we shall be able to look after that with no problem, Mrs. Briggs." said Mr. Ollivander and he smiled at Mrs. Briggs. "You still have your first wand then? Ten inches, willow, with a unicorn hair. Still working fine?"
"Why, yes, Mr. Ollivander. You only make the best, do you not?" Mrs. Briggs said with a knowing smile. "I have to go run some errands but I will be back. I'm sure you will sort a wand out for Miss. Porter in no time." She turned to Taylor and said "I won't be long. Have fun!"
Mr. Ollivander gave his wand a flick and a measuring tape started to measure Taylor as he said "Of course, you understand, the wand chooses the witch, Miss Porter, not the other way around." After he was done measuring, Mr. Ollivander handed Taylor a wand and looked at her expectantly. "Nine and a half inches. Swishy, made of willow, with a dragon heartstring. Well give it a try." he said.
Taylor raised her eyebrows then gave the thin piece of wood in her hand a flick, just like she had seen Mrs. Briggs do. Suddenly, the measuring tape was flying across the room and papers were blowing up in the air.
"Nope." said Mr. Ollivander as he took the wand back. Time and time again Mr. Ollivander handed her a wand only to grab it back from her a second later, the entire time saying, "No, that one won't do." or "Oh my, not that one."
Soon there was a huge pile of wands on the counter, and the shop was a mess with wands creating all sorts of unwanted magic. Mr. Ollivander was still muttering to himself but was starting to become more excited. "No" he was saying, "but that wouldn't work." He stopped and stared hard at Taylor, as if really seeing her for the first time. "I don't know about this but if the wand chooses the witch…" He handed another wand to Taylor. Suddenly, there was warmth in Taylor's hand and a few sparks flew out the end.
"Oh my, very curious." said Mr. Ollivander, still looking at Taylor.
"What's wrong? What is so curious?" Taylor asked starting to feel very uncomfortable.
"Well, the wood that is in your wand…yew, eleven inches, supple, very powerful and in the wrong hands…I think maybe we should expect much from you, too…"
Just then Mrs. Briggs came back in. "Not done yet deary?" she asked.
This seemed to bring Mr. Ollivander out of his reverie. "Miss Porter has just found a wand. I'll just put it back in the box for you." However, he continued to watch Taylor closely as Mrs. Briggs paid for the purchase and they left the shop.
Finally outside, and out of the sight of Mr. Ollivander, the hairs on the back of Taylor's neck laid down and the creepy feeling that he had recognized her from somewhere started to melt away.
Next, they went into a bookstore called Flourish and Blotts. They picked up the books that were on Taylor's list. Mrs. Briggs looked at all the new books that were in the store display and talked to the shopkeeper for a half hour. Taylor didn't mind. She loved to read and books were something she had few of when she was back on the farm.
After they left Flourish and Blotts they went to Madam Malkin's Robes for AllOccasions and spent over an hour there. It turned out that the seamstress was an old friend of Mrs. Briggs. Next they picked up quills, ink and parchment. Then on to get a cauldron, scales, a telescope and potion ingredients. With arms loaded with packages, they headed back to the Leaky Cauldron, stepped into the fireplace and finally arrived back at the cottage just as the sun was setting.
Taylor was exhausted. She had just lugged the last of her newly acquired school supplies up to her room and flopped on the bed. Her eyes slowly traveled over all the new things that were piled on the floor until they came to rest on the slim box that contained her wand. Even though she was now safe in her room, the feeling that Mr. Ollivander somehow knew her made her feel uncomfortable.
When Taylor went down to supper, Mrs. Briggs was still talking about some witch who had blown her kitchen up. "If only they would teach practical magic around the home." she said again.
"Mrs. Briggs," said Taylor when she had stopped talking for a moment. "Who is Harry Potter? And why so much fuss over one boy?" There was complete silence for a few seconds and Mrs. Briggs face was incredulous.
"Why, dear, he is The-Boy-Who-Lived!" she exclaimed. "Surely you have heard of that story?" Taylor shook her head. "Oh my, I never dreamed you didn't know about Harry Potter!"
Suddenly a fearful expression came over Mrs. Briggs face and she spoke softly. "I suppose you have never" she looked at Taylor worriedly, "heard of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!"
"Who doesn't have a name?" asked Taylor confused.
"Oh dear, oh dear, where should I start?" Mrs. Briggs wrung her hands as she talked. "Well, some years ago now, a while before you where born, there was a terrible wizard. He did horrible things." Mrs. Briggs shuddered. "He was very evil and witches and wizards everywhere were terrified of him; so afraid that they didn't even speak his name! Instead they called him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named! Anyway, he went around hurting people. Not just witches and wizards either, but muggles, too. Then for some twisted reason no one knows, he went to James and Lily Potter's house and killed them! Tried to curse little Harry, too! But for some unknown reason, it didn't work. It killed him instead! And that is why Harry Potter is known as The-Boy-Who-Lived. He has a scar on his head where some say the curse hit him and bounced back to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
"So why, if he died over ten years ago, don't people say his name now? He's dead isn't he?" asked Taylor.
"Because people are still too afraid. You don't understand. It was a terrible time when he was alive: people disappearing and dying on a daily basis. I don't think many will ever get over it." Mrs. Briggs said sadly.
"But why couldn't he kill a baby?" Taylor wondered.
"That's the miracle, deary. No one knows why."
The next couple of days were quieter. Taylor would get up, help with breakfast, then she and Mrs. Briggs would usually go out to the garden to pull weeds or pick something. In the heat of the afternoon they would sit under an old oak tree and talk about people who Taylor had never heard of. In the evenings, Taylor would read from her new schoolbooks or from one of the many books on the shelves in her room.
On the last afternoon before she headed to school, Mrs. Briggs helped Taylor put her school things in an old trunk they had found out in a shed. "Now deary," said Mrs. Briggs, "make sure you have everything packed because it will be very early in the morning when my niece and great-niece arrive to take us to the train with them."
A/N Well there is another chapter posted! Two and a prologue on the first day! :) Though I will say that the updates should come at a fairly steady pace as I have this story mostly completed. Please leave a review! Even if it is to say you don't like this story. I would very much like to hear your oppinion!
I want to thank my bata, barbc... without all her help this story wouldn't be posted yet!
Plus I just wanted to say. Good luck to Prince William and Kate! Today is their speacial day!
Well until next time, cytpotter