Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Chapter 6

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Chapter 6 – Draco’s Detour

It’s so nice that they have a few weeks that are at least a bit relaxing. Eating good food, playing friendly games of Quidditch in the afternoons, it would be lovely – without all the stories of bad things happening. Accidents, disappearances, deaths, something new reported every day in the Daily Prophet. One of which they find out about on Harry’s birthday: Karkaroff. He never made it far after defecting. His body was found in a shack with the Dark Mark hovering over it.

Other notable disappearances: Florean Fortescue, the owner of the ice cream shop in Diagon Alley, and Ollivander, the wandmaker. It looks like Fortescue was dragged off, but Ollivander just vanished. He’s the best wandmaker there is, so it really isn’t good that he’s behind enemy lines now.

Some good news though. When they get their letters from Hogwarts, Harry was named Quidditch Captain! It’s not all happiness though – Mrs. Weasley is very nervous about going to Diagon Alley.

“Well, I don’t suppose we can put off a trip to Diagon Alley much longer now you’ve got these,” sighed Mrs. Weasley, looking down Ron’s booklist. “We’ll go on Saturday as long as your father doesn’t have to go into work again. I’m not going there without him.”

“Mum, d’you honestly think You-Know-Who’s going to be hiding behind a bookshelf in Flourish and Blotts?”

“Fortescue and Ollivander went on holiday, did they?” said Mrs. Weasley, firing up at once. “If you think security’s a laughing matter you can stay behind and I’ll get your things myself –“

She’s not wrong. Ron has to back pedal so fast here, claiming that he was joking. Mrs. Weasley is so paranoid, she’s ready to keep her kids home from Hogwarts. Because of the heightened security, and because of who Harry is, they are able to get Ministry cars to take them to Diagon Alley. Harry makes sure he has his Invisibility Cloak in his backpack, just like Dumbledore advised. When they arrive at the Leaky Cauldron, their extra security is none other than Hagrid! Yay Hagrid! It’s always nice to see him, and he’s extra happy to have Buckbeak — excuse me, Witherwings — back.

The Leaky Cauldron is sad right now. It’s completely empty, except for Tom behind the bar. Actually, most of Diagon Alley is pretty empty as well. Many shops have closed. In their place are several stalls selling presumably fake anti-Dark magical items. They split up, with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Ginny going to Flourish and Blotts, while Hagrid takes Harry, Ron and Hermione to Madam Malkin’s for new robes. It’s crowded, so Hagrid decides to stand guard outside instead of going in.

Inside, they see Draco Malfoy getting fitted for new dress robes and generally being a jerk. He’s not happy that his mother has accompanied him on this shopping trip, but then he sees Hermione in the mirror and calls her a Mudblood. Typical Malfoy. Wands are drawn and Madam Malkin tries to diffuse the situation. Narcissa Malfoy isn’t happy to see Harry at all and some rather harsh words are exchanged.

“I see that being Dumbledore’s favorite has given you a false sense of security, Harry Potter. But Dumbledore won’t always be there to protect you.”

Harry looked mockingly all around the shop. “Wow . . . look at that . . . he’s not here now! So why not have a go? They might be able to find you a double cell in Azkaban with your loser of a husband!”

Harry is done playing nice, that’s for sure. Madam Malkin tries to ignore things in hopes that maybe they will work it out, but when she accidentally sticks Draco with one of her pins, he rips them off and says he doesn’t want them anymore. Narcissa says that they will go to a better store where this “kind of scum” doesn’t shop. Madam Malkin quickly fits the three of them for robes and seems very glad when they leave.

They meet up with the rest of the Weasleys and head to the Apothecary and the Owl Shop (Hedwig and Pig need snacks!) before heading to Fred and George’s shop. It is . . . . words don’t describe it, really.

Set against the dull, poster-muffled shop fronts around them, Fred and George’s windows hit the eye like a firework display. Casual passersby were looking back over their shoulders at the windows, and a few rather stunned-looking people had actually come to a halt, transfixed. The left-hand window was dazzingly full of an assortment of goods that revolved, popped, flashed, bounced, and shrieked; Harry’s eyes began to water just looking at it.

Fred and George have even mimicked the posters that the Ministry has put up everywhere warning people with posters of their own, advertising a product called U-No-Poo. Mrs. Weasley is horrified, but Ron and Harry think it’s brilliant. Which it is. This is just what Diagon Alley, and the wizarding world in general, needs right now – a way to relax and not worry about Death Eaters all the time. They have really expanded their inventory as well. They still have their Skiving Snackboxes, but they also carry a wide variety of trick wands, fancy quills, a Reusable Hangman, and Patented Daydream Charms, among many other things.

They are greeted by Fred, who notices Hermione’s eye, which is still black and blue. He hands her some kind of salve and assures her that the bruise will be gone in an hour. He and George needed to find a good bruise remedy since they have to test all their products themselves. Fred gives Harry a tour of the place. They even have a display of Muggle magic tricks, which are more of a novelty item than anything else, but still popular. George joins them and tells Harry that he really needs to see the back room.

This area is darker, definitely more subdued than the riot of colors in the main store. It started when Fred and George developed Shield Hats. It was funny — have a friend shoot a spell and the hat would deflect it. But it turns out that a lot of wizards don’t know how to do a Shield Spell at all. The Ministry bought them out of Shield Hats, so Fred and George expanded into Shield Cloaks and other garments that would do the same thing. It won’t stop an Avada Kadavra, but it will stop more ordinary hexes.

This led Fred and George to develop more Defense Against the Dark Arts products since they are in high demand, only their products actually work, not like the rubbish in the stalls outside. They have Instant Darkness Powder, if you need to make a quick getaway; Decoy Detonators, if you need a quick diversion. George hands several of these to Harry and tells him to help himself to anything else he might want. No charge. They remember that Harry gave them the money to get this started. He never has to pay, just to be sure to tell everyone where he got his stuff.

They head back out to the main store to find Hermione and Ginny looking at a display of love potions. Ginny wonders if they work, which Fred and George quickly assure her that they do. But they are absolutely not selling them to their baby sister. Absolutely not. From the sound of things, Ginny doesn’t really need help. She’s still dating Dean Thomas, which I think is adorable, although her brothers aren’t particularly happy about it. She changes the subject, asking about a cage of round balls of fluff. They are called Pygmy Puffs, but let’s face it. The Trekkies in the house know what these are. Fred and George bred the equivalent of tribbles!

Ginny also tells off Ron for telling stories about her to the twins.

Ron comes up with an armload of items, thinking he’ll get some sort of family discount, but no. Full price, bro! They argue about it while Ginny asks Mrs. Weasley if she can have a Pygmy Puff. In all the hubbub, Harry looks out the window and sees Draco Malfoy hurrying down the street by himself. Seeing how protective Narcissa was of her boy, they know he must be up to something if he was able to get away from her. They hide behind a display, pull out the Invisibility Cloak, and sneak out of the shop, following after Malfoy. One guess as to where he’s heading: Knockturn Alley.

They had drawn level with the only shop in Knockturn Alley that Harry had ever visited, Borgin and Burkes, which sold a wide variety of sinister objects. There in the midst of the cases full of skulls and old bottles stood Draco Malfoy with his back to them, just visible beyond the very same large black cabinet in which Harry had once hidden to avoid Malfoy and his father. Judging by the movements of Malfoy’s hands, he was talking animatedly. The proprietor of the shop, Mr. Borgin, an oily-haired, stooping man, stood facing Malfoy. He was wearing a curious expression of mingled resentment and fear.

Hmm. Wonder why Borgin would be scared of a sixteen year old boy? Something is going on here. They can’t hear what Malfoy is saying, but luckily, Ron has some Extendable Ears from his armful of Weasley products. They listen in as Malfoy asks Borgin if he know how to fix . . . something. They don’t know what. Borgin asks him to bring “it” to the shop, but Malfoy says he can’t, and just wants Borgin to tell him how to do it. He also threatens Borgin not to speak of this to anyone and that if he does, he will sick Fenrir Greyback on him. He also tells Borgin to keep “that one” safe, because he can’t carry it with him down the street.

Malfoy leaves and walks past them, looking pleased. Unfortunately they weren’t able to see what Malfoy was pointing to, whatever Borgin was supposed to keep safe. Hermione decides to try and find out, but her attempt is pretty laughable. She leaves the boys under the Invisibility Cloak and heads into the store, asking about various things, how much they are, and whether or not they’re being held for anyone. She also tries to say that Draco is her boyfriend and she wants to buy him a present. Oh jeez. It’s a bit obvious and Borgin sees right through her. He throws her out of the shop and locks the door.

Ron finds this incredibly funny and he and Hermione argue about it all the way back to Fred and George’s shop, where they pretend to have been the entire time.

See you next time for Chapter 7!



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