“Caty Cat…” Harry said, shaking her gently. “Come on love, we have to get ready to go soon.”
“Nooooo…” Caitlyn mumbled into her pillow. “Dad go way. Too early.”
“All right…” Harry said as he rose from the edge of her bed. “I guess this means no shopping today…” he let his voice trail off as Caitlyn shot out of bed.
“I’m up!!” She shrieked, running from the room and into the bathroom. Harry laughed; he had no idea where his daughter had gotten her love of shopping from.
“Half hour.” He said through the door. “I can’t Apparate with you.”
Caitlyn’s brown head poked through the narrow opening. “Apparate?” she asked.
Harry smiled. “Yup. Where you disappear in one place and reappear in another.”
Caitlyn looked startled for a moment. “What?”
Harry’s smile grew wider. “Magic talk. You’ll get used to it in no time, I promise.”
“I hope so.” Caitlyn ducked back into the bathroom.
Harry walked down the hallway and pulled his old robes from a closet. Pulling them on, he was happy to see they still fit. He then walked into their kitchen. Harry felt strangely excited about that day. It had been far too long, since he had seen Ron or anyone at all from his time at Hogwarts. Reaching up into the back of a high cabinet, he retrieved a small wooden box. Blowing the dust off the top, he pulled back the lid on two small rusty hinges.
His wand lay inside, untouched for almost a decade. He ran his fingers along the smooth wood for a moment, and then picked it up gently and just held it in his hand for a moment. Gripping the base, he lifted it up and pointed at the glass he had left sitting in the sink the previous evening.
“Wingardium Leviosa!” Harry said. The glass lifted itself out of the sink and he moved it along with his wand down the counter. Harry amused himself for the next 10 minutes by levitating different things in the kitchen and setting them down in other places. He was enjoying moving around a Jell-O mold from the refrigerator when Caitlyn appeared in the doorway.
“Dad!” she said in shock. “Why are you wearing a dress?” Harry lost his concentration and the mold fell from about 8 feet in the air onto the floor with a loud plop. Harry laughed loudly and muttered a cleaning charm. The Jell-O disappeared from the floor, leaving it as clean as it was before. Caitlyn uttered a few unintelligible words as she sank into a chair.
“Your old dad’s still got some magic in him yet.” Harry told her. “This is the type of thing you’ll be learning. And this isn’t a dress, they’re robes. All wizards wear them dear.” He lowered his wand and put it back in the case. “Are you ready to go?” Harry asked.
“I think so.” Caitlyn replied. She pulled the Hogwarts parchment out of her jeans pocket. “This has a list of all the books I need. Plus, I have to get my robes and a wand…” Harry realized that this was going to cost him a small fortune.
“Come on Dad!” Caitlyn was saying. She was eager now, to find out about the wizarding world. Her studies had always interested her, and now to find out that she was going to be able to do magic, well, she had a feeling her ‘bookwormishness’ would be at an all time high. She tugged on Harry’s hand and he followed her into the hallway.
“How are we going to get there?” she asked curiously.
“On the underground.” Harry replied. “Once we get to the Leaky Cauldron, that’s where the entrance to Diagon Alley is.”
A half hour later, Harry was leading his daughter down a crowded street to what looked like an empty storefront.
“Dad we can’t go in there!” Caitlyn said, trying to peer through the dusty window.
Harry only smiled as he took her hand and pushed open the door. A wave of familiarity inundated him as he quickly took in the candlelit room, with it’s high windows and smoky interior. He felt 11 years old again himself, coming in here for the first time with Hagrid. He made his way past the counter area where he was surprised to see Tom still working. The man looked up as Harry and Caitlyn approached and his eyes widened.
“Oh my goodness…Harry Potter!” Once again, everyone in the room turned to catch a glimpse of him, several coming forward to shake his hand or hug him.
Harry took a deep breath; he hadn’t really been expecting an onslaught of people like this. He had been hoping to slink through unnoticed. At this rate, they’d never get into Diagon Alley anytime soon. Caitlyn looked at her father with wide eyes, he had never told her much about his fame in the wizarding world. She watched him shake hands with people, smiling and acting like he hadn’t been absent from here for almost 10 years. After about 20 minutes, Harry was finally able to gracefully excuse himself from the adoring eyes of many witches (and a few warlocks to his horror) and pull Caitlyn into the small room that held the entrance to Diagon Alley. Caitlyn could only stare at her father in amazement as he pulled out his wand and tapped some bricks in a certain order, and they both watched as they turned themselves aside to reveal the entrance.
“Well Caty Cat…” Harry said as they stepped past the bricks. “Welcome to Diagon Alley…finally.”
Caitlyn’s eyes were as wide as saucers as she tried to take everything in with a single glance. The streets were already bustling with people doing their shopping, buying everything from books, to brooms, to multicolored robes hung in the window of Madam Malkin’s.
“Oooh Dad can I have some of those?” Caitlyn asked, pointing to the robes. Harry laughed.
“Maybe.” He said. “We’ll have to see how expensive everything is first.”
Caitlyn pouted briefly but perked up when they walked past the broom shop.
“Do you think I’ll be able to play Quidditch like you did?” she asked. “If I make the team, I want to be a Seeker like you.” She prattled on till they reached Ollivander’s wand shop. “Oooh!” she said, her eyes growing wide again. “Can we get my wand now please pretty please?” Harry chuckled and held open the door for her.
“Why do you think we’re here?” Harry said. They entered the shop, which was completely deserted. Caitlyn looked around her at all the musty boxes that contained wands, and wondered which of them would be hers. A scuffling noise in the back of the store made them look up, and Ollivander appeared holding more boxes.
“Mr. Potter!” he exclaimed. “I knew it is time to be seeing you again.” His eyes moved down to Caitlyn. Without a word to her, he turned and pulled about 7 boxes down from a shelf.
“Here dear.” He said, coming towards her with one of the wands. She tentatively took it in her hand, and then looking at Harry, who made a motion with his hand, swished it through the air. A strong wind swept through the shop, blowing over some books and putting out all the candles.
“Nope.” Ollivander muttered, hunting through some more boxes. He handed Caitlyn wand after wand, until finally he pulled a slender dark one out of a box.
“13 inches, dragon heartstring.” Ollivander said, placing it in her hand. Immediately, a golden glow appeared from the wand. Obviously, it had made it’s choice. Harry gave Ollivander 10 galleons for the wand, and they left the shop, Caitlyn clutching her wand like it was going to disappear.
“Can we go to the book shop next?” Caitlyn asked.
“We should save that for later once we’ve met up with everyone, hopefully it won’t be so crowded then.” Harry nodded towards Flourish and Blotts, which was packed full of people buying their schoolbooks. Harry and Caitlyn spent the next few hours buying her potions ingredients (Harry sincerely hoped Snape no longer taught), her cauldron, herbs, her robes, where Harry gave in and bought her the multicolored ones she wanted (for weekend wear only, he cautioned her) along with the standard black ones required for all students.
Harry looked at his watch, it was about 5 minutes to noon and his money was already almost gone.
“Caty Cat.” He called. “Come on, we’ve got to meet up with everyone!”
Caitlyn said goodbye to the group of girls she had been talking to and joined her father as they left the robe shop and made their way back to the Leaky Cauldron.
“You look a little nervous Dad.” Caitlyn commented as Harry pushed open the door.
“I am, a bit.” Harry replied. “Ron was my best friend in the world, he and your mum. It’s been hard not seeing him at all for 9 years. He’s got a son your age, I imagine you two will get along rather well.”
Caitlyn nodded and looked around the Leaky Cauldron. The crowd that had been in there when she and her father had first arrived had pretty much dissipated. There were a few warlocks sitting at the counter and a witch sitting in the corner with a crystal ball on the table in front of her. At that moment, the fireplace burst into flame. Caitlyn started a little, and Harry put his hand over hers.
“It’s okay Caty Cat.” He said. “I bet you anything that’s Ron and Lavender now. They’re coming in by Floo Powder.”
“Floo Powder.” Harry quickly explained about it and a moment later, Ron came tumbling out of the fireplace, Lavender right behind him, clutching the hand of a carbon copy of Ron at age 11.
“I can’t wait to tell Harry about the tickets we’ve gotten for the Quidditch game!” Ron was saying loudly as Lavender attempted to brush the soot from their robes.
“Dad! I want to go now can’t we just meet them there?” the young boy, who Harry assumed must be their son, shouted.
“Blue!” Lavender was chastising him. “You and your father really need to keep it down.”
Harry smiled to see that nothing in the Weasley family had changed. He stepped forward and Ron saw him.
“HARRY!” he shouted, and ran forward to hug his old friend. Harry grinned and hugged him back.
“Ron, it’s great to see you again!” he said, overjoyed.
“Harry.” Lavender said, smiling at him. He stepped back from Ron and kissed Lavender on the cheek.
“It’s so great to see you guys, it really is. I didn’t realize till just now how much I missed everyone.” Harry said.
Caitlyn hung back behind her father, feeling a little shy. She was always quieter around people she had never met, and this was no exception. Her father sensed her behind him, and pulled her out in front of him.
“This is Caitlyn, everyone. Caty Cat, this is Ron, his wife Lavender, and their son…” Harry faltered for a moment.
“Blue.” Blue stuck his hand out to Caitlyn. She blinked at him and shook his hand.
“Why is your name Blue?” she asked curiously. He grinned.
“Well my real name is Ron, but my Mum didn’t want us to get confused, so my Dad gave me this nickname when I was a baby.”
“That’s so cool.” Caitlyn said, and the two children sat down at a table and began to talk.
Seeing that the kids were distracted with themselves, Ron, Lavender and Harry took seats at another table.
“How have you been, really?” Ron asked Harry.
He pursed his lips for a moment. “There have been times, when things have been really rough. It’s still hard for me to talk about her. Like last night, I couldn’t get Hermione out of my head.”
Lavender looked at him sympathetically. “Well, we’ve always kept our eyes and ears open for anything. I just wish we could still do something about it.”
“I appreciate it, more than you know.” Harry told her. “It’s been difficult raising Caitlyn on my own, she’s full of questions about Hermione that I still can’t bring myself to answer. Maybe you guys can help me some with that. If she asks you anything about Hermione, feel free to answer.”
“Sure.” Both Lavender and Ron agreed. There was silence for a moment, and then Ron stood up.
“Well, we’ve got to get Blue all his supplies for school. I take it you two have been shopping already?”
Harry nodded. “We’ve gotten most of her stuff. We haven’t gotten her books yet, though, Flourish and Blotts was too crowded earlier, and we wanted to wait for you guys.” He smiled. “Caitlyn loves to read.”
“Wonder where she got that from.” Ron grinned. Hermione’s bookish personality had gone straight to her daughter it seemed. “Come on, you two.” He called to Caitlyn and Blue, who got up and joined them.
The five left the Leaky Cauldron and went back into Diagon Alley. Unfortunately, Flourish and Blotts was no less crowded than it had been before. They pushed through the crowd to where a large display of books sat. A young woman with very long, very dark brown hair was helping several people with lists in their hand. Harry motioned to Caitlyn to give him her list, and he would grab the books for her. He turned to Ron to see if he was going to follow him into the fray, but Ron and his family had disappeared into the crowd.
“Wait right there!” Harry said to his daughter, who nodded and stood back from all the people. He began to thread his way through the crowd. Harry didn’t remember Flourish and Blotts being this large, and it actually unnerved him a little as he fought his way to the tables of books.
“Excuse me!” he tried to get the attention of the brown haired woman but she didn’t appear to hear him, her back was to him and she was talking to an older couple. He sighed and decided to just get the books himself. Grabbing everything Caitlyn would need, he made his way back to where his daughter had been standing.
But she wasn’t there anymore.
“Caitlyn?” he called over the dull roar of the crowd. “Caty Cat? Where are you?” he began to grow a little frantic, as the store was becoming more and more crowded and there was no sight of his daughter.
Caitlyn was scared. She had never enjoyed big crowds of people, and now here she was, alone in one of the biggest ones. “Dad?” she called out, but her small voice was lost in the throng of people. “Dad where are you?” She began to make her way through the people towards where the tables of books were, thinking he might still be up there picking her schoolbooks out. To her dismay, he was not there. She saw a brown haired woman in dark blue robes putting some books back on the shelf; Caitlyn hoped she worked there, and that she’d be able to help her find her father.
“Excuse me.” Caitlyn said politely, tugging gently on the woman’s sleeve. The woman turned around and looked at her.
“Yes dear?” she asked. Caitlyn noticed she wore a name badge, which read Catherine.
“Um…” Caitlyn stammered. “My father was just up here, he told me to wait back by the windows but I got pushed into the crowd and now I’ve lost him.” Catherine smiled at her kindly.
“What does he look like? Don’t worry, we’ll find him. He won’t leave the store without you, I’m sure.” Catherine replied. She took the little girl’s hand, feeling a slight jolt when she did. Confused, she looked down at the little girl. There was something very familiar feeling about her. “What’s your name?”
“Caitlyn.” She replied. “Caitlyn Potter.” Catherine led her to the cash registers on the opposite side of the store and picked up what looked to Caitlyn like a black megaphone.
“Attention customers. I have a lost father!” Catherine’s voice boomed over the din of the crowd. “Will Caitlyn Potter’s father please come to the registers?”
Not a minute later, a tall black haired man came striding over to them.
“Caitlyn!” Harry said, hugging her tightly.
“I’m sorry Dad!” Caitlyn said, her eyes tearing up. “I tried to stay right there, but the crowd pushed me away.”
“Shhh.” Harry said, stroking down her hair. “It’s all right, I’m just glad you’re okay.”
Catherine looked pensively at the two of them. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she felt like she knew these people from somewhere.
“This lady helped me find you Dad.” Caitlyn said, looking up at Catherine. Harry looked up to thank her for helping him to find his daughter. He stood up to face her, and his jaw dropped.
“Hermione.” He whispered.