2|| Piper

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They were to meet up at Diagon Alley with Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny the next day. Piper quickly flattened out the robes she had fallen asleep on the couch in and shook Jason awake.

He groggily opened his eyes.

"Five more minutes."

Thalia, who was tying her shoes, stalked over and pulled back one eyelid so that the electric blue eyes were staring at each other.

"WAKE UP!" she yelled. Electricity crackled on both their skin although it was difficult to tell if it was Thalia or Jason's.

"I will if you get out of my face!" Jason yelled back. A gust of wind blew her backwards into Frank, who turned into a parrot out of surprise.

"Hey!" he squawked.

"Please don't destroy anything," said Kingsley as he sipped something from his cup and leaned on the kitchen island. "I'm leaving in a minute so I won't be able to fix it, and I'm not sure I trust you guys to fix it yourself."

"Sorry," Piper apologized.

"What's the huge rush?" asked Percy, squinting at the grandfather clock that ticked lazily against the wall. "It's barely noon."

"I hope you don't think that's early," said Annabeth sternly.

Percy laughed. "I hope you don't not think that's early. It's summer — what's the purpose in waking up before noon? Besides, Kingsley's still here too."

"This is my lunch break," said the auror.

"Well, we've really got to go to Diagon Alley, we can't risk missing Hermione and Harry and Ron and Ginny."

"Where's Leo and Fred and George?" said Will as they got ready to walk to Diagon Alley, which was conveniently a twenty minute walk from Kingsley's place.

"They went ahead this morning to open up the shop. Everyone's got gold, right?"

"We could just stop by Gringotts if we run out," Percy reminded Annabeth through a yawn.

Annabeth shook her head. "I heard Lupin and Moody talking earlier, the security at Diagon Alley is extremely tight right now. It would take forever to get cleared."

"Maybe we wouldn't have to go to Gringotts if you let us use that infinite money pouch," Nico muttered.

"No," said Annabeth sternly.

Everyone was fully awake by the time they reached Diagon Alley.

"Damn," said Percy as they passed by Florean Fortescue's Now-Abandoned Ice Cream Parlour. "I was hoping we could get something."

"Florean's not the only one who vanished," said Hazel. "Ollivander's gone too."

This should've brought a much larger shock than the disappearance of the ice-cream man, except for the fact that none of them had gotten their wands from the wandmaker, but rather Hecate.

"Well, I guess we should get our books first then," said Frank, pausing by Flourish and Blotts which, luckily, was still open.

They wove past a tightly knit group of witches who shot them suspicious looks and weasled into the shop (in Frank's case, not literally).

"Hello," said a somewhat familiar voice. Hannah Abbott was pleasantly scanning a shelf of books in the Divination section. They smiled and waved back.

"Still doing Divination?" Hazel asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, I'm hoping to be a Healer and Divination isn't a requirement, but Ollopa Emosewa was one of the best healers at Saint Mungo's and he was fantastic at Divination, I got an E which is fairly good but I think it would be better if I fine tuned it a little..."

She said this in one breath and beamed at them when she finished. "Well, I'll let you get to your shopping, see you at Hogwarts!"

Thalia whistled as Hannah appeared to find her book and exit the row. "I don't remember her being this friendly," she said.

"Hannah's always been this friendly," said Hazel. "It's just, people don't take the time to get to know the other houses, and especially not Hufflepuff." (She smiled at the end of this statement to show she meant no harm).

"That's not true," said Annabeth. "There was the D.A. last year."

There was a loud thump and the sound of large paper-and-leather dominoes tumbling to the ground.

"Sorry," apologized a mortified Frank to the shopkeeper, who glared at them. With a flick of his wand, the books flew back into their shelves.

They quickly found the rest of their books and paid.

"Can we go to Honeydukes next?" Percy pleaded. "I'm starving."

"You shouldn't be eating Honeydukes for lunch," said Jason. "And we had breakfast like, half an hour ago."

"Don't you usually digest in twenty minutes though?"

"I'll meet you guys there," said Hazel. "I've got to get a new cauldron. Mine's — well, I don't know what's wrong with it but something certainly is, ever since Justin tried to mix the chinese chomping cabbages with the ticcijagua foot before adding it to the potion."

"I'll come with," Piper volunteered. "I need new potion ingredients."

"While you're there, can you pick up two packs of sopophorous beans, some asphodel, extra bat spleen, three bottles of bouncing spider juice, a block of hymolephian goat milk, lembred essence —"

"Oh, just come with us," said Piper to Thalia as she rattled off her list.

"What do you need all that for?" asked Hazel as the three girls headed a bit farther into Diagon Alley, leaving the others to cram into Honeydukes.

"You know, just magicky stuff," said Thalia with an air of mystery.

"-- should be over soon, I don't think I can stand to have another year with Potter and —"

In the reflection of the Apothecary window, Piper caught glimpse of a flash of white-blond hair. At the same time, he saw them.

"-- Piper?" said Draco, cutting his sentence short.

"Hi, Draco," said Piper with a small wave.

The woman standing next to Draco was undoubtedly his mother. Her features were so like that of Bellatrix Lestrange that Piper felt a wave of uneasiness was through her and the sudden static electricity that danced on her arms let her know that Thalia thought the same.

"Mother, this is Piper McLean," said Draco calmly.

"Hello," said Narcissa, not unfriendly. "How do you do, Piper? Captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team, yes?"

"That's me," said Piper. She was looking at Draco in the corner of her eye.

He looked strange. He seemed to have lost a bit of weight over the summer and now he looked like he wanted to say something as his jaw twitched in just the slightest. Then his mouth opened and closed a bit. Then he smiled in an extremely strained way.

"Well, we'd best be going now, see you at school, Piper."

He nodded courteously to Hazel and Thalia while looking like he was swallowing a lemon, then he and his mother continued on.

"Scumbag," Thalia muttered aggressively. Piper sighed and reached for the door handle, then jerked back as the static electricity buildup on her fingers produced a visible spark. Thalia looked at Piper apologetically and opened the door for them.

"He wasn't as scumbaggy this time," said Hazel with almost genuine interest. "He didn't tell his mom you're a Gryffindor, Thalia."

Thalia shrugged. "I guess." She didn't look happy as she picked up a bottle of bouncing spider juice.

Yes this is overdue, I'm really really sorry. I've been focusing a lot on my own original story that I can hope to publish and it covers a pretty heavy topic and there's just a little stuff going on in my life right now, just bear with me please, and thank you so much for your support! It really means a lot.

[August 30, 2018]

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