When we got outside the Burrow and were all ready to leave, a Ministry car pulled up. It was special treatment, because of Harry of course. Ron seemed to be getting a little bit too comfortable, so Dad was quick to remind him that they were only getting the car because of Harry. Harry, Ron, Hermoine, and I all climbed into the spacious backseat for the short ride to Diagon Alley. When we got to the Leaky Cauldron, there were no extra Aurors waiting for Harry but instead, Rubeus Hagrid. I noticed Harry's expression lightened when he saw him. 'No Ginny,' I thought to myself, 'you can't notice him like that anymore if you're in a relationship.'
"Harry!" Hagrid boomed as he pulled him in for a bear hug, almost breaking a bone or two.
"We didn't know 'security' meant you!" exclaimed Harry.
"I know, jus' like old times innit? See, the Ministry wanted ter send a bunch o' Aurors, but Dumbledore said I'd do. Let's get goin' then - after yeh, Molly, Arthur -" Hagrid said proudly.
As our group walked into the Leaky Cauldron, Hagrid told Tom, the landlord, that he wasn't there for a drink, and quickly escorted us to the back. Hagrid tapped a brick on the wall with his pink umbrella and we entered the Alley. Diagon Alley had changed, and not for the better. The bright, colorful shops were replaced with worn down, ratty looking shops, over half of them closed. Most looked like they had been whipped through a tornado, hail storm, and hurricane all at once, for they were all boarded up and had broken windows.
"Wow." I said quietly to myself. Who knew that a place that help so many joyful memories for so many people could change so quickly. All though most shops were closed, a number of rickety looking stalls had popped up along the sides. The nearest one read "Amulets: Effective against Werewolves, Dementors, and Inferi". I gave a little huff under my breath. Some silly little amulet wouldn't be able to protect you from those things. Right after I huffed I heard someone call out:
"One for your little girl, madam? Protect her pretty neck?" It was a seedy-looking wizard with dozens of amulets held out on his arms. It took me a moment to realize that he was talking to Mum about me. Hermoine had to put a hand on my shoulder to keep me from going off on the man. How dare he call me a little girl! Luckily I didn't have to go off on him because I heard my Dad say:
"If I were on duty..."
"Yes but don't go arresting anyone now dear, we're in a hurry," Mum replied, "I think we'd better do Madam Malkin's first, Hermione wants new dress robes, and Ron's showing much too much ankle in his school robes, and you must need new ones too, Harry, you've grown so much - come on, everyone -"
Luckily Dad talked some sense into Mum and made Harry, Hermione, and Ron go with Hagrid to Madame Malkin's while Mum, Dad, and I went to Flourish and Blotts to get everyone's school books. As we were walking I noticed that not only had Diagon Alley changes, but the shoppers had too. Instead of stopping and talking to family and friends along the way, everyone was huddled in their groups, walking hurriedly from one shop to the next. And no one, no one, was shopping alone. When Mum, Dad, and I walked into Flourish and Blotts the first thing I noticed is how eerily quiet it was. No famous authors signing copies of their books or Hogwarts students chattering excitedly. People found what they needed and left as fast as possible. Of course Mum was no exception.
"Hurry Ginerva, grab your books while Dad and I find Harry, Ron, and Hermione's." she whispered. I was surprised she was letting me out of her sight at all. Although it's not like You-Know-Who is going to be behind some measly bookcase. I did as Mum said and grabbed my books and went to the front of the store to meet Mum. We paid for Harry and Hermione's books using their own money they had given to us and paid for our own quickly. We scurried down the Alley to Madam Malkin's. When we passed Draco Malfoy I sneered and he quickly returned it. 'God, how I hate that boy.' I thought to myself. Soon we saw the four existing the shop and walked over to them to see how it went.
"Everyone all right?" Mum asked them, " Got your robes? Right then, we can pop in at the Apothecary and Eeylops on the way to Fred and Gerogre's - stick close, now....." 'Shoot!' I thought. 'The Apothecary! I have to take my O.W.L.S this year!' Those were not going to be any fun. After the rest of our shopping we went off in search for Weasley Wizard Wheezes. As soon as it came in sight, everyone knew that we had found it. Unlike the rest of Diagon Alley, the shop was bright and beautiful with crazy signs and trinkets in the windows and the shop was overflowing with people. We stepped inside and everyone immediately dispersed. Hermione and I ventured over to what Fred and George called "Daydream Charms". We stayed there a while, in awe, until Fred and Harry came over and showed us what was called "WonderWitch" products. It was basically teenage girls pouring over love potions and beauty products. I made a face at it and out of the corner of my eye I saw Hermione doing the same.
"There you go," Fred said proudly, "Best range of love potions you'll find anywhere."
"Do they work?" I asked skeptically.
"Certainly they work, for up to twenty-four hours at a time depending on the weight of the boy in question-" Fred started.
"-and attractiveness of the girl." George finished, "But we're not selling them to our sister," he added suddenly becoming protective, "not when she's already got five boys on the go from what we've-"
"Whatever you heard from Ron is a big fat lie," I said, plucking a pink pot off the shelf, "What's this?" I ask, eager to change the subject.
"Guaranteed ten second pimple vanisher," replied Fred, "Excellent on everything from boils to blackheads, but don't change the subject. Are you or are you not currently going out with a boy called Dean Thomas?"
I sighed as my attempt to change the subject failed, "Yes, I am. And last time I looked, he was definitely one boy, not five. What are those?" I said calmly, pointing at a number of pink fuzzy balls rolling around in a cage.
"Pygmy Puffs," replied George, "Miniature puffskeins, we can't breed them fast enough. So what about Micheal Corner?"
"I dumped him, he was a bad loser," I said while reaching through the bars of the cage to pet one, only to have the whole lot crowd around it. "They're really cute!" I exclaimed.
"They're fairly cuddly, yes," Fred told me. "But you're moving through boyfriends a bit fast, aren't you?" I turned to look at him, giving him the most Mum look that I've seen her do a thousand times before. "It's none of your business." I replied calmly. "And I'll thank you," I said giving Ron, who had just appeared, a hard jab in the ribs with my elbow, "to not tell tales about me to these two!" I exclaimed. I walked over to Mum and started asking her if I could get a Pygmy Puff. She said yes, only because I haven't had a pet like all of my siblings yet. I chose one out of the lot and Fred and George gave it to me for free, only because Mum insisted and no one messes with Mum, even Fred and George. After that we left to head back to the car and drive home. Harry, Ron, and Hermione disappeared to who knows where but were back in time that Mum didn't notice that they were gone. We headed back to the Leaky Cauldron and piled into the Ministry's car, and went home.