1994-07-15: Wizarding World 101


Hooch_icon.gif Julian_icon.gifMelissa_icon.gif Sorrel_icon.gif Mhairie_icon.gif

Scene Title Wizarding World 101
Synopsis Madame Hooch teaches some prospective first-years about Hogwarts and quidditch
Date Jul 15, 1994
Watch For Mistakes in translation between 'Muggle' and 'Wizard'
Chronology introducing Julian
Logger Julian

Diagon Alley

This place is surely like no other on earth! The narrow cobblestone lane is crowded with vendor's carts while buildings are packed in on each other on both sides of the lane. Very little room if any can be found between the buildings, but narrow alleys can be found here and there. The entire area feels like you've just set foot onto the set of a Charles Dickens tale almost. Usually people can be found up and down this area at all times of the day and night. While in a way this scene isn't too out of place in England, the contents are! The shops lining the lane are out of the ordinary due to their nature and the people crowding around are definitely out of this world. The soft hooting of owls can be heard from Eeylops Owl Emporium, strange and often disgusting smells filter out of the Apothecary, while a throng of children and a few adults ogle merchandise found in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies.

The Daily Prophet notwithstanding, Diagon Alley is very much its usual bustling self in the waning days of August. Everywhere, the cobbled streets are filled with all sorts of people, robed in every color imaginable and a few one would rather not. Some linger in front of shop windows stacked with books, lunascopes, cauldrons, more books, objects of every size and descriptions; others chat animatedly beneath larwge umbrellas outside cafes. Still others rest on benches, clearly exhausted, stacks of packages beside them tied neatly together with strings, watching the world go by. A cluster of boys ranging in age from primary-school age to the later years of Hogwarts peer inside the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies, where a new display of brooms is being hastily built.

Among the hubbub is something one only sees close to the beginning of term - among the robed figures, a trio or pair of Muggle-clad people wander slowly down the street, their expressions somewhere between confusion and disbelief, one and all clutching several sheets of parchment and usually escorted by a robed figure of some kind. One such group has a young girl of about the right age in tow, a shock of curly strawberry hair hanging down her back, staring with wide hazel eyes around her and looking utterly lost.

Speaking of 'muggle-clad', there is a small boy stepping out into the Alley for the first time. He didn't even tap his wand on the wall, since he doesn't have one. Instead, he follows some unsuspecting wizard out through the huge archway, and stops stock still. He wears an old dirty shirt, stained trousers and shoes that appear to have been stolen from a rubbish bin. Julian — Bean as he calls himself — is floored. The lady was right. He nearly gets knocked over by a witch and her two children pushing through the archway, but steps out of the way just in time. "Bloody 'ell." He whispers to himself, arms across his chest.

Melissa sits with her father at a table outside the ice cream shop. She's already bought everything she needs, so she can relax… She spots Mhairi coming down the road and waves… hoping to get a good number of friends who are also going into first year, so that she'll know someone no matter which house she ends up in.

Stepping out of Quality Quidditch Supplies and into the fray, a tall, formidable-looking woman with spiky silvery hair, and dressed in robes of silver and a deep navy blue with a familiar-looking crest embroidered where a breast pocket would be on a Muggle shirt turns over her shoulder, "Thank you again, Ian," she calls politely, as the door closes behind her with a jingle of bells. "Now… let me see," the witch mutters to herself, "Gloves, four pairs. New broom on order. New Quidditch armor measured for… I must speak to those House Elves - food over the summer is entirely too delicious for my figure…" It's then that she notices that the entire alley is full of students, "good gracious! It can't be this close to start-of-term already, can it?" she wonders, half to herself. A wave from one of the Muggleborn escorts is cheerily returned, with a call of "good afternoon, Siobhan!"… and then she's nearly run over by the pair of youngsters who'd pushed their way through the entryway, on their way to the window at her favorite shop! Scowling, for the pair can't be yet of Hogwarts age, she sidesteps, and moves off down the street.

Sorrel is not one of these wide-eyed wanderers to grace Diagon Alley, but she watches it nonetheless, her gaze more keen than in wonderment. She's with a tall, older man, similar enough in appearance that he must be her father. He doesn't say much as she chatters on to him and then finally seems to wear him down, getting a handful of change from him and then cutting through the crowds to head for the ice cream parlour. She's almost there when she catches sight of these Muggle-borns, and has to stop and peer at them in wonderment. Imagine, having never seen Diagon Alley until just now!

The girl with the strawberry curls is accompanied by an older woman and just such a guide, the aforementioned Siobhan. The two look enough alike to easily be related, but the woman pays the smaller girl no mind whatsoever, between juggling packages and consulting what is left on the list, conferring quietly with their assistant. "No, she doesn't need a pet … reckon she'll not take proper care of an animal anyroad," the woman is saying, Irish accent crisp and clear. "We've got the uniform, we've got her books … now where would you get a magic wand?" Skepticism is writ large in the woman's voice as she speaks.

Very much out of her element, Mhairi takes to looking around her, wishing silently that she was either back home or had more time to look around her. Finally - at long last - /something/ looks familiar! She waves to the dirty-looking boy who just came through with a bright smile, hoping to catch his eye.

Julian has a crumpled up piece of — is this paper? No. She called it 'parchment' Bean's got a crumpled up piece of parchment in his pocket, which he pulls out and reads to himself, just for the sheer pleasure of having something to read. He scans the list and then looks up and down the street trying to find the places that sell all this stuff. Oh. Someone is waving. Bean lifts a hand, and holds it, in a quick wave before dropping his hand — and his attention — back to his list. He frowns, continuing to scan the street and the different areas therein. Who needs a guide?

Melissa looks around at the passing people. "Looks like there's a few Muggleborns coming in, Dad…" she says. "I hope they'll be all right…" Melissa's father smiles. "You'll probably be in class with some of them."

"Olivander's," is the tall, silver-haired witch's automatic response to the Muggle woman's question about wands. "Unquestionably, the best in the business," and she sounds quite authoritative, as if she would know, though a quick glance at the aforementioned shop's window indicates, "oh, bother, he's stepped away. And right in the middle of all this?" she tsks and shakes her head. "And here I had wand polish on my list… Well. I suppose there's nothing for it but to sit down and have a scoop of ice cream," she quips, turning her attention in the direction of the ice cream shop, "and wait for him to come back. I suspect he won't be long," she adds, wrinkling her nose a bit. "Probably off to the Leaky Cauldron for a bit of brew…"

Sorrel continues rather unabashedly staring at the group, eavesdropping as much as she can over the distance and the crowds. She pockets her money and pulls her notebook out from a little purse she has slung over her shoulder, needing to make a note about this. It's far too interesting to let go without making some sort of record, especially once she notices the dirty boy being waved to. She jots down a few descriptive features and then snaps the book shut, and tucks it up under her arm. Noticing then that her father has stopped in his business to watch her and make sure she's going where she's supposed to be going (where's the trust here, honestly?), she gives him a slightly shooing wave and starts to edge closer yet to Fortescue's, still keeping most of her attention on the crowd instead of where she's going.

It's that authoritative voice behind them that makes both women jump, but the robed one smiles. "Xiomara! What a pleasure to see you here! You're quite right, of course," and indeed, it appears as if she'd opened her mouth to say that very thing when Hooch spoke up. "Ollivander's …." The other woman offers Hooch a tentative smile. "Thank you, so much. Let's go … Mhairi, come on." No response from the girl, who's still watching the dirty little boy with some interest. "Mhairi Rose. We're leaving!"

"Oh! Sorry, Mum." Mhairi turns and begins to follow her mother and Siobhan, once again looking wide-eyed around her - only to bump right into her mother as Siobhan stops short. "Oh dear. He /has/ stepped out, hasn't he? Why now?" The Muggle woman replies equably, "Then we'll just have to sit down to wait. An ice cream shop sounds wonderful. I wish Patrick had come … far too much to carry." The group redirects itself to the ice cream shop after Hooch, and the trio steals a table just being vacated and, after dropping all their parcels, the woman take themselves off to the counter, leaving Mhairi alone to look around, her feet dangling from the chair she'd taken.

Melissa looks at Mhairi as she sits, and gives the girl a pleasant wave and a smile. "Hi! Are you starting at Hogwarts too? I'm Melissa…"

This is a scouting trip for Julian. So, he begins scouting. He moves quickly through the crowds, passing the ice cream shop and the Owl Emporium and several other stores before realizing he may actually need some help. So, he wanders back toward where Mhairi and her family have gone, and seeing the cluster of people there, he sits, waits, and listens. The list gets shoved back into his pocket and his hands rested demurely in his lap.

After placing an order for a rather large ice cream sundae, with assorted bits of chocolate, the tall witch addressed as Xiomara steps aside, and looks around for a place to sit with her parcel from the broom shop. Completely empty tables, however, seem to be at a bit of a premium. "If you lot are starting at Hogwarts this fall," she smiles at the young students in the ice cream parlor, "then I will be one of your instructors. Ah!" She steps over to a small table, finally vacated, and plunks her package down on its surface. Her voice is strident, somewhat brisk, but she seems friendly enough. "I teach flying lessons, and referee the Quidditch matches," she explains, "and my name is Xiomara Hooch. That'd be 'Madame Hooch' to you," she adds with a quirky smile.

Melissa gives Madame Hooch a bright smile. "Hello, Madame Hooch… I remember you from the broom demonstration the other day! You did a fantastic job… I've been getting into Quidditch too, since I've met Cho… I hope I can do well!"

Sorrel finally makes her wya into the shop as well, her own progress made that much faster as it means she now gets to follow her current fascination. "Hello," she bids to Mhairi as she passes by the spot where the girl has been left. She glances over her shoulder towards the counter, figuring she should get some ice cream herself, but then, that can wait a moment. "Is that your mum? Are you Muggle-born?" she asks without much preamble. It's only then that she notices Melissa there as well, vaguely recognizing her from having run into her before, so she offers a little smile to her as well. She looks over as Madam Hooch speaks up, her eyebrows shooting up at this cornucopia of information, so freely offered. "You teach flying? Will you teach me to fly? Do I need to have a broom?"

This rather extraordinary pronouncement leaves Mhairi at a momentary loss for words. Quidditch? Flying? Bafflement writes itself clearly across the girl's be-freckled face. So many questions! "We get to learn to fly?" she asks hopefully, but the question is no doubt lost in Sorrel's stream of questions, so she flashes a suddenly shy smile at the girl who addressed her instead. "Yes … though it's awfully strange, isn't it? I wonder if they have a skating rink there. I'm Mhairi. It's nice to meet you." She pronounces the name "Mary", with a crisp Irish accent, and scoots her chair around to talk to Melissa more easily. "Mum and Miss Siobhan have gone off to get me ice cream."

Hogwarts. Julian's ears perk up. "Flying lessons?" His voice is high and thin, but it's intense. "Like what? We flap our wings?" He chuckles to himself, trying to picture how that works. In fact, he lifts his arms, and starts waving them, laughing silently as he does. Sorrel's words clear it up for him, though, and he corrects his own assessment quickly. "Brooms." Right. More things he'll need to survive in this odd world. The silent laughter disappears as quickly as it showed, and he stops, craning forward just a bit to hear more about his school. Bean decides he likes these girls. They'll ask all the questions and let him listen to the answers. Hopefully nobody noticed his mistake.

We have school brooms for you first-years," Hooch explains. "They're standardized, and have superior braking charms on them - unlike that…" she wrinkles her nose again, "Twigger 100 the other day. And don't get any ideas about 140-mile-an-hour dives on them, either. As for Quidditch, we've had only one first-year on a Quidditch team in the last century, and he was - is - an exceptional flier. A natural, really. But yes, I teach flying lessons; first-years are not allowed to bring their own brooms, though some have them at home. Yes, you do get to learn to fly, and I do hope you'll all find it as enjoyable as I do," she favors each of the youngsters with another smile. "If you're interested in watching, we'll hold the Quidditch tryouts for older students early in the term; the first match is held in October. As for flapping your wings, let's leave that to the birds, shall we?" she winks.

Sorrel notices quite a bit, including Julian's slip, though there's no teasing from her, just a keen sidelong glance, as she files that away. Must be another Muggle-born if he doesn't know about brooms. How fascinating. "You were at that broom demonstration?" she asks, turning back to the others with widened eyes. "I read about that in the paper. So the school brooms won't do anything like that? Do the brooms of other students ever?" Without really pausing the barrage, she pulls her money back out from her pocket and begins drifting towards the counter to get herself the ice cream she came in here for.

Melissa giggles at Hooch's last words, then pushes her glasses up her nose. "There was a first-year on the team? Who was that?" She looks interested.

Seeing that the others are absorbed in Madame Hooch's commentary, Mhairi turns her attention towards the silver-haired woman as well, after flashing a smile at Sorrel and then at Julian, the others to speak up. She has no idea what they're talking about, judging from the look on her face, but she's content to listen as Sorrel drifts off to get herself some ice cream. For a moment, she's about to ask a question, but Melissa steps in first, and her smile falls to an intent and slightly worried look. So much to learn … and so out of place.

There was someone who was the best, at least at this 'quidditch'. Okay. Julian continues to listen, appreciating how the girls' questions cover his own mistake. He looks at the ice cream for a long moment, then looks away knowing he can't buy one, and probably shouldn't eat one. "How fast do normal brooms fly, Madame Hooch?" Better to return to the topic at hand and ignore his loudly growling stomach. "How do they stay up? What keeps them aloft?"

Melissa looks toward Julian. "Um… in my family there's this saying… there's magic," she says, holding up one hand vertically, "and then there's science," she says, holding up another hand parallel to it. "They have different rules… so you can't really ask things like that in this case…"

"So many questions! Broom theory is a fascinating subject," Hooch smiles, warming to the topic as well as to molding the young minds in front of her, and making sure she looks to *each* of the new incoming firsties, even those who haven't really spoken much. "I was at the broom demonstration, yes, and no, the school brooms are incapable of flying even a quarter so fast as the Twigger 100," she wrinkles her nose again with an expression of distaste for that particular model. "We put a limiting charm on them to ensure that they don't go out of control. Students do occasionally get more broom than they're able to handle," she wrinkles her nose, "but Madame Pomfrey - she's our healer - can take care of them in no time," she continues, after making sure each of the students is still listening. "The first-year Quidditch player - who is now in his third year, and still on his House team - is a Gryffindor named Harry Potter. He plays the position of Seeker. As for 'normal' brooms, it varies rather strongly, depending on the model. The fastest out there right now is the Firebolt, although the Nimbus 2001 is a close second… charms control the brooms, and allow them to fly, and land safely. Each broom is hand-crafted with several dozen charms built in, for taking off, flying, landing, etc." She then looks to the two quieter students, "is there anything I can tell the two of you that these two haven't asked me about yet?" she asks. "Don't be shy; I'm happy to answer any questions you might have."

There's something about this discussion, something Mhairi is missing. She looks uncertainly between her new peers, from Sorrel to Melissa and Julian and back again as the conversation flows on around her. Her legs swing from the chair she's seated in as she listens, not wanting to interrupt. Surely this is something /everyone/ knows … but there's no help for it. "Er … what's Quidditch?" She looks heartily embarrassed as she asks this, looking back and forth again among the other kids.

Melissa grins. "Harry Potter plays Quidditch? Now I'm really interested…"

"Harry Potter, of course I've heard of him. Did you really teach him too?" Sorrel asks, not missing a beat as she returns with her dish of ice cream and looks now for a place to set down. "And he's really good at flying? Do you ever get anyone else that's really good? Do we get better if we practice?" She looks over at Mhairi as she speaks up, simply shocked that someone doesn't know what Quidditch is. "It's just the best sport ever," she replies enthusiastically.

Julian frowns. In his opinion, that's just stupid. If you 'can't explain it', then it will never be explained. He gives Melissa a quick look, and then returns his attention to Madame Hooch. The teacher's words are absorbed like sunshine, as well as the information about his schoolmates. Potter. That'll be a good name to remember, he thinks. Someone to watch out for. His stomach rumbles again, loudly. The more important question seems to be, "Who is Harry Potter?"

"Quidditch is a sport," Hooch explains with a broad smile. "The most popular sport in the wizarding world. There are seven players to a side, and four balls. The three Chasers play with the largest of these balls, called the Quaffle; it's their job to try and put the Quaffle into one of the three goals on the opposing team's end. The Keeper's job is to prevent that from happening. He's somewhat like a 'goalie' in Muggle football, if I understand that sport correctly," she explains, then adds, "Florean - I think we could use a round of butterbeer over here, and perhaps some snacks. I'm in for a long chat, I think," she winks at the ice cream man. "Just add it to my tab…" back to the students, "two more players are called the Beaters. They are equipped with bats, about so long," she holds her hands apart the appropriate distance, "and it's their job to redirect two of the balls, called the Bludgers, and keep them away from their team. Are you with me so far?" she asks.

Not even close, says Mhairi's expression, although the words "goalie" and "football" seem to mean something to her at least; her eyes light up at the words, and that much she nods understanding to. Sorrel gets a glance and a shy smile, and she looks briefly at the direction the girl came from, peering about for her companions before returning her attention to Madame Hooch. "Seven players to a side," she recites obediently, "and three balls … why do you redirect the Bludgers?" She wraps her hands around the edge of the seat and leans forward a little, legs swinging again. The discussion of this Potter bloke will have to wait; one thing at a time.

Sorrel actually lapses into silence for the moment, since she knows about Quidditch and hence doesn't need to be the one rattling off all the questions for once. She digs into her ice cream, brightening even more at the promise of butterbeer. "Thank you, Madam Hooch," she notes politely. Since she's not so bothered with learning everything, ever, right now, she can take the time to look around at the others, and Mhairi's shy smile gets returned with an easy one from the nosy girl. Sorrel's father isn't yet in sight, no doubt having gone off to do some business once his daughter was safely ensconced in the ice cream parlour, with orders to stay put.

Honestly. Who cares about the stupid sport? Julian wants to know about brooms. "How far can you fly on a broom? Is it the only way to get around?" His mind whirls. When the witch mentions snacks, Bean's eyebrows lift. This might be more profitable than he thought. "Because they'll bludgeon you?" That's his guess, by the names of the things. As she continues the explanation about the game, his expression becomes a little bored. Only a little, though. He's learning about what's acceptable in the game. That might come in handy later, too.

Melissa nods. "If you want to know some more about it, there's this great book I have called 'Quidditch Through the Ages'…"

The Bludgers are a bit like a cannonball," Hooch explains, nodding to Julian. "Exactly so. They're about so big," she holds her hands out, "and charmed to fly about on their own. There are two Bludgers, one Quaffle, and one ball," she pauses, "called the Golden Snitch," her tone capitalizes the ball's name. "It's the Seeker's job to find and catch the Snitch - and it's about the size of a golf ball, with wings. It flies around by itself, and it's very fast. A goal scored is ten points, but the Snitch is 150 points, and when it is caught, it ends the game. Now, that can lead to some interesting things, because the team that catches the Snitch does not always win the match, if the other team has scored quite a lot…" she turns her attention to Mhairi directly.

"Don't worry; you'll get the hang of things quite quickly, I should think," she smiles. "It's a complicated sport… there are no time limits or periods; no breaks. And no, brooms are not the only way to get around. There are quite a few ways you'll get to learn; some, like floo powder, anyone can use; others, apparition - that's something you'd call teleportation - requires that you be of age and licensed to do the spell. And," Hooch smiles, "there's the most popular means of transportation at Hogwarts: one's own two feet. If you're not in good shape now, believe me, after one term at Hogwarts, you will be. There's a lot of walking to do between classrooms! As for distances, I've heard of some witches and wizards flying 'round the world on a broom, though I've not done that - there's a race every year to see who can do it fastest, but I'm more for shorter races. There's a 500-miler coming up later in the month that I may enter," she explains. "It's rather like a Muggle Grand Prix, I'm told… only on brooms instead of - what do you call those things? Lorries?" she means cars.

"Cars," Mhairi supplies, a little relieved and smiling a little bit, if tentatively. "Broom racing sounds really fun. Do people really fly 500 miles?"A staggering distance, really. The question of Quidditch is filed away for now; time enough for that later. At that moment, Mhairi's companions arrive, laden with ice cream, and she falls silent as a large sundae is set in front of her - there are more important things in life to an eleven-year old after all! Her mother exchanges a few quiet words with Siobhan, after a glance at Hooch, then nods satisfaction and settles back tolisten.

"Automobiles." Julian will be succinct in correcting his teacher's error, since she's done the same for him. "Or cars in common usage." He's more than willing to trade his knowledge of his world for some information in here. It's an easy trade. And what information he's getting! Some of it, like the stuff about Quidditch, won't be as useful. But the stuff about transportation, and even what she's not saying about some of the nature of magic… that's priceless. The snacks that are brought out sit in front of them, and Julian reaches toward them, watching those around him to see their responses.

"I'm going to learn how to apparate as soon as I'm old enough," Sorrel pipes up. "Can you do it? Is it very hard?" She continues making rather short work of her ice cream, but is showing more interest in what's being said now that it's not about Quidditch. "Has anyone ever been killed trying to fly around the world? How would you eat or drink anything? Do you get to take a break?" She glances over at Mhairi as she explains about cars. "Oh right, cars." A glance at Julian. "Automobiles, then. I've read about those. They don't fly at all, do they?" To think, what a waste.

Melissa grins. "One did, once. It caused a lot of trouble for my dad's friends…"

"Apparition is very advanced magic," Hooch explains, "and yes, I can do it, but you won't be taught until your final year - and I don't recommend trying it on your own, either. Apparating into the middle of a brick wall is no laughing matter!" She takes a bite of ice cream, swallows, "now… what you will be learning as first-years is… History of Magic - which is just what it sounds like. (Professor Binns is rather dull, but you'll learn quite a bit if you pay attention!) Astronomy - it's very similar to what is taught in Muggle schools; Charms - and Professor Flitwick is one of the best at teaching that particular subject. Transfiguration - some of you may have met Professor McGonagall already - she's our Transfiguration instructor; Potions is Professor Snape's topic; and - I'm not certain yet who our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor will be this year. Last year's instructor is no longer teaching at Hogwarts, which is likely good, since the man had the brains of your average tree-frog," she murmurs as a bit of an aside. "Then there's Herbology. Professor Sprout is the instructor in that topic. And of course, there's flying - which I'll be teaching." She pauses to take a breath. "I won't even begin to presume to tell you what you'll be learning in any class but my own; but you will all learn quite a bit in your first year, and you'll build on it as you go through classes at Hogwarts."

Both Mhairi and her mother listen to Hooch with great interest as they eat their sundaes. The news of flying brings a frown to the older Irishwoman's face, one of concern rather than disapproval. "And what sorts of jobs are available for children who graduate from this school?" she asks keenly as Mhairi falls silent. "This all sounds like toys."

This is more the stuff that Julian wanted to know about. He listens closely, and sneaks a few morsels of food from the snack plate. Not really enough to be missed, but enough for Bean. One small piece goes in his mouth, around which he can still talk. "Dark Arts?" There's a whole new world, and, from the sounds of it, a whole new threat. "How are we protected from Dark Arts?" Big worry that. "At this school."

"Has someone actually done that? Apparated into a brick wall? Did they survive?" Sorrel asks, just as rapid-fire as ever, perhaps not quite so horrified as she rightly should be. But isn't that the way of being young. The detailed explanation of the courses and their professors actually gets a satisfied sigh from Sorrel, and shuts her up to listen. Again, so much information, offered so freely. "What was your favourite subject? Other'n flying, that is." Because that seems the obvious answer. "And no one knows who the professor is going to be? Are you sure we're going to have one?" She glances at the others as they pipe up with their own questions, equally interested in those answers as well.

"Oh, there are all sorts of positions out there," Hooch smiles at Mhairi's mum. "The Ministry of Magic has dozens of departments; there are jobs in medicine that are always popular. We have newspapers - one could become a journalist, and write for one of those. We have researchers. Of course, teaching is also an option. Starting in fifth year, we have career counseling available to help the students choose their elective courses," she explains. "There are a wide variety of careers available to graduates of Hogwarts, and our graduates - those who do well in their course work - are placed very highly in many positions," she has to do the advertisement for studying, after all. She then turns to Julian.

"As for the Dark Arts - no, not all witches and wizards are nice, though you won't find any actual practitioners of that sort of magic at Hogwarts School," she explains. "The safety of our students and staff are our top priority, and the school and grounds are well-protected, not only by the staff, but by charms and protective spells, as well, many of which are not only protection against the darker sort of magics, but against detection by the non-magical world. You will be taught to recognize the dark magics, and how to counter them. And yes, we will most assuredly have a professor for that class; the Headmaster has assured us all of that, though he has not indicated who it will be just yet. Last year's professor was quite good, but he is, unfortunately, having to retire due to health reasons," she explains. "But I will reiterate that safety is our top priority. You needn't worry about that." She favors Sorrel with a smile, "my favorite subject has always been Charms, actually. Professor Flitwick's office is next door to mine, and we often have tea and discuss the topic, even now. I'm always working to improve the charms on our school brooms, and on my own as well…"

Behind her mother, Mhairi's eyes had gone wide at the reference to a tree-frog, and she covered her mouth to keep from laughing aloud through her ice cream. For now, she continues to listen, letting her mum and her fellow students ask the questions. "Oh, very good, then. We know so little, and we just want to be sure that Mhairi will be happy and healthy …." And not a freak with no useful skills. "It's just so different … I'd never imagined … it's good to know that she'll be learning real skills. I don't suppose you have an ice rink there at all?"

At this moment, the sign in the door of Ollivander's shop changes again, and a pale-eyed man is visible at it as the sound of a door unlocking is lost in the babble of the crowd. Siobhan taps the woman on the shoulder, who turns, and rises. "Ah, he's back. I'm dreadfully sorry, but I do have to get home, and we're nearly done. Mhairi, finish your ice cream and let's be off."

Quickly, Mhairi crams the last bite into her mouth, wipes her face, and slides from her chair. "Yes, Mum, I'm coming." She smiles and waves to the kids her age around her. "I suppose I'll see you all at school, then. It was nice meeting you!" Then, to Hooch, "And thank you so much for answering questions, ma'am. It was really nice of you. I hope I get one of your classes." It doesn't take the lot of them too long to disappear in the direction of Ollivander's.

Julian is not at all settled by her reassurances. He wants details of how. He pops another small piece of food into his mouth, chewing slowly, savoring the taste. "Health reasons? Was it because of some Dark Art thingy?" Bean doesn't even know the right terminology. "Charm or something?" He heard Charms in there somewhere. "Who does the protecting?" He wants to know. If he's going to submit himself to this school, he wants to know if he's going to stay alive. "Well, if they don't, I bet someone could 'zap' something to make it that way…" The ice rink. Surely they skate? Even he's gotten to skate. He watches the family go past, slightly envious, but also aware of the limitations a family brings.

"My father's an Unspeakable," Sorrel offers rather proudly, with regards to the many positions available to Hogwarts graduates. Clearly this lack of speaking isn't something his darling daughter inherited. She doesn't think it requires any explanation, but then, how much could she give, anyway? There's a slightly distracted wave given to Mhairi as she departs, though Sorrel does manage a friendly enough smile for her peer. She then actually goes a little quiet at the talk of Dark Arts, frowning down into her ice cream as she stirs it about with her spoon, causing the colours to bleed together into a muddy brown. It's only when Hooch comes back around to answering her question that she looks back up with a smile. "Professor Flitwick - he's head of Ravenclaw, isn't he? Someone mentioned that. So you do charms on the brooms yourself? Have you ever made one go so fast as that one that crashed? Could the school brooms do that if they were charmed right?" Not that she's planning on any such thing, of course, but it seems a curious thing.

Melissa waves to those who are leaving. "I don't think she'd do that… we're supposed to use them to learn! They're probably slower than most of them even."

"I will see you at Hogwarts, Miss McConaughey," Madame Hooch tells Mhairi as she makes her departure, "and you're most welcome," she adds. Julian's latest question, however, causes a raised eyebrow, "even in the wizarding world, Mr. Legume, health concerns are not always considered public knowledge," she tells him, giving a hint of sternness in the remark. "All of the teachers, however, have a hand in maintaining the active protections at the school, and there are protective spells that have been in place for centuries. Rest assured, Hogwarts is quite safe. 'Hogwarts: a History' contains a good deal of information on the topic, if you'd like to read up on it before start of term," she adds, smiling a bit.

"As for the brooms, Miss Hazard, I assure you that even with the best charms imaginable, the school brooms are not built for high speeds, and do not possess the physical qualities that faster brooms do. It isn't just the charms; it's the wood for the handle, the types of twigs for the 'sweeping' end… there are far more factors involved than just magic, I assure you. And yes, Professor Flitwick is head of Ravenclaw House. He and I work together on the school brooms, and I make it a habit of studying other brooms that come along; as for actually crafting one, I leave that part to the broom-makers, but yes, I can charm a broom. And no, Miss Burch is quite correct: I have never made a broom go as fast as the one that crashed; I am not suicidal, I assure you!" she wrinkles her nose a bit at the thought.

"What does an Unspeakable do?" Julian directs his question to Sorrel. Her dad is one, surely she has some idea what the man does. "And why do they call it such a ridiculous name? It makes them sound like …" Well, like him. Unknown, invisible to the world. Melissa gets another intense gaze. If you can learn how to fly easily, then you can tweak the brooms to go faster. At least Bean thinks it's a good idea. And a learning experience. Watch out, Hogwarts. "To start with. Do they have to stay that way, though?" He gives a small smile, and puts another small nut in his mouth. This'll last him a while. Mr. Legume? Who is she talking to? By process of elimination, mainly because he's the only male in the conversation. He starts laughing again, this time, without a clear reason. It's funny.

"It's not a ridiculous name," Sorrel replies a little defensively. "They call them that because, well, they can't speak about what they don't, don't they." She states this as if it should be so painfully obvious. "They work at the Department of Mysteries and no one knows what really goes on there." And if you think that doesn't drive the curious lass just a little nuts, you haven't been paying attention. She glances at Melissa then, frowning just slightly, but in a thoughtful way. "I didn't mean that she would, just if she could," she explains this important distinction, before looking back over to the 'she' in question for the explanation. "So it is more than just charms," she confirms with a nod, seeming satisfied with that. "So that's why the Firebolt is better than the Cleansweep, right? Because you couldn't just charm a Cleansweep to be as good as a Firebolt? What sort of broom do you have then? You must have better than just a slow school broom, right? Do you do charms on it so it's even better?" She might keep going, but Julian's laughter distracts her and she glances over. "What's the joke?"

Melissa looks interested. "Oh yes…I'd like to know what kind of broom you have too! You probably have the best one!"

"Actually, I own several models, Miss Burch, and switch among them, depending on what I'm doing," Hooch confesses, smiling. "It's a bit of a hobby for me. I keep my collection in my office. And if you're considering trying to charm the school brooms for increased speed, Mr. Legume, think again. You'll have a hard time of it, even if you know the charms to use," she tells him firmly. "And you are exactly right, Miss Hazard. The Cleansweep is not built for speed; the Firebolt is. As for my personal brooms, as I said, I have several models, and yes, one or two I have customized myself," there's a hint of pride in the flying instructor's voice at that confession.

"Mis-ter…" Bean is laughing too hard to continue. "Mis-ter Legume." One of the few things he has forgotten is his real name. "I'm Bean, Ma'am." He finally quiets enough to clear that up. "Legume. That's funny." He swallows the small nut, and watches the teacher. He's not laughed like that in a very long time, and it's unsettling. But relieving as well. "Well, I wouldn't do that. I'm just saying it could be done." See, like Sorrel. It's a possibility. "Where do we stay in this school? The lady said in 'Houses', but she didn't say where the houses were. Are they on the grounds, or outside the walls of the castle?" He has several other questions. "How am I supposed to pay for all my books? I mean, I get enough to buy a lunch once in a while…" About once a week, or so, he doesn't say. "But it's pounds. These prices are all in Galleons and Sickles and Knuts…" He frowns.

Melissa looks toward Julian. "Well… you'll get it someday…"

"Do you think I might see it sometime? Your collection that is?" Sorrel asks curiously of Madam Hooch. "Once we're back at school, of course. I've never seen a broom collection before." She's not afraid of just putting herself right out there, though she does at least try to be polite instead of demanding - it takes some effort. She seems pleased that her deduction about the broom models was correct. "So different woods and twigs and stuff, that makes the brooms good for different things?" Interesting. She'll surely be telling her father about this tonight. She looks over at Bean, still failing to see the joke, but his words distract her. "Pounds? That's a rather heavy lunch, isn't it? Do Muggles all eat like that?" The confusion goes both ways.

"Food and drink are all provided by the school, Mr. Legume," Hooch smiles, "and the Houses are Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin - they are divisions within the school, in part to keep class sizes managable. Which House you're placed in is based on - oh, a number of factors; you'll see at the Sorting Ceremony," she explains. "Each House has a portion of the castle that is locked off from the other Houses, so that the students can sleep, or be with those of like minds in their common room, without being disturbed. Ravenclaw and Gryffindor each have a tower; Hufflepuff and Slytherin are elsewhere, but each has plenty of space, and each student has their own bed, in a dormitory room shared with their other year-mates of the same gender," she explains. "As for how you'll pay for your books, there are scholarships for such things; you were supposed to have been assigned a guide," she frowns. "All Muggle-born students are… someone to explain things like Galleons and Sickles and Knuts to you…" she smiles at Sorrel, "Pounds are what the Muggles call their money," she explains. "And yes, feel free to come by my office any time; I'll be happy to let you see the collection. And yes, different woods, and twigs, and the like all come into play. I have several books on the topic, if you're interested."

Melissa grins, looking excited. "I can't wait to go… It'll be so much fun!"

"Oh, I told her I didn't need help. I never have before…" Julian is a little offended that he does now, but takes it in stride. "So, like crews." This is obviously something from his experience, and he doesn't elaborate. He thinks for a long moment. "Not sure I'd want to be in a tower. That's so high up if something were to happen…" Nevermind that Slytherin's is by the lake and Hufflepuff's by the kitchens. "Why the interesting names? Why not color names, or animal names, or something? Are they named for people?" It sounds like people's names. Like 'Joey's crew'.

"Really? Pounds? You must need a charmed money bag to carry that all around," Sorrel muses, turning a curious look back on Julian. Imagine your money weighing so much. Fascinating, really. But she's pleased to be given leave to come and see Hooch's collection and turns back to the woman with a grin, a bit of that muddy brown ice cream now colouring the corners of her mouth. "I might be interested, yeah," she confirms, as to those books on the topic. "So do all the professors know so much as you do?" It might be flattery, but really, she just sounds a little awed by the idea. An entire castle of adults to question on everything. She nods rather enthusiastically to Melissa's comment.

Melissa grins at Sorrel. "It doesn't mean that it weighs pounds… We use the metric system anyway."

"Yes, exactly so, Mr. Legume," Hooch sounds quite pleased, "the four founders of the school were Rowena Ravenclaw, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, and Salazar Slytherin," she explains. "The Houses are named for them. As for needing help, there's no shame in it," she adds. "This is a whole new world for many of you, and it's not expected that you know everything. Many wizard-born folk would need just as much help navigating Muggle London, to be sure," she smiles at Sorrel. "Miss Burch is quite correct. It's not the weight of the money, Miss Hazard," she adds, "though I do believe at one time it might have referred to 'pounds sterling' or something of the like… I'll have to look that up…" she muses. "But I believe you'll find that most of the professors do hold a great deal of knowledge, but not all of us are as … ready to discuss what we know with anyone they meet," she explains. "And I might also add that out here, or in my office is one thing; in my classroom - which is the sky - is quite another. I happen to be a very demanding instructor when it comes to flying lessons, because a mistake can have rather dire consequences, not the least of which is broken bones," and she backs this up with a very stern look.

Julian snorts. He can see the teacher being a very stern disciplinarian. The rest of the information is absorbed with a quiet nod. "I appreciate you taking the time to explain this stuff to me." After all, she could be one of those unwilling to talk to kids outside the classroom. "Ravenclaw, Griffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin." He repeats them to himself, committing them to memory, tasting the way each sounds on his tongue. "Which was your house, Madame?" He is curious.

"Oh," Sorrel replies to Melissa, looking as if she's just about to ask why it's called that when Madam Hooch is already providing at least a hint of an explanation. "I might have to look that up too," she agrees, pausing in her ice cream eating to pull out her notebook and make a note about that. She gives a nod to the warning about not everyone being quite so willing to answer questions, but doesn't seem to take it too much to heart. "No harm in asking though, is there?" She can't imagine how, though she may come to realize should she try and ask Snape or Filch one question too many, no doubt. "What's the worst accident you've seen then?" she inquires, wincing slightly at the very idea of it. No, she doesn't fancy falling off a broom, even if it won't be going all that fast.

Melissa smiles. "My favorite house is Ravenclaw, I hope I get in that one…" She pushes her glasses up her nose. "But, I wonder why the sorting is such a secret…"

"I was in Ravenclaw House," Hooch tells Julian with a hint of pride. "We're a bookish lot, we Ravenclaws… we all share a love of knowledge - and most of us will share it with anyone who asks," but at Sorrel's last question, there's a change in her expression, if only for a moment - a bit of a wince, almost, as if the topic is rather unpleasant, or painful for her to discuss. Her look goes distant for a moment, as if the incident is replaying in her mind, and was truly horific. Then, she pulls herself back. "Among students, the worst I've seen is a broken arm or leg," she dodges the question handily, "or a concussion from a Bludger in a Quidditch match once…" among professionals may be another matter entirely. "Madame Pomfrey can deal with most anything students can do to themselves - up to and including regrowing bones, though that's a rather unpleasant process…" and the flying instructor's nose twitches. "The Sorting is a time-honored ritual, Miss Burch, that is best experienced firsthand, rather than told about; it blunts the impact far too much," she smiles warmly.

Julian looks at the teacher skeptically. "You can regrow broken bones? How long does that take?" In the Muggle world, it takes a long time. Sorting. "That sounds like an initiation ritual." Bean knows about those, too. "Hopefully it doesn't hurt too badly." He frowns. That is a possiblity in his mind, especially if they can patch you up so quickly. Another thing to worry about. Maybe he can find out beforehand what it is, so he'll know how to protect himself… He gazes beyond the group for a long moment, gears whirring in his head.

"Ravenclaw would be all right," Sorrel agrees with a thoughtful nod. "Or Slytherin. I don't think I'd much care for the others. Though I hear there's no way to be certain until the actual Sorting, is that right?" It's annoying, having to have patience, but if she must. Her eyebrows go up a little a she listens to Hooch's response to her somewhat gruesome question. "Does it happen a lot then, people getting hurt? Is Madame Pomfrey the nurse?" she guesses. "She must keep busy then." She just has to nod in agreement with the other firsties' thoughts on the Sorting. It does all sound rather strange and mysterious. "My father wouldn't tell me much about it either."

Melissa nods. "Yeah, I know… I hope many people don't get hurt outside of Quidditch…"

Chuckling softly, Hooch shakes her head, "No, Mr. Legume, the Sorting is quite painless. You'll see," she tells him, quite plainly refusing to describe it further. "Yes, Miss Hazard, Madame Pomfrey is the nurse, and she deals with all sorts of injuries - the normal every day kind, like someone twisting an ankle, to the more serious, like someone being bonked by a Bludger - most are quickly taken care of; some take a little longer. It really depends on the injury itself," she explains, and she smiles at Melissa, "generally, no more than at any other school, Miss Burch. We do get splinters in the wizarding world, and paper cuts, and the like, just like Muggles do…" She scrapes her spoon along the bottom of her dish of ice cream, apparently not realizing until just now that she's finished it off. "Good heavens. We've been talking for hours, and I'm sure there are books and supplies you need to be acquiring, before the shops close down - or worse, Gringott's," she shoots a glance up the street, rises to her feet. "Miss Burch, Miss Hazard, I'm afraid we're going to have to part company for the moment; Mr. Legume, if you'll come with me, I'll see to it that you acquire the supplies you need," her tone brooks no argument whatsoever; this is, perhaps, a hint of what she might be like in the classroom. "I'm sure we'll all speak again soon, though," and she smiles.

Julian turns his gaze back to his teacher for a long moment, ignoring the chattering of his soon-to-be classmates, and focusing on her with a penatrating gaze. "Yes, ma'am," he finally replies. "I don't have anywhere to store the stuff, though, if I'm going to get all the stuff on this list…" He frowns. "Could it be kept at the school or somewhere nearby until I need it?" He doesn't want to have to explain that it'll get stolen if he takes it with him. "I'm sure I'll see you when we get to Kings' Cross." He does remember that part.

Melissa waves goodbye to Madame Hooch. "I hope so, Madame Hooch!"

Sorrel listens to all this explaining with a thoughtful expression, nodding. She seems ready to continue with her questions when Hooch realizes the time. And she seems to at least know better than to press her luck right now with this particular instructor. "Thank you for all the information," she says instead, offering a polite smile. She watches curiously as the teacher sees to the boy, but offers him a nod when he addresses them. "Of course. Good luck with your shopping." With that, she seems set to turn her attention back to finishing off her ice cream and mulling over what she's learned before her father shows up to claim her.

Actual shopping trip with Madame Hooch and Julian to follow shortly.

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