Pride, Prejudice and Diagon Alley
Phoebe has been to Diagon Alley before of course; with her elder brothers when they come to buy their school things, but also several times a year to Twilfitt & Tattings to be fitted for her everyday clothing. But this year is special, because she’s eleven, which means she’ll be starting at Hogwarts in September.
She’s dressed for the occasion, in her finest set of day robes made of gold-embroidered white silk, an emblem of her status as the first Malfoy heiress-by-blood in three hundred and fifty years, her shining dark hair plaited into a coronet, and white lace gloves, her signet ring - the only jewellery she’ll wear until her seventeenth birthday - on the last finger of her left hand.
Her whole family is coming; including Mama and Great Uncle Regulus and her cousin Bella Black, and she supposes they’ll meet Aunt Daphne and Uncle Theo and Julian and Emilia at some point during the day as well.
She turns to mater and lifts her gaze, waiting for her grandmother’s approval. Narcissa Malfoy straightens Phoebe’s collar slightly. “Let’s be off, shall we?”
Scorpius and Apollo left earlier this morning in Edmund’s company to go and look for duelling wands, she knows, so she’ll be spending the morning in the sole company of Mama and the mater- and paterfamilias, as is her right upon the occasion of buying her first wand. Ollivander’s is likely to be the last shop they visit, completing the more mundane tasks first.
Phoebe nods, smiling, and takes her grandfather’s arm, holding on tightly as they apparate out of the Manor to land in the main thoroughfare of Diagon Alley. In mid-August, it’s busy, but not unduly so - the back-to-school rush hasn’t properly begun yet (why do Hogwarts send out the reading lists so late?)
The adults flank her protectively, Mama leading the way, ignoring the inevitable whispers that always follow her, even now, even ten years on. They go to Scribbulus first to buy her quills and parchment, (she already has a trunk, needed on her frequent study trips with mater and Edmund, and it’s a smart pinewood affair with cream leather straps and brass buckles and a silver silk lining) and she comes out with five eagle feather quills for everyday use, and a beautiful blue-green peacock feather quill for more formal correspondence, and a term’s worth of parchment and ink supplies, all of which are immediately packed up in brown paper and sent back to the Manor so the Malfoys can continue shopping at their leisure.
Mama spots Aunt Daphne outside Quality Quidditch Supplies (cousin Julian is a Chaser on the Slytherin Quidditch team along with Scorpius and Apollo) so Phoebe continues on to Obscurus Books to buy her reading list with her grandparents. She notices the wary looks that come their way (Malfoys are dangerous, and Lucius is still a Duke, a peer of the realm even with his dark reputation), but also the nods of respect and acknowledgement. House Malfoy is still a major force in Wizarding politics, and they have weathered worse storms than the Second Wizarding War, the English Civil War and the Witch Hunts of the 1660s and 1670s being prime examples.
Her reading list comprises the following:
The Standard Book of Spells, Grade One
A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
Her grandfather sardonically comments that those texts have been on the syllabus since his time at least, and that there are much more up-to-date texts she should also have. He proceeds, in his normal manner, to point out his recommendations. Edmund also said to her when she first received her list that what he and her House have taught her far outweighs what is outlined in Magical Theory, but that she should get the book anyway to avoid being docked House points. Pater buys her all five volumes of Encyclopaedia Magica Britannica along with A New History of the Wizarding British Isles by Astrophil Frampton, which is actually her History of Magic set text. Her Potions textbook turns out to be The Modern Potioneer by Severus Snape ed. Daphne Greengrass-Nott.
Phoebe shoots an excited smile at the paterfamilias. She knows Aunt Daphne has been working on the book for years and years, and she’s happy it’s finally been printed. It really is a thing of beauty, Phoebe decides, with its hardback dark green cover and embossed golden lettering. She also gets Transfiguration Transformed by Claudius Radclyffe, Prof. and A Guide to Duelling and Combat Magics by Leonidas Aurelian, Prof. Obscurus is the kind of bookshop that also stocks more unusual books, so she’s also able to find the new edition of Runic and Hieroglyphic Magics by Lazare de Moralith and Magic in Homer’s Odyssey by Eloise Karayan.
In Twilfitt & Tattings she’s greeted with a “Good day, my lady. What does your ladyship require?” and promptly spends the next two hours being fitted for her school robes, which end up being tailored in cashmere and silk and the finest Scottish lambswool. Pater must be bored, she knows, but he submits with his usual equanimity to being fitted for the new set of dress robes mater thinks he needs (black elf-woven crushed velvet with royal blue and silver accents), and Phoebe giggles at every sardonic glance her grandfather sends her. She’s grateful that pointed hats are no longer required uniform at Hogwarts, because honestly, they just look ridiculous in her sartorially informed opinion.
It’s not until mater and pater decide she needs an owl of her own that she lets slip the extent of her excitement. She takes one look at the majestic tawny owl in the centre of the shop that hoots angrily at everyone that approaches it and decides then and there that that is going to be her owl. The tawny turns golden eyes on her and hoots again, much more gently, as she slowly extends the fingers of her right hand to stroke the soft plumage. A broad grin lights up her face as the owl accepts her contact, and the shop owner is so surprised that he refuses all payment for it. They exit ten minutes later with the newly named Randolph perched on Phoebe’s shoulder, and finally make their way to Ollivander’s.
It’s the first time she’s entered the shop; and the stillness inside that is almost reverential takes her by surprise. So too is Ophelia Ollivander, far younger than she’d expected.
“The Lady Phoebe Malfoy, at last!” Ophelia smiles, and Phoebe can’t help smiling back. “Let’s see what we can do, shall we.”
“If you’d hold out your wand arm for me, please, my lady?”
Phoebe does so, and watches curiously as the measuring tape measures first the length of her arm, then the circumference of her wrist and both her ankles. Even to a Pureblood, wand lore is one of those branches of magic that remain wonderfully, frustratingly obscure, except to those who wish to become wand makers.
“Right ho,” Ophelia Ollivander rubs her hands. “Your brothers have wands with a dragon heartstring, if I remember correctly. Cherry and dragon heartstring, fourteen and a quarter inches for Lord Scorpius, and red oak and dragon heartstring, thirteen inches for Lord Apollo.”
“But you, my lady… I think we’ll try this one.” The wand maker turns a considering glance on her, before reaching for a rectangular box on one of the near shelves. “Willow and unicorn hair, twelve inches, quite whippy.”
Phoebe waves it experimentally, but it feels wrong, and she can’t help the grimace that flits across her face. Ophelia Ollivander chuckles.
“You didn’t like that, did you? Hmm… try this - elm and unicorn hair, nine inches, very powerful.”
Again, Phoebe tries it, but the wand shivers and rattles in her hand. “This feels a bit too much like a blunt instrument.”
“Yes, I can see that - perhaps something with more subtlety, but you like the unicorn core, don’t you.”
Phoebe replies in the affirmative. “Perhaps it’s because there’s a herd of wild unicorns in one of our meadows.”
That surprises the wand maker, she can tell. “Indeed,” Ophelia Ollivander raises an eyebrow. “Then let’s try… ah yes … there it is…” The wand maker turns a stern gaze on Phoebe. “This is the last wand my grandfather Garrick Ollivander made before his death; it has lain here in this box on this shelf for eleven years. Made from acacia and a hair from a female unicorn who kept her golden foal coat, twelve and a half inches, and rather complex, intricate; a special wand.”
Swallowing nervously, Phoebe peers into the box; the wand lies on a bed of navy velvet like any other Ollivander wand, but as her hand hovers over it, it vibrates and flies into her hand. Warmth like golden light races through her veins, and though she does not realise it, focused on the sense of euphoria she feels, but her silver eyes glow and butterflies fly from her fingers, resting on her head, her shoulders, her arms.
“Oh, well done, Lady Phoebe!” Ophelia Ollivander calls, “Well done indeed.”
“Thank you, wand maker,” Phoebe replies formally, curtseying properly. Ophelia Ollivander replies in the same fashion.
“How much will that be, wand maker?” pater asks, his hand resting lightly on Phoebe’s left shoulder as the butterflies wink out of existence.
“The normal seven galleons, please, Your Grace.”
She’s nervous, standing on Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station, but she doesn’t show it, of course. She’s a Malfoy. Scorpius boards first, his prefect badge gleaming on his smart robes along with his usual pendant. He isn’t yet in uniform, but he cuts a very dashing figure all the same, attracting lots of attention in his black and white embroidered doublet, white fur-edged cloak and his black breeches and polished riding boots. He bows first to the paterfamilias and then again to mater; Mama never comes to see them off on the train because Draco and Hermione Granger are always there, waving off their adopted muggle-born war orphan children. Edmund levitates Scorpius’s trunk into his selected compartment and then Scorpius takes his leave with a smile for each of his siblings, and a promise to look in on them later (Scorpius always keeps his word).
Apollo leaps on next with the kind of nonchalant elegance that would look contrived on anyone but him. Ever since Great Uncle Regulus made Apollo his heir the previous year, his occasional belligerence has come under better regulation, but he is as dangerous as he ever was, and at fourteen is the youngest Hogwarts Duelling Captain in two hundred and forty-seven years. Dressed similarly to his elder brother, in smart robes of crushed green velvet, he is as vibrant and as full of life as he was as a young child, and disappears with a sincere farewell.
Once her brothers are safely on the train she turns her attention to her grandparents. She’s already had her well-wishes from Aunt Daphne and Uncle Theo, and Julian has already boarded the train, and Emilia doesn’t start until next year. She knows immediately that her grandparents can see past her facade of impassivity.
“You’ll do well, cariad, we know you will,” pater reassures her, and she throws herself into his arms for a final hug.
“I’ll miss you,” Phoebe murmurs into his robes.
“I know,” he replies, voice soft and gentle. “But you’ll have your brothers and your cousin, and we’ll write every week.”
A whistle sounds through the smoke, sounding the ten minute warning.
“You’d better get on, Phoebe.” Mater interjects. Phoebe nods and steps away.
“Good-bye, mater,” she says as Edmund levitates her trunk onto the train, into the compartment she’s selected.
With a last thank you and good-bye she finally boards the Hogwarts Express. She’s just stowed her trunk on the luggage rack (thank Merlin for permanent featherlight and undetectable extension charms) and sat down on her preferred seat, by the window, facing the direction of travel, when the compartment door slides open.
“Can I sit here?” the girl asks excitedly. The girl is dressed in muggle clothing, in those blue trousers Phoebe has now learned are called jeans and a white cotton short sleeved top with a colourful drawing on it. Clearly Muggleborn, then. Phoebe blinks and gestures at the seat opposite her in a universal gesture of acceptance. “Thank you!” the girl exclaims, struggling with the trunk.
Phoebe frowns. “Didn’t they put a featherlight charm on your trunk when you bought it? I thought they did, normally. Where did you buy it from?”
“Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment,” the girl replies, nonplussed.
“Oh, you don’t want to go there, you’d have been much better off at James & Darlington’s on Vertick Alley. That’s where I bought mine.”
“Oh,” says the girl, still struggling.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake,” Phoebe huffs. “Leva.” She guides the trunk quickly up to the rack with her wand, where it settles with a muffled thud. Randolph hoots and flaps his wings in annoyance at the noise.
“You can do magic already?” the girl stares.
“Well of course - haven’t you tried yet? I started casting as soon as I bought my wand.”
“I didn’t know you could do that.”
“You can’t, technically, but the Ministry has no way of distinguishing who has actually cast the spell in any given area. The house is unplottable too, so that helps as well.” Phoebe explains rapidly.
“I didn’t know that.”
Obviously, Phoebe thinks, but she keeps silent. She finds looking at this girl uncomfortable - her hair, brown with a ragged fringe, is down, for one thing, and she fights to keep her annoyance under control. Do no Muggleborns bother reading about wizarding customs these days?
The awkward silence and Phoebe’s musings are interrupted by a knock on the compartment doors. Manners maketh magus. Keep an open mind, she reminds herself. Now if only others would do the same. She knows her family history. She knows what some people will likely think of her. Even though she’s eleven and has done absolutely nothing to warrant it.
She stands to open the door.
“May I come in? All the other compartments are full.” The new girl asks. She’s already wearing her Hogwarts robes, hair plaited back neatly, and her trunk sits in the corridor behind her, along with a snowy owl in a cage.
“Of course,” Phoebe responds as politely as she can manage, stepping aside.
“Thank you,” the girl replies with a flash of a smile.
The new arrival lifts her trunk up onto the luggage rack without any difficulty and sets her owl’s cage on top of the seat.
“Georgiana Darcy,” the girl offers, holding out her hand. Phoebe takes it with a smile, and her eyes widen when the other girl curtseys in textbook fashion - knees properly bent, left hand sweeping back her cloak and skirt. She notices Georgiana’s signet ring, but the angle is such that she can’t make out the design.
Phoebe offers her own name and curtsey in reply. “Phoebe Malfoy. It’s nice to meet you, Miss Darcy.”
“You’re a Malfoy?” the other girl screeches in horror. Phoebe tenses, fists clenching, jaw clenching. And so it begins, she thinks angrily.
“Yes,” she bites out, whirling around to face the Muggleborn girl. “What’s it to you? I don’t believe you’ve introduced yourself yet either.”
“Victoria Martin.” The girl snaps back. “And don’t expect me to curtsey either - what is this? The nineteenth century? my god wizards are backward.”
“It is a long-held wizarding custom,” Georgiana offers evenly.
“Well I think it’s stupid.” Victoria scoffs.
“No, I think you’ll find it’s called being polite.” Phoebe rebuts.
“Oh yes, and I suppose your grandfather was polite when he was torturing ordinary people into insanity during the war?”
“You don’t know a thing about my family.”
“I know they’re Death Eaters and evil, and that they escaped Azkaban prison because they bribed Ministry officials. I don’t know how you’re not ashamed to be alive.” Victoria shoves her, face flushed, breathing hard. Phoebe falls back against the bench, banging her head on the wood.
Phoebe stares at this girl. She will not cry. She will not cry. She will not cry.
“Apologise, Victoria.” Georgiana says eventually, breaking the silence.
“Why?” the other girl snarls, turning on her.
“Because we’re eleven, for Merlin’s sake. Phoebe hasn’t done anything, and you’ve just threatened her life. You also shouldn’t believe everything you read - especially not anything by Rita Skeeter.”
“I haven’t read anything by Rita Skeeter. The witch who came round to my house on my birthday told me.” Victoria crosses her arms over her chest. “She was called Hermione Granger.”
“Get out.” Phoebe snarls, jumping up. “Get out now.”
“Or what? Are you going to make me?”
“Get. Out. Of. My. Compartment.”
“I was here first,” Phoebe stares back.
“Fine.” Victoria Martin snaps eventually. “Fucking Death Eater.” She mutters as she leaves, hauling her trunk down with a grunt, slamming the compartment door shut.
Phoebe and Georgiana stare at each other for a time.
The sharp, shrill sound of a whistle and the train starting to puff away and pull out of the platform startles them, and the two girls stumble into each other.
“Sorry,” Phoebe mutters.
“It’s fine.” Georgiana replies. “Sit down,” the blonde haired girl continues. “You’re shaking, you should sit down.”
“I … am?” Phoebe stares at her hands. They’re trembling.
“Sit down.” Georgiana says forcefully, pushing her shoulders gently. When they’re both sat on the benches, Georgiana speaks again, her voice soft. “Are you going to be alright?”
“I - I” her chest hurts; it’s as though she’s being stabbed in the lungs by lots of daggers. Georgiana grabs her hands, places Phoebe’s fingers on the inside of her wrists so she can feel Georgiana’s pulse.
“Look at me.” Georgiana says, kneeling on the floor of the compartment. “Phoebe.” The blonde girl tugs her wrists sharply. “Look at me.” Phoebe slowly meets her green-eyed gaze. “Good,” Georgiana continues softly. “Now watch me, alright? Feel my pulse, and breathe in and out with me.” Phoebe nods through the stabbing pain, watching Georgiana’s eyes, forcing herself to breathe at the same time as the other girl.
Eventually, the pain subsides and Georgiana lets go of her wrists.
“I - thank you.” Phoebe blinks, embarrassed.
Georgiana sits opposite her. “I would have done the same for anyone.”
“Thank you anyway.”
The two girls sit in silence for a few minutes, and Phoebe stares out of the window, not really paying attention to what she can see.
“Vi li ahonniss,” Georgiana says suddenly.
Phoebe looks at her in pleased amazement, laughing incredulously. “Vi prêchiss?”
“You can’t be a Norman Darcy? There hasn’t been a Darcy at Hogwarts since the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1537.”
“Thomas Darcy was the only one executed by the Crown; his sons survived. My family arrived in England at the same time as yours, during the Norman Conquest.” Georgiana shrugs. “But you’re right, I’m the first to go to Hogwarts for centuries - we tried to stay out of the Civil Wars in the seventeenth century, and after the Statute of Secrecy was instated all the Darcy children were sent to Beauxbatons until the French Revolution.”
“Incredible,” Phoebe breathes. “The Darcys were thought to be an extinct line.”
“We almost were,” Georgiana clarifies. “I’m not surprised everyone thought we were - Fitzwilliam Darcy had no children; his sister Georgiana - my namesake - carried on the family line, married a de Lusignan, and well, the last century and a half hasn’t exactly been the most stable period in our history.”
“You can say that again,” Phoebe laughs bitterly. “You don’t mind that I called you Miss Darcy, do you?” She continues suddenly, flushing.
“It’s my proper title, Lady Phoebe.” Georgiana replies with a sardonic smile. “We old Anglo-Norman families are prideful, aren’t we?” She laughs. “No, until my family receives reparations for Thomas Darcy’s execution, the principal line has refused all titles, and will continue to do so, as a point of principle.”
“I know exactly what you mean.” Phoebe replies sadly. “The last Malfoy heiress-by-blood was Lyra Malfoy, around three and a half centuries ago, and I’m sure you know what happened to her.”
Georgiana winces. “Yes. How old was she - six, seven?”
“Four. She was four, and the Witch Hunters burnt her at the stake.” Phoebe replies hollowly. The tale has haunted more nightmares than she cares to remember, and with Victoria Martin’s you should be ashamed to be alive quip she already knows she will not sleep well tonight, even in Slytherin, the House of her forebears. “And Brutus Malfoy went to the Crown to ask for aid, and they turned him away. He wanted justice for his daughter, and was denied, so he began to advocate the complete separation of Muggle and Magical worlds.”
“I knew he did, but I didn’t know that was the reason he turned his coat, you could say.”
“No,” Phoebe snorts. “Most people just assume he was a latent Pureblood supremacist all along.”
“Well, well, if it isn’t Lady Phoebe Malfoy!” A most unwelcome voice drawls, accompanied by a shoving open of the compartment door, by a black haired boy. Phoebe recognises him instantly. It’s hard not to, when his family are in The Daily Prophet every other week.
James Sirius Potter, fellow first year. He also poured pumpkin juice (foul stuff, she doesn’t know why everyone else seems to be enamoured of it - either that, or they’re all pretending) accidentally-on-purpose over her dress robes at the Ministry Ball last year.
“What do you want, Potter?”
“Oh, I only wanted to say hello, sweet lady!” He declares grandly, completely ignoring Georgiana, not that the other girl seems to mind in the slightest, if the amused smirk gracing her face is any indication.
“Go. Away. Potter.”
James Potter pouts dramatically, sighing. “Fine, but I’ll catch you at the sorting. Toodle-doo!”
He flounces away.
“Don’t you dare laugh, Georgiana,” Phoebe bites out. “I’m not at all inclined to spent time with someone who finds it funny to torment others. Even if it is just for fun.”
The blonde girl meets Phoebe’s silver eyes with her green ones. Her answer is serious.
Scorpius calls on his little sister about an hour later, around lunch time, still not in his uniform. Phoebe introduces Georgiana and catches the flicker of interest in Scorpius’s eyes that he can’t quite hide, and she smiles behind her hand. She can’t suppose she blames her brother; a Darcy at Hogwarts is interesting news indeed.
“Still not in uniform?” Phoebe teases. “I thought you were meant to be setting an example.”
“Ah, well.” Scorpius replies with a smirk. “They can make an exception, just this once.”
“No,” Phoebe giggles. “You just want to show off, you vain peacock.”
“Enough, butterfly,” Scorpius growls, flushing. “I’ll see you in Slytherin.”
He leaves, Georgiana stares after him, and Phoebe suppresses a groan.