Leaving the Gregorovitch wand store, Penelope took Matthew to other shops to buy the Hogwarts freshmen’ necessities.
They first continued their shopping at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. They bought three sets of black wizard robes, black wizard hats, Dragon-skin coats, and winter cloaks.
They continued to Potage Cauldron Shop and Slug & Jiggers Apothecary. They bought a standard size 2 pewter cauldron, brass scale, and a complete set of potion bottles.
The next store they went to is Flourish & Blotts Bookseller. They bought a complete set of books for the first-year student. The clerk at the store prepared the books and packed them in cartons so they didn’t have to pick them up from the shelf themselves.
Matthew never sees a single knut out of Miss Penelope’s hand when these transactions happen, in other words, free.
He knows the free one often comes with an expensive cost.
After around two hours inside the Flourish & Blotts Bookseller, They left the store with Matthew carrying bizarre-shaped packages in all sizes.
Later that noon, the weather starts getting hotter. The sun graced the cobblestones with its scorching presence. Matthew put his luggage on the floor, wiped his sweat, then took out the to-buy list.
“Last one, just the pet left…” Matthew said in an exhausted tone
“Okay, let’s wrap it up, Mr. Wickfield. Follow me.” Penelope seemed to be bothered by the sun’s presence as well.
Across the street, they could see a golden sign above the store entrance, “Magical Menagerie.”
There were cages of pets on display. It was very cramped, noisy, and smelly, with every inch of the wall covered by cages. It sold all kinds of animals — Streelers, Fire Crabs, sleek black rats that were very intelligent, owls, ravens, cats of every color, Puffskeins, transforming rabbits, and much more.
A pair of enormous purple toads sat gulping wetly and feasting on dead blowflies. A gigantic tortoise with a jewel-encrusted shell was glittering near the window.
Poisonous orange snails were oozing slowly up the side of their glass tank, and a fat white rabbit kept changing into a silk top hat and back again with a loud popping noise.
Then there were cats of every color, a noisy cage of ravens, a basket of funny custard-colored furballs that were humming loudly, and, on the counter, a vast cage of sleek black rats which were playing some skipping game using their long bald tails.
The owner of the store is a witch with a heavy black monocle. After seeing them enter the store, she greeted them and asked, “Anything I can help you, dear?”
“He is a freshman at Hogwarts; he needs a pet.” Penelope introduced Matthew.
“Oh.” The witch nodded and then glanced up and down at Matthew, “I suggest you choose an owl, not a cat or a toad; children like owls. It can deliver letters and packages for you. It is a very practical pet.”
“Owl…” Matthew murmured, “I don’t know anyone in the wizarding world except Miss Penelope, whom I just met yesterday, and I am not allowed any contact with the Muggle world….” Matthew thought.
“Excuse me, madam, but what roles do cats and toads play in this world?” Matthew asked her.
“If the cat has the blood of Kneazle flowing in it, it will turn into a smart specimen. It could finish tasks on its own, and it would be very sensitive to the suspicious people around you.” The owner explained.
“So, is a cat more likely to have the blood of Kneazle flowing in it?” Matthew asked.
“Unlikely…” The witch replied.
“If you say that, it means the chance is close to zero…” Matthew thought.
In his previous life, Matthew didn’t have any experience with pets for more than ten years because he had an arse of an uncle. Matthew doesn’t want his life to be the same.
“So what are toads good for then?” He asked.
“Toad itself has no magical ability but is very sensitive to magic. Which makes them good practice for spells.” The witch paused momentarily, “Because of their skin which is sensitive as well, they make a great partner with the pioneers because they could easily experiment with concoctions as well.” She explains.
“Hmm, the toad sounds a bit more useful than the previous two…” Matthew pondered, “I will buy a toad then.” Without hesitation, Matthew chose the toad
“Are you out of your mind, Mr. Wickfield?” Penelope glared at Matthew with an intense stare, “Toads have been out of fashion for many years; if you bring a toad to Hogwarts, the others will laugh at you.” She said furiously.
“I just think they are cute, miss!” Matthew said naively with a cute expression.
Penelope felt at a loss hearing Matthew say that; she could only shake her head.
“Go ahead, dear, choose the toad you like.” The witch said enthusiastically.
She waved her wand, then a large box of glass filled with toads slowly moved to Matthew on its own.
“There are red-eyed toads, flower-backed toads, and red-bellied toads—” While the witch was explaining, Matthew already made up his mind.
“I’ll choose this one, madam.” Matthew picked one of the toads, which he thought looked nice.
“This is a black-eyed toad. They’re very happy to get along with wizards, but they can be very noisy sometimes!” The witch smiled.
At the same time, she packed the toad Matthew selected into a small glass box and then handed it to Matthew.
Matthew takes a closer look at his pet. There are layers of black eye bags around its eye sockets, which Matthew founds cute.
“Thank you, madam.” Matthew nodded with a smile.
“You’re welcome, dear.” The witch replied with a smile on her face.
After purchasing the last item on the list, carrying bizarre packages in all shapes, he also had a glass box with his newly acquired pet inside. They returned to the Leaky Cauldron.
Penelope sent the boy to his room and handed him a letter.
“Mr. Wickfield here is your ticket to Hogwarts.” She handed Matthew the ticket, “1st September, King’s Cross Station; the barkeep will guide you there.”
“Thank you for your guidance Miss Clearwater; I was really happy while in your care.” Matthew said with a smile on his face.
“You’re welcome, Mr. Wickfield. We are awaiting your arrival at Hogwarts.” Penelope smiled, “I hope you will be assigned to the house of Ravenclaw because I am the prefect of Ravenclaw.” She added.
She thought Matthew did not know anything about the four houses in Hogwarts, so she explained to Matthew, “There are four houses in Hogwarts, Mr. Wickfield. Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.”
“Ravenclaw stands at the top of them, Slytherin belongs to the lowly conspirators, Hufflepuff belongs to the mediocre wizards…” She paused momentarily, “… I’d rather join Hufflepuff than Gryffindor!”
“What about Gryffindor, Miss?” Matthew asked.
“Gryffindor is where they house dark wizards over the centuries…” She said with a gloomy tone.
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