First time in Knockturn Alley

Harry ends up in Knockturn Alley after spluttering his directions badly in the Floo network

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

'You must speak clearly, dear,’ Mrs Weasley told Harry, as George dipped his hand into the flowerpot. ‘And mind you get out at the right grate.’

‘The right what?’ said Harry nervously, as the fire roared and whipped George out of sight too.

‘Well, there are an awful lot of wizard fires to choose from, you know, but as long as you’ve spoken clearly’

‘He’ll be fine, Molly, don’t fuss,’ said Mr Weasley, helping himself to Floo powder too.

‘But dear, if he got lost, how would we ever explain to his aunt and uncle?’

‘They wouldn’t mind,’ Harry reassured her. ‘Dudley would think it was a brilliant joke if I got lost up a chimney, don’t worry about that.’

‘Well, all right, you go after Arthur,’ said Mrs Weasley. ‘Now, when you get into the fire, say where you’re going’

‘And keep your elbows tucked in,’ Ron advised.

‘And your eyes shut,’ said Mrs Weasley. ‘The soot’

‘Don’t fidget,’ said Ron. ‘Or you might well fall out of the wrong fireplace’

‘But don’t panic and get out too early, wait until you see Fred and George.’

Trying hard to bear all this in mind, Harry took a pinch of Floo powder and walked to the edge of the fire. He took a deep breath, scattered the powder into the flames and stepped forward; the fire felt like a warm breeze; he opened his mouth and immediately swallowed a lot of hot ash.

‘D-Dia-gon Alley,’ he coughed.

It felt as though he was being sucked down a giant plug hole. He seemed to be spinning very fast, the roaring in his ears was deafening, he tried to keep his eyes open but the whirl of green flames made him feel sick, something hard knocked his elbow and he tucked it in tightly, still spinning and spinning, now it felt as though cold hands were slapping his face, squinting through his glasses he saw a blurred stream of fireplaces and snatched glimpses of the rooms beyond, his bacon sandwiches were churning inside him. He closed his eyes again wishing it would stop, and then he fell, face forward, onto cold stone and felt his glasses shatter.

Dizzy and bruised, covered in soot, he got gingerly to his feet, holding his broken glasses up to his eyes. He was quite alone, but where he was, he had no idea. All he could tell was that he was standing in the stone fireplace of what looked like a large, dimly lit wizard’s shop – but nothing in here was ever likely to be on a Hogwarts school list.

A glass case nearby held a withered hand on a cushion, a blood-stained pack of cards and a staring glass eye. Evil-looking masks leered down from the walls, an assortment of human bones lay upon the counter and rusty, spiked instruments hung from the ceiling. Even worse, the dark, narrow street Harry could see through the dusty shop window was definitely not Diagon Alley.

The sooner he got out of here, the better. Nose still stinging where it had hit the hearth, Harry made his way swiftly and silently towards the door, but before he’d got halfway towards it, two people appeared on the other side of the glass and one of them was the very last person Harry wanted to meet when he was lost, covered in soot and wearing broken glasses: Draco Malfoy.

Harry looked quickly around and spotted a large black cabinet to his left; he shot inside it and pulled the doors to, leaving a small crack to peer through. Seconds later, a bell clanged, and Malfoy stepped into the shop.

The man who followed could only be his father. He had the same pale, pointed face and identical cold grey eyes. Mr Malfoy crossed the shop, looking lazily at the items on display, and rang a bell on the counter before turning to his son and saying, ‘Touch nothing, Draco.’

Malfoy, who had reached for the glass eye, said, ‘I thought you were going to buy me a present.’

‘I said I would buy you a racing broom,’ said his father, drumming his fingers on the counter.

‘What’s the good of that if I’m not in the house team?’ said Malfoy, looking sulky and bad-tempered. ‘Harry Potter got a Nimbus Two Thousand last year. Special permission from Dumbledore so he could play for Gryffindor. He’s not even that good, it’s just because he’s famous, famous for having a stupid scar on his forehead.’

Malfoy bent down to examine a shelf full of skulls.

‘Everyone thinks he’s so smart, wonderful Potter with his scar and his broomstick -’

‘You have told me this at least a dozen times already,’ said Mr Malfoy, with a quelling look at his son, ‘and I would remind you that it is not prudent to appear less than fond of Harry Potter, not when most of our kind regard him as the hero who made the Dark Lord disappear - ah, Mr Borgin.’

A stooping man had appeared behind the counter, smoothing his greasy hair back from his face.

‘Mr Malfoy, what a pleasure to see you again,’ said Mr Borgin in a voice as oily as his hair. ‘Delighted - and young Master Malfoy, too charmed. How may I be of assistance? I must show you, just in today, and very reasonably priced -’

‘I’m not buying today, Mr Borgin, but selling,’ said Mr Malfoy. ‘Selling?’ The smile faded slightly from Mr Borgin’s face.

‘You have heard, of course, that the Ministry is conducting more raids,’ said Mr Malfoy, taking a roll of parchment from his inside pocket and unravelling it for Mr Borgin to read. ‘I have a few - ah - items at home that might embarrass me, if the Ministry were to call.’

Mr Borgin fixed a pince-nez to his nose and looked down the list.

‘The Ministry wouldn’t presume to trouble you, sir, surely?’

Mr Malfoy’s lip curled.

‘I have not been visited yet. The name Malfoy still commands a certain respect, yet the Ministry grows ever more meddlesome. There are rumours about a new Muggle Protection Act – no doubt that flea-bitten, Muggle-loving fool Arthur Weasley is behind it.’

Harry felt a hot surge of anger.

'- and as you see, certain of these poisons might make it appear -’

‘I understand, sir, of course,’ said Mr Borgin. ‘Let me see ...’

‘Can I have that?’ interrupted Draco, pointing at the withered hand on its cushion.

‘Ah, the Hand of Glory!’ said Mr Borgin, abandoning Mr Malfoy’s list and scurrying over to Draco. ‘Insert a candle and it gives light only to the holder! Best friend of thieves and plunderers! Your son has fine taste, sir.’

‘I hope my son will amount to more than a thief or a plunderer, Borgin,’ said Mr Malfoy coldly and Mr Borgin said quickly, ‘No offence, sir, no offence meant -’

‘Though if his school marks don’t pick up,’ said Mr Malfoy, more coldly still, ‘that may indeed be all he is fit for.’

‘It’s not my fault,’ retorted Draco. ‘The teachers all have favourites, that Hermione Granger -’

‘I would have thought you’d be ashamed that a girl of no wizard family beat you in every exam,’ snapped Mr Malfoy.

‘Ha!’ said Harry under his breath, pleased to see Draco looking both abashed and angry.

‘It’s the same all over,’ said Mr Borgin, in his oily voice. ‘Wizard blood is counting for less everywhere -’

‘Not with me,’ said Mr Malfoy, his long nostrils flaring.

‘No, sir, nor with me, sir,’ said Mr Borgin, with a deep bow.

‘In that case, perhaps we can return to my list,’ said Mr Malfoy shortly. ‘I am in something of a hurry, Borgin, I have important business elsewhere today.’

They started to haggle. Harry watched nervously as Draco drew nearer and nearer to his hiding place, examining the objects for sale. He paused to examine a long coil of hangman’s rope and to read, smirking, the card propped on a magnificent necklace of opals, Caution: Do Not Touch. Cursed – Has Claimed the Lives of Nineteen Muggle Owners to Date.

Draco turned away and saw the cabinet right in front of him. He walked forward, he stretched out his hand for the handle.

‘Done,’ said Mr Malfoy at the counter. ‘Come, Draco!’

Harry wiped his forehead on his sleeve as Draco turned away. ‘Good day to you, Mr Borgin, I’ll expect you at the manor tomorrow to pick up the goods.’

The moment the door had closed, Mr Borgin dropped his oily manner.

‘Good day yourself, Mister Malfoy, and if the stories are true, you haven’t sold me half of what’s hidden in your manor ...’

Muttering darkly, Mr Borgin disappeared into a back room. Harry waited for a minute in case he came back, then, quietly as he could, slipped out of the cabinet, past the glass cases and out of the shop door.

Clutching his broken glasses to his face he stared around. He had emerged into a dingy alleyway that seemed to be made up entirely of shops devoted to the Dark Arts. The one he’d just left, Borgin and Burkes, looked like the largest, but opposite was a nasty window display of shrunken heads, and two doors down, a large cage was alive with gigantic black spiders. Two shabby-looking wizards were watching him from the shadow of a doorway, muttering to each other. Feeling jumpy, Harry set off, trying to hold his glasses on straight and hoping against hope he’d be able to find a way out of there.

An old wooden street sign hanging over a shop selling poisonous candles told him he was in Knockturn Alley. This didn’t help, as Harry had never heard of such a place. He supposed he hadn’t spoken clearly enough through his mouthful of ashes back in the Weasleys’ fire. Trying to stay calm, he wondered what to do.

‘Not lost are you, my dear?’ said a voice in his ear, making him jump.

An aged witch stood in front of him, holding a tray of what looked horribly like whole human fingernails. She leered at him, showing mossy teeth. Harry backed away.

‘I’m fine, thanks,’ he said. ‘I’m just -’

‘HARRY! What d’yeh think yer doin’ down there?’

Harry’s heart leapt. So did the witch, a load of fingernails cascaded down over her feet and she cursed as the massive form of Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, came striding towards them, beetle-black eyes flashing over his great bristling beard.

‘Hagrid!’ Harry croaked in relief. ‘I was lost ... Floo powder ...’

Hagrid seized Harry by the scruff of the neck and pulled him away from the witch, knocking the tray right out of her hands. Her shrieks followed them all the way along the twisting alleyway out into bright sunlight. Harry saw a familiar, snow-white marble building in the distance, Gringotts bank. Hagrid had steered him right into Diagon Alley.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling

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