Authors notes: I want to thank my BETAs Koorime and ChibiBecca. I would also like to appologise if people start craving cookies oo; Oh, and this Fic is set in Bath, Wiltshire, my hometown, so sorry if it sounds like a travel brochure at times ^^
Harry lay on the vaguely comfortable bed that smelled of clean sheets and stared at the ceiling, watching the shadows of people walking by passing over the dull white paint.
It was apparent to him now that the next two weeks was going to be hell, unless he somehow managed to get the spare key from the expensive looking receptionist. But he probably wouldn’t be able to; she appeared to have been made from the same mould as Aunt Petunia.
Uncle Vernon had visited him earlier in the evening, tossing a pre-packaged sandwich and a bottle of juice on the bed as he did so. There had been nothing more than necessity in the gesture.
He had stopped a moment and then said “I have the key, at eight o’clock every morning I will unlock the door and we shall go to the breakfast hall. Do what you like during the day, and meet me again at eight o’clock in the evening in the foyer for dinner.”
Then he’d left, locking the door behind him.
Harry had silently eaten the food, being almost ravenous, having missed dinner unpacking his things and straightening the small room. He had found that the room wasn’t entirely bad, it was ensuite at least, so he had laid out his toiletries when he’d finished unpacking.
Overall, the room was rather sparse, containing only a bed, bedside table with a dull lamp and a small wardrobe, with a chair under the window. The décor wasn’t too bad, it followed the same lines as the foyer, mahogany and deep reds and greens, but it really only served to make him wonder what the room Dudley was now living in was like.
It was undoubtedly bigger, probably more extravagant, probably with a bathroom that had a bath rather than a shower. He had wondered, briefly, if Dudley shared a room with his parents, or also had one of his own.
He rolled over; thinking this holiday was going to be two of the worst weeks of summer he’d ever experienced. It was clear to him, now, that the Dursleys’ had a well planned two weeks, and he didn’t fit anywhere in them.
It was also obvious to him, and had been the instant he stepped into the small room, that he was going to be locked out of the room during the day and was going to have to find something to do all day every day for the entire holiday.
He fell asleep wondering what his friends were doing, and if they were enjoying the evening more than he was.
Bath turned out to be rather a nice place, nicer to look at than Hermione’s long boring list had suggested.
The fountain at the end of Great Pultney street gave him somewhere to sit and think after Uncle Vernon had kicked him out. He had been right in thinking he would get the cheapest meals on the menu as well, this mornings breakfast had left something to be desired and his stomach rumbled gently as he paused at the fountain.
He sat on the rim, in the centre of the roundabout, watching the traffic flow around him – mostly busses, as it appeared cars weren’t allowed past the fountain – and the people walking past, wondering what to do.
After a while, he decided he should just explore for a while, as it was the first day of the holiday, he should get himself acquainted with the city he was to be spending the better part of his days in.
He slipped off the fountain’s rim and jogged across the roundabout, dodging a car pulling out of its parking space as he went. He grinned at the surprised woman in the driver’s seat and then set off down Pultney Bridge.
He looked at it interestedly; Hermione had told him it was a bit of a centre point in Bath. It was one of those old Georgian bridges, and when actually standing on it, you couldn’t tell it apart from the rest of the street. Each side was lined with small shops; the left side was a row of trinket shops with a small café at the end, the right, a couple of clothes courts.
He looked in the windows as he walked down the left hand side, toward a set of traffic lights, mostly the shops sold tourist junk, though the middle shop looked interesting as there were swords on the walls. He turned left when he reached the end and finally saw the River Avon.
He paused for a while, resting his elbows on the stone wall that ran the length of the street creating a much needed barrier against people falling over the edge, looking down at the river. He watched the water falling over the step effect about thirty feet from the bridge supports, marvelling at the simple beauty.
From this angle he liked the bridge, it looked as old as Hermione had said it was, and in its way it was quite elegant. The three, solid looking arches gave it a look of stability – though he knew from reading Hermione’s letter that it had had to be repaired at least once – the decorative lines, and the smartly placed windows all fit together perfectly.
He smiled as he saw a Roman soldier standing on the opposite bank, handing out leaflets to passers by; two or three children were running round the poor man’s feet, almost making him drop the wad of paper in his hands.
He glanced to the right, and realised there was a rugby field on that side of the river, which explained why he had been woken up by shouting and whistles being blown. The bloody thing was right behind his hotel.
He stepped back and looked around, behind him was an enormous hotel, looking very over fancy, but very clean, made from a different stone than the older buildings around it. He shrugged slightly and moved off down the wide path, avoiding other tourists – a lot of them American – and passing behind the two small bus shelters.
He reached the end of the little street and looked down over the wall again. There was a beautiful garden, a tall plinth stood near the wall with an old angel statue standing on the top with her back to him.
A few feet ahead of her was a mid-sized flower bed containing a very big topiary bush shaped like some sort of teddy bear wearing a crown. The sight of this spectacle made him frown, it was kind of ugly, but in a very artistic fashion.
In the centre of the garden, surrounded by a lot of well kept grass and many deck chairs, was a small gazebo, probably for music to be played or something, though its current occupier was a homeless man with his dog and what appeared to be a very old, highly dilapidated bicycle.
Harry looked around a bit more, then looked up at the abbey that was a short distance away past an obelisk standing in the centre of a large roundabout that also had two or three large silver birches and a nice array of perennials. He kept his eye on the traffic this time, and crossed to the roundabout, dodging a remarkably yucky green and pale yellow coloured tour bus as he did so.
He looked up, and more up, at the beautiful old building. He remembered Hermione saying this church was built in 1499, and it was built on the place two previous churches had been, in 757 and 1090 respectively.
He reflected on how old the building was for a moment, looking at the magnificent architecture. The church had at least seven large stained glass windows in view from where he was standing, and the decoration was suitably gothic. There were arches reaching from the lower tier to the top of the first floor windows. He found himself admiring the medieval abbey for so long he felt twinges in his knees from standing and in his neck from craning it so far back.
He smiled to himself and, watching the tour busses again – now some red ones with flower patterns on them had turned up – he crossed over from the roundabout and stood at the base of the Abbey. He glanced up at its magnificence again, and then set off down the path that would take him, presumably, to its front.
He passed a lovely looking statue as he rounded the cross section of the church. It looked old, and a little worn from people stepping up onto its’ base, but it also looked a little vandalised.
He wrinkled his nose in distaste – apparently even Bath had a bit of a problem.
He came out of the short street next to the church and found himself in a large area, there were seats to the right, and a huge expanse of flagstone to the left. There was a large crowd and he stood on tiptoe to see why.
There was a firer-eater.
He raised his eyebrows slightly and then looked further past the crowd and realised that there were, in fact, two, the second one surrounded a man just climbing onto a tall unicycle.
He looked around some more and noted the Roman Baths Hermione had told him of. Apparently he should visit them at some point and try the water. He took note of where it was as he had already planned to visit it.
He crossed the square, glancing up at the front of the abbey as he did so – it was even more impressive than the rest of the building – passed under what appeared to be a stone roof held up by stone pillars (there was a group of giggly girls sitting on a star case on the left side of it, all of whom watched him as he passed) and stepped out onto the main shopping street of the city.
It was crowded to say the least.
He spent a few hours wondering around the centre of Bath, looking in the usual muggle stores, giving a bit of change to the ‘Blue Man’ who stood as still as a statue in front of the Roman Baths entrance, pouring over the many mobile stores that were ranged up and down the street, mostly selling useless objects or hand made jewellery.
He stood and watched a street artist painting the Royal Crescent from memory with a spatula and oils, grinned to himself as girls crowded round a hair braiding stall, and was sorely tempted when he found a bubble gun stall, (he had been wondering about the bubbles drifting along on the breeze) Ron would have found the bright orange handheld toys fascinating.
The architecture of Great Pultney street was continued even in this shopping street, every building was a gorgeous sample of Georgian artistry. Though there was a fair amount of later architecture muddled in, and everything was covered in the mish mash of colours and shapes that marked the twenty first centaury.
He found that, despite his Aunt and Uncle being so despicably horrible, he was enjoying himself.
While exploring one of the alleys that ran parallel to the main street, Harry discovered two things that made him smile.
The first was a cookie store named ‘Jays’ Cookies’ that sold absolutely wonderful cookies. He bought himself three, to munch on for the rest of the day, they were freshly made, and the chocolate in them was pleasantly melted and made an interesting mix of textures in his mouth as he ate.
The second he discovered at the other end of the alley while munching on the first cookie.
A wizard shop.
Of course, it didn’t look exactly like a wizard shop, as it was cleverly disguised as what muggles thought one should look like, but he knew it none the less, he could feel the real magic within its walls, vibrating gently against his own. The name above the door, and hanging from a sign that moved slightly in the breeze, was ‘Arcadia.’
Still munching on the cookie, he stood and looked in through the large window.
The display was interesting, there were useless muggle magical objects arrayed all over, but interspersed through those were a handle of real ones. He had the strong feeling that only he could see them. Behind the actual display he could see a waterfall, lightly splashing its way down to a pond in which he was sure he could see goldfish.
He smiled again and wondered at the simplicity of the ruse, the owner of this store was hiding in plain sight. He was amazed the ministry allowed them to do it, if they even knew about it at all. Though he would be hard pressed indeed to believe they didn’t.
Finishing the cookie, he put the other two away in the small bag he had slung over his head and shoulders and stepped inside.
The pond behind the display turned out to be a lovely bit of decoration, but it was also used as a way of promoting things in the store itself. Behind the water, and arranged around the fall itself were quartz crystals, amethysts, emeralds, statues of various deities and African wood and stone carvings.
Directly in front of the door was a staircase; a sign on the wall next to it declared that there was a lot more on offer right up it.
To the left of the staircase, and taking up the space underneath it was the till area, the counter top wound its way in an almost semi-circular way, extending about five feet out from the wall.
Along its surface were many mobiles and shelves all containing things like pendants, pendulums, crystals and jewellery. The counter itself was glass and contained a large array of cut gemstones, more jewellery and larger objects muggles thought of as magical.
Harry shook his head as he realised there was little space for the till and less for the purchasing itself.
The wall opposite the till area was a mass of shelves, mostly containing candles and incense sticks – which he now realised was what was making the room smell so nice. At the far end of the wall, the shelves were stacked with tapes, cassettes and even a few DVD’s.
The back wall was entirely pre-crushed or even touched herbs, all neatly kept in glass jars, labelled and numbered. There was a small desk in front of it, a few jars open and a little porcelain bowl laid out with a sample of the herbs, as well as a mortar and pestle that looked like it was in mid use.
The rest of the wall behind the till area couldn’t be seen as the counter ran up the wall with a large display case.
He stepped in properly and glanced at the jovial looking man behind the till.
The man, who was rather strangely dressed in full wizarding robes, moved his eyes over Harry’s face, taking in the ruffled black hair and piercing green eyes before moving up to his forehead.
Harry turned away and pushed his fringe down over the scar, moving a little further into the store. When he turned back, the man raised his eyebrows and said “Harry Potter?”
There was no getting away from it now. Harry nodded slightly, his expression guarded.
“Ha! I thought it was, but here, in my store? Ha!”
The man laughed lightly as Harry started blushing, stuffing his hands into his jeans pockets. He fervently hoped the man wouldn’t notice the faint tinge to his cheeks.
“I’m Henry Shire; I own this little place with my lovely wife, Emily.” He held his hand out and Harry took it, a little uncertainly. “What are you doing in this neck of the woods anyway?” Henry had a thick Wiltshire accent that had given Harry pause as he tried to decipher what was being said.
Harry glanced around, stuffing his hand back in his pocket, “My Aunt and Uncle brought me with them on a family holiday.”
The man laughed again, he seemed unable to keep the thing inside, “So what does Harry Potter think of the fair city of Bath?”
Harry shrugged slightly, “It’s nice. I’ve spent a few hours exploring.”
The man smiled and gave Harry a few pointers on the best bits of the city, then directed him to a door at the back of the room, it led to the strictly non-muggle section of the store. Harry thanked him and moved in the general direction, looking at the parts of the store that had previously been obscured by the counter and the slight L-shape of the room.
This part of the store contained all the books, muggle as well as wizard from the looks of them. This part of the room also contained someone he hadn’t expected.
From sleek white-blonde head to leather booted toe, it was unmistakably him.
It had been just over three weeks since he had last seen Malfoy, and as far as he could tell, he hadn’t changed much, though it was very strange to see him in muggle clothing.
As he quietly and quickly walked to the non-muggle section, he looked Malfoy over, he was wearing a black leather jacket and black jeans to go with the boots, his white blonde hair was vividly striking, creating a stark contrast that Harry admitted actually looked quite good.
He had to hand it to him; Malfoy knew how to dress himself, though this didn’t make up for his absolutely charming personality, which, admittedly, had been somewhat subdued over the past year.
Malfoy must have felt his gaze on him, as just as Harry was within a few feet of the door, he turned.
Hoping against hope that he hadn’t actually seen him, Harry crossed the remaining space at a fast walk and closed the door behind him.
Draco heard movement behind him, and ignored it. Dressed like this, he normally had muggle girls all over him, so he carried on reading the book he had picked out of the shelves in front of him. It was written by a muggle author so was highly inaccurate, but he found it an interesting read never the less, something he was sure his classmates would find peculiar.
He turned a page and a moment later realised there was someone actually staring at him, he could feel it in the pricking between his shoulder blades. He turned and his pale eyes rested on the one person he had least expected to see.
Harry Potter was trying to sneak past him into the wizarding section of the store.
He watched as Potter reached the door and closed it behind him, then snapped the book closed with a small smile on his lips. He put the book away and made his way to the door, opened it, looked around and quietly closed it behind him.
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