occluminous: (tempted)
Author: occluminous
The bus is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Bella writes this down under magic I want to learn.

The other children here are Muggleborn, like her, or Muggle-raised, or simply have busy magical parents. They pick up nine more ten- and eleven-year-olds after Bella's stop, and then they go trundling down the magical highway at staggering speed headed for Oakland, California.

The bus lets them all out at what they are told is a magical enclave of the Bay Area, colloquially known as the Bay Cauldron. They get little colorful maps of the locations they'll need to visit and are sternly instructed to be back in four hours or they will be found and they will not like it.

It's not too hard for Bella to find her way around the Bay Cauldron. She plots out a path, shadows some of the students whose parents are merely busy and not Muggle for the first few stores - she doesn't care about customizing her robes, there is no room for variance in the currency exchange, and she wouldn't know where to begin improving on a Standard Student Potion Ingredient Kit. She leaves them behind at the wand shop, though.

They're served first, because Bella's looking around. She finds a wand box that shakes and rattles when she gets near it, and by the time the others have all got their wands she's carrying it up to the clerk. "I think this one likes me," she says.

The clerk agrees with her. He takes it out of the box for her. "Vine and phoenix feather, twelve and a half inches, whippy, ideal for nonverbal spells when you get to those," he says, and he hands it to her, handle first. "Give it a wave."

Bella gives it a wave, and the most exhilarating feeling pours down her wand arm and emerges in a shower of red-orange-gold sparks, and the clerk beams. "There you are, then! That's a fine wand." He takes Bella's money, the Lions and Eagles she's changed her Muggle money for at the bank. And he turns to the boy who's just come in and tries this boy on some thirty wands before the boy finds one that will spark for him, and then he notices that Bella is still there.

"Is something wrong, young lady?"

"I'd like another, please," Bella says politely.

"Another - another wand? Don't you like that one? It likes you."

"I do like it. I want two," Bella explains. "In case something happens to one. They're not very big, you see, and I don't think they look terribly sturdy, and it might take time to come back to the store if one were broken or stolen."

The clerk is confused, but he permits her to go through some more wands, and after a few dozen have gone by and the clerk is starting to make remarks like "there's usually not more than one wand in a shop that will choose any given witch", a wand doesn't just spark for Bella but glows, a large ball of light in that same red-orange-gold color sprouting and growing to the size of a watermelon at the wand-tip and engulfing half her arm.

"...Well," he says. "If you want it..."

"I do," says Bella firmly.

"Hazel and phoenix feather, thirteen inches, rigid, good for high-power spells," sighs the clerk, and he takes more of her coins and hands her the boxed second wand. "You be careful with those, young lady."

Bella thanks him, and she puts the vine wand up in her hair with a little twisting and fussing, and the other in the little pocket inside her robe sleeve that is designed for exactly this purpose. (She told the robe person she was right-handed, so she has this pocket only in the left sleeve. She wishes she'd thought ahead and claimed to be ambidextrous, but she decides she rather likes the hair solution after she passes herself in a mirror.)

She buys a schoolbag with a Lightening Charm on it, and she buys textbooks.

She has some coins left. Her parents gave her a lot of spending money, and her scholarship covers almost all of the standard student supplies; the extra wand did not put her far over. She knows she's not the sort to deeply regret it if she doesn't have the pocket money to buy snacks and so on later so she doesn't think she needs to be too cautious.

She goes to the Menagerie and looks at owls.

The big owls are probably more practical - for packages and things - but these are magic owls, and even the little ones are rated for much heavier burdens than Bella would have guessed. And the little screech owls are the cutest, and that one seems to like her nearly as much as her wands do.

"Hey you," she says. The owls are in sections, but mostly of their own accord; this one can fly right up to her and land on her arm and show off the tag on its leg that says Eastern screech owl, rufous morph. And it does. "Oh, you're cute, can I pet you?"

The owl makes a funny trilling noise, which Bella takes for assent, and it doesn't bite her when she pets it.

She carries it up to the register. "How much is this owl, please, and is it a boy or a girl owl?"

"That's a girl," says the shopkeeper, and she names a reasonable figure - denominated in Lions, but still within Bella's spending power - for the owl and a semester's worth of food "if you let her out to hunt most days".

Bella purchases the owl and the food, and puts the owl on her shoulder, and says, "Now I've got to name you."

The owl can not only trill but also whinny. This is not particularly helpful. Well, maybe it's a little helpful. "How about Euterpe?" Bella has been reading Greek myths lately.

Euterpe trills.

"Wonderful," says Bella. "Good owl." She feeds Euterpe a treat, crosses off "familiar (optional)" from her shopping list, and goes to the meeting place with twenty minutes to spare.