To Madam Malkin, Proprietor, Tailor, and Designer of Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions,
We wish to engage your services for a discreet and private fitting for several sets of dress robes of the highest quality, for immediate completion. Cost is not a significant restricting factor in this.
On behalf of Harry Potter
As they walked down Diagon Alley together, dodging through the early morning traffic, Harry sighed. "Do we really need to get me new dress robes? I'm pretty sure my old ones fit well enough for now."
Hermione shook her head firmly. "No. We're doing this right. You need to not just impress people, but intimidate them." She started to walk a little quicker.
"Why are we starting out so early, anyway, and why are you in such a rush?"
She stopped, and glared at him. "Has it not occurred to you that I have an actual job to do, as well as being your minder?"
He thought about this for a moment. "Sorry. You're being very helpful."
Shaking her head, she rubbed at her temples. "I swear, sometimes it seems like you're going to need to hire an actual secretary to get all of this done."
She blinked. "What?"
"Want the job? You've seen the books I'll have to deal with, and I'm pretty sure I can afford to pay you properly." He grinned.
"Harry, this isn't a joke."
"Hermione, when have I ever been a jokester?"
The look she gave him was an interesting mix of 'are you kidding?' and 'do you want the list?'.
He grinned again. "Okay, okay. But I'm serious this time. You know the system. You can organise things. You have things you want to get done. It's not going to actually work without you. So, why should I not pay you for the help you'll be giving? Let's face it, you're going to want to be involved anyway."
"Well, if you put it like that..."
"We're going to make a difference with this, Hermione."
She smiled at him. "Okay then. I accept. I'll just... put in for a leave of absence at the Ministry. I'm sure they won't miss a junior clerk for a little while." Seeming a bit more relaxed, she changed her course through the street, and soon they were at the owl post.
Hermione bought a basic short letter set (envelope, parchment, and the use of a small owl). While Harry stood nearby, looking into the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies, she scratched out a short note requesting leave of absence, effective immediately, and sent it off to her boss. She had no idea how long it would take them to get it (she'd seen Ministry in-trays), and how long after that it'd take them to actually read it, so she added the date and time, then sent it on its way.
When she joined Harry, he was still looking in the window, eyes locked on one of the racing brooms. He had that 'this plan seems like a good idea' look in his eyes again. "We're here on business, Harry."
"Well, if I'm meant to impress people, won't I need a good broom?"
She shook her head. "No, we're looking to impress them with a politician, not a quidditch player. You don't ride brooms to that sort of thing, you apparate or take the Floo."
Looking a little put out, he sighed. "Alright then... But I'll have to get a new one at some point, if only to relax after all the being responsible that you're apparently signing me up for."
A shrug. "That seems fair, at least." She glanced at her watch. "We're running late for the appointment, we should hurry along."
Stepping through the heavy-curtained door to Madam Malkin's, Harry was immediately reminded of the dramatic events that had somehow managed to happen in this one unassuming shop. He was relieved to see, however, that nobody, especially not a certain Slytherin of about his age, was in to get fitted today.
Apparently noticing his apprehension, Hermione smiled at him. "I wrote ahead to book you a private session. We don't want any of our plans getting out before we're ready, now do we?"
After a moment, Madam Malkin stepped out from the back room, and smiled at them. Hermione smiled back. "Mr. Harry Potter is here for his fitting appointment."
Still smiling, Malkin replied, "Ah, lovely. Would you be his girlfriend? It's so nice when couples take care of each oth-"
Hermione cut her off. "No. I am Mister Potter's secretary, and nothing more." She drew herself up, trying to be haughty in her finest impression of McGonagall's posture.
"Oh! I am sorry, dear. Not many young men employ secretaries these days, it's so nice to see someone who's actually organised." Malkin didn't seem too put off, but was doing her best to smooth ruffled feathers.
Harry stayed silent through the whole affair.
"So, what sort of robes are you here for today? Your letter was a little vague, I'm afraid."
Pulling one of the slips of parchment from her bag, Hermione answered, "We need one set of formal dress robes, one set of business dress robes, and," she paused, "one set of Wizengamot judicial robes." She smiled. "Mister Potter will be taking over the House of Black's estates and the attached seat." Not, technically, a lie. Just incomplete. "He will need to look his best. Good first impressions, and all that."
Leading them back to the fitting room, Malkin waved her wand, and a large book full of glossy illustrations floated over. "I've a number of styles you can choose from for the formal and business robes. Of course, judicial robes tend to be a little more restricted..." Another wave of her wand, and the pages flipped over until they showed the plum-coloured robes of a member of the Wizengamot. "One colour, and only a few variations, usually."
Hermione looked at the pictures thoughtfully, while Harry was just curious to see what he'd be ending up in. After a moment, Hermione looked over at him. "I think traditional, for all three sets but especially the Wizengamot ones. We don't want to rock the boat too early, now do we?"
He grinned at her. "No. Though, perhaps I'll put in for a bit more of the embroidery, make it sparkle nicely." He looked at the book again, then shook his head. "To be honest, you know more about this than I do, how about you pick styles for me?"
"I'll narrow it down to a shortlist for you, but you," she poked him in the chest, "are going to make the actual decisions." Hermione smiled at Madam Malkin. "I'll work on what we'll be ordering, while you get everything else sorted?"
The tailor-witch nodded at her, and gestured to one of the little platforms. "If you'd like to step onto here, Mister Potter, I can start taking some measurements."
As Harry stepped onto the platform, a pair of tape measures slithered out from under his feet, and started positioning themselves all over him, wrapping around arms, stretching across shoulders, lying the length of legs. At each position, Madam Malkin jotted another number down on a piece of parchment.
The process didn't take too long, with two tape measures working, one being read while the other found a new position, but to Harry it seemed like there were more measurements being taken than were normal. "Is this many measurements really necessary?" He yelped as one of the tape measures jabbed him with its cold metal end. "I mean, last time I was in here it was like three measurements and some adjustments later..."
"Mister Potter, the last set of robes I fitted you for were for Hogwarts. Formal robes are a little more... made to fit the wearer. Your school robes were, essentially, made with a year's growth minimum in them, which is why children's robes are always either baggy or too short. You seem to have stopped getting much bigger, by now, unless someone decides to actually start feeding you properly." She smirked.
Once they'd emerged back into daylight after the quiet dark of Madam Malkin's, Harry stretched his arms out and made the sort of quiet creaking groan of someone who was having a really effective stretch but wanted to make a point of it. The robes, which had cost more than Harry had spent on clothes combined in his life to date, would be ready and delivered in a few days.
Hermione checked her watch, then started to lead him down the street again. "Next stop, we need to get you some new stationery."
"Why? I've got plenty of parchment and quills and stuff..." Harry followed along obediently, resigned to the fact that Hermione knew what needed to be done, justifying it with the thought that surely that's why people hired secretaries in the first place.
"You have stuff to write on, yes, but not professional stationery. A good letterhead, and a dictating quill, will get you a lot done." Harry seemed like he was about to object, but she cut him off. "You've seen your handwriting, I'm sure. And no, I'm not the sort of secretary who does your writing for you, I'm the sort who makes sure you're not putting your foot in your mouth."
Harry grinned sheepishly. "I'd never suggest you write everything out, but I've had enough experience with a Quick-Quotes Quill to know I don't want anything to do with them."
She sighed. "Of course we're not getting you a Quick-Quotes, those things are trash only fit for annoying little bugs. But a good self-writing quill will save you a world of effort, and save everyone else from eye strain."
Narrowly avoiding getting distracted by the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies next door (okay, maybe he got a little distracted, but he didn't walk into anything or stop to stare, at least) Harry pushed the door to Scribbulus Writing Instruments open, holding it to let Hermione through.
Inside, there was a wide array of quills, in every colour of the rainbow and a few which were, to be honest, new to Harry. Some even glittered with tiny jewels sewn into the feathers. While Harry marvelled at them, most sitting on their shelves while a select few wrote out lines of poetry in an elegant script on slowly turning drums of parchment, Hermione stepped over and smiled at the witch behind the counter. "Good morning!"
"Hi." The woman behind the counter didn't seem quite as excited about being here this morning as Hermione did.
Not letting herself get discouraged, Hermione pressed on. "We'd like to order a full professional stationery set, including a newly designed letterhead, and a set of three self-writing quills."
A nod. "We can arrange that. The letterhead will take a few days, and you'll need to give us the text to be included. And you'll need to wait until Scribs gets back, he's in Sweden for the next few days."
After a pause to consider, she replied, "We can deal with that. I'll owl through the details, and he can get to it when availability allows?" The witch behind the counter nodded, and Hermione looked over at Harry, "Any preferences on colours, Harry?"
While she had been dealing with the business, Harry had been getting distracted by some of the pens. He held up one in a rich scarlet, with polished gold fittings. "The Gryffindor colours are pretty nice." He swooshed it around a bit, watching the slight iridescence of the feather.
Hermione nodded, and turned back to the counter. "Two of the scarlet and gold, with scarlet ink, and one coal black with matching ink, in self-writing with formal business script."
Turning back to the enticing displays of pretty quills, Harry silently thanked his stars that he had Hermione's competence and confidence on his side. Maybe this would actually work.
Another Gringotts cheque signed, and another delivery expected, they walked down Diagon Alley. Hermione looked Harry over, and seemed to be thinking about something.
She sighed. "If we're going to be making you look professional, there's one more thing we'll need to do, and I'm not sure you'll particularly like it."
He stopped walking. "What?"
Reaching up to tussle his hair, she grinned. "We may need to actually tame your hair. The length doesn't matter, but it seems fairly firm on being an unruly mess."
Harry ducked away from her, batting her hand away. "You know full well it's not going to behave no matter what we do, so unless you've got some new solution that we've not tried before, then we're stuck."
She ran a hand through her own hair, which had been behaving relatively well lately (especially compared to what it used to be like). "I mean, Sleekeazy's has always worked well for me, you remember how it used to get."
"Yes, well, that's you." Harry laughed. "Your hair was just regular messy, not this supernaturally rebellious arrangement." He shook his head vigorously, undoing the tussling she'd done to his hair. It didn't look any different, but was sitting slightly more comfortable.
"Hmm. Regular Sleekeazy's, maybe." Hermione seemed to be thinking again, and leant against a nearby wall. "How much do you know about that stuff?"
He shrugged. "It's what everyone uses, and has been for ages. What's there to know? I've even found tins of it at Grimmauld Place, and not just in Sirius's room. Oh, and I think my grandfather had something to do with it?"
Hermione laughed. "I think, if we can find someone selling the original recipe, you might be in for a shock."
"Why the original recipe?"
"Harry, your grandfather wasn't just involved. I looked it up once, when I was procrastinating on an ancient runes essay. Even the back of a tin of hair potion is fascinating if you have enough work to avoid."
"Fleamont Potter, your grandfather, invented Sleekeazy's."
Harry blinked at her. "Really? I thought someone called Sleekeazy would have invented it."
She thwapped him with her bag. "People aren't usually THAT predictively named, that would be just weird."
"The best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher I ever had had a name you told me translates to Wolf Wolf. Did you know he was a werewolf?"
She glared at him for a moment, then smiled. "Fair point. But still. No, your grandfather invented it, and that's most of what was in your parents' vault when you started at Hogwarts."
"It was mostly hair potion?"
Another glare. "It was mostly money from selling the hair potion company."
"That seems more reasonable."
"Anyway. They changed the recipe a bit not long after he sold it, but if we can find some of the original recipe, it was specifically designed for taming Potter hair." She looked at his hair again, and grinned. "If you actually wanted to look professional, and had a big interest in potions, you'd probably have invented it too."
Harry put his hands up. "Hey, I never said I didn't want to look professional!"
"No, but after all these years, having your hair in a way that your aunt and uncle would hate, but can't do anything about, makes you feel good about things."
"Well." Hermione grinned at him. "You just need to look at this as the other end of things. Even more than they wanted, and as a tool to do things that they'd hate."
He considered this for a moment, then nodded. "So, where do we get this stuff?"
Hermione glanced around at the array of shops lining Diagon Alley. There were still some boarded up, with the world still trying to recover from the war, but there were a few new places, too. She pointed at one of them. "We'll try in here."
It took them the better part of an hour, and searching in seven different shops, each one pungent and weirdly decorated as only a combination of grooming products and the eccentricities of wizarding culture could provide, but eventually they found themselves in possession of two tubs of Sleekeazy's Original Formula Hair Potion.
As they stepped out of the last shop, Harry slumped against a wall, rubbing his hands over his face. "Please tell me we're done now, Hermione."
She pulled a slip of parchment from her bag, reading over it. "Well, we've covered most of the things you'll need to get done here before we actually get started on putting these plans into action. If you're paying me as a secretary, I can do the rest later."
Harry stood up quickly, and grinned. "Well then, there's just one thing left to do." He grabbed her hand, and started to drag her off down the street excitedly.
Trailing behind, she asked, "And just what is that?" She pulled her hand free, but kept following.
Harry said nothing, but soon they stopped outside Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. "I have been acting like an adult all day long. We're getting the most ridiculous ice cream they'll serve us."
"Harry..." She seemed a little uncertain at the sudden shift in tone for the day's events.
"Hermione." He grinned at her. "If we're going to make this work, then we're going to need me to hold on to my sanity. If I'm being Lord Potter-Black and the seven little Lordships all day, I'm going to go absolutely spare. Ice cream now, adulting later."
He led the way inside the little shop. Next to the counter, there was a memorial to Florean himself, yet another casualty of the war. A grinning portrait of the man himself, surrounded by floating ice cream scoops and sprinkles, bumping into each other like fish, and in front of the painting there were two small candles, and a bowl of never-melting ice cream that had a scoop of every flavour they could create, piled in ridiculous and improbable towers. He would have enjoyed being remembered that way, Harry thought.
He stepped up to the counter. "Hi. I'd like a large chocolate, caramel, toffee, strawberry, and pumpkin sundae, with every type of sprinkles and fruit you have. For two. We're celebrating."