The next day, Rowan and Severus had a snowball fight on the grounds creating great forts with Sir Knight Prince being their referee. Whoever could capture the flag of each other's fort would be the winner. In the end, Severus won because Sir Knight Prince helped him cheat. But Rowan had her revenge when she trounced both Severus and Sir Knight Prince twice at wizarding chess. It was rather satisfying to watch their despair at their combined losses.
Finally, the morning of the Goblin Auction, Rowan woke up bright and early to have a nice breakfast, before reading for a few hours, before heading back to bed to take a nap. Afterward, she took a bath and properly dressed for the evening event. It was still rather early when Rowan bid farewell to her grandparents as she had one stop to make before arriving at Gringotts.
Arriving via the Floo, Rowan walked out onto the busy streets of Diagon Alley full of Christmas shoppers. Weaving her way between the crowd, she headed towards the Magical Menagerie. She wasn't prepared for the strong smell once she opened the door. She flinched as her eyes began to water but bravely stepped inside.
There wasn't much room inside. Every inch of the wall was hidden by cages. It was smelly and very noisy because the occupants of these cages were all squeaking, squawking, jabbering, or hissing. The witch behind the counter was already advising a wizard on the care of a Diricrawl.
Rowan carefully avoided staring nor listening to the snakes as she eyed an enormous purple toad that was feasting on dead blowflies. A giant tortoise with a jewel-encrusted shell was glittering near the windows. Poisonous orange snails were oozing slowly up the side of their glass tank. A fat white rabbit kept changing into a silk top hat and back again with a loud popping noise. A noisy cage of ravens, a basket of funny custard-colored furballs that were humming loudly, and on the counter a cage of sleek black rats are playing some sort of game with their tails.
Walking over to the cats of every color, Rowan paused to clear her throat and say, "I am searching for a loyal friend to protect a friend of mine. He is at times lonely, but he is good and kind. However, I'm afraid that his parents are rather cold. I'd hate for them to stamp out the warmth in him. So, I need someone who will keep those flames alive."
Rowan waits and nothing happens as the cats continue to meow at her. About to turn away, she hears a rather loud yowl at her. Gazing into the cages, she sees the cats go silent as they make room and move to the side. From the cage, emerges an elegant 15 weeks kitten with long pure, white silky fur.
True of its breed, the Turkish Angora kitten had almond-shaped eyes in a sky-blue shade. The kitten ears were a bit longer than usual suggesting some Kneazle blood. But either way, this breed was known for being exceptionally intelligent and even being able to be trained to play fetch with their owners. And unlike other long-haired breeds, they largely groomed themselves and enjoyed playing in the water as well as being excellent swimmers.
Reaching into the cage, Rowan gently takes out the kitten and takes it to the counter. The witch had finished with her customer and let out a cooing sound over the adorable kitten. "Could I have him delivered to a certain address? He's to be a gift," Rowan stated.
"Naturally and will that include all of the rest of the pet items?" The witch eagerly purred.
"Yes," Rowan drily said feeling the last of her pocket money already vanishing.
The witch quickly packed food, bowls, litter box, non-smelling sand, etc. And shrunk it down into the basket. Cooing to the kitten, the witch gently placed the kitten in the carrier, before saying, "Now then, would you prefer delivery by mail or by a house elf?"
"What's the difference?" Rowan asked.
"Our shop's house elf will directly deliver to the doorstep and not leave until the kitten is personally delivered. While via mail, it will be delivered by an owl. But with the holidays merely a day away I cannot guarantee anything," the witch persuasively said.
Sighing at falling into the holiday consumer trap, Rowan says, "I'll take the house elf."
"Excellent, let me ring you up," the witch happily said as she began totaling the purchases. You total is-."
Rowan winced as she heard the number and took out the rest of her savings leaving her with only a single sickle as her sole fortune. Taking out the letter that had already been signed and written, she places it into the basket. Not wanting to give the witch the address, she waits until the house elf is summoned.
"Dumey!" The witch shouted as an older looking elf in a ragged tea towel appears.
"Dumey comes!" The wilting eared house elf cried out.
"Dumey, deliver the kitten to the address the customer will give you," the witch carefully instructed.
"Dumey understands!" The house said as it hurriedly scurried over to Rowan.
Rowan leans over to whisper the address into the house elves ear, "12 Grimmauld Place is the address. The gift is to be delivered to Regulus Black from Reginald Prince and family."
"Dumey understands!" Dumey cried out, before vanishing with the basket in a pop. The witch moved on to the next customer waiting behind Rowan, who was holding a double-ended newt. Apparently, it was sick and that causing some gross problems.
The evening air was full of laughter despite the cold and the snow. Rosy-cheeked children played between parents or eagerly had their faces pressed against windows pointing at the toys and gifts that awaited them inside. And despite all the hullaballoo, there was something rather joyous about all the noise. That even the cold-hearted Rowan found herself feeling a tinge of the Christmas spirit so to speak. Not that she would ever confess to that fact.