(Having purchased the contents of J.K.Rowling’s wheelie bin on e-Bay, I was interested to come across the following sheets of paper, undeniably written on the author’s own word processor. I firmly believe it will be an important source for literary critics in years to come, despite the fact that it had “No! No! No! This is rubbish!” scrawled across it in ballpoint pen.)
“Wow!” said Harry, straightening his glasses after the uncomfortable sensation of apparating. “What is this place?”
He looked around the huge tiled hall in wonder, vaguely aware of a tingling sensation in his legs. Looking down he found that he was standing up to his shins in cool water.
“This must be the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, Harry,” said a familiar voice beside him, “but what are you doing in the fountain?” Looking around, Harry saw that, as usual, Hermione had apparated perfectly and was sitting on the edge of the pool, watching him with a smile on her lips.
He gave her a withering stare as he squelched to the edge of the water and clambered out. “Aridamus!” he whispered, surreptitiously pointing his wand at the bottom of his trousers. “Any sign of Ron yet?”
“Sort of,” answered Hermione, nodding towards the entrance to Mothercare. Looking over, Harry saw a red-haired boy hopping about on one leg. “He’s been looking for his other leg for the last five minutes,” she continued. “Reckons he must have left it behind.”
“Well we can’t wait for him all day,” said Harry impatiently. “You’re sure this is Voldemort’s hiding place?”
“He Who Must Not Be Named, you mean?”
“For Chrissakes!” yelled Harry. “It’s only a name. He’s master of the underworld, the prince of the dark arts. You’d think he wouldn’t be so touchy about having his name said!”
“This is the place, Harry,” replied Hermione, ignoring the jibe. “I read it in “Secret Lairs of the Wizarding Community.” And she reeled off the relevant section – “Beyond the Toll Bridge of Despair and the Roundabout of Confusion, along the Road of Desperation and up the Slip Road of Eternal Waiting, there shall ye find the Shopping Centre of Accursed Trolleys. Here lieth the hiding place of He Who Must Not Be Named. Brackets, Lord Voldemort, Close brackets.”
Harry meanwhile was studying the hundreds of Muggles that were streaming past the fountain in every direction. To his eyes, they all wore an air of resigned desperation, as though they had just parted with large amounts of money against their will. Obviously, the evil lurking in this place had rubbed off on the shoppers.
“This place is so huge, Harry,” wailed Hermione. “How are we ever going to find He Who – er, Voldemort, I mean?”
Suddenly, Harry felt a blinding flash of pain in the scar on his forehead, which he knew from old meant that his arch-enemy was close at hand. Whirling around desperately, he scanned the faces of the passing Muggles trying to see through any possible disguise. “He’s here, Hermione,” he grunted, through the pain. “I can feel him.”
Desperately the two schoolchildren, receiving odd stares for their wizarding robes, scanned the shops and passageways. Harry thought he saw him trying on a pair of wedges in a shoe-shop, but it turned out to be a shop-assistant from Penney’s on her lunch-break.
“Look!” Hermione screamed suddenly. “Over there!”
Following the direction of her wand in her outstretched hand, Harry’s blood ran cold. There, standing in the window of the Regency Cleaners, an evil smile playing about his lips, stood the Prince of Darkness himself, the evil Lord Voldemort. He had disguised himself cunningly as a mannequin, dressed in a navy baseball cap and a red Hawaii shirt, but there was no mistaking that heartless leer and steely gaze. As he watched, Harry could see Voldemort’s wand tracing out patterns, putting the accursed Stupefacto spell on all the Muggles that passed by the window.
“How clever!” squealed Hermione. “The Muggles think he’s holding a tool for cutting keys. No wonder they’re all handing over their Sickels in large amounts, and leaving the Centre much poorer than when they came in. This must be how He…Voldemort is funding his Death Eaters!”
“And I’ve only just realised,” exclaimed Harry, slapping his forehead in frustration. “The Blanchardstown Shopping Centre is an anagram of ‘I am Lord Voldemort – Give me all your money.”
“No it isn’t,” said Hermione, after a moment’s reflection.
“Well, it would have been, if the letters were the same,” replied Harry defensively. “Come on! We’ve got to stop him!”
With that, the two Hogwarts students sprang into action. Harry did a forward roll towards the flower shop, then suddenly stopped, turned and pointed his wand straight at the crazed mannequin. “Expelliarmus!” he yelled at the top of his voice.
To his horror, the beam of light hit the window at just the wrong angle. Realising too late, that Voldemort must have reinforced the pane of glass with a cunningly contrived reflective spell, Harry watched his well-aimed shot rebound and strike Hermione full in the face. He could only stand helplessly and watch as she was pulled upwards, upwards, up the giant escalator, before disappearing with an audible Swoosh! through the open entrance of Roche’s Stores.
“Foolish boy!” cackled Voldemort, and did a little jig of delight on his podium. The sound of his voice seemed to echo round and round the cavernous walls of the Centre. Harry idly wondered why the crowd of Muggles passing by the window couldn’t seem to hear the chilling words, but were instead staring at his own dishevelled appearance with amusement. “Just like that sad deluded father of yours...”
Harry felt the surge of anger well up in his bowels, and then rise quickly through his lower intestine, upper intestine and windpipe. Cutting through his trachea, it diverted through his lower jaw until it found full vent in his temples.
“NOOOOOO!!!!” he yelled at the top of his voice, and charged straight at the window, his wand sending a shower of fiery green sparks towards the grinning mannequin. Some Muggles screamed and ran for cover, while others took pictures on their mobile phones.
But just as Harry reached the door of the Regency Cleaners and saw the mask of fear on the faces of the two young shop assistants inside, Harry felt a firm hand clasp his shoulder tightly, and his wand was snatched roughly from his grasp. Whirling around in a panic, he found himself staring deep into the soulless face of a Dementor, one of those cold, evil creatures that suck all the happiness out of a body. A bit like Shamrock Rovers, Ron had once remarked.
The figure was wearing traditional Dementor garb – grey, flannel trousers, a navy blazer and a piece of plastic attached to a wire protruding from one ear. Its face was expressionless, as it bent Harry’s arm up behind his back and frogmarched him off to the Security Office. Harry winced in pain, not merely from his arm, which he was sure was broken, but at the frustration of losing the chance of destroying Lord Voldemort for once and for all.
The Dementor brought Harry into a small room, furnished only with a small desk and two chairs. “We’ve got it all on CCTV, sonny,” he snapped. “Attempted robbery with violence.” He eyed the wand thoughtfully before bringing it down with a crash on the table. “Could do a fair amount of damage with that, I reckon,” he said, not seeming to notice the sparks emanating from the end of the wand.
Just then, the door swung open and Ron hopped in, closely followed by another Dementor. “Hi Alan,” said the second figure. “This one got caught trying to remove a joint of meat from Dunnes. Mind him for me, will you. There’s reports of a young wan battering a hole in the wall of Roche’s. Kids today, eh?”
Harry put his head in his hands and groaned.