Larger version below the cut.
Firstly, thank you very much, mallined, for this lovely fan art of Alexandra at the end of AQATSA! (I would have sent you a personal thank-you note, but you have private PMs disabled.)
Chapter 6: The Goblin Market.
Chapter six is the first of Alex's annual shopping trips to the Goblin Market. Obviously, this being my version of Diagon Alley, it was another opportunity to cut loose with the descriptive text, and possibly go overboard, but I have no regrets. The worldbuilding part of fan fiction is fun!
This chapter does weigh in at almost 10K words, though. So maybe it could have been trimmed a weeeeee bit.
Other than the size, and the arguably unnecessary level of detail (some readers like "shopping trip" chapters with all the references to funky cool magic gewgaws, some think it's filler getting in the way of plot), I am for the most part pleased with this chapter. I thought the writing was okay, though still carrying the weaknesses that persist throughout book one (saidsaidsaidstaredlookedsaidlookedstare
“Jah, that one is good, I think,” Finsterholz said, as Darla held a dark, tapered wand in a trembling hand. “Hawthorn with nogtail hair. Unusual combination. Not the most popular core, but very good for hexing and jinxing.”
“Or for Dark magic,” murmured Constance, behind Alexandra.
This is another example of deliberate foreshadowing, but I didn't yet know just what I was foreshadowing. Just that sooner or later I'd have to make good on this.
As interesting as this entire process was, Alexandra was no more enlightened than before after watching Angelique and then Anna try out the wands that Mr. Finsterholz picked out for them, seemingly at random. Angelique received her match with the third wand, which was a thick black willow one with a dragon heartstring core. Anna found her wand with Finsterholz's first pick, which delighted both of them. Like Darla, Angelique and Anna both wanted to hold onto their wands.
Hah, I didn't remember until rereading this paragraph — I knew all along that Anna's wand was willow with a dragon heartstring core, but it's only Angelique's that is described here, also (black) willow with a dragon heartstring core.
David gets beechwood, and Alexandra gets her pecan-wood wand with a chimaera hair core. And yes, that was also foreshadowing that I never knew quite what to do with, so in book four I broke her wand instead.
Charmbridge did not have uniforms, for which Alexandra was very thankful, but it did have a strict dress code which amounted to almost the same thing. Girls could wear white button-down shirts or blouses, long-sleeved in the winter, short-sleeved in the summer, with jackets that were black or “suitably dark in color,” and matching skirts (hem not to rise more than one inch above the knee) or slacks. Shoes were to be black or dark brown, and “comfortable and practical.”
You know, I'm going to have read carefully all the chapters in the next three books in which I describe what students are wearing at school. Because I have a feeling I never actually made them follow that dress code...
Also, here Alexandra buys a black cloak, but I think I always describe her cloak as red afterwards.
Later in the chapter, we see that David is a little bit touchy about racial matters (and hence the first to pick up on certain aspects of the wizarding world that elude Alexandra), and I also began hinting that he actually comes from money, whereas the Pritchards are quite poor. Yes, I knew all along that David's father was a football player. His being a short, slightly nerdy kid with a father who is a professional athlete, and being very aware that he's black but quite privileged, is a large part of the reason for his touchy ego and tendency to overcompensate.
Meanwhile, let's talk about Anna, who often gets called things like "meek," "submissive," and other not entirely complimentary things. Yes, she is a bit timid by nature, and demure by upbringing. But she's always had a willingness to speak up, if not always the conviction she needed to do so more often.
“Ozarker girls ought not be consortin' with furriners or sorceresses or Muggle-borns with no breeding,” the older boy said.
“Foreigner?” squeaked Anna indignantly.
“Sorceresses?” Alexandra repeated.
“Breeding?” David growled.
“It's all right,” said Forbearance.
“We'll go,” said Constance.
“Like hell!” David snapped.
“David!” Anna whispered, as now some of the adults around them were turning their heads.
“What are you, like from the last century or something?” David said. “People can hang out with whoever they want!”
“And they're known by the company they keep!” retorted the Ozarker. He glared at Constance and Forbearance. “Do you really want to be seen with Mudbloods?” His lip contorted into a vicious sneer, while all the girls except Alexandra gasped.
Oh, those awful dialog tags. And yeah, "squeaked" is particularly unfortunate. But note that Anna did openly react with indignation, she doesn't just sit there and take abuse.
“He used the m-word,” said Anna suddenly from behind.
Speaks paused. “Muggle?” She looked confused.
“No. The other one,” Anna said quietly.
And then Anna goes and chooses a great horned owl as a familiar, because she knows her mother will "have a cow." (Maybe Anna has been sneaking some TV watching in somewhere as well...)
So, in this chapter, besides covering the shopping trip and getting Alexandra her wand and familiar, I wanted to start sketching out the personalities of the secondary characters a bit. Probably could have done both a little better (and with more economy), but I think it served its purpose.
And finally, this chapter also introduces Larry Albo, though Alexandra doesn't learn his name until chapter nine.
Also, a while ago, uneko sent me a link to this image. While that is definitely not Alexandra, I do think it brings her to mind...