It had been a dark, bitterly cold, gloomy day and the narrow cobbled street had emptied long before darkness fell and it started to snow; the man standing in the mouth of the alleyway moved. He took a few steps to his left and retreated further under the overhanging upper floor of the building next to him; trying, as far as possible, to remain unnoticed.
Being average in both height and build this had never been difficult for him, his only distinguishing features were his bright green eyes and a faded scar on his forehead; both of which were currently hidden behind a frosted pair of glasses and a woolly hat.
He shivered and looked at his watch, he had been standing watching the shop for over three hours and nothing had happened other than the day getting darker and colder and the snow getting deeper.
There was nothing particularly unusual about the shop other than the fact that it had been closed for over twenty years; but to the average passer-by it might appear to have only been closed for a few minutes whilst the owner had stepped out to run an errand or two.
The thick snow muffled his footsteps as he walked towards the shop and just before he reached it he stopped and stared, it had been nearly thirty years since he had first set foot in this shop and nothing had changed, from the peeling paintwork to the dusty window display, it was just as he remembered it.
Stepping forwards he touched the door handle and was surprised as the door swung silently inwards; as he crossed the threshold the lamp above the counter spluttered into life filling the front of the shop with a warm yellow glow.
Standing in front of the counter, again, he thought about the first time he had stood there and the strange old man who had served him; then the soft metallic click of the door closing behind him brought him back to the present. Looking around he saw that all the lamps in the shop had now come to life and the shelves were still filled, here and there, with long narrow boxes.
He was tempted to open a few of them and see what lay inside but time was not on his side and he needed to find the answers he was seeking, so he walked through the shop passing rows of shelves full of long narrow boxes until he emerged into a workshop.
The workshop was a spacious well-lit room and filling the centre of it was a large workbench. The walls were lined with an assortment of cabinets, chests of drawers and tool racks; each door or drawer was marked with an inlaid gold symbol he could not read.
On the workbench was an assortment of tools and pieces of wood in various stages of preparation and a small notebook, it was closed but there was an old quill sticking out of it.
He opened the notebook at the page marked by the quill and found the page covered in notes; mostly it appeared to be calculations and measurements except in the bottom right corner where the writer had drawn four stars. To anyone else it would have looked like a doodle, but the man knew it wasn’t and he turned and started looking at the cabinets and drawers until he spotted a drawer with the same star pattern as that in the notebook. The drawer had no handle and refused to move when he used a flat bladed tool from the workbench to try and pry it open.
In desperation he touched all four stars at the same time to see if the drawer was spring loaded but instead, they glowed briefly, and then the drawer slid open. Looking inside the drawer he saw a small piece of folded parchment; he took it out of the drawer and unfolded it, on it in small neat handwriting was written ‘No.4’.
He looked in the drawer again to see if there was anything else, but it was empty. As he stood there thinking the drawer slid shut and when he looked down it had disappeared; he tucked the piece of parchment into the notebook and put them both in his pocket and left the shop.
Disclaimer: I don’t need to tell anyone who has read this far that the protagonist and locations used in this short story do not belong to me, they are the creation and property of JK Rowling. I am a fan of her work and simply wanted to know if I could take one of my favourite fictional characters and create a very short story.