Hello, folks! Chapter 2 of EbtD is here! Welcome to the story, Harry.
You can follow me on Twitter at BrigadeEitD to get teasers and such for the story. Um...leave reviews? Please? Thanks.
Chapter 2: Alley Adventures
"Look! You see that broad over there?"
"The one with the hat?"
"No! The fat one that's about to lose all of her groceries!"
Harry tossed a look over his shoulder. A squat witch wobbled on unsure legs down the cobbled street of Diagon Alley, heaps of groceries stacked high in front of her.
"You mean she hasn't eaten them all, yet?"
Theo puffed up his face and jerked spastically. Draco, Blaise, and Harry all lost it; Harry punched the boy in the shoulder, unable to contain his laughter.
"Sorry," Harry said with a wide smile, not sorry at all. He looked back at the struggling witch passively. Theo was right; she really was a mess.
The four Slytherin second years – third years now, actually, or they would be when school resumed next autumn – were seated outside of Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour on the patio at the corner block of Diagon Alley. The shade was nice. The free ice cream? Even better.
"How are you doing, boys?" Fortescue called out, serving a pair of witches their desserts a few tables away.
"Just fine, sir, thanks!" Harry happily spoke up for his friends. That was the best thing about it all: the ice cream was on Minister Fudge's tab. Harry had spent the last couple of weekends of both this summer and the previous one "interning" inside the Ministry. At the end of Harry's first year, Minister Fudge had offered to show him around the Ministry. It was a most generous offer, of course, and an offer that Harry had graciously accepted. He had met many important people since that time: Unspeakables, members of the Wizengamot, a few Aurors - even some Healers from St. Mungos. Reporters and "regular" citizens often tried to approach Harry there, but the Minister was always around to wrap an arm around his shoulders and steer him away. Fudge just wanted to put him on display him like a prized puppy, Harry assumed.
And that was fine, honestly. If anything had happened in the past year, Harry had grown up. God, he had been such an idiot at times in his first year, now that he looked back on it. There was a lot for Fudge to gain by having him around. Harry knew that now, and he made sure that he was…compensated for it. Ice cream? Definitely. School books and supplies? On the Ministry's tab. Was Harry going to ask for the brand new, state of the art Firebolt racing broom? You're damn right, Harry was! Fudge would do anything to keep him happy; hell, after the Azkaban fiasco last year, Fudge needed all the positive publicity he could get.
Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were extremely proud of him.
Harry licked the last bit of his chocolate ice cream with a content sigh. Voldemort did not let him down; the Malfoys had taken him in after his first year (Draco had been so excited) and staying with them was marvelous. Living in luxury suited him, Harry thought. He could study magic in a beautiful private office. He could fly his broom whenever he wanted to. His friends could also visit any time they wanted. It was...perfect.
There was one thing that bugged him, though. Even now. It had been just over a year – an entire year – since Harry had even seen one hair of Voldemort. That night when he stole the Philosopher's Stone was the only night he had ever seen Voldemort in person. Sure, they corresponded by way of owls and such, but that did not make up for the Dark Lord's absence. Neither Lucius nor Professor Snape had been called to his side, either. It was baffling.
It was also a bit depressing, if Harry was honest with himself. Was Voldemort not supposed to revolutionize the Wizarding World? What was he doing? The last anyone had seen of him – and make no mistake, only a select few knew that Voldemort had been the one behind it – was the mass breakout from Azkaban. Voldemort refused flatly in his letters to even discuss his plans, either. He had actually scolded Harry for even asking.
When that agitation and impatience clawed at him, though, Harry always tried to look at it from another perspective: Voldemort had come through on his other promises. The Dark Lord had provided him a home away from that...that fucking orphanage. Voldemort had even sent Harry a means to communicate with him. At the start of the previous summer, Harry had received a ring from Voldemort in the mail. It was a silver band with black engravings, swirly gracefully around the outer rim. It was very stylish, in Harry's opinion, and he had worn it on his left ring finger ever since. The ring, if Harry ever ran his finger down the length of ebony on it, would call for Voldemort, giving the Dark Lord Harry's location. It was similar to the Dark Mark, in that regard.
'Don't you ever use this ring unless you actually require my assistance - and for a legitimate purpose. I will be most displeased,' Voldemort had written him. Harry was not so foolish as to test that.
Even from his unknown location, though, Voldemort sent him books, lists of spells on parchment, and even discussed magical theory with him. Harry was still learning, still growing as a wizard. His rituals from first year had proven to be essential to that growth, as well. He was a fair bit taller than his friends with the exception of Cedric. No one on the Quidditch pitch could handle his strength or athleticism, either. Harry smirked just thinking about it – two Quidditch Cups in a row.
Voldemort was not Harry's only source of mentoring in all things magic, however. The Headmaster had pulled Harry aside at the start of the previous year to express his own desire to continue their lessons. Harry, never one to dismiss knowledge despite his own aversions to the Headmaster, eagerly agreed. Dumbledore also took the time to inform him about the foreboding, imminent return of the Dark Lord. Sure, Harry had played the part. He had rung his hands and begged and pleaded…and then he had gone to write a letter to Voldemort. The Dark Lord had wryly replied that, yes, he was aware of Dumbledore's suspicions. Harry assumed that Snape got to it first.
Harry leaned back on the hind legs of his chair and ran his fingers through his hair. He would have to deal with Voldemort eventually, he assumed - the Dark Lord could not stay in hiding forever, could he? Until then, however, he would just enjoy being a kid. None of his ambitions had changed; he wanted to change the world (or at least the Wizarding one) eventually, and if you asked him, he was off to a fantastic start.
The low, guttural sound of a dog barking on the patio separated Harry from his thoughts and silenced whatever conversation Draco and Theo had been having. A small child giggled and tossed the dog a slice of deli meat. Harry's eyebrows rose. That was a big dog.
The burly dog gobbled the food in the way only dogs can; Harry eyed the beast's black, matted fur. For such a large dog, it was pretty thin as well. It continued sniffing around.
"Ugh, look at that brute," Draco muttered disdainfully. "It figures that whoever owns the cretin forgot to leash it."
"It's enormous," Blaise remarked. "It would come up to my waist!"
The dog was munching away on another scrap from another table when its head rose up and its eyes found Harry. The dog stilled dramatically.
Harry cocked his head at the dog, but held his hand out to it when the canine trotted over. The dog sniffed heavily a few times before timidly licking Harry's hand. He smiled.
"It's a stray, Draco," said Harry, laughing at the disgust on the boy's face. "It's friendly, at least."
The dog barked. Harry scratched it behind one of the monstrously large ears. "I was pretty much a stray, too, at one point," Harry informed the dog soberly. "Not anymore, though - you just have to find the right people."
The dog started panting and leaned its head closer for Harry to pet. He did so, enjoying the dismay Draco was expressing. Harry knew he was smiling; he had always wanted a pet…not that he would ever admit as much to anyone.
"How's a sandwich sound, boy?" Harry grinned. He was just talking to it to mess with Draco at this point. "Oi! Mr. Fortescue! You mind getting this dog a sandwich for me?"
"But of course, Mr. Potter!" The man called back from the door of his parlor.
"Brilliant! Put it on the Minister's tab, eh?" The man tipped his head and Harry returned to scratching the dog.
Harry paused in his petting of the dog and turned around; Daphne Greengrass was there, standing primly with a teasing smile, a bag of goods underneath her arm.
"'Ello, love," Theo drawled lowly, playfully batting his eyes at her. She giggled in response. "Nice dog, Harry."
"Thanks," He grinned as the dog nudged his hand, silently demanding to be scratched again. "He annoys Draco, so he's a keeper."
"My father will never allow that thing in our manor," Draco swore fervently. "And it does not annoy me. It's filthy. That's all."
"It does need a bath," Daphne added.
"It's a dog," Harry retorted with a shrug, looking down into the dog's grey eyes. "It was never going to smell like roses, you know."
Daphne hummed thoughtfully. "True. Still…at least brush the poor thing or something, okay?"
"Sure," Harry uttered dryly. The dog had lain down by his feet, looking perfectly content.
"So what brings you four to Diagon Alley?" She asked, setting her bags down for the moment.
Draco beat the others to it. "Harry was working at the Ministry again, today. We all decided to make a day of it."
"We've been here pretty much all afternoon," supplied Blaise, finishing off his own ice cream.
Theo grinned slyly. "And we've yet to visit Knockturn."
Daphne looked puzzled. "Alright?"
Harry grinned. "It's like visiting a haunted house for these blokes. It is all spooky and scary."
"It is for you, too," Draco claimed. Harry shook his head, laughing.
"No way," Harry said. "I'd knock whatever's down there on its arse."
It was probably true, but Harry had not actually been down Knockturn Alley enough to really make that claim.
"Want to come?" Theo asked their fellow third year. Daphne shook her head, suddenly appearing timid.
"No, I don't think so," She said uncertainly. "My parents would flay me for even considering it."
Harry scooted his chair closer to her. "Don't worry," He assured her with a wink. "I'll protect you."
Daphne ducked her head, embarrassed. "Thanks, Harry, but maybe some other time. I think I see my father down the street; see you all later!"
And she shuffled away. Harry watched her go in amusement.
"You making moves on my girl, Potter?" Theo whispered dramatically, waving his spoon to and fro. "A duel, I say!"
Laughing, Harry drew his spoon like a sword, clinking it against Theo's own. "She's smart. Nothing good's going to happen down there."
"True," Draco shrugged carelessly. "But it will still be fun. You lot want to go?"
Harry tore a bit of the sandwich that Fortescue had brought over off and tossed it to the dog at his feet. "Sure," He replied easily. The boys stood, waving their thanks to Fortescue, and took off down the street.
Harry slapped a high five to the wizard wanting one, nodding to another. That was the thing about being in the Ministry all the time; people recognized him. It was something that he has just accepted and had gone with it. There were worse things. Besides, having all of these people on his side would probably come in handy one day.
Harry handed the rest of the sandwich to Blaise. The dog was eagerly following the boys down the street. It looked like the canine wanted the rest of his sandwich. Blaise held it out to the dog, which reared up to grab it. Blaise recoiled.
"This mutt's jaws are a bit…obscene."
"The dog itself is obscene," Draco retorted quickly.
Harry frowned playfully. "Stop making fun of my pet, Draco. He's awesome."
The dog barked, sidling up to Harry. He reached down to pat it.
That was another thing that had happened in the past year; Draco had matured a lot. Harry would be the first to admit that his best friend was a bit childish going into Hogwarts, but since then Draco had really found his stride. That advice that Voldemort had once offered him – to study the runes of spells before trying them – had gone a long way. Draco had an expansive knowledge of runes, now. He knew what spells should look like before they were even covered in class. It had helped Draco dramatically, and now he was pushing Harry in all of his classes. It worked out well.
Knockturn Alley catered to a very shady clientele…but in reality, the word "shady" was interchangeable with the phrase "not approved by the Ministry." Potions ingredients could be found as well as questionable magical artifacts. There was even a motel in the depths of the Alley. Homeless witches and wizards as well as the half-bred magical population were welcome there. Imagine that…genuine compassion for those in need. Of course, the Ministry did not want the majority of the magical population to know that.
"So we're going to Borgin and Burke's, right?" Theo asked. Harry nodded.
"I want some new books," He said.
Draco turned his head to him, frowning. "More? Merlin's beard, Harry, we've got a huge library back at home. That's not enough for you?"
"Nope," He said simply.
The four boys and the dog trekked down the narrow steps leading into the shaded alley. Walking around Knockturn was all about attitude, Harry believed. It was simple – if you acted like you belonged, like you knew what you were doing and where you were going, no one would bother you. And so he walked with his head high and his shoulders even, knowing all the people around him knew who he was but not caring at all. He would make an example of any fool that stopped him.
Ah, that was another thing Fudge had granted him…freedom from the Decree of Underage Wizardry. He was important like that.
The boys came up to the dilapidated shop called Borgin and Burke's and walked in without lingering about. It still amazed Harry how much room there was inside the shop – magic was the cause, obviously, but it made Harry feel warm realizing the impact magic could have on him.
"Welcome to Borgin and B – oh. Children."
The shopkeeper, Borgin, looked at them as if something foul had been dropped upon his doorstep. "This is not a place for schoolboys, I'm, afraid. Besides, I doubt you lot have the coin to pay for valuable goods such as mine. Be gone."
Oh no he didn't. Harry looked incredulously at Draco, motioning forward with his hands. Draco smirked, oozing superiority. Yep; Draco would take care of it.
"You see, Mr. Borgin," Draco started disdainfully. Harry grinned and looked away; these types of discussions were the ones Draco was made for. "I - unlike you - do have the funds to pay for these…goods, you call them? My word. These...trinkets would not even be fit to adorn my manor. I am a Malfoy, after all. Now, do we have a problem, sir? Must I really involve my father in this…situation?"
Borgin's eyes bulged and he bowed jerkily. "T-that will not be necessary, young Mr. Malfoy. I beg your pardon – so many enter my shop merely to wander about. How-how careless of me; it is an honor to have you here, of course. May I be of any assistance to you or your…friends?"
Draco sniffed. "No. That is not necessary. We shall look around. I will call for you if we need anything."
"Naturally, naturally. I am at your service," Borgin hastily stepped back behind his curtain before he could cause any further damage.
Harry snorted. "Nice one, Draco. What an idiot."
The boy smirked. "It takes a firm hand to deal with the likes of him, Potter. Inferiors must be reminded of their place; remember that."
"Oh, I will," said Harry dryly. "You lot see anything useful?"
Theo had wandered off to the side of the shop. "Wicked! A ring that can morph into a sword! I want that…"
The four of them looked at everything: jewelry, weapons, books, and even furniture. Harry had picked out a few books from the rickety bookshelf in the back of the shop. One was simply a spellbook that, when Harry skimmed through it, contained some spells that he did not know. As long as there was some knowledge to be gained, it was worth the purchase.
Another covered human mutations. That was a big no-no in the eyes of the Ministry. There were many "diseases" out there – Lycanthropy, for one – that could mutate a witch or wizard. However, several wizards in the past had had a fascination with those mutations. Could be used for the good of wizardkind? Harry himself had been intrigued. Another fun book to read.
The third? Rituals, of course. Ho hum.
Draco had a small pile of trinkets resting on the counter as well. Blaise was holding a small, thinly-worn book, and Theo was clinging to that damn ring with an unyielding grin on his face.
Borgin came back when Draco called for him and the boys made their purchases. Harry took a large amount of amusement from the man's jerky movements. The boys were on their way out when an artifact caught Harry's eye.
It was a small thing, resting at the back of a shelf in the darkest corner of the room. A glittering jewel rested on a piece of black silk. The green hue of the gem was mesmerizing. Had he seen this thing before?
Oh. There was a note as well:
Jade of Future Knowledge
The Jade of Future Knowledge is a precious jewel derived from the Inner Eye of a Seer that enables its user to view a future even in their life. The knowledge gained will be of interest to the user as the jewel will evaluate the desires of its wielder. A word of caution, however; much like the true visions of a Seer, the memory obtained from the Jade will not show how the memory came to pass. Likewise, the vision may lack details that paint a thorough picture of the future
For price and directions of use, ask for Mr. Borgin
"Ah…I see you, like so many others, have found one of my prized possessions."
Harry turned sharply, staring at the shopkeeper. Borgin averted his eyes quickly.
"It has been returned many times," Borgin whispered reverently, reaching out to smooth the creases in the silk. "It can only be used once for an individual, after all. Still…it is priceless. To know one's own future…alas, many cannot handle their own destiny. They look into their futures for love or in the hopes of finding success. The witches and wizards are often disappointed. They sell the gem back to me for a fraction of what it is worth, desperate to be rid of it."
Harry was not sure why the man was telling him this. Perhaps to boast? If so, Harry certainly was not impressed.
"Using it is not difficult: you simply hold the gem with both hands and allow it to rest on your forehead," Borgin's eyes finally rose to meet Harry's, gleaming greedily in the lack of light. "What I said before in error is correct in this instance; you really cannot afford it. A very good day to you all."
The boys walked down the steps and back into the alley. The hulking dog barked happily, butting its head against Harry's hip. He smiled absently, his mind still on the gem in the shop.
"Draco…" Harry said at last. They were walking down the very narrow alleyway back to Diagon. "Borgin deserves a bit of retribution, don't you agree?"
The three others halted in their conversation.
"I suppose," Draco drawled at last, his eyes beginning to shine in anticipation. "What did you have in mind?"
Harry grinned, looking at them all. "I want that gem," He said. "I want to see my future. And if Borgin won't sell it to me, perhaps I just…take it."
Theo whistled. "You want to steal that thing? I dunno, Harry; I reckon Borgin's got a bazillion spells and wards covering every inch of his shop. I don't see how you could take it without him knowing."
Harry glanced to Blaise, who looked doubtful as well. Draco, however…Draco knew exactly what he was planning to do.
Draco smiled a malicious smile. "Go for it. We'll meet back up with you near Malkins'."
Harry nodded, shooing the boys away.
"What is he going to do?"
"Don't worry about it."
Harry chuckled quietly. The dog was looking up at him silently, as if waiting for him to make a move. Harry patted it on the head.
"Let's find somewhere a little more secluded for this, mate."
Harry took a left down a narrow path off of the main section of Knockturn Alley. Another left brought him directly behind Borgin and Burke's. It was odd; the back alley was very nearly pitch black. Magic, Harry supposed.
Speaking of magic…Harry had developed a new trick in the past year or so through his own independent readings. It was a magical technique that no one had ever named. It was simply written about. A warm rush of accomplishment fluttered through his chest. He had accomplished this technique without Voldemort's help, too.
Magic was, in essence…magic - neither a solid nor a liquid. And yet, magic could help things grow. It could harm or heal. It could make dishes wash themselves or it could make people fly. Magic was…or it could be…physical.
And that is where this technique came into play. A wizard from a ridiculously long time ago had studied the physical nature of magic. He had concluded that while magic was not normally a physical thing, it could interact with physical objects when the witch or wizard intended it to.
Harry had found that fairly obvious. But magical theory was like that sometimes. And that theory opened the door to something special.
"You keep a lookout for me, alright?" Harry grinned to the dog. He…well, he would not exactly be able to defend himself whilst doing this.
He sat on the ground, trying to ignore the filth of the alley. He needed to concentrate. Intention was the key, and he intended to steal that damn gem. Borgin could go fuck himself for all Harry cared; he wanted to see his future.
The desire fueled him and his magic began to form. It moved to and fro within him…and suddenly, it was without him and everything was dark.
Harry could see shadows. The wall in front of him was dark and wooden – though that was something he could not tell for sure, at the moment. He moved forward, through the wall, feeling and hearing nothing.
It was a weird feeling. He was weightless, floating along. He heard nothing except the swirling rush of something. The shadows were brighter inside the building. He could see one book from another and make out the different trinkets lining the walls. Passing a mirror, Harry could make out the moving darkness that was him.
And at last. There it was. The gem sat innocently on its silken sheet. Harry moved forward and no longer could he pass through things; instead, he was holding the gem within him.
'You're coming with me.'
Harry made it back to his physical body pretty easily – he was not total pants at directions, thanks. He felt a jolt – the first feeling he had experienced in several minutes – and blinked rapidly. Harry grinned. The gem was resting gently in his hands.
"Dinner! So hungry!"
Harry looked up as he heard a snarl; his dog was leaping after a gnarled witch with her wand brandished. A flash of steel flared in front of him and the dog whined out in pain.
Harry's hand shot out, launching the witch away from the dog. Harry leapt over its body, anger in his eyes.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Harry roared, shoving his wand into the face of the downed witch. "I should kill you!"
The witch cackled, cradling her injured hand next to her breast. "Hunger consumes! The hunger is real! Bad dog! Bad dog will feed me!"
Harry spat. You know what cured crazy? Fire. Fire cured crazy.
"Get out of here, you bitch," He growled. Seconds later, an enchanted fire rose up. He heard the woman scream, fleeing the light. Harry turned around with a sigh to assess the damage to his new friend. The poor dog may not even make it.
Or it may not even be a dog at all.
"Holy shit," Harry breathed, rushing to kneel by the side of the emaciated man before him.
Ragged robes barely covered the man and black, matted hair, much like the dog's fur, covered his face. Tattooed, much too thin arms covered the man's midsection as blood flowed over them like water.
"P-poison," The man gritted out in a raspy voice, whipping his hair back weakly. Harry's eyes widened. He knew this man.
"Sirius Black?" Harry exclaimed, reaching out to move the man's hand away from the wound. Grey eyes found his, squinted together in pain.
"That's me. That's me…Help me, Harry. Please."
This was his godfather. Gritting his teeth Harry nodded and tried one of the few healing spells he knew. It was hopeless. He had no idea how to handle poisons. He needed help.
Maybe Voldemort would forgive him. Hopefully.
"I'll get you help. I promise," Harry vowed, looking the fugitive dead in the eyes. He reached for his ring – ready or not, it was time to see Voldemort once more.