"Hello Hagrid," a very refined looking man greeted as the more wild-looking man was just about at the steps of the bank. "On an errand for the Headmaster?"
"Professor Loki!" Hagrid greeted with a smile. "Yes, I'm showin' young Harry 'ere around and helpin' 'im buy 'is school things."
"Ah," the man, Professor Loki, said. "Hagrid, forgive me, but isn't that sort of duty usually given to one of the professors?"
Hagrid shifted uncomfortably. "Normally," he agreed. "But Dumbledore 'ad another errand 'e wanted me to run that was in Diagon Alley as well, so..."
Professor Loki gave a tight little smile. "Well, why don't you do that, and I'll make sure that Mr Potter gets everything that he'll need," he suggested. "My lesson plans for the year are ready after all, and I can conduct my own bit of shopping at the same time with no extra fuss."
Hagrid visibly thought about it for a moment before he nodded. "It will mean I don't have to be in them carts the goblins use f'r so long," he allowed, and started searching his pockets until he found what he was looking for. "There's Harry's vault key," he said, and handed it over to Professor Loki before he turned to Harry. "I'll see you at Hogwarts then, alright Harry?"
Harry nodded. "Thank you Hagrid," he agreed and took a step so that he was closer to Professor Loki than to Hagrid.
"He's a good sort," Professor Loki informed Harry as they waited a moment to let Hagrid enter the bank before them. "A bit dim though," he added delicately, "and would have doubtless forgotten to tell you a great deal that you should know."
"Oh," Harry said softly. "Like what?"
Professor Loki smiled down at him. "You were raised in the non-magical world, were you not, Mr Potter?" he asked.
"By my aunt and uncle," Harry agreed with a nod. "I didn't even know magic was real until I got my letter."
Professor Loki nodded. "And as such, you have likely no idea how to write with a quill, nor do you have knowledge of the stories that are part of the culture of magical humans in the same way that the stories of the Brothers Grimm, or certain nursery rhymes are part of non-magical culture," he suggested. "Just as an example."
Harry's eyes went wide. "No Sir," he agreed. "I..."
Loki patted Harry comfortingly on the shoulder. "That's alright young man," he said. "For now, as we are stood before the bank, and as I have your key rather than you, and clearly you have not had it for the past so many years, I think it would behove us to start you with learning about your accounts," he suggested.
"I've never had money before," Harry admitted softly.
Loki snorted. "You have," he countered. "It is just that you are only now learning of the matter, something we shall rectify today," he declared decisively, and urged Harry up the steps and into the building without any further ado.
They spent an hour in the bank, and Harry spent at least half of that time wide-eyed with shock at what was apparently his – which was a great deal more than was held by just that one tiny key that Hagrid had handed over. Other keys had been recalled (magically, from Dumbledore), and put on a ring (enchanted against theft) before they were handed over to Harry at last.
Then it was a ride in a cart down to Harry's personal vault to collect some coinage.
"Professor Loki," Harry asked as they whizzed down the tracks. "What's the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?"
"Stalagmites come up from the ground, stalactites come down from the top of the cave," Loki answered. "Remember that, 'g' in the stalagmite for 'ground', and 't' in the stalactite for 'top'."
Harry beamed up at the professor. "Thank you Sir!"
Loki smiled back. "You're welcome," he answered. "I take it you're enjoying the ride then?"
Harry nodded rapidly.
He enjoyed the ride back up to the surface as well, where they exchanged some of the gold for British Pounds. Loki insisted on it. After all, Harry had no reason to wear ratty hand-me-downs any more, and in fact had a very good reason to not. He was the last of an Ancient and Noble house, after all, and potential heir to another.
Before that though, Loki directed Harry to a luggage shop so that he would have somewhere to put his purchases.
"Standard Hogwarts trunk?" the man running the store suggested the moment they had stepped through his door.
"Absolutely not," Loki answered easily, a smile on his face as though the suggestion amused him, rather than offended him as his words could have implied. "The standard trunks would not be nearly secure enough. No."
And then Harry watched as the professor began to list every feature he wanted on Harry's trunk, up to and including living quarters – a feature which surprised Harry rather visibly.
Loki smiled sadly down at him, and then crouched to be on eye-level with the boy. "Mr Potter," he said softly, careful not to draw the attention of the man who was putting together Harry's trunk. The poor lad was annoyingly famous, after all. "From your physical state I can see that your guardians do not take proper care of you, and what little I know of neglected children is that they mature faster than other children by sheer necessity. If you have your own living quarters in your trunk, then you will have the opportunity to take care of yourself."
Harry eyes grew wide at the suggestion, and then slowly he smiled then at the idea. Yes. He knew how to cook and clean, and he had money. He could take care of himself, and he would!
The incredible trunk was purchased, and Harry was shown how to shrink it so that it would fit into his pocket (a process that involved the keys for the trunk, rather than a wand) as well as how to make it bigger again, and then the pair of them left Diagon Alley for non-magical London.
Specifically, Loki took Harry to Portobello Road. One moment they were in Diagon Alley, then Loki told Harry to close his eyes, hold his breath, and count to ten before opening them – and then they were at the Portobello Road Market.
"Wow," Harry breathed as he looked around. "But, Sir, why not just to a BHS?"
Loki chuckled. "We'll stop by one on the way back to Diagon if you don't find everything you'll want here," he promised. "But you will find things here that the BHS doesn't have, and Portobello Road has quite the atmosphere, doesn't it?"
Harry looked around, found that he couldn't help but smile, and nodded in agreement.
And indeed they did find most everything Harry could want. There was a man selling hand-crafted fountain pens ("More sensible than a quill," Loki said plainly as he urged Harry to pick one he liked the look of), there was any amount of clothes and books for sale – old and new – and there was a newsagent that sold lined exercise books ("More practical than piles of loose parchment," Loki insisted as he personally collected ten such books for Harry's use, as well as a a ruler and a geometry kit for the boy. He collected up five large ring-binders for himself.) Harry also bought cookware for his new, personal kitchen in his trunk, as well as some comfortable furniture, bedsheets, towels, and any book that caught his fancy – when it finally sank in that he was allowed to read now. As much as he wanted.
And then they stopped for lunch.
"So," Loki said as he relaxed on the wrought-iron chair outside one of the cafe's as they waited for the lunches they'd ordered to be brought out. "Do you think you will need to go to a BHS?"
Harry smiled and shook his head. "No Sir," he answered. "Thank you for bringing me here today Sir."
Loki smiled back at the child.
After lunch, the pair returned to Diagon Alley. Harry was now dressed in some of the new clothes he'd bought that morning. Clothes that actually fit him and that weren't falling apart. He looked a great deal less like a ragamuffin and more like a young gentlemen as they purchased robes from one shop, continued on to another for the other essential paraphernalia on the list Harry had been sent, and took their time in the apothecary so that Loki could instruct Harry on potions ingredients as they were collected from the shelves.
"Do you teach Potions, Sir?" Harry asked when they finally reached the counter.
Loki chuckled. "No," he answered. "No, not at all. I teach a class called Ancient Runes, which is an elective that you may take from your third year. Potions, however, is a branch of magic that you may practice during the holidays, as wand-work is illegal for a minor to perform without adult supervision capable of reversing any accidents."
"Oh," Harry said softly.
"Though potion accidents can be even more disastrous," pointed out the woman behind the counter as she carefully stowed the selections they'd made into a very clever box that was simply called a 'kit' – Loki had also picked that out for Harry. "Explosions, melted cauldrons, and then whatever mess happens when a potion-gone-wrong makes contact with anything. Particularly skin."
"And yet the Ministry, in all their, ahem, wisdom do not concern themselves with the matter," Loki pointed out to the woman with a commiserating smile and a hint of disdain for the illustriousMinistry.
She huffed. "Probably because Professor Snape has turned so many youngsters off the subject that they wouldn't want to go near it during the holidays," she complained. "Unless they've got themselves a tutor."
"Professor Snape?" Harry asked, curious.
"Oh don't you mind me, young man," the woman said with a sigh. "Professor Snape is a Potions Master, one of the best, but... well, he's passionate about his subject, and teaching the basics to beginners isn't really the place for a passionate Master, especially one who doesn't like children to begin with."
"Oh," Harry said softly, and raised a hand to his chin in thought. "Ma'am, is there a book you would recommend that I read in preparation for Professor Snape's class? Perhaps if I know something going in, it would help."
"It might that," she agreed, and tapped her cheekbone with one long finger and hummed to herself as she turned to consider the small bookshelf behind the counter as she thought about the answer. A few moments later, she pulled down two very thick books. "They're not easy reads," she said with a smile when she noticed how wide Harry's eyes went behind his glasses as he stared at them. "But they're comprehensive, and will be helpful."
"Thank you Ma'am," Harry said softly.
And then everything was paid for and it was "Where to next?"
"I noticed you squinting a great deal in that shop, Mr Potter," Loki answered, "so we're going to the optometrist."
Harry brightened. "Really Sir?" he asked hopefully. "Do you think I could get contact lenses instead of glasses?"
"As well as, Mr Potter," Loki countered. "You won't want your contact lenses in all the time, and spectacles can be enchanted to give extra features, and as such can be very useful."
Harry nodded in acceptance and just about bounced with excitement as Loki guided them to a building that had Third Eye Wear written over the door.
"Ah, Mr Loki!" greeted the man behind the counter. "What timing! I've just finished enchanting those frames you requested last week."
"Do glasses normally take a lot of time to enchant?" Harry asked curiously.
The man chuckled. "Not at all young Sir," he answered. "But Mr Loki asked for something I've never done before, so figuring out how took some time," he told Harry before he turned back to Loki. "I assume the lad wants new frames?" he asked.
"Contact lenses as well," Loki answered with a nod. "And perhaps a small collection of frames for different purposes?" he suggested.
"Collection?" Harry asked.
Loki and the shopkeeper smiled indulgently at the boy.
"A set of frames is only big enough to hold one enchantment youngster," the shopkeeper explained with a chuckle. "Unless you want them to take over your whole head, that is, or have the enchantment scribbled all over the glass. Size of the object is proportional to the number of enchantments it can hold."
"Enchantments are spells that are inscribed upon objects with runes, so that they stay and don't have to be cast over and over again. Your glasses would be the equivalent of... shall we say one sticky-note. Not much information can fit on them, so only one enchantment can fit on your glasses. Your trunk, on the other hand, is more like the size of those very big potion books you got from the apothecary. So your trunk, because it is a large object, can easily hold several enchantments," Loki explained. "Do you understand?" he checked.
Harry thought about it a moment before nodding. Yes, he understood. He understood that writing tiny enough to fit on a sticky-note was sometimes hard as well, so he didn't ask about writing smaller on his glasses to fit more enchantments. Especially since glasses could have very thin wire frames, which meant even less space to write enchantments on, and needing to write even smaller.
"We do have one way of cheating that though," the shopkeeper said, and brought out a very strange pair of glasses.
There were extra lenses hanging off the sides, with coloured glass in them and tiny etchings around the very edges near the silver frames, and the man demonstrated how each of the extra lenses could be individually flicked over the main eye pieces and looked through.
"These are what we sell to curse-breakers," the man explained. "And only to curse-breakers," he added firmly when he saw the way Harry was looking at them in awe. "Since they really can't be carrying around lots of pairs of glasses, and sometimes don't have the time to find just the right pair for whatever they need to be looking at."
The man put the fancy glasses back and then came out from behind his counter. "So then, what sort of things did you have in mind for the youngster, Mr Loki?" he asked.
"A pair of glasses to spot tracking charms, for one thing," Loki answered at once.
"Tracking charms?" Harry asked.
"Mr Potter," the shopkeeper said as he got down on one knee to look the boy in the eye. "You are famous for something you had no control over. There will be people who want to know your every move as a result. Some of them because they want to control you, some because they want to kill you, and possibly even a few because they are genuinely concerned for you. If you can spot a tracking charm, and learn how to remove that charm, then you don't have to worry about that sort of thing so much."
"Why tell me things like that?" Harry asked, confused. "I mean, I'm grateful Sir, but I don't..."
"Because I'm someone who's grateful for what you did lad, I lost a lot of friends to the evil pillock, but I'm also not one of the idiots who thinks I've got a right to your life because of it," the man explained, and pushed himself up off the floor. "Contact lenses to prescription, glasses to same, and a pair of specks to spot trackers," he said, back to business. "Anything else?"
"Perhaps a pair to see through invisibility spells?" Loki suggested. "So that he can spot people trying to spy on him. And a pair that can see if an item has been spelled, so he knows if a letter sent to him has been jinxed before he opens it. That should do for now. If Mr Potter has any other ideas, he can come back another time."
Harry nodded in agreement. "Oh!" he said, and idea clearly coming to him. "What about glasses that will let me see like it's daytime even in the dark? So I can keep reading later without having to make a light?"
Loki and the shopkeeper both chuckled.
"Well thought of," the shopkeeper congratulated. "I'll certainly be able to do that as well. For now though, if you will please sit up here," he said with a wave to a stool by the counter. "I'll see what prescription you need, and you can browse the frames I've got while I fetch out the lenses you'll need."
Harry eventually picked a pair of square gold frames, well, square-ish, with softer, different-coloured bits to go over his ears. They weren't really big frames, or really thick, but he thought they looked good on his face, and Professor Loki and the shopkeeper both confirmed that there was enough there to work with for the enchantments. The new glasses also looked much better than his old black-wire round glasses that were taped together over the bridge of his nose.
Better than the new glasses though, was the new contact lenses. They came with a little case to carry them in, a solution to wash them with, and drops for his eyes for when he was putting them in or taking them out – which he practised while the shopkeeper was enchanting a few pairs of the frames he'd chosen for the effects he wanted.
The glasses each had a soft case of their own, and the coloured parts that went over his ears were different for each set. Black for the normal, not-enchanted-at-all pair, green for the pair that would spot tracking spells, blue for the pair that would see through invisibility spells, red for the pair that would spot jinxes on items, and orange for the pair that would let Harry see in the dark like it was daylight.
"Thank you Sir," Harry said with a smile as he paid for all his new glasses. With the many sets stashed away and his contacts in – and when Loki paid for his special order as well – and they left for the bookshop.