Hariel Potter sets him up in a room on the floor above the kitchen. The only way to reach it is by climbing the stairs that are but a mere three steps from the ominous curtains. It is a room of good quality, with rich dark furnishing that would not be amiss within a Targaryen household. As guest room, it houses no family sigils, no lucid animal representation and no influx of specific colour schemes. It is the calming environment he needs right now. While hesitant to allow his feet free of his boots, the respect he has towards Hariel Potter's furniture overrides the scraps of common sense he has clung to since awakening here.
With his legs folded upon the bed, Rhaegar settles the bag supposedly containing his possession upon his lap, eyeing the opening cautiously. There is no feasible way that a sword could have been placed within the hessian sack. However, his boots were also housed within and Rhaegar would not have predicted them capable of being contained within the bag either. Loosening the drawstrings and dipping his fingers inside, the Prince of Dragonstone stills when his hand finds a familiar hilt. It's impossible and yet… Slowly, Rhaegar pulls his sword free from the contents of the bag; it is utterly impossible for it to have ever been contained within. Regardless, there it is.
"Magic," he breathes in wonder, twisting the blade back and forth, watching the light that descends from the ceiling catch on the surface, catching on the slight nick that Arthur had caused in their last spar. It is, without question, his sword. The how… the mechanics behind how the blade had been contained with the bag is a question for another day, an answer that will hopefully present itself prior to his departure. If given the time and opportunity, he may even go in search of it himself. The weight of his weapon had not even been apparent until his fingers closed around its hilt.
Placing the sword by his bedside, Rhaegar begins to slowly strip the bag of its contents; his hidden dagger, the pair of socks he'd been wearing (though it would have been far more helpful to find those about an hour prior), a hair tie and, humorously enough, one of Tywin Lannister's goblets. He must have been holding it when he was… misplaced. Staring down at the lion crest residing on the goblet's side, Rhaegar carefully places the cup upon his bedside table, alongside the strange sculpture of metal and material, one that appears almost tree-like in its structure. A closer inspection showcases that there is a glass bauble of sorts within the material, a thin piece of metal within the glass itself. He doesn't have the slightest idea what it is for, only that it appears delicate. He shan't touch it until his knowledge has grown on the… intricacies of this land.
Lady Potter (just Harrie, as she requested he address her) had left him within the room, promising to return with some clothing while he… 'settles in'. He has little idea what that is supposed to mean. He does not wish to 'settle'. His priority list remains returning to his lands as soon as possible, with a secure second of obtaining as much knowledge as possible from this place in the process.
Smoothing out the material of his socks, Rhaegar allows his brain to whirl with the unthinking movement, folding the fabric back and forth as he considers his current predicament. While he worries about what is happening within the Seven Kingdoms (especially given he has spent sixteen days unconscious here; the thought of that alone is staggering), there is little he can do to affect the events from his current placement. His best bet is to tackle returning home as efficiently as possible. Rhaegar has always prided himself on his mind above all other attributes he possesses; returning home with new knowledge to better the lives of his people is also something he needs to consider.
A knock at the door startles Rhaegar from his thoughts, the sound muffled behind the thick expanse of the wood.
"Rhaegar? There're some clothes here; we need to make sure you don't stand out as much. Especially if we're going to go chase things up with the goblins." Goblins. It's a word he is unfamiliar with but is clearly a noun; probably a group of people. Perhaps record-keepers? There must be some form of record on where this particular amulet has come from.
Opening the door, Rhaegar finds Hariel Potter waiting on the other side with a bag unlike any he has seen before. The material is strange, a shiny white that behaves in a similar manner to fabric but shimmers in the light in a way that is not dissimilar to metal.
"My thanks, Miss Potter."
"Harrie," she corrects without hesitation, "if you're quick, then we can get to the goblins before they shut." The interruption throws him once again and all Rhaegar can do is offer a polite smile, dipping his head in unspoken agreement. He will try.
"As you say, Lady Harrie." He closes the door, just as her face twists into a kind of crossbreed of humour and startlement.
The clothing which he has been provided is by far the most comfortable thing he has ever worn, despite being so very… unfamiliar. The trousers are much like Hariel's own, tighter than the norm and made of a similar material, if darker than what he has seen her sporting. Pockets are carefully placed and done not solely for convenience but style too. They rest against the tops of his thighs and offer no unseemly bulge of fabric where the excess material usually lays, allowing for this tighter fit without issue. He's not too sure on how they will fare when damp, given how heavy the material is; hopefully he shall not have to find out. The belt is far easier to comprehend, similar to his own but styled as carefully as everything else; efficient and sleek once threaded through the loops of his trousers. It is the top he remains unsure of. The fabric, while exceptionally similar to cotton, stretches. Once he has it covering his torso, Rhaegar finds himself pulling at the material, trying to wrap his mind around the fit of the shirt. It clings tight to his skin in a way no tailor in his own land would ever be able to replicate without compromising the movability of the wearer. This shirt moves and stretches with him; Rhaegar twists back and forth and finds the fabric returns to its original position as the rest of his muscles do. More magic then.
The last item is the only thing familiar; sandals of a sort made from leather. He cannot identify the origins, could not guess what animal it has been pulled from. The soles are new and comfortable against his feet. Toes wiggling to test movability (as he silently acknowledges that, with magic so readily at their fingertips, these people would have no need for armour) Rhaegar looks to his sword. There had not been a single person carrying openly in this place; he slides the blade back into the borrowed bag. His normally concealed dagger follows soon after and then he ties the bag onto one of the fabric loops of the…. 'jeans' his host as provided him with.
Pulling open the door, Rhaegar finds Hariel Potter leaning against the hallway wall, reading through what appears to be a leather-bound book. She soon snaps it shut at the sight of him, placing it upon the shelf to her right.
"You're not going to make it easy travelling through Diagon like that," she mutters, continuing before Rhaegar can question her upon the meaning of her words, "but wearing a cloak in the height of summer would be even more attention grabbing. We'll just have to hope your pretty face intimidates them." Her lips twitch up in a grin, cheeks pinking as she spins of heel and gestures for him to follow. He does so cautiously, well aware of the purple curtains that Hariel, a being of magic, is wary of.
It is as they exit the building, Hariel turning to close the door behind him, that Rhaegar finally finds his thoughts organised enough to begin his line of questioning.
"You found the amulet among your things?"
"My Godfather's things that he left to me in his will," Hariel clarifies, pulling some kind of metal contraption from the bag she has slung over one shoulder. She peels two thin sticks back and then proceeds to perch the contraption across the bridge of her nose, the thin… arms she had spun free curling around the upper shell of her ears. The tinted glass residing over her eyes reflected the brilliant sunshine; it would only take one blow to the face to shatter them and potentially blind her. A quick tap of her wand (if he has deduced the definition of the word correctly, that is), duplicates them. "Put the sunglasses on; they'll help with the sun and usually, people get the hint you don't wanna be bothered with them on." Some kind of accepted social cue from a contraption worn on the face?
Rhaegar places the 'sunglasses' on tentatively; they darken the world so his eyes no longer strain against the harsh glare of the sun. How useful.
"The Black family's had a thousand years (at the very least) to collect a whole lot of stuff, so I've spent a good portion of the summer already going through it," Hariel shares, setting off down the street. Rhaegar tries hard to not stare at every curio that captures his attention as they pass by, but it is proving difficult.
"This is the first thing that's summoned a person though. Hopefully the last too. Anyway, the goblins keep a record of all the content that goes in the vault and comes out of it. If you're right about the time-period the amulet came from, then Gringotts will have records and we can find out which Black it was that put it in there." Vaults… some kind of bank then, with these 'goblins' running it. Perfect. While he may not be overly fond of bankers, Rhaegar can at least acknowledge they are methodical creatures that keep a careful track of all the comings and goings they handle. At least, that is what the Iron Bank is like. He cannot see any reason why this 'Gringotts' will be different. All he has to do is present a believable façade, act as if he belongs upon these streets and that nothing in particular is a shock to the system. As long as he draws no attention to them, then this will be quick and painless. Speaking of painless…
"Will we be taking the Knight Bus again?"
"No; the entrance to Diagon is only a few streets over. There's no point. Unless you want to, that is?" With her quick smirk that lifts her cheeks, it's clear that Hariel Potter is teasing him.
"I much prefer walking."
"I bet you do," Hariel laughs as she speaks, shoving one hand, the one with the ring, into her trouser pocket. The other is holding the strap of her bag, slung high on the curve of her shoulder and clearly made to be decorative. He doesn't have the slightest clue what resides within it; it could be anything from a hairbrush to one of the miniature Knight Buses. Space holds no true form here, not with magic. For all he knows, this walk of a 'few streets' may have been a few hundred streets folded into a few.
Regardless of the exact measurement of their travels, it passes in an amiable silence, Hariel leading him along the footpaths that bracket the roads with the ease of familiarity. The people that pass by talk loudly, clearly, their speech peppered with colloquialisms that mean nothing to Rhaegar. They do not bother to hush their conversation as they pass, unbothered by the concept of being overheard. One man speaks to another about his latest conquest, looking unfazed by Hariel's presence for the conversation. Hariel herself looks undaunted, barely sparing the man a glance as she passes by. Rhaegar feels himself fluster, fingers scrambling to adjust the collar of his shirt. Especially as more than one-person (both female and male) stare after him with lustful eyes. It is as if the inhibitions of these people are so much lower than his own, as if they have no control of themselves. That, or they hold different morals. Perhaps the more likely conclusion; this land is so vastly different to his own, why would the morals and values remain true between them? They wouldn't. Who knows what is considered just and right here?
"One more street," Hariel promises, stopping at the edge of the road, a collection of white strips connecting the two side paths. From what he has been able to observe so far, this appears to be an acknowledged crossing of some kind, a sign to cross when a red light shines for the smaller knight buses and gives an alarm-like signal. Magic used to organise roads; it's spectacular. It's order he'd never have considered needed but, now that he has seen it in effect, can only dream of witnessing in his homeland.
"Then we shall arrive at this Diagon Alley?" he questions, standing beside Hariel as others line up to wait for the signal to cross. She glances at him, head still facing forwards so that she's peering around the edge of her 'sunglasses'.
"Yeah. Brace yourself, it's a bit more… colourful than the streets here."
Colourful is far from the word to describe it. Rhaegar, despite how learned he is, doesn't even have the word to describe it. His vocabulary fails him though it's no surprise given how his mind is only just managing to keep up with the sheer amount of input. The visuals, the noise, the scents and the feel of tension that dancing across the skin of his forearms; it must be magic. Has to be. Despite being aware of its existence, he has not felt it in such potency as this. It is almost a physical thing, smothering the entire alley in its presence. Hariel walks on as if this is an everyday occurrence and Rhaegar forces his feet to move, to follow her as she walks. He cannot, however, wipe the awe from his face.
"This is Diagon Alley."
"Yep. Gringotts in the white building in front of us… word of warning, they might not be very friendly. Tensions are still a bit high from the war and the fact it's me asking won't help things," Hariel explains, curling one wild lock of hair behind her ear, exposing the three studs that rise up the edge of the skin there. Then, as if sharing a personal secret for the first time, she whispers, "it's amazing, isn't it?" And there's a heavy sense of belonging, of precious and treasure and sorrow all wrapped up into one sentence. Rhaegar can only nod in agreement, no longer able to believe this is what Valyria was like, once upon a time. It seems too extravagant a step, too large a leap, even for the mythical land of his ancestors.
"You are famous among your people, are you not?" It is not a question that requires an answer; he sees the way others stare as she walks past (particularly when they spot the wisp of a scar atop her brow), he recalls how those upon the Knight Bus treated her.
"Something like that," Hariel agrees, pushing the sunglasses further up her nose, ensuring they disguise the shape and shade of her eyes from others.
"And you fought in this recent war?"
"I- yeah. I did. How did you know?"
"There are a multitude of scars upon your arm, you are well respected by the people you have come into contact with and they address you with the title 'Woman who Conquered'." Which is a title and a half to unwrap. Rhaegar does not have the time, however much he would wish to pluck apart the story of how she has gained such an impressive title.
Hariel Potter is quiet for a moment, weaving expertly through the throngs of people that parade about the alley. It is only by focusing upon her shoulders that he gets through the sensory overload that is Diagon Alley. When she speaks again, she does so quietly, almost passing beneath her breath in nought but a whisper. "I won the war."
They arrive at the steps before he can recover from that one.
Goblins, it turns out, are not a collection of people at all. They are a sub-race of humans. That is as close as Rhaegar can get to classifying them. Half-recalled tales of the Children of the Forest float through his mind as he takes in their wrinkled faces, large ears and squinting eyes. Every single one of them watch Hariel like a hawk. Evidentially, they'd been on separate sides in the war. It's the only explanation as to why they look upon her with such hostility. Not to say they do not grace the rest of their clientele with the very same glances. How they are entrusted with a bank, with the currency of this land… but, what is to say that these beings do not possess magic of their own? Best to tread lightly.
"Miss Potter." The pure loathing in the creature's voice has Rhaegar stepping closer, shoulders back and head tilting up. Two goblins shift uneasy and he becomes acutely aware that, to draw his sword, would require opening the bag at his hip. That alone would cost him precious seconds. Perhaps he should wear it openly, even if no other does. He does not, after all, have a wand with which to defend himself.
"I need to look at the Black records, particularly any pertaining to amulets that were stored in the vaults."
"Your… accomplice shall have to wait in the lobby." Accomplice. That's a very carefully chosen word. From the clench of her jawline, Hariel recognises whatever subtle jab was being thrown her way. Nonetheless, she dips her head in accordance, turning back to him.
"Rhaegar, pull up a seat in the lobby, please? I won't be long. I'll grab some cash too and we'll get you a replacement wand before we head back."
"Of course, Lady Hariel."
"Just Harrie," she stresses, brows puckering and, were it not for the situation he finds himself in, perhaps Rhaegar may have smiled. Arthur certainly would have.
She huffs as she walks away, glancing once over her shoulder with a thin smile to her lips.
By his reckoning, it takes Hariel a half hour to return with a collection of parchment, obviously for later study. It is from there that the arrive at a 'wand shop'. The building itself, it is incredible. The young woman manning the counter claims to be a stand in and has already spent half of the time he has been in the shop apologising profoundly that her boss is not in the country at the moment and that things will take longer because she's an apprentice. She also takes careful care to inform Hariel twice that 'Mr Ollivander will be sorry to have missed you'. It is as she is saying the same thing for a third time that Hariel politely excuses herself to inspect the wears. Rhaegar would… should pay his companion more attention. Yet… yet, when the first wand had been offered to him, placed within his hand with a carelessness he could never treat another's possession with… he'd been spellbound. So far, not one wand had been compatible with him according to the young apprentice and yet, yet each one had connected with something inside of him. It may not have been smooth, but the displaced papers, the extinguishing of candles, the avalanche of boxes; that had all been a result of the extraordinary power that has always resided within his chest. He'd just never known of its presence. It is proving exceptionally difficult to keep his face reserved, to not simply bask in the sensation he should have known his whole life. Magic. He is a being of magic and for the first time, he can feel it thundering in his chest, roaring as fire at his core.
"Alrighty, let's try this one. Ebony, fourteen and a half inches, unicorn hair. Not too flexible, pretty rigid actually…" she stops speak now, rubbing at her chin with one hand, the other holding the wand out in the space between them. Rhaegar accepts it carefully, feeling a jolt surge up his arm at the contact. He's almost hesitant to give it a wave but when he does… it's an instant connection, an understanding that none of the other wands had been right for him because it was this one. This is the one he'd been destined for, a wand waiting in this other land with all its mystics and magics, just waiting for him to come and collect it. And collect it he has. The room seems to come alive around him, chimes from none-existent bells echoing through the crowded space.
"A match!" The apprentice claps her hands together, joy evident on her face. The motion summons Hariel Potter like a silent wraith, sunglasses now hanging from the collar of her shirt and a duo of leather contraptions held between her fingers.
"We'll take the wand and two holsters, please." Presenting the two 'holsters' in question to the apprentice, Hariel flicks a quick glance his way, one eyebrow quirking up as she eyes the wand in his hand. "Unicorn hair… I was kind of expecting dragon heartstring if I'm honest."
"Wands can be made from parts of a dragon?" Rhaegar questions before he can stop himself, mind already whirling with the implications of it all. In his land, the only residue of dragons is that of their skeletons. Heartstring… well, the dragon would have to be dead to collect a part of the organ, but not dead long enough for it to have begun decomposing…. Do dragons still draw breath here?
"And from phoenixes. Along with a selection of other creatures, but Ollivander only goes for those three. If you're that interested in it, there'll probably be a book in the Black family library, they've got everything in there. Should be something to help with solving our problem too."
"Is it a marriage contract?" Rearing back at the eager tone, Rhaegar eyes the apprentice. The way her bright eyes look between the two of them is discomforting. Hariel's flat expression as she replaces the sunglasses upon the bridge of nose is far from a reassurance.
"There is no marriage contract with my name on it, Rhaegar and I aren't lovers, nor are we long lost family. I don't appreciate gossip or gossip being given to the tabloids. Keep the change, we've got places to be." The sudden chill from his companion is startling; the apprentice made a misstep and she knows it given the devastation on her face.
"O-of course, Miss Potter. I- I just, my cousin is a lawyer and if you needed help…" There's a tense moment where the two women look at one another and how strange it is, to not be the centre of attention, as he has known his whole life. All he is here is a companion of Hariel Potter, a woman of great importance in her own community. He rather imagines his father would not be best pleased to learn he has the same important as a consort.
"Sorry. I jumped to conclusions."
"It's no problem, Miss Potter."
"Yes, it is."
They return to Grimmauld Place much in the same way they left, the sun coating their backs as the people bustle passed them. With ebony wood pressing reassuringly into the tender skin of his forearm, Rhaegar follows after Hariel Potter, eyes focused upon her thin shoulders. She's unlike anyone he has ever met, but so is ever other person he has spoken to in this land. Healer Chang, the woman on the bus, the apprentice, even the goblins that he hadn't actually spoken to. He would never expect to come across another with an attitude such as theirs in Westeros, nor would he have predicted those in Essos to act as such. But this place is separate from his own, the people as different as the moon is to the sun. Some things remain, but others differ. Can what similarities that exist between them be classed as the traits of men then? While all else is learned from the environment of their birth? With his head so deep in his thoughts, Rhaegar pays a little less attention than he should have done while traversing the corridor of Grimmauld Place, tripping over a piece of discarded shoes that had been left in the hallway. Catching himself on the wall, Rhaegar looks up in time to meet Hariel Potter's wide, horrified eyes. That's when the curtains blow open.
"Scum! Filth in the House of Black! How dare you trespass on the home of my forebears! Mudbloods, filth, Kreacher, Kreacher!" The screeching is hellish, the source the portrait on the wall. It features an aged woman with yellowing skin, bugging eyes; there's even spittle pooling in the corners of her lips.
"Merlin damn it," Hariel curses, no longer silent now that Rhaegar has inadvertently awakened this phantom, "shut up, you old hag!"
"Potter!" The woman hisses before she begins her screaming anew. Rhaegar learns three new curses by the time Hariel has managed to force one curtain side closed, a light-skinned creature much-alike a goblin having appeared to aid her with the other flap of material. It clicks one long, spidery finger and a translucent dome surrounds them, conveniently stopping short of the portrait. Its bloodshot eyes swing around to take Rhaegar in just as the Prince of Dragonstone does so stare at it.
"Mistress Harrie has brought a Targaryen back. A noisy one," the thing grumbles, pulling at the long form of one leathery ear, matting down the white hair that has made its home within.
"Wait. Kreacher, how did you know Rhaegar's last name?" Kreacher, if that truly is his name, turns to look upon Hariel with adoration in his eyes. And it is true adoration, the kind that comes not from whispered tales of a person, but of knowing them. Of having spent time exposed to their character and yet, still having found something to worship regardless.
"Kreacher has severed the Black family for hundreds of years, yes he has. He remembers Mistress Saererys. Master Alnair travelled far for many years in his youth. Master Alnair's magic was strong, yes it was. Mistress Saererys ran away to be with him-"
"Kreacher, did either of them leave any journals behind? Any at all?"
The truth of the matter is, Hariel Potter has no idea what to make of her current houseguest. Rhaegar Targaryen is quiet, that much is clear. Quiet and well-bred and well-mannered. The only thing he is slow with are his smiles. Which is making things difficult for her. Because it's clear he's playing it safe; in an unknown land without a single person he knows or can find any form of trust in. The clothes he'd arrived in had been stamped with a three-headed dragon sigil, much like Malfoy'd always used to do with the Malfoy crest. She can get that he's from an old family, had been able to deduce they were of good stock the second Kreacher had indicated a Black had taken one of his family for a wife. But it doesn't change the fact that Rhaegar's cautious approach is going to slow whatever progress they make. Things would be much easier if Hermione were here, Harrie decides. She'd know what to do. Harrie… Harrie isn't book smart. She's not good at theories or working things out. Harrie is a problem solver only to the extent of trial and error. She'll run at a problem but if that doesn't work, she'll go at it from a different angle. There's not much thought to her methods and this is a scenario that requires a thinker. Even if it feels like a complete waste of time to be reading a long dead-woman's journal.
"Why do you want to get back so quick anyway?" Harrie grumbles, flicking to another page. Unless this 'Westeros' has made massive leaps in technology, then it's still stuck in the dark ages according to what she's reading here.
"My family remains there," Rhaegar states, his voice soft but with a firmness that implies there's iron beneath. His eyes, a shocking shade of indigo that should probably only be genetically available in Fleur's family, gaze up at her from beneath thick lashes. Honestly, he's too pretty for words and then some. He's only just turned seventeen, he's near two years younger than him. There's six years between Bill and Fleur though, so she's well within her rights to find him attractive.
"Your family's important, right? Likely some kind of lord at least." That's the general feel she's got from the journal she's reading. A family capable of riding dragons like horses… and directing their potent power at their enemies. If someone from the Targaryen line hadn't tried to conquer something in three-hundred years, then Harrie will eat the Sorting Hat. If she's learnt anything from her dealings with Voldemort (and to a lesser extent, Dumbledore), it is that power corrupts. From the stiffening of Rhaegar's shoulder, she's getting close. "Look, I just want to get you back home so I can banish my guilt and then get back on with my life." Or, rather, figuring out what she's going to do with her life. Even now, a year after Voldemort, she's still not sure what to do. Help when the occasional Death Eater surfaces, sure. Aid Kingsley when he needs a rousing speech, sure. But beyond that? It'd been a fight for survival prior to May last year. Now all she's got going on is making sure Crookshanks is fed while Hermione's out of the country with Ron. That and the pretty-boy currently sitting rim-rod straight in her living room. Doesn't it hurt his spine to sit like that?
"I am a prince in my homeland." The confession comes with an intent stare, as if daring her to try and ransom him back home. If she knew how to do so… no, not even then. Harrie's not hurting for money and for all that Ron'd find it rib-crackingly hilarious, she could never think to keep another person away from their family.
"Right. Is it a good life, being a prince?" she asks because what else is she supposed to do? How else is she supposed to carry on this conversation?
"It is a hard one," Rhaegar states after a moment of uncertainty, looking back to the pages of Alnair's journal, "but it is a responsibility I shall continue to ensure a strong kingdom."
""You sound like a good guy, Rhaegar. I'm sure it'll be no time at all until we get you home." If only she could feel as confident in her words as she sounds.
Chewing on her lip, Harrie turns her eyes back to the pages, but the vast majority is just whimsical poetry centred around Alnair. Hopefully Rhaegar's own reading material will offer them more of an insight to travelling between worlds, as Harrie is beginning to suspect is the magic at work here. If not… well, it's twelve more days until Hermione's due back.
Good news; I am no longer maternity cover at school, I am permanently employed. Looks like I've impressed :)