The Cloak and Dagger Circus

Story Summary: The summer before fifth year is anything but quiet for Harry. He asserts himself in the magical world but his ability to survive there depends upon his skills of evasion, as he's being tailed by the strangest crowd of magical folk he's ever seen. At least he has friends to fall back on - though perhaps not the ones he'd have expected before this all started. He's lucky to have found Luna Lovegood, who is a steady friend whether he's confronting the Dursleys, the Ministry, Death Eaters or even the Cloak and Dagger Circus.

Notes: The plans for this story were hatched before DH was released. This story contains my own harebrained ideas about R.A.B., the locket, Severus Snape and Lily Evans. So, as of DH, several plot points in this story are AU. The story begins at the start of Harry's summer after fourth year and the reason it was started is that I think it's just such a waste that Harry's summer in canon was spent in complete boredom and ignorance at the Dursleys while everyone else was in on the loop of the Light's rebellion.

Warnings: Mild swearing. Contagious insanity (Luna), wreckless endangerment of a minor (Dumbledore), violence against a minor, an owl and all things cute and innocent (Dursleys), stuffiness (Hermione), teenaged rebellion (Harry), sexiness (that's right, Sirius and Remus are in this story), snarkiness (not just from Snape), the occasional adult insinuation and a few clichés. Much of my plotting was done while I was on an Independent Enlightened Harry kick. There are two clichés of which I am so ashamed that I simply must warn you over. First, Harry will be spending time at Gringotts and I'm sure you can guess at most of what happens there. Second, later on, Harry will be playing the 'Who's my Daddy?' game - although I think the answer will be a touch unique and I swear on Dobby's grave that it is not 'Severus Snape,' although he will eventually have personal involvement in Harry's life.


Chapter 1: The Cage Door

Harry walked down the street in what was becoming his routine circuit of the neighborhood. He'd been back at Privet Drive for a week and had felt restless from the moment he'd gotten into his uncle's car at the train station. Voldemort was officially back in business, the Wizarding World was the Dark Lord's ignorant, easy game and what was the Boy Who Lived doing? Chores. The muggle way. He rounded up the block to one of the features of his habitual wandering, the park, and strolled across the grass to an old walnut tree situated on a small hill, sitting down against its trunk. Brooding was a new hobby of his but this particular stop had a less self-destructive purpose, one of harmless mischief. Settling back in as relaxing a pose as possible, he waited for the telling hoot.

Aside from being anxious in his hell away from home, he was very, very bored. The Dursleys were repulsively stupid creatures with deep interest in showing themselves as his betters. Living with them was stressful, tiresome and constantly dispiriting. As an alternative to losing his mind, he had divised small ways of finding fun in spite of them, namely in affirming his nature as something completely contrary to them. Sitting beneath a tree in a muggle park, surrounded by non-magical people, he found a twittering guilty pleasure in having his owl perch in one of the branches above him, in the image of an owl and wizard resting in a spot of nature together. He heard her wings beating before he saw her and looked up with a small smile as she landed on a low branch, out of sight unless someone were under the tree. She cooed at him lazily and he went back to his lounging. It was silly, small and worth the trouble.

Ron had already written him once, about three days into their summer break, which was highly unusual. Something had seemed off in the letter, as though he were very excited, trying to get to a point and then leaving it out. Two days later he'd gotten a similar, if less disordered missive from Hermione which had reminded him of her evasive nature all throughout their third year, when she'd been concealing the time-turner from him and Ron. He couldn't think of anything they'd be hiding, so he figured they were just uncomfortable, imagining the third task and his part in the resurrection of Voldemort. The thought of his blood in the veins of his parents' murderer made him sick enough, he didn't think they could just nod it off. His being a Parselmouth had taken a lot longer than a few weeks for them both to stop being squeamish over and it still wasn't something he'd want to bring up, even if they didn't seem to mind anymore. Probably writing so soon because they're worried I'll snap, so they're trying to keep the Harry-might-go-mad situation as under control as they can manage it, from a distance. Kind of nice of them.

The person he'd been hoping for a letter from hadn't written yet and he was doing his best not to worry. Seeing Sirius go off on some mystery mission for Dumbledore with a troupe of Death Eaters loose in England had only set his nerves on fire at the time but after contemplating just how many things could be happening to the man, how terribly wrong everything could go for the two of them in a matter of minutes if just the right tragedy occurred, he sometimes felt like someone his friends ought to be monitoring for signs of insanity. He'd figured out that he really couldn't safely send a letter, not without risking his godfather's location being exposed; Hedwig was a smart girl and he knew it but everytime he thought of sending Sirius a letter he pictured her delivering it to a scruffy black dog on a public street. There was no choice but to wait for the man to initiate contact, which put him in the familiar position of worrying madly and idling helplessly.

He stretched and entertained the vague fantasy of writing Remus Lupin, one of his father's friends. As it had been since the end of his third year, the notion was bitterly vetoed by his inner-skeptic, which he and his inner-dreamer thought of as his inner-cranky-critic, a paranoidly cautious and self-protective side of him which had been born under the Dursleys' tender care. In spite of his own negative opinion of this vitriolic inner-voice, he normally agreed with it and since the discovery that Professor Lupin had spent nearly a year practically lying to him and over twelve years hiding from him, Harry and his Cranky Critic were not kindly disposed towards the man, even if the 'let's-befriend-him' dream wouldn't stop popping up. Too many arguments came to mind that his inner-dreamer couldn't fight against, starting with, 'Where was he when you were dreaming of a father or even a distant relative coming to take you away from the Dursleys? What about when you'd eye a police car and just wish they'd ask the right questions about your homelife, take a stand for you? Where the hell was he?' He supposed he could ask the man where he'd been but that would be showing more of himself than he knew how to cover back up.

He just longed for a better connection to magic that summer than his school books and memories. Experience with high stress levels suggested he keep his mind off circumstances as much as possible but with everything but his owl putting him on edge, he didn't think he'd last the summer without going barmy and giving the Daily Prophet something awful and true to write about him. Nine days, Potter. You've been home nine days and already you're bemoaning life, you pathetic sod. He opened his eyes, looking for something to distract him from his self-criticism. One thing to be said about the Dursleys, absence could never make the heart grow fonder. It seems the more time I'm away from them, the less I want to see any of them ever again. He fixed his gaze on a grey squirrel who had carelessly wandered to a spot about four feet to his left. He was surprised the animal wasn't spooked by him, only quirking its head and then preening itself beside him. Just think, he's grown up with Dudley down the street, too. The squirrel finished preening and gave him one long look, then turned tail and ran off to a nearby bush. Harry smirked, then began to close his eyes again, imagining the lives of busy park squirrels, battling kids like Dudley without becoming nuts.

It would have been like any other lazy afternoon, were Hedwig not so agravated by her master's restlessness. For nine days, he had been acting like a caged bird, pecking and squawking about their muggle nest in boredom and frustration. If she didn't want him healed, she would have made herself clear and put a stop to his restless shuffling and random magical surges with a few hard bites. He was hurt, she knew. Worried, about his dog friend. Guilty, about the evil in the world. Hopelessly stupid and meandering, in general. No, she thought, must not insult my wizard. Must not insult my - oh, Artemis, there he goes again! Whatever Harry was thinking, he was leaking enough magic to set her feathers to ruffling. Hedwig hooted agitatedly and looked down at her wizard reproachfully, for all he noticed. Something had to be done to fix her boy, before she lost her patience and bit him.

Harry wants out of the cage. Weasleys? Her wizard hadn't been very happy with the letter from his brother Ron. He'd told her that it sounded as though he were being decieved by him. More frustration master doesn't need. Hagrid? She was fond of the loving giant but he was the same man who, according to her wizard, had seen him starving and cold, whisked him away from it and then brought him straight back. These actions made little sense and so there was no supposing what he might do. The only other way Harry had gotten out of his cage in the past was on that horrible rolling room. Hedwig's wings bristled as her master's magic flared once more. Horrible rolling room it is...

Laying beneath his owl familiar's watch, dreaming of a simple and free life, feeling his magic stirring at the imagined freedom it longed for, Harry Potter was struck on the head with a walnut. He made a show of himself, darting up and whipping his wand out as he searched the park for his attacker. When she revealed herself with a deep hoot, he looked up and then watched transfixed as Hedwig launched off from the branch she'd been perched on and swooped down in a slow circular arc, coming around to him. He'd expected her to land on his shoulder and so he was quite surprised when instead she went for his wand and snatched it right out of his hand.

"Hedwig!" he half-shouted in shock. Honestly, what's she playing at? he wondered as she looped back around to fly past him and out towards the street. Not wanting to be left alone in public without a wand when Voldemort or Death Eaters could be anywhere at all, he gave chase. Running after his usually quite prim snowy owl, who had actually stolen his wand from him, he mostly just felt amused at the sight he thought they must make in muggle suburbia. Of course, it's only funny until someone gets Stupefied.

He followed her down four blocks and three shortcuts, until he came out from a short alley behind the local convenience store and skidded to a stop as he could see her. Looking around, he shook his head when he spotted her. She was quite a sight indeed, perched on the wooden post a bus sign was nailed to, his wand laying in front of the post's base. He came forward and collected it, feeling a rush of security at having it back in his possession, then raised an eyebrow at her. "Game over now, girl?"

To his surprise, she began making angry hissing and clicking noises at him. "I suppose there was a point to all this then?" She hooted softly in agreement. Well, the most obvious is - "Hedwig, this busline really doesn't go anywhere interesting. It's more of a shuttle - like from town to town." She screeched at him and he glanced around nervously, hoping no one came to investigate. Giving her a mild glare, he found her to be glaring back. Alright, so she thinks I'm being thick. Stole my wand and - "Oh," he said in realization as he held his wand aloft before him and looked at it anew.

Hedwig swooped down to perch on his shoulder, nipping his ear and cooing at him. Good wizard, she thought, must praise the dumb thing, he puzzled it out before getting bit. Good boy.

Harry gave her a broad grin. "I hadn't thought of that." Reaching up to stroke her feathers lovingly, he praised, "You're such a clever owl, you know I'd be right stuck without you. Literally." She basked a moment, cooing happily, then took off again, this time going in the direction of Privet Drive, towards his open window. Giving a sigh, he too turned back towards Number Four, walking at a sedate pace. The possibilities...I think I'll be spending a lot less time with my 'family' this summer and for once, it won't be because I've gotten rescued. The word 'rescue' brought to mind the world's trouble at hand and his shoulders sagged a bit as his temporary glee disipated. It's about time to stop counting on someone saving me anyway. The cavalry tends to go missing whenever Voldemort's around.

He walked down the street lost in his thoughts but even if he had not been, he likely would not have noticed the grey squirrel following him from bush to bush.


The next morning, after doing the breakfeast dishes, Harry went out for a morning walk with a few coins in his pocket, stopped at a patch of road in an unpopulated wood and raised his wand.

Harry didn't have long to wait before the Knight Bus pulled up beside him. Stan Shunpike came out, his bored expression jolted at the sight of, "Harry Potter!"

"Could you not say that?" Just watch, the bus will unload in a minute and twenty Death Eaters who were on their way to Camp Munch will swamp me.

"Right, Neville," the older teen said with a wink and a cheeky grin.

"I'm going to the Leaky Cauldron," Harry said as he fished a Galleon out of his pocket. Stan took it and asked if he wanted any services on board and at the boy's refusal handed back his change of six Sickles. He boarded and settled down half-way back, bracing himself for the lurching, warping madness that was a wizarding bus ride.

The third stop was his and he gladly rushed out, thanking Stan as he came to stand on the walkway before the entrance to the Wizarding World.

"Our pleasure, Neville," Stan said before the door closed behind him and the bus warped out of sight.

Harry grinned as he walked to the Leaky Cauldron's door, glad he didn't have anyone waiting for him this time around. Being on the Minister's bad side has benefits. He brushed his hair down so that it covered his scar and went in with his head ducked down, going straight through to the back alley where he tapped the bricks to reveal the entrance to Diagon. As he breathed in the air, he imagined it tasted differently than the air of any street in Muggle London. The Alley was less busy than he was used to and he was glad for the walking space.

While his fear of the magical world disappearing had all but vanished after his second year at Hogwarts, the sight of broomsticks in a shop window was still reassuring after coming out from under the watch of the Dursleys, who would all be thrilled to have this world taken away from him. Compared to the dullness of his muggle homelife, just walking down the street was a joy that sang through him. He went down the Alley peaking in windows at a leisurely pace, nothing holding his interest until he reached Eeylops Owl Emporium, where he thought he ought to get something for Hedwig, since she was the one who had reminded him of the Knight Bus. How do I reward that? A golden cage? He went in and looked around curiously, never having actually gone in before, as Hagrid had been the one to purchase Hedwig.

It was dimly lit and filled with the soothing white noise of feathers ruffling. Before him, in the center of the shop, stood two long walls of cages, most of them occupied. What he could see against the actual store walls were empty cages, treats and various care items. He was attracted to a display of pink, mouse-shaped owl treats and went to investigate the far right aisle. Reading exactly what was in them, he grimaced and picked up a package anyway. Moving down the same aisle he saw toys for owls which could squeak, run, fly, bounce and or hoot. There were small toy owls, fluffy and realistic, that made baby owl noises and fluttered up and down; a sign on the large flat basket they all sat upon read 'Nest Fillers.' Oh, I can just picture the glare she'd give me...the hunting toys look better but what if she eats one?

Wandering to the back of the store, he found the products phased from obviously fake to completely live. The right half of the back wall was taken up by cages of rodents, insects and reptiles. He eyed a tank of frantic grey mice and tried to consider bringing one home to Hedwig. With all the summers they'd spent together, mostly eating the same things, it was easy to forget that she preferred her food live. To think that we spent the first summer out of Hogwarts eating thin soup together and she still likes me. She definitely deserves a nice toy. I can't bring a mouse home anyway, Aunt Petunia would completely lose it on me. He backed up several steps and picked up a flying winged mouse toy, advertised as nearly unbreakable and due to size, completely inedible. The fluffy amusement would cost him three Galleons, seven Sickles and reaching into his pocket, he realized that was nearly all he had to spend, after getting the owl treats as well he'd only have three Sickles and four Knuts left. When he went around to the counter a man who reminded him of the bird-like features of Professor Hooch was standing there waiting. He paid and left, heading towards Gringotts where he would have to pick up at least the bus fare home.

The bank was located at the apex of Diagon Alley and during the walk up Harry found himself averting his eyes from meeting those of other wizards. Something made him feel as though he were standing out more than usual. It was only when he noticed a few men openly staring at him that he remembered Dumbledore's announcement at the end of term. They're thinking of Cedric and wondering why it wasn't you, the one Voldemort had actually been after. Anyone could work out it wasn't Cedric who was supposed to die. He ducked his head down and hurried along his way.

It was only at the entrance to Gringotts that he raised his eyes again. He reread the familiar threatening poem at the top and went through the doors in an almost skittish gait. Entering the bank he saw another reason he was sticking out so much; he was the only one there dressed in muggle clothes, which made sense so early in the summer, and he was also the most shabbily dressed. He'd always wondered why the sight of Dudley's castoffs wouldn't shut Ron up about being poor, when compared to Harry in his muggle attire the other boy looked like a king, if an ill-fitted one. Slinking to the nearest banker's desk in his holey shoes and threadbare baggy clothes, a few sidelong glances confirmed his suspicion that he was also the youngest one there.

"How may I help you?" The Goblin sneered out. The polite words formed by the twisted face reminded him of the Dursleys when they were trying to make nice with someone they disapproved of, to avoid creating a scene.

"I'd like to make a withdrawal from my vault."

"Key," the creature demanded imperiusly and Harry changed his assessment to, 'if Snape worked in a bank.'

He fished in his pocket for the key then handed it over for inspection. The goblin grunted, whatever that meant, before gesturing another over to take Harry on the ride to his vault.

Once he was standng before the room of coins, he began feeling the usual itchy temptation as the Goblin wordlessly handed him a bag to fill with money. After growing up in rags and a cupboard, he felt caught between the desire to spoil himself, as when he was first made aware of his small fortune and tried to convince Hagrid to let him buy a gold cauldron, and the panicked need to protect and preserve what he had, to prevent ending up in dire circumstances by consequence of his own actions. Looking at the little hills of gold, he thought of his discomfort in looking like a beggar among the wizarding public. Hiding new robes from the Dursleys wouldn't be too hard, the only thing stopping him was the childish fear of eventually becoming a real beggar among the wizarding public. I'll have a Hogwarts education behind me in a few years, that should get me some sort of job. It's not as though the money will last forever either way, even if I only spend a hundred Galleons a year.

Assessing the piles in an attempt to count what was there, he realized that it looked as though he was spending a good deal more than a hundred each year.

"Excuse me, er...?"

Giving a disgusted look at Harry for his lack of eloquence, the Goblin supplied, "Fentip, sir."

"Fentip, could you tell me how much I have in this vault?"

Raising an eyebrow, he drew a hand through the air to stop palm-out at his eye level and spoke several words Harry couldn't understand. "Sixty-three thousand four hundred twenty-two Galleons, three thousand one hundred seventy-seven Sickles, nine hundred thirty-four Knuts, a broken pencil and a ball of lint."

"A broken pencil and a ball of lint?"

"Would you like me to find them for you?"

"No, no thank you." Tens of thousands of gold coins, a melodic voice whispered. His inner-critic, the rotten git, gave him a jolt then. It can go faster than you'd think, Potter. Just look at how much has gone from the mountain of gold and silver you saw when you were eleven. I bet it'll be all but gone by the time you graduate and then what? "Is - is there a way to get a bank statement?"

Fentip tilted his head at the phrase and then nodded at him, head still held lop-sided. "A report on your vault's activity can be reviewed by you upstairs. I'll fetch the Goblin in charge of your account once we're above ground."

"Thanks," he said pathetically, wondering why he even cared. Knowing how quickly you're losing it won't make it stay. He took about a hundred Galleons as his summer's spending money, then shifted uncertainly as he thought of indulging in something more lasting than ice cream or bus rides. Freedom isn't good enough for you, you'd like to pretend to be a Malfoy? What about Sirius, does he have new robes or is he suffering in a ditch somewhere in rags? Do you even care? You're becoming a Dursley now, Harry? His head reared back at that thought, the least-liked inner voice winning in the self-preservational guardianship of the vault's gold. He turned away and followed Fentip back to the cart. They took the ride up and the Goblin told him to wait a moment.

He snuck glances at the other bank customers, brushing his hair down self-consciously as he caught a few people giving him odd looks. The clientele varied in age and size but all were in robes or floor-length dresses, the women wore their hair in neat, attractive styles and most of the men had beards of varying length. Taking a more thorough look, he counted only three other children, all of them well-dressed and attended by their parents. And where are your's? Four years in the Wizarding World and still alone and - Sirius, I've got Sirius. He's better than a guardian, he wants me.

A slim Goblin approached him, dressed in a puffy purple and gold suit of clothes. "Digaxe," he said as he offered a hand for Harry to shake, "follow me." Harry did, feeling a little overwhelmed at the unfamiliar, adult situation. They went through a gold gilded door into a long narrow hall furnished with waiting chairs which stood outside each of the dozen or more doors. Digaxe led him down the plushly carpeted walkway and through a door that looked like all the others in the hall. The room revealed was apparently a Gringotts office, holding a large darkwood desk which Digaxe sat behind, two armchairs set in front of it, gold and plumply stuffed, and a matching sofa to the side of the door. There were shelves, holding rolls of parchment, unidentifiable baubles formed of various metals and books, lining all of the available wall space. He sat in the large chair before the desk and bit his lip as he looked at Digaxe, thinking he'd walked into a place which he certainly didn't belong in.

The Goblin dipped his head in a show of respect. "Mr. Potter, I'd been expecting to see you two years ago but I suppose children develop at their own rate. And to be fair, you do have more to take on than the average child."

"Two years ago?"

A look of confusion crossed the Goblin's face. "When you reached thirteen, sir." Harry must have looked even more confused, for he elaborated further. "Thirteen is the age at which any witch or wizard of sound mind can hold control of their personal account. Typically this refers to a checking account set up for them by their parents, which is then used as a learning tool in fiscal responsibility."

"Haven't I had that?"

Digaxe seemed about to get angry, something only noticable to Harry because his face was less naturally creased from giving disgusted looks than those of most other Goblins. "No, you have not. I assumed that you were requesting a report because you wished to take responsibility for your holdings."

Being alone in a room with an angry Goblin was far from comfortable for him but next to a Basilisk or Voldemort, it wasn't very intimidating. He shook his head in exasperation. "I don't know what you're talking about. I've been using the vault for four years. No one, including at this bank, has ever said a word to me about some wizarding rite of teenage banking or anything."

There was a moment of silence. "I suppose the fault lies with me, as your account's manager. I should have taken into consideration that you did not have the benefit of instruction."

Did he just apologize for forgetting that Voldemort made the Boy Who Lived a real live orphan? Why should he, when no one else does?

"Your use of the vault is assumed in its contract. At the age of eleven, when you became eligible for Hogwarts, you were awarded the freedom to make personal withdrawals from your vault. Do you understand that it was set up as a trust for you?"

"Yes."

"The gold you've taken from it with your own hands is, of course, nothing in comparison to the automatic draws on the vault."

"Automatic?" He suddenly remembered his uncle bellowing that he wouldn't pay for any freak school, and wondered just how much it cost him to go to Hogwarts.

"Yes. At thirteen, upon being found competant, you would have been given control over them. I thought you wished for a report to see if they were all agreeable to you."

"Oh. Well, it wasn't why but I should probably know anyway, right?"

Digaxe nodded and drew a thick sheaf of parchment from a drawer, gesturing the boy nearer. "Place your key at the top and then bleed a few drops on the parchment," he said as he handed him a dagger which could have passed as a letter opener.

Hesitating only briefly, Harry did as he was told, cutting the tip of his index finger and pressing out a few drops of blood. Digaxe then took a different dagger of similar design and copied the motion. They watched on as their blood mingled, then vined out to form a dark red readout of the vault's information. Digaxe grunted and Harry squinted from his position, reading upside down as he tried to find the negative news.

"Don't you already know everything on there?"

"No, I only know the numbers and dates. Who the gold has been going to...Mr. Potter, please sit down, this news may be somewhat upsetting to you."

Not listening, he grabbed the paper off the desk, thinking that if it was his vault information written in his blood he could damn well read it himself. He scanned the sheet and found what he thought the Goblin must be talking about.

"Oh, Merlin." He sank into the chair behind him as his knees went weak. Harry had heard the expression, 'didn't know whether to laugh or cry' before. Now he thought he understood it. "How long?"

The Goblin was giving him a steady look, in an attempt to be reassuring, which was utterly wasted since the boy's eyes were firmly fixed on the parchment he was holding. "Since your parents' wills were activated, Mr. Potter. The withdrawals have been made automatically, once a month, since you were orphaned."

Some part of the wizard would later appreciate the straight-forward manner in which Digaxe had said that but just right then, Harry was gearing up to burn with vitriol as he felt numerous dreams and plans be tainted by the knowledge. Nearly fourteen years.

"I understand having your parents' murderer given funds from your account is...an overwhelming blow, sir. Let me assure you that with your authority I can stop the payments immediately."

"Huh?" Harry was struck out of his cloud of painful thoughts and began looking over the document. "Voldemort?" Lord Voldemort? Tom Riddle? His Royal Snakeface? I don't see it anywhere.

"No. No, thank goodness. I'm sorry, I meant Sirius Black, of course. He is as much-"

"Sirius? Oh, I see. Because he's my godfather, right?" At least he gets something out of being saddled with a walking disastor for a godson.

"Well, yes. In theory, it was to be used towards your benefit, particularly your education."

Harry looked up at the Goblin to see that he'd confused the other being completely. He must have thought I was upset about Sirius getting, he swiftly checked the parchment, twenty Galleons a month? "Is the information shared in this meeting confidential?" That sounded very business-like, Potter. Good show!

"Entirely. Gringotts prides itself on protecting our clients' interests. Nothing you say here and no information regarding your account will ever be shared by a Gringotts employee unless you will it so, literally, Mr. Potter."

"The Dursleys, they've been paid out of my vault for as long as Sirius has?" The filthy demented magic-haters.

"Yes, sir," Digaxe agreed neutrally.

"They're paid...seventy-five Galleons a month?" Lying swine.

"Correct."

He closed his eyes for a brief moment and then quickly ran the numbers through his head as best he could. Fourteen years...well over ten thousand galleons they've been paid. "Do they know they have it?"

"They recieved a visit from a Gringotts representative in November of 1981, informing them of the arrangement. At their request, the gold has been exchanged for pounds and wired to their muggle bank account each month." The Goblin began eyeing his client critically, as though looking for any evidence of those pounds. Harry caught this and bitterly mused he could find them on Dudley without even trying.

"I want the payments stopped, immediately."

"To your guardians?"

"Yes."

"I'll handle it forthwith."

"Good," Harry said with a relieved nod. Then he paused as he remembered, "Don't I need to take a test or something first? You said I'd have to be found competant to manage my own affairs."

"If you did not meet the standards of your trust's contract, the ritual to reveal your vault's activity would not have worked."

"It...checked for sanity, in my blood?"

"Essentially."

I've heard madness runs in the blood but that's just...well, it is the Wizarding World after all. Harry shifted in the plush chair, looking back to his vault's report. The seventy-five to the Dursleys and twenty to Sirius are the only monthly withdrawls. Hogwarts makes an annual one of...wow, no wonder the Weasleys are poor. "Can I add a deposit into someone else's vault?" he wondered aloud.

"Yes, if they have one. You only need to tell me whose, and I'll find the number and make the adjustment."

"Would they know it came from me?"

"Unless you specify otherwise. Such discretion on our part tends to frustrate clients; there would be a small fee for the omission."

"How much?"

"One percent of one percent of the deposit or no less than six sickles per deposit."

"That's not too bad." How many people would be anonymously donating to the Weasleys though? If they figured it out, Ron would skin you and Mrs. Weasley would probably just give it back. Or cry hysterically and give it back, more likely. But there is... "Sirius is no murderer," Harry said out of the blue. "He's family. He never betrayed my parents, Peter Pettigrew did. They switched secret keepers without telling anyone to throw the Death Eaters and Voldemort off the trail. It worked too well." He looked up to see Digaxe listening intently, though looking very skeptical. "I've seen proof," Harry said firmly, as though that really ought to be enough for anyone he said it to.

"I take it this means the payments to Mr. Black's account are to continue?"

"Yeah, only he's the real person looking out for me, not the Dursleys. So I'd like it raised to..."

"If I may, sir, I think you ought to consider that your parents did not assign that amount to your legal guardians as payment for taking care of you. The Galleons were meant to be spent on your personal wants and needs, Mr. Potter."

That gave him pause. I was just about to give Sirius a salary for wanting me, wasn't I? Don't I want and need new robes? Sirius needs them more though...where is he, while I'm sitting in this posh bank office dickering over...over coins! Sirius is Merlin knows where, maybe hurt, probably hungry...and he's family! I'm not a Dursley, that means something to me! "I want Sirius to get another thirty Galleons a month added to his draw on the vault and I'd also like to start making anonymous deposits to his vault, another fifty Galleons a month."

"That can be done," Digaxe said with a nod. "Are you sure?"

One hundred Galleons a month, that's twelve hundred a year. I've got...over sixty-three thousand? Stingy, aren't I? "No, actually. Make the anonymous deposit one hundred Galleons."

"It will be done. Any other additions?"

The Weasleys would kill me. Well, Ron would at least. "No, that's it."

"Did you have any other queries Mr. Potter?" The Goblin's eyes seemed alight with expectation.

"No, thank you." This is enough to wrap my head around as it is...bloody Dursleys. "I appreciate your help with all this," he said as he stood and shook Digaxe's hand firmly.

Digaxe nodded and said something Harry couldn't understand in a courteous tone, then followed it with, "I hope to see you again soon, Mr. Potter."

"Right," Harry said with a nod, walking out in a slight daze.


Stepping out onto Diagon again, he shifted his bag of gold self-consciously. He'd intended to use the Galleons as his entire summer's petty cash, paying for trips, snacks and minor amusements. The familiar weight of disapproving looks from strangers, his exasperated shame at his state of dress and the idea of over sixty thousand Galleons at his disposal was quickly disabusing him of his original plan. I'm removed enough from the general public as it is, I don't want to see witches clutching their purses when they spot me anymore than I want kids pointing at my scar. At least I can do something about one of those things. He still felt the familiar unsettling wave of fear at expending a resource which could later prove necessary but he quelled it and walked down the street to Madame Malkin's with his head held high, as though he'd forgotten his shame at being clothed like an urchin.


Thumbs up or thumbs down? Or waggly thumbs sideways? Thumb in your ear? Thumb up your nose?