Darak: The beginning of chapter one lists all the future pairings, and there are slash ones among them. However, this particular story won't have slash – the romance probably won't start until the fifth or sixth book. So I didn't see a reason to add slash to the summary when there won't be.

Really Long Author's Note: I'd just like to add, that if you have a question please address it in a signed review. I really hate adding review to my story; it takes up space and I can never be sure if the person sees it or not. Anon reviews are just fine by me, but if you have a question and no account please just email me or something. Thanks! And now because I've been having some comments about it . . . . This story is AU. It is going to diverge from canon quite drastically on some points because I don't see the point in re-writing the books with a better, quicker, cleverer Harry. I love those stories, but I don't want to write one. I've had a lot of good advice about the plot and I have an idea of where this is going, but wherever it goes won't be in the canon direction. If this isn't your cup of tea, you might not want to try this story out. I just wanted to opt for something different and a little more original than just re-writing the books; JK already did an awesome job of that, why would I want to try it again? And for those of you who like it despite it being way different from canon; thanks.

"Talking" / 'Thinking' / Writing/Letters

Harry Potter and the Chosen of Hogwarts
Chapter Four: Nicholas Flamel and Gringotts

A door that seems to stand open must be a man's size, or it is not the door that Providence means for him. (Henry Ward Beecher)

Hogwarts School
September 6th, 1991

Harry woke to the sharp feeling of cold seeping into his very bones. It was a sudden awakening; the type that he remembered getting when Dudley pounded incessantly on the stairs above his head, sadistically determined to wake Harry up no matter what. One minute he'd been asleep, and the next he was awake; there was no in between bout of sleepiness, no wishing of falling back into slumber.

Harry shivered under his thick blankets. He was only cold on two points of his body; his feet were absolutely freezing, as were his fingers. Harry groaned. The cold felt bone-deep, almost painful, and Harry knew that he wouldn't be getting any sleep anytime soon. So, with a curse he'd learned from his Uncle, he threw himself out of bed and hurried to his closet before the cold had the time to seep into the rest of his body.

There was a thick woolen cloak sitting in the back of his closet, and Harry managed to scrounge up some gloves and a scarf. He'd been surprised when Snape had insisted he buy them, but now he could understand. And he thought it was cold in England! Teeth chattering, Harry wrapped himself tightly in his new-found garments and then hurried out of his room, having the sudden thought that maybe it was because he was in the dungeons that he was so cold. Maybe if he got back on ground it would be warmer? The more rational (and not-so-sleepy) part of Harry's brain told him that he'd be better off just getting back under the covers with all his warm clothes on, but Harry ignored that voice in his head for a moment. He knew that he must look half mad to anyone that might be crazy enough to be awake; hair undone and crazily curled across his back, bundled up so much he looked like he was twice his weight, and on top of it all his stick-thin face glowing pink with cold, his eyes half-mast and unfocused.

Harry didn't know how he got outside. Maybe it was sleep-induced stupidity or some part of his brain that was still chanting "heat rises" in the back of his head, but he found himself stumbling over the slick with dew hills of the Hogwarts grounds within minutes. Only later would Harry wonder how he had gotten up a floor and outside so fast when he didn't know the school that well yet.

Rubbing his hands together (in spite of his "heat rises" theory, being outside did not in fact make him warmer than he was in the dungeons. In fact, Harry thought that he was probably colder than he'd ever been in his life, let alone the few minutes spent in the dungeons) Harry walked the grounds, hoping now that the exercise might wake and warm him a little. He brought his hands close to his face and breathed on them, feeling his warm breath even through the thick mittens. Harry closed his eyes and tried to think of the Bahamas. It was only when he heard the distinct sound of a twig breaking in the otherwise silent area around him that his eyes snapped open and he froze in place.

Only yards away, Harry could see a figure walking ahead of him. He gathered that whoever it was had not yet seen Harry because of how dark it was outside; the sun hadn't even risen above the treetops of what Harry assumed to be the Forbidden Forest. He squinted and blinked when he realized that the person in front of him was wearing a turban; an oddly familiar turban at that. Where had he seen it before . . . ah yes! Harry remembered a teacher that had been sitting at the Staff Table during his sorting that had been wearing a purple turban. He'd had the absent thought of how odd it was for someone working in a Scottish boarding school to be wearing one and then he had turned to other things. His eyes narrowed.

The teacher was walking with a sense of purpose in his long legs, heading obviously for the Forbidden Forest. 'But why?' Harry thought. 'Why get up so early to go to a forest? And in this cold? Surely he must be more unused to it than I am – after all, a person doesn't usually wear foreign clothes unless they're a foreigner, right? Surely he must be freezing right now . . .' Harry had the thought that maybe the turban-teacher was looking for something for his classes but instantly dismissed the thought. It couldn't be more than five in the morning, and Harry could think of nothing any teacher would need to catch or do in the forest before five AM. He could, of course, be wrong, but Harry had a hunch, and Harry's hunches were rarely wrong.

He watched as the man disappeared into the trees and gave a long sigh. His incurable curiosity wouldn't let such a puzzle rest. Now he had to know what the man was doing. It was one of Harry's faults that if his curiosity was aroused it wouldn't rest until it had been satisfied. And turban-teacher's strange motions had aroused his curiosity. 'I'll have to look into this,' Harry thought as he turned back to the castle, ready to try and go back to sleep.

The halls of Hogwarts were empty as Harry walked through them, which he had expected since all of the people who would have been his classmates were currently in class. He had followed McGonagall's request to a T – as had all the other apprentices – and hadn't allowed anyone to catch sight of him. He'd started to learn the way of the school better in the past few days, with nothing to do but wander as Snape filled his days with frantic brewing for the Hospital Wing. When he'd asked about his lessons, he'd been snapped at and told three hours later that they would commence as soon as the Hospital Wing was fully stocked, which would only take a day or two more brewing. Harry, frankly, was relieved. Hogwarts was interesting, but he had quickly gotten tired of spending his days wandering. That was why he'd decided to do this somewhat unnecessary excursion today instead of some other time or during the summer.

He turned a corner and smiled when he saw the Headmaster's statue guardian. He had had to ask Snape to tell him where it was – and that, of course, had led to a number of sharp questions about why exactly he needed to speak to the Headmaster – and his Mentor had also given him the current password, although it had been reluctantly. Harry counted himself lucky for getting the man's permission to go at all.

Harry wanted to ask the Headmaster if he could go to Gringotts that evening and figure out his inheritance. Harry was somewhat glad that Snape was so busy; his inheritance had had his curiosity buzzing ever since Ramadi had talked about it the first time they'd met. With his Apprentice Studies starting soon, Harry wasn't sure when he'd have time to go to Gringotts otherwise, unless it was during the summer. Thankfully, Snape had allowed him to ask and, if the Headmaster permitted it, to travel to Gringotts. Because his mentor was so busy, it meant going alone, but that didn't bother Harry that much. He didn't know Diagon Alley that well, but he didn't think he'd get lost easily.

Harry approached the guardian, watching it warily. However, just as he was about to open his mouth and say the password – Sugarquill – the guardian opened of its own accord and a figure stepped out of the blackness beyond it. Harry stepped back automatically, his eyes flying to the stranger's face.

The man looked to be in his fifties, with long black hair that had strands of stone gray working through it. His eyes were a dark color that could have been blue or brown and they stood out in his narrow, tanned face. He had the look of a man who spent much of his time outdoors and working, and there was a sort of weariness about his face that suggested he'd seen many of life's hardships and worked through them. He was dressed modestly in dark robes that fell open to reveal plain Muggle clothing that looked 40 years out of style.

There was something about this man that made Harry feel a measure of respect, though he couldn't find a logical reason why. He could feel the answer to it at the back of his mind, but no matter how hard he tried to reach it, it kept sliding out of his grasp. The man stopped when he saw Harry and Harry was surprised to see his eyes flash a light, icy blue before reverting back to its normal dark state. Was that a gift or a trick of the light?

"Hello youngling," he said gently, bending slightly so he was closer to Harry's level. Harry hadn't noticed until then how tall the man was – surely, he towered over Harry by a foot or two! "Who might you be?"

"Harry Potter, sir," he replied and a thoughtful look came over the man's face. "May I ask your name?"

The man smiled. "Ah, so the little one cannot recognize me right away? That is strangely refreshing . . . . I have had many names during my life, child, but I was born Nicholas Flamel."

Harry's eyes widened. He'd read about the famous alchemist but had never seen a picture or portrait of the man in a book – no wonder he was surprised to not be recognized! This man was possibly more famous for Britain than the Founders or, more recently, Albus Dumbledore!

"Forgive me, Lord Flamel, for not recognizing you immediately," Harry said. Petunia had taught him to have manners when speaking to his elders, even if it was only to make sure that he wouldn't be cheeky to his family. He was glad of her lessons in proper conduct now; even if it was only Muggle conduct, it would be useful until he could find a book on Wizarding Etiquette. 'Who knows if such a thing even exists!' he thought with an inner sigh. Perhaps someone had realized that there would be Muggleborn students interested in such a thing and had written something on the subject. Harry doubted it.

Nicholas Flamel laughed. "Why, little one, I am not arrogant enough to assume everyone will know me on my looks alone. Indeed, as I said, it is a refreshing change to be unrecognized for once. Now, I must be on my way. I wish you luck with whatever business you wish to conduct inside," Nicholas tilted his head towards the still-open door behind him.

Harry watched the man walk off thoughtfully. As he turned to go up the stairs, he absently wondered what business Nicholas Flamel would have with the Headmaster when no one could claim to have seen the alchemist in Britain for over a hundred years.

Albus Dumbledore stared at the wall in front of him in thoughtful silence, his mind running over the meeting he'd had with his once-time friend, Nicholas Flamel. It had been a while since he'd seen the other man, and he had been pleased to find he looked the same as he had before; but then, the Sorcerer's Stone had always worked wonderfully. However the subject of their conversation troubled him.

Nicholas wanted to work as the Defense teacher next year or, the older man had said with a glint in his eye, perhaps sooner. Dumbledore had been especially troubled by that one sentence; he knew that Nicholas' wife, Perenelle, had the Seer gift, and that Nicholas' words hadn't just been a jest but a prediction. Something was going to happen to his current Defense teacher.

Albus sighed and rubbed his temple wearily. He would, of course, instate Nicholas should anything happen to Professor Quirrel. He was the best that Albus could possibly get for a Defense professor; he had years of experience and was well versed in both the Dark Arts and Defense against them. But there was something urging him not to let Nicholas teach the children, and Albus respected his instincts enough to realize that they were trying to warn him about something. But whatever it was, Albus was sure that he could prevent it if he kept his eyes and ears open. Content, he sat back in his chair and was just about to look over some student files when a knock sounded on his door.

Albus looked up with a frown. He had wards around his door that would tell him if someone was coming or not, and a special instrument that gave individual whistles for the people that he knew and a single whistle for the people he didn't. However he hadn't felt the person come through his wards at all; perhaps because he'd been lost in thought. However, he waved for the door to open with wandless magic and he was startled when he saw Harry Potter standing in the doorway, though he never showed it.

He watched as the Potter child travelled calmly to the middle of his room and sit down in the chair across from Albus. He kept feeling astounded at how much the child looked like his mother; it had shocked him the first time he'd seen Harry. And, of course, there was another reason he was so attentive towards the child.

Harry Potter was a Prophecy child. Albus never forgot that dark night when Sybil had predicted a savior would come and rescue them from Voldemort's dark reign; even at the cost of his own life. He'd searched high and low for the child that she had spoken of - The one born as the seventh month dies – and had found two children that had matched her description: Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter.

But he'd never had the chance to find out which boy would save the world. Lily and James Potter had died fighting Death Eaters, and soon after Voldemort disappeared like smoke, leaving only whispers and rumors of him behind. Even Albus had no idea where he'd gone – though not for lack of trying. Every day for the past eleven years he'd tried to find the Dark Lord, and every lead he'd found ended up as a dead end. Albus still had no idea why Voldemort would disappear at the height of his reign, when everything was going so well for him.

But in any case, he needed to keep an eye on both of those boys. He still had no idea which one would turn out to be the "Chosen child" – Voldemort had yet to mark either of them before he disappeared. But Albus was nothing if not patient, and he knew that sometimes prophecies took years to fulfill; it was only a matter of time before it was completed and he would wait for that day with all the patience he had in him.

"What can I do for you, my boy?" Albus asked Harry jovially, his twinkling eyes giving away none of his inner thoughts. The child gave him a long stare before green eyes became thoughtful. Albus wondered what the child had seen and what he'd made of it. He'd learned never to underestimate anyone, no matter how young, after having Tom Riddle as a student. He had no doubt Harry Potter was intelligent; there was no dull gleam in those green eyes that spoke of stupidity. In fact, Albus knew that he would have to look out for all of the Apprentices. Even Neville Longbottom, who was possibly not as quick as his counterparts, was far from stupid.

"I need to go to Diagon Alley, Headmaster," Harry said in a low, musical voice. 'He'll make a good speaker when the time comes,' Albus thought absently. "I have some Gringotts business to take care of. I was hoping you would allow me to go today, if possible."

Albus considered the request. On one hand it would be dangerous for Harry to learn about his bloodlines; he was well aware of the intertwined Potter and Gryffindor heritage the child would bear. But on the other hand, if he refused he might lose the trust of a potential Chosen Child and someone who could be a dangerous enemy in the future. Considering his options carefully, Albus concluded that the lesser danger was to allow Harry to travel into London.

"Very well. However you must have a chaperone, my boy. Perhaps Severus would be willing . . . ?"

"No, Professor Snape has potions to brew," Harry answered calmly. "I wouldn't mind any of the professors accompanying me, Headmaster."

Albus quickly ran through his options and decided that Minerva or Rubeus would be a good choice. Perhaps Minerva – she would make sure the boy did nothing out of line. "I don't think Professor McGonagall is doing anything this afternoon," he said aloud. "She finished her last class of the day a half-hour ago, I believe. If she is willing, then she may accompany you." He turned to the portraits lining the wall and chose Phineas Black to run the errand – he was the only Headmaster with another portrait in the school near the Transfigurations teacher's office. "Phineas, would be kind enough to fetch Minerva for me?"

Phineas grumbled, "I'm not your man-servant, Dumbledore," but he went willingly enough. Albus turned to see Harry watching the empty portrait with intense green eyes and wondered what the boy found so fascinating. He was tempted to search through the boy's mind, but if Harry was Severus' student than he was sure to have a gift in Mental Magic's and Albus couldn't risk being discovered and having Harry as an enemy instead of an ally.

"Now, Harry, how are your studies going?" Albus asked jovially.

Dark green eyes surveyed him for a moment before Harry offered him a very careful smile. "Professor Snape is a hard taskmaster."

Severus' influence on the child was certainly prominent; though Albus thought that perhaps some of Harry's cunning was something he'd had to begin with. The boy hadn't revealed anything of his studies, and had instead only given a vague statement that told nothing about his situation. And yet, if he pressed for more information, then Harry would know he was prying instead of just making polite conversation. 'The boy is clever,' Albus thought. 'He's clearly Lily's son. He'll make a good politician; but then, most Slytherins do. Politics always take a great deal more cunning than most in other houses have to offer.' He would have preferred to have Harry in Gryffindor than as an apprentice, or, at least, to have him apprenticed to Minerva or Filius. But perhaps he'd learn more under Severus' tutelage; certainly the man would be able to teach the boy to survive and triumph. If Harry turned out to be the Chosen Child then learning under Severus would be good preparation. Albus had no idea what he could do to help Neville; Pomona was a very loving teacher, but she wasn't as hard as Severus and wouldn't be able to teach the things he could. Albus couldn't offer help without seeming suspicious or revealing the Prophecy . . . which must never be revealed, at any costs. So he was stuck with his hands tied. He'd have to hope that Neville would make many friends and, should he be the Chosen Child, they would support him. Perhaps Harry could be one of those friends; after all, they were already Apprentices together. It might help draw him from the influence of Draco Malfoy, who was a person Albus couldn't approve of Harry being friends with.

He was drawn from his thoughts when he heard the soft fluttering coo Fawkes made when he was happy and he looked up to see the flaming bird flying over to his desk. Albus had already half-risen, prepared to take Fawkes on his shoulder, when the bird made an abrupt turn and settled instead on Harry Potter's lap. The child look half stunned, half awed and Albus himself was surprised. Fawkes was particular about people he liked; Albus could count on one hand the number of living people who'd had the privilege of having him on their shoulder or in their lap; himself, Severus Snape, and now Harry Potter. When she'd been alive, Lily Potter had also been among those honored few. And even then, he'd never seen Fawkes act so affectionate with any of them, not even he, who was Fawkes acknowledged bonded, had had the phoenix cuddle up to him as if he was a kitten and not a great beast of legend.

"Go ahead and stroke him, my boy," Albus murmured, sinking into his seat. Well, this was a new discovery! He watched as Harry Potter's small, quick hand stroked over Fawkes' head and down his body, causing the phoenix to make a strange sound caught between a purr and a growl. It was an oddly feline sound for a bird, but it was a strange fact that phoenix's were more closely related to the Nundu – one of the few magical cats to exist – than any other species on the Earth. The connection between the two was still a mystery, but Albus had always found that fact enlightening, especially when it came to some of Fawkes' behavior and sounds.

Fawkes, like a cat, was surprisingly cautious of whom he was affectionate with, and they each had a reason of their own for having his love. Severus Snape, a man tortured by the darkness within him and his own past, was loved by Fawkes because the phoenix felt compassion for him. Phoenixes were very intelligent creatures; Fawkes was capable of thinking for himself and he had found Severus Snape a person in need of some genuine affection and had taken it upon himself to give it to him. Lily Potter had been a light onto her own self; intelligent, kind-hearted, and beautiful both inside and out. Never had Albus met a woman as good as her, and he had loved her as a daughter. Fawkes had recognized these traits in her as well, and had showered her with affection which Lily returned ten-fold. Harry Potter, Albus suspected, had the same kind of spirit as his mother, with all the charismatic personality of his father; he would make an intriguing person when he matured.

"Your phoenix is beautiful, Headmaster," Harry murmured, in awe of the fiery bird in his lap. Albus hid his smile behind folded hands; still a child then, even with that serious look in his eyes. That was good to know.

A knock sounded at his door and Albus heard the shrill whistle that told him Minerva was waiting behind it. Harry's eyes darted to the direction of the sound curiously before looking at the door. A look of comprehension entered his eyes and Albus thought once again of the cleverness of this boy.

"Come in Minerva," he said and allowed the witch to open the door himself. He didn't want to reveal all his tricks to the boy sitting across from him, after all.

Minerva entered, her lips folded into a stern grimace and her robes as clean and precise as ever. "You called for me Headmaster?" she asked. Her only acknowledgement to Harry's presence was the quick dart of her eye as she glanced at him and then back to Albus.

"Yes," Albus told her. "Mr. Potter needs to go to Diagon Alley for some Gringotts business and requires a chaperone. If you are not doing anything, do you think you could accompany him, Minerva?"

Minerva glanced at Harry and then nodded once. "I have a free schedule until later tonight, Headmaster," she said. "I would not mind accompanying Mr. Potter on his trip."

"Good, good!" Albus cried, clapping his hands. "Now, you may use the school floo of course . . . and you should be back in time for dinner, so no lingering, Mr. Potter! Minerva, please take good care of the boy."

He led them to the adjacent room that served as the school floo center and then explained to Harry how to use the floo system. The boy grasped it quickly and took a pinch of the dust in the flower pot and threw it on the fireplace.

"You'll want to say Gringotts," Albus advised him, and the boy did so clearly.

Minerva sighed. "What are you up to this time, Albus?" she asked, too used to the twinkle in the old man's eye.

"Nothing, Minerva dear, nothing," Albus said, offering her the flowerpot. Minerva gave him a dry look but said nothing more as she disappeared into the flames. Albus replaced the pot and wandered back to his desk, absently stroking Fawkes as he passed him. This meeting had given him much to think about in regards to Harry Potter. He did know that he would enjoy working with the boy in the future, if their destinies were planned that way.

Gringotts was just as impressive as the last time he'd seen it, all smooth marble and elegant carvings. Harry had seen very few banks in his lifetime, but he doubted many of them could live up to the grandeur that was Gringotts. He snuck a look at his chaperone as they travelled across the gleaming floor, but found her face expressionless. McGonagall seemed like an uptight woman to him; the only time he'd seen her have anything vaguely similar to a smile on her face was the first time he'd been the Apprentice's Study.

The bank was fairly empty; the last time Harry had been there, there had been a much larger crowd to work through. Today there was only a few official looking wizards standing around, looking bored. The goblins, however, were still hard at work. Harry hesitantly made his way to one of the goblins behind a desk and cleared his throat tentatively. Dark, stony eyes looked down at him over the edge of the desk.

"Who might you be, child?" he asked.

"Harry Potter, sir," Harry said calmly. "I need to speak with Master Ramadi about my accounts. May I talk to him today, or should I come back another time?"

The goblin gave him an odd look. "He's available at the moment, Mister Potter," he said briskly. "Triptrook! Take Mr. Potter to see Master Ramadi!"

A small, lithe goblin made its way over to Harry and McGonagall. Harry hesitated before following it, looking back at McGonagall with weary eyes. "Would you mind waiting here, Professor? I mean no offense, but I'd like my accounts to be private." McGonagall's eyebrow rose, but she nodded and stepped back. Harry followed Triptrook through the halls until they came to a door he vaguely recognized.

"Mister Harry Potter, here to see you Master," Triptrook said as he opened the door and led Harry instead. Ramadi sat in the same place he had last time Harry had seen him and gave a simple nod to Triptrook.

"You're dismissed," he said and Triptrook scurried away just as fast as he'd come. Ramadi steeped his hands under his chin and looked at Harry with indifferent eyes.

"Mister Potter," he said. "This is sooner than I expected, but your swiftness in this matter is pleasing. I assume you wish to go and look in your vaults?" Harry nodded. "Very well. However there are a few matters I must speak with you about before you descend."

Ramadi stood and shuffled around in his desk, searching through this drawer and that. Minutes passed until he found what he'd been looking for; a slender packet of sheets held together with a Muggle paper-clip. Harry blinked when he saw it; ever since he entered the wizarding world, he'd rarely seen anything muggle, and the fact that goblins used them was surprising. Ramadi either ignored or didn't see his incredulous look at the paperclip and flipped through the pages, muttering to himself as he did so. Finally he sat back down in his chair, pages in his hands.

"Mister Potter," he said formally, "you may have noticed that some adult wizards are addressed differently than others. For example, your Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, would be addressed as a Mage or, if you wanted to be specific, White Mage. This is because of his extraordinary magic; which is, in its essence, completely white magic. Other adults may be addressed as Lord or Lady. And many of your pureblooded peers will most likely be referred to as Heir in formal situations." Harry thought of the time he'd spent with Mr. Malfoy and Draco and he remembered several instances when they'd been referred to by those titles. Snape had as well, he remembered. Ramadi saw the look of comprehension in his eyes and nodded to himself. "The reason for this is that the adult is the head of that certain line and the child is the first-born heir to that line; whether the child is male or female. Magic does not care about gender, Mr. Potter. Now, the reason I am bringing this up; you may have noticed that despite being the last of the Potter line, you are not referred to as 'Lord', or even 'Heir'. The reason for this, Mr. Potter, is because you are neither."

Harry cocked an eyebrow. "How can I be neither?"

Ramadi sighed. "During the past two wizarding wars, many children have lost their parents, Mr. Potter. However, they were not old enough to become the head of the family themselves. Thus they were in-limbo; not in one place, but unable to progress into the other. This is called 'Heir-in-waiting' – and it is what you are, Mr. Potter. In fact, you are not only Heir-in-waiting for the Potter and Gryffindor families; but also for the Black and Le Fay families as well."

Harry leaned forward in his seat. "I've been meaning to ask you about that, Master Ramadi. I know my mother's last name was Evans, so how did I come into the Black inheritance?"

Ramadi looked a bit startled. "Why, your godfather of course!"

Harry's heart leaped into his throat. "Godfather?" he croaked, unable to believe the word. He'd always thought the last of his family was the Dursleys. If he had a godfather, why hadn't he taken Harry in?

"Yes, Lord Sirius Black," Ramadi said. "He performed a blood ritual when you were a year old that gave you the blood of a Black and thus Le Fay blood as well. However, due to his imprisonment—"

"Imprisonment?!" Harry barked anxiously. "He's in jail?! What for?!"

Ramadi blinked in surprise. "The night your parents died, Lord Black went a bit mad, or so the rumors say," his voice told of his disdain for such rumors. "He went on a killing spree, Mr. Potter. Killed 13 muggles, in front of witnesses. The Ministry gave him a life sentence in Azkaban."

"Azkaban?" Harry asked weakly, feeling more than a little shocked. He had a godfather, but that godfather was a murderer and in prison!

"A wizarding prison. Now may we continue?" Ramadi looked at Harry courteously.

Harry waved off his shock; he'd have to think about all those details later and look up some information on a certain Sirius Black. "Yes. What were you about to say before we started talking about my godfather?"

Ramadi cleared his throat. "Because of this in-between status you have Mr. Potter, you have certain privileges. You are considered an adult, but within reason. Some things you do will need a guardian's permission, or adult support. You have complete access to your vaults and everything in them and I'm sure there are some laws in the Ministry that you are exempt from; you might want to look those up. I just wanted to inform you of this, as I doubted you knew of your status."

"Thank you, Master Ramadi," Harry said, bowing his head. "The information has been most helpful." The old goblin nodded back gravely. "There is another thing. Because you are an Heir-in-waiting, you are allowed to wear the signet rings of your family now, instead of waiting for the Lord status to pass onto you. Would you like to collect these rings now, or at another time?"

Harry tilted his head in thought. "Now," he decided. "I'm not sure when I'll be able to come back here."

Ramadi nodded. "Very well then. If you will hold on for a moment, Mister Potter, I will begin the process." Ramadi got to his feet and, after opening the door slightly (Harry absently wondered why he bothered, but deigned not to ask) hurried to his cabinet. He opened a drawer and pulled out a strange looking object. It was somewhat large, and round, but the inside was higher than it was wide because it was built up on levels, like tiny little stairs. At the very top of these "stairs" was an object that looked very much like a muggle typewriter. However, even with these oddities, the object was very clearly expensive. The stairs were lined in purple velvet, and the typewriter shaped object, as well as the shell of the device, looked to be made of gold.

"This is an Elucidator (1)," he said. "It has been used since ancient times to clearly identify the Lords of the old houses, and tampered with recently to identify Heirs-in-waiting as well." He slid a small pocket-knife (gold, of course) across the table to Harry. He blinked at Ramadi in confusion, which made the goblin sigh and nod to small glass vial attached to the Elucidator that Harry had not noticed. "Please cut your finger and fill that vial with blood." Harry hesitated, his fingers hovering over the small knife. "The blood is used to solidify who you are and provide accurate results. It is absorbed into the Elucidator and there is no way to collect it afterwards." Ramadi sounded slightly amused at his paranoia, or as amused as any goblin can sound. Harry sighed quietly, but picked up the knife all the same.

He flicked the tiny vial open with his finger and slit his finger, squeezing out drops of red liquid into the glass until it was completely full. Ramadi put the lid of it down and gently tinkered with the back of the Elucidator. Harry assumed that there had to be an 'on' switch of some sort back there. The device made a soft chirping sound and Harry blinked when he realized that the blood he'd given was being absorbed into the machine in a timely fashion. He absently wondered how it went inside, because for all purposes the vial and machine didn't have a passageway between them. But he shook that thought aside, too fascinated with what was happening to think about small details such as that.

As the blood got swallowed up, the typewriter-like object on top of the Elucidator began to slowly push out a piece of parchment. It wasn't printed in recognizable English, as far as Harry could tell; in fact, it looked like the few samples of Gobblygook that he'd seen in books. It was printed in a bright red ink and Harry had to push away the disturbing idea that it might be written in his own blood.

However, what was more interesting was that the "stairs" of the Elucidator began to shimmer slightly as the blood disappeared. When it had gone entirely, the machine gave a small hiccup and Harry jumped slightly in shock as several object came zooming by him from the door. 'Glad he opened that,' Harry thought, staring in shock at the four ring boxes now sitting neatly on the last two "steps" of the Elucidator. They were all made from black velvet, and had elegant letters written on the outside in various colors. The letters were P, B, F and G, obviously standing for every bloodline he'd inherited.

"These are the signet rings for the Gryffindor, Black, Potter and Le Fay bloodlines," Ramadi told him, sliding the piece of parchment out of the Elucidator and looking at it with interest. "They will be yours until you pass them on, or until the day you die. They each have their own special properties which the head of each bloodline has added to them before he died. They will all know you as their master. Now," he gestured to the boxes, "take them. Put them on."

Harry hesitantly reached for the boxes and took them all off the tiny steps of the Elucidator, lining them up in front of him. Then, slowly, he opened the first box that was labeled with a P.

The ring was, surprisingly, not made out of gold or silver. It was actually made from black wood that Harry thought might be ebony. In the middle of it was a flat disc that held a detailed carving of a griffin. Around the edges of the carving were the words, Audaces Fortuna Iuvat.

"The Potter family signet," Ramadi said unnecessarily. "It is made from ebony, I believe. The Potters have never divulged what properties it holds, but I imagine there are a few at least."

Harry nodded, and slid the ring onto his right middle finger. It seemed to warm against his skin for a moment before settling lightly, fitting his finger like it was made for it and it alone. Harry smiled down at it, feeling strangely fond of it, before turning to the next ring box. It was the one labeled B, for Black Harry assumed.

The ring inside was made of silver, Harry could tell that immediately. It was a graceful sort of ring, thinner and more beautiful than the Potter ring was, but unadorned by any jewels. A large dog that Harry thought could be a grim was etched into it, as were the words, Toujours pur.

"The Black ring is silver," Ramadi assured him. "It has also proved to be a type of poison identifier; I believe that it has saved several Lords in its time." Harry smiled and slid the ring on his left middle finger. However, unlike the Potter ring, this one cooled to the touch, turning almost icy before it settled neatly onto his finger. Harry eyed it in bemusement for a moment before turning back to the other boxes.

The third box, G, held a ring made of gold. Harry was unsurprised to see a large, flat ruby glinting in the middle of it that held an etching of a magnificently detailed lion on it. Along the edge of the ring were the words, Non est vivere sed valere vita est.

"The Gryffindor ring is made of gold, and has a single ruby in it," Ramadi told Harry in a monotone. "It has been known to warm on its master's hand when people who wish him harm are near. It is a singularly useful ring." Harry nodded in agreement.

Harry settled it on his left ring finger, next to the Black ring. The Gryffindor ring heated to nearly impossible degrees before settling, and Harry got the sense of almost friendliness coming from it. He snorted in amusement. Only a Gryffindor ring would give off friendliness.

The final ring was the Le Fay ring. It was also black, but it was black stone instead of black wood. It had no disc or jewel in its center, only a band. The band held no words, but only a unicorn etched in silver that galloped round and round it in a never ending circle. The unicorn's eyes were tiny, bright diamonds.

"Ah, the Le Fay ring," Ramadi said, sounding a bit frustrated. "We have never understood why she designed it so. As you can see, most rings have something of a crest on them, and the family motto. But all she put on was the unicorn. It remains a mystery, as does any properties it has. "

Harry considered the ring for a long moment before he put it on. It settled into place next to his Potter ring, on his right ring finger, and for a moment he felt like there was a heavy presence weighting down his mind, suffocating him. But in the next moment it was gone and the ring had settled tightly against his finger. Harry eyed it suspiciously.

Ramadi stood and started to put the Elucidator away. "Now that that is taken care of," he said as he placed it back on its shelf, "I believe you wish to visit your vaults, correct?"

"Yes, but I have one thing to ask of you, Master Ramadi," Harry said. "Can you look up the specific locations of my properties? I would like to take a look at them." Ramadi lowered his head in a nod. "Thank you."

"It is a pleasure. Griphook!" Ramadi called loudly and only seconds later a knock sounded on the door. Harry recognized the goblin that came in through the door as the one who'd led him to Ramadi's room the first time he'd been in Gringotts. "Mr. Potter, I wish for you to take this knife," he told Harry and handed him the golden knife he'd cut his finger with before. Harry raised an eyebrow, but put it in his pocket all the same. "You will need it when you visit your vaults." He turned to Griphook. "Please escort Mr. Potter to his vaults," Ramadi said politely. "#1202, #9889, #1401, and #9991 are the ones he wishes to see."

Griphook's only surprise at the vaults he was supposed to bring the small wizard to was the slight widening of his eyes. Harry supposed that goblins didn't make much of expressing emotions; the most he'd seen from them so far was Ramadi's rather demonic try at a smile when they'd first met and now, Griphook's small show of surprise. Harry wondered if they were raised to be unemotional or if it was just a trait of their race.

"Follow me, Mr. Potter," Griphook said in a calm tone. Harry nodded to Ramadi as they left and followed Griphook through winding passageways until they came to the small cart Harry had only used twice before, both on his first trip to Gringotts. He eyed it warily; he didn't really like the speeds the cart travelled to, but he wasn't that bothered by it. There certainly was something thrilling about feeling air rush into your face and through your hair as you went at dangerous speeds. Harry's only problem was his fear of crashing in the dark. Nevertheless, he climbed carefully into the small metal box, Griphook on his heels, lamp in hand. Harry leaned forward as the cart started to inch ahead and closed his eyes.

The wind rushing against his face felt wonderful. Harry had always loved being outside; maybe it came partly from the fact that gardening was the only time Vernon and Dudley would leave him alone for fear of making him fall and squash Petunia's precious shrubs and flowers. It had become a time of solace for him. Being cooped up in Hogwarts was almost suffocating. He loved everything about the school - it was fascinating, he had friends, he was learning, the school itself – but he hadn't been outside since he entered the doors for the first time. For someone who used to spend everyday out of doors unless it was raining too heavily to see or snowing, it was quite a difference.

The ride lasted for a long time; longer than the last time Harry had come down through the narrow passageways. When they finally came to a stop it was in a darker and danker place than Harry had been in. There were only two torch lights to light the entire hall – in some places it was completely dark.

"Vault #1202," Griphook called out as the cart ground to a complete halt. The little goblin scrambled out of it, lamp in hand. "Follow me, Mr. Potter." Harry followed sedately.

He blinked when they came to a door that was made from some kind of wood that looked suspiciously like oak. Engraved into the middle of the door was a magnificent crest – two lions faced each other under crossed swords, with the motto Audaces Fortuna Iuvat, the same motto written on the ring on his right hand, written under it in spiky letters. The lion's eyes sparkled like jewels; Harry looked closer and wasn't surprised to see rubies in them.

"You should use your knife, Mr. Potter," Griphook told him quietly. Harry took the knife out and stared down at it curiously. "You cut your finger and place your blood on the crest," Griphook explained. "It keeps the vault secure."

Harry nodded and hesitantly walked over to the heavy door. He sliced his finger, wincing slightly, and squeezed several dots of blood on the crest that he knew to belong to the Potter family. As soon as the first drop hit the engraving, a creaking sound echoed throughout the hall, and Harry could have sword that the lions' ruby eyes snapped towards him. 'Ridiculous,' he thought nervously, but he couldn't help but remember that he was in a magical world now, and anything was possible.

The door began to creak open slowly until there was slit just large enough for Harry to slide through. He looked back at Griphook, but the little goblin shook his head. Harry understood his silent meaning – the goblins were the master of the vaults, but they understood the intense privacy of a pureblood family vault. They wouldn't go in unless it was absolutely needed. Exhaling slowly, Harry eyed the dark crack nervously before stepping forward and sliding through into the Potter vault.

The vault was bright to Harry's widened pupils when he first entered. He blinked rapidly, trying to see past the dots spotting his vision. When his sight cleared again, he was surprised to see lit torches lining the walls of a huge room – a room which could probably fit at the Great Hall in it at least once, if not twice. Harry blinked as he took in what the light was shining off of – gold.

Piles of gold lined the floor – dozens upon dozens of them. There were silver piles too, and bronze ones, but the gold overpowered them in number and in size. The tallest pile probably towered over Harry's head by a good five feet, if not more. He felt like he was in a dream; there was no way so much money could belong to him! Carefully, Harry placed a finger against one of the piles closest to him and felt the smooth coolness of metal underneath his skin. It was real. Harry felt dizzy.

He looked away from the money and saw that there were banners hanging on the rich bronze walls; all of them either crimson red or scarlet orange with the Potter family crest on them. Harry turned his gaze away and edged around the piles of money, trying to see if there was anything in the back of the room. His file had mentioned something about heirlooms – surely they would have to be in the vault!

Harry's eyes lit up when he saw long shelves in the back of the vault, all of them holding objects that he couldn't make out clearly from a distance. As he came closer, he same that they were the heirlooms and artifacts talked about in his statement; there were at least two dozen of them on those shelves alone, and Harry could see more shelves behind the front ones. He came closer, intent on studying the objects more closely before he took his leave of the vault.

The heirlooms were dusty and obviously old, some of them with collected rust on them in places. Harry frowned. Surely his ancestors would have placed spells on them to preserve them? Unless the spells needed to be renewed . . . and no one had been in this vault for at least 11 years; maybe longer, if his father hadn't come in for a while. He examined the heirlooms closely.

On the edge there was a multitude of jewelry ranging from broaches to rings. They all were made from ivory, or something that looked like it, and the gems were all garnets. Harry supposed that they were the Potter family jewelry; though why they were stuffed in the back of the vault and had not been used, he had no idea. He turned to the next things – a knife and deep stone bowl. Curiously, he drew the bowl near him and felt a shock go down his arm. He snatched his hand away, frowning at the object. His eyes widened when he saw the pearly liquid dancing within – this bowl could only be a Pensieve! Harry cautiously reached out a hand and his eyebrow rose when he realized that it didn't shock him again. Maybe it had been making sure he was a Potter? He eyed it for several long moments before pushing it back to its place on the shelf. The next time he came, he would find out what it contained.

Instead, he turned to the remaining objects. The glittering knife looked almost dangerous in the light of the vault – as Harry bent down to look closer he saw that there were garnets in its hilt, and that the knife itself shone silver. There were also intricate designs of leafy vines along the edges, only visible if you looked closer. Next to the knife was a black sheath with the Potter crest stitched into it. Harry put the knife in its resting place and carried it at his side – he had no idea how dangerous the world he was living in now was, but it was better that he be prepared. The last item on the shelf was a silvery looking cloth. Harry frowned slightly and picked it up, running it through his fingers. It flowed like liquid over his skin, and Harry shivered at the cool feeling of it. He blinked as an idea came to him and carefully wrapped the cloth around his arm. Sure enough, his arm disappeared. 'An invisibility cloak!' Harry thought in awe. He placed that under his arm as well.

All that was left were the dozen little trinkets and portraits behind the first shelf, as well as several shelves of very interesting looking books. Harry knew that there had to be more in the room besides the gold and the heirlooms, but he had three other vaults to go to today, and had no more time to study them closely, or anything to carry what he collected. He promised himself to come back during the summer and turned to go back to Griphook.

The short elf stood patiently outside of the vault and his eyebrow rose when he saw what Harry carried. Otherwise, he made no movement of surprise.

"Are you ready to go to the next vault, Mr. Potter?" he asked indifferently.

Harry nodded and the pair loaded the cart. The trip seemed shorter this time, but faster as well, and Harry enjoyed it. The door that they stopped in front of was not made of wood, as far as Harry could tell, but a shining black stone. Its metallic sheen shone even in the light of the dim torches. In its center, much like the Potter vault door, it had a crest. It was similar to the Potter crest, except that it was of two dogs (seeing a bigger version of them made Harry more and more convinced that they were grims) facing each other with two stars and a sort of short sword between them. Underneath them were the words, Toujours pur. (2)

"Vault #1404," Griphook intoned.

"Thank you," Harry said, approaching this vault a little more hesitantly. It looked darker and gloomier than the Potter door, which had been all warmth and light. Harry didn't dislike it – but it made him more wary. "Do I do the same as I did for the Potter door, Griphook?"

"Yes, Mr. Potter."

Harry nodded and extracted his knife from his pocket, absently hoping he hadn't gotten any blood on his clothes. Carefully, he sliced a finger and squeezed a few drops on the crest. Instantly a creaking noise issued, and the door swung open. Harry eyed the opening nervously – it looked like a dark mouth, just waiting to swallow him whole. But he needed to be in there, and Harry wasn't one to let the fear of the dark stop him. Carefully, he stepped inside.

The first thing he noticed was how cold this room seemed next to the Potter vault. Everything in it was icy and elegant; the walls were colored a cool silver, and there were paintings lining them of people who had probably been previous Blacks. They were all asleep in their frames. Unlike the Potter vault, the Black vault had no heaps of gold immediately in your face – instead there was a huge stretch of open floor. Harry frowned and walked the length of it to find the back wall of the room, where a tapestry hung. It had the Black crest on it, and the motto had been enlarged and bolded along the edge of it. Beneath the tapestry there were two doors.

Harry opened the first and was unsurprised to find himself looking at heaps of money. 'It's probably the only golden thing in the place,' he thought with amusement. He wondered if the Blacks just wanted so much silver because it was considered "elegant" or because it was one of the colors of the House many of them had gone into: Slytherin. 'I guess I'll never know,' he thought, closing the money door. He turned to the middle door.

The room was bare once you first looked into it, but as Harry turned his head he saw that there were built-in shelves on the right and left walls that had a number of odd looking artifacts in them. Carefully, he stepped inside. He doubted that the Blacks would be paranoid enough to booby-trap their own vault, but you could never be too careful. Harry moved across the room, examining any interesting looking artifacts closely.

He stopped about midway through the first wall, staring at the oddest looking bag he'd ever seen. It was about only a little larger than a handkerchief, even if it was unmistakably a bag – it had a drawstring just like a knapsack. It was colored dark blue and had little silver stars stitched into it that glowed brightly. Harry wonderingly took it into his hand and opened it. He frowned when he found nothing inside and stuck his fingers it. He was astonished when he didn't hit the bottom of the bag – instead his hand went in, and then the bag's mouth seemed to widen and let in his entire arm! Harry pulled it back with a gasp of surprise.

"An Unlimited Bag?" he said aloud wonderingly, and immediately tucked the bag into his side. Now that was a useful thing to have. Unlimited Bags, as far as Harry knew, were extremely hard to come by. He was surprised that the Blacks even had one.

"Now what else is there . . . .?" he mused aloud, looking through the various shelves. He found several interesting items, but none that he really needed at the moment. The only things that he took from the Black Vault were a dozen very interesting looking old books on a variety of subjects Harry knew would not be well-liked at Hogwarts; Blood Magic, Dark Magic, and the like. Harry, however, couldn't wait to read them; in his opinion, knowledge itself was neutral, and it was what one did with the knowledge that made it good or bad. It seemed ridiculous to ban such studies from the students of Hogwarts, and if he couldn't learn it there, he'd learn it on his own. He was thankful that he had these books to start him out.

Harry tucked the Unlimited Bag – holding 12 books and whatever else its previous owner had put away inside of it – into his cloak and exited the vault, shivering slightly as he did so. He couldn't help but be slightly relieved that he'd left. There was something unnerving about the Black vault, though Harry couldn't say why he had that feeling. He found Griphook standing exactly where he'd left him. They bundled back up into the cart and soon were speeding down the hallways, wind whipping into their eyes.

The route was longer this time, but finally they stopped in front of a humongous door. It was a bright, shining gold color and red rubies lined the edges of it. A huge doorknocker with a Griffin as its head stood a little lower than the middle; above it stood a crest that had a single two-tailed griffin in the middle of its blood-red background, holding a huge, double-handed sword above its head. Harry recognized it as the sword of Gryffindor from the books that he'd seen the handsome weapon in. Underneath the lion read the words: Non est vivere sed valere vita est.

"Vault #9889," Griphook intoned and they climbed out of the cart.

Harry edged closer to the magnificent door, strangely intimidated by its huge size and grandeur. Griphook sighed and motioned for the boy to repeat the same actions he'd done for the previous two doors. Harry had to lean up to dribble blood onto the noble crest, but it had the same effect as it had before. The door swung open with not even a creak, light shining through the crack. Harry hurried into the crack.

The Gryffindor Vault was as huge and golden as the door to it was. Rubies flashed everywhere, drawing Harry's eye to every glittering corner. Magnificent tapestries covered the walls, embroidered with vivid detail and eye-catching colors. And, like the Potter vault, gold covered every glittering corner of the room, piled in heaps feet taller than Harry's head. Harry wondered if it was just a Gryffindor thing to be flashy. As much as the Black vault had unnerved him, he admired their cold, cool style rather than this sudden flash of wealth and power. But, nonetheless, there was something stately about the Gryffindor vault.

Harry rifted his way through piles of gold to the end of the room. To his surprise he saw portraits hanging on the walls. Most were missing people, but the few that weren't gone were sleeping. Harry eyed the only two people in portraits – a huge man with a full golden beard and long hair and a woman with long bright red hair and a painfully beautiful face – curiously and warily. He couldn't wake them. He didn't know how to, even if he wanted to. Instead, he turned away from the sleeping portraits to face the rest of the valuables stored at the back of the room.

There was many pieces of jewelry stored there; Harry snorted when he saw that a large amount of them contained rubies and gold. How predictable. He searched through the jewelry quickly to see if there was anything of interest before turning his attention to the small weaponry section. The weapons were ancient and rusting slightly at the edges; there must have been a charm put on them to prevent that from happening, but it had probably faded in the past years. Harry considered the weapons carefully. He'd never really seen himself learning a weapon, but he could see how it would be useful. The other vaults, as far as he could see, hadn't contained any weapons, so maybe most purebloods had considered it too "muggle" to try their hand at them, but Harry didn't want to rely completely on magic; it wasn't wise. In fact, in Diagon Alley he'd purchased a book on martial arts to see if he could try learning it. So he wasn't adverse to trying his hand at weaponry. The main problem would be finding a weapon to suit him. He looked more closely at the small amount of weapons hanging in front of him.

He immediately noticed Gryffindor's sword; it was the showiest piece of weaponry in the entire bunch. It was a beautiful weapon, but Harry instantly saw that it was much too long (not to mention heavy) for him to weild. He turned his attention to the next few weapons, but they were of equal length as the legendary sword and therefore useless to him. However, the next weapon was a bow; an archaic piece, but a useful one. Harry eyed it in consideration. He wasn't sure how much use a bow would be to him, but bowmanship was an art of precision and accuracy, so he didn't see how it would harm him to learn it. Carefully, he reached up and took the bow down to examine it. However, to his disappointment, whoever had put the spells on the weapons hadn't paid much attention to this one, for the wood of the handle had been rotted out from the inside, leaving the entire thing unusable. Harry sighed, putting it back.

Those were the only muggle weapons lining the wall, but there were also several types of old-fashioned wand holsters and what looked like battle robes. Harry tested them out and was pleased to find that they were in much better shape than the bow and fit him much better than the swords had. Carefully, he stowed them away in his Unlimited Bag.

The only other thing he gathered was a few old books lying in the corner of the room that looked fairly interesting. Harry sighed as he strode out of the room, gathering some gold as he left. He was glad to be at the last vault. Even if it was interesting to see what he'd inherited, he felt tired just from spending the small amount of time he had in the vault. Over the summer, he'd try to come to Gringotts and sort out all of his belongings. But for now, he was content just to take what looked interesting and leave everything else.

Griphook was waiting patiently outside when Harry exited. They boarded the cart for the second to last time and took off down the hall. It took only a very short time before they reached the final vault; the one that Harry had been most curious about when he'd read about his inheritance. He had, of course, heard of Morgan Le Fay, but he'd never supposed that she was a real person. It was even more incredulous that he should be related to her in any way.

The hallway they pulled into was very dark, with only a single faraway torch to light it. The high door was cast mostly in shadow, but Harry was able to see the jet-black unicorn lifting its horn to a crescent moon above the words, Ad Infinitum. The door was pure black, except for the seal, whose background was shining silver.

While the Black door had caused uneasiness, Harry felt pulled to this vault, almost as if it was a candle and he was a moth. It was a strange sensation, but not an unwelcome one. Before he could stop himself, he was in front of the door, pulling out the small knife that now felt familiar in his hand and cutting his finger so blood could stain the black unicorn's head. Instantly, the door slid open, completely silent. Harry didn't look back as he entered into the dark abyss.

Unlike the rest of the vaults, this one had actual lit torches lining the walls. It was structured similarly to the Black vault; instead of having everything out in the open and in a jumble like the Gryffindor and Potter vaults, any treasure in the room was separated between the four doors that the room had. On the opposite end of the vault door there was a huge portrait that held a sleeping woman. Curious, Harry stepped closer.

The portrait only showed the woman's upper body. Her hair was long and thick, colored the unblemished black of a raven's feathers and her face was small and delicate. Although her eyes were closed Harry could see that they were almost unnaturally large in her face. Over her heavy, dark eyebrows was a faded blue crescent moon. While she wasn't a classic beauty, there was no denying she had distinguished looks. Perhaps if she smiled, she could be called beautiful. (3)

Harry had no doubt that this woman was no other than Morgaine Le Fay, the legendary founder of the Le Fay lineage. He stared up at her portrait in awe; if only she had been awake! What questions he would have had for her. As it was, he couldn't wait for her to wait for a slumber that could be never-ending. He tore his eyes away from her painting and opened the door to the immediate right of her portrait.

This was very obviously the "gold room"; although it was somewhat small in size, it was so filled with money that Harry could only take a few steps inside before he couldn't move anymore without stepping on coins of some sort. Harry smiled slightly and turned to leave; this wasn't what he wanted to look through.

The door next to the gold room was the one he entered next, and he was surprised to see a room full of, all things, books. The walls were bookshelves, all with hundreds of books sitting on them, stacks of books lined most of the floor, and smaller bookshelves filled with volumes could be found in every corner. Harry had practically his own library of information waiting to be taken in. He stared in awe at the amount of books surrounding him; he could hardly even think of looking through them all, let alone reading every one! But the academic in Harry hungered for the information in those books – imagine what secrets books from the Le Fay vault could hold! But with the amount of books, it would take more time than he had to sort through them all and get the ones he wanted. Huffing irritably under his breath, Harry quickly set to work, scanning the bookshelves for any interesting looking titles to bring back with him. He found more books than he'd planned on taking – at least a dozen, if not more – but he put them all in his Unlimited Bag nonetheless. He had an entire year to read them, and he didn't want to get bored.

With one longing last glance at the books left behind, Harry exited the room and moved to the one across from it. He peered inside and blinked when he saw the shelves of glittering artifacts lining the walls. There was plenty of jewelry, several small chests and even a trunk! Blank portraits were stacked up against the wall. Harry scanned the items and didn't find anything interesting until his eye landed on a small hand mirror in the corner of the shelves. The mirror was old and dusty, but there was something about it that called to Harry. He moved closer, frowning with curiosity. Harry looked down at the mirror, taking in the engravings on the edges and the dusty but uncracked surface. With a shrug, he deposited it in his bag; after all, they were a mystery and Harry had the curiosity of a cat.

He left that room and entered the final one. He was only half-surprised to see that this room had weapons lining its walls. He wondered if it was only the old lines that kept weaponry; both the Black and the Potter vaults had nothing of the sort. But such thoughts were lost as he examined the weapons, taking in their beautiful and unique designs with awe in his eyes. Clearly, the Le Fay family didn't slack when it came to its weapons.

Harry found that he kept being drawn to the bows in the back; it was peculiar feeling, much like he'd had not so long ago in the pet shop of Diagon Alley, but different all the same. He meandered around the lines of weapons until he came to stop in front of what seemed like the most beautiful bow in the world.

Its wood was a shining black; of what type, Harry had no idea. Carved into the wood were elaborate designs painted in red; Harry could make some patterns out of them, such as a sun here, and what could have been a serpentine-looking dragon, but otherwise the patterns were meaningless. Beside the bow was a quiver made of soft black leather that held a dozen or more sleek arrows – all also black, with red feathers.

Harry took the bow with reverent fingers; it was too big for him by half, but still in good condition, considering that it could have been down in the vault for quite some period of time. He inspected the arrows and found that the tips were made of what seemed like good steel; he had no experience in the matter, so he had no way of knowing for sure, but he was doubtful that the Le Fay family would have anything less than the best for their weapons.

Harry had no idea how to handle a bow. He held it awkwardly in his left hand, shifting it around until it fit a bit more comfortably. He drew the string carefully, but only managed to make it halfway; the string was taunt and hard for someone with so little muscle to handle. Harry jumped when he felt the string snap slightly against his wrist, and thanked Merlin that he was wearing robe sleeves that took the bite out of the sting. Harry stared down at the bow, wondering if it was even worth it to take it. It was much too big for him and he could barely manage it in his current state. But, nonetheless, he placed it in his Bag, if only because the thought of leaving it behind made something inside him ache.

He went to the swords next, looking them over and smiling as he tried out the heavy broadswords that took two hands and much more muscle than Harry had to lift. He found that he was drawn to the slimmer, smaller swords; there were several of a different make; Harry thought that they might be Japanese, but such assumptions were only made from the few ninja movies he'd spied on as a kid. He found that he liked one of these the best; a nondescript sword made of what looked to be steel, with a plain black sheath and hilt. Harry put that in his bag as well and continued to wander around the room, delighted as any boy might be to get to choose weapons that were not broken from rust or age.

He found that he liked the knives best out of the other weapons he found in the room, and decided to pick a set. Surely they would be easier to manage than a sword or a bow at his age now, and there was something about the practice of knife-work that Harry felt he would like. He picked out a set of twenty that were all a dark green at the hilt; they were the only set without some sort of gemstone set in the hilt.

With one last look around, Harry departed from the room. His mission to explore the vault now complete, he was about to turn to leave when he noticed, with a start, that he was being watched.

The woman in the portrait had woken up.

Author's Note: Wow. Just wow. I cannot believe how long it took me to write this chapter, or how long this chapter is. I suppose it's my own fault for wanting to do all the vault stuff right away; I had to plan it all out and that took a while, and then I had a few places where writer's block stumped me for a bit, and the weeks just kept adding up. I'm really sorry for the delay. I feel extremely bad about it, especially when I realize just how long it's been since I've updated. I'll try to do better next time; which should run more smoothly because I don't have to think up vaults and crests and mottos. Please leave a review (though I definitely don't deserve any . . . .) and let me know what you think.

(1) Elucidator (English, verb): To make clear or plain, especially by explanation; clarify.
(2) This is the actual Black crest as drawn by J.K. Rowling. You can see it at HPL, if you want to know what it looks like.
(3) Morgaine's looks are drawn heavily from the novel The Mists of Avalon, as some of you may well know from reading it yourself (if you haven't read it; do. It is an amazing work of literature). The crescent moon is a mark that shows she was a priestess of the Mother Goddess.

Crest Mottos

Potter: Audaces Fortuna Iuvat: Fortune Favors the Bold (Latin)
Black: Toujours pur: Always Pure (French)
Gryffindor: Non est vivere sed valere vita est: Life is not being alive, but being well (there's more to life than being alive) (Latin)
Le Fay: Ad Infinitum: To Infinity (Latin)