3.having possibilities of future development.
4.highly original and influencing the development of future events: a seminal artist; seminal ideas.
This story has nothing to do with any kind of sexual adventure that Harry has on a vacation.
That would be awkward, since he's only 12 when the story begins. Without further ado, then, here it is.
Harry Potter and the Seminal Vacation
Thebes, Egypt – 1342 B.C.
"But Master," the dusk-eyed girl began in the smooth tongue of the pharaohs, "If these soul-vessels make us immortal, then why would any of our people ever die?" Her master, who had the same bronze skin and black dye patterned around his eyes as she did, indicating a similar class and position, let out a sigh, a mixture of frustration and anger in his voice.
"Because apprentice, laws created foolishly many years ago seek to prevent that from happening. The ignorant believe that immortality would cause the priests to become gods among them, a role reserved for the pharaoh. They managed to convince one of the ruling pharaohs, and it has been passed down through time as forbidden knowledge." Their clothing was sparse, by necessity in the desert heat; the older master wore only a fine linen kalasiris reaching from around one shoulder to just past his knees and an elegant cape of fine silk – a rare artifact from a far away land, along with extravagant sandals with elaborate stitching around his feet. His head was devoid of hair – a heat and sand trap not worn by priests of his station – and scars could be seen carved into intricate runes all along his inner arms, etched permanently into his skin; the only extravagance he wore was an amazingly intricate amulet of the god Set, the Typhonic animal carved from fused gems of different colors in a way that could only be accomplished by magic.
The girl was no older than fourteen – blossoming into a woman but still possessed of some of the softness of youth – and had similar scars that appeared to be more lightly carved into her flesh.
"But, Meritaten, our lesson for the day draws to an end. The sun falls for the night, and you must return to your father's palace." The girl's eyes grew heavy as she adopted a sultry look at her master and drew closer to him, finally pressing tightly against him, her burgeoning curves pressing into his firm bronze chest.
"I hardly think father would notice my absence, Master. And I believe that I could learn so much more, should I stay the night with you." Her master was quite tall, in addition to being broad of shoulder, so he had to look down quite a bit to meet her doe-eyed gaze, which he did steadily.
"That was not a request, apprentice. A chariot no doubt awaits you downstairs." The girl's look turned pouty, perhaps even catty, as she fumed at her master's dismissal. She said nothing, however, knowing it was not proper to speak out against one such as him.
"The I will see you tomorrow, Master." She said shortly as she bowed deeply to him as a sign of her respect. He nodded and watched her leave. As soon as the door to his private chambers was closed behind her, he turned to the air near one of the pillars, shrouded in shadow with the waning sunlight and flickering light of the torches.
"The girl is foolish to think that she could seduce you so easily." A voice called, its owner unseen. Appearing suddenly, a woman of great beauty walked out. She had many of the same features as the recently departed girl – a long, swan-like neck, bronze skin with a flawless complexion, and even wore the same make-up, dark and sensuous extract from the ground Galena plant, around her eyes – but was perhaps twice the age of the teen.
Her dress was of the finest linen, adorned tastefully with bright feathers as was the style of the pharoah's queen, and clung tightly to her chest, which was very nearly on display. The rest hung down in a cool and loose fashion.
"Perhaps, my Queen." The priest said as he went to one knee in respect.
As he focused on the ground, he did not notice a half-grown caracal, perhaps a stone in weight, slink into his chamber from above the pillars and watch the two carefully.
"Come now, Khaemhet. One does not bow in such a way to a lover. No titles are needed between us," the woman said suspiciously, her tone guarded.
"We cannot be such any longer, Nefertiti. Your husband grows suspicious of me. He has been greatly upset at me for years, anyway, for drawing worship away from his contrived god Aten. He has disrespectfully withdrawn me so far away from the palace for my worship of a true god, despite my powerful sorcery and how it aided him throughout his rise." Khaemhet's fist unconsciously tightened as he talked of his former friend.
"My husband grows suspicious for other reasons as well, perhaps. Do you think he notices my nightly absences yet, Khaemhet? Or perhaps he grows worried for his eldest daughter – Meritaten has long had her eye on you, of course, but he has other plans for her affections. And perhaps he took you so far away in fear of your strength. With me by your side, you could be a powerful pharaoh." Nefertiti said teasingly as she ran her fingers along Khaemhet's chest, circling him like a prowling hunting cat.
"I have no desire to embroil myself in the politics of that office. Nor fight a war when I have everything I desire already. And if he grows suspicious for any of those reasons," the priest replied dryly, "then your own best interest is to stop, as well. Your position of power is based on his tenuous favor." She stopped at this, her focus on seduction changing to rage.
"He elevated me to such a position because of his own incompetence!" She snarled savagely, clearly considering raising her poised hand against the priest. He remained calm, a deadly detached stare meeting the furious Queen's gaze.
"Incompetent or not, he is certainly no fool, my Queen. Our affair must come to an end so that my cult might not fall further out of favor. It is my duty, as high priest." Queen Nefertiti grew more incensed at his words.
"Your cult? Duty? You sorcerous dog! You are nothing! You have lost my favor, which is more important than Akhenaten's!" She raised her arms, and the same scars possessed by the priest and his apprentice trailed down her arms; they appeared recently opened, or possibly reopened, and the blood flowing from the writing glittered in the dusk.
"Peseh!" She cried, the runes flaring light starting at her elbows coalesced into pair of jaws that erupted near the priest, attempting to clamp down on his neck. His own runes flared with a bare thought, the scarred writing reopening all along his forearms as he merely brushed the jaws away like an impudent child.
"Surely you do not seek to pit your own trivial parlor tricks against the might of a High Priest of Set, my Queen," he said, eyes flashing dangerously. "I trained you in the magical arts myself, a dozen summers ago. You are naught but a child to me, one who has been a priest since before your birth!" Khaemhet's own temper was beginning to flare up dramatically as the two stood at odds with each other. Finally, the queen relented.
"No, perhaps I do not seek to test my powers. But you have lost more than favor today, priest," she spat, her acid tone not seeming to affect his resumed stare of ice. Like her daughter had before, she stormed out of the High Priest's quarters, spurned.
He watched her go, narrowing his eyes and hoping that her well-known penchant for melodrama didn't interrupt his ceremonial sacrifice tomorrow.
"And we call on you, great Set," Khaemhet chanted while cultists huddled in the background; a bronze cauldron filled with a thick red substance boiled in front of him. The chant had been long – the ceremony and potion making a combined twelve hours, but was reaching the culmination now; sweat gleamed all over Khaemhet's chest as his powerful voice resounded around the temple of Set.
"We call on you to provide strength for your servant Djaler. Great strength so that Djaler might defeat your enemies and his own. So-wesar!" Light streamed from his hands as blood flowed freely from Khaemhet's forearms, his scars broken open from the powerful ritual. The potion reached a sizzling hiss of a boil that abruptly stopped, and Khaemhet beckoned the teenage boy Djaler, whose father was a prominent member of the cult, forward to drink the potion.
Suddenly, the temple's doors boomed as they were forcibly opened; five figures appeared, the one in the middle recognizable to Khaemhet as Nomti, the leader of Akhenaten's palace guard. His bronze khopesh sword was already drawn and bloodied, almost assuredly from the lay-priest who stood outside the doors, protecting the sanctity of the ritual.
"Khaemhet of the temple Set." Nomti called like a clarion, "You are to be executed by order of the pharaoh!" The cultists present scattered like the wind, except Djaler who was busy finishing his potion, to flee from the powerful palace guard. They were known to be deadly with or without their swords, spears, and shields.
The four guards behind Nomti each took a firmer hand on their spear as they advanced as a disciplined unit towards their unarmed enemy. Never before, however, had any of them gone up against a High Priest like Khaemhet.
"Nomti, do not be a fool. I taught you what few spells you know, but even that should be enough to know that your guards are like flies to be crushed beneath my foot. You yourself are like a beetle, similarly crushed, if with a bit more force." Khaemhet said, a gleam of amusement in his eye as he watched the soldiers approach.
"Akhenaten demands your life, High Priest, for assaulting his Great Wife." Nomti said solemnly as the five men advanced. Khaemhet's eyes narrowed. He had always liked Nomti, after all, and the queen's true accusations did warrant a personal visit.
"Mi-neb!" Khaemhet snarled, and the four spear-carriers died brutally as all four were sliced in half by Khaemhet's single spell. Nomti stopped and paled slightly, worry and fear evident on his face. Khaemhet smiled as he finally received the proper respect from the soldier.
"Now, Nomti, I would like for you to escort me to the palace so that I might defend myself from these charges." Khaemhet said coldly, his icy mask once more on his face. The two men departed, leaving only frightened cultists to spread news of the power of Khaemhet the Sorcerer.
"My Lord Akhenaten," Khaemhet said as he bowed to the pharaoh a short while later inside the palace.
"Nomti, what is the meaning of this? I ordered this dog's execution, not escort!" Akhenaten was wearing the typical fine striped linen of the pharaoh, his head shaved bald so that he resembled greatly his childhood friend Khaemhet, standing in opposition. Both men adopted arrogant poses, each one of dominance as they glared at each other.
"I demanded the right to defend myself from your accusations, my lord." Khaemhet said solemnly. Akhenaten was one of the few in the land who could potentially rival the High Priest at sorcery, and he honestly did respect his friend for his power and wisdom; even if that wisdom prompted him to raise a false god above Set, scourge of the desert.
"Nefertiti was quite clear, distraught as she was, about what you did to her! How dare you! You rise above your station, priest, for I am god among you mortals, and my wrath shall be great! Nomti, kill him!" Akhenaten said, spittle shooting from his mouth as he ranted. Nomti bravely drew his sword, but Khaemhet's almost casual, "Senef neser," caused him to writhe in agony on the floor immediately; soon after, a red smoke came out every opening on his body, some even leaking through his skin. Nomti lay quite dead, and Akhenaten's anger was increased.
"The blood burning curse, if you do recall, my lord," Khaemhet said clinically, in a detached manner, as though he hadn't murdered a man he rather liked. "One you always had trouble with, if memory serves." Blood was flowing freely from Khaemhet's arms now, and the open wounds dripped steadily as he lowered his hands. Akhenaten lowered his scepter and spread his own arms, deep scars etched in an identical pattern to Khaemhet's visible along his arms.
"I do not think you will find a sorcerer of my own caliber quite so easy an opponent, Priest." Akhenaten said, his rage boiling off into cold fury. Khaemhet merely smirked confidently.
"I do not believe that you needed to make an enemy of myself, in order to excuse the whorish behavior of your Great Wife, my Lord. Were I you, I would instead focus on discerning which of your supposed children are actually your own. Meritaten your eldest, likely, though I've almost taken the girl as my own several times…perhaps I shall, once I kill you here." The pharaoh once more grew incensed, and let loose a furious spell.
"Sedjit!" The ruler yelled, as a gout of flame ushered from his outstretched hand and enveloped Khaemhet. It continued issuing from his hand as the runes carved into his flesh burst open deeper and deeper, until blood dripped freely from his arms.
When the torrent stopped, Khaemhet remained uninjured, holding a single hand out before him and looking rather bored.
"I thought you knew, my lord," the priest began with a drawl, "That the 'sedjit' spell is quite weak. For an opponent of my caliber, you should use another spell. Attend. Xet mahx!" Despite Akhenaten's attempts to block the spell of Khaemhet, it was too strong as flames surrounded him. They seemed not to issue from Khaemhet's hand, but from around the pharaoh himself. Akhenaten only doused the fires by running past the softly cackling Khaemhet and leaping into a water fountain, which happened to hold enough water on this day to extinguish them.
"See, my lord? A much more effective spell." Akhenaten emerged with bright burns covering one side of his face and much of the rest of his body. They would blister, for certain, and possibly scar.
"I am your equal as a sorcerer, Khaemhet, as I have been forever – my line secures my power!" Akhenaten seemed to be yelling purely for the purpose of reassuring himself.
"Perhaps you are, Akhenaten. But I have knowledge of spells you can hardly imagine. You will perish this day. But fear not, for soon you will be a god and watch down on your wife squealing beneath me!" Khaemhet taunted as he raised his hand for another spell.
Akhenaten roared and beat him to it, however, screaming, "Keres!" Immediately, Khaemhet began sinking in the ground, a victim of the terrible curse that buried foes alive. However, it was not to be, as Khaemhet's countercurse of "Weban" was strong enough to counteract the pharaoh's, and Khaemhet rose from the ground as though propelled by desert wind.
"Peseh," Khaemhet called as blood dribbled freely down his arms now, from the many spells he'd cast so quickly. The jaws came down from behind the pharaoh, who was not quick enough to stop the simple curse. They hit him around his hips and he cried out in pain as the powerful jaws clamped down and invisible fangs drew blood from dozens of small wounds. The pressure kept up like a wolf, until a voice from behind Khaemhet caused the spell's interruption.
"Stey," a soft, feminine voice called. It was a simple charm, and one that should have never gotten through Khaemhet's formidable defense, was he not distracted from killing the pharaoh.
As he was, the arrow launched through his back and emerged from his gut; he stared at it briefly, bronze tip gleaming with thick red blood, and then turned so that his gaze met that of his former lover's. Nefertiti stood, a bit of blood clear on her inner arms from the recent casting, gazing cruelly at the high priest standing over her husband.
"First you assault me, then attack your lord pharaoh? How dreadful, Khaemhet, from one who used to be so loyal. I imagine the story will drive your cult to demonstrate their loyalty by serving Aten like their pharaoh." The injury could have been mortal to most men, but Khaemhet had taken steps to prevent such things; steps he had just recently taught his apprentice Meritaten the previous evening, in fact. Still staring at the beautiful woman, he savagely tore the arrow from his stomach before snapping it in half.
"Iwef senaq," Akhenaten cried frantically as Khaemhet's back was turned. Khaemhet turned back around quickly, but the shield he hurriedly called for could not fully negate the effects of the devastating curse cast by the pharaoh.
It was one of the most powerful curses that even Khaemhet had ever learned, though its use in battle was unusual, to say the least. Khaemhet had used it dozens of times himself, when burying the nobles of his cult. It was the Mummification curse, to properly send souls off to the afterlife.
"No!" Khaemhet cried, real fear in his voice as the curse began at the edges of his limbs. Linen cloth wrapped around him and immense pain seared his body as all moisture was removed savagely from his hands and feet.
"You bitch! You scarab-eaten whore! You cannot defeat me – even like this! Your own blood will be my rebirth, and I will come back more powerful than ever!" Khaemhet's terrible fury erupted in a scream as the desiccation reached his torso and traveled up to his mouth, opened impossibly in an eternal silent scream.
"His curse is meaningless now, Nefertiti," Akhenaten said, draping his burnt arms around his wife, who was staring down at the withered, wrapped, and decayed corpse of Khaemhet the Sorcerer. The only decoration around the wrappings of linenwas his symbol of Set, which had somehow escaped the wrappings and lay dangling around his neck outside of them.
As Nefertiti turned to her husband's arms, she failed to notice the half-grown caracal – who had witnessed the entire fight between Khaemhet and Akhenaten – slink to the corpse of the Sorcerer and leave with the amulet of Set secured in its mouth. The amulet seemed to glint with an unholy inner light emanating from the gemstones where its eyes should be.
"Come, my love, we will bury this dog in the deepest tomb we can find, and secure it against his possible breakout. Not even the great Khaemhet will come back from the dead, I will be certain of it!" Akhenaten said with great fervor as he clung to his wife for support after the exhaustive battle.
Nefertiti once again looked down frightfully upon the corpse of the dead sorcerer, but did not notice the missing amulet, so keen was she to make certain that the corpse was still and did not possess signs of life as his last curse might indicate.
Khaemhet's body was taken down to a tomb in a tomb crafted by Akhenaten's sorcery on the East Bank of Thebes, far from the great Valley of Kings where he would be buried upon his own death. No great pyramid housed his body, but an underground complex marked by four pillars upon which were etched warnings of the fell sorcery of Khaemhet.
Queen Nefertiti made certain to stay far away from the body and sarcophagus as it was placed in the simple tomb, heeding the warning and fearing that a drop of her blood might bring her former master back to life.
With her passing, it seemed that Khaemhet's final ominous statement meant little, and many who had heard of it were greatly pleased by this, for all knew that Khaemhet's wrath could be great, so powerful was he.
One, however, knew that it was only a matter of time before the master returned. That one waited patiently.
3335 Years later – June, 1993. Little Whinging, Surrey, England
"Dursley residence," Harry answered dutifully as his relatives had taught him so many times.
"HELLO? HARRY? IS THAT YOU? I WANT TO SPEAK TO HARRY –"
"Ron? Why are you shouting?" Harry asked with a wince, holding the receiver far from his ear as his best friend shouted into his 'fellytone'.
"DAD SAYS HE FIXED THE FELLYTONE AND YOU SHOULD HEAR ME, BUT IT'S PRETTY FAR, SO I THOUGHT I SHOULD YELL TO MAKE SURE!" His friend called loudly.
"Well stop it – if the Dursleys had answered, I'd have been in real trouble. You can just talk normally, I'll hear you fine. Anyway, great to hear from you, mate! Thanks for calling!" Harry said, brightening at the highlight of his summer so far.
"Really?" Ron said in a volume just under screaming. Harry supposed it was better, at least, "This Muggle stuff is really great – just like a Floo call! Only without faces and fires and –"
"Yeah, Ron, it's pretty great. So your dad fixed his telephone finally, eh?" Harry interrupted, hoping that Dudley wasn't listening in on the line; Dudley would love nothing more than to get his cousin in trouble for being social.
"Yeah, it works and everything! Everyone's really impressed, they're all hovering around and don't really believe it." Harry heard a few calls of "Hi Harry!" in loud, fake feminine voices – no doubt the twins, then.
"Tell them all I can't wait to see them, then." Harry said, smiling at the thought of his favorite family.
"Sure, Harry. OH! And I've got the greatest news! We won the Daily Prophet Annual Grand Prize Galleon Draw yesterday!" Harry didn't know what that was, exactly, but it sounded good.
"Great, Ron! Er, what is that, exactly?"
"I know! Oh, it's a prize drawing the Prophet has every year. Seven hundred galleons!" Harry was suitably impressed with the amount of the reward; he knew the Weasleys were not the wealthiest family, but deserved the money more than anyone he'd met in the Wizarding world. Of course, that consisted mostly of Malfoys and Weasleys, really, so there was little competition.
"Great, Ron, that's fantastic for you!" Harry said brightly for his friend.
"I know, mate! And Dad's using it to take us on a trip – we're going to Egypt to see Bill for a whole month! Even Charlie's coming in from Romania! I think we leave in a few weeks – second week of July, and come back in the middle of August. When I get back, I think it'll be time to get our school supplies from Diagon Alley, so we'll have to meet you there!" Harry was more than a bit dismayed at the prospect of spending the entire summer at the Dursleys – he'd quite hoped that he would have been able to escape his yearly imprisonment with his relatives early and spend a good portion of the summer with the Weasleys like he had the previous summer.
"That sounds wicked, Ron. You don't know how much I wish I could go with you." Harry said somewhat resigned.
"Yeah…I know, mate. I asked mum, but she said that, you know, most of the money is being spend just on us going. There isn't enough for you. I'd have loved to have you there, you know." Ron sounded almost as disappointed as Harry felt.
"Yeah, well, can't have everything, I guess. What's Hermione doing this summer? Maybe I could see her, at least."
"Uh…I think she said she was leaving for France, mate. I think she's gone already, actually. I don't know, don't much keep track." Ron said after a moment's thought. Harry, too, remembered his friend saying something to that effect. Besides, Hermione no doubt had to study harder over her vacation to learn any material she may have missed while petrified the previous year. That course of thought brought to mind another subject.
"Hey Ron, how's Ginny doing? You know, after she…well, after everything?" Harry asked somewhat quietly into the receiver.
"Oh, er…she's fine, I guess. Little quieter than usual, maybe." Ron's voice, too, had lowered, perhaps so that he couldn't be overheard by the nearby family.
"To be expected, I guess. Ah well, what's your phone number on the telephone?" Ron gave it to him and they told each other that they'd talk again soon, so Harry hung up. The prospect of spending so much time alone for the entire summer didn't sit well in his stomach, and it ate at him.
"BOY! Who was that?" Uncle Vernon yelled crossly from the other room.
"Uh…telemarketer, Uncle Vernon. Trying to sell some rubbish." Harry lied immediately, his response thought up long before when he considered if Hermione was to ever call.
"Bloody telemarketers! You didn't buy anything, did you? Because all they need is someone to tell them to bugger –"
"No, I just wasted his time letting him give me his pitch, then turned him down and hung up." Harry said somewhat petulantly, knowing what Uncle Vernon always did – well, besides yelling at them at the top of his voice where they should shove their phone receiver.
"Hmmm…well, not a bad job, then. Maybe something I told you got through your bloody thick head after all!" Vernon crowed gruffly, an air of self-satisfaction evident in his voice.
Harry barely refrained from rolling his eyes and went back upstairs, taking his homework back out from under the loose floor plank and getting back to work on it. The Dursleys had gone out just the previous day to loudly compliment Uncle Vernon's new company car – a Mercedes-Benz, but not one of the really nice ones – and Harry had taken the opportunity to quickly pick the lock (Fred and George had taught him last year after their own attempt worked so well) on the cupboard under the stairs and retrieve his entire school trunk and drag it up the stairs to the closet of the smallest bedroom.
It was a testament to the bleak outlook of the summer that he was already bored enough to start in on his History of Magic essay on the medieval witch burnings, which he hadn't expected to want to start on for a few more weeks.
Finishing a roll of parchment of that essay, he glanced unhappily at the rest of his work – a hefty assignment from Professor McGonagall about the basics of simple animal transfigurations and a fairly simple essay on household cleaning charms for Professor Flitwick. Not to mention a nasty essay from Snape about shrinking potions. Harry gave that assignment a withering glare as he looked down on it.
"Can you believe I'm doing homework already, Hedwig?" Harry complained morosely to his faithful owl. He'd already had a fierce argument about her with the Dursleys, and was finally allowed to let her out at night, even if only to, "stop that blasted racket from that bloody bird," as his Uncle had said.
"Sure wish I could go to the Burrow with the Weasleys, or even go to Egypt with them on vacation – that'd be wicked! I've never gone on vacation before, girl." Hedwig hooted in irritation at currently being locked up, so Harry opened the cage and she flew to his arm, nicking it with her claws. He ignored the sting and the feathers that got all over from her brief flight and saw her head nod anxiously to the window.
"I know, I wish I could just fly out the window and get out of here, too. You have to wait for tonight, though." Hedwig did not seem to enjoy the prospect.
"Wait a minute, girl…why can't I go on vacation? I mean, I've got a vault load of gold – way more than the seven hundred galleons that the Weasleys won, anyway. That's settles it, I'm going to Diagon Alley and getting a vacation to Egypt with the Weasleys!"
Unfortunately for Harry, it wasn't quite that simple. Uncle Vernon outright refused to take Harry to London, even though he was intending to go himself. Apparently Harry had used up all of his Dursley-credit by getting Hedwig a bit of freedom. Only a discussion with Ron after lunch three days later gave him an alternative option.
"I've just had it with the Dursleys, Ron! They're treating me worse than ever, locking me up for sixteen hours a day in the room now without a particular punishment. Vernon said I was being ungrateful when I asked him to take me to London, and –" Harry vented angrily at his friend.
"Well, why don't you just call the Knight Bus, then?" Ron asked oddly. Harry paused, not sure what his friend was suggesting.
"The Knight Bus?"
"Sure, it's a bus that takes witches and wizards around. I mean, it's a bit expensive, but if you don't have Floo powder and need to get to London, it's a good choice." Ron explained casually – he often forgot that Harry, raised by Muggles, didn't know about these common wizard things. He had a twitch of regret that he didn't read everything ever printed like Hermione, but shook it off – that was way too boring, anyway.
"That sounds great – I could leave the Dursleys every day if I wanted! Are there bus stops or something? Where can I get on?" Harry said excitedly – this bus thing sounded like exactly what he needed!
"Er, I think you just kinda raise your wand, mate. Try that, if it doesn't work I'll ask dad." The rest of the conversation went on – Ron had gotten a letter from Hermione in France, so they talked about how their friend was doing, and Harry was left feeling much better about his prospects for getting away.
Ten minutes later, Harry had gone outside and found a deserted street near the park on Magnolia Road feeling quite foolish, he raised his wand like he would hail a taxi.
To his amazement, a few seconds later, a loud BANG sounded, and Harry jumped in the air, startled. A second later, an enormous bus stopped in front of him, gigantic wheels beneath a triple-decker monstrosity painted a violent purple color – its conspicuous looks surely signifying that wizards were involved; they had quite odd tastes in things like colors. Gold lettering on the windshield spelled The Knight Bus. Harry grinned with his success and clambered aboard when the door opened.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board, and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this evening." The purple-clad conductor began with a flourish as Harry stepped aboard; Harry smiled and interrupted his obviously rehearsed speech.
"Hi there, I'm Harry. This area is filled with Muggles, so you might want to get out of sight, you know. How much to get to London?" Harry said as he shook Stan Shunpike's hand.
"Eleven sickles, but –" Harry shoved the money into the conductor's hand from his money bag, liberated from the trunk in his room as he expected to have to spend quite a few galleons on the vacation, and took a seat where Stan indicated behind the driver.
"This is our driver, Ernie Prang. This bloke's 'Arry, Ern. An' he seems to be in a bit of a hurry, 'e does." Ernie was an elderly wizard with thick glasses who never even bothered to look away from his windshield at Harry's introduction, merely nodding. Harry thought it was possibly the best reaction he'd ever gotten out of anyone in the Wizarding world so far.
With another sharp BANG, they were off again, weaving at incredible speeds between Muggle cars and buildings, always almost careening over at every turn. While almost half of the witches and wizards aboard – Harry could see four others on this level of the bus – were tinged green from the turbulent ride, Harry thought the bouncing stomach a fairly pleasant sensation. He'd never been on a roller coaster, but Dudley had described them in detail since Harry couldn't go, and he rather imagined it to be similar.
They stopped in Devonshire first, then a little jaunt to Wales, and finally a place Harry thought was in Ireland, before finally Stan called out, "The Leaky Cauldron and Charing Cross Road!" Harry shook his and Ernie's hands and thanked them before stepping out, followed by two witches of about Professor McGonagall's age who seemed to have a snooty attitude about the bus.
"Really, Maude," one said to the other as they stepped off, "You would think they could make it a little slower for girls like us!" Harry wasn't sure what they were complaining about, as it was so far his favorite magical way to travel. The Hogwarts Express wasn't nearly as fun, and the Floo was all kinds of awful.
All three Knight Bus riders shuffled into the Leaky Cauldron, the two witches stopping for, "just a bit of a kip, if you please, Tom," while Harry tapped the proper brick thrice with his wand to reveal the entrance to Diagon Alley.
He'd only seen this entrance once before, and the spectacle hadn't gotten old. The bricks gave way to a doorway to the obviously magical and incredibly fascinating alley. Knowing a bit more about magic than in previous visits and having no constraints on his time meant that Harry's trek through the Alley was convoluted and lengthy.
He started off with a large sundae from Florean Fortesque's Ice Cream Parlor, of course, trying a three scoop combination of strawberry-and-peanut-butter, pumpkin, and treacle all smothered in rich chocolate sauce. It was an odd combination, but it occupied the boy as he lovingly licked his treat while staring and leaving sticky prints on the interesting window displays.
He saw a solid gold set of Gobstones that caused him to peer suspiciously inside his bag to check how many galleons were left – not quite enough for the set, unfortunately. Nor for the moving model of the galaxy in a glass globe that would allow him to never again stay out late once a week for an Astronomy lesson. When he also had to pass on the shiny gold, Self-stirring cauldron – though he didn't really like Potions, anyway – he began to think that he should bugger Hogwarts and empty his vault on things in the Alley. Only by keeping his friends, who he'd likely never see again if he dropped out, in mind did he avoid the temptation. With a sigh, he left the Apothecary and went to the joke store.
Gambol and Japes was a store he'd never really appreciated like Fred and George always did, what with an inordinate percentage of Weasley funds keeping the store in business, but Harry decided that a box of dungbombs and Wet-Start Fireworks were good purchases that could see many uses at the Dursleys, if he got in a tight spot and didn't fancy expulsion for violation of the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. Hmph – reasonable like Merlin's saggy left –
And then he saw it, his eyes drawn to it like forbidden fruit in the Garden. Behind a huddled mass of teenage boys eagerly pawing the window like he'd been doing in so many shops, including the amusing display of Monstrous Book of Monsters, was a golden light illuminating quite possibly the most beautiful thing Harry had ever seen.
The Firebolt. Golden letters streamed down the polished ash like angelic announcements from God. It was beautiful – streamlined and aerodynamic as other brooms could only hope to be. Advertisements boasted of its unparalleled speed, that currently they hadn't had a test flier able to reach its maximum, and were fishing professional Quidditch teams to place orders to see how it really performed. Harry was entranced, and several times seriously considered blowing off the foolish notion of a vacation and emptying his bank vault for the more serious purpose of this, the racing broom of the Gods.
Harry didn't know how much time he spent admiring its perfection, but he knew that a small part of him died when he took his eyes off of it and continued down the street to the white columned building labeled Gringott's. His mind was so focused on the loss of it from his sight that he completely ignored the goblin holding the door open and actually bumped into the witch in front of him in the teller line, who turned around and glared at him for a moment.
"Hi, I need to fetch some more gold from my vault!" Harry enthused when he finally recovered enough from broom-withdrawal to speak to the goblin teller when he was called forward. The goblin's eyes narrowed, unused to dealing with children.
"Key, please," Harry handed it over and after minute inspection, the goblin said, "That seems to be in order, Mr. Potter. Spatpick!" A goblin took him down to his vault on the cart ride, which was only slightly more nauseating than the Knight Bus, and also quite enjoyable to Harry, after two years as a Seeker.
A quick few scoops of money into his moneybag, mostly galleons this time, and Harry had to question his goblin escort.
"Hey Spitpack?" The goblin scowled dangerously and corrected, "Spatpick!"
"Yeah…I'm planning a vacation to Egypt. How do I take out enough gold to pay for it?" The goblin looked at the child as though he were quite foolish.
"Mr. Potter, do you not carry a Gringott's money bag? They carry much more than they seem." The goblin said slowly.
"But I have to buy a plane ticket to get there and everything, not to mention pay for a hotel and probably tons of other things…"
"Portkeys cost no more than a dozen galleons, Mr. Potter. And should you stay in an extraordinarily luxurious hotel that depletes your funds, there is a Gringott's branch in Cairo where you can make another withdrawal. Fill the bag now, and it will get you at least to Egypt for a week. If you find yourself out of money at that point, then perhaps you can consider visiting the other branch." Harry had already resumed his generous scooping, and the bag was beginning to fill rapidly.
"Will I be able to carry this much gold?" Harry said, realizing how much he'd put in.
"Have you ever felt unduly weighed down by your bag before? Coins are heavy, Mr. Potter, but our bags make carrying them in large quantities quite a bit easier. If that is all, we are quite busy today, Mr. Potter." Harry smiled at the goblin's impatience and rode with him back to the lobby.
He had just stepped from the Alley into the Leaky Cauldron when he realized that he had very little idea how to get a Portkey, which the goblin had mentioned. Tom, the toothless bartender who always smiled in that odd way, gave him a grin, so Harry decided to question him.
"Hello Tom," Harry said brightly. Tom's grin grew brighter after his eyes flicked up to Harry's scar; it was a close avoidance of a roll of eyes on Harry's part, but somehow he managed.
"Hello Mr. Potter! Bit young for a drink, aincha?" The bartender asked with a joking grin.
"Oh, I don't need a drink, Tom. I just had a few questions, and was hoping you could help me. You see, my friends the Weasleys are going to Egypt on vacation, and I decided that instead of staying with my family, I should go on vacation with them, which will be loads of fun, instead of boring." Harry began excitedly, outlining his plan to the smiling bartender.
"Anyway, I was thinking about buying a Muggle plane ticket, but then a goblin in my vault said that I should buy a Portkey, but I don't know what that is or where I can buy one. Any chance you might know?" Tom looked rather pensive as Harry finished.
"You're serious, lad? Taking a vacation all by yourself? Isn't that…a bit dangerous, you think?" Tom asked concernedly. Harry looked at him incredulously and shook his head with a laugh.
"Trust me, Tom, compared to a year at school, vacationing in Egypt will be as safe as…staying in a padded room, or something. Nothing to worry about!" Harry said with a grin. Of course, Tom probably didn't realize just how life-threatening his usual school year was.
"Alright, lad, if you think it's wise. Ministry of Magic controls Portkeys, their Department of Magical Transportation, I believe." Tom said, resuming his wiping of the bar with a dirty rag. Harry wasn't sure how that was supposed to clean it, but figured it'd be rude to correct him.
"Ah…and just where is the Ministry of Magic?" Harry's question seemed to surprise Tom a bit.
"Oh, that's easy, Mr. Potter! Just head to any of the red telephone booths near the Alley. Dial six-two-four-four-two – spells out 'magic' – and talk to the person on the line. There's one just a few streets down, if you're looking." Harry grinned with his success and thanked Tom graciously, making his way to his next stop.
About four blocks away, Harry found the dingy telephone booth and shut the door. Picking up the rather dirty receiver, he pushed six two four four two and was surprised to hear a cool female voice on the other end.
"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. Please state your name and business."
"Er…Harry Potter. I'm here to get a Portkey so that I can go on vacation." Harry said, feeling somewhat foolish.
"Thank you," the voice replied. "Visitors, please take the badges and attach them to the front of your robes." Harry looked down at his Muggle attire – hand-me-downs from Dudley, of course, and shrugged, supposing that it probably didn't matter all that much.
From a slot at the bottom of the phone where coin returns usually came out, a shiny silver badge came out that Harry picked up. It read in bold letters – Harry Potter, Vacation Planning. Harry pinned it to Dudley's old grey sweatshirt.
"Visitors to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wands for registration at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the Atrium." The mechanical-sounding female voice reported. All of a sudden, the telephone booth seemed to sink into the ground as the pavement welled up to swallow the booth, and Harry inside it. It was quite dark, the only light coming in from the hole where the booth had once been, until after a moment Harry noticed a light below him, as well.
That light opened up into a scene of decadence that Harry had never before witnessed. The ceiling was a pale blue – Harry initially thought it was charmed like the Hogwarts' Great Hall to reflect the sky outside, but it had been rather gray out – with golden designs that shifted and changed with some nifty charms. The walls and the floor he stood on as he walked out of the dingy telephone booth, which immediately rescinded into the ceiling, were gleaming dark wood. Each wall had fireplaces lining the hallway – the right had a steady stream of wizards and witches leaving through emerald flames that Harry recognized as the dreaded Floo network, and the fireplaces on the left flared to life every few seconds with arrivals.
At the far end of the arrival Atrium was a massive pair of golden gates admitting entrance to the Ministry – Harry briefly stopped to admire the fountain in the middle, resplendent with five golden statues of a wizard, witch, and magical creatures Harry had previously met, but continued toward the gate until he was stopped by the attendant.
"Wand, please," the bored-sounding security wizard grunted as he held out his hand. Harry pulled his wand out from the waistband of his pants and handed it over. The guard put it on what seemed to be a scale with only one balance pan and after a moment, a small piece of parchment was spit out from the slot on the front.
"Eleven inches, phoenix feather core, been in use for two years. That right?" Harry nodded, pleased that the security guard hadn't paid enough attention to him to cause a ruckus like back when he first went shopping with Hagrid two years ago.
The tiny printout was impaled on a spike with a large amount of others and Harry was ushered through the golden gates towards a line of lifts barred by golden gates. A lift arrived soon, and Harry crammed himself inside with a load of others as he tried to guess which floor he might be able to get a Portkey on. He was in luck, however, as a woman's voice announced which offices were on each floor. When he heard, "Level Six, Department of Magical Transportation, incorporating the Floo Network Authority, Broom Regulatory Control, Portkey Office, and Apparition Test Centre," he smiled to himself as he bustled off the lift after squeezing past a large woman reminding him strongly of Aunt Marge, wearing a pink boa and a nasty expression.
It was only now that he got off that he noticed a group of paper airplanes that also got off the lift at this floor. He stared up at them, impressed and having never seen one before. He walked down the main hallway of the level, walking past the first door labeled "Apparition Test Centre", who opened to reveal the rather shocking sight of a young wizard perhaps a few years out of Hogwarts, who was missing both his arms.
"Better luck next time eh Rog? Sorry about that dog gettin' your arms! We'll get 'em cleaned off and shipped over to St. Mungo's for you!" Harry paled slightly as he saw what must have been one of the Apparition Examiners call out to the armless wizard. Keeping moving away from the disturbing sight, he walked past a few desks, apparently secretaries, in the hallway but not in offices directly.
"Allabor Destinati," the wizard on the right called out, pointing his wand at the folded paper plane on his desk. Immediately it shot up and flew in the direction of the elevator. Harry grinned and resolved himself to remembering that little charm – passing notes would never be as fun as that!
Finally, two-thirds of the way down the hall, Harry found the office he was looking for. "The Portkey Office", embossed on the window to the door in bright gold letters, announced his destination.
"How can we help you, dearie?" A kindly sounding witch asked after he pushed the door open and entered.
"Hello Miss, Tom the Bartender told me I could get a Portkey to Egypt here." The witch eyed the little boy somewhat speculatively. Finally, she saw the gleaming silver badge spelling out Harry Potter, Vacation Planning pinned to his dingy muggle sweatshirt and gasped somewhat comically.
"Why, Harry Potter!" She shrieked shrilly. Harry winced at her announcement, as four other people from the department ran toward her.
"Is it really?!" "Here!" "I'll make your Portkey, Mr. Potter!" "No, I'm much more dependable! Been working 'ere sixteen years, Mr. Potter!" They all yelled at him.
"Whoa, whoa, hold on. I just want to go on vacation with my friend Ron to Egypt. Can someone make me a Portkey there?" The man who'd bragged about his experience quickly raised forward a used boot and nearly screamed, "PORTUS!" while the other two Portkey-makers were still trying to find suitable objects. He handed his boot reverently to the 12-year old, which Harry accepted awkwardly with a thanks.
"An honor to serve you, Mr. Potter!" He said, bowing deeply. Unfortunately, this only drew attention to the fact that he was only wearing one boot now, and his left sock had a hole in the toe. Harry eyed the new Portkey he was holding with an expression of distain and disgust, but shook it off.
"Er…how do I activate it?" Harry asked, feeling silly. The portkey-maker smiled at Harry.
"Ah, that's easy, Harry – may I call you Harry?" He asked excitedly.
"Er, sure." Harry said, as the man smile grew broad.
"Excellent, Harry –" his coworkers glared at the man's familiarity "– Simply say the phrase, 'Take me to Egypt' while holding the boot to activate the Portkey. It will deposit you in front of a fine hotel with a wizarding section. You may either stay there – highly recommended, I've been there myself and it's quite lovely – or stay at one of the other fine hotels, if you don't mind mingling with muggles."
"Thanks." Harry backed away as the group surged forward to stay the same distance from him.
"Er…I'm going to go, now. You all have a nice day, alright?" He said awkwardly and he reached for the door handle.
"Oh, you too Harry!" "Come back soon, Mr. Potter!" "You're a hero, Mr. Potter!" They all called out to him before he shut the door. Harry eyed the boot witheringly once more, and muttered, "Hope you were worth that nuttiness…"
The next nine days were more than a bit tense at Privet Drive.
Harry had informed the Dursleys quite succinctly at dinner about the plans he'd made to leave in four days, and they'd immediately objected. Not because they were against their nephew's absence for four weeks, of course, but simply because the idea of his enjoying himself in a Mediterranean paradise nearly induced physical illness in his family.
The fact that they'd been clashing daily since Harry discovered his freedom might have added to the tension.
"ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NOT!" Vernon roared, his face a blotchy shade of taupe. His half – well, it was a bit more than half, really – glass of brandy spilling onto the table as he slammed it down furiously.
"YOU THINK YOU DESERVE SOME RUDDY VACATION WITH YOUR FREAK FRIENDS?! LIKE WE'D EVER PAY FOR THAT, YOU UNGRATEFUL LITTLE –" Vernon continued to rant all in one breath. Harry quite expected him to pass out, as he his head could've hardly gotten enough oxygen when he did breath.
"Ha! I've already made the arrangements, Uncle. I don't need your money or consent. You might have forgotten, but in MY world I'm bloody famous!" His uncle's face, already dark, turned even more purple as he grew more angry. Harry had never dared bring up his "alternative lifestyle" before while tempers were flaring. His aunt Petunia's face had gone white as a sheet, and Dudley had taken his eyes off his plate – they were now darting furiously between Vernon, his plate, Harry, and the platter containing more chicken, which he quickly took another leg of.
"YOU DARE TO –"
"I dare quite a lot, Uncle!" Harry said, eyes blazing as his own temper rose – he stared across the table up at his raging Uncle as he declared, "I don't need your money or your hospitality while I'm on vacation, so bugger off!" Petunia gasped at his language – usually only heard from Vernon or while she was out of hearing of Dudley – and Dudley smirked, knowing his cousin was going to get it now.
Vernon didn't disappoint, throwing his brandy glass as fast as his meaty arms could at his nephew, who agilely spinned, causing it to crash on the wall.
"You little bastard! I don't give a DAMN about your ruddy people! Your ruddy parents get themselves blown up and you get all famous, eh? Think your little fame will help you? You won't make it to bloody Egypt!" Vernon roared, grabbing the table between himself and his nephew.
"DON'T TALK ABOUT MY PARENTS LIKE THAT!" Harry screamed. A sound like a gunshot went off as Harry shoved the kitchen table. The table, a heavy wooden relic that weighed at least a few hundred kilos, flew up into the air like it was shot from a cannon and stuck to the ceiling. On its way up, it had conveniently hit Vernon in the chin, knocking the large man unconscious to the ground as effectively as a heavyweight's haymaker.
Harry nearly ran over where the table had been, ignoring the wide-eyed stares of his cousin and aunt as he gave a short leap over the pile that was an unconscious Vernon. The door on the cupboard under the stairs flew open as Harry approached and angrily grabbed his trunk with all of his remaining belongings that weren't in his room. Removing them from the cupboard and shoving the heavy trunk near the door, he tore up the stairs.
Books were quickly removed from under the loose floorboard, and the bags from Gambol and Japes' joke store were filled everything else he had a mind to take with him. Dragging the bulging bags along with the boot from the Ministry employee and Hedwig's cage, he shoved the bags inside his trunk downstairs and held on tightly.
"What are you doing?!" Aunt Petunia shrieked noisily, seeing her nephew, "You can't just leave him like that! Do something!" Harry's eyes narrowed at her slightly.
"Oh, you want me to use my magic now? He wasn't knocked out with magic, so he'll be fine. Jaw might hurt for a while, though. Anyway, not my problem, I'm leaving for my vacation a bit early, it seems." Clutching Hedwig's cage, his trunk containing all of his worldly possessions, and the boot, he called out, "Take me to Egypt!" as he felt an uncomfortable lurch like a hook behind his navel jerk him away.