A Story of Hallows and Horcruxes

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoats Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.

Chapter 5
The Great Bank Robbery

Diagon Alley – it had been his first experience with magic, a magical vista hidden from the mundane world that he had once lived in. Looking at it then, Harry would've been hard placed to align his fond memories of yester-years with the destitute place it had become.

No more were the streets busy with boisterous shoppers and their families going about their way, purchasing their daily necessities. The laughter and the cries of the shop-keepers selling their wares has been replaced with palpable fear, as the people, few as they were, walked the streets, keeping their head down and their mouths closed. No more hollered greetings to any passerby's they might've known.

The streets were just the same, the shops similar although more than a few were barren. No, the most disturbing sight was the squalor. Beggars in filthy rags, begging for food by the sides of street even as regally garbed wizards and witches passed them by. No one paid them any mind, as if their presence was quite the norm.

Harry easily saw a distinction between two kinds of men in the alley. One fearful, quiet, with heads down and eyes frantic, as if fearing for their life for daring to go outside in such times. The other imperial, walking with an audacity as if they owned not just the streets but the men themselves.

His face hardened as he saw a man cruelly boot a woman, when she grabbed the lapels of his rich robes beseeching for the whereabouts of her daughter. Harry closed his eyes, when he saw the man spit at her, before flashing out his wand and whipping the woman away from his person.

Lestrange didn't seem to care about it, as if beggars were quite norm in Diagon Alley. He was walking through the streets majestically, back straight and head high. People gave way as he passed them by, some calling out to him respectfully even as others bowed down their heads and scampered out of his way, all to avoid attention by the fearsome Death Eater.

Harry, despite the anger bubbling in him, was relieved by the aura of fear that the Death Easter evoked. Hidden beneath his Invisibility Cloak, Harry followed the Death Eater through the streets of Diagon Alley. The wide passage of people that separated themselves at the Death Easter's path helped Harry remain invisible that mightn't have been possible if he'd to push his way through a throng of people.

They came to a halt in front of the majestic building of the Gringotts Bank.

"Here we are, Potter," Rudolphus muttered softly, as Harry moved to stand beside him. No one dared to remain close to the Death Eater, as such being eavesdropped was the least of Harry's concerns.

As they stood, the pair noticed two goblins standing by either side of the entrance carrying thick rods in their hand which they ran over anyone who sought to enter the Bank.

"Probity probes," said Rudolphus quietly, his eyes lighting up in recognition.

"Huh?" asked Harry, confused and worried. This was not part of the plan. Lestrange had never mentioned anything about any probity probes the dozen times they'd gone over the act.

"They detect hidden enchantments," said Rudolphus, still waiting quietly at the foot of the marble stairs that led up to the bank.

"You hadn't mentioned them before," demanded Harry angrily.

"I didn't know, Potter," Lestrange said firmly but quietly, "It has been a while since I last ventured into Diagon Alley, and you know that I am speaking the truth given my continued existence."

Harry had to begrudgingly admit that perhaps the Death Eater truly didn't know about it. But that did create the problem as to how to enter Gringotts, for unlike Hogwarts there was no other secret passage that he was aware of.

He needed to devise a solution and fast, after all they couldn't stand there waiting, and wary looks were already being cast at Rudolphus for waiting nonsensically at the footsteps of the stairs to the Gringotts Bank. Someone was likely to chance upon them the longer they waited and that'd be the end of their mission and would probably be his end too.

Harry a took a deep breath and let it go, trying to calm his rapidly pulsating heart and get his mind to land upon a brilliant idea that'd help him circumvent a protection device that he didn't even know how it worked.

If there was one thing that Harry had learned in the past few days, it was that a complicated predicament was often solved by a simple solution. People he had seen often forgot the easiest of ways as they sought to block the more difficult ones.

"You go on ahead," Harry commanded the Death Eater, "and follow the plan. There will be no deviations."

Rudolphus gave a barely perceptible nod of his head before walking the stairs up to the Bank.

Meanwhile, Harry quietly shuffled into a narrow passage between two shops close to the bank.

It wasn't much of a passage so much that it was just a tiny aperture between the walls of the two shops that didn't want a common shared partition. As such, thin that Harry was, even he had difficulty entering the dark and dingy opening. No sooner had he moved inside, he looked back to see if anyone could see him, before quickly removing his Cloak off him. He shoved the Invisibility Cloak inside his robes with some difficulty in the tight fitted passageway and pulled down his hood to just below his nose and swiftly moved out of the opening, eyes roving around carefully to check for anyone who'd noticed a man suddenly appearing out of a grimy old gap between two shops.

As no one seemed to be particularly bothered with him; he started purposefully moving towards the Bank.

His heart thudded against his chest and tiny beads of perspiration appeared on his forehead; he was walking in the middle of Diagon Alley, Death Eaters roaming around a plenty, with nary a concealment other than a hood pulled down that partially covered his face.

Without stopping, or giving a thought to what would happen if he got caught in the heart of Diagon Alley, he started climbing the stairs of the Gringotts.

Rudolphus had already gone inside, when he came to a stop before the massive doors of the Bank. Two goblins shuffled towards him as he stood on the doorsteps. Harry gave no visible regard to their presence, even as his heart pounded his chest as each moment passed. They ran their probity probes over him, looking for any hidden disillusionments or concealment charms.

They found none, for there were none. It took a minute for them to search him but it was over soon. They gave him a brief nod before moving back to their posts.

They hadn't asked him to lift his hood. Harry had not expected them to, after all Harry Potter would hardly come to Gringotts hidden by a simple hood and they didn't dare offend any wizard who could possibly be associated with the Dark Lord.

Lestrange had let him know that Gringotts had surrendered to the Dark Lord, and was now no longer under the absolute control of the goblins. As such they were right to fear any man with a possible connection to the Dark Lord. Duty towards work only went so far after all.

Harry quickly moved inside, careful not to move too fast lest he arouse suspicion.

The bank was exactly as he remembered it to be and had not changed unlike the Alley. Long lines of patrons waited their turn to take money out of their vaults. Harry quickly located Rudolphus. It wasn't hard either. He was arguing violently with a goblin that sat behind a desk.

Harry was grateful for the unplanned commotion, for it made sure that most of the people as well the goblins had their attention drawn towards the Death Eater, who by now had the goblin gripped by its throat, leaving the goblin floundering in its seats. It allowed Harry the distraction to quickly pull out his Invisibility Cloak and wrap it around himself without anyone getting the knowledge of it.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he disappeared from view. He had to admit, his bold plan had worked out just fine.

As he walked over towards Lestrange, Harry noticed that goblin had acquiesced to the Death Eater's demands.

Harry quickly lined up behind Rudolphus and followed him along with another goblin out of the cavernous main hall into a small platform that held several wooden carts on their numerous line tracks.

As the goblin mounted the cart, Lestrange hesitated somewhat. The Death Eater glanced here and there as if someone was likely to jump at him out of the shadows.

"Sir," the goblin asked with more courtesy than Harry had ever witnessed one.

Lestrange whirled towards the goblin with a sudden violent rage and spat angrily, "I did not ask you to speak, you filthy vermin. Do not open your mouth unless you're told to."

The goblin on his part took the slight remarkably well. He stoically turned around and waited for the Death Eater to get on and so did Harry, who couldn't understand what Rudolphus was waiting for.

Waiting for?

Harry almost slapped his forehead. Of course Lestrange was waiting for someone. He was waiting for him. He had no idea if he had managed to get into the bank.

Carefully, making sure that the goblin was not observing them, Harry, still invisible, gingerly tapped the man on his shoulder and leaned in close to his ear, "I'm here. What was the problem earlier with the goblins?"

Rudolphus acted impassively to the disembodied voice whispering in his ear.

With an angry frown he turned around and walked over to the cart. "Bloody goblin filth, you need my wand now to check for my identity, do you" he cursed, hitting the goblin's body with his boot, shoving him off his seat.

Harry took the opportunity of the fallen goblin to step into the cart careful enough not to show any dismembered body part hanging in the air. Rudolphus joined him moments later, jumping into the cart with a single fluid vault.

"Drive, you idiot, what're you waiting for," shouted Rudolphus at the goblin, who had by now righted himself.

And without any warning the cart took off at a break-neck pace.

Harry dearly hung onto the cart to save himself from falling though Rudolphus seemed not to care about the speed or the sharp inclines.

Harry need not have worried about the wind whipping his cloak off. As he sat behind Rudolphus, he was protected by the Death Eater's girth even if the goblin was inclined to look behind.

The plan so far was working smoothly; Harry had broken into Gringotts and was on his way to the Lestrange vault without anyone getting any wiser.

The cart took another sharp turn and for a brief moment, Harry saw thick white splashes of falling water. With a sudden alacrity, Harry whipped his Invisibility Cloak straight off him, sitting visible in plain sight. And not a moment too soon as the cart went straight through what appeared to be a heavy water-fall.

Rudolphus had warned him about it. The Thief's Downfall was a rare piece of intricate enchantment that protected the oldest of the Wizarding families vaults. And it was because of this that Harry couldn't just polyjuice into Lestrange and break into the vault. Even Imperius would break under the enchantment.

However, Harry's plan was ingenious in its simplicity. The Thief's Downfall only detected hidden enchantments and concealments. However, if there was nothing to hide, it wouldn't harm him, which was exactly what Harry did by pulling off the Invisibility Cloak before he went through the waterfall.

The cart took another sharp turn and slowly descended down a slope before gently slowing down to a more gentle speed than the break-neck pace they'd been following.

Harry quickly wrapped his Invisibility Cloak around him just as the cart took another turn into a cavern and come to a halt before a dragon — a massive dragon.

The dragon was the last protection outside the vault or so Rudolphus had claimed.

Harry kept a careful eye on it, Rudolphus had mentioned that it was kept chained but Harry was not sure just how accurate the Death Eater had been and how much Gringotts had changed in the time being. After all, if there were extra probity probes and wand identification required then it was not paranoia to expect other measures of security that may have been added.

However, his fears were quickly allayed when the goblin bought out a small bell like object and rung it sharply. The dragon upon hearing the sharp tones of the bell retracted back into its hallowed cavern leaving them free to get out of the cart.

Harry was once again careful that the Invisibility Cloak covered him properly as he got off from the cart.

He waited patiently behind the Death Eater while the goblin went ahead and unlocked the vault for them.

"Stay in the cart, goblin, my business may take a while," announced Rudolphus imperiously.

Rudolphus walked into the Lestrange's vault as the goblin went back to its cart, Harry following close behind the Death Eater.

The Lestrange vault turned out to be a huge chamber. The marble flooring was littered with golden coins, the mounds of Galleons topping the high ceilinged vault. Gold, however, was not the only treasure to be found. Trophies, won of some vicious duel in the past sat idly decorated. Weapons, hideous and cruel, their usage best left unsaid stood guard around the vault.

A long golden spear mounted by a golden crown reclined idly in of the corners. Vials of potion littered a small garishly decorated ornate table top; that Harry was sure was just as precious as the other treasures.

Lestrange disregarded any of his fore-fathers wealth walking straight to a marble stack carved into the very walls of the chamber and plucked from the showcased rich contents, a tiny ornate cup.

Harry exhaled a breath slightly as he saw the Death Eater examining what Harry recognised to be the Hufflepuff's cup.

With a small smile and eyes as vacant as ever, Lestrange looked up, staring a few feet away from Harry and called out, "If you could take off the Cloak, I can hand this over."

Harry could hardly control his excitement as he whipped off the cloak, but not before making sure that he was out of the way of the entrance and not in the possible field of vision of the waiting goblin.

"Hand it over, Lestrange," demanded Harry.

Rudolphus merely smiled and said, "We will make it even Harry, my wand for the cup. Exactly as we vowed. You don't want to break you vow now, do you?"

It was not quite an unexpected demand yet Harry still hesitated a second.

Rudolphus must have noticed the hitch in his movements and he grinned in a more wolfish fashion. "The wand, Potter," he stated, "or I shall consider the vow forfeit."

The ultimatum was resounding in its finality.

Harry gave a small nod and from the lapels of his cloak plucked out the Death Eater's wand. Looking over the wand once, Harry threw it towards Rudolphus, who caught it with his left hand.

"The cup, if you will, Lestrange." Harry demanded.

Rudolphus smiling like a cheshire cat nodded and flung the cup towards Harry who snatched it right out of the air.

Harry was busy examining the cup, when he heard Lestrange speak up.

"Well, I believe we've reached the end of our bargain, Potter. You have the cup and I have my wand. I consider the terms of the vow null and defunct. Do you agree?" asked Lestrange.

Harry nodded and said, "I agree, the vow is complete."

No sooner had Harry said the words, Lestrange had spurred his wand straight towards him, smiling in his characteristic vacant stare.

"Potter, you really are a fool, aren't you?"

Harry was outraged. "You can't harm me, Lestrange. The vow ..." Harry stopped, suddenly stumped.

"Ah! Realisation has finally swept in," Lestrange said calmly. "I never vowed not to curse you Potter, just that I will not intimate your presence to the Dark Lord. Well, see I won't have to do that myself. A blasting curse would throw you out of the vault. The goblins would alert him. I won't need to do anything."

Harry had in the meantime raised his own wand to defend himself.

"Now, Harry, none of that. You promised, after all," said Lestrange.

Harry gave a sigh of frustration and lowered his wand. It was true he could not harm the Death Eater. He had vowed not to, after all.

Lestrange smiled and said in a voice that was as cold as a Dementor's aura, "Make no mistake, Potter, I'll have my retribution."

And with that Lestrange snapped his wand forward. The tip of his wand illuminated in a nimbus of dark red before grey sparks burst around the Death Eater's wand and interrupted the spell, moments before the spell redirected and came out through the back of the wand.

The curse caught Lestrange in his chest and threw him back, flying straight into the carved marble stacks. His head impacted against the tiles and he fell to the ground limply.

Harry gave a small sigh. With a smile that was itching to break out on his face, Harry carefully manoeuvred around the strewn treasure heaps striding forward towards the fallen form of the Death Eater.

Harry had meticulously scripted the mission. He had intentionally offered the Death Eater his wand in return for his services and knowingly hindered his own ability to defend himself against Lestrange.

The idea had come to him when Harry was pursuing the Auror manuals in the Dursley household.

One of the manuals talked at length about the various curses and jinxes that can be placed upon objects. And there in that book Harry found a rather nifty jinx called the backfiring wand. Harry remembered well enough the condition of Ron's wand in his second year at Hogwarts and how it would fireback the spells thrown back on the caster. That had been an accident, what Harry wanted for Lestrange was anything but.

Thus, formed Harry's idea of knocking Lestrange out with his own curse. It had taken immense studying and preparation to cast the jinx on Lestrange's wand. He'd needed to understand the very intricacies a wand used to cast a spell to be able to reverse its path. What was more; a wand's constitution significantly changed the way the jinx was applied. As such jinx he'd applied Lestrange's ash and dragon heartstring wouldn't work for his holly and phoenix wand.

Harry's dedication and hard work had paid off though and just three days ago when they were still in the Dursley household discussing the plan for breaking into Gringotts with Rudolphus, Harry had managed a breakthrough when the cheering charm he'd cast successfully reversed its path and hit him in his chest.

Harry stood in front of the unconscious form of Rudolphus Lestrange and from the folds of his robe extracted a tiny vial of Polyjuice Potion. Hermione had appropriated some when they'd been planning their mission.

Harry's plan was simple, the goblin had seen the Death Eater go into the vault and he would see the Death Eater come out. His entire plan had almost gone out in a wisp of smoke when he'd first heard of The Thief's Downfall, but Rudolphus had inadvertently told him that he'd only meet the enchanted waterfall on his way in and not out.

Harry stooped to pick some hairs off the head of the Death Eater and when a sudden a thought stopped him in mid-motion. His vow not to harm the Death Eater was still active.

He gritted his teeth. He should have taken a sample of hair before making the vow. The Unbreakable Vow was unique in that it acted the way people perceived events. Since, Rudolphus was his enemy plucking his hairs could be interpreted as a sign of violence and the vow would proceed to kill him, quite painfully too, if Harry knew anything about it. Harry was sure that if the man had not been his enemy and they did not harbour such hatred against each other he could easily pluck some hairs off his scalp.

As it stood though, he couldn't afford the risk that he might accidentally trigger the vow. And that put him in a quandary. How was he to leave the vault if he couldn't impersonate the Death Eater? He couldn't just leave the vault invisible. He was miles underneath London and would need the goblin's cart to reach the bank.

And it was then that Harry noticed tiny beads of blood falling on the Death Eater's forehead. He lifted his eyes and saw the blood coagulating in the marble stacks. Lestrange must have impacted head first against it and splintered his skull.

Harry gave a tiny sigh of relief and proceeded to scrap some of the blood of the stacks, careful not to touch any other artefacts. He was all too well aware of the dangers of attempting to filch any of the treasures of the vault. Harry added the blood to the potion which hissed violently and turned a dark greyish silver.

Hesitating just a bit, Harry drank the concoction in a single swallow and braced himself for the change that he knew would occur.

He had barely finished gulping down the potion when he felt his chest contract and then expand rapidly. His face grew. He felt his jaws grow and his scalp shrink. His eyes burned and Harry quickly took off his glasses knowing that the Death Eater's body had no need of it.

When he had finished his transformation, Harry transfigured his clothes to match the Death Eater's. Not trusting the vow not to interfere with a switching spell.

Harry whirled around and strode out of the vault with his long strides, not before breaking Rudolphus' wand underneath his heel.

The vault's door shut down behind him and Harry wearing the body of Rudolphus Lestrange hopped onto the cart kicking the goblin in the process.

"Do you intend to stay here forever, goblin?" Harry snarled at the creature, trying his best to imitate the Death Eater now trapped in his own vault, with his treasures and a broken wand.

"No sir."

"Move then, will you?" Harry replied, kicking the goblin again just to make sure.

As the cart began to move, Harry gave a last glance at Lestrange's vault and the Death Eater trapped in it. He had never intended to let the man go free. Not after what he knew the man had done to Neville's parents.

As the cart sped along the sharp turns, Harry couldn't help a smile from breaking out on his face. The Hufflepuff's cup was hidden in his robes and Voldemort was now down to two Horcruxes.

A.N: I know this was greatly delayed. But I do intend to finish this story. Next up might be a bunch of one-shots that I have in varying degree of completion.