Chapter 2 - In which Harry learns of his incredible fortune and goes shopping.
Harry and Professor McGonagall then turned and followed Griphook, who bade them into what appeared to be a mine cart and told them to hold on.
It was a good thing, Harry decided, that the diminutive goblin had told both himself and the professor (who, he noted, looked like she had been here before) to hold on. The words had barely left Griphook's mouth when the cart took off abruptly, sliding along rails that were so black that looked like they had been carved out of obsidian. The cart picked up speed quickly, jostling its occupants violently, and almost throwing Harry out. He was very thankful to be sitting next to the experienced professor, as she made sure to keep an arm on him at all times. Eventually the unlikely and somewhat, in Harry's opinion, unsafe vehicle stopped outside a platform that bore the number 687. Griphook clambered out of the cart and grabbed the lamp that he had attached to the pole at the side of the cart while McGonagall ushered Harry onto the landing, and Harry, looking about, saw an immense cavern, seemingly bottomless, with tracks crisscrossing every direction into the darkness that surrounded them. Turning toward the wall, he frowned at what appeared to be a plain dark metal door set into the stone of the wall, with a single golden keyhole adorning its surface. Griphook asked for Harry's key again, and, having received it, slid it into the lock and performed a complicated series of twists before stepping back, removing Harry's key, and pulling the door open.
Harry nearly fainted.
Piled deep into the room were stacks of gold, silver, and bronze coins. Harry could clearly see, even from the threshold, that he was, apparently, quite well-off. He was, naturally, surprised when Griphook mentioned that this vault was simply a Trust in his name that was refilled to 50,000 galleons each year. Harry turned to McGonagall. "Excuse me, professor, but what's a galleon?"
"A galleon, Mr Potter, is one of these gold coins." The Scot picked up a large gold coin. "There are 17 sickles-" she picked up a silver coin "-in a galleon, and 29 knuts in a sickle." She pointed to a pile of the bronze coins. "You shall need about 160 galleons to purchase everything you need for school, Mr Potter. May I also recommend an additional 50 galleons in case you decide to purchase anything else?"
Harry nodded, and scooped the required number of gold coins, along with his vault key, into a bag that Griphook handed him.
After an equally thrilling ride back up to the surface, Harry and Professor McGonagall exited the bank, and Harry bade Griphook a good day, which caused him to regard the new wizard strangely, then shake his head and return to his work. Harry and the professor strolled off down the alley, the transfiguration instructor guiding Harry along, as he was far too busy taking in the new sights to watch where he was walking. Most of the day was passed looking for potion supplies ("Why do I need a pewter cauldron and not copper?") and textbooks ("These books must weigh more than I do!"). Finally the odd pair stopped at a small shop, and Harry looked up to see what this shop was. The sign read: Ollivander's: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. Harry gave the shop a strange look, but was prodded in by McGonagall, who followed him in. A small bell tinkled against the door, and Harry stepped into the shop. Sunbeams pierced the musty darkness of the shop, and a rickety chair stood by the door. McGonagall sat down and let out a sigh of relief. Just as Harry was about to ask her if she was sure they were in the right shop (this one seemed rather abandoned), a man appeared behind the counter. Harry could only make sense of this man's appearance by comparing him to a man he remembered learning about in school - Albert Einstein. The man, whom Harry guessed was Mr. Ollivander, gave him a strange look.
"I was beginning to wonder when I would see you, Mr. Potter." Harry gave a start, and the old man chuckled. "I remember selling your parents their wands, Mr. Potter. You look exactly like your father did at your age - except for your eyes. You have your mother's eyes." Harry looked down, studying his shoes, and didn't notice the measuring tape jump off the desk until he felt it measuring the spaces between his fingers. He jumped, trying to shake it off, but the professor merely told him to be calm. Ollivander had disappeared into the back of the shop, and seemed to be making a great deal of noise. Meanwhile, the tape had spanned Harry's chest and seemed determined to be a boa constrictor in function if not size before the wandsmith called it off. Apparently the old man had gathered the information he needed, because he wandered off into the shelves of wands and emerged a few moments later with five long boxes and two or three dust bunnies. Mr. Ollivander's long, spidery fingers caressed the first box as he took off the lid, though Harry failed to see what the to-do was about - it looked like an ordinary stick. He picked it up, though, and stared at it until the man gave an impatient snort. "Go on then, wave it around a bit!" Harry did, feeling very silly, until he noticed that the professor's chair had started to trot around the room. The green-eyed boy gasped, and set down the wand, before apologizing to the elder Scot.
"Not to worry, Mr. Potter," she assured him, a twinkle in her eye. "I have seen much worse than a chair ride in this shop!" She and Ollivander shared a small chuckle before the wandsmith passed Harry another wand to try. This time, a vase exploded rather violently when waved at by Harry. The next three wands had much the same results - any object waved at proceeded to cause a great deal of damage or make a mess. Strangely, Harry thought that Mr. Ollivander was quite pleased that none of these wands had given the desired result, though he hadn't the faintest idea of what that result might be.
"A tricky customer, eh?" Mr. Ollivander breathed delightedly. "Not to worry, not to worry, we'll find you a wand here somewhere..." He vanished into the back of his shop again, muttering to himself. When he reemerged, he had only one box in his hands. After reverently setting it on the counter, and sliding the lid back, he gently picked it up and handed it to Harry. As the boy wrapped his fingers around it, he felt himself buffeted by a strange wind, and the wand shot a trail of of sparks that turned into golden birds.
McGonagall gasped. "Fawkes!" Her hands went to her mouth, and she stared at Harry, who looked back at her, wondering what had happened. The professor recovered quickly, however, and nodded at him, encouraging him to talk to Ollivander, who had been muttering "Curious!" ever since the pyrotechnic display.
Harry frowned. "I'm sorry, sir, but what is curious, exactly?"
The wandsmith turned his gaze on Harry, and seemed to shake himself out of his thoughts. "Mr. Potter, I have made every wand in this shop, and I remember each and every one I sell. I think it is curious that this wand should choose you. Your wand is made of holly and a phoenix feather, and the phoenix gave me one other feather, which I put into your wand's brother. That wand, I am sorry to say, I very much regret crafting. I sold it to a man who, over time, lost his humanity and eventually..." he bowed his head. "Eventually he gave you that scar. But I am not the one to tell you that story. I believe that you are meant to achieve greatness, Mr. Potter. After all...V-...He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did many great things with your wand's brother. Terrible, horrific things, yes. But great."
Harry stared at his wand. He wasn't at all sure about being a wizard now, but he supposed that it still had to be better than living with the Dursleys.
A couple minutes later, in the Leaky Cauldron, Harry gathered up his courage and asked McGonagall the question that had been growing on his tongue since he had met Mr. Ollivander. "Professor McGonagall, ma'am, did you know my parents? What happened to them? Aunt Petunia told me that they were killed in a car crash, but I don't think I believe her."
The professor sighed, and Harry saw a single tear leave a trail on her cheek. "Yes, Harry, I knew them. Lily, your mother, was one of my favorite students... And James, James... was as close to a child of mine as I could have asked for. He called me 'Aunt Minerva' or 'Aunt Minnie' when he was young. If you'd like, you could call me that too, so long as I'm not teaching?" Minerva smiled gently, and now Harry was the one with tears in his eyes. He nodded, and his new aunt continued to tell him about his parents. He sat in rapt attention as she described Lily's love of learning, her temper, and her strong morals. He laughed with her as she told him of James' penchant for pranks, and how they had made her laugh for hours once she was alone. Like all other good things, though, the happy times had to come to an end, and McGonagall began weaving a story of war and terror - the first reign of Lord Voldemort, though she only used the name once, for Harry's edification. A tale of the wedding she had been invited to brightened the tale momentarily, as well as stories of a little Harry's antics. Suddenly, and all too soon, McGonagall came to the night of October 31, 1981. "You-Know-Who broke in to your home, which we thought completely protected. Based on what was found afterwards, your father tried to head the Dark Lord off while your mother ran to your room. Having killed your father, V-... Vol-..."
"Voldemort," Harry prompted.
"Yes, he went to your room, where he found your mother standing between the door and your crib. No one knows what happened then, but at the end, your mother was dead, you had a curse scar," her eyes flicked to Harry's forehead, "and V-Vold-dem-mort had disappeared."
Harry reached up and brushed his hand over his scar. "Did he die?"
Minerva's mouth tightened. "No one knows. Many, including our government believe that he did. That is just so much nonsense, in my opinion. I believe that he was weakened, vanquished, but not killed. I think that he exists still, by some magic unknown to most, biding his time and nursing his hate. Regardless, you are famous in the magical world because you have done what no one else could: you are the boy who lived."
About an hour and a filling meal later, a rather dazed-looking Harry and a quietly satisfied Professor McGonagall emerged from a seedy-looking pub that very few could see, and stepped into the streets of muggle London. In his hand, Harry carried a small leather pouch that jingled softly when he moved. It had, the surprised boy knew, quite a few galleons in it - he had taken more than enough to purchase everything on his supplies list, which McGonagall had put in his new standard-issue school trunk and sent to his cupboard, though Harry imagined that it would take some arranging so that he could sleep in there too. He had refused to get a pet, as he couldn't imagine that his relatives would allow it, and if they did, he thought that an animal's existence at 4 Privet Drive might be even more miserable than his own.
Once Harry had gathered his slightly worse-for-wear wits about him, he thought his trip to the bank and the shopping that followed was much more exciting than any muggle theme park he could have imagined, never having been to one, and told the professor so. At this, her demeanour darkened, and the very air around Harry seemed to thicken, while McGonagall grew taller and infinitely more forbidding. Harry flinched out of reflex, having witnessed this change once before at the Dursleys'. The anger on the Scotswoman's face immediately evaporated and was replaced with a sadness so deep that Harry thought she might drown in it. She knelt down, seeming to shrink back into herself, and wiped a tear from her cheek, but made no move to touch him. "I am so sorry, Harry." Her voice was broken by a sniffle. "I will never raise a hand to you, I promise." Harry was nonplussed. He didn't know how she had guessed that the Dursleys were slightly more than unpleasant out of the public eye, but the warning that Uncle Vernon had given him, and the pain that followed, were never far from his mind. He shook his head frantically, trying to tell the woman that he had never been touched, much less mistreated, by his relatives. McGonagall's eyes sharpened, and she looked at him with such intensity that he thought she very well may be looking straight into him. "Harry, I have been a teacher for many, many, years. I am well aware of the signs. Do not worry, I will not tell your relatives. However..." She paused, and looked thoughtful. After a moment, she nodded, and announced that she would be accompanying Harry back to his relatives' home, and having a talk with them.
Note: I apologize for the slow upload times. It has been my experience that stories written under duress are usually of poor quality, and I want to do this one right. So when I have a chapter done, I will upload it. I will be responding to reviews beneath each chapter. I know it's said a lot, but reviews do motivate me to keep writing, and often lead me to think about my story arc in different ways. I appreciate and read everything that is posted. Thank you.
TaylorMyaTaylorMya - Thanks, I look forward to keeping it that way.
happylady - Thank you. Hopefully the next chapter will be uploaded soon. (And here I am quite a while later hoping that the same is true for all chapters, but life has an unfortunate tendency of getting in the way.)
Cateagle - Thank you for your comments, as they have certainly given me plenty to think about. I do think, however, the Dumbledore's character is better served as the old man who was made mistakes. His reactions to McGonagall's discoveries, on the other hand, I cannot guarantee as following canon, and will hopefully lead to some large deviations therefrom.
Dark Neko 4000 - My telling you what happens next would most likely preclude you from reading the next installment. As you have, I believe, added this story to your Story Alerts, I think that revealing to you what will happen next is rather silly.
Lightningwolf 325 - Thank you for the comment. I haven't decided on the level of abuse Harry receives while at the Dursleys, though there are plenty of indications in canon to support a physical abuse scenario, just none that are explicitly stated. Things will deviate from plot very soon, though there's not a lot to change before Harry arrives at Hogwarts.
Slayer99 - I am indeed going to run with this one, though I can't guarantee that it'll be very quickly. I have many ideas of where I want this to go, but, as usual, it's the journey that is the trickiest part. Thanks for reading!