Chapter 27: So Bankers Really are Greedy Goblins?
"So this is what they mean by déjà vu" muttered Harry.
Dudley kind of agreed. The place looked like a less orderly version of the Shopping District in Wizard City. Every building was made of stone and wood—plucked straight from the middle ages—bending in curious and slightly unstable angles. People casually strolled in robes and pointed hats. Sometimes a small kid would run past and Dudley would hear something about brooms.
At least there was some good variety—through the many window displays he could see stacks of barrels of bat spleens and eels' eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, rolls of parchment, potion bottles, and globes of the moon.
"Yeah I know what you mean," said Dudley just as quietly. Harry nodded.
"We should go by that book shop we passed later. I trust McGonagall but I'd like to get some more information myself—"
"You both seem very calm for yound men who've seen the alley for the first time...then again there are always a few."
"Oh no it's amazing, I was just telling Dudley that this place looks exactly like I imagined it. The wizards even have pointy hats."
"Yes, I suppose we haven't changed much since we last dealt with muggles," said McGonagall distractedly, "In any case our first stop will be Gringotts Bank. I should mention that it is run by goblins."
"Goblins?" said Dudley.
"Yes, goblins—they have run the magical economy from Gringotts Bank for quite some time. They can be rather cantankerous, but you must remember to always be polite—there it is…"
Gringotts was a tall, snow white building that rose above the rest of Diagon Alley. In front of the door stood a small green figure with a deep scowl and a dangerous looking spear. McGonagall nodded her head, to which he responded with a shaky bow and a glare. Dudley's eyes were drawn to the words on the door.
Enter Stranger but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed—
The ring on his finger felt very warm for a moment until he looked away. Inside the grand building was a row of tellers, all sitting behind impossibly tall desks. McGonagall led them to an unoccupied goblin who was reading a book. He glanced down at them around his long nose before turning a page with his long, bony fingers and ignoring them.
"Excuse me," said McGonagall. The goblin looked at them again. He didn't smile so much as open his mouth to show his sharp teeth.
"What would you like, witch?"
"I would like to access the Potter account," McGonagall produced a small golden key from the pocket of her robe and placed it up on the desk. "Here is the key." The goblin grunted as he looked at the key before handing it back. The Professor handed it to Harry without a moment of hesitation.
"Griphook will lead you to the vault. GRIPHOOK!" A goblin standing against the wall jumped to attention and walked over.
"Come with me!" barked Griphook. What followed was an insane cart ride, that made Harry whoop with joy and Dudley force to try and keep down his breakfast. When the cart stopped at a completely unremarkable section of the tunnel, McGonagall and Harry both lightly stepped out onto a small platform. Dudley's exit wasn't as graceful and Griphook smiled as he saw his nauseous face. "Key, please." Harry fumbled for the the key before handing it over. Griphook immediately put it into a tiny pinhole. The tunnel wall melted away to show mountains of gold, silver, and bronze.
"This…this is all mine?" said Harry.
"Most certainly, I did say your parents were very well off. This is only the trust fund I wager," said McGonagall. "Now collect some gallons, those are the gold ones, and we can retrieve some funds for Mr. Dursley."
"Thank you Professor, but, before we go— can I talk to Dudley alone?"
McGonagall gave a dubious look but nodded and stepped out into the tunnel. Griphook stayed inside and seemed confused when Harry kept looking at him.
"What are you looking at human child?"
"I suppose I don't mind, but I asked to be alone. I hope it's ok if you step out, I don't want to get in the way of bank security or something like that." With what was quickly looking like the common goblin grunt, he left the vault, mentioning that he might take the cart if they took too long.
"What's this about Harry?"
"This, I guess," said Harry motioning around them.
"Your mountains of money?" said Dudley as he took a seat on a particularly comfortable looking mound of silver. "What's there to say except that it's pretty awesome." Harry snorted as Dudley started making money angels.
"Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon would probably have a fit."
"You're being too optimistic. They'd try to grab for all of it. I can imagine Petunia," using his squeakiest high-pitched voice Dudley said, "Oh now we have two golden fountains— not like the Hutchinsons—they don't enen have one. Can you imagine such a thing? What a scandal!'"
Harry started outright laughing. Dudley knew that right now his face was an exact copy of Petunia's frowning brows and pursed lips, which always made Dudley think of a horse that ate an apple that was way too sour for it.
"That's so perfect!" said Harry. "…Joking aside I just wanted to say that you don't have to get those funds with McGonagall."
"What do you mean?"
"Look at all of this gold. Every wizard and witch in England is supposed to go to this school for seven years. It can't possibly be that expensive. I could just pay for you."
"I…don't want you to."
"Look it's just not mine. Aunt Lily and Uncle James left it for you, not me."
"You're their nephew; if I'm anything like them, they wouldn't mind."
"I don't care— I mind."
"…" Dudley picked up one of the coins. He felt the weight, saw its silver gleam, a noble bearded face decorating its front. He flipped it into the air and snatched it before it fell. He took one more look and let it drop to the ground where he found it.
"Harry…right now, from where I'm standing— I owe you everything. Everything in my life, starting from my eggs at breakfast, to the wand in my pocket, comes in some way from you. I can't respect myself if I take your money too, especially when I don't have to."
"You don't owe—"
Dudley cut him off. "Don't bother, it's just how I feel, and I'm not taking your money."
"I…I think I understand."
Opening up a bag, Harry piled in some gallons and tied off the string. "I think we should go before Professor McGonagall and Mr. Griphook decide to go on honeymoon."
A similar ride to another vault led to Dudley having his own bag of gold. Dudley noticed that McGonagall relaxed the moment she stepped past the doors of Gringotts. Magicals and goblins clearly didn't like each other—at all. It made no sense to hand over all your possessions to someone you couldn't stand to be around. Though Dudley supposed, many people didn't like or trust bankers in the muggle world, and those bankers were, at least on the outside, human.
The first stop was Flourish and Blotts. Harry walked there much quicker than he did to the bank. By the time Dudley and McGonagall caught up to him, he was already pulling some books from the shelves.
"Mr. Potter those magical theory books are very advanced." Harry's hand paused half way on its trip to another book.
"Do you think I wouldn't understand them?"
"I suppose you could…with enough effort."
"Harry's always been interested in how his magic works." McGonagall's sharp eyes immediately focused on Dudley's.
"Have you two been aware of magic for—"
"Professor, are there any transfiguration books you recommend reading beyond the required text…" As Harry led McGonagall away, he threw Dudley a significant look. Feeling sheepish, Dudley started grabbing the books on his list until he got to the back of the store. There weren't many patrons around him, nothing like the crowds in the 'Adventure' section and the covers of the books were notably less bright, almost as if meant to be overlooked. He tried to pick up a book titled Necromancy: An Art or a Monstrosity…
"Young man, put that down!" An old man with wild and mousy hair briskly limped past the short distance between them. "There are some things young wizards should not know of or understand, and this section is full of those subjects. I believe Professor McGonagall is at the front of the store, since you are clearly muggle-born I will not tell her where I found you. I don't wish to catch you here again!" The man's eyes met Dudley's, they didn't move, shift, or blink."
"Um…yes sir." Dudley quickly headed for the brighter lit front of the store.
Dudley tried not to shift as the seamstress poked her needle through his new robes.
"Madame Malkin," came Harry's voice next to him.
"Is there anything special about these robes? Besides looking good and staying warm I mean. Do they help with your magic?"
"No dearie, they're just robes. I have a few charms on them to keep them from ripping or getting damaged and to make them feel more comfortable. I even charm them to grow a little but not too much, I might go out of business if your robes grew for the next seven years. Other than that what you see is what you get." Great these robes were even more of a waste of time then Dudley expected…
"Again I say that you are mistaken Minerva, these boys have no need of wands, at least not from me."
"What do you mean? How do you expect them to perform magic without wands! I've never seen such behavior from you Garrick."
"I remember your wand, suited for transfiguration, fir and dragon heartstring, nine and a half inches, and stiff. "
"What does this ramble have to with anything? Either sell them their wands or by Merlin I shall retrieve them myself" said McGonagall, pulling out her wand. "They are on the registry and entitled to buy them."
"Enough Minerva—I will not sell them wands because they already posses their own."
"What…" said McGonagall as she lowered her wand.
Ollivander turned his eerie yellow eyes to Harry and Dudley.
"In fact, I would be honored to see them. Mr. Potter, Mr. Dursley—may I?
He looked so excited that Dudley couldn't say no and placed his wand on the wand seller's counter. Harry's wand took its place next to his. Olivander snatched up Dudley's in a heartbeat.
"Very interesting…let me see. Do you notice how it doesn't taper towards the end and instead resembles a rod?" said Ollivander, holding it up for McGonagall to get a better view He gave it a wave, producing cool, silver mist. "Absolutely fascinating!"
Ollivander carefully put Dudley's wand on the counter and gave Harry's wand a swish, causing delicate vines to sweep around the shop before vanishing in a fiery afterglow. "Magnificent work, one day I must have a discussion with whoever modified these wands."
"Modified?" said McGonagall.
"Yes modified, whoever originally created these wands was a cheap nincompoop. I've seen better work from those mass produced monstrosities they make in Thailand. Only when another crafter took up the wand—" said Olivander as he peered at Harry for a moment, "did it reach its full potential."
They all stood in silence for a moment before McGonagall lost her patience.
"Exactly where did—"
"Obliviate. Confundus." McGonagall's face went slack before she briskly walked out of the shop. Ollivander returned his wand to his sleeve and sighed. "Minerva is a great witch—it is such a shame to tamper with her." Turning back to the gaping boys, he said, "It wouldn't do for anyone to discover wands with the wood of Yggdrasil. I recommend you leave the shop before Minerva wonders why she left her students unattended."
"With your new cauldrons we've now purchased every required item on the Hogwarts list," McGonagall folded up the list and threw it in the enchanted bag she had made for their school supplies, "That leaves only one matter. There are two of you, but you only own one familiar. Would either of you like to purchase an animal to bring with you to Hogwarts?"
Harry gave Dudley a questioning glance.
"Not really, Carlisle is enough for me," said Dudley.
"Then I suppose our business in Diagon Alley is finished."
Number 4 Privet Drive
"I know it's not September 1st yet, but I will have to give both of you some homework." Dudley tried not to groan. "Here are some pamphlets muggle-borns receive after entering the magical world. It should answer all of your questions about magical finances, the legal system of your new government, and other miscellaneous items. There is even a sheet on how to get to the platform for the Hogwarts express. I need you to read and become familiar with them. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send your parrot."
"Professor, how would our parrot find you? Wouldn't it just get lost?" said Dudley.
"All avians can track wizards and witches, they sense magic. How do you think they orient themselves? ...In any case, it was a pleasure to meet you both and I look forward to teaching you."
"We look forward to being taught. Have a good evening Professor."
"Thank you, a good evening to both of you as well." With that, the woman walked off into the street and vanished with a crack.
I hope you enjoyed the story, please review, as I find your reviews really stir my creative juices. Ollivander seems like the type who would know wood from another world when he sees it. Ignoring that in a magical world, it makes sense for someone to be able to see into worlds beyond. Ollivander is a likely candidate; you can imagine who the others are. Ollivander is not a Traveler, in fact he will never be able to move between worlds, precisely because he sees too much. Harry has done many things to his and Dudley's wands over time, starting with simply infusing them with his magic, and continuing to add animal parts, runes, and metals. In my fanfic, all the wands made in the Spiral are first crafted from the wood of the world tree. Ollivander calls the original wands pitiful because that's exactly how you can describe the starter wands at Ravenwood Academy.