Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Star Wars.
Chapter XX: Meet the Family: Diagon Alley Edition
The days passed by so quickly for Harry since his birthday. Letters from his friends and acquaintances and communication with the mirror images of his masters and family kept him busy most of the time. He couldn't really complain. He found inactivity to be poor form and didn't want to waste any time doing nothing of worth.
By the second week of August, he received his Hogwarts letter via an owl that arrived by his room's windowsill after breakfast. He put down his cup of Yin-Yang tea and took the letter from it. He then watched it disappear into the sky before he focused his attention on his letter. He opened it and read its contents. Aside from the welcoming statement and reminder for all students to catch the Hogwarts Express, it also included the list of books required for the year.
SECOND-YEAR STUDENTS WILL REQUIRE:
The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2
by Miranda Goshawk
The Way of the Wizarding Fist
by Pugnus Davis
Connecting Hearts, Connecting Fists
by Andras Jones
Magic and Melee: Merging Masteries
by Bartholomew Johnson
Magic in the Body: Mastering yourself
by Thomas Anderson
He raised a brow at the required books. The Standard Book of Spells was obvious for Wizarding students. The other books, on the other hand, were odd choices; they all revolve around hand-to-hand combat and, if he was assuming it correctly, applying magic to it. Considering that the previous professor was…out of commission for the next term, it wasn't wrong to assume that these books are for Defense against the Dark Arts. Whoever's going to be the upcoming professor must be an expert in Wizarding martial arts. To be honest, he had never heard of wizards or witches mixing hand-to-hand combat and magic so he was really interested who the upcoming professor would be.
He stood from his desk, took his teacup, and left his room to descend to the kitchen to clean his cup. When he got there, Michael was seated by the table, reading his newspaper and drinking his coffee. He raised his head to look at Harry and greeted him, "Good morning, Harry."
Harry smiled. "Good morning, Michael." He moved to the sink and started to clean his cup. "So I got my letter for Hogwarts just now."
"Oh," Michael mused with a raised brow. "What did it say?"
He shrugged. "Aside from the usual message of welcoming me to my second year of Hogwarts, it also involves the list of books I need to buy for the year."
Michael asked, "And when do you plan on buying them?"
"I'm thinking sometime over the next few days, preferably a weekend." He looked at Michael curiously. "Are you free at the weekend?"
He shrugged. "Yeah, I am. I can accompany you to the Leaky Cauldron on Saturday." Harry nodded. "Alright, Saturday it is, then." He went quiet for some time, making Harry, who sensed his hesitation, ask the source of his silence. "It's just…I want to come with you into that pub. I am really curious about what goes on in there."
Harry blinked before he smiled. "Of course, Michael, I'd be more than happy to show you the sights."
"Thanks, Harry. Even though I've learned of the existence of the magical world since last year, I was still very nervous and afraid of what it would be like. I mean," he chuckled, "I grew up on tales and stories about magic and never really thought about being in that world."
Now, it was Harry's turn to be quiet. He…had forgotten that Michael was non-magical, that he was just an ordinary policeman who decided to take care of him. Harry felt a tad guilty for not helping his guardian get more accustomed to this different world that his charge was a part of.
Resolving himself and quelling the feeling of guilt within him, he grinned. "Don't worry, Michael. There's nothing to be scared of. I'm there to protect you from anything."
Michael snorted. "I'm a policeman. I'm sure I can manage and protect myself."
Harry gave a light laugh as he finished washing his teacup and left the kitchen to return to his room.
The policeman shook his head in fondness as he returned to his paper and coffee. Cheeky, ain't he?
Harry woke up very early on a Saturday morning. He got out of his bed and got to the center of his room. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then, his feet slowly started to lift off the ground. He raised his hands at shoulder height and various objects in his room started to move and revolve around him. Afterwards, he started to perform Tai Chi maneuvers, in mid-air and while moving his things around with the Force.
It wasn't until an hour later that Harry finished his exercise and took a bath to prepare him for the day. After changing into his day clothes, Harry felt Michael wake up and so he took his letter in his pocket and opened Hedwig's cage. His snowy owl, already awake since his exercise, flew to his shoulder and nuzzled his cheek with hers, making him chuckle.
"I'm going to Diagon Alley, girl. I'll be gone for a few hours Are you okay with that?" Hedwig hooted her affirmation. "I doubt you want to see Diagon Alley after spending so much time in a cage in there so I figured that you would at least want to fly around the room freely." She flapped her wings happily as he grabbed a few things and left the room.
He found Michael already suited up and ready to go. When he saw Harry, he greeted him. "Morning, Harry, you ready for the ride?"
"Yes. I just want to tell you, though, that I let Hedwig free in my room while we're gone."
"It's no problem. Just make sure that you clean up after her?" Harry opened his mouth. "I know that she somehow knows how to do her business elsewhere but it's better to be safe than sorry."
Harry shrugged. "Fair enough," he said.
Then, they had their breakfast and then they were off to the Leaky Cauldron.
Michael turned off his car's engine and approached Harry, who was already by the door to the pub.
"Are you ready," Harry asked his guardian.
He shrugged in response. "As I'll ever be," he replied.
Harry opened the door and they both entered the pub. Upon closing the door, they both were stopped by a shout.
"Good to see you again, Mr. Potter!"
Michael turned to the speaker with a raised brow.
The barkeep ignored Michael's presence and instead focused on Harry with a wide grin. Everyone else in the pub also turned to stare at Harry; all of their stares held admiration and worship.
"It's an honor to have you in the Leaky Cauldron once more, Mr. Potter."
Ignoring them, Harry simply said, "I'm headed into Diagon Alley."
"Of course, Mr. Potter," he gave a curt nod as Harry led Michael into a secluded room at the back.
Once inside, Michael looked at his charge and asked, "Is there something I should know? Why did it seem like you are a famous person?"
Harry frowned. "Understand, Michael, that the Wizarding world has its fair share of…criminals and wars."
His eyes widened in shock before they narrowed in rising anger. "What do you mean?"
"My parents were both magical and they both fought in a Wizarding World War back in the 1980s. Their side was led by Hogwarts' current Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, while their enemies were led by a man called Voldemort, considered to be the most dangerous of Dark Wizards. Needless to say, Dumbledore's side won. However, the war wasn't without casualties. Among them were my parents." He took a deep breath. "Near the end of the war, Voldemort managed to discern the location of my parents' house, which was hidden by powerful spells. How he did that, I don't know." He didn't feel the need to tell Michael that he knew otherwise. "What I do know is that he broke into the house, killed my Mum and Dad and tried to kill me."
Michael's eyes softened. "Harry, you don't have to continue if you don't want to."
Harry closed his eyes. "You wanted to know why those people were looking at me that way. I will answer your question. When Voldemort tried to kill me, his spell didn't hit me; it instead rebounded. No one knew how; only theories could be made. The most plausible one was that my parents' sacrifice made a powerful enchantment that protected me from Voldemort. Whatever the reason, the rebounded spell eventually hit Voldemort instead and he was vanquished."
"Is…is that why you're considered famous, because you caused this Voldemort's magic spell to turn around and hit him instead?"
"The Wizarding world romanticized Voldemort's defeat and used me as their symbol of salvation. After all, my Mum and Dad died and only I survived his attack. Anyone would think that I am special or destined to be special. Wizards are superstitious like that."
"I never would have thought that wizards believe in superstitions." He shook his head before frowning at Harry. "Has it been a problem for you?"
"No. No, it hasn't. Aside from annoying stares and over-the-top greetings, they were ignorable."
"Do I have to talk to your government leader?"
Harry resisted the urge to tell him the truth about the Minister for Magic. "It's fine, Michael. There's no need to go that far. If anything does happen, I can handle it."
"Then I won't force you. Still, it never hurts to be too careful." Harry didn't disagree with that. Michael looked around at the empty room and raised a brow. "So," he lamely started, "…how does this work? Will this room teleport us to the magical world now? Or are we in it?"
Harry coughed slightly. "This place is the passageway into the magical world, as you call it. And the doorway is right here." He faced the brick wall and took out his wand. He tapped a certain sequence onto the bricks before returning the wand to his person. The bricks rumbled a bit before starting to shift and move to aside. When the bricks were finished moving, Michael was wide-eyed at seeing an entire community hiding behind the brick wall. "Welcome, Michael," Harry started, "to Diagon Alley."
"It's…beautiful," he replied, "There are so many things here."
Harry led Michael through the throng of children and adults loitered along the main street of Diagon Alley. The policeman looked incredibly out of place as he was looking around like a kid in a candy store, only he was an adult. He bumped into a few people while he walked and it was only thanks to Harry that he didn't bump into more people.
He stopped first by Gringotts Bank and stopped by the base of the steps that led up to the building.
"What is it, Harry," Michael asked.
"Our first destination is the Gringotts Bank. I'll give you a heads-up, Michael, and say that this bank is run by goblins."
He blinked. "You mean, short, pointy-eared goblins like in the movies?"
"The portrayal of goblins in movies is somewhat similar but they are just as powerful as human wizards so it's best not to mess with them."
"And they're good with money?"
He snorted. "They're greedy and that's a statement of fact, not bias. That alone should be answer enough. However, they also keep to their word. So once you make a deal with a goblin, they expect you to honor your end as they honor theirs."
"What about those…um…what do you call them…dwarves?"
Harry shook his head. "They are more stationed up north, in the Scandinavian countries."
"I see. So what do you think of these goblins?"
"They get things done. That's all that matters to me. Also, they and I have no quarrel and I'd like things to stay that way."
"So you don't want me to cause a scene or something?" At Harry's nod, he nodded back. "I'll do my best, Harry." He chuckled sheepishly. "I suppose you're doing all the talking then? I'll just stay back and let you do your wizarding thing?"
Harry smiled. "I'd appreciate that. Thanks, Michael."
They then ascended the stairs onto the front gates of the bank and into the bank proper.
Once inside, Michael flanked Harry's right as the boy walked into the bank. Once inside, despite his best efforts, Michael couldn't help his wandering eyes taking in the sight of the ornate furniture and he often gave brief stares at a few goblins. The goblins, for their part, ignored the human as they continued on their business.
Nevertheless, they continued their walk past the massive doors and onto the head goblin's desk. When they stopped, Harry cleared his throat and said, "I wish to make a withdrawal."
The head goblin raised his head from his paperwork and returned his quill to his bottle. Leaning forward, he asked, "And do you have your key?"
Harry wordlessly took out a key and held it between them.
The goblin nodded. He then waved a hand high in the air and another goblin approached them minutes later.
"Griphook, it's a pleasure to see you again," Harry professionally said.
Griphook paused in his walk and stared up at Harry with curious eyes. He then shook himself free of whatever stupor he was in and continued walking and stopped in front of Harry. "Follow me, please, Mr. Potter, and I'll take you and your companion to your vault."
"Lead the way."
The goblin escort Harry and Michael to the side and through a doorway that led into a cave system. They stopped in front of a part of a railway system and a cart noisily entered their sights and stopped in front of them. They got into the cart and Harry said, "My companion is new to this sort of thing so would you mind if we went at a slower speed?"
Griphook didn't react, aside from saying, "Speed one, then."
The cart zoomed off deep into the caves.
Michael shakily stepped off the cart and put a hand on the nearby pillar for support. "Th-that was speed one? That was still rather fast."
Griphook, way ahead of him, snorted at the comment and turned to Harry. "Key, please," he said.
Harry gave him the key and watched as Griphook opened the door. When it was fully open, Michael's eyes widened and he gasped at seeing the mountain of coins that littered the vault.
"Is all this yours, Harry? There's a lot of money in here."
"Yeah," he turned to the vault, "my parents left this trust fund for me to use until I'm considered an adult." He entered the vault and gathered a number of coins into a pouch. He paused and then turned to Griphoook. "What was the conversion rate between Muggle and Wizarding money again?"
Griphook raised a brow. "Currently, a Knut is converted to 1 penny, a Sickle is worth 29 pennies, and a Galleon is 4 pounds and 93 pennies."
Harry hummed in thought. He then methodically gathered more coins into the pouch and then left the vault. As the vault door closed behind him, he said to Griphook, who returned his key to him, "I also want to visit the Revanchist vault."
He nodded and moved back to the cart. Michael groaned as he too joined Griphook in the cart. Harry chuckled at him and got into the cart. Once they were all inside, the cart started its descent deeper into the caves.
When they stopped in front of and opened the Revanchist vault, Harry headed inside and closed the door behind him. He walked up to the workbench and took out his lightsaber. Placing it on its surface, he started to tinker with his lightsaber.
Michael, who seated himself on the ground by a pillar, turned to the goblin beside him. "What's Harry doing in there? It's been 15 minutes."
Griphook gave Michael a glance of derision. "What a wizard does with his riches is none of our concern as long as it doesn't endanger anyone or violate any rules set forth by Lord Gringotts the First."
"What is in this vault anyway? His previous vault had lots of money in but, in this one, I only saw glowing lights and some weird crystals."
"I cannot divulge information about a vault's contents to anyone not affiliated with the vault holder."
He narrowed his eyes. "I'm Harry's guardian. I think I'm affiliated with this vault's holder."
Undeterred, Griphook replied, "Unless Mr. Potter specifically listed you under his trustees, what the Muggle or Wizarding world considers you to be to Mr. Potter is of no relevance."
Michael raised a brow. "What's a Muggle?"
Griphook gave a soft snarl. "Enough with these questions, Muggle, I have no patience to answer every single of them."
He was about to retort when the vault door opened and Harry calmly walked out through it. As the vault door closed behind him, he looked at them both. "I have all I need."
The goblin wordlessly returned to the cart as Michael stood up and walked up to Harry. "What was in that vault, Harry? I saw some crystals but I don't think that you're using those for money since you already have that big vault from earlier."
The Force slowly gathered in him. Harry stared at Michael's eyes and said, "Somehow, I was left this vault of crystals by someone I never met or knew. All I know is that these crystals have unique properties and I'm trying to study them but it's a slow process." His voice took a hypnotic tone. "You don't really need to know the specifics. I know what I'm doing; you can leave this thing to me."
"Well, I don't really need to know the specifics. As long as you know what you're doing, I guess I can leave this thing to you."
"Now, shall we, Michael?"
"Yeah, let's go. These caves are kinda getting to me."
They both stepped into the cart and they zoomed back into the bank proper.
Michael straightened up and turned to Harry. "By the way, Harry, what's a Muggle?"
"That was an odd experience," Michael commented as they walked down the stairs of Gringotts, "I was so anxious the entire time."
"I could tell."
Michael was sheepish as they started walking back into the busy alley. He coughed to change the subject. "So where do we go from here?"
"After the bank, I only need to get my books. That's it. I already have everything else. The bookstore is called Flourish and Blotts and it's this way." Harry led Michael yet again through the throng of people until they stopped in front of the aforementioned bookstore, just as crowded as the other stores.
Michael let out a whistle. "I suppose it's both a good and bad thing that this is the only bookstore that sells the Hogwarts books. There's a really long line waiting to buy their books."
Harry narrowed his eyes. There weren't this many people the first time around. There were plenty of students and parents buying books back then, that was true, but the amount of people right now was ridiculous. He paused. Come to think of it, he noted that most of these people were middle-aged women and he could feel their emotions even without delving deep into their psyche. They exuded immense admiration and adoration and, when Harry used the Force to get into the lesser minds, he could perceive one face and one name.
"Huh, I guess I was wrong," Michael interjected, "Not everyone is here for the books. There's some sort of celebrity in there, going for a signing of his autobiography." He pointed at the upper windows, where a large banner was strewn across it.
will be signing copies of his autobiography
today 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Well, someone sounds full of himself, Harry thought to himself.
"Harry, is that you?!" They both turned to see Hermione running up to Harry with a wide smile on her face, going ahead of the three people with her who Harry was assuming to be her parents and sister. She ran up to him and hugged him tightly. "I didn't expect to see you here today!"
Harry hugged back and smiled. "Today's a free day so I thought, 'Why not?'" He raised a brow teasingly. "What's wrong, Hermione? Do you not want me here?"
Her eyes widened. "No! Of course I do! I just wasn't expecting you!"
"Hermione, dear, aren't you going to introduce us?" Her family caught up to her and peered at Harry with curious eyes.
She beamed and said, "Mum, Dad, this is Harry, the friend I was telling you about."
From between her parents, the sister peered up at the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry stared back. She bore some resemblance to Hermione, bearing her brown hair and eyes. She also bore the same inquisitive gaze that she had. The aforementioned girl then said, "Big sis talks about you a lot, you know." She giggled and grinned wide. "She wouldn't shut up about you!"
"KATRINA," Hermione squeaked at her, her face burning bright red, "No, I do not!"
"But you do, sis!" The sister, now identified Katrina, teased. "You kept saying that he's really smart and quiet and mysterious and cool and-"
"Hehe, sis, you're so embarrassed!"
"That's enough, Katrina," her mother chided, "We don't want to make a scene."
"Yes, Mama," Katrina muttered with a pout, "It's still true, though."
She shook her head and turned to Harry and smiled. "I'm sorry about that. They can be a real handful sometimes."
"Ah, it's nothing to worry about, Mrs. Granger."
"Please, it's Jean, Harry, Jean Granger. And this is my husband, Dan." She gestured to the pleasant-faced man beside her, who smiled at him.
"As Hermione said, I'm Harry, Harry Potter, and this is my guardian, Michael."
"Guardian," Hermione queried with a tilt of her head, "Harry, you never told us about your guardian."
He shrugged. "The topic never came up."
"In any case," Michael interjected, "I am indeed Harry's legal guardian, at least, in the eyes of the," he coughed, "Muggle government."
Both Dan and Jean looked surprised. Jean then said, "Oh, it's nice to see another non-magical in here. It's very awkward walking through a crowd of magical people and not knowing what they were talking about."
Michael chuckled sheepishly. "I know what you mean. Harry said I looked like a kid in a candy store when we walked through the alley."
"You did," Harry affirmed with a shrug.
"So what's the story between you and your guardian, Harry," Hermione asked, "Usually, a parent or the court appoints a guardian so I'm curious what made the Muggle government appoint a guardian for you. Didn't Professor Dumbledore have a Wizarding family take care of you?"
"I'm afraid that's confidential information," Michael interjected with a frown, "Just know that this is our current arrangement."
"It sounds serious," Jean commented with a worried look in her eyes, "I hope it isn't too serious."
"It isn't now."
The Granger family wisely decided to change the subject. Dan asked, "So what do you do, Michael? In our world, I mean."
"Ah, I'm a policeman." Michael took out his badge and showed it to them, to their surprise. "But right now, I'm just here as Harry's guardian. After all, a Muggle law enforcement officer has no jurisdiction in this place." He chuckled. "What about you two," he asked, "What do you two do?"
"Ah, we're just humble dentists. It's not as 'out there' as yours is, Michael. I'm sure that you have more interesting stories than we do."
"I don't think of my job that way. I can't really say much but I'm sure that it's not as glamorous as you may think."
"Hey, Harry!" Harry turned and saw Sophie running towards them with Sophie trailing behind her. "It's great seeing you here," she grinned wide, "With the amount of people in Diagon Alley, I guess it shouldn't be surprising."
"My being here and these people being here are unrelated," Harry pointedly replied.
Sophie huffed and crossed her arms. "You didn't have to be so stiff about it." She turned to Hermione and she waved and said, "Hey, Hermione."
"Hello, Sophie," she replied, "I guess you got acquainted with Harry."
"Yup, we met up over the summer."
"Strange that Harry didn't mention that," she raised a questioning brow to Harry.
He shrugged. "It slipped my mind, to be honest."
Both girls looked at each other and sighed.
"Nothing," they simultaneously said.
"How are you, dear," Helen asked Harry.
"I'm well. Thank you for asking, Mrs. Roper."
"Oh, it's nothing, Harry. You're a really good friend and we look out for our own."
Michael, having finished his discussion with Dan and Jean, turned to the Ropers. "Oh, hello, Helen, Sophie, how are you two?" He looked behind her. "Stanley's not with you?"
"We're well, thank you. And no, Stanley's not here." She sighed. "You know how he is, Michael. He is really stubborn and wants nothing to do with the magical world." Helen shook her head and then looked around. "There's a lot of people right now, isn't there?"
"Yeah, there is."
"Do you know the reason?"
"The banner up there seemed to be the answer; they are here for the signing of someone's autobiography."
"Well, this is not really good timing, then. But we have to get this going. We can't stay here forever."
"I agree. We should just get this over with."
"Let's do it," Jean agreed as well, "Katrina, hold my hand."
"Okay, Mama," the little sister obeyed and took her mother by the hand.
Then, as one, they headed into Flourish and Blotts, which was difficult for their group of eight. Despite their difficulty, they managed to fully enter the bookstore. Still, it was enough for them to see what was going on.
A pompous-looking man was seated behind the main table, a table holding some of his books and lots of pictures of himself smiling. The man himself wore extravagantly blue robes and showed of his dazzlingly perfect teeth. He then whipped his head back a bit to move some of his blond hair back.
Harry felt someone push him aside and saw some ragged old man pushing past the crowd while holding a camera in his hands. "Out of the way, out of the way," he snarled at everyone he pushed past, "This is for the Daily Prophet."
"Big deal," he heard Ron Weasley's voice from somewhere behind him. Harry had to agree; he didn't see what made this person so famous that he had to be put in the Wizarding newspaper.
He saw Lockhart look at his direction, probably in response to Ron's comment. Then, Lockhart's eyes saw Harry and Harry cursed at that. Damn you, Ron.
He muttered, "It can't be Harry Potter?"
Harry gave a brief glance at where he sensed Ron was and gave him an exasperated look. Ron, realizing what he had done and that Harry was with them, looked away in embarrassment. He couldn't maintain the look in his eyes as the cameraman turned around and grabbed Harry by the arm and started to pull him towards Lockhart.
However, Michael's hand on his other arm had other plans. "Excuse me," he calmly said, posture turning hostile, "What do you think you're doing?"
The cameraman glared up at Michael. "I'm bringing Harry Potter over to Mr. Lockhart so that I can take their picture together. You got a problem with that?!"
"Actually, I do. You see, my charge has no desire to be in a picture with anyone."
"And who are you to say that?"
"I'm his Muggle guardian. I don't know what you wizards think of us but, in the non-magical world, no one can force a minor into anything without the consent of his or her guardian."
"Your being his Muggle guardian means nothing here, bucko."
"That may be so but I'm sure that his magical guardian would agree with me in saying that you can't force Harry into your photo without the guardian's consent."
The atmosphere was incredibly tense between Michael and the cameraman. Then, it was broken by loud laughter. The laugh originated from Lockhart, who walked up to them and put an arm around Harry.
"Now, now, my friends," he placated the two, "there's no need for such seriousness here. After all, what are we if not adults? Why don't we discuss this like adults?" He turned to Michael. "You, my good man, are an excellent guardian. You should be what guardians aspire to be! But there's no need to be so defensive, my friend. My cameraman friend here is just thinking of the best for your charge. He is, after all, Harry Potter! He wouldn't live up to his potential merely standing in the sidelines! He should be out there, relishing in the spotlight!" He waved to everyone around them. "I will even volunteer to help him out! Together, we will even make the front page!"
Michael scowled. "I'm afraid that I would still have to refuse."
Instead of continuing the discussion or being offended, Lockhart just laughed it off. "I see that you have other priorities in mind. I get it, my friend. Still, if either of you need some tips or advice on how to deal with young Harry's fame, you can come to me anytime."
Stiffly, Michael said, "I'll keep that in mind."
"In any case," he turned to the crowd, "ladies and gentlemen, this is a wondrous occasion. You get to be in the presence of both the Magical Me and the Boy-Who-Lived. Unfortunately, young Harry Potter here cannot be open to pictures but I, on the other hand, am completely welcome to them; I even encourage them." The crowd applauded him. "Now, shall we get on with the signing?" Lockhart then returned to his seat and waved his fans over to him, which they all did.
The cameraman glared at Michael, who calmly returned the look, and then let go of Harry to focus on Lockhart.
Harry returned to Michael's side and huffed in annoyance. "You didn't have to do that, Michael."
"I'm your guardian, Harry. Famous or not, you are my responsibility." Michael knelt down and stared at him in the eyes. "Are you alright, Harry?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just annoyed that he used me to boost his own popularity." He didn't even look back as he started to move into the bookstore proper. "Let's just go. I don't want him to get even more ideas."
"Hey, Harry, mate," Ron approached him with an apologetic smile, "I'm really sorry about that. I didn't see you there and didn't expect that bloke to bring you into it."
He let out a soft sigh. "You really should learn how to observe your surroundings and how to keep your thoughts to yourself."
"I think that might be impossible for ickle Ronnie-kins," Fred said, "I mean, he tends to talk first and think later."
Ron scowled. "Shut up, Fred."
"See what I mean?"
George stepped forward. "Harry, how are you, old buddy, old pal? Fame treating you well?"
Fred continued, "Done anything interesting over the summer?"
"Did your homework?"
"Write some letters?"
"That's enough, you two." A plump, redhead woman waved them away and smiled at him. "Hello, Harry, I'm Molly, these kids' Mum. I hope they weren't much of a bother."
He shook his head. "It's fine, Mrs. Weasley."
Molly turned to Michael and said, "And you are his Muggle guardian, Michael, isn't it? That was a bold thing, what you did for Harry."
Michael nodded in response. "All in a day's work, Ma'am," he replied. He furrowed his brows as he turned his gaze on the redhead man standing behind her; aforementioned man was looking very enthusiastic as he stared at him. "Can I help you?"
The man widened his eyes as he made his way past his wife and children and in front of Michael. "Hello, my good man, I'm Arthur, Arthur Weasley. I am absolutely fascinated by Muggles! Might I ask for a moment of your time to answer some questions?"
He blinked in confusion. "Uh…sure, I don't mind answering your questions."
Arthur grinned. "Absolutely wonderful," he exclaimed before his eyes found Hermione's confused parents, "Ah, you are Muggles too?"
Dan and Jean wordlessly nodded.
"Splendid, we must sit together for a drink sometime!"
"We don't mind as well," Jean slowly replied, "but it would have to be after we buy the children's books."
"Of course, of course," Arthur chortled, "we have to think of the children first!" He clapped his hands. "So, let's buy their books and gather here after?"
Molly sighed and shook her head exasperatedly. "If you're quite done, Arthur, we should really get to buying the books." Her smile returned as she regarded Harry. "As I'm sure you realized, Arthur over there is my husband. I'm sure you already know Ron, Fred, and George. Percy was with us but he went off ahead to get his own books." She put a hand on the shoulder of the little redhead girl near her. "And this is my daughter, Ginny."
Ginny blushed bright red and looked down bashfully.
Even without using the Force, Harry could tell that she had a crush on him. Even without using the Force, he could tell that her infatuation with him was for the Boy-Who-Lived, not Harry Potter. Even without the Force, he could tell that her love was puppy love, only slightly, if at all, authentic. He would have to dissuade her from her infatuation at some point but it would have to be during school term; he didn't want to incur the wrath of her family for somewhat shattering her vision of him.
He gave a curt nod at her. "It's nice to officially meet you all."
Molly gave a small giggle. "Ron said that you were formal; I didn't believe him. I see he wasn't lying after all." Behind her, Ron crossed his arms at her comment. "And I assume that you are Hermione and these are your family?"
The young witch nodded. "Yes, Missus Weasley, these are my Mum and Dad and my sister."
"Ron speaks about your smartness a lot." Ron grimaced at her admission while Hermione flushed. "It's nice to actually meet you."
"And you as well, Missus Weasley."
The Weasley matriarch then turned to the Ropers. "And you two are?"
"Ah, I'm Sophie Roper, Hermione's Housemate, and this is my mother."
"It warms my heart to see friends doing things together." She took a deep breath and straightened up. "Let's go buy our books then, dears."
Due to the amount of people, it took a while for everyone to get the books they needed. Arthur had left and went with Fred and George to get their books and Molly went with Ginny while the rest of the adults accompanied the rest.
Harry clicked his tongue in annoyance as he pushed through a group of people and towards Hermione, Sophie, and Ron, who had gotten their books earlier on, along with Michael, Helen, Jean, Dan, Katrina. He then noticed Molly and Ginny rushing over to them as well, with Ginny holding a cauldron filled with books. He also noticed the adults having a little discussion amongst themselves a few feet away from the children, probably Michael introducing Helen to Jean and Dan and vice versa.
Once he got to them, he said, "Lockhart's fan base focused on me and it made me take a while to get the books. Even while he's not here, Lockhart still messes with me."
Hermione placated him with, "Don't worry, Harry. Just a little longer and we'll be out of here."
"Bet you loved that, didn't you, Potter?" Harry repressed an annoyed sigh at the new voice. He glanced at the stairs, where Draco Malfoy descended on them with a sneer. "Famous Harry Potter can't even go into a bookshop without someone wanting him on the front page!"
"Leave him alone! He didn't want all that!" Ginny glared at Malfoy, surprising Harry at her burst of courage.
"Well, Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend!"
Her courage then disappeared with that comment. Her blush returned full force and she quieted down.
"At least, I would have one," he calmly retorted, making Ginny squeak and retreat further into herself.
Malfoy's face twisted into one of disgust. "I'd rather have no girlfriend than have a blood traitor as one."
"Shut the hell up, Malfoy," Ron came to his family's rescue.
"I'm actually surprised to see you here, Weasley," Malfoy turned his attention to him, "What, with your family being poor and all. I guess your family will go hungry for a month to pay for all those books."
Ron's face turned red as well - from anger - and moved threateningly towards Malfoy but Hermione and Sophie held him back. Molly was about to join in but new arrivals stopped her.
"Ron, Ginny," Arthur exclaimed as he approached the group with Fred and George in tow, "What are you doing here? It's too crowded here. Let's go outside."
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Weasley Senior."
Arthur stiffened as a Lucius Malfoy strode into view behind Draco.
"Lucius," Arthur greeted coldly.
"Busy time at the Ministry, I hear," Lucius said, "All those raids…I do hope they're paying you overtime for it?" He then harshly grabbed a book from Ginny's cauldron and scoffed at the battered copy of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration. "I see that they do not. Dear me, what's the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"
The Weasley patriarch's face joined Ron's in reddish anger. "We have different ideas of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy."
"Clearly," he looked at disgust at Michael, Sophie, Jean, and Dan, "Muggles…the company you keep, Weasley…and here I thought your family could sink no lower."
Almost immediately, Harry's arm shot out and stopped Arthur from attacking Lucius. "Don't, Mr. Weasley," he warned, "There's nothing to be gained by attacking him."
Lucius sneered. "Tut, tut, Weasley, having a child save your skin." He turned to Harry and raised a brow. "And we finally come to the Vanquisher of the Dark Lord. I expected someone more impressive."
He knew that he shouldn't but Lucius not only insulted a rather nice, if quirky, Wizarding family thrice, he also insulted his guardian and his friends' parents. While he knew how to handle insults, even he had limits as to how much he could hear, especially towards those he was even remotely close to. "And you are Lucius Malfoy. I see where your son got his stalker tendencies from." Everyone involved stared at him in shock.
He recoiled in disgust, same with his son. "What are you talking about, boy?"
Harry genially smiled, which belied his next words. "Oh, your son didn't tell you, Mr. Malfoy? Draco hounded me since the start of the school year. He did all he could to attract my attention, such as harassing my Housemates and insulting my dead mother and father. Anyone could tell that he was desperate for my attention. I felt bad for him, to be honest. That's why I indulged him every once in a while."
Draco snarled, "What are you talking about, Potter? We don't have stalker tendencies!"
He ignored him and sighed. "Alas, he was helplessly insatiable for my attention. Seeing you act similarly to Mr. Weasley made me realize he got it from you." He gave a mockingly concerned look. "Might I suggest scheduling a therapy session with a Wizarding psychologist?"
Lucius' face contorted in anger. "He does not need any such thing, Potter!"
He felt aware of additional stares at them; he sensed Michael, Helen, Jean, and Dan ending their discussion and focusing on them. "Oh, then you consider yours as beyond help and volunteer to help your son instead? You're a wonderful father for doing so." His eyes gained a dangerous glint. "Might I suggest during Christmas? Last year, I heard that he went home for Christmas break. Perhaps he could do it again this upcoming December and you two could have a one-on-one bonding in the forest. In fact, you could even invite some of his friends and their fathers as well. You know, you could set up a big tent that could fit a large group of people and have fun, legal activities for the whole family to enjoy."
His anger all but forgotten, Lucius reeled back, his pale face turning paler. "Wh-what are you talking about, Potter?" His son looked up at him in confusion. In contrast, everyone else looked aghast at Harry at what he had suggested. "What are you insinuating?"
Harry…tilted his head and continued smiling. "I'm not insinuating anything, Mr. Malfoy. I'm just suggesting a situation where you could help your son through his problems. Is there something wrong with that?"
The Malfoy patriarch recovered from his shock and was about to retort when yet another voice joined in.
"I'd listen to the boy's advice, Mr. Malfoy. It would be unbecoming of a member of the Wizengamot to act so unsightly."
Both patriarchs grimaced at the new arrival. "Smith," Lucius and Arthur said at the same time, their tone of voice speaking volumes about how they see him.
"Mr. Malfoy, Mr. Weasley," the named Smith greeted with an emotionless nod, "I hope you two are not causing any…trouble?" They both denied his statement. "That's good. I'd hate to bring you both in for whatever…reason." His sunglasses-covered eyes then found Harry. "Mr. Potter. I've wondered what the Boy-Who-Lived was…like."
Harry narrowed his eyes in response. A wizard wearing robes was normal in the Wizarding world. A non-magical wearing casual clothing or business suits was also normal. A wizard wearing a Muggle business suit was definitely out of place. It also didn't help that he wore dark-tinted sunglasses indoors. "I seem to be at a disadvantage. You know who I am but I don't know who you are."
The young, blond man on Mr. Smith's right exclaimed, "Hey, don't speak that way to my dad!"
"Enough, Zacharias," Mr. Smith chided before saying to Harry, "I am Isaiah Smith. You may already know my daughter, Sally Smith," the girl on his left coyly waved, "and this is my son, Zacharias," the boy petulantly looked away and crossed his arms.
"Pleasure," Harry replied.
"You handled this wonderfully, Mr. Potter. Children your age tend to let…emotions get the best of them."
"I'm not most children," he wisely uttered.
"I can see that; other children, mine included, could learn many things about…controlling emotions from you." Pleased with his message, he turned to the side and said, "That said, I have to buy my children's…supplies. Zacharias is starting his first year in Hogwarts this year."
"I see. Then, I wish you luck, Mr. Smith."
"You as well, Mr. Potter," Isaiah said, "Come, Sally, Zacharias."
When the Smiths left them, Lucius gave a last glare at Isaiah before turning to Arthur, saying, "I'll see you at work," and leaving.
Malfoy sneered at them and said, "I'll see you at school." Then, he left with his father.
Harry massaged the bridge of his nose as he turned to the others. "That was taxing."
"What was that, Harry," Hermione asked.
"What was what?"
She exclaimed, "That entire thing with Malfoy and the Smiths! That was beyond crazy!"
Sophie agreed. "I know, right? I don't know what happened there but that was both awesome and insane!" Hermione didn't seem to agree with the 'awesome' part but kept quiet.
"I may look as if insults don't affect me but they do; I just can handle them really rationally. But the fact is that it wasn't me who was insulted. He practically insulted everyone in this group in the span of five minutes; I will not let them get away with it."
Arthur sighed. "Harry, I'm thankful that you stopped us from doing anything harsh but I don't think that taunting Malfoy was the best way to get back at him."
"It wasn't but it was the most fitting," he shrugged, "It was also the most amusing."
"Aren't you worried that you will be on his hit list?"
"I'm aware of the consequences of my actions. I'm also aware that Mr. Malfoy will indeed keep an eye on me but I'm going to keep an eye out for anything he might do; I'm not worried at all." He looked at Arthur. "That's all I'm going to say about that."
Seeing that he wasn't going to take the situation more seriously, Arthur relented. "I guess I can't force you into anything. Just…just be careful, okay?" Harry nodded. "Come on, everyone, let's leave before anything else happens." He perked up immediately as he turned to the non-magical people and grinned. "If it's all the same to you, perhaps we could have that little gathering in the Leaky Cauldron?"
As they left Flourish and Blotts, Harry caught sight of a particular group of people outside Flourish and Blotts, waiting to get in. He made eye contact with the girl his age and nodded at her.
Daphne Greengrass gave a nod back in kind.
"Oh, hey, Neville," Hermione called out, pulling Harry's attention to her and the new arrival. That reminded him; he had to buy Neville a gift.
"Your stories about the boy don't do him justice, Daphne," her father stated, "Not only did he manage to anger Lucius Malfoy easily, he also stared down and spoke so blatantly to Isaiah Smith; not even I have the courage to do so."
"I can see why you and Tracey were so interested in him," her mother added, "If you decide to go after him, you have my blessing."
The heiress to the House of Greengrass flushed slightly and said, "I don't see him that way, mother."
Keeping quiet, she gave her daughter a small, knowing smile; Daphne didn't dignify that with a response. Instead, she watched as Harry's group left the bookstore. She then saw Harry give her family a brief glance before turning to face her. She was surprised that he managed to see her in this chaos but she supposed she shouldn't be surprised with him. So when he nodded to her, she had respect for him enough to nod back.
Her mother, having an eye for interesting people, noticed the boy greeting her daughter and said, "I do hope that he'll prove to be even more interesting as time goes on. I'd hate for James' son to turn out uninteresting after all this."
Daphne sighed. "Yes. I hope so too, mother." She raised her eyes to the side and narrowed her eyes. She kept quiet as the Malfoy duo approached them.
"Dimitri, fancy seeing you here," Lucius said with a nod, his previous anger all but gone to appear professional to her father.
"We've only just arrived, Lucius," he replied, not giving away the fact that he had seen Lucius' humiliation earlier.
"Might I have a moment of your time…in private?"
Dimitri stiffly said, "Vanessa, watch over the children." His wife dutifully nodded and watched as both men left the bookstore and stopped in front of the opposing store.
Daphne and Malfoy exchanged greetings before Daphne asked, "I assume you have already gotten your books?"
"I have. But you won't believe who I saw in here today." Without even waiting for an answer, he answered his own question. "It was Potter! He was in here earlier! The pompous git in there tried to get him in for the front page but he was stopped by someone claiming to be his Muggle guardian."
She blinked in surprise. Potter lives with a Muggle? She then asked, feigning ignorance, "Oh, Potter was here, in this bookstore?"
"Yeah, he was here with the Weasleys, Granger and her Muggle family, some other witch I don't recognize and her mother, and that guardian of his."
"What about him?"
Malfoy hissed, "Potter had the gall to insult me and my father, in front of Weasley, Granger, and a bunch of Muggles!"
"Considering how Potter reacted to you in Hogwarts, I can't see him insulting you. How exactly did he insult you?" She wasn't really expecting an answer; his pride as a man and as a Malfoy wouldn't make him answer.
True enough, Malfoy refused to answer her. Instead, he said, "It doesn't matter now. I'll get him back at Hogwarts."
She held back a snort. If Potter didn't pay you attention for your insults then, he certainly wouldn't in Hogwarts. "Don't let me stop you." She hoped that her skepticism didn't bleed into her words.
Fortunately for her, Malfoy seemed to have missed her tone of voice as he said, "As if you could. Potter embarrassed me and my father; I won't let him get away with this."
She shrugged. If you continue acting like this, he will always get away with it.
"That's enough about Potter. Talking about him will make me angrier." He straightened up. "So what say you to a drink at the Leaky Cauldron after you get your books?"
Daphne barely contained her surprise. Was he trying to court her? She knew that other heirs would eventually try to ally themselves with the Greengrasses, most Houses do with one another, but she didn't expect it to be this early. Still, while she was surprised, that didn't mean that she would refuse outright.
On the one hand, the Malfoys had more connections and more riches than the Greegrass had. They also were far more influential to the Ministry than they were, albeit it was mostly due to illegal means. Finally, while the Greengrasses themselves had no biases with Muggle, their family had always been believers of pureblood supremacy; uniting with Malfoys would further those ends.
On the other hand, the Malfoys were known supporters of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, even though their crimes were considered pardoned by the Ministry (bribery and blackmail, no doubt), and the Greengrasses were one of the Houses that were neutral during the war; there's a chance that her House might be pulled into a side should the world erupt into another war. There's also the fact that Draco himself had the maturity of a petulant child, especially when Potter was in the picture, and had the tendency to involve his father into every little thing.
Decisions, decisions, she forlornly thought to herself. It wasn't that she didn't like Malfoy; she just found him annoying at times. She shrugged. "If I happen to be free afterwards, then I might join you after." She would give him a chance but she didn't care either way.
Malfoy accepted her response and said, "Great! I hope you'll accept. This is a great way for our Houses to strengthen relationships."
To strengthen relationships or to put another notch in your belt, she snidely thought.
Lucius and Dimitri returned to them and the former said, "Our business will continue another day. Come, Draco."
"Yes, Father," he complied, following after his father. Once they went around a corner, he said, "I scheduled a little get-together with Daphne afterwards."
"That's good, Draco. They will be a good House to ally with."
"What did he talk you to about, dear," Vanessa asked her husband as the entire family finally entered the bookstore. She had pulled him aside while her daughters were grabbing their books.
"He wants an arranged marriage between his son and our daughter."
Her eyes widened. "Then why did you want to schedule another meeting?"
"We have yet to finalize the details. He'll send me an owl with a time and place for us to further discuss it."
"Will you agree or decline it?"
Dimitri went silent. "I'll see if he's truly serious about this. If our daughter is going to wed his son, then he'll need to provide sufficient reasons to do so. I will not let her go without a fight."
Vanessa crossed her arms and said, "I will accept nothing less for our daughter's future.
When Harry got home later that afternoon, he immediately went to his room. Once he got there, Hedwig had descended from her perch atop the curtain rod onto his shoulder. She nuzzled his cheek and he chuckled and stroked her head. "I'm back, girl. Today's been a really crazy day. I brought Michael with me into Diagon Alley, met with Ron's family, Hermione's family, and Sophie's family, had a little spat with Malfoy's family, got introduced to a powerful wizard named Smith and his family, and bought Neville his birthday gift." He let out a sigh. "I just want some rest."
Hedwig trilled a comforting note.
"Thanks, Hedwig. I appreciate it." He sat down on his desk and leaned back on his chair. "At least I managed to make some changes to my lightsaber."
She tilted her head sideways.
"Yeah, I used the workbench in the Revanchist vault to make a few adjustments to my lightsaber. I was holding it off for a while and found the perfect opportunity to accomplish it." He took out his lightsaber and ignited it, causing a blade of gold with a scarlet core to burst from the hilt. "Now, this can hold two crystals. The first is my crystal wand, which I still have to find a way to permanently protect from the lightsaber's inner mechanisms before it breaks. The second is…"
He trailed off as he took out a red crystal from his pocket. A small part of the stone was missing from it. He then placed it on his desk.
"…is the Philosopher's Stone. I had already imbued it with the Force and wanted to test its compatibility with the lightsaber." He inspected his ignited lightsaber, admiring its unique color. "So far, it's fine. Only time will tell if it truly is successful. I really want to see its power in combat." He chuckled. "Ah, well, testing its power will have to wait until I cross paths with worthy opponents." He deactivated his lightsaber. "Do you know what I find funny, Hedwig?"
She hooted her denial.
"I find it funny that my lightsaber's blade is gold and scarlet, the same colors of Gryffindor House. I don't know if it's Fate or just mere coincidence." He shook his head. "I don't really know with that." He pulled a drawer on his desk and placed the Philosopher's Stone and his lightsaber inside. He then closed it and stood up. "I think I'm going to call it in early today. I'm a little bit pooped right now. I'm not putting you back in the cage today, Hedwig. You can sleep wherever you want tonight."
She hooted and flapped her wings and watched her master leave the room to prepare for his sleep.
Neither of them would realize the alchemical reaction that would happen in Harry's desk drawer until the following morning.
That's the end of the new chapter.
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