It was dark in the small alleyway off the shopping street. A small dark-haired boy breathed out a relieved sigh. It had been a close call. The police had been on to him, and seemed determined to get him. Sure he stole a few hundred pounds from tourists, but this was almost a witch-hunt. When he was certain the officers moved on, he made his way out of the alley to get back to his place.
Well, not his place, but the place. It had been seven years, since he was kicked out of the house of his aunt and uncle. His uncle had driven him into London and made way with a flimsy excuse. At nightfall, he had realized that his uncle had abandoned him. He shook his head, it had been a while since he last thought about his old life. His life now wasn't too bad, considering.
"Harry! That you?" sounded from the kitchen area. In the doorway a woman in her mid to late twenty's appeared. Her blue-green eyes smiled at him when she saw him. He showed her the load of paper money triumphantly. "Look Sam! At least £500!" The woman, Sam, opened her arms and he gratefully stepped into the hug.
"Well, come on! The rest is waiting for you, wash up those hands and get to the table. I have made a roast." Harry didn't need to be told twice. In no time at all he was squeezed in between the other kids. His dysfunctional family of the street. None of them were related, at least as far as they knew. Samantha had found them all, and tried to give them as much of a family as possible. She enrolled them into schools, worked her own butt of so they didn't fall into the nefarious practices for money and always had a spare blanket or mattress for the older street kids.
Samantha walked in with the big pan full of dinner. Putting the pans on the table, her sleeves lifted up, showing the tattoo on her right lower arm. For those in the know, it had a world of meaning. For others it was an ugly gang sign. It was the tattoo you got when you 'graduated'. She had been on the streets since she was five, she once had told Harry. Her family had moved away without them telling her, while she was at school. She was banished to the streets, but still went to school. Nobody knew what had happened to her, until she was already graduated at seventeen.
It was the middle of summer now, and Harry had just finished Primary school. Just like his sister and best friend Fred, or officially Frederique. They were excited to learn more, and go to the real school, as their older siblings put it. Samantha looked out over the bunch, a small smile over her lips. At this moment she was housing around ten kids. It was touch and go with money and rent for the place, but she would never do anything different. She herself had to degrade herself to street prostitution to make due. Her first time was when she was ten years old. She would protect these kids against a faith like that against all costs. She felt horrible that the kids still felt the need to chip in and steal money, but she also knew that without that money the little paradise would crumble.
A few weeks later it was Harry's birthday, reason for celebration. Samantha always bought a cake for their birthdays. The kids she looked over, nearly never had cause for cake and celebration, so she would be damned if their birthdays would pass like any other day.
She woke up the other kids as quietly as possible. Together they went towards Harry's bed. He was still asleep, with a smirk Sam nodded towards the rest. The room was filled with the singing of nine kids and one adult, all tone deaf. Harry bolted upright in his bed. He turned to the deafening sound and couldn't help the big grin that stretched his face.
His birthday always had been his favorite day of the year. The singing was the best way of waking up, everyone in the house smiling and singing off key and wishing you many happy returns. And Sam always, always, always managed cake.
The rest of the day went by in a blur of games and laughter. There were no presents, but Harry couldn't care less. He knew money was so tight that Sam barely could make end meet. When he was younger and realized how much of a struggle the finances were for her, he was scared that she would turn him away because she couldn't afford him. But she never did, but decided to take a late night job four days a week.
At the end of the day Harry was left alone for a minute, and he looked out the window. He felt rather than heard Sam coming up behind him. "Had a good birthday kid?" she asked him. Harry turned away for the window to smile at her. "The best!" it came out without any hesitance.
It was then that his attention was grabbed by something outside the window. A speck was flying through the clear blue sky and it seemed to get bigger and bigger. "Sam, what is that?" he pointed at the speck. Sam looked at where he was pointing and felt her heart lurge. She quickly opened the window and soon enough an owl landed on the window sill. He lifted his leg at Harry, who looked uncertainly at Sam.
"It's okay Harry, untie the letter from his leg." Harry did as she told and heard her walk away swiftly before coming back with a small piece of bacon in her hand. As soon as Harry untied the letter, Sam offered the miniscule bacon square at the owl. It looked at her with a look of disdain before taking the proffered bacon.
"Don't look at me like that! It is all I can spare at the moment, and you get enough as it is." With an indignant and almost insulted hoot the owl flew away.
Harry looked from the disappearing bird to Sam. He felt like he was hallucinating, or that Sam had lost her mind. "You know, that was a bird you were talking to?" He felt almost silly asking her this, but couldn't shake of the foreboding feeling creeping up his spine.
He was therefore surprised that Sam laughed heartily at him and winked saucily. "Yup that was an owl. But these are special owls, delivery owls. Very intelligent creatures, who unfortunately have the stomach capacity greater than Kevin."
Harry snorted at that. Kevin was a seventeen year old kid, who moved out of Samantha's two years ago wanting to go off on his own. He was notorious for the amount of food he could scarper away. At a subtle nudge from Sam, Harry's attention was focused on the letter. It was of yellow heavy paper. No it wasn't paper it almost seemed like parchment. He looked at the address:
Living room window spot
How on earth did the letter writer know what his spot was, his favorite spot in the whole house. Come to think of it, how did he know the name of the house as it was known on the streets? It was not a mansion, but because of the security it provided to any street kid, they named it a mansion. It was a house were every bastard, rascal and deprived kid could find a place to stay.
"Come on Harry, open it." Sam's voice could barely contain the glee. She knew what the letter signified. She knew of the magic that Harry had, but never in a million years did she thought that a street kid got a letter from the prestigious school. She had taught him as many meditation techniques as she knew of. It helped him control his magic beyond the capability of any other pre-Hogwarts kid.
Harry opened the letter with trembling fingers. He read the letter with astonishment. After reading it three times he looked up at Sam. "Is this for real?"
Sam nodded. "Yes Harry it is. It means that you must be from a magical family. If you weren't someone from the school would have been here to explain it all to you. Can I see the envelop?"
Harry handed her the envelop. Her eyes widened when she saw the last name. Potter. There was only one magical family with that name. When she had been kicked out, it was an upstanding light pure-blood family. Charlus Potter had been Head Auror, with a son ten years her senior. It was also one of the richest families in magical Britain.
"I think it is time that you and I sit down and have long conversation." Sam sighed heavily. She was not looking forward to explaining everything about wizarding culture to Harry.
A week later the pair stood outside a dingy old pub in Charring Cross Road. Harry looked at the sign. "The Leaky Cauldron, it doesn't look like much." His nose wrinkled. He had seen homeless shelters in better condition than the pub.
"I know, it looks like a shithole. But it is actually one of the most famous pubs in Britain." Harry couldn't help but be excited. After Sam had explained to him about Hogwarts and magic, he couldn't wait to buy his books. He had been scared about the money it would cost, but Sam had smiled enigmatically and told him everything would be perfectly fine.
Together they stepped over the threshold. It was early in the morning, and the pub only housed a few sleepy people who were eating breakfast. Sam quickly walked up to the bar. An old wrinkled man was behind it, polishing some glasses. Harry quickly followed, weary because of Sam's warning before they had left the house.
"Listen Harry," He could not remember Sam ever being so nervous and serious. "I have not been in the magical world for a ver,y very long time. I don't know what happened in the twenty years I haven't seen it. But remember what I told you about the dark wizard of those years?" Harry had nodded. "Your family was very light. They were fervent opponents, and Charlus Potter the Head Auror, something like the magical police. If they find out you're a Potter, they can lash out at you. So please stick close to me and don't talk to anyone until I give the okay."
Harry had solemny promised. He had realized that they were stepping in unknown territory, something that Sam hated.
The barman looked at Sam,. She smiled at him, "Good morning Tom, I have a small problem; broken wand." The barman nodded and moved from behind the bar. Sam followed him towards the back of the bar. In the small patio behind it, with a few garbage cans they halted. Harry looked wide-eyed as Tom produced a wand and tapped a brick with it. The brick wiggled and became a small hole. Soon it was a large entry way to what looked like a Victorian street.
"Enjoy shopping, and bring my greeting to mr. Ollivander." With those words, Tom disappeared back into the pub. Sam seemed to fortify herself and stepped into the street. Harry followed her.
"Welcome Harry, to Diagon Alley." Harry couldn't believe his eyes. There were shops with the most fabulous items for sale. He saw shops full of owls, cauldrons, an apothecary with a vat full of beetle eyes, as the card above it proclaimed.
Sam didn't give him much time to look around. She shepherded him along the street, until they stopped in front of a white building.
"Gringotts, the wizarding bank," Sam explained. "It is run by goblins." Harry looked at her in shock. "Yes, goblins. They are ferocious creatures, Harry, a proud and warrior race. It is one of the most secure places ever. The defenses not only physical but also magical. Every race and creature have their own brand of magic. Goblin magic is just like a goblin itself. It is proud, warring and vicious if it is tested."
While explaining this to him she walked him into the bank. Harry saw the faces of the goblins as they passed them. It was obvious they heard Sam's explanation, and seemed to be surprised by her words.
There weren't many people in the bank, but Sam still choose a goblin that was seated somewhat away of the small crowd. Harry followed her quickly. He didn't like to admit it, but beyond all the wonder of this world he was quite scared of what could happen. He focused on the goblin who gave Sam his attention.
Sam had waited patiently until the goblin in front of her was finished with the rubies he was studying.
"May gold flow to your vaults," she greeted him.
"May riches come to yours," the goblin responded. It did not happen often that wizard and witches greeted them with such respect.
"We have come to inspect the vaults of my young charge here. He recently learned of his magical inheritance and we would like to perform the tests of the old vaults." Sam had to dig deep into her memories of how to go abou thtings. She had been young, five, when she had to run. She still had the foresight to bring with her old tomes, that could help her practically.
The goblin nodded, and rang a bell. Out of a sight door a younger goblin appeared. "This is Magnar. He will bring you to an appropriate senior manager."
"Thank you. May your enemies die at blade of your axe." Sam bowed to the teller.
"May your courage prove victorious," the goblin stated solemnly.
Magnar leaded them though a labyrinth of hallways. The first few were made out of marble, but soon the walls seemed to be thawed out of hard crude rock. They stopped in front of a red oak door. Magnar knocked, and a response in a weird language made him open the door. Harry wanted to ask Sam. He looked at her with raised eyebrows.
"Gobbledegook, Harry. At least that is what wizards call it. I always wondered if the goblin don't have a different name for it." She explained with the small smile he knew so well.
"We do," a raspy voice sounded from the office. Behind a large mahogany desk stood another goblin. Harry could feel the hairs on his neck rise. The goblin was a warrior, it stood without question. He exuded the power and strength that Harry had learned to recognize from the gang members.
"My lady, it had been many years since my kind has met one as interesting as you. Not many wizards ask the questions you do, or show such knowledge of our ways." Harry understood the demand under those words. Explain, now!
"Fierce protector of the Abune flame, I am not one for the wizarding kind. Not anymore. Freedom is a gift so easily stolen if one does not do sacrifice well." Harry did not understood a word Sam had said, but could see the words hold a whole lot of meaning for the goblin. He saw the suspicion in his eyes gave way to grudging respect.
"My name is Griphook. Senior account manager of Gringotts, the older accounts are partly my responsibility. You have reason to believe your charge is of one the lines?" Harry was confused by the abrupt change of topic. Sam seemed to take it in stride.
"Griphook-nür, my charges Hogwarts letter has arrived a week before." Without further ado, she took the envelop out of her jacket pocket and layed it in front of the goblin.
Griphook took it, and his eyes were bulging out of his sockets. Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived, did not know about his magical inheritance. Anger rose up in the goblin and he turned on Sam.
"What reason can you give to hold this knowledge from an heir?" he grunted at her. Harry saw one claw drifting to a dagger sheet on the goblin's belt. He swallowed nervously.
Sam only looked at the goblin. "Perhaps a test, to confirm our claim of blood?" The goblin nodded curtly and took out a silver colored bowl and a bronze curved dagger.
"Hand," he ordered Harry, who looked at Sam.
"You need to allow him to make a cut in your hand Harry. The blood will fall in the bowl and allows Griphook-nür to confirm that you are Harry Potter. Then he can update us on what happened in the wizarding world the last two decades." Sam's voice turned steel like at the last part. From the corner of his eye, Harry saw Griphook stiffen in his chair. It was clear that he understood it was meant to him for his dig earlier.
Harry slowly extended his arm towards the goblin. With a swift cut a few drops of blood fell into the bowl. Griphook gave him a small pot of cream.
"To heal your hand," it was obvious goblins were not creatures of words.
Harry looked on in interest at what the goblin was doing. A small vial full of hell blue liquid was pored over his blood drops. After Griphook had stirred the liquid three times with the dagger, he put a piece of parchment in it.
Thirty seconds later he lifted the parchment back out of the solution. On the parchment in the same blue of the potion stood with proud letters.
Harry James Potter
Father: James Charlus Potter (deceased)
Mother: Lily Potter née Evan (deceased)
Magical Godfather: Sirius Orion Black
Magical Godfather: Alice Patricia Longbottom
Harry feasted his eyes, his parents. James and Lily. And he had godparents as well! Why did they never claimed him? Why did he not live with them, instead of his aunt and uncle. It had been seven years but still the scars were clearly visible on his back.
"It seems that we are in for a long morning, Mr. Potter." The grim look on Griphook's face did nothing to ease any worry Harry had.
Sam and Harry stood outside of Gringotts blinking against the bright sunlight. Their minds reeling from the story Griphook told. Harry was seen as a hero. He managed to conquer the Dark Lord, he survived the Killing Curse? He lost his parents on the same night. And as far as everyone knew, he was still living at his aunt's place.
"Let's go Harry." Sam led the way through the shopping. At Flourish and Blotts, Sam did not only made Harry buy his school books, but also several books on pure-blood etiquettes, the Noble Houses, and wizarding culture.
She also had him buy not the standard potion ingredients and equipment, but the Extra Ordinary DeLuxe edition.
Finally it was time for a wand. They entered Ollivander's. The shop was narrow, but deep. The walls were stacked with boxes that must contain wands.
"Ah, yes. I was wondering when I would be seeing you mr. Potter." Harry whirled around in shock. An old grey man with very light large eyes was staring at him. His eyes moved towards the scar on his forehead. He now knew how he got it. As Ollivander took a step towards him, he instinctually drew back into Sam.
"And who might your companion be, hmm?" He looked over to Sam, and did a double take.
"ms-" he started, almost dumfounded.
"I have not gone by that name now for a very long time. I am not that person anymore, by blood, law or magic." Harry was shocked to say the least. It looked more and more like Sam originally came from the magical world as well. But she didn't have a wand! She would have shown it to him, of that he was certain. It was also obvious that she did not liked reminders of that time.
"My name is Samantha Norwick, and you will address me accordingly." The steel was back in her voice, as well as a new sharpness added to it. "Now, like you said, mr. Potter is expected. So should we get on? I have more things to do today." Haughtiness crept into it now. He had never heard Sam talk like that. To anyone whatsoever. It did seem to do the trick though, as the creepy old guy turned his attention back on Harry.
In the end It took Harry more than half an hour to procure a wand that was fit for him. Holly and phoenix, but no – it could not have been any phoenix. It had to be the brother core of Voldemort's wand. Harry glanced at Sam's face, she seemed just as happy about this development as he was. It was far too big a coincidence to be a coincidence.
They arrived back home, Sam ordering Harry to start studying his school books. She said she had two more things to take care of and then she'll be back home.
Harry nodded distracted. He did not see the group of street fighters waiting for Sam in front of the house. He hadn't noticed the piece of parchment with a very well known address in her hands. But he did notice to fierce protective quality of Sam's voice. With a smile he turned the first page of his potions manual, eager to learn as much as he could.
It was August 31st, late in the evening. Sam had shaken Harry awake and told him to get dressed. They walked through the dusk towards a famous alley. Not famous as a King's Cross, or even Diagon Alley. No this alley was famous, because it was home to a tattoo parlour. The only parlour that was allowed by those of the streets to set a mark of graduation.
When Harry realized where Sam was taking him, he looked at her with a face full of astonishment.
"Really?" He couldn't believe it!
"Really Harry. You have survived the streets, cold, and danger. You know have money to your name, and a chance at a real and very good education. You my friend, graduated from the streets. And I could not have been any happier.
An hour and a half later, Harry's right forearm burned by the newly set tattoo. But he couldn't care less, he was the proud owner of a weeping rose with seven petals at his stem. Seven years, seven petals, two teardrops for his lost siblings. And , finally Sam turned up her sleeve. Only graduates could really show the tattoo, and only graduates knew the meaning of the loose petals and teardrops.
He couldn't take his eyes of Sam's tattoo. It had thirteen loose petals, and he counted fifteen teardrops. fifteen people close to Sam, of her group, died. Thirteen years had she survived before she 'graduated'.
"Who gave you yours?" He asked softly.
"A man I met when I was seven. He was sixteen and just orphaned and he lost his best friend the year before that. He only had one year on the street, but always stayed in contact. He was allowed to bring me to here and give me my mark." Sam's smile was reminiscing. It was obvious that the man meant a lot to her.
"Now, I have one gift left at the house." Sam surprised Harry. "I still had wizarding money from early on. Now, I finally had a reason to spend it."
It turned out to be a beautiful white snowy owl, who affectionately perused through Harry's hair with her beak. "I'll name her Hedwig." Harry decided.
Sam laughed, "How about asking her if the name is okay with her?"
Harry turned to the owl. "Do you like the name, Hedwig?" Hedwig hooted and rubbed her head against Harry's hand. "I'll take that as a yes."
The day after Sam brought Harry to the station. Together they lifted his trunk on board, and found an empty compartment. Sam brought Harry in the biggest hug she ever gave him.
"I'm scared," he whispered against her jumper.
"Don't be," Sam said, "You're a graduate, nothing can harm you. And besides, I'm only an owl post away."
With those words she ushered him to the train. Just like other parents she stayed on the platform and waved when the train departed. She turned her head away so nobody could see her tears. Doing that she saw someone that looked so familiar it gave her the shock of a lifetime. For there, on the other end of the platform, stood a man with such blond hair, he could only be from one family: Malfoy.
Sam almost run back to the muggle word.