Harry was once again unreasonably proud of himself as he emerged somewhat smoothly and unscathed from the great fireplace within the Leaky Cauldron, a burst of green flames announcing his arrival. He expertly ignored Tonks' mocking look of admiration in response, choosing instead to return Sirius' acknowledging smile.
Andromeda followed him a moment later, elegantly striding from the fire and rounding out their party of four.
Without a word Sirius made for the entrance to Diagon Alley, expertly ignoring the stares and whispers of the gathered crowd - only slowing in his trek to send a flirtatious smile at a couple of attractive, gossiping witches who blushed at being caught out - and forcing the three of them into pursuit.
He tapped his foot impatiently, an excited and nervous air about him as Andromeda withdrew her wand, tapping it against the pub's rear wall to reveal the entrance to Diagon Alley.
Sirius wasted no time, confidently striding forward once the bricks parted. The Alley was mostly empty - not altogether surprising for this time of year - but the few people littering the shops immediately took notice of their presence. Luckily none approached the group of four - Harry suspected Tonks' style of dress helped with crowd control - though they still muttered among themselves as Harry and the others quickly made their way to Gringot's Wizarding Bank.
Sirius - with a charm only he could manage - pushed his way into the bank, strode up to one of the unoccupied tellers, and loudly proclaimed for all to hear, "I'm here for business, bitches!"
Andromeda gasped in horror.
Tonks snorted before succumbing to a coughing fit.
Harry actually missed a step, stumbling as he looked at Sirius as if he were insane.
Unsurprisingly, all sound ceased in the nearly empty bank.
Harry peered around nervously - he wasn't the only one to do so - wondering why the numerous guards posted around the lobby weren't currently attempting to shish kabob them.
The Goblin teller had yet to look up, content to ignore them as he pretended to fiddle with a few precious stones. After a few terse, silent seconds he set his instruments aside, looking up. "As crass as ever, Mister Black."
Sirius gave a huff of laughter, leaning casually against the counter. "Of course, Bilbo. Did you expect something else?"
The Goblin - Bilbo? - sneered. Or maybe smiled. Harry could never tell the two expressions apart on Goblin features. "I had hoped Azkaban might have left you little more than a rotting husk of a corpse."
"Ha." Sirius barked out. "No such luck you ornery, beady-eyed bastard."
This time, Harry was certain the Goblin smiled as cracked lips parted to expose far, far too many teeth. Though, whether the smile was pleasant, predatory, or something else altogether was an entirely different matter.
"Careful you stinking sack of flesh; it's been far too long since my dagger last tasted arrogant wizard."
Sirius' smiled abruptly dropped, the Goblin and man eyed each other for a moment, the once dwindling tension returning in full force, before both broke off into peels of laughter - at least, Harry assumed the grinding, gurgling noise coming from Bilbo's chest was laughter.
"I'll never forget that look on mother and father's faces." Sirius managed to wheeze out between laughs.
Bilbo nodded, having mostly composed himself much more quickly than the man. "An entertaining look on the mangled flesh that served as their faces." He agreed, sharp smile in place.
Harry blinked at the two... friends? A sneaking suspicion as to why Gringot's had been so accommodating earlier in the year when he'd been asking after Sirius' will, among other things, coming to the forefront of his mind.
"Tell me," the former inmate asked after a moment. "Was there a great party once they'd finally died and left the world in peace?"
"Goblins do not celebrate something so insignificant as the death of two wand waving incompetent idiots, Black." Bilbo boasted loudly, before continuing much more quietly. "However... I may have burnt a bottle or two of that cheap piss you wizards call whiskey and chugged a pint of Goblin Ale."
Sirius sighed wistfully, fondly recalling the horrible hangover that accompanied Goblin Ale. "Wish I coulda been here with ya, mate."
"I would have sent you a congratulatory gift when that walking whale of magical waste called your mother met her much anticipated end, but Goblins are no longer allowed to mangle corpses," Bilbo confided rather sincerely before tacking on, "and I had better things to do."
Sirius choked on his laughter this time. "Well... you know why I'm here," he pressed on after he'd composed himself. "Reactivate the vaults, look over the accounts, withdraw some gold. Cause a bit of mayhem. All that tripe."
Bilbo arched an unimpressed brow. "You wouldn't know mayhem if Gru'nak Nek-Ogg-" Harry and several others cringed at the harsh, grunting language of the Goblin race. "-himself rose from the depths of the Earth and laid siege to everything you know." Nevertheless, the Goblin pressed something, or switched something, and a scroll popped into existence in front of him.
Tonks tugged at Harry's sleeve, pulling him away from prying eyes and ears to linger in the back as Sirius bickered with the teller, a much different conversation between the friends.
"Talk to me, Harry." Tonks implored, glancing around to ensure they were truly away from any eavesdroppers. "What's really going on with you and Flamel?"
Harry pondered the young woman for a long moment before he decided to be as forthwith as possible. "He... knows I had something to do with the Stone."
"What?" Tonks blurted a bit too loud, drawing the glare of a few Goblins. Never mind that Sirius and Bilbo were causing a much louder ruckus with their continued jibes. "How?" she continued much more quietly.
"I- I don't know." Harry lied uneasily. "Maybe Dumbledore told him?"
Tonks' brow furrowed and she pressed her lips into an unpleasant line. "What about Weasley and Granger?"
"Yeah," Harry drew out despondently. "Know's about them too."
He shook his hand from side-to-side, glancing around. "Kinda. Flamel suspects an older student helped us, but didn't indicate anyone specific." He paused before adding a bit hopefully. "Plus, he seems to think it was a budding curse breaker."
Tonks shook her head, not sharing in her young friend's pointless hope; it was too obvious it was her when one looked at Harry's circle of friends. "Oh well," she couldn't change anything now. "It's not like we did anything illegal. Sure, maybe it was against school rules but not the law."
"Yeah." Harry agreed hopelessly, wishing - not for the first time - that Tonks knew the entirety of the truth.
The two friends were silent for a moment, both contemplating the possible far-reaching consequences of their actions over the previous year. Oddly enough, both were thinking of the other.
Finally, Tonks shook her head, dislodging the worrisome thoughts to focus on something positive. "So," she nudged Harry with her elbow, gaining his focus. "What's this offer you mentioned?"
"Oh, err... he - Flitwick - kinda, maybe wants me to uhh, apprentice to him." Harry admitted, rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment. He just knew Tonks was going to make a big deal out of this.
Tonks, eyes lit up with excitement, grinned so widely it must have hurt. "Th-"
"Twenty-Seven-Hundred galleons!" Sirius yelped, drawing their attention and cutting off her response. "Why don't I just bend over the counter so you can shaft me proper, you greedy bastard?"
"You're much too ugly for my tastes, Black." Bilbo scoffed, as if the offer were serious.
"Oh, please! You'll rut with anything that has a hole you can stick-"
"Sirius Black!" Andromeda scolded loudly, scandalized. She'd held her tongue thus far because... well, Goblins, but that was just a bit too much for her to sit idly by.
Sirius glanced back at her, brow creased in confusion and just a bit of annoyance. Andromeda, with narrowed eyes, looked pointedly in Harry's direction, Sirius following her gaze.
Tonks attempted to hide her mirth - especially with her mother looking their way - while Harry blinked back innocently at the two adults.
"Oh, uhh... right." Sirius mumbled with a guilty look.
Andromeda nodded in satisfaction.
Sirius turned back around toward Bilbo, intent on further bitc- er, bartering, but found the Goblin's attention was no longer on him. He glanced back over his shoulder, following the beady gaze, and once more looked toward Harry before turning back around.
Sirius raised his eyebrows questioningly, a guarded look over taking his expression as he surprised even himself by bristling with protectiveness.
After a moment, black eyes returned to Sirius, glinting as he notice the change in his human friend. "That your sprog?" Bilbo grimaced, deciding to put the man at ease. He, of course, knew exactly who the boy was. "Don't tell me some poor, dumb, scandalous witch was fool enough to shack up with you?"
"Huh?" The tension drained from Sirius as he relaxed. "Nah, that's my Godson," he looked over his shoulder, motioning for Harry to join them. "Harry! Come up here for a minute."
Harry obediently shuffled forward - Tonks joined her mother, enthusiastically waving her hands as she began to whisper to the older woman - feeling inexplicably nervous.
Padfoot grabbed his shoulder once he was near enough, bodily dragging him to his side. "Harry," he introduced loudly. "This crusty bas-" He spotted Andromeda's harsh frown from the corner of his eye. "Uhh... Goblin is Bilbo. Bilbo, this is Harry Potter."
"Er... a pleasure to meet you, Mister Bilbo." He held his hand out in greeting.
The Goblin's lip curled as he glared down at Harry's hand, before narrowing his eyes at the boy. "Bogrod." He grunted after a moment, ignoring the offered hand entirely.
"Uhh... what?" Harry asked, glancing uncertainly at Sirius - who provided no help whatsoever - before returning his attention to the Goblin.
"My name, little wizard, is Bogrod."
He dropped his hand, realizing he'd inadvertently offended the Goblin. "Oh. I just thought-"
"You thought wrong." Bogrod sneered at him. He turned back toward Padfoot, content to ignore Harry entirely now. "I suppose you'd like to visit the vault now, Black."
"Will these other wastes of magic be joining you?"
"Wonderful." Bogrod grumbled under his breath, hopping down from his perch and moving out from behind the counter revealing he was actually quite tall for a Goblin. "Keep up." He barked back at them, startling everyone but Sirius into motion.
"Does- does he not like me or something?" Harry asked quietly as they followed after the still grumbling Goblin, puzzled over the night and day receptions he and Sirius had gotten.
"What? No, that's just Bilbo for ya." Sirius answered. "Actually," he added after a moment of thought. "That was rather polite for him."
"That was polite?" Harry asked incredulously.
Sirius shrugged. "Well, he didn't try to stab you did he?"
"Then that's polite."
Harry conceded the point.
The trip down into the vault didn't take nearly as long as Harry expected and he was surprised at how... ordinary the vault turned out to be - though, in fairness, the door was twice as wide and high as Harry's own vault door. There was nothing really special about it; there appeared to be no additional security features, no guard posted on either side of the large door, and they hadn't had to bypass one of the many dragons the Goblins used for their high priority vaults.
Sirius lumbered off of the cart first, looking a bit peckish from the roller-coaster ride. Shaking himself, he strode up to the door and, with little fanfare, pressed his finger against the center of the door before swiping it downward. Nothing happened, but then Sirius stepped aside and Bogrod repeated the gesture. At the Goblin's touch, the many bolts and latches on the door shifted with a screech of metal on metal, sending dust into the air as the heavy door began to swing open.
The lack of extra protections became readily apparent as Harry was able to glimpse into the vault.
He had been expecting gold stacked from floor to ceiling, mounds upon mounds of coins, jewel encrusted swords, silver armor, and everything in between - something befitting English royalty to be perfectly honest - but instead the vast cavern that served as the vault was nearly empty save for a pitiful dusting of coins scattered across the floor. Even Harry had more wealth in the vault left to him.
It wouldn't surprise him if Sirius was as poor as the Weasley's.
Sirius frowned, glancing at Bogrod in question even as he stepped into the vault and began to scoop up what he could into a small pouch.
"Your idiot mother was rather stupid with her funds." The Goblin explained bluntly.
Sirius sighed, not doubting the words; Walburga had always had expensive and needless taste and it had fallen to Orion to hold her in check. He suspected she went quite crazy with her spending after the man died. Not to mention, the old bat had most likely helped fund Voldemort's campaign.
After a moment, and finding no other galleons, Sirius stood. He glanced around the vacant cavern in disappointment, imagining the great wealth that used to be housed there. He sighed once more, turning on his heel and seating himself in the cart, the vault door clanging shut behind him. They each clambered silently back into the cart and, after a trip that was somehow shorter and calmer than the one down, the group of five were once more standing within the lobby of Gringott's Wizarding Bank.
"Well," Sirius turned to Bogrod. "I can't say it's been a pleasure, ya crusty crumpet."
Bogrod nodded his head in agreement. "Yes. Nine years is not near long enough between visits from the likes of you, Black. I had just managed to wash your repungent smell from my memory." He snarled before turning toward a much shorter Goblin lingering at the edge of the lobby. "Earrot!" He barked, sending the Goblin scrambling toward him. Earrot dipped his head in respect to his superior, ignoring the humans, before handing over a simple, wooden box.
A dismissive wave of Bogrod's hand sent him scampering away.
"This is-" the Goblin grimaced as if it physically pained him to say what was next, presenting the box to Sirius. "-a gift that need not be returned."
Padfoot's brow made an impressive attempt to disappear beneath his hair - Harry's did as well - before he graciously accepted the box. To receive anything from a Goblin was immensely surprising; for that Goblin to declare it 'need not be returned' was even more so. Add that Bogrod had chosen to do so in the Gringott's lobby in full view of Goblin and Wizard alike and the event was monumental.
Sirius opened the simple container, a grin working it's way onto his face before he barked out a laugh and looked back at his friend. "It is a gift well received." He replied formally.
Bogrod nodded - honor and pride satisfied - before stalking off back toward his counter, not bothering with good byes or well wishes. Sirius chuckled once more, glancing down at the gift before tucking it beneath his arm and heading for the exit.
"Where are we headed, Sirius dear?" Andromeda asked gently as they pushed past the Goblins guarding the entrance. Harry was much more interested in trying to pry the mysterious box for Sirius' unusually fierce grip. Sirius, of course, shifted the parcel so it was just within Harry's range while ensuring he couldn't actually grasp it.
Sirius sighed, looking pitifully down at his small sack of money and back at the Alley with longing. "Best get a wand while I got the coin, I suppose." With that he headed for Ollivanders.
Turned out the shop was closed - which made sense considering the pitiful amount of business it drew most year round - but, fortunately, Ollivander was as married to his work as Dumbledore was to Sherbet Lemons, and actually lived above the shop.
He came moseying down at the first knock, eyes wide with interest.
"Sirius Black." He began as soon as they'd stepped inside. "Hawthorn and Dragon Heartstring; Twelve-and-a-Half inches. Quite snappy if I recall."
Sirius nodded. "That's me."
Ollivander frowned. "I imagine it was snapped after your arrest, the poor dear." He tutted.
"Wouldn't be here otherwise."
"Yes, yes, yes." The old wandmaker was suddenly moving about, gathering his things as his excitable air returned. "Let's see what we can do for you." With a snap of his wand, a tape measure spun into existence and began fluttering about Sirius' person.
Harry sidled up next to Sirius, blinking slowly up at his Godfather and presenting his most innocent smile. Padfoot huffed, mussing his hair affectionately before handing over the box. He wasted no time in opening it, missing Sirius' mischievous grin.
Curious, Tonks peered over his shoulder.
Inside was a small, simple flagon made of dark glass presumably filled with some liquid or another. Harry scrunched his brow, lifting the flask and tilting it in an attempt to distinguish its contents and that was when it hit him.
He coughed, eyes welling with tears at the onslaught of the offending odor, carelessly dropping the bottle back into the box and slapping the lid closed. He glared up at at a smiling Sirius, shoving the box back into the man's arms even as Tonks pounded her fist against his back to help clear his cough. "What is that!?"
Sirius barked out a laugh. "Goblin Ale."
Harry looked at the man in horror. "And you're going to drink that? Willingly?"
Sirius hugged the box to him like it was a teddy bear. "Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, oh Godson of mine."
Harry slumped against Tonks, staring at his Godfather with horrifying realization. "It's true," he whispered. "You really are insane."
"Ha ha ha," Padfoot deadpanned. "Just wait, you haven't seen anything yet." he promised, wiggling his eye brows.
Harry opened his mouth before Andromeda's voice cut him off from above. "Now boys," she started, mothering tone in full effect. "You behave yourselves and let Mister Ollivander do his job or they'll be no ice-cream for either of you."
They both adopted looks of contrite longing.
"Not the ice-cream," Sirius muttered in horror.
"Chocolate chip." Harry whispered.
"Peanut brittle," Sirius added.
"Minty Moo," Tonks chimed in.
Across from Harry, the real Andromeda pinched the bridge of her nose. "Nymphadora," she warned, exasperated. "Do you have to encourage them?"
Harry was jostled as Tonks shrugged, unapologetic. "I don't have to..." she allowed.
Ollivander fluttered around the shop, expertly ignoring the foursome, gathering up as many things as he could possibly carry. He didn't really seem to be doing anything with them, just picking them up in one place and setting them in another.
Bored, Harry disengaged himself from Tonks - hoping to avoid her further questioning for the time being - and began moving about the shop, staring curiously at all the trinkets and knick-knacks the man had.
"Now... where to start?" Ollivander muttered to himself, disappearing into the back of his shop, paying no mind to the others.
Harry wandered over to the store's front display window, frowning at the accumulated sheet of dust obscuring the view. His eyes were inevitably drawn to the actual display set up there - a solitary wand resting atop an aged and faded purple cushion. The wand itself didn't appear to be anything special; nothing more than a simple strip of wood approximately a foot in length.
The was a shuffling sound from the back, Ollivander still mumbling, before the man returned, arms ladened with a precariously stacked tower of boxes.
"Now, let's try this one."
Harry glanced sneakily over his shoulder at the others, making certain Olivander's back was to him.
With the others attention focused on Sirius and his wand waving, Harry turned back toward the display. Brow creased with mischief intent, he made his move-
"Ahh... and Mister Potter?" The wandmaker's attention snapped to the second year.
Harry froze, reeling in his curious hand subtly making its way toward the purple plush. "Yes, sir?" He asked innocently, craning his neck around to stare at the old man.
"How has your wand been behaving?" Ollivander peered over his glasses, eyebrows raised. "No more trouble I assume?"
"Err... no, it's all good." He turned to properly face the man, holding his wand up as evidence, though he kept a close eye on the odd wandmaker lest he get his spindly fingers on the shaft of holly again.
"Excellent." He acknowledged, turning to fuss over Sirius once more.
Andromeda didn't turn however, continuing to stare at the time-traveler in motherly disapproval. He shuffled over like the disobedient child he was, sidling up next to the older woman in an obvious attempt to evade trouble.
She huffed, fondly attempting to straighten his hair before turning back around toward a grinning Sirius just as sparks emitted from his newly chosen wand.
"Excellent, excellent," the wand maker praised, eyes alight with pride and giddiness. "Twelve-and-three-quarter inches, cypress and dragon heartstring, pliable. Nice wand for defense," he rattled off.
Sirius stared down at his wand in satisfaction, giving it a few experimental twirls and sending a second colorful orchestra of sparks from the end. He readily paid the seven galleons and then they were on their way, Ollivander bowing them from his shop.
"Anything else you need, Sirius?" Andromeda prodded gently.
Sirius shook his head, his former sour mood at the lack of funds gone. "Nah, let's just head to the house."
They all agreed, heading toward the Leaky Cauldron.
"So, uhh... Sirius?" Harry began uncomfortably, falling in step with the older man. "Do you have a house?" He'd been hoping they'd take a trip to Grimmauld Place, giving him a chance to deal with Slytherin's Locket - he'd already attempted to call Kreacher to no effect.
"Yeah," he answered hesitantly. "My parents' old place in London."
"Oh," Harry tried to sound intrigued. "Can we go see it?"
"Erm... yeah, I - tomorrow, I guess." Padfoot answered, looking to Andromeda for acquisition and receiving her nod after a moment.
"Sounds good. So... will we be living there?" He asked, trying to recall the original conversation he'd had with Sirius in the previous timeline about such a thing.
Sirius nodded, holding the Caudron's door open for him. "Not right away, but soon enough I reckon. No doubt the place is in need of a good cleaning." They didn't talk further, queuing up to use the pub's Floo connection.
Upon arriving back on the Tonks' residence, Harry was immediately corralled into the living room under the combined efforts of Tonks and her mother and pushed into one of the armchairs.
"What's going on?" Sirius asked, unintentionally voicing Harry's question.
"It would seem," Andromeda began. "That your Godson has been deliberately withholding important and valuable news." She finished sternly, eyeing the second year. with no small amount of disapproval.
Then her lips twitched and her face broke into a smile. "The little miscreant has been offered an apprenticeship from Professor Flitwick."
Harry relaxed just a fraction, though he quickly realized he was now inevitably doomed to accept the diminutive professor's invitation. If Sirius' proud smile, Andromeda's insistent look, and Tonks' twinkling eyes were any indication.
He slumped in resignation.
Well, I'm not dead - and neither is this story - so that's good. Moving on...
It seems that a common trope/cliche of powerful and independent Harry fics is to have the aforementioned young hero inherit the Black family's immense wealth and to befriend the Goblins in one fell swoop before smiting all in his path to eternal glory as an eleven-year-old. Naturally, I decided to turn that on it's head, but the idea of a Wizard actually being friends with a Goblin proved too tempting to ignore.
In comes Sirius and Bilbo/Bogrod bonding over their shared hatred of the former's parents - that scene practically wrote itself.
Now then, I struggled over where to end this as the resulting conversation regarding Harry's apprenticeship bored even me and I wanted to save the trip to Grimmauld Place for next time. So, tired of worrying over it, I just... sort of ended it.
As always, thanks for reading.