Chapter 8: Diagon Alley

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"Diagon Alley" by Jim Kay

Author's Note: Sorry for the delay on this chapter. I've been getting ready for finals next week. Hopefully chapters will come faster once summer arrives. We'll see.

New articles are delayed so that I can get the chapter out. They're coming, just not right now.

~~~

August 1881

"Enjoy the city, and don’t worry about the time,” Remus told Sean and Marie as they walked toward the door to the suite. “This might be your last time in the city for the next month or two. The village outside of the Manor is quite small. And never mind groceries – we’ll get those in the village once we’re close. Just go and have fun – a good date with some rare privacy will do you two wonders.”  

“We’ll be back tonight,” Sean smiled. “Tell Harry not to be nervous.”

“See you tonight!” Amelia waved as the lovebirds exited. “They’re sweet, those two.”

“Are you sure that was enough money?” Remus asked, scratching the back of his head.

“That was a fortune compared to their usual salaries,” Amelia assured him, pulling her vest down more comfortably over the waistband of her smart trousers.

“Look, look!” Rose giggled, hurrying out of her room and twirling for them in the sitting room, the silk of her hanfu fluttering around her attractively. She tilted her head so that the hair ornaments in her two buns jingled happily. “Don’t I look so exotic?”

“Like a regular Shanghai girl,” Remus praised. “Harry! We’ll be late for the bank!”

A moment later, he had to strain to hear the youth’s soft footsteps on the staircase, but the figure that emerged was a shock from his past. Even more than the day before, Harry seemed to be glowing with his beautiful heritage, his skin pearly against his pitch-black hair that slid as smoothly as the silk of his attire down his back, half gathered in a flat bun with an antler hair pin, face framed with grown-out bangs. His ears were newly pierced with silver loops that had tiny amethyst beads dangling from them. Still unused to the unisexual skirts of hanfu, he’d opted for loose linin trousers and a white side-tie Chinese blouse, a short-sleeve thigh-length robe over it in the same pale embroidered amethyst as the trousers. The cool colours allowed his green eyes to seem darker and brought out the hazel in them that took Remus’ breath away.

“Erm – did I – is this right?” Harry asked quietly, glancing down at the ensemble.

“Yes,” Remus breathed out. “Sorry – you…you look so like James like that.”

“How have I known you for ten years and never known how pretty you are?” Rose praised.

But Remus was starting to ask himself the same question. He’d thought at first that Harry's beauty was inherited – after all, Lily had been courted by over a dozen boys at school, and James had been the most eligible bachelor in the entire country with looks to match. However, neither of them had even been quite so ethereal as their son. Lily had had a bit of acne when she was Harry's age, and was often seen as plain. Remus knew that secretly, James used a half-dozen of the beautification potions that his family had created in an effort to win Lily’s interest, constantly fretting with his hair because of its propensity to stick out, especially around his face. Harry had inherited neither of these deficiencies, and seemed to have a grace that James, notoriously clumsy, had certainly not possessed.

Then there was the healing….He’d expected Harry to heal from his injuries quickly thanks to the baths, but his ribs were nearly completely healed as quickly as last night, and his magic was already quickening after being exhausted at Privet Drive. Remus had never seen someone recover so quickly before, and he couldn’t tell what was causing it. But perhaps today could give him some clues…

“You mentioned the bank?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” Remus said, giving his head a little shake as Harry stepped down into his new martial arts shoes. “We need to withdraw some funds for today and settle the bill from Madam Malkins, as well as check in with how Privet Drive is being handled.”

“Will we be transferring ownership of the account to Harry?” Rose asked wisely, pulling on her own slippers and adjusting her dress.

“No, but we’ll be adding both of you as accessors to the account,” Remus said. “It shouldn’t take long. Then we can get to school shopping.”

“Before we go,” Amelia said, pushing off of the doorframe. “Harry, there’s something you should know before you go into Diagon Alley.”

“Dia—where?” he asked.

“Diagon Alley,” Amelia repeated. “It’s a magical shopping alley just outside of this bathhouse and the Leaky Cauldron pub. It’s filled with mages and magical wares, and I wanted to warn you – they’re all going to be staring at you.”

“But – but you said that lots of people dress like this!” Harry stammered, flushing in embarrassment.

“Not because of your clothes,” Rose giggled. “They said that night at the pub, remember – you’re famous. Everyone thinks you defeated Voldie-nose—”

“Voldemort,” Amelia corrected, smiling widely at the amusing mispronunciation.

“—and you’re the Boy Who Didn’t Die.”

“Boy Who Lived,” Remus corrected. “It’s not just that, either. Even if that had never happened, people would be staring at you. Your family is very famous, especially here in Edinburgh, since they’re from Scotland. Lots of people are going to be bowing to you and calling you Wen-gongzhi or Master Potter. And if they’re your age, they’ll probably try to befriend you just like Draco did. You’re the most popular kid in school before even getting there.”

“Like my dad was?” Harry asked.

For the third time in three days, Remus was startled at Harry's familiarity with his parents whom the Dursleys had purposefully never spoken of. He couldn’t make sense of how exactly Harry seemed to know things about his parents when he – apparently – didn’t even remember them. Was it latent memories that his conscious mind had blocked away because of the trauma? Or was something else educating him?

“I still don’t understand why they’re so famous,” Rose pointed out. “I mean, they’re just doctors, right?”

“No,” Amelia said slowly. “No, no, no. The Potters were far more than just Healers. Every magical family has something that they’re known for, and if they’re smart, they use that to cultivate a reputation and precise magic. Mine, for example – we’ve been Aurors for five generations. The Potters have been healers since as long as anyone can remember – before the Romans, even. The Wens are alchemists for a magical Prince in China. The Malfoys are politicians and scholars. If they have better active magic, they go into government work, rising through the ranks. If they have better passive magic, they study.”

“Active and passive?” Harry asked.

“Active magic requires spells,” Remus explained. “You have to actively willingly cast the magic, and it has very precise requirements and processes. Passive magic is unconscious, usually. James’ family was better at passive magic on both sides. James could levitate in his sleep and fly without a broom and heal himself when he was injured – all without any spells. Your passive magic is why you heal so fast, and why Marge was never actually able to starve you. It’s kept you alive all this time.”

“No wonder Draco’s obsessed with you,” Rose realized. “You’re gorgeous and from a wealthy family who has prestige – you’re exactly what mum always told me to look for in a husband and here you are, right beside me all along.”

“You’re at a unique disadvantage,” Amelia said to Harry. “You’ve grown up in the Muggle world for your own protection, and so you don’t know how to use your passive magic like James did. They taught him how in China when he was young before he came to Hogwarts.”

“Pity I couldn’t go to Shangqing,” Harry said, looking down. “I could have learned a lot there.”

“Shangqing Mao Shan School,” Remus noted in awe. “How do you know what it’s called?”

Harry looked startled before glancing up nervously. “You – you said it before—”

“No, I didn’t,” Remus argued. “I would have translated it. How do you know the Chinese name?”

Rose and Amelia also looked suspiciously at Harry, who swallowed. “D-Draco said yesterday when – when I asked him about my dad – he said that’s why he wore his hair high up, that’s how they did it there.”

“You knew about your dad’s money, too,” Rose added. “And his name, even though mum never said it.”

“Harry,” Remus said, approaching him. “Do you remember your parents?”

“Remus,” Amelia said firmly. “Harry's about to go into the magical community for the first time. Perhaps this isn’t the best time to make him emotional.”

The man cleared his throat, looking down and waving a hand. “No, you’re right. I’m sorry. We can talk about this tonight. We should go. Goblins aren’t known for being patient.”

“G-g-goblins?” Harry gasped in fright. “Not redcaps or hobgoblins – right?”

“No,” Remus smiled, guiding Harry with a hand on his back toward the door.

~~~~

The entire way down the stairs, Harry tried desperately to hold back a blush as he felt the eyes of the patrons leering at him over banisters and shoulders. Everyone seemed to have come out of their rooms and baths to see the elusive Potter heir, and Harry didn’t know if he could handle so much attention after spending his whole life in hiding and ignored. He had barely gotten used to being pretty – he didn’t think he could handle also being famous on top of it, much less heir to an estate.

On the bottom floor, they passed around the male baths to the hall with the entrance to the female baths and Harry saw bright windows and a door out the back. The doors slid open themselves, and the noise of a bustling street greeted them before they’d even managed to exit into the morning sunshine.

They were in the elbow of a turn around the edge of a Chinese-style building, but both directions of the turn showed European buildings. Lanterns were hung on strings across the road, and red arches announced where the two cultures met and the ends of the roads. Harry's attention was drawn to the shop next to an acupuncture clinic with frightening diagrams in the windows, where a green sign read Wen Potions with highly festive flags and ribbons on the balcony over the entrance. The windows were full of shelves of little bottles, boxes, and bags.

“Is that Wen as in…?” Harry asked Remus, who nodded with a smile.

“Yes, your grandmother set that shop up. It’s one of your income sources – you are a shareholder. It’s run by a lad named Ping, an old classmate of your fathers from Shangqing. We’ll stop in there later.”

Next to the potion shop was silk shop with latices of fabrics, and at the end was an Asian restaurant with menus in several languages that used those beautiful characters that Harry couldn’t possibly read but could tell they were all different. The quartet passed under the red arch, and a dusty old shop that seemed to have been there since the Romans met them in the European part of the market next to a cauldron shop.

“Look!” a boy about Harry's age said, shoving his nose into a broom stop as they passed. “The new Nimbus Two Thousand! Fastest ever!”

“Fast?” Harry asked Remus as Rose looked in awe at a place called Terror Tours that advertised holidays to Atlantis, Dracula’s Castle, and Nirvana. “Why would you need a fast broom? Are there sweeping tournaments or something?”

“For flying,” Amelia laughed. “Sweeping tournaments – mages fly on brooms, Harry.”

“I thought that was a myth,” Harry mumbled.

“Ah! Master Potter! Yoo-Hoo!”

The group stopped at the corner as stout little Madam Malkins fluttered her handkerchief at them, dressed in an outrageously large lobster tail bustle gown. “Oh, those robes look so handsome on you. Aren’t you glad you let me dress you?”

“Um – thank you, ma’am,” Harry said politely, but she was more interested in the sudden swarm of customers that flooded into her shop at the gossip that she was Harry's stylist.

“Ah, yes, free advertising,” Amelia scoffed in disapproval. “I suppose you should get used to that.”

“Here we are,” Remus said, smiling up at the snowy-white stone building which towered in the corner with marble columns astride the entrance. Standing beside the burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold, was a creature that made Rose jump and grab Harry's hand nervously. “That’s a goblin,” Remus whispered to them as they approached. The goblin was about a head shorter than Harry with a swarthy, clever face, pointed beard and ears, and, Harry noticed, very long fingers and feet.

Inside the bank was a tall marble hall with crystal chandeliers. About a dozen goblins were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins on brass scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were doors and stairs leading out behind them, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these.

Rose squeezed Harry's arm and he looked over at her hiding against his shoulder before stopping. “Are there any humans working here?” he asked Remus.

“That’s a bit rude,” Amelia said disapprovingly.

“Rose is scared. Goblins are said to eat children in Irish myths.”

“Hello there,” a ginger man said, smiling at them in a red porter’s suit. “How can I help you?”

“Are you Arthur Weasley’s boy?” Amelia asked.

“Yes, ma’am, Bill Weasley,” he announced. “You know my father?”

“Worked with him a few times when I’m down in England,” she nodded. “Are you the one that just graduated from Hogwarts?” He nodded proudly. “Well done. Amelia Bones.”

“M-M-Madam Bones? Of – of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement? An honour, ma’am!”

“Oh, looking to be an Auror?” Remus chuckled.

“Curse-Breaker, actually,” Bill said modestly.

“Perfect,” Remus said. “Then you can take us down to the vaults. Mr. Potter needs to access his funds.”

“Potter?” Bill said in shock, looking down at Harry. “Potter? As in – as in—”

“Why don’t you check on the accounts while I take the kids down?” Amelia offered to Remus.

“Good idea,” Remus nodded. “Stay with Amy, you two.”

He went over to a counter to talk to a goblin while Bill straightened his jacket and offered a path behind the counter. They entered a short hall with a lift at the end, closed with an iron gate. Bill pulled the lever to bring them down, and they could see through the gate that they were descending many stories into the bowels of the city. Each level that they passed had a room of countless drawers in the walls like an apothecary, patrons guided to their assigned box by goblins. The size of the boxes seemed to be getting bigger as they descended – from barely large enough for a diary to large enough to hold a cake. Harry held Rose’s hand tightly as they descended to a torch-lit chamber with a tunnel going through it and doors leading in a few directions elsewhere. Bill opened the gate for them and whistled sharply at the tunnel, and a little cart slid up a mine track to wait for them.

“Nothing to fear,” Bill assured them. “The carts are the fastest and easiest way down to the vaults.”

“Vault?” Harry asked. “I thought…don’t we just tell you the amount? I mean, isn’t it a security risk for us to see your vault? I don’t want to get you into trouble.”

Bill smiled kindly at him and patted his shoulder. “You’re sweet, but you have it backward. It’s not my vault you’re going to – it’s yours.”

“Huh?” the teen asked, tilting his head.

“Madam Bones, you should be careful,” Bill said, grinning widely. “Someone will certainly sweep in and steal such a precious child.” Amelia laughed loudly and led them into the cart. Harry looked at Rose in confusion, but even she was smiling as she dragged him into the cart. Bill closed the cart door and nodded to them before pushing a lever, and they slid out of the chamber and down the track at increasing speeds that made Harry very nervous.

At first, they were hurtling through a maze of twisting passages over, under, and beside them, where alcoves protected safes growing in size just as the drawers had before – from the size of one of Uncle Vernon’s ledgers to the size of his drafting table. A great set of wrought-iron doors lay ahead of them, and Bill waved his hand at them, whispering something to himself. The doors opened, and they passed new tunnels, these with entire vault doors set at even paces along the passages and little parking spaces for the carts to give the patrons more time with their treasures.

A very sharp, hairpin turn nearly unseated Harry, who Bill grabbed by the shoulder, and a waterfall lay before them, but it parted at Bill’s command, just as the massive water-tight bulkhead beyond that unfurled upward as they slowed upon approach to it. The clanking of the cart echoed in this new chamber, and Harry and Rose gasped openly at the sheer size of the massive cavern.

Green-hued water cast an eerie reflection of the cave, making it seem even larger, but besides the hue, the waters were so clear that Harry could see straight down to the rocky bottom. Schools of fish lazily waded across the vast sea, their eyes reflecting in the pearly orbs that floated over the water like fairy lights. The track crossed an expanse, allowing the party to look down into the abyss and find canyons filtering aquatic traffic like buildings in a street.

“One day,” Bills said hopefully, “I’m going diving down there.”

“Aren’t you scared?” Harry asked him in awe.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Bill said bravely.

“Look at the size of that one!” Rose gasped. “Is it a whale?”

“No, that is Eda,” Bill said as Harry sat up to look at the spectacle, breathless. “My brother’s dying to meet her. She’s a Long-Neck Loch Dragon.”

A dragon. A real dragon. She swam under their cart and Harry leaned over the edge to gape at her. Her body was long and thin like a serpent, but still wide enough to swallow a tugboat, and long enough to encircle Harland and Wolfe with a pronounced dorsal stretching all the way from tip to tail. Her head was horse-like, but with teeth and fin-like ears, and her tail was strong enough to send entire schools of fish twirling as it languidly slid through the water. She had fins – several sets of them – but no wings. Then again, what purpose would a leviathan have of wings?

She swam alongside them to the end of the track, where they disembarked at a large Roman Gazebo. Eda had claws near her head on short arms that she used to pull herself up out of the water to gaze at them in curiosity. Without thinking, Harry approached her. Her head was the size of the entire staircase at Privet Drive. And yet, she didn’t seem threatening to him.

“She’s sensing you,” Bill explained. “She can feel your magic.”

“How?” Rose asked.

“Dragons have powerful magic, and they can feel others with such powerful magic. It’s like a scent in a way. The more powerful you are, the stronger the sense. If you’re really strong, dragons and other magical creatures see you as kin and won’t bother you. Seems she likes you enough. Your magic must be very powerful for her to be so docile. Normally, she bullies the patrons down here a bit.”

“Incredible,” Amelia breathed.

A musical whine filled the cavern, followed by a watery purr. Completely on instinct, Harry quickly rolled his tongue, purring back. Eda replied with a bouncy whine that was impossible for a human to imitate.

“Oh, she’s singing,” Bill laughed. “She likes you.”

“Singing?” Harry asked.

“Aye, like a whale song.”

“Sing back,” Rose said, pushing Harry a little.

“Oh, erm….” He thought before clearing his throat. “Of all the money that e’er I had, I spent it in good company; and all the harm I’ve e’er done, alas t’was to none by me; and all I’ve done for want of wit, to mem’ry now I cannie recall. So, fill to me the parting glass, goodnight and joy be to you all.”

Eda hummed appreciatively before slipping back into her domain and Harry breathed out in relief. “That was amazing,” Bill said. “I’ve never seen her act like that before. Then again, I’ve only been here a month. Anyway, the vaults are this way.”

Harry turned quickly and followed him down a marble passage to a large round room with a circular sunroof that bore light down to them from the surface far above them. There were statues situated around the room, and golden doors between each one with crests on them, about a dozen in total. In the middle of the room was a fountain with a knife in the water, perpetually being cleaned by the flow of the water.

Amelia extracted the knife and took Harry's hand, gently slicing the back between the wrist and the space between his forefinger and thumb. She pulled the wound into the fountain water, returning the knife, and the water glistened with a rainbow of colours as the wound healed instantly. “Goodness!” Amelia commented. “I didn’t expect it to heal that fast.”

The second door to the right opened on its own, the triskelion on its face splitting down the centre and revealing the bright room beyond. They went to it and found a tall chamber with gold and marble cabinets all along the edges with glass doors, and a counter in the middle with wooden lids on the top to access the contents within.

Rose immediately fluttered over to the shelves of clothing and jewels. “Harry! Look at these gowns! Oh, I’m definitely wearing that one to my wedding. And look at these tiaras!”

“Rose – don’t touch! They don’t belong to us.”

“They do,” Amelia corrected. “Harry, this is your family vault. Everything in here belongs to you.”

All Harry's? He stared at the room from the door. His? Impossible! How could any of these treasures belong to him? He’d spent his life cleaning fireplaces and cookery, standing invisible by the stairs, scrubbing urine from Dudley’s bathroom tiles and soot from the floors. These glistening glories couldn’t be his.

“Those must be the famous Potter Healing Books,” Bill said in awe, drawing Harry's attention to the row of shelves stacked with scrolls, rolls, and books. He staggered to them and gazed at their tags, labels, and spines. Many of them were in other languages – he recognized Greek, Latin, French, Arabic (lots of Arabic), and a few Egyptian scrolls. He couldn’t read any of those, but there was an entire shelf of English books, and two full of Celtic, some Romanized and others in Ogham.

Harry read one of the tags to an Ogham wooden scroll – Herbs of Caledonia. “Botany books?”

“You can read that?” Amelia asked, impressed.

“Alfred taught all the servants Ogham so that we could pass messages that the Dursleys couldn’t read,” Harry explained. “It’s not a hard alphabet to learn, and it was once used for Gaelic.”

“Lucky you. James was terrible with Gaelic.”

“These are all botany books, potion manuals, culinary recipes, healing guides – anatomy, biology, wound care, histories of illnesses.”

“They’re famous, these,” Bill said from the doorway. “Everyone in our world wants to get hold of these books – they seem to think the key to immortality’s in them. Ever since I was a kid, people talked about how unfortunate it was that the Potter Clan was dying out, desperate to get hold of these books. I’ve never heard anyone talk about scrolls though.”

“Well, scrolls are the original books,” Amelia chuckled. “The Potters have been around for ages. The Greeks who first came here exploring spoke of the ancestors of the Potters, healers among the druids with the ability to tell a person’s health just by examining their hands and listening to their pulse. They were master potioneers. Oh – Harry, look!”

She took out an English volume that was just bigger than her hand, giving it to Harry. “A Simple Cure: Tips for Beginner Healers,” he read. “So, some of these are beginner books.”

“I suppose it makes sense,” Amelia said. “They’re used by the Potters to teach the next generation. Even James knew lots about these topics before showing up at Hogwarts.”

Harry shifted through the assortment, gently pulling a few of the books, scrolls, and rolls that he could read. Amelia took a simple leather rucksack from one of the lower cabinets to put the treasures into, and Rose picked out a few pieces of jewellery that she liked before holding up an earring to Harry's ear. “This one’s perfect for you. It has your family crest.”

“I don’t want any jewellery,” Harry assured her.

“You should,” she said sternly. “You’re still asserting your position in this society, and one sure way to position yourself is to assert your wealth – that’s what jewellery does. And these pieces have your family crest and other elements to set you apart from others and position yourself in the socioeconomic pecking order. You might think it’s modest to wear nothing, but actually, it’s sending a message that you don’t see yourself as wealthy, and that only invites trouble and competition.”

“I don’t under—”

“I do,” Rose insisted, putting a necklace on him with a simple silver triskelion pendant. “I was raised for this, remember?”

He did remember, and he was very grateful for her expertise, so he stood still and let her decorate him with tastefully small pieces – a tiny pocket watch on a low necklace, a simple signet ring that was too big for his pinkie and had to fit onto his thumb, a maple leaf ear cuff that chained down to his earring and dangled a leaf there, and a dragon ear cuff without wings that wrapped around the top of his ear.

“That’ll certainly set you apart from your father,” Amelia commented. “James rarely wore jewellery.”

“That’s what Remus said,” Rose nodded. “This way, even though you look just like your dad, they’ll know that you’re not him and will treat you like your own person.”

“Thank you, Rose,” Harry said sincerely.

“Here, let me teach you the currency,” Amelia said, lifting the lid on one of the centre containers. Harry and Rose both gasped in awe. The containers each sported coins – bronze coins the size of farthings, silver ones the size of shillings, gold ones the size of florins, and silver ones with gold edges the size of sovereigns. “These bronze ones are noots—”

“Nuts?”

“K-n-u-t-e-s – knutes,” she corrected. “They’re worth about a shilling. Eight knutes make a silver sickle, which are worth about a half-crown. Eight sickles make a galleon, which are worth about three guineas. And eight galleons make a dragnot, which are worth about twenty-five pounds or so.”

“And I have…this many?” Harry said in shock as the sheer capacity of his wealth hit him.

“Nearly 150,000 dragnot,” Bill said, referencing a sleet on the inside of the door. “That’s…three million pounds? No, almost four million pounds.”

“So, as Remus said, stop worrying about money,” Amelia smiled as Harry gasped his forehead in shock.

~~~

Harry felt almost light-headed as they returned to the bank lobby. He held the rucksack in his lap just for something to hold on to, while Rose examined the coins in the purse that she’d “borrowed” from the vault – a beaded bag with real pearls and silver pieces forming roses and a sterling latch, which would have cost Sean three years pay to afford. That his family even owned such a thing was incredible – that that was probably the cheapest thing in the vault was inconceivable.

The climbed the final steps up the lobby and were immediately greeted with the noise of a dramatically packed and muttering hall. “Harry!” Remus said from beside the door, grabbing the teen’s shoulder with relief. “Amelia, any trouble? Is Rose okay?”

“They’re fine – what happened?” Amelia demanded.

“Break-in,” Remus said, pulling the children to him and away from the crowd. “Scrimgeour was looking for you, and Kingsley.”

“I’d better take my leave then. I’ll come visit you three at Potter Manor soon. Take care!”

She was gone in the sea of robes before they could say anything in return. Bill helped edge them around the room to the doors. “What happened, sir?”

“Dunno,” Remus admitted. “The goblins shut the doors and started fretting about a thief, and then most of them went down toward the tunnels. I suppose you lot were too far down to hear the noise.”

“Then they weren’t targeting the Pureblood vaults,” Bill reasoned. “They must have been after one of the high security vaults. Did they make it out?”

“I don’t think so,” Remus said. “They haven’t arrested anyone. Griphook said that it was vault 1613.”

“1613?” Bill repeated thoughtfully. “Why – that’s Professor Dumbledore’s safe!”

“The Headmaster?” Rose asked.

“The same,” Bill nodded. “I’d better go help secure the tunnels. There’s probably still patrons down there.”

“Thank you,” Harry said. Bill bowed to them before returning into the crowd, and Remus steered the children outside and past the onlookers, who were, thankfully, more focused on the ruckus than Harry.

They slipped into a now-deserted McHavelock’s Headgear and looked through the window passed the pointed hats at the crowd. “Are you two okay? Any trouble?” Remus asked.

“Just Harry in denial about being rich,” Rose said, showing him her new bag.

“That belonged to Empress Josephine,” Remus told her. “You be careful with it. I see you’ve made use of Henry Potter’s jewellery.”

“Isn’t that my name?” Harry asked in confusion.

“Your great-grandfather Henry. He was known for his love of jewellery. They say he glittered when he entered a room. His hair reached all the way to his thighs, and he often wore little tassels in his braids. Those are his earpieces, and his ring. And your grandfather Fleamont’s watch, and James’ earrings, and your great-grandmother Dorea’s necklace, and your great-uncle Charlus’ rucksack. What have you got in there?”

“Wow!” Rose remarked. “You’re amazing, Remus – like a walking library!”

“Just some books,” Harry said, showing him.

“Those will be good, but keep that bag close, eh? Those books are priceless.”

“Well, let’s add to it, shall we?” Rose said looking around the milliner’s shop. “I’m so excited to spend this strange magic money.”

Remus scoffed and smiled at her before pulling out the Hogwarts letter and glancing over the supply list. “Right, we do need a few hats – both conical and descended.”

“Huh?” Harry asked. The man pointed to the conical pointed hats along the front and back of the shop in all different shapes and designs from tall points that reached the ceiling to flat points like the ones the patrons of the bathhouse seemed to prefer. On the other two walls were hats that had tails reaching toward the ground, some curved up from the top and hooking, others dangling loosely.

“The conical hats help concentrate active magic. The descended hats help concentrate passive magic. You need two of each.” Harry picked a simple straw one of the pointed hats, and silk one for dry hot days. At least they would block the sun if nothing else. He selected a soft elf cap as well that had a tail long enough for his hair, and a newspaper cap that had a short, softly pointed tail at the back, both of which would be good in the winter.

Harry entrusted Rose to pay, as she wanted to, and he was a bit weary of the strange currency. They went into a barber next to purchase hair goods, which Harry also gave Rose complete command of him, having no idea how to decorate long hair in an appropriate fashion.

The bookshop was a bore and shock to Rose, however. She wasn’t much of a reader, but she’d never known Harry was. He’d never been able to spend much time reading at the Dursleys, and if there was anything he wanted to do now that he didn’t have to clean all day and night, it was read a book, especially if it helped him not look like an ignorant Muggle at school. At Flourish and Blotts, the bookshelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather, the size of postage stamps in covers of silk, full of peculiar symbols, and even a few books with nothing in them at all. Remus yanked more than a few books out of his hands that were too advanced for him such as Curses and Counter-Curses by Professor Vindictus Viridian that promised to curse his enemies with hair loss, jelly legs, and tied tongues.

“But if I get it now, I’ll have it when I do learn how to do those spells,” Harry reasoned, reaching for it again while Remus put it on a high shelf out of reach.

“You’re a far way off from learning curses,” Remus assured him, steering him back toward the beginner books and study manuals. “Besides, most of them are in Latin and you don’t know any Latin. But lucky for you, most of the healing and herbology and potions books are in Gaelic.”

“Do you think I’d be good at potions?” Harry asked worriedly.

“For one, it’s in your blood – both sides of your family – every side of your family in every branch of your family – was good at potions, including Lily. For two, Sean said you’re a good cook, which means you have some of the skills already.”

“Is it like cooking?”

“More exact, but yes,” Remus said, cheering him up. Remus cast a spell on a shopping bag that made it endlessly large on the inside and completely weightless to carry the stack of books that Harry had bought, and he and Rose watched the man load it in awe.

“There you are!”

“Draco,” Harry recognized without even looking up.

“Goodness – did you buy the whole store?” Draco teased, looking at the stack of books on the counter.

“Just about,” Rose said.

“I just bought some beginner guides,” Harry mumbled, checking that the scrolls from the vault were still protected between the conical hats in the rucksack. He glanced at Draco before showing him the contents of the bag. “Are these hats okay?”

The blonde looked at them and fidgeted with the caps before nodding. He pulled out one of the books and read the spine, his eyes going wide enough to see blue in his silver irises. “Children’s Chafes: A Guide to Common Ointments and Powders by Charlus Potter – Harry, this is a book on dry potions! Do you have any idea how rare that is!?”

“You can read it when I’m done,” Harry said, taking it back. “That is, if you’re helpful today.”

On command, the blonde went from awed and relaxed to charming and flirtatious, putting a hand on the wall behind Harry and leaning toward him, a hand in his pocket and a smirk on his lips, his eyes positively sparkling. “Harry, my sweet and dear friend,” he purred in a musical tone, “anything that you desire, I will do my very best to accomplish.”

“I’m sure you will,” Harry said, rolling his eyes, unaffected by his clearly falsified mood and interest.

“That jewellery looks rather dashing on you, by the way.”

“I want honesty, Draco, not flattery.”

“I mean it,” he said, touching Harry's ear-piece, purposefully drawing his fingers across the backs of Harry's sensitive ears, making the brunette shiver slightly. His palm slid down to cup Harry's jawline. “You look beautiful – and expensive and historical and a fascinating combination of Wen and Potter. It’s a great impression to make on the goons just outside this window who are taking pictures of us right now – don’t look – they’re from the newspaper.”

“Don’t flirt with me!” Harry hissed.

“Use your pointer finger and push my chin upwards and away. That will tell them that you’re not romantically interested in me but that we’re still friends.” Harry raised an eyebrow, but did as Draco said, using his pointer finger to force the blonde to look up at the ceiling and step back, to which he smiled and leaned against the wall next to Harry, perfectly platonically.

“Ah, there you are Draco,” Remus said, finally finished with the library Harry had purchased. “I was wondering when you would join us.”

“Forgive me – I got tied up at Madam Malkins. Thanks to Harry's patronage, she’s positively brimming with customers. I nearly missed my appointment. She said that Harrys’ things will be done after lunch.”

“Looks like the Daily Prophet’s finally done interrogating the Gringotts goblins,” Remus commented dryly, looking out the window behind Harry. “Where are your parents?”

“Dad’s off with Uncle Sev, and Mum’s getting a massage,” Draco said. “I told them I’d be fine with Harry.”

“Of course, you did,” Remus nodded.

“Shall we?” Draco said, offering his arm to Rose.

“Do I look okay?” she asked.

“You look positively charming and the resemblance to your aunt is particularly delightful in that shade of periwinkle, which makes your freckles look like Aphrodite dropped too much beauty powder upon you.”

“Where do you learn to talk like that?” Harry asked, shaking his head.

“I’m a Malfoy – I was born this way. Don’t look down when you walk and don’t speak to them.”

~~~

Never before in Harry's entire life had he had reporters and photographers following him. They waited outside of every shop that they went into, scurrying for pictures and shooting off questions too quick for Harry to even hear, much less answer. Draco made sure that Rose was protected from their pushing and shoving, for which Harry was quite grateful, and Remus kept a sheltering arm around Harry's shoulders between shops.

They stopped at Scribbulus’ Scrolls to buy stationery goods, including vertical-line bound notebooks and horizontal-line folded notebooks for writing in English and Ogham, and later Latin and Chinese; calligraphy brushes, quills, pens, and pencils; ink stones, bottles, powder, and rests; stamps and letter sets; and a wooden stationery tablet to store it all in that somehow magically fit into Remus’ bottomless bag.

Dogweed and Deathcap was a curious shop filled with herbs and plant-goods. Draco showed Harry several of the herbs that he knew had medicinal properties, while Remus picked out a set of basic ingredients to get the teen started in his studies and experimentations and Rose selected a pair of gloves for Harry.

The reporters were not allowed into the bathhouse, much to their disappointment, which allowed the party to retreat for lunch back to the suite rather than deal with photographers at the Leaky Cauldron. Draco looked through the books that Harry had brought back from the vault in reverence and awe, excitedly showing him things that he recognized – “look, this is the meridian system from Eastern medicine”, “check this out: this one has all of the prime catalysts ranked by reactivity”, “Harry, these are the organ charts for poison focal draw points!” It was impossible not to be equally interested in excited when the blonde kept rambling in in terms that Harry didn’t know, seemingly immersed in his element.

Once they’d recovered, they braved the reporters again to Madam Malkin’s Robe Shop to pick up their clothes, and the seamstress didn’t miss the chance to be very obviously friendly with the boys to prove to her patrons that she was close to a celebrity and enhance her reputation – not that she needed to gloat. People were lining up around the corner to buy anything at all from the shop and seemed to crane around each other to see what Harry had bought, to no avail. Remus simply shoved the wrapped packages into his endless bag, paid, and they were off again.

Harry surprised the party by slipping into Dervish and Banges Musical Amenities to buy an ocarina and a kalimba. “I didn’t know you were musical,” Remus commented.

“Sean had one of these,” Harry said, showing him the ocarina. “He taught me on it, and Dudley brought one of these thumb-piano’s home when we were children, but lost interest so I picked it up. I remember liking music a lot when I was younger, but then the zoo incident happened…”

“What happened at the zoo?” Draco asked curiously.

“I released a boa constrictor on my brother because he was annoying me,” Rose said lazily, much to the shock of the Welshman. “What?”

“Remind me never to get you angry,” he said simply.

The apothecary next door fascinated Draco with its horrible smell of bad eggs and rotten cabbage. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor, jars of herbs, dried roots and bright powders lined the walls, bundles of feathers, strings of fangs, and snarled claws hung from the ceiling. The owner of Slug and Jiggers Apothecary seemed to be shocked that Harry Potter, heir of the Potter Potioneers and member of the infamous Wen Alchemist Clan, would even step foot in his shop. He stared openly at the teen while he looked at the unicorn horns and black beetle eyes by the counter.

“How do you get these ingredients?” Harry asked the man, who jumped violently enough to knock over a jar of moths, allowing the fluttering fliers to flee.

“S-s-s-s-sor-sorry-sorry?” he stammered.

“I mean, do you kill the animals?” Harry clarified.

“I – I don’t,” he said. “I don’t – there are people who – who do that and I just – I just buy their – their – their – their wares. Yeah.”

“What does it matter where they come from?” Draco asked.

“There’s two dozen unicorn horns here,” Harry commented. “Does that mean that your poachers have killed two dozen unicorns?”

“Poachers!?” the apothecary repeated in outrage, but he was quite red in embarrassment as well. “Poachers – well, it’s – it’s a rather – it’s complicated, you know—”

“And those dragon claws over there,” Harry pointed out. “I take it those come from dragons that have been poached as well, have they?”

“Why – we would never! We would never! Dragons are protected species, you know!”

“Then how did you get those claws?” Harry demanded. “Just fell off, did they?”

“You know, maybe we should go to Wen’s after all,” Remus said, dragging the teenagers out of the shop.

“But it was just getting interesting!” Rose protested.

“Seems you inherited your mother’s suspicious mind and knack for interrogation,” Remus commended. “I’m sure Amelia would appreciate those skills. I’ll tip her off to look into the shop’s suppliers.”

“Oh, is that really nec—” but Draco stopped at the hard look Harry gave him, biting his lips and nodding. “—eh, necessary to wait? I mean, illegal activity is, you know….”

“Illegal?” Rose offered helpfully as they rounded the corner back into the Asian part of the market.

“He’s the judgey sort, isn’t he?” the blonde asked his light-haired cohort.

“He’s the righteous sort, for sure,” she said.

“Remind me to never take him to Knockturn Alley back home.”

“Absolutely not,” Remus snapped. “Harry's never setting foot in that cesspool if I have anything to say about it.”

Wen’s Potions was very similarly set up to the apothecary, but more orderly and organized with an array of potions also for sale. They did not have the suspicious dragon’s parts or unicorn horns, but they did have a selection of Eastern medicines that caught Draco’s eye immediately.

“Wen-gongzhi,” the potioneer greeted, bowing low.

“Lao Ping, good to see you,” Remus bowed. “We’re looking for a starter kit of ingredients – a nice selection, if possible, and a case of—”

“AH!” Harry gasped, gripping his wrist tightly.

“Harry!” Draco and Rose yelped, catching him by his elbows and looking on in concern.

“What’s wrong?” Remus asked worriedly.

“It burns!” Harry explained through strained breaths. “Something’s wrong!”

BANG!

~~~

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10 May, 2021 15:16

Can't wait to find out what happens next!