Albus Dumbledore keeps a secret that may be the very downfall of the wizarding world. Will Voldemort learn of this secret which Dumbledore values more than the prophecy? Or, will someone find out...
Chapter 6: The Doppelganger pt. 3
Harry apparated in Charing Cross Road. Immediately, he noticed a few people, across the street, confusedly pointing at him. Two old ladies even gave him a wide berth, as they passed by him. They seemed to be afraid of him. Not knowing what to do, he just smiled and waved at them, uneasily. He, then, casually turned around, as if nothing happened out of the ordinary. He made a big blunder this time. And, he just told himself earlier, he would be careful.
He resignedly sighed. He just hoped none of them was a witch, or wizard. He didn’t want his location reported to the magical authorities. But, since he couldn’t do anything about the incident, he just pushed it at the back of his mind. For the time being, he concentrated on the dated door in front of him. He, then, looked up, and inwardly groaned with disappointment. He was right in front of The Leaky Cauldron. He wanted to appear in the street of Diagon Alley, not outside. But, the stupid sign was the first thing that popped in his mind, before he hastily disapparated.
Harry warily entered the pub. A few people inside just gave him cursory glances. There were three people at the bar, drinking. A few more were sitting around tables, quietly eating or talking. He was relieved no one paid much attention to him. He uncertainly walked up to the barman. “Excuse me, sir,” he said softly.
“Be with you in a minute.” The barman poured a couple of drinks, before giving them to his customers.
A waitress passed by him holding a tray of food. His nose automatically followed the delicious smell. His stomach growled in hunger. He liked to order some food. But, he got to wait, till he withdrew some money from Gringotts. Remus once told him his parents set aside money for him. It was supposed to be his living expenses, while he was with the Dursleys. He never knew about it. And, since he’d never seen a penny of that money, he told Remus he wouldn’t use it. But, now, his strange situation forced him to swallow his pride.
“What’ll you have?” Harry quickly turned around. He noticed the barman’s quick glance at his forehead. “Let me guess…” The barman smiled crookedly. “You’re applying for a job.”
“Excuse me?” Harry quizzically looked at the barman.
“Your scar…” The barman pointed at his forehead. “I’ve never seen so many Harry Potter look-alikes in one day. Those two Weasley boys sure know how to stir up business,” The barman said with a toothy grin. He, then, pointed at the back of his pub. “Just go through the Entrance, and look for a line of Harry Potters. You can’t miss it.”
“Uh… Thanks,” Harry said uncertainly. He was about to walk away, when he remembered something. “I’m sorry to bother you again.” He smiled awkwardly. “Could you open the entrance to Diagon Alley for me? I forgot the combination.”
“No problem.” The barman led him to the back, and opened the brick entrance. “You saw what I did…three up and two across?” Harry nodded briefly. “Don’t forget now. So next time, you know what to do.” Again, Harry nodded briefly. “Good luck, lad.”
“Thanks.” Harry momentarily grinned at the barman, before entering the brick arch.
Diagon Alley wasn’t as crowded as when Harry first visited it. But, it was still as interesting as when he first saw it. Since he wasn’t in a hurry to get to Gringotts, he took his time looking at show windows of different shops. Before he knew it, he was almost near Fred and George’s joke shop. He curiously looked ahead. To his surprise, he saw the Weasley twins were outside their joke shop. They were standing behind a cart full of their joke products. For a moment, he wondered why the twins were selling their products in the street.
Harry anxiously walked up to them, wondering if they would know him. For a few moments, he looked them in the eye. When they didn’t show any reaction to his appearance, a feeling of great sadness washed over him. He was really hoping they would recognize him. Then, he noticed Fred and George’s open interest. He quickly schooled his face. Briefly, he curiously looked at the shop behind them. He was surprised to see a sign, To Lease, hanging on the show window.
He was wondering what happened to the twins’ business, when they both suddenly said, “You’re hired!”
He looked at them in surprise and disbelief. “I am?” For almost two weeks, he tried to find an employer, who wouldn’t ask for parent’s approval. Now, without even applying, he got one.
“Yes, you are… Congratulations!” they both said simultaneously.
Then, Fred beckoned him to go around the cart. “Come on. Join us back here.”
George first introduced himself, then his twin. After they agreed on his pay, the twins gave him instructions. Harry was excited. It was his first job. He thought, perhaps, he wouldn’t need his parents’ money after all.
“Are these Flobberworm Gummies safe for children?” a female voice asked him uncertainly.
Harry nervously swept his errant hair off his brow, before facing his first customer. A middle-aged witch was curiously inspecting a wriggling, red gummy in her hand. When she finally looked at him, she gasped out loud. Her eyes grew round, and her mouth hanged open. Harry felt slightly confuse at the awestruck expression of the witch.
“Is there something wrong?” For a moment, he self-consciously brushed his nose. “Do I have something on my face?”
“Oh my word…” the witch gasped in disbelief. For a moment, she hurriedly read the sign above the cart, which she ignored earlier. With incredulous expression, she looked again at Harry. “You’re Harry Potter!”
Harry felt more confuse, and a little curious. He seriously doubted they met before. So, there was no way she would know his name. And yet, she correctly identified him. He also didn’t have any idea, why she reacted to him, as if he was someone famous. The first was Mrs. Fedwick’s daughter, and now, this witch. He didn’t think he was that remarkable. But, looking at the witch, he wasn’t sure he could convince her otherwise.
“Uhm… Will you excuse me for a minute?” Harry uneasily approached Fred and George. They were grinning widely at his obvious discomfort. “Fred, George, I think one of you should take this one.”
“No problem, mate.”
“Just leave it to us, Harry.”
The twins quickly low fived in excitement. It seemed whatever mischief they were cooking, it was obviously working. Harry briefly glanced at the excited witch. He didn’t know how, but her excitement was attracting curious bystanders. Meanwhile, Fred and George confidently stood in front of the growing number of witches and wizards.
“Where’s Harry Potter?” asked someone from behind the crowd.
“He’s that good-looking boy right there!” the witch, who started it all, excitedly pointed her finger at Harry.
“Excuse us! May we have your attentions, please?!” Fred yelled giddily.
“We can explain everything!” George shouted merrily. For a moment, the twins caught the crowd’s attention. That is, until another one voiced his observation.
“That’s not Harry Potter.” An old wizard, standing on the witch’s left side contradicted crankily.
“Are you blind?” asked the witch irately of the old man. “Can’t you see his scar?”
“People, please, if you will just listen to us, we can explain!” Fred exclaimed assertively. He was ignored, when another bystander made a loud comment.
“You’re right! That’s not him.” Another wizard spoke aloud. He was standing a little behind the witch’s right side. “I saw Harry Potter over two weeks ago.”
Not to be dissuaded, the witch heatedly exclaimed, “I’m telling you! That’s him!”
Harry was beginning to feel really worried. He wasn’t sure anymore, if Fred and George could handle the growing crowd. They were getting unruly. He secretly looked around him, hoping to find a hiding place. Then, he noticed the cart’s storage compartment. It looked like it was big enough for him to hide. He quickly scanned the crowd, to see if anyone was looking in his direction. Fortunately for him, everyone was watching the argument between the witch and a wizard. Ignored by the crowd, he inconspicuously went down on his hands and knees. He slightly nudged Fred and George apart, so he could get inside the cart’s compartment. Both consummate mischief makers, the twins didn’t let anyone know what was happening underfoot.
“There’s only one way to find out,” the old wizard earlier said aloud. “You there!” Everyone in the crowd looked towards Harry’s direction, including Fred and George. The old man’s brows narrowed, his eyes squinted. “Oi! He’s gone!” he exclaimed in surprise. “Where did he go?!”
“You, two…” someone from the crowd shouted. “We know you’re hiding him! Bring him out!”
“Yeah! We want to meet Harry Potter!” another one shouted.
“We’re telling you… He’s not Harry Potter!” Fred yelled back impatiently. “Those two…” He pointed at the old wizard and the other one. “…are right. The boy here earlier was not Harry Potter!” His voice was so loud; it could be clearly heard over the uproar.
“He’s just someone we hired to look like Harry Potter!” George shouted urgently.
“Oh, really? If that boy wasn’t Harry Potter, then, why doesn’t he come out, and tell us himself?” The witch remained firmly unconvinced.
For a moment, the twins were at a lost for word. They couldn’t decide whether to keep convincing the crowd, or bring out Harry. Their new hired help might convince these potential customers, that he was not Harry Potter. Or, he might not. Suddenly, they saw intimidating groups of wizards moving to the left and right sides of their cart. They were going to be boxed in. The twins felt like they were back in Hogwarts again. A group of students once cornered them, demanding their money back. After a brief exchange of worried looks, they came to a decision.
“People, please, if you’ll all calm down, we’ll let…” Fred began persuasively.
“Can’t you see? They’re lying to us again!” The witch irately cut the rest of Fred’s sentence. She momentarily faced the crowd. “That boy was really Harry Potter! And, we have the right to meet him!” The witch turned around again, and angrily glared at the Weasleys. “We want to meet Harry Potter! Bring him out here!”
“Yeah! We want Potter!”
“We . want . Potter!”
“We . want . Potter!”
Led by the irate witch, a chant started. Soon, everyone was clamoring to see The-Boy-Who-Lived.
Inside the cart’s cupboard, Harry was surprised to discover a closet-sized space. He had no idea, the twins knew such an advance magic. After surveying his surrounding, he curiously inspected a few items in the shelves. He curiously peered inside one hand-woven basket. There were multi-colored balls in it. He gingerly picked a red one, and closely examined it. It was hard. Then, he hesitantly smelled it. It smelled chocolaty. For a moment, he wondered what it would do. Carelessly shrugging his shoulders, he put it in mouth, and chewed. It was chocolate alright. And then… Poof! He suddenly changed into a guinea fowl. After a few moments, he changed back.
“Woah! That was wicked.” He grinned in amazement.
Then, he moved on to sample some of the other joke products. He lost track of time. He found himself enjoying the joke products. But after a while, he stopped. He was getting tired. He, then, carefully examined himself. He found nothing wrong. He was glad there were no side effects. He didn’t want to get out there with extra appendages. He wonderingly looked around him again. He marveled at the twins’ brilliance. Most of their products were simply innovative, cutting edge joke, so to speak. Suddenly, his eyes gleamed with mischief.
“This is sweet,” he muttered to himself. “Those two jokers don’t remember me, or our prank war.” He grinned broadly. “Payback’s a bitch.” Then, another thought popped inside his head. “Wait a minute… If they don’t remember, does it mean it’s off?” For a few minutes, he wondered about that. He definitely didn’t want to start an unprovoked prank war. He carefully weighed the pros and cons. Finally, he came to a decision. “I’ll just get them for the two they still owe me, and then, I’ll stop.” Nodding his head as if he’s agreeing with himself, he confirmed his resolve. “Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Now, how do I make it look like I’m not playing a prank on them?”
It was over an hour, when Fred and George finally let him out. He found out they were fined for the mischief they caused. All of their hard earned gold would now go to the Ministry coffer. Harry felt sorry for them. He wanted to help, but he didn’t have any money. Then, he remembered his alleged vault in Gringotts. He could help them with some of his money. At first, he hesitated to suggest his solution. He didn’t feel the money belonged to him, or if there was anything left. But, when he saw the twins’ dejected faces, he uncertainly offered his help. Fred and George cautioned him of the tough competition, facing their start-up business. Harry already saw their ingenious products. And, he already knew of their brilliant talents. So, in those scores, he was confident they would succeed. He said so as much. After that, they all shook hands to seal the deal.
Harry was once again, walking in the street of Diagon Alley. His head, however, was covered with the cowl of his borrowed cloak. Fred and George offered to accompany him. But, he didn’t want to get them into deeper trouble, with their parents. He surreptitiously looked at the witches and wizards, he passed by. He still couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. For a moment, he wondered if the incident earlier was somehow connected, with his strange circumstance. In a span of several days, he went from nobody to somebody. Magical folks were really weird, he thought to himself in bemusement.
He managed to reach Gringotts without any incident. He pulled his hood off as soon as he entered the prestigious wizarding bank. There were several Goblin tellers sitting behind a high, marble counter. Each of them was entertaining a client. Since he didn’t want to call attention to himself, he picked the farthest teller in the row. He stood a few meters behind a wizard already engaged in business with the Goblin teller. He waited anxiously. He hoped his transaction would go smoothly.
The sharp call snapped Harry to attention. He quickly stepped forward. “Hello, sir…” he greeted amiably. “I would like to withdraw three thousand galleons, please.”
For a moment, the Goblin regarded him with cold indifference. “Key, please,” the teller gutturally requested.
“Yes…my key.” Harry was already aware; the Goblin teller would ask some sort of identification. It was a bank, after all. “I don’t have one,” he said awkwardly. The Goblin slightly frowned. “But, I do have a vault here. A friend of my parents told me.”
The Goblin suspiciously scrutinized him. Harry didn’t flinch from the teller’s pointed stare. He thought the Goblin was probably debating, whether he was a would-be bank robber, or not. He got a feeling the bank teller would ask him probing questions, next. He only hoped his monetary transaction wouldn’t get reported to his parents, right away. It would certainly put a crimp on his plan to help the twins, if his parents blocked his withdrawal.
“Your name, please,” the Goblin asked sternly.
“Harry Ev… Potter,” he answered uneasily. He always felt a little weird, saying his true family name.
“Are you, now?” The Goblin teller literally looked displeased. Harry was puzzled. He didn’t have a clue, why the Goblin would look upset. The teller, then, coldly handed him a quill, and a rolled parchment. “Please write your name, and the amount of gold you like to withdraw,” the Goblin instructed curtly.
Harry unrolled the parchment. He was surprised to see it was blank. He didn’t let it bother him, though. He just assumed withdrawal forms were different in the wizarding world. There was a Closed sign plate on one side of the counter’s upper deck. He picked it up, and put it lengthwise on his parchment. The plate kept the parchment from curling back. He briefly glanced to his left and right sides, and a little further down the marble counter after that. He didn’t see any ink bottle.
“Do you have an ink bottle?” Harry casually asked the Goblin teller. “I don’t see one here.” For a brief moment, he saw an odd gleam in the Goblin’s eyes.
“Just write on the parchment, Mr. Potter,” the Goblin teller told him coldly.
Harry casually studied the quill. “So, is this charmed to produce ink, like a fountain pen?” The Goblin just coolly regarded him. He got a suspicious feeling the bank teller didn’t believe him, when he said his name was Harry Potter. “Right, I’ll just write down my name, and the amount I like to withdraw.” He awkwardly smiled at the Goblin. Thinking it would further annoy the bank teller, if he dilly-dallied; he proceeded to write down his name.
“What the…” Harry immediately dropped the quill at the sudden pain. When he looked at his left palm, he saw a letter H carved there. To his relief, the wound healed quickly. He, then, realized whatever he wrote on the parchment, would be inked with his blood. He angrily glared at the Goblin teller. “What the bloody hell is going on? That stupid quill writes with my blood!”
The Goblin teller merely looked at him, unperturbed. “That is a blood quill, Mr. Potter. Outside this bank, it is declared illegal by the Ministry. We use it to confirm the identity of anyone, who claims to have an account with us.” Suddenly, a ruthless demeanor settled over the Goblin’s face. “You must understand, Mr. Potter… Nobody steals from us, and gets away with it.”
“I don’t give a shite about your policy! You should have warned me first!” Harry angrily held the Goblin teller’s eyes a few more seconds, before inspecting his left palm again. He didn’t see any scar. But, he could still feel residual pain. He deeply rubbed his palm with his right thumb to massage away the stinging sensation.
“We know it is an unpleasant practice, Mr. Potter. It is for that reason we employ this method,” the Goblin informed him unemotionally. “It discourages would-be thieves. And, it ensures our clients’ gold remains in their respective vaults.” The Goblin briefly glanced at the open parchment. Written on it was the still wet letter H. There was a thoughtful expression on his face, when he looked at Harry again. “I humbly apologize for the inconvenience, Mr. Potter. But, like I said, it is a necessary bank procedure.”
Harry immediately noticed a change in the Goblin’s tone of voice. It sounded more accommodating. “I’m not writing anything with that bloody blood quill. If you want proof of my identity, I’ll show you my passport.” He didn’t have a passport, of course. It was just a bluff. He was counting on the subtle change in the Goblin’s disposition.
“That won’t be necessary, Mr. Potter.” The Goblin teller signaled at someone behind him. Harry was a little surprised, when another Goblin suddenly stood beside him. “Gorok, please accompany Mr. Potter to his account manager.”
The new Goblin slightly bowed in acknowledgement. Then, he turned to Harry. “Please, follow me, Mr. Potter.” Without a backward glance, the new Goblin quickly walked away. Harry immediately followed, wondering why he needed to see his... account manager?
Harry was shown inside an office. He curiously looked around him. The room was quiet, and just adequately lit. Old books lined the wall behind an ornate, mahogany desk. Like the lobby, the decoration was Victorian. He was surprised to see the statues and paintings were of human likeness. He was curiously inspecting a sword, when the door he earlier walked in, quietly opened.
“Mr. Potter, I presume?” a voice amiably asked him.
Harry quickly whirled around, startled. “Er…yeah.” He immediately searched for the owner of the voice.
He saw a little Goblin briskly walked toward the table, pleasantly smiling at him. The Goblin was wearing a business suit, more common during the early 1900. For a moment, the Goblin disappeared behind the large desk. He, then, heard scraping sounds, followed by something bulky loudly hitting a wood. A few grunts later, the little Goblin was comfortably seated, and pleasantly smiling at him again.
“My name is Omek. I am your account manager.” The Goblin extended his nail-sharp, bony hand, which Harry briefly shook. “Please, have a seat, Mr. Potter. I’m getting a crick on my neck, looking up at you.” Harry apologetically smiled at his account manager, before sitting down. Omek nodded in understanding. With his hands clasped over the desk, Omek expectantly looked at Harry. “How may I help you, Mr. Potter?”
Harry cleared his throat. “Well, I like to withdraw some money.” His account manager didn’t speak. He merely nodded encouragingly. “I like to withdraw three thousand galleons.” Still, the Goblin didn’t speak. He looked like he was attentively waiting for more instructions. “That’s all for now.”
“I can easily do that.” Harry secretly breathed a sigh of relief. He was afraid there was none left. “But, are you sure that is all you want, Mr. Potter?” his account manager quizzically asked him. “Aren’t you a bit curious about your earnings, for the last fifteen years?”
Harry was taken aback. “My earnings?” He wasn’t sure earlier, if his vault got enough galleons to cover his withdrawal. But, to be told he made some profit, it was unbelievable. The Dursleys couldn’t be that generous.
“Yes… I must say, your vault accumulated quite a fortune over the years.” Omek looked proud of himself.
“Sure… Why not?” Harry shrugged nonchalantly. “You can tell me about that.” With the Dursley siphoning his vault, he didn’t really expect much. He was content he could withdraw the money he needed.
“Very good, Mr. Potter.” Omek beamed lightly at him. He shuffled several parchments on his desk, before he found the one he wanted. “Ahem… Before your parents died…”
“WHAT?” Harry stood up in shock. “My parents are dead?” A feeling of disbelief, mixed with confusion, overcame him. “There must be a mistake. When did this happen? How?” he asked frantically.
Omek quizzically looked at him. “It happened fifteen years ago, Mr. Potter. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named went to…”
“You mean Voldemort?” Harry asked disbelievingly. He was definitely confused. How could it happen fifteen years ago? They were alive a month ago.
“Yes…” Omek replied uneasily. “He went to your house at Godric’s Hollow, and murdered your parents.” Harry was getting more confused. His parents didn’t live in Godric’s Hollow. Omek slowly pointed at his forehead. “He also gave you that scar, Mr. Potter.” Harry reflexively touched his scar…his lightning bolt-shaped scar. The story the Goblin was telling him sounded very familiar. He actually knew, what his account manager would say next. “The Unforgiveable Curse meant to kill you, Mr. Potter, destroyed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named instead.”
For a moment, Harry carefully searched the Goblin’s face. His account manager looked serious. But, he wasn’t. “You’re joking, right?” he asked amusingly. But, the Goblin merely gave him a puzzled look. “You’re telling me… I’m The-Boy-Who-Lived?” he asked in disbelief.
The puzzled expression on Omek’s face deepened. “Yes, you are, Mr. Potter.”
“Me? The-Boy-Who-Lived?” Harry chuckled a little, expecting the Goblin to laugh any minute now. But, his account manager really looked serious. The Goblin actually believed he was The-Boy-Who-Lived. Harry’s face slowly lost its amused expression. “If I’m The-Boy-Who-Lived, where is your proof?”
“It’s right there on your forehead, Mr. Potter.” Omek couldn’t understand why the boy didn’t believe him. Surely, somebody must have told him. At least, Dumbledore would have told him.
Harry’s face turned sour. He placed his palms on the table, and threateningly leaned closer to the Goblin. His voice was as cold as ice, when he spoke again. “If this is some kind of a joke, it’s not funny. I know who is The-Boy-Who-Lived. And, I’m not him. Now, unless you can provide a more convincing proof, don’t ever mistake me for him again.” After a few tense seconds, he straightened up. “My parents aren’t dead either. I saw them alive a month ago.”
Omek impassively studied Harry for a moment. He was beginning to think, someone purposely kept the boy in the dark. The boy probably didn’t even know his true parents were dead. He, then, climbed down from his high chair, and went to the bookshelves. After several seconds, he found what he was looking for. Omek, next, went to Harry, and offered him an old, thick book.
“The event of your parents’ death is in this book. The downfall of the Dark Lord is also in this book. Turn the page to 271. You can start there.” Omek casually returned to his seat.
Harry doubtfully read the title of the book, The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts. He carefully studied it for a moment, flipping pages after pages. The book looked authentic. He quietly sat down, and started reading. When he finished reading the relevant chapters, he was still unconvinced. So, the Goblin handed him two more books, Modern Magical History and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century. After reading seven different books, from seven different authors, there was little doubt in his mind. He was not egotistic enough to think those seven people, who he probably never met in his life, would fabricate such intricate prank on him. He was nobody. He, then, regarded his account manager. He doubted the Goblin would prank him also.
“Longbottom …” he whispered ponderingly. Somehow, he switched fate with Neville. And, this madness all started, when he woke up from the dead. It must be it.
“I beg your pardon? I didn’t quite hear that,” Omek inquired politely. He was deeply puzzled by his client’s reaction. His story should be old news to the boy.
As if in a trance, Harry lightly touched his scar again, tracing its shape with his finger. Then, he looked at the Goblin in disbelief. “I’m The-Boy-Who-Lived?”
Omek didn’t know what other response to give. So, he repeated his same answer earlier. “Yes, you are, Mr. Potter.”
There was a moment of quiet reflection. Then, suddenly, Harry jumped up in an emotional outburst. He paced the floor agitatedly. “But… But, that can’t be! It’s impossible! Neville is The-Boy-Who-Lived! How did this happen?”
“Mr. Potter…” Omek called calmly.
Harry didn’t hear him. He agitatedly continued pacing the marble floor. “My parents are dead! My Uncle Max’s family is alive! Nobody recognized me! What the bloody hell is going on?”
“Mr. Potter!” Omek called louder.
“WHAT?” Harry was breathing hard, when he rounded on his account manager. His yellow-green eyes were blazing with restrained anger…and confusion.
“I don’t know what you are babbling about. But, I assure you… You are The-Boy-Who-Lived. I’m sorry your parents are dead, but it is the fact.” Omek looked steadfastly at his client, willing him to get a hold of himself. “Now… May we go back to the business at hand? Time is gold, Mr. Potter.”
Breathing slowly in and out, Harry managed to clear his head, and control his temper. He slowly nodded his head in acknowledgement. He went back to his chair, and slowly sat down. He didn’t trust himself to speak. So, he remained quiet, and waited for his account manager to continue.
Before he started, Omek momentarily observed his client. It seemed to him the boy wasn’t well informed of his family heritage, or the role he played in the wizarding world. Given his client’s temper, he pitied the person, who would shed light on those subjects.
“I’m sorry I have been the bearer of bad news, Mr. Potter. I thought Dumbledore, at least, explained to you, what happened to your family.” His client just silently nodded in acknowledgement. But, he could see the burning anger, behind the yellow-green eyes. “Moving on…” Omek momentarily straightened his parchments. “You must understand, Mr. Potter. I cannot discuss the details of your inheritance. You have to see the executor of your parents’ will.” Again, his client silently nodded. “Ahem… According to your account record, you have a total of three million, one hundred seven thousand, one hundred ninety eight galleons in your vault.” Omek saw his client’s expression changed slowly to incredulity. He inwardly smiled. He got a feeling those numbers would douse his client’s anger.
The Goblin was right in his assumption. The exorbitant amount of gold did douse Harry’s anger. Harry was stunned. He never had such large amount of money in his life. This also confirmed he was living a life not his own. The Dursleys would never have let him keep the money, if everything was as it was. His anger forgotten, he momentarily tried to think, how he could put everything back to normal. His life might not be a happy one, but it was something he knew. He also didn’t like the idea of being The-Boy-Who-Lived. Neville could have it, he thought to himself.
“Shall we discuss your future investments?” When Harry looked up, he saw his account manager proudly smiling at him. “Your parents made a wise decision, letting me handle your investments.”
“Whatever you decide is fine with me.” The Goblin delightedly beamed at him. Harry wasn’t really interested with his finances at the moment. He was more concerned with the mysterious fate, he found himself into. “The Potters… Do they have a family vault?”
For a moment, the Goblin looked ill-at-ease. “Yes,” he answered simply.
“I like to see it, please,” Harry requested calmly. He didn’t really need to see it. But, he was curious to know, what the rest of his family considered valuable.
“It is against bank regulations. You cannot see it, until after the will reading.” Harry’s face fell. “There are papers to sign first.” He nodded glumly. “But, since you are the only remaining Potter…” Harry was shocked anew, with the knowledge of being the only Potter alive. “…hence, technically the head of your family, I think I can arrange it. Would you give me a moment?” Harry nodded silently. The Goblin climbed down his high chair, and hurriedly walked out the door. After several minutes, he came back with a pleased look on his face. “Please follow me, Mr. Potter.” The Goblin immediately walked out the door again. Harry quickly followed.
They entered a huge, deep cavern. The Goblin confidently stepped inside a parked metal trolley. Harry uncertainly followed. Looking down, he noticed the winding, iron tracks looked old, and unstable. He hoped the Goblin wouldn’t take a short cut, by letting the trolley jumped off the track. They moved slowly at first, on a level track. Then, suddenly, they dropped. Harry screamed in surprise. After a few seconds, he recovered. He raised both his arms in excitement. He couldn’t help it. It was like an underground, rollercoaster ride. They zipped past rows, upon rows of bank vaults, going even deeper. After several minutes, the trolley began to slow down. Harry felt invigorated. It was a shame the ride ended so soon.
The Goblin led Harry through a dimly lit, roughly hewn tunnel. He felt the cold air, and smelled the strong scent of earth. Here and there, he saw water puddles on the ground. For a moment, he wondered how deep they went down. The tunnel opened in a big chamber. There was a statue of a male lion, in the middle of the floor. It was huge, almost the size of a bull elephant. The lion’s head was resting on the floor, between its two forepaws. Its lifelike eyes were fixed at some faraway prey. It looked liked it was getting ready to attack.
The Goblin slightly turned towards him. “That is the way to your family vault.” He pointed to the lion. “You may open it, if you wish.” The Goblin, then, stood to one side, giving Harry a clear path.
“How?” Harry asked quizzically.
“A drop of blood on the nose will do, Mr. Potter.” The Goblin casually handed him a pocket knife.
Harry was about to make a cut on his left forefinger, but a thought came to him. “Just out of curiosity… if I open it, and I’m not Harry Potter, what will happen?” he asked casually.
The Goblin grinned wickedly. “This lion will eat you, chew you a little bit, and then, spit you out.” Harry inwardly flinched. That would hurt a lot. “But, you don’t have to worry,” the Goblin told him reassuringly. “You won’t even get a chance to talk to me, if you’re not Harry Potter. The parchment, the bank teller gave you, was charmed to identify you. Your blood proves to us you’re Harry Potter. Otherwise, the guards in the lobby would have immediately escorted you to the Ministry. Trying to deceive Gringotts is a serious offense, Mr. Potter.” His account manager shrugged nonchalantly.
“Yeah, I got that idea from the bank teller,” Harry replied sarcastically.
Harry anxiously studied the lion statue again. He knew he got nothing to fear. He was a Potter. His parents might have abandoned him. But, they didn’t disown him. He made a small, quick cut on his left forefinger. Gathering his courage, he slowly approached the statue. Extending his forefinger, he gingerly touched the lion’s nose. He immediately withdrew his finger, when the lion statue directly looked at him. Its eyes suddenly glowed red.
The lion statue lifted its head off the floor. Harry didn’t move from his spot. He got a strange feeling the lion statue was studying him. After a few more seconds, its eyes returned to normal. Then, it lazily sat up, and slowly shook its mane. He stepped back a little, to avoid a shower of dusts, and small rocks. When the dusts cleared, he saw a narrow opening in its belly. For a moment, he was hesitant to enter.
“Go ahead, Mr. Potter. The guard of you family vault recognized you, as the rightful heir.”
Hearing the Goblin’s encouraging voice, Harry slowly approached the entrance. He thought, for a moment, the lion statue would pounce, once he got closer. But, it didn’t. Relieved, he walked more confidently toward the dark opening, right between the lion’s two forelegs. Once he stood at the entrance, torches automatically lit inside. He saw stone steps leading downward. Nodding at his account manager in thanks, he entered with a mixture of nervousness, and excitement.