A brief to Diagon Alley and finally on home for Harry.
Chapter 13 - Going Home
Diagon Alley was bustling with people. Witched and wizards of all ages and of various backgrounds were moving about the narrow, cobble street. Children weaved in and out of the crowd - giggling and chasing after each other, as their parents yelled for them to come back, or requested that they not go too far. Street vendor and shop owners could be heard declaring their wares and calling out their sales for the day. Their voices rang out enticingly, drowning out the excitement about the upcoming Quidditch World Cup and the latest gossip being spread amongst the masses.
Harry grinned, as colorful displays flashed in multiple store fronts, some accompanied by bangs and puffs of multicolored smoke or flamboyant showers of sparks. In this world, he hadn't come to Diagon Alley often, as he hadn't really liked crowds and had preferred to stay home, if he could. In the other world, the last time that he had seen Diagon Alley so cheerful was the summer before his third year at Hogwarts, which had been over a decade ago according the memories of his 23 year old self. Harry truly couldn't help but feel exhilarated by his surroundings, as he felt the palpable magic in the air cling to his person and shift around him with the movements of his fellow patrons.
With the midday sun warming his face and the familiar scent of fresh baked bread mingling with herbs and the fumes of various potions coming from the bakery up the way and the apothecary to his left filling his nose and lungs with his every breath, Harry could only continue to grin like a loon, as he and his father cut a path through the crowd and made their way towards Ollivander's.
"You all right?"
Harry looked up to his father, who was striding along beside him. At seeing the bemused look on the man's face, his grin broadened. "I'm fine, more than fine actually."
Well, in truth, Harry was a bit disconcerted over not having a working wand on his person, but it wasn't like he was entirely helpless without a wand. The war in the other world had taught him many things, surviving a hostile encounter without a wand being one of the more useful and important lessons that he had learned. Not to mention, this world wasn't at war quite yet. It was unlikely that he would be attacked, unlikely to the point that there was a better chance of the cloudless sky unleashing a down pour of fat raindrops on the city of London within the next few minutes. With magic involved, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, but it remained highly improbable all the same.
As Harry and James made their way past Gringotts, Harry's elated mood falter ever so slightly and he turned a surreptitious glare upon the great, snow white bank. The Goblin Nation had basically handed Voldemort the whole of Europe in the other world, when the self-serving bastards had transferred the contents of every last bank vault connected to the Resistance and its individual members and allies to multiple accounts setup for the ever expanding Dark Regime. The transfers had included the funds of several nations that had opposed Voldemort, as well as the funds of quite a few noble houses and successful businesses within the nations that had already been conquered by Voldemort.
With Voldemort basically controlling the majority of the gold throughout Europe, as the Dark Lord had the accounts of the Resistance as well as the accounts of his followers under his command, Voldemort had soon taken control of the trading of goods and had moved to conquer the nations that he had yet to conquer. With the Kill Wards expanding over each conquered nation, Voldemort had gained near exclusive control over immigration and all movement between the Europe's nations. Starvation and what had been basically a life of slavery for low-class half-bloods, blood-traitors, and non-human magical races and concentration camps and mass killings for muggleborns and muggles had soon followed. As Voldemort had bolster his Elite with riches and vast plots of land, mid-class citizens had been left to fight amongst themselves for the few jobs that actually paid a decent amount of galleons and to obtain enough food to feed their families, as well as save enough gold to pay their taxes to the Dark Regime for protection against the 'Undesirables'and particularly against Harry Potter, Undesirable No. 1.
Seeing as most of Voldemort's Elite had been prone to abusing the power granted to them, it had been entirely unsurprising that the remains of Europe's economy had collapsed in its entirety within a short six months. Anyone in possession of gold had quickly become a target for thieves. Anyone in possession of food had been likely to be killed for it, if they weren't skilled enough to protect their rations. Tribes had formed out of necessity for self-preservation and territory wars had bloodied the lands in response. Of course, Voldemort hadn't given two shits about the quick decline of civilized society in the lower classes. As long as his Dark Regime and its Elite had been recognized as having supreme authority and the tribes had paid their taxes, whether with galleons or desired goods and services, he had been satisfied. In fact, the infighting between the half-bloods and blood-traitors proved that pure-bloods, who were loyal to their blood, truly were the superior race, or so the Elite had liked to claim.
Ruthlessness had become the new anthem of survival, as the months passed and the territory wars turned to blood wars. By the time the year 2000 had rolled around, things had gotten so bad that the Resistance and the Dark Regime, though both sides had been fighting a drawn out war against each other, shared the common goal of keeping the tribes from completely wiping each other out. To this point, and out of desperation for his own survival and the survival of those under his command, Harry had taken to selling his and the Resistance's combat skills to the highest and most justified bidder under his assumed name of Porteur Demort. In return, the Resistance had progressively gained a steady source of food, galleons to trade with, information, and an expanding network of contacts. Runners had been setup to assist the tribes in circumventing the restrictions of the Kill Wards and to move goods between the tribes, so that the tribes didn't have to rely solely on the Dark Regime to attain the items that they needed, yet couldn't magic into existence - such as food, potions, and wands. The more vicious tribes had had their leaders assassinated and had been told to elect a new leader, who was better than the last, and to keep the peace, or it wouldn't be only their leader killed the next time. Of course, some hadn't listened and had ultimately met a bloody fate at the hands of Resistance or the Dark Regime.
Over time, the operation of Runners had become a full out underground smuggling network and the Resistance's network of contacts had spread all across Europe. Progressively, the blood wars between the tribes calmed and with that calm, the oppressed had begun to turn their attention and anger to their oppressors. As the Runners became more and more successful in smuggling things in to, out of, and within Europe, more and more tribes deflected from the control of the Dark Regime's strict rule. Their fighters joined the Resistance or the Runners, while the ones who neither wanted to fight, nor wanted to remain under the oppression of the Dark Regime, were smuggled out of Europe to Russia, the Middle East, and Africa, before dispersing across the globe.
Upon the situation in Europe stabilizing to a point where Harry had been comfortable with leaving Ron, the Talvace brothers, and a few other of his most trusted in charge of their multitude of operations, he had made the trek to Russia himself and had, with his personnel presence and refusal to accept 'no' as an answer, finally gotten the International Confederation of Wizards cooperation in setting up an emergency meeting. It wasn't until he had walked into the domed conference hall of the Confederation and had stated his birth name, as well as his widely recognized assumed name of Porteur Demort, and spent the following fortnight petitioning the Confederation for assistance in the Resistance's efforts against Voldemort and the Dark Lord's Dark Regime that things had truly started to look up for the Resistance, since the day that goblins had sold them out to the Dark Regime three years prior. Though the Confederation had been vastly busy and were sure to remain vastly busy with keeping the muggles of the world in the dark about what had been occurring in Europe, various nations had relent their neutral status and tetchy attitudes about the Europeans having let things get so out of control in the first place and had given promises of support by means of financial, medical, or physical aid. By that point, however, millions of European lives had already been lost and the only thing that they had had left to hope to gain was peace for Europe once more.
Not this time, Harry though fiercely, as he observed the two goblin sentries standing guard on either side of bronze door marking Gringotts's public entrance. Fuck me over once, that's all on you. Fuck me over twice -like hell I'll let it happen a second time. If he had his way, he'd screw the greedy cowards over royally, as he carried a sizable sum of their own gold out their doors.
Harry looked several paces ahead of him to his father, having not realized that he had stopped walking. The bespectacled man was watching him with wary eyes. He forced a smile back on his face and pushed away his memories of the other world. He had a lot to do in this world, but now was not the time for him to go questing after horcruxes and ward stones, or plotting revenge against an entire race of magical beings, who technically hadn't yet committed the crime that he held them responsible for. Last night and this morning hadn't been the time either, though he had been sorely tempted to question Sirius about the Locket of Salazar Slytherin. Ultimately, he had decided to hold off on doing do for the time being; at least until he had had the opportunity to speak with Kreacher, who Sirius had divulged hadn't been freed but rather had been banished to work in the kitchens at Hogwarts. No, now was not the time for such things. Right now he needed to focus on getting settled within his environment and establishing his new persona within the eyes of his family, friends, and the general populace. His activities would soon be suspicious enough without people believing that they have reason to distrust him.
"How much do you want to bet that it will take over a half-hour for Ollivander to find me a wand?" Harry asked nonchalantly, as he started off for Ollivander's once more.
"Your mother would have my head, if I put a stake to that bet," James said, relaxing and falling into step beside his son.
Harry looked sideways at his father with a pointed look. If his mother ever found out all of what his father had kept and planned to keep from her, a betting stake would be the least of his worries. "If you don't tell her, I won't tell her."
James sighed in exasperation. "Fine, 10 sickles."
"5 galleons," Harry countered.
"Now you're just trying to take my money," James accused with a wry grin.
"Do we have a bet or not?" Harry asked, giving the man a smile that was back to being genuine and not at all forced.
"5 galleons," James confirmed with a nod.
Upon the two Potter reaching the dilapidated building with a single wand resting on a velvet pillow in its display window on the southern end of Diagon Alley, James opened the rickety door for a very familiar, graying haired witch leaving the shop with two other adults and a young boy in tow.
"Professor," James greeted respectfully. His eyes passed over the family accompanying the witch. The man, woman, and boy were all dressed in distinct muggle attire and all three had a wide-eyed, fascinated look about them, as if they could hardly believe that the world around them actually existed.
"James...Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall greeted in return, pausing just long enough to communicate an uncertainty about Harry's identity.
"Hello, Professor," Harry greeted politely. He could hardly blame her for the double-take. He didn't exactly look like his teenage self. He wasn't wearing his accustom glasses, as he no longer needed them do to his 23 year old self having preformed a ritual to correct his vision and enhance his ability to see in the dark and fog. The ritual had left an imprint on his very magic, which had transferred seamlessly to his new self. Plus, he had already dragged his father off to a vintage clothing shop a few blocks off of Charing Cross, which he had discovered existed in his last month of hunting the remaining Death Eaters occupying the London area in the other world. Though the shop had been abandoned with it windows broke out and a good amount of its products ransack in the other world, it was still open for business and seemed to be doing quite well for itself in this world. As it was, he had already exchanged his old attire for a pair of sturdy boots, black washed jeans, and a comfortable gray t-shirt, adding his bomber jacket over top.
"I had heard that you were on the continent with Lord Black," McGonagall remarked, as her eyes shifted questioningly from Harry back to James.
"We were," James said promptly, while giving no outward indication that he, Harry, and Sirius hadn't been on the continent over the last week.
As his father set about informing McGonagall about their'trip', Harry turned his attention to the Whitbys - or so he assumed that the family accompanying McGonagall were the Whitbys, as he recognized the boy as being a younger version of the nineteen year old Kevin Whitby that he remembered fighting alongside in the other world. Kevin had been a good fighter, as well as unrelenting in his loyalty to him and moronically brazen at times. Although the blond haired youth had been sorted into Hufflepuff, he'd had the courage of a Gryffindor. He might even say that Kevin had possessed the cunning of a Slytherin as well, but there were definitely moments that that had been debatable. Nonetheless, Kevin had ended up being one of the few muggleborns of Britain that had managed to survive the war. Lisa Turpin and Addison McCoy were the other two that he knew of, though he sincerely hoped, even now as a permanent resident of this world, that there were more survivors that he hadn't been informed of prior to his forced departure from the other world.
"Hello," Harry said warmly and extended his hand to Kevin."I'm Harry Potter."
"Kevin," Kevin said, while tentatively shaking Harry's proffered hand. "Kevin Whitby."
"And we're Patrick and Jenifer," the dark haired woman, who was standing close beside Kevin, introduced herself and her husband, who was standing on the other side of Kevin, "Kevin's parents."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Harry said, shaking Patrick Whitby's hand and bowing his head politely to Jenifer Whitby. "You're muggles, yes?"
"They're muggles," Kevin said, lazily waving his hand between his parents. "I'm a wizard," he said proudly and, as if to prove that he was indeed a wizard, the blond boy withdrew a lightly stained wand from his back pocket and held it up for Harry's examination.
"Well, you are certainly more of a wizard than I am at the current moment," Harry joked and held out his empty hands to show his lack of wand.
"Are you a muggleborn as well?" Patrick asked, his blue eyes bright with interest and taking in Harry muggle attire.
"Nah, I'm a half-blood - one of my parents was born of muggle blood, while the other was born of magical blood," Harry clarified at the confused looks that he received from the Whitbys. "As for my lack of wand, I foolishly left it lying about and it got snapped yesterday evening."
"You hear that, Kevin," Jenifer said to her son sternly."You best keep track of where you leave your wand. Heaven knows that room of yours is a mess. You really ought to clean it."
"Speaking of keeping track of your wand," Harry cut in, as Kevin scowled at his mother with a red face and mumbled something about embarrassing him, "putting your wand in your back pocket really isn't the best thing to do. An old Auror once told me a story about a mate of his blowing off his left buttocks."
"Where are you supposed to put it?" Kevin asked, now looking at his wand with unease.
"Aurors, Hit Wizards, and the like carry their wands in a wand holster on their wrist," Harry said, indicating to the small showing of his father's wand holster beneath the right sleeve of his father's robes. "It provides a quick draw. As for every day citizens, most keep their wands in the breast pocket of their robes." Harry scrutinized Kevin's wiry frame. Seeing that the boy was in jeans and a t-shirt with no jacket, he shrugged. "You'd probably have the best luck with keeping your wand in one of your front pockets for now. At least that way you won't sit on it and accidently set it off or break it."
"I take it you go to Hogwarts?" Patrick question, glancing to where James and McGonagall continued to exchange words in hushed tones.
"I'm going into my fourth year," Harry said with a nod, before moving to a topic that he hoped would keep the conversation flowing, while his father finished speaking with McGonagall. "Have you been informed of the house system yet?"
Receiving the negative response that he had been hoping for, Harry launched into describing the Hogwarts Founders and the traits belonging to the Houses of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
As Harry wrapped up informing the Whitbys about the four houses, how the dorms worked, and taking meals in the Great Hall several minutes later, his father and McGonagall finally broke apart.
About time, Harry thought, as his father came to stand at his side. While he liked Kevin well enough and didn't necessarily mind telling the Whitbys about Hogwarts, he was anxious to have a wand once more tucked up his sleeve. He felt naked without having a working wand on his person. It just wasn't right.
"I am sorry to have kept you waiting," McGonagall said to the Whitbys. "James, these are Patrick and Jenifer Whitby and their son, Kevin. This is James Potter," she looked to the Whitbys and gestured to James, "and you've met Harry," she indicated to Harry, "his son."
A little late for formalities, Professor. Harry regarded McGonagall with speculative eyes, as the witch continued on to explain to his father that she was assisting the Whitbys in purchasing Kevin's supplies for his first year at Hogwarts.
"I'm an Auror," Harry heard his father tell Kevin, who had asked about the man's wand holster and whether he was an Auror or a Hit Wizard.
"What do Aurors do?" Kevin asked with inquisitive eyes.
"Aurors are similar to the detectives of the muggle police,"James said kindly. "We catch bad guys and prevent bad things from happening."
"Cool!" Kevin exclaimed.
"It's pretty cool at times," James agreed, smiling at Kevin's enthusiasm. When he looked up from Kevin to the Whitby parents, he gave them an apologetic look. "I do hope you'll forgive me for interrupting your shopping."
"No need for apologies," Jenifer dismissed. "You've got quite the polite young man. Harry was very pleasant company and very helpful. I'm glad to have met him...and you, if anything."
"You're very kind, madam," Harry said, accepting the compliment with a grace that he teenage self wouldn't have been able to pull off if his life depended upon it. Sputtering and blushing furiously, while looking for an adult to shy behind, had been more of his style.
Upon stepping into Ollivander's dusty wand shop with his father a few minutes later, after having exchanged farewells with Professor McGonagall and the Whitbys, Harry raised an eyebrow at his father in silent enquiry of what his father and McGonagall had been discussing that had taken so long. Their cover story wasn't that elaborate. Sirius knew of a specialist in the Mind Arts on the continent who owed the Blacks a favor. Harry had spent a week with the man and had gotten his mind sorted - end of story. As far as anyone needed to know, his split personality had been mended, blending who he had been with his alternate persona that had developed out of his nightmares. It explained away the changes in his personality perfectly, as well as his knowledge and abilities. No one could contradict it, as each case of Dissociative Identity Disorder was different and the disorder was not yet fully understood, especially in the magical world. How it had taken his father so long to convey a few simple facts was beyond him.
"We'll discuss it at home," James said, while urging Harry further into the shop.
Harry nodded in acceptance and turned his attention to the silver haired, elderly man standing behind the mahogany counter at the center of the narrow store front. There were five wand boxes resting open before Gerrick Ollivander, who was watching him with curiosity and expectation, as well as a faint trace of apprehension.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Ollivander," Harry greeted, as he stepped up to the counter.
"I'd ask what you did with your old wand, young lord, but I do believe that would turn into quite the tale," Ollivander said and gestured to the first box. "Give it a try: Blackthorn, phoenix feather, 11 1/4 inches -unyielding. It's a very powerful wand indeed."
"I am no lord, neither young nor full-fledged," Harry said, narrowing his eyes at Ollivander, as he picked up the wand. He wasn't a lord in this world, at any rate. The fact that he had been regarded as the Gray Lord of Europe in the other world had no bearing on his status in this world, and while the Potters had a decent amount of gold in both worlds, they did not have a seat on the Wizengamot or have an inherited title passed down from the days of the Wizards' Council and magicals intermingling with muggle nobility. Unlike the Blacks, Malfoys, Greengrasses, Macmillans, and several of the other older houses, the Potters were not a Noble House. Ollivander referring to him as a'young lord' had no reference to his present or future, even if the oddity of a man had somehow picked up on his past designation in the other world.
What Ollivander said next, however, Harry had not expected and made it clear that he was not referring to his title of Gray Lord of Europe in the other world.
"Your magic disagrees, Mr. Potter, and your father knows very well from whom you hail," Ollivander spoke the words ominously, as his eyes traveled to James meaningfully.
"I'd hold your tongue, Ollivander," James said from his position by the door, his tone chilling and laced with an unspoken threat that promised nothing good, if Ollivander continued down the same line of conversation.
Harry stiffened at his father's snapped response, feeling his hair raise on the back of his neck, as his father's cutting words slid past him. He had never heard his father speak so coldly or so forcefully before. Slowly, he turned away from Ollivander and the selection of wand before him to look back at his father. James met his startled gaze with impassive hazel eyes and a carefully composed mask set upon his face that revealed nothing, yet said everything at the same time. Ollivander wasn't just blowing smoke. The elderly man had struck a nerve.
"Dad?" Harry asked, not quite sure what to ask or if he should even broach the subject at all at the moment. All he did know was that he was woefully ignorant about what Ollivander was referring to and his father knew something about it.
James remained where he stood for a moment's pause, before he strode forward with purposeful steps, took hold of Harry's shoulder with a gentle grip, and turned Harry back to face Ollivander and the selection of wands. He plucked the blackthorn wand from Harry's hand and returned it to its box without a word or sparing Ollivander a glance.
"What is this one?" James asked, upon actually looking to Ollivander. He tapped the box of the next wand in the lineup.
"Cypress, dragon heartstring, 10 1/2 inches - springy," Ollivander said dutifully and then said nothing more.
Understanding his father's actions for what they were, Harry reached out for the wand. As plucked it up from its box, he silently vowed that he and his father were going to have a nice long chat later...and not only about what his father had been discussing with McGonagall. In this world, he had yet to learn all that much about his heritage. In the other word, he had known next to nothing about the Potters. Apparently, he still had much to learn about who he was and exact from whom he hailed.
"Walnut, dragon heartstring, 12 inches - firm," Ollivander said without his usual mysticism, as Harry replaced the unresponsive cypress wand in its box and moved on to pick up the next wand in the lineup.
And so the process went. Harry tried the various wands that Ollivander provided him, all the while doing his best to ignore the way that his father's eyes bore into the side of his skull with greater intensity than they had the night before and much of the morning and to ignore the way that Ollivander had suddenly become all business with no exaggerated fanfare or unnecessary embellishments about the wands that he presented.
Harry tried wand after wand - few containing unicorn hair, some containing a phoenix feather, and most containing a dragon heartstring core. He tried a variety of woods - everything from acacia to sycamore to yew to fir. As the half-hour mark passed, he did not point out his winning of their bet to his father for the tense atmosphere within the wand shop did not permit it.
Finally, after several more minutes and many more wands, Harry felt the rush of the wand in his hand accepting his magic and unleashing it in its full brilliance with no detectable resistance. Red and silvery, dark gray sparks swirled around him, as he cut the wand through the air. He sighed in contentment at having a properly matched wand in his possession once more, relishing in the easy of his magic flowing through the wand. Upon opening his eyes - having not even realized that he had closed them - he found Ollivander regarding him with trepidation.
"Problem?" Harry asked, fed up with the man's strange behavior.
"No," Ollivander said and shook his head. "It is a fine wand. Cherry, dragon heartstring, 11 1/2 inches - unyielding. It will serve you well."
If Harry wasn't imagining things, there was an attached 'maybe too well' to the man's state that had gone unsaid.
"How much?" James asked, before Ollivander could say anything more.
"Twelve galleons, Mr. Potter."
As his father paid for the wand, Harry slipped his new cherry wand up the right sleeve of his bomber jacket. He'd ask his father for a wand holster for his birthday.
"If you ever breathe a word, Ollivander..." James left the threat hanging, while his eye told of a father capable of doing whatever was necessary to protect his son.
"None will here of the young lord's ascension from me." Ollivander bowed his head respectfully.
James hesitated and his eyes darted briefly to Harry, before returning to Ollivander. "You are certain?"
"It is unmistakable," Ollivander said assuredly.
Harry restrained himself with practice self-discipline from asking about what was 'unmistakable' and what Ollivander meant about 'his ascension'. Instead, he bid Ollivander a good day and followed his father out of the wand crafter's wand shop. Back out on the main street of Diagon Alley, he found himself immediately drawn close to his father in a fierce embrace. The next second, he was being squeezed through a tight tube with the air being pushed from his lungs and his blood pounding in his ears.
Harry gasped widely, having not been prepared for the sudden apparation, upon his feet reconnecting with solid ground and his body being release from his father's embrace and the magic that had gripped them both. He was about to demand for a bit of warning the next time his father decided to just grab hold of him and apparate him away, when he faltered at the sight before him and nervousness abruptly clenched his stomach. He was home for the first time in nearly two weeks.