Harry starts to find his place in the world again.
Harry stepped down off the stairs to Gringots. His mind was swimming with all of the things that had happened while he was in the bank. His hand in his pocket fingered the folded notes, and he pondered where to go now.
It was just pure luck that he had looked up towards the Leaky Cauldron at that moment. The familiar figure of Mad Eye Moody was stumping towards the bank at a hurried pace. With him were Tonks and Kingsley.
Harry hurriedly glanced around for somewhere to hide. He couldn't re-enter the bank, as he would draw unwanted attention of the guards by doing so. Across the alley stood Ollivander's. A few quick strides had him inside the store, and the door closed with a clang of the entrance bell.
Harry looked out through the window at Moody, Tonks, and Kingsley as they entered the bank. A sigh of relief escaped his lips.
"And how can I help you today, Sir? A wand cleaning kit perhaps?"
Harry awkwardly turned and looked at Mr. Ollivander. He hadn't changed a bit since the day Harry had gotten his Holly and phoenix feather wand.
"Err.. No. Thank you." Harry would not be able to purchase a new wand, as his last one had been broken by the court, and he did not have aletter from the Ministry permitting him to buy a new one.
"Well then, what is it I can do for you?"
Harry frantically looked around the shop for an idea. His eyes settled on the sign in the window that read "Help Wanted". He turned back to Mr. Ollivander and said, "I am here about the job posted in the window."
As soon as he said the words, Ollivander's eyebrows rose until they were almost consumed by his hairline. He gave Harry a once over and nodded his head.
"I pay weekly, and expect you to be here promptly at eight when I open the shop. Much of the work is menial, and repetitive, but I pay well. What with the school rush over, I need to replenish some of my stocks. Some people would be surprised at how many muggle goods go into each wand. Can you find your way about in London?"
Harry stood in a daze. He had not planned on getting a job in Diagon Alley, but here one was. Perhaps it was for the best. He felt somewhat overwhelmed by the rapid fire speaking of Mr. Ollivander.
"Yes. I can get around muggle London very well. I'm muggle born."
"I see. And by what name do you go by? I can just say 'Hey you!" when I need to get your attention, now can I?"
Harry felt a cold pulse come from deep within him self. It was both comforting and frightening at the same time. Ollivander prided himself on never forgetting a wand or a customer, and here he was asking for his name?His vision swam for a moment as gazed into the old shop keeper's eyes. Harry got a fleeting image of an ancient and majestic oak tree, deeply rooted. There was a crashing thunderstorm raging around the tree, but the tree was unaffected by the frenzy of the storm. He shook his head to clear it.
"Excellent! Now, be here tomorrow morning at the strike of eight. I will let you in the front door the first day, but you must find your way to the back every day after. Don't worry about a lunch; I have some delivered from the small deli down the street each day. I believe the Aurors are gone. On your way!"
Harry had stepped out of the shop and was halfway back to the Leaky Cauldron before Ollivander's final words filtered through his mind. He knew he had been avoiding Moody and the others! But he also had hired him. Harry shook his head in wonder at the old wand maker.
Hermione sighed and looked out the window at Hogwart's grounds. She had finished reviewing the card catalog for the library and had afew minutes of spare time before the new textbooks for the year would be arriving.
Shortly after she had graduated, Madam Pince had retired from the school. Dumbledore had offered the job to Hermione. The chance to have free reign in the restricted section was more than enough incentive. Little did she know she would also have access to the Headmaster's private library also!
The war had not gone well. The Order of the Pheonix was doing their best to contain Voldemort, but had been steadily losing ground. Madam Bones and Arthur Weasley had risked their careers several times to derail Fudge's anti-creature laws. At times Hermione cried herself to sleep, wishing it was just a horrible nightmare and that she could wake up. Many of her school mates had been killed in senseless acts of violence.
Oliver Wood had been killed when he subdued a charmed bludger, simply to keep it from harming the spectators at one of his Quidditch games. Lavender Brown was struck down by an Unforgivable as she came out of apotions shop in Diagon Alley. Seamus Finnigan bled to death from a Reducto while protecting his family. Luna Lovegood's father had died while protecting his business from fire. Luna was never the same. She was still in St. Mungo's in a catatonic state.
Professor Granger was deep in thought about the past years, and the special project she was working on. From the very time that Harry had disappeared, she had been working on a way to find him. Dumbledore's instruments showed him as alive, but couldn't locate him without being re-calibrated. The closest they could come to finding Harry had been Hedwig's almost fatal attempt just after he had disappeared.
Hermione looked over at the snowy owl. She was sleeping on her ever preset perch in the library. Hedwig refused to leave her side. Many students had gotten the fright of their lives when they thought they were in agood snogging place in the stacks, only to look up and see the deep yellow eyes staring down at them from the top of the shelves. Wherever Hedwig was, Professor Granger was sure to be close behind.
Another sigh escaped Hermione's lips as she thought of Harry. Her best friend had been missing for ten years. She and Ron were still good friends, but had never gotten any closer than sharing their feelings of loss. Ginny had married Neville four years ago, and Ron was seeing Susan Bones now. Hermione felt like an old maid. She had tried dating some wizards and even muggles, but none of them ever went any farther than a few outings.
A loud screech startled Hermione out of her daydream. Hedwig's head had snapped up from under her wing and she launched herself off of the perch. She banked sharply towards the open window and snapped her wings closed to fit though the space. Hermione jumped to her feet and yelled, "Wait!Hedwig... Is it Harry?"
She ran to the window and watched as the snowy owl spiraled up into the clouds.
Hermione smiled and let the tears in her eyes run down her face. She had always known that she was just the owl's steward, and Harry would call her back to him one day when he needed her. She kissed her fingers and tossed them towards the speck in the sky.
"Tell him I need him...."
Harry walked down the sidewalk in muggle London. He was looking at a newspaper and comparing the building addresses to a circled ad in the paper. Coming up to a small apartment building, he stopped.
The building was several stories high, much like Gimmauld Place. The front brickwork was well kept, and the sidewalk swept. Harry looked at the entranceway and found a panel with some buzzers. He pressed the one marked"Custodian".
"I'm interested in the small flat you have listed in the newspaper. Would I be able to come up and see it?"
"I'll be right down to let you in. Please give me a moment to take off the kettle."
Harry straightened his hand-me-down clothes. While not the most presentable, he looked much better than when he had to wear Dudley's old cast offs. He watched the sparse traffic drive by and allowed his mind to wander some.
With his mind was focused on other thoughts, a finger of magic pulsed out from Harry's subconscious and scanned the street and surrounding buildings. No magic was sensed. The neighborhood was decidedly muggle. Safe.
The door swung open and an older woman smiled out from behind the security gate. She seemed to be in her late seventies, and the smell of cooking bread hugged her like a shawl.
"Hello? My name is Olivia. My husband and I take care of the building."
"James Black. Pleased to meet you, Ma'am."
Olivia popped open the security gate and gestured him inside. She closed the gate behind him and double checked the latch. "You can't be too careful with all of the troubles lately. Seems like only yesterday you could find young couples walking down the streets hand in hand for an evening stroll. Not anymore. Please, come upstairs. The flat is on the top floor."
The pair walked up the stairs and came to a door at the end of the hallway. The flat was in the back corner of the building. Olivia pushed open the door so Harry could enter. The flat was a three room affair. The main room had a sitting area, with a small one person kitchen. There was a bedroom and bathroom off of it. Harry looked around, and poked his head into the closet in the bedroom. It smelled clean and looked immaculate.
"I think it would be perfect for me, Olivia. How would you like me to pay?"
"We use a direct payment account. I'll give you some papers to take to your bank, and the rent will be directly deposited into the building accounts. It's much safer for all this way, as there isn't any money in the building then."
"I believe I can set that up. It may take me several days to arrange, though."
"I don't believe that will be a problem Mr. Black. I have agood ability at being able to read people, and you seem like a trustworthy sort. When would you like to move in? The flat is available anytime."
"Please, call me James. Would tomorrow be too soon? I just got back into London and am staying in a hotel until I can get a place of my own."
"That's fine, James. Would you like some tea? I have a pot steeping as we speak. We can sign the papers afterwards."
Harry gave Olivia a warm smile. "That sounds lovely."