Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Tower of Pime


by Quillian 13 reviews

The trip to Diagon Alley...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2007-05-16 - Updated: 2007-05-16 - 11538 words

DISCLAIMER: See the Prologue.

/IMPORTANT NOTE:/ This chapter has been significantly edited from how it first appeared, so even if you have read how it was before, then you may want to read it again. It is important to note that I have skimmed over the scenes which are essentially unchanged from the book, by minimizing detail and putting in Harry's thoughts and mental commentaries to add something new to it. (By comparison, I have seen a lot of other fics which have copied their sources a heck of a lot more closely than I have with this fic.) However, I have also kept the scene with Draco Malfoy pretty much the same, but the purpose of that is to compare it to the original scenes which I wrote for two other people who appear in this chapter. There is also an extra scene with Pim in it. And while I'm at it, I would just like to thank not only Coulsdon Eagle for doing his usual great job, but also japanese-jew with his help in revising this chapter, as well as suggesting a few things.

This chapter is analogous to Book 1 (/Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone/), Chapter Six, "The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-quarters."


Harry had never been to London before at all, so even as Hagrid tried to navigate towards their intended destination, Harry looked around at everything there was while sticking close to Hagrid. Although the Hogwarts groundskeeper seemed to know where he was going, he was obviously not used to getting there a way without magic. There was also a point where he got stuck in the ticket barrier, however briefly, and he did his best not to complain too loudly about how small the seats were.

"Just between you an' me, I'm not quite sure how the Muggles survive without magic," Hagrid said discretely to Harry as they climbed a broken-down escalator that led up to a bustling road lined with shops.

And so as Hagrid led the way, parting the crowd like an icebreaker ship through an ice-filled Arctic sea, Harry kept alert at all times, on the lookout for something - anything - magical or out of the ordinary, outside of the Dursleys' pristine, no-magic-allowed world. But finally, soon enough, Hagrid stopped and told him...

"This is it, the Leaky Cauldron. This is a very famous place, Harry."

Following Hagrid's gaze, Harry noticed the small pub wedged in between two perfectly normal Muggle stores on either side. But at the same time, he also noticed how no one else seemed to notice the pub, and their eyes just slide from one store on one side to the other store on the other side.

Made so that only people with magic can notice it and know that it's there... isn't this how Pim disguises the tower? Harry thought to himself. I'll have to tell Pim about his later and ask...

For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby, or at least in Harry's honest opinion. In his honest opinion, this was the kind of place which Aunt Petunia would absolutely refuse to step inside of, even for a fraction of a second. There weren't all that many people in the pub, and yet they managed to spare it from being silent with their low buzz of chatter and conversation.

I feel like I've walked into one of those paintings from Picasso's Blue Period with all those people hanging out in pubs and other establishments, Harry thought to himself, except these people don't really look miserable... maybe just casual, and in a quiet, good mood.

However, all that buzz stopped when everyone noticed Hagrid entering; from the genial expressions on their faces, Harry could tell that Hagrid must have been a regular here, and a popular one at that. Harry was more than happy to stay out of the spotlight, but then when Hagrid explained why he was here but not getting "the usual" (as the old barkeeper Tom put it) by way of clapping Harry on the shoulder and thus bringing their attention to Harry, the boy began to feel uneasy.

As everyone present in the Leaky Cauldron went silent after Tom announced that Harry Potter was indeed in their midst, Harry realized that he was experiencing his own fame for the first time... and he wasn't so sure that he liked it.

In the moment after the silence, everyone was moving in on him, all of them wanting to shake his hand and tell him what an honor it was to meet him. Harry went along with it, but to be honest, he was just about as nervous as they were excited.

During the brief but frenzied round of handshaking, Harry met all kinds of people such as Dedalus Diggle (who apparently was one of those people during his years at the Dursleys who greeted him when he had no idea why), as well as Professor Quirinius Quirrell (who would be his professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts, who also happened to stutter a lot and looked so nervous that Harry wondered why he would have such a job).

Thankfully, Hagrid broke it up after everyone got their fair share of getting to meet Harry Potter.

"Must get on - lots ter buy," Hagrid said at last. "Come on, Harry."

"I'd love to, Hagrid," Harry muttered under his breath so the others couldn't hear him. He shook hands with one of the clientele one last time, and Hagrid led them through the bar and out into a small, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a dustbin and a few weeds.

After Hagrid made a comment about how famous Harry was and even the trembling Quirrell was keen to meet him, Harry asked if Quirrell was always that nervous. Hagrid replied with how the professor had gone traveling to get some firsthand experience, had run to some trouble with vampires and hags in the Black Forest, and had been scared of just about everything and anything since then.

The mention of things like vampires and hags was making Harry think. He had of course heard about magical creatures like dragons, vampires, hags, phoenixes, unicorns, fairies, elves, and others through Muggle myth, legend and literature, but just how much of them could actually be real? In fact, now that he thought about it, were there even more magical creatures beyond those which Muggles had never even seen or heard about?

Just how much more is there to this wizarding world than what I thought I knew? he wondered.

Meanwhile, Hagrid was counting bricks in the wall above the dustbin while muttering something to himself. After going up three bricks, and then two across, Hagrid tapped one brick in particular three times with the tip of his umbrella. After it opened up from there into a big archway big enough for even Hagrid to go through, they passed through it and allowed it to disappear behind them.

"Welcome," Hagrid said to him with a bit of flair, "to Diagon Alley."

For a brief moment, Harry thought it was a shame that he had only two eyes, because no matter what possible direction he looked in, there was something amazing. There were not only the shops and stores themselves, but all the people outside them, either gazing through their windows or contemplating their purchases. There were places like the Apothecary which sold various ingredients which seemed to come from various plants and animals, places like Quality Quidditch Supplies which sold broomsticks with certain names, models and numbers, places like Eeylops' Owl Emporium which sold owls and only owls, places like Flourish and Blotts which sold books, places like Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions which sold robes...

A place where owls can be sold like dogs or cats? Harry wondered. A place which sells broomsticks, which have models and numbers like ordinary cars? Whatever kind of wizarding society I expected, this wasn't it...

Of course, those few shops which Harry had already seen were like the figurative tip of the iceberg. Even though he could probably look at each and every store within a day, it almost looked as though he could spend an entire year getting lost within this small, magical alley.

Soon enough, they were at the wizarding bank known as Gringotts, with what Harry assumed was a goblin doorman ready and waiting to let any clientele inside. The goblin opened the doors for them, magically, with a snap of his fingers, and Harry politely said "Thank you" as they walked in.

The goblin looked shocked and like he was about to fall over. Harry wondered if there was something wrong about what he had just said... or if no one thanked the goblins working here very often.

Now Harry and Hagrid were facing a second pair of doors, silver this time, with words engraved on them, which Harry could see made up a poetic warning. It was a warning for strangers to enter but take heed of what awaited the sin of greed, about how those who take but do not earn must pay dearly in their turn, so if anyone were to seek a treasure here which was never theirs, then those thieves had been warned about finding more than treasure there.

"Interesting," Harry commented. "Poetic, too."

Hagrid nodded. "Yeah, like I said, yeh'd be mad ter try an' rob it."

A pair of goblins bowed them through the silver doors, and Harry walked in with Hagrid to find himself in the biggest (or at least the most magnificent) bank he had ever set foot in before. Something about this bank made it look as though it was much larger on the inside than how it looked on the outside - and for all Harry knew, maybe magic had something to do with that.

I wonder if even the Dursleys would have wanted to do business here in a bank like this, even if they would have to deal with magic, Harry thought to himself as Hagrid led him over to a counter with a free goblin behind it. However, the next moment, Harry felt some sort of anger growing within him at the thought of the Dursleys...

Don't think about it, a voice in his head told him. Don't think about them. You're free of them now, and you shouldn't have to wonder what they might have thought about all this magic stuff.

Harry's inner voice was right; he shouldn't have to worry about them, let alone think of them. As he brought his attention back to the present, Hagrid was talking to the goblin about trying to take some gold out of Harry's vault, as well as something called a "You-Know-What" in vault seven hundred and thirteen.

The goblin behind the counter summoned another goblin named Griphook to take them, just as Hagrid was collecting his things and putting them back in his enormous coat, such as a bunch of moldy dog biscuits (/Where did all those come from?/ Harry wondered) and the key to Harry's vault. Once they were all ready to go, Griphook lead them through a pair of doors out of the main hall and down some corridor.

"May I ask what this other thing is?" Harry asked on impulse. "The 'You-Know-What' or whatever it is?"

"Yeh could ask, but I can't tell yeh the answer," Hagrid said mysteriously and cryptically. "This is very secret. Hogwarts business, yeh see. Dumbledore's trusted meh with this, an' it's worth more than me job ter tell yeh that."

"Not a problem," Harry said. "Was just wondering, that's all."

From there, the trio of boy, giant and goblin took a ride on a cart which moved at a hurtling speed, through some great underground labyrinth. The speed itself really didn't bother Harry all that much, but he also grew a little uneasy as he realized that Griphook wasn't steering the cart.

I hope no one's died on any of these things before, Harry thought, a little nervous.

Harry didn't know how long the cart ride took - it could have been mere minutes, or even the better part of an hour - but after the all the sharp turns, the constant rush of cold wind blowing past them, and even the occasional burst of fire which could have been caused by anything from a dragon to underground volcanic activity, they arrived at their destination with a jolting break.

As soon as they stopped beside the small door which was the portal to Harry's vault, Hagrid got out to lean against the wall because he was trembling. "Are you alright?" Harry asked him.

"Those carts," Hagrid mumbled. "I hate 'em..."

Harry didn't press the issue any further.

After Griphook used the key to open the vault, a lot of green smoke came billowing out ("Nothing to be alarmed about," Griphook said casually), and as it cleared, Harry gasped at what he saw inside: Mounds of gold coins, columns of silver, and heaps of the little bronze coins which he now knew as Knuts. Harry was so shocked by it all that he barely even registered Hagrid's cheerful comment of "All yours" as he gazed

Just a handful of this stuff would make me richer than the Dursleys ever were, Harry thought with a smirk.

Oi//! the voice in his head spoke up again. What did I tell you before about thinking about that?

Yes, right, of course. He then realized that he didn't like where that train of thought was heading, and so he turned back to the matter of hand.

"Here, take this," Hagrid said, offering a money bag for him to put some money into. Harry gratefully accepted it and began filling it with this fascinating kind of money.

"The gold ones are Galleons," Hagrid explained, "the silver ones are Sickles, an' the bronzes ones are Knuts, as yeh know. It goes twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle and seventeen Sickles to a Galleon."

Twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle and seventeen Sickles to a Galleon? Harry went over in his head incredulously. That sounds so... random, using numbers like 29 and 17 as denominators for currency. Why not just use base numbers like ten or one hundred?

"Right, that should be enough fer a couple o' terms, we'll keep the rest safe fer yeh," Hagrid's voice was saying as it cut through Harry's thoughts, and the next moment, Harry realized that he was still shoveling the money into the bag, which was now almost completely full.

"Oh, uh, sorry," Harry said, "I was just thinking about something."

"No problem," Hagrid said. After they left the vault and sealed it behind them, the next stop was vault seven hundred and thirteen.

Somewhere in between Harry's vault and the other vault, Harry asked Griphook, "Do you have to work up to this speed, like with the stick shift in cars?"

The goblin gave him a rather confused look and quickly replied, "Err, one speed only."

Once they got there, Griphook magically opened the lock-bereft door by stroking it with one of his long fingers, so Hagrid could enter it and retrieve its only object contained within: A small, grubby package which made Harry wonder just what was so special and important about it.

Appearances can be deceiving, the old proverb rang in his head.

"Come on, back in this infernal cart, and please don't talk ter me on the way back, it's best if I keep me mouth shut," Hagrid said.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Harry reassured him.

If Pim were just another normal person, living in his tower, he would have been gazing out one of its many windows. However, since he was the tower itself, in a sense, he just settled for using its senses to gaze in multiple directions at once, innocently observing the various people visiting the park and whatever activities they were doing in the middle of this gorgeous, beautiful day.

One of these days, Pim was finally going to make use of his magical abilities to absorb as much information as he could, to see how both the magical and Muggle worlds had changed and evolved over the past fifteen hundred years. He would have done so sooner, but he considered taking care of and helping young Harry Potter to be his first priority, since Harry was in desperate need of guidance and comfort. Pim never regretted making that decision since then, because he knew it to be the right one to make.

He still remembered, with a slight phantom pang to his immaterial heart, how scared and hysterical nine-year-old Harry was when Pim first magically whisked him away to his tower. Pim had been a mentor and surrogate parent figure to enough young children over the course of thousands of years to handle Harry well - even a few children which had had terrible home lives which could compare to the one which Harry had.

Now, more than a year later after Harry first came here to the tower, both of them had made considerable progress towards helping Harry recover to such abuse and neglect by his horrid relatives. Pim could not magically undo all the years of hardship which Harry had suffered in his past, but he could make sure that Harry had many fruitful years to expect in his own future. For example, even while Harry felt the need to do much of the work around himself, he could still have a strong work ethic and take responsibility and be responsible for himself and even have fun at the appropriate times without being a kind of slave to whoever he was living with. In other words, Pim was helping Harry learn to become a normal child - or as much of a normal child as was possible.

However, Pim also had to take into account certain aspects of Harry's own life which happened years ago - especially having to do with this dark wizard who called himself "Voldemort" who was responsible for his parents' deaths.

Pim admitted to himself that he kept a close watch on Harry the past night, starting from a few minutes before midnight to when the giant man - what was his name? ah yes, Rubeus Hagrid - had finished his explanation about what happened to Harry's parents. After Harry and that schools' gamekeeper had gone to sleep, Pim had recalled his tiny bright light (he really had to think of a name for them one of these days!) and left it at that.

Granted, Pim felt a little guilty about keeping a close yet secretive watch on Harry at all, even after he gave Harry the Recaller and clear instructions to return immediately if the young boy sensed that anything was amiss. Pim trusted Harry with this, without a doubt, but that didn't mean that Pim couldn't be a little careful, after all.

In retrospect, Pim was glad that he did so, because now he knew about this "Voldemort." Witnessing Hagrid's explanation about this self-styled Dark Lord reminded Pim about his own Dark nemesis... Amu.

To this day, Pim was not entirely, one-hundred percent sure exactly what caused Amu to go evil. Over and over, during the thousands of years of his "normal" life and this new tower-bound existence, he kept contemplating what happened thousands of years ago and even Amu's own explanation thousands of years after that, just before they dueled to the death.

Pim had witnessed, time and time again, how power corrupted even the best and most noble people if they were not too careful about it, and in addition to that, how normal human beings had a tendency to react and act upon their worst impulses when feeling threatened, sometimes when they ought to think something through first. Often, the more power a person had at his or her command, the more complex things could become... and the more dangerous things could get.

According to Amu herself, the same tribe which had driven him out then turned against her when she began displaying magical powers of her own. From that, Pim could only conclude that the sudden changing of the winds - that is, from her being the "victim" of Pim's demonstration of magic to her being the new outcast once she demonstrated magical abilities herself - was too much for her to handle. In her anger and feelings of betrayal, she must have been unable to rationally deal with it. So, she lashed out at the tribe in revenge. And as the years and decades and centuries and millennia passed, she must have become even more twisted by her bitter emotions.

Or at least that was Pim's theory about it, based on what he knew about her.

Pim was still aware of how he took in Harry, not just to offer him sanctuary but also to "recruit" him in case Amu was somehow still around and he needed help with completely getting rid of her. Pim was going to tell Harry about Amu one of these days, he really was, but first he wanted to make sure of some things, such as Amu actually still being around.

It was interesting, how fate played out like this, so now Harry had his own ghost-like nemesis which was still probably out there somewhere, just as Pim had his own.

In order to appropriately adjust to this, Pim would simply have to do the same thing which he had been doing for thousands of years: Adapt.

After another wild cart ride, they were back outside Gringotts and blinking as their eyes adjusted to the sunlight from being in the dark underground areas for so long. Standing there and holding the bag full of money in his hand, Harry battled with this new urge to spend it madly.

Take it easy, Harry, he thought to himself. You've never gone mad before with whatever money you've had, and now's not the time to start.

However, Hagrid still looked a little ill from their collective rides on the cart, and so with Harry understanding, Hagrid excused himself to slip over to the Leaky Cauldron for a pick-me-up while Harry went to Madam Malkin's for the robes which he needed for Hogwarts.

After Harry entered the shop, Madam Malkin set him up next to another boy who was already in the process of being fitted for his own robes. This other boy was pale, and had a pointed face, platinum blond hair, and cold gray eyes.

"Hello," the other boy said, "Hogwarts, too?"

"Yes," Harry said.

Well, nothing wrong with making a little conversation, Harry thought to himself.

This other boy then continued in a bored, drawling voice about how his father was buying his books and his mother was looking at wands, about how he then wanted to drag his parents to look at racing brooms after that, about how he didn't see why first years couldn't have their own brooms, and how he was planning to bully his father into getting him one and then smuggling it in somehow.

Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley, although he made a mental note to not let his memories of his awful cousin affect his judgment for someone he had never met before. Still, that same spoiled attitude was there, which made Harry want to be careful around this other boy in the future.

"Have you got your own broom?" the other boy went on.

"No, I haven't." Why does that sound so accusatory, the way he says it?

"Play Quidditch at all?"

"No," Harry said simply, trying as much as possible not to sound rude as he said it. How do you tell someone like him to be quiet or that you don't want to talk to them, without sounding rude yourself? Harry wondered. And what's Quidditch, anyway?

"I do - Father says it's a crime if I'm not picked to play for my house, and I must say, I agree. Know what house you'll be in yet?"

"No, not yet," Harry said, going along with it and pretending that he knew what the other boy was talking about. Harry could tell that this other boy was the kind who liked to talk and hear the sound of his own voice, but wanted someone to listen to as well.

Meanwhile, this other boy just continued with his monologue: "Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they, but I know I'll be in Slytherin, all our family have been - imagine being in a house like Ravenclaw, or maybe Hufflepuff, or Merlin forbid, even Gryffindor, I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

"Hmm," Harry said, wishing he knew what the other boy was talking about and that he himself could say something more interesting in return.

"I say, look at that man!" the boy said suddenly, nodding toward the front window. Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Harry and pointing at two large ice cream cones to show that he couldn't come in with them.

"That's Hagrid," Harry said, "he works at Hogwarts."

Finally, something I know which he doesn't...

"Oh," said the boy, "I've heard of him... he's sort of like a servant, isn't he?"

"He's the gamekeeper," Harry said, doing his best to continue to be as polite as possible, even as he liked this other boy less and less every second. Something about him just annoyed Harry, as open-minded as he tried to be...

"Yes, exactly. I heard he's a sort of savage - lives in a hut on the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic, and ends up setting fire to his bed."

"That can't be true," Harry said, frowning.

"How would you know?" the boy sneered.

"Well, do you really think he'd be allowed to keep his job if he really did do stuff like that?" Harry pointed out rationally.

The sneer on the boy's face vanished as he considered it. "Perhaps," he admitted at last, "but now that I think about it, what's he doing here with you? Where are your parents?"

"They're dead," Harry said shortly, unable to think of any better way to put it.

"Oh, sorry," said the other boy, although he didn't sound sorry at all, but was saying it more just for the sake of saying it. "But they were our kind, weren't they?"

Something about the way he said that made Harry feel a little uneasy, the way in which he said "our kind." "Well, they were a witch and a wizard, if that's what you mean?"

"I really don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They're just not the same, they've never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until they get the letter, or so I imagine. I think they should keep it strictly in the old wizarding families. Now that I think about it... what's your surname, anyway?"

But before Harry could answer that last particular question, Madam Malkin announced, "That's it, you're done, my dear," and Harry, who didn't mind an excuse to stop talking to the other boy, hopped down from the footstool.

"Well, I'll see you at Hogwarts, I suppose," the drawling boy said as Harry departed the store with a quick "Good-bye" just for the sake of being polite.

Finally! He's gone/, Harry thought to himself. I don't think I could have lasted much longer with him around, anyhow.../

"Thanks, Hagrid," he said as he enjoyed the ice cream which Hagrid brought him, which was chocolate and raspberry with chopped nuts. However, he was still rather quiet, and not just from eating the ice cream, and Hagrid must have caught onto this, because he asked, "Is something on your mind, Harry?"

"No, not really," Harry said as he finished his ice cream, but he was only being partially honest. After a moment, he decided to admit that there was something bothering him. The moment after that, he finally spoke up and told Hagrid about the boy in the shop and what he said.

In response to this, Hagrid calmed Harry down and reminded him that he wasn't from a Muggle family, and that what the boy said shouldn't bother him.

Harry could see Hagrid's point. "Thanks, Hagrid. So, what is Quidditch?"

"It's our sport, and everyone in the wizarding world follows it. It's... kind of like football in the Muggle world, but it's played up in the air on broomsticks and there's four balls - sorta hard to explain all the rules, sorry."

"Oh, don't worry, that's fine. Also... what are Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor?"

"They're all the school Houses, all four o' them. They're named after the four who founded the school centuries ago. All o' them value different things in the students."

"I wonder which one I would be in," Harry wondered out loud.

"Well, if yeh ask me - an' this is just me personal opinion, mind you - any o' the other three would be better than Slytherin," Hagrid said seriously. "As far as I know, there's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You-Know-Who himself was one."

Harry's head snapped up at that. "He went to Hogwarts?"

"Years an' years ago," Hagrid said darkly.

As unwelcoming as Slytherin sounded, between the pale boy from Madam Malkin's and what Hagrid had to say, Harry told himself to keep an open mind and not let other people's experiences form his own before he could judge for himself. Surely Slytherin couldn't be all that bad... it sounded almost like saying that everyone back in the Dursleys' neighborhood was as bad as the Dursleys were just because his horrible relatives lived there himself.

Just as Harry was finishing up his ice cream, an owl flew in from above and landed on Hagrid's shoulder, bearing a sealed message in its beak.

"It's from Hogwarts," Hagrid noted as he accepted the message from the owl and then reached into his pocket to give the owl something in return. "Here," he told the owl, "have an Owl Treat."

The owl hooted in gratitude and eagerly accepted it while Hagrid read the message. Harry wondered what was going on as he saw the look at the gamekeeper's face fall.

"I don't believe this," Hagrid said, actually groaning a little.

"What is it?" Harry asked, concerned.

"I have ter back ter Gringotts ter get somethin' else from one o' the other vaults," Hagrid said disbelievingly. "That means another ride on one o' those infernal carts..."

Sighing, Hagrid said to Harry, "I really hate ter do this ter yeh, Harry, 'cause I know yeh expected meh to help yeh with shoppin' fer school... but do yeh think yeh might be able ter manage without me?"

"Hagrid, please, it's not a problem," Harry reassured him. "We'll both just go do what we have to do."

Hagrid smiled. "Thanks, Harry. Anyway, yeh might want ter go get some quills, ink, an' parchment at the store over there," he said as he pointed the store out to him. "Then yeh might want ter get yer books at Flourish an' Blotts after that."

"Right, thanks."

And so Harry's next stop was the store which sold the quills, ink, parchment, and other such writing material. Harry was amused by the bottle of ink he found, which changed colors as a person wrote with it, and so he added that to all the normal ink which he had to get as well.

He was just picking out some simple yet decent quills when he heard someone grumbling nearby. He turned to see a boy about his age, who was tall, lanky, and had red hair and freckles, who looked distinctly unhappy about something.

Harry decided to ignore it, and so as he was just collecting rolls of parchment when he heard the red-haired boy's grumbling a little more distinctly so he could just make out some of the words: "...Of course, practically the one time you get something of your own which is brand-new and hasn't been used before, it's something which can only be used once, like quills or ink or parchment... everything else, like books and clothes and even your wand, you get from your older brothers..."

Harry accidentally dropped the rolls of parchment he was holding, and the other boy turned to look at him.

"What are you looking at?" he said a little rudely.

"I'm sorry," Harry said, hoping he hadn't offended the other boy in any way. "I was just getting some parchment, and as you can see, I accidentally dropped it."

"You weren't spying on me or anything, were you?" the other boy asked a little suspiciously.

"No," Harry said honestly. Well, at least he figured that was the honest answer, since he wasn't deliberately spying on the other boy, who was making himself a little louder and thus easier to be heard.

The freckled boy continued to eye him for a moment or so, and said, "Fine. If you say so."

After a moment, in which Harry decided to go back to collecting what he needed for school, he heard something from the other boy. "I bet you never got hand-me-down clothes and stuff because you never had enough money for it."

Harry froze where he was, the boy's words striking a chord somewhere deep within him. While he found this other boy to be a little abrasive, he could sympathize with him.

"Actually," Harry said quietly as he turned around again to face the freckled boy, "I've been there myself, believe it or not."

The other boy looked stunned, and he even blinked a few times.

"I'm sorry," he said at last, going a little red from embarrassment. "I would never have guessed."

Harry wasn't going to go into a story about how the Dursleys mistreated him - just thinking about them still bothered him - but he supposed he could be vague about it.

"Actually, I might not have any older brothers - or any siblings, for that matter - but for years, I was forced to wear all these hand-me-down clothes which belonged to my cousin, some of which were truly awful."

The freckled boy took all of this in, and looked a little sympathetic in return. "I'm sure your relatives did everything they could, right?"

Harry's face darkened a little as he said, "My relatives didn't like how I had to live with them, and so they absolutely refused to spend any more on me than they had to. Trust me, poverty was not an issue for them. My cousin, on the other hand, was spoiled senseless. I'm sure my relatives could have spent an equal amount on both of us, but they just chose not to."

The other boy looked shocked. "Are you serious?" he said quietly.

Harry nodded grimly.

"Wait, you said you had to live with your relatives... why, what happened to your parents?"

Something about this freckled boy made Harry trust him a little more than the pale boy, although he wasn't quite sure what, and so he decided to be a little more open about the topic of his parents.

"They're dead," Harry told him, but before he could elaborate a little more, the freckled boy asked, "Were they killed in the war against You-Know-Who?"

Harry looked a little surprised as this boy's wild guess, but he said, "Yeah, they were."

"Sorry to hear that," the freckled boy said with complete sincerity, which in itself was a far cry from the pale boy, or at least in Harry's honest opinion. "I'm pretty sure a few of my relatives were also killed by You-Know-Who or his followers."

After a moment, the freckle boy looked as though something else had occurred to him, because he then asked, "Do you know yet which house you might be in at Hogwarts?"

What is it with these people and houses at Hogwarts? Harry wondered. "No, sorry, I don't."

"Well, all of my family has been in Gryffindor," the other boy said matter-of-factly, "so I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up there. Probably wouldn't be so bad... but imagine being put in Slytherin, of all places, I'd probably prefer just getting on the train and going back home if it ever came to that, Merlin forbid."

This freckled boy was turning out to be an uncanny opposite from the other boy back in Madam Malkin's shop, or so Harry thought.

"I haven't been able to read any books on the subject of Hogwarts, or at least not just yet," Harry responded. "I still have to get my books for school, anyway."

"I'm sure my brothers will have enough secondhand books for me," the freckled boy said, and Harry could still sense a small trace of disappointment in his voice, caused by not having the money to be able to get new things.

"You know, that may not be such a bad thing," Harry said, trying to make the other boy feel a little better.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, obviously, its not a good thing when the used book has scribbles or missing pages or something like that," Harry elaborated, "but sometimes whoever had the book in the past might have scribbled in little notes which might help with the subject which the book is on."

The freckled boy looked thoughtful as he digested these words. "I'll keep that in mind, thanks."

"No problem," Harry said.

"What's your name?" the freckled boy asked him.

Harry was actually about to answer the question this time around, but then there was a blur of red hair and freckles as a girl not much younger than either of them came rushing up to them. "Come on, Mum says we have to get moving!" she told the other boy.

"My younger sister," the other boy said by way of explanation, and Harry could see the resemblance.

"Maybe I'll see you at Hogwarts, then," Harry said.

"Sure thing," the other boy said. As he made to leave with his sister, he exclaimed, "All right, all right, I'm coming! Blimey..."

With that, Harry got what he needed from this particular shop, paid for his purchases, and made his way to the bookstore from there.

Harry bought his school books from Flourish and Blotts, whose shelves were stacked to the ceiling itself with countless books on diverse subjects. There were books of all sizes, books bound and covered with all kinds of different materials, books with normal writing in them, unusual symbols which Harry had never seen before (even with what he knew from Pim), or nothing in them at all. In fact, he had a shrewd feeling that even Dudley, who never read anything unless he absolutely had to, would have been wild about getting his hands on some of these books, just because of how valuable they appeared to be.

After Harry purchased all his books, he decided to wait around for a little while for Hagrid to return. As he was deciding whether or not to start reading his school books which he would be using for the next year or so, the title of one particular book caught his eye: Curses and Countercurses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying and Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian.

Harry wasn't malicious like some other people he knew, but still, something about that book sounded appealing to him. Besides, this sort of thing could be useful if he wanted to distract other people so he could get away; after all, he wasn't the kind to fight when he didn't have to. He just wanted to defend himself. So, deciding to merely browse through it, he took it off the shelf and began reading it, fascinated by its contents.

Of course, this kind of subject was the only thing which interested Harry. He might also look for books on Wizarding history, just to get caught up on things, and maybe even include a basic book about Quidditch.

Wouldn't Pim be interested in these? Harry mused as he looked it. And I don't just mean the particular curses in this book, I mean all this new knowledge which has developed before he and his tower first went into stasis.

A few minutes later, there was a small commotion as a girl carrying a considerably large stack of books accidentally tripped and ended up dropping them, causing them to land in a small pile on the floor. "Oh dear," the girl said, a little upset at what just happened.

"Here, let me help you," Harry said, putting the book back on the shelf for a moment as he tried to help her.

"Oh, thank you," the girl said, relieved. She a long mane of bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth, as well as an excited look on her face at the moment. "Thank you very much! I'm looking forward to reading these new books for school, and it would be a shame if anything happened to them before then, let alone before I even paid for them!"

She seemed to be able to say lots of words with a single breath, probably more than other people could. Harry could also tell that she could qualify as a "bookworm" according to some people. Harry wouldn't consider himself to be one, and for the most part, he read a lot as far back as he could remember more because he needed a distraction to try and make himself stop thinking about his lot with the Dursleys... that and the fact that reading was a very useful skill for a person to have, especially in the modern world.

"You're also going to Hogwarts?" the other girl asked. "I had no idea that magic even existed until I got that letter, and it made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, or at least until someone from Hogwarts came to explain it all to me, after which I was so very excited and more than willing to try it out."

"To answer your question," Harry said, trying to backtrack through the girl's words, "yes, I'm also going to Hogwarts."

"Wow, this is so exciting!" she exclaimed happily.

"Yeah, I'm sure it is," Harry said, although he found himself as unable to relate to this girl just about as much as with those other two boys, even though she seemed to have a non-magical upbringing like he did.

"Just so I understand," he began to say, asking her something instead for a change, "you have also had a non-magical upbringing?"

"Why, yes, of course, my parents are just ordinary, non-magical people, but at least they're open-minded, unlike some other people who would probably just panic over it, God forbid," the girl replied with another one of her long-winded answers. "Why, how about you?"

Well, at least now I get to meet someone who's also had a Muggle upbringing, just for a switch. "My parents were a witch and wizard, but I grew up with Muggles," he said simply and not elaborating - after all, he didn't want to talk about the Dursleys more than he had to.

If the girl picked up on how he described his own parents in the past tense, then she didn't say anything.

"Anyway, I heard that Hogwarts is actually a castle - just think about it, we'll be in a castle like those built centuries ago, the kind of which haven't been built since!"

Harry could certainly understand her enthusiasm, especially given his residence at the Tower of Pime and tutelage under Pim himself. "I see what you're saying," he said sincerely.

"Oh, by the way," the girl said suddenly, as something occurred to her, "what's your name?"

But before Harry could answer, a shadow loomed over both of them, and Harry turned around to see -


The giant man chuckled. However, looking closer, Harry could see that he looked a little flushed. He could also see another package in Hagrid's hand, wrapped in the same kind of brown paper; however, this particular package was shaped almost like a bell jar. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"Oh, don't worry, I'm fine," he said seemingly automatically, as he also shoved this other package into another one of his pockets as discretely as he could. "So, you got yer books?"

"Yeah," Harry said, holding up his bag full of purchased books.

"Time ter go, then."

"Right." Turning back to the girl, he said, "I suppose I'll see you at Hogwarts, then."

"You too!" she said excitedly. As he and Hagrid left the store, Hagrid leaned against the doorpost for one moment, breathing heavily.

"What happened?" Harry asked.

"I had ter go ter another vault in Gringotts on another one o' those carts of theirs," Hagrid grumbled. "I also ended up... I can't say it, I'm too embarrassed."

"It's alright, Hagrid, you can tell me."

Hagrid looked around uneasily, and finally said, "Okay." Leaning down to whisper in Harry's ear, he said, "I threw up."

Harry looked at him incredulously. "Oh, you didn't..."

Hagrid nodded. "We were passin' a whole row o' vaults when I just couldn't hold it in anymore. I didn't want ter throw up in the cart, obviously, and I turned away, and... I threw up over a whole row o' vaults, ones which belonged to wealthier families."

"Yikes," Harry said, shaking his head in disbelief. "I hope you're not going to get in trouble over this. Then again, at least this might make the people working at Gringotts more open to suggestions about being able to change the speed of the carts."

Hagrid snorted. "Got that right. On the other hand, when you consider just whose vaults those were..."

"What do you mean?"

Hagrid lowered his voice so much that even Harry himself could barely hear it. "There's quite a few families who believed You-Know-Who's rubbish and followed him. After yeh beat him and he vanished, they were claimin' that You-Know-Who somehow forced 'em to obey an' follow him, an' that they had no choice in the matter. Utter hogwash, if yeh ask me, considerin' how they felt the same way as You-Know-Who an' only needed ter be persuaded ter join that insane cause o' his."

"And these questionable families... they were the ones whose vaults you...?"

Hagrid nodded grimly, still quite embarrassed.

"Don't worry, Hagrid, your secret is safe with me," Harry reassured him. "Besides, from the way you put it, these sound like the kind of people who could make others sick either way."

Hagrid chuckled. "Good one, Harry." Clearing his throat and raising his voice to normal levels again, he said, "Right, then... you've also got yer writin' supplies and yer books... so where to next?"

Now that Hagrid was done getting whatever it was from Gringotts, and for good this time, they continued on with their shopping. Soon enough, Harry got a few other things which he needed, such as a pewter cauldron, a nice set of scales for weighing potions ingredients, a collapsible brass telescope, and a myriad of various items as potion ingredients from the Apothecary.

Once they were back outside the Apothecary, both of them were consulting the list again when Hagrid realized that, aside from Harry's wand, he still hadn't gotten a birthday present yet. So, Hagrid suggested that as Harry really should have a wizard's familiar, he should treat Harry to one of those. Harry tried to dissuade Hagrid, telling him that it really wasn't necessary and that he didn't have to do that, but Hagrid insisted on it. Hagrid then went on to say that toads went out of style years ago, cats caused him allergies, and so an owl was a good idea, because they also delivered mail for their owners.

With that, Harry decided to concede. He was also a little worried if this might count as favoritism, with the Hogwarts groundskeeper - fine, perhaps not an actual professor, but a member of the faculty still - giving him something special. However, he decided not to worry about it, and so he went with it.

So with that, they went to Eeylops Owl Emporium.

From the moment they stepped inside, it had been dark, as though the natural light from outside decided to simply stop at the front door. Harry wasn't surprised - after all, owls were nocturnal creatures and preferred the dark. There was also something interesting yet strangely eerie about all the rustling from the owls themselves and their many pairs of flickering, jewel-bright eyes.

They saw a young woman who was working there - she was probably fresh out of Hogwarts, for all Harry knew - go around with huge boxes of Owl Treats and empty them in huge communal bowls which the owls fed from. There was a feeding frenzy as all the birds tried to get to the bowls nearest to them, which reminded Harry of the times at Mrs. Figg's house when she would feed her cats and they would all come running towards it.

After several minutes, the owls were all done and content with their meals, and all went back to various places scattered around the store. However, Harry saw one owl still stare at the bottom of a bowl of which she was standing on the edge, and while owls couldn't visibly display emotions the same way humans could, this particular owl looked disappointed.

Harry felt a pang of sympathy for this owl, as he remembered times when the Dursleys had stuffed themselves with food which he cooked, and he was only allowed to have what was left over, if there was anything left at all.

Bottom of the pecking order, huh? Harry thought. Yeah, I can sympathize with that.

"You're interested in that snowy owl?" the employee said, cutting through Harry's thoughts. He turned around and said to her, "Um, yeah... it looks like a nice owl..." The truth was that Harry didn't know if there was any sort of proper way to go about choosing an owl.

The employee took reached into a small bowl on the front desk and took out small block of food. "Here's an Owl Treat," she said as she handed it to him. "Try offering it to the owl, see if she likes it, maybe she might like you."

"Thanks," Harry said as he accepted it. He then walked over to where the snowy owl sat on her perch, and it turned to look at him, curiously.

"Hello," Harry said kindly as he held out his hand for the owl to accept the small offering in his hand. "Here, take it."

The owl happily did so, and after she was done eating it, she hooted something to him out of gratitude.

"Glad to help," Harry said, going along with it.

The next moment, the owl extended her wings and hopped off her perch and onto Harry's shoulder. He held out his arm, and the owl made her way down onto his arm, where she wasn't so close to his face. She turned to look at him again, continuing to hoot softly.

"I'd say she likes you," the employee said. "She hasn't been very receptive to many other people since she was born."

"Why, how long as she been here?" Harry asked her.

"Only for a year or so, since she was born."

Carefully and as not to alarm her, Harry slowly raised his other hand to try and pet her. He gently stroked her feathers, and she seemed to like it. Then she made a sudden gesture which took Harry by surprise, and nipped at one of his fingers before he could retract it in time.

"Oh, don' worry, Harry," Hagrid chuckled. "She's jus' nippin' yer fingers, it means she likes yeh. She's not gonna tear 'em off or anythin'."

Harry laughed a little. This owl seems as good as any, he thought to himself. Something about this owl just seemed right to him, for want of a better word. "So," he asked the owl, "would you like to come with me?"

The owl seemed to be contemplating that, but only for a moment, and after that she gave an eager hoot, indicating that she would like that very much.

"I'll take her," Harry said, turning to the store employee.

And so, after Harry chose out a simple yet nice cage for the owl, she hopped inside and put a wing over her head and went to sleep while Hagrid paid for the owl and cage.

After they left and on the way to the shop which sold wands, Harry was thanking Hagrid profusely, over and over again, while Hagrid told him not to mention it.

Something then occurred to Harry. "Hagrid... do people - that is, witches and wizards - do they still use staffs?"

"Staffs?" Hagrid repeated incredulously. "Never heard before o' anyone usin' staffs these days! We've been usin' wands since the time o' the Founders."

"Ah, okay. Was just wondering."

A magic wand... he didn't mind using the staff which Pim gave him a year ago, but this still sounded exciting nonetheless.

Within minutes, they were at the store Mr. Ollivander, the maker of wands. It was a narrow and shabby place, but it also looked to Harry like a cross between a library (because it was so quiet and ordered) and a Muggle shoe store (because it had so many boxes on its selves). But appearances aside, Harry could swear that almost felt something, as if all the magic contained within the store was acknowledging him.

They had to wait for a few moments or so, but soon enough, old Mr. Ollivander with his moon-like eyes came to greet them to his store. In a calm manner, Mr. Ollivander spoke of how he had been expecting to see Harry soon, but then reminisced about his mother and father, even what kinds of wands they had themselves.

Of course, Harry thought to himself. Even my parents had to be my age at one point. I wonder what they were like back then...?

But when Mr. Ollivander got a closer look at Harry's scar, he finally trailed off from his monologue and revealed in an apologetic way how he had been the one who made and sold the wand that did it. As Mr. Ollivander moved on, Harry took a silent moment to digest that shocking little tidbit of information.

I guess even Voldemort had to start somewhere... he probably can't have been born evil, but still, to know these little things about him... Harry shook a little as he resisted the involuntary urge to shudder, but fortunately, no one else noticed this.

Across the room, Mr. Ollivander was warmly greeting Hagrid, but even that quickly turned into a small interrogation of sorts about the fate of Hagrid's wand and where the remains of it were now. While this was happening, Harry noticed Hagrid tightly gripping the purple umbrella behind his back.

I wonder...? Harry thought to himself. He also remembered how it blasted the hole in the hut wall just the previous night.

However, Mr. Ollivander let the subject drop and then got back to the matter at hand. He had Harry hold out his "wand arm" (Harry was right-handed), and from there, Mr. Ollivander's tape measure began to do a bunch of unexpected, unusual and seemingly random measurements of all kinds of lengths all over Harry's body. While the magical tape measure was doing that, Mr. Ollivander was explaining something about how the magical cores for the wands came from all kinds of different magical creatures like dragons, unicorns and phoenixes, about how no two wands were the same, and how it was really the wand that chooses the wizard...

Soon enough, the measurements were done, and Mr. Ollivander got to having Harry tried out wands. And so Harry tried wand after wand, barely getting the chance to wave one before Mr. Ollivander snatched it out of his hand and made him try the next one available. And yet, that whole time, Mr. Ollivander seemed to become happier with each wand Harry tried.

Harry, on the other hand, was becoming more frustrated, even though he tried his best to keep himself calm. You know, at this rate, I'd just rather use the staff which Pim gave me last year. But no, because then, I'd have to explain to everyone where I got it from. So, I guess this will have to do...

After a comment about Harry being a "tricky customer," Mr. Ollivander proffered him a wand, which according to him was "holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple."

Harry took the wand, and actually waited for a moment to see if Mr. Ollivander would just snatch that one back as well, but he just nodded encouragingly for him to try. Harry felt a sudden warmth in his hand from where he held the wand, one which he hadn't felt before with the other ones. Something told him that this wand might be the one for him... well, Harry figured, only one way to find out...

He held the wand above his head and brought it down in a sweeping motion. After a moment, however, nothing had happened. All three of them - Harry, Hagrid, and Mr. Ollivander - were looking quite disappointed, but then Harry noticed something...

"The tip of the wand," he observed. "Look."

A small yet very bright light appeared on the end of his wand, and it glowed fiery colors. The ball of light grew bigger, until it was about the size of a marble. It grew bigger still, until it was about the size of Harry's thumb, and everyone could see the shifting red and gold colors. It finally grew to about the size of a ping-pong ball when Harry suddenly had a gut feeling about it, and so he pointed it back up in the air and away from the others...

The next moment, there was an almighty deafening BANG as the light exploded, sending red and gold sparks flying everywhere, dancing around the room. Harry could feel himself shaking from the power of the blast, and unless his senses were deceiving him, he could actually feel the shop shaking on its foundations a little.

As the barrage of light and sound subsided, everyone regained their senses. Mr. Ollivander looked truly stunned and surprised, while Hagrid was rubbing his eyes after that experience. Outside, a few people passing by had stopped to regard the shop curiously after witnessing what seemed to them like an explosion from within it. Harry's new pet owl had awoken in her cage, and was making some grumpy hooting noises as if to tell the others to cease with the noise and racket so she could get some sleep.

Harry, however, felt as though he had done something wrong and was now being caught in the act of doing whatever it was. "I'm sorry," he said nervously. "I didn't mean to do that..."

But he did not anticipate them giving him positive reactions. Hagrid whooped and clapped while Mr. Ollivander cried things like, "Oh, bravo! Yes, indeed, oh, very good."

However, as Mr. Ollivander was putting Harry's wand back in its box, he kept muttering something about how "curious" it was, until Harry finally spoke up and asked the old wand maker what he was talking about.

Mr. Ollivander looked him straight in the eye, connecting his pair of pale yet bright eyes to Harry's vivid green eyes, and he spoke: "I keep track of and know every wand I've ever sold, and to whom, Mr. Potter - every single wand - and yet the phoenix which gave its tail feather for your wand gave only one other tail feather. This brother wand, thirteen-and-a-half inches long and made of yew... it is the wand which gave you that scar.

"Bear in mind, Mr. Potter, that even armed with only a wand, wizards and witches can do great things - also terrible things, yes, but also great things. Take care, Mr. Potter, and remember to control your power, and not let it control you."

For the first, last, and only time that very special day, Harry felt uneasy and swallowed hard as the ramifications of it all hit him.

Harry really had nothing against Mr. Ollivander, but all this creepy talk was just beginning to bother him. He paid seven Galleons for his wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed them from his shop.

Harry didn't look back, and was deep in thought as he contemplated the wand-maker's words...

It was late in the afternoon as Harry and Hagrid made their way back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall, and back through the Leaky Cauldron, which was now empty. Harry didn't speak at all as they walked down the road, and he didn't even notice how much people were gawking at them on the Underground, seeing how they were laden with all their funny-shaped packages, along with the snowy owl asleep in its cage on Harry's lap. After they went up another escalator, and out into Paddington station, Harry only realized where they were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.

"Do you want ter stop ter eat somewhere before we go back?" Hagrid asked him.

"I've got stuff back at the hut, don't worry," Harry said.

Soon enough, Harry and Hagrid were back at the boat, and they sped back to the hut on the rock, out at sea, along with all the packages from their shopping trip. Harry watched idly as their boat left a trail in the water behind them, and he just kept looking at it. Somehow, things seemed much stranger to him than when this very same day began, and it had nothing to do with how it was now towards the end of the day itself.

"You all right, Harry? Yer very quiet," said Hagrid.

Harry wasn't sure he could explain. True, he had just had the best birthday ever in his life, or at least as far as he knew, and yet at the same time, he felt like he was being bogged down by something. Part of him wanted so much to explain to Hagrid how he felt and why he felt that way, except years' worth of conditioning by the Dursleys to make him stay quiet and not speak his mind were preventing him from doing so.

However, after a moment, the year or so of counter-conditioning under Pim's protection and guidance helped him get his feelings out - while making sure that he didn't accidentally reveal anything about Pim or such.

At last, Harry put his thoughts and feelings into words: "Everyone thinks I'm special... well, okay, everyone is special in their own way, but I mean it in that I'm something else from the rest of them. I'm sure all those other people who I met have had full, complete magical educations while I haven't even started at Hogwarts yet, and yet they all look at me like I'm better or more powerful than any of them. Even by their standards, I'm not normal, but something else entirely. And I only just found out about my parents and everything else less than twenty-four hours ago."

Harry didn't see it, because he was gazing out into the distance, but Hagrid was momentarily surprised by the look in Harry's eyes, betraying deep thoughts and insight. There was obviously much more to the son of James and Lily Potter than met the eye.

Eventually, Harry turned to see Hagrid giving him a kind smile.

"You shouldn' worry, Harry, I'm sure you'll learn fast enough. Just try ter be yerself. You might be there ter learn, but you ought ter have a great time... now that I think abou' it, I still have a great time there meself."

Harry nodded. "Thanks," he murmured.

Actually, Harry thought privately to himself, he was beginning to feel rather bothered about it all. In the Muggle world - especially living with the Dursleys - he was an outcast, made that way by his relatives, and at first, the magical world with its wizard citizens sounded like an ideal place where he could fit in and be happy. But now, with all this talk about what he had supposedly done as a baby, what all these other people thought of him, and what they all expected him to do... he just didn't know anymore.

Hagrid helped Harry carry everything from the boat back into the hut, and after they were done with that, the giant then handed him an envelope.

"Yer ticket fer Hogwarts," he said. "First o' September a' King's Cross - it's all on yer ticket. Any problems at all, or any questions you want ter ask me, send me a letter with yer owl, she'll know where ter find me... See yeh soon, Harry."

"I will Hagrid. Thanks again... for everything."

Harry bade him farewell and went inside the hut. As he passed by one of the hut's front windows, he saw Hagrid casually walk down towards the shore, but not towards the boat; he looked away for a split second, but when he looked outside again, he saw that Hagrid had gone.

After a few minutes, Harry got everything together, from what he had brought with him when he first came to this rock to what he had just brought back from his trip with Hagrid. Finally, once everything was neatly stacked and piled around him, he said aloud, "Okay, Pim, I'm ready to go now."

One of those white lights, which Pim and Harry had yet to think of a name for, materialized only a few feet away from him.

"So, how was your day?" Pim's voice asked through the small ball of white light. "It must have been very productive, too, judging by how long you were out and what you brought back with you."

"Yeah, it was. I hope I didn't keep you waiting for too long, Pim."

"Nonsense, Harry. Anyway, time to return back to the tower. But wait... what is this?"

The white light came up to and hovered in front of the beautiful snowy owl, still sleeping in her cage but looking as though she might wake up at any moment.

"Oh, um, a birthday gift from someone else," Harry explained.

"Ah, just checking. Well, I'll make it so she can see the tower, know about it, and live in it, so no worries there. Very well, then, it's time to return."

The white light then dashed around, touching things and thereby transporting them back to the Tower of Pime. Once that was all done, the light sped towards Harry, and he was gone in a flash.

A/N: So, what do the readers think?

Regarding the chapter title... it refers not only to Harry's eleventh birthday, but also the day when he first learns about his past and returns to the Wizarding World.

Regarding the reference to Picasso and his Blue Period... okay, first of all, I promise right here and now not to try and stump my fans with art history references like that. Anyway... during his Blue Period, he didn't always paint his pictures predominantly in blue, and a lot of them dealt with people drinking as part of the subject matter. (Understandably, the artist was going through a rough time in his life.) Somehow, these images came to mind while writing the scene for the Leaky Cauldron.

I also decided to show the scene where Harry gets his pet owl, which we never see in the books (although I don't know if this is exactly how it would have got in the canon books, but I guess that doesn't matter here).

It has never been said in the books (at least not thus far) whether Harry's vault as first seen in Book 1 is his own personal vault or is his family's vault. I'll figure that out later... Either way, let's just assume that he has more than enough money in the vault shown to get through Hogwarts and get started on a career after that. Also, the "Just a handful of this stuff..." line is an allusion to the Aladdin movie made by Disney back in the early 1990s, when Aladdin makes a similar comment after seeing the treasures in the Cave of Wonders.

The thing with Harry asking about the cart and its speed being like the stick shift in a car... japanese-jew pitched that idea.

Also, you might notice how I gave Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Draco Malfoy all somewhat equal time and appearances, even though I didn't mention any of them by name. Trust me, I did it that way for a reason...

Besides... notice Hagrid taking two packages, instead of just one.

Other notable points of difference include Harry first trying his wand at Mr. Ollivander's shop and the results of that. (I also made it so he didn't touch Harry's forehead and trace his scar... now that's just too creepy.) I also changed Mr. Ollivander's words of wisdom and advice to something else which I liked.

Please don't forget to review!

/-Quillian, 5/16/07/
(Last edited: 7/2/07)
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