Harry walked quickly down Diagon Alley with Ron and Hermione at his side. Ginny was trailing behind them, chatting animatedly with Fred and George about their shop, before they wandered away to the shop in question, and further back still were Remus and Molly. They were not by any means the only members of the Order present that afternoon as people hurried from shop to shop, not stopping to chat in the street as once they had, but they were the only visible ones.
“I’m not taking any chances,” Moody muttered to Kingsley for what felt like the hundredth time since that morning but was, in reality, only the fifth. “If something happens then we have to be here as soon as possible, which means being here before it happens.”
“But nothing is going to happen!” Kingsley almost yelled out into the street and that would almost certainly have given the family which hurried past into The Leaky Cauldron an excuse to panic. “There’s no one here for starters!”
“Have you been in any of the shops lately?” Moody asked him, swivelling both eyes onto him for a moment. Kingsley froze, knowing that he hadn’t and that his acknowledgement of that fact wasn’t likely to do him much good. He decided not to answer but Moody either didn’t expect one or didn’t feel one was necessary as they reached the front steps of Gringotts and followed the others inside.
Kingsley muttered something darkly under his breath at the sight that met him. People. Lots and lots of them. The bank appeared full and was dealing with more customers than Kingsley had ever seen in there before. He had not glanced into any of the other shops on the way there; he had been ordered to keep his eyes on their charges, but he felt that it was safe to assume that the other shops were in a similar state. After all, the students had to do their shopping for September and the street was clearly not deemed safe. There was a flash of green behind him, and another, and another. Kingsley span round in an instant, his wand drawn. To his surprise, the usually hex-happy Moody merely laughed.
“Relax, Shacklebolt. It’s only the Floo.” Kingsley felt some colour rise into his cheeks as he saw witches and wizards of all ages queuing to travel through several fireplaces along the wall. A slight touch on his shoulder caused him to turn back towards Moody, who steered him towards the edge of the room where they could observe the comings and goings as they pleased. They were in a perfect position to be seen but unobserved themselves. Across the room they watched as Harry, Ron and Hermione easily reached one of the goblins at the counters and showed them a key.
“It has been a very long time since this key has been used, Mr Potter,” said one of the goblins as he stared firstly at the key, and then at Harry over his spectacles. “However, there is no doubt of ownership.”
“Isn’t there an account number I need for this…?” Harry asked and Ron kicked him in the back of the leg. They were not aware of any number for the vault that they wished to enter and it appeared that they were going to be let in without one. Had Harry just ruined that chance?
“No… this is one of the oldest vaults in the bank and, as such, means that it was before the numbers even existed. There is only the key. Do not lose it, Mr Potter,” the goblin said to him as he glanced over to the wall where another goblin stood, his hands behind his back and his eyes on them. “Follow Coldlang to your vault.” The goblin sanding against the wall, whom they presumed to be Coldlang, nodded and turned towards the large doors at the end of the room which they knew from experience to lead into the vaults. Without question they followed him in.
Harry moved as if to slip the key back into his pocket but Coldlang reached out and took it before he had the chance. They stepped into one of the carts and Coldlang pressed the key into a small slot on the cart. Instantly it took off, throwing Harry, Ron and Hermione back in their seats causing Ron to hit his head quite painfully on the metal bar behind him.
The darkness seemed to increase the further they went along the tracks and they couldn’t help but notice that they were going right down into the bank, further than any of them had ever been before. It became much cooler as they descended and Harry noticed Hermione determinedly looking at her feet, presumably not looking at the way they were going. Not that Harry could blame her; they appeared to be descending straight into darkness with no sign of where the tracks would end and no promise of stopping any time soon.
Beside him, Ron was also looking a little green and was breathing deeply and slowly. A glance up to the goblin who accompanied them informed Harry that he was greatly amused by their behaviour and was wearing the closest Harry had ever seen to a smile on his face.
“Oh dear god, tell me we’re there,” Hermione muttered as the cart finally began to slow. Her answer was from the eventual stopping of the cart outside a large door and she was the first one out and onto solid land again. Ron scrambled after her, pushing past Harry in order to get out of there as fast as possible.
“Your key again, Mr Potter,” Coldlang requested as he stood by the large door. Harry noticed the way he kept quite a large amount of distance between himself and the door, as if he didn’t wish to get any closer than he absolutely had to. The goblin must have noticed Harry’s observation from his next words. “Keep away from the door. If anyone touches it before the key is inserted then it will destroy their soul…”
Harry looked at him dubiously for a moment before registering the fearful looks on Ron and Hermione’s faces and decided that clearly his threat was perfectly viable and, most likely, perfectly true.
The key was pressed against a small panel by the side of the door and it flashed brightly before a loud creak filled their ears. Harry winced at the sound as the large door opened up, allowing them entrance into the vault. The goblin pressed the key back into Harry’s hand as he passed but remained stationary by the door.
Harry didn’t know what he’d been expecting as the large door swung shut behind them but the large room he was in certainly wasn’t his idea of a vault. It looked more like a living room of some kind. The walls were covered in wallpaper, the floor had been covered with a thick cream carpet and there were two sofas in the middle of the room.
“Is anyone else wondering whether we’ve walked into a house?” Ron asked as he took in the room, spinning round to get a better look at it, noticing that from this side the door was small and just like one you would expect to find in a house.
Harry stared around him before walking over to one of the sofas and sinking into it, letting the rest of the room sink into his mind. It was so strange and yet so oddly comforting to be in a room surrounded by things which he knew to have belonged to his parents. Ron and Hermione were wandering round, looking at everything they found but not actually touching anything. He wondered briefly whether they felt that nothing in the room was to be touched without his permission as he followed them with his eyes.
The next three hours were spent going over most of the things in the room. There was a lot which Harry would have liked to remove and take back to Grimmauld Place with him but, knowing that he would have nowhere to put most of the objects in the room and that they were safer in the vault, he let them lie.
His father’s Snitch, quite possibly the one Harry had seen him playing with in Snape’s worst memory, still fluttered around the room. It was clearly as full of magic and as adept at evading the clutches of whoever came near it as ever and Harry spent ten minutes trying to catch it before he found his father’s broom.
He had to wonder whether his mother had purposefully hidden it behind one of the sofas to prevent James chasing the Snitch around the room. It was still in quite good condition and flew tolerably well, although it was clear how much brooms had advanced in the last fifteen years or so.
After a crash landing, which Harry blamed on the broom, he glanced around to see that Hermione and Ron were sat talking on the other side of the room. Ron’s fingers were closed around the Snitch and Hermione looked quite agitated. Harry wondered whether one of their arguments was bubbling up and he decided that it would probably be best just to leave them to it, in the hopes that it would either calm down or that even if they did argue he wouldn’t become involved. A glance back showed him that they were holding hands and he felt a slight pang of jealousy before he walked into the corner of a desk.
“Stupid desk…” he muttered under his breath, pressing a hand to his thigh as he stared down at it. It was only then that he realised he’d overlooked it for some of the more interesting objects in the room and saw that it was covered in parchment. ‘Letters,’ he realised as he glanced around and took in a few pieces of mislaid jewellery also.
He had no idea how many of them there were but they were mostly signed by his mother and father to each other, some to Remus and Sirius which had clearly never been sent and some from them to his parents. Harry soon found himself sitting on the chair which accompanied the desk, glancing through the letters and occasionally stumbling upon a photograph of his parents or their friends. Ron and Hermione were forgotten entirely.
Everything’s fine, don’t worry about us! We’re looking after Harry quite capably, thank you very much! We just leave him to play by the fire and feed him when he cries, right? Just kidding! Really! We’re doing a great job! Well, I say ‘we’ but it’s mostly just Patrick following him about the house whilst your most marvellous husband watches in amusement. I told you I should have been his godfather… I wouldn’t have chased him around!
Enjoy your holiday without us and don’t forget to bring us something back. (Chocolate would be appreciated!)
“Thomas L’Ordinaire?” Harry wondered aloud as he stared down at the letter. There was no way that name was real, surely. It was far too like Lestrange for his liking… in a mocking sort of way. He searched through the letters and found that the later the date on them became, the more frequently he found ones using several names.
My darling Bromadius,
Missing you terribly and I’m sure Harry feels the same, although I can’t say the same for Patrick. The less I see of him the more cheerful I am (bear that in mind upon your return), godfather or not.
Nothing much is happening at the moment, not since the Longbottoms last week anyway. Dumbledore wishes to see us when we return, although I’m not sure about what. Just that our presence is required.
Take care, for our sakes.
The names on the letters puzzled Harry, although he was sure they were being sent from his parents and Sirius, Remus and Peter to one another, the names they used weren’t their own. Perhaps it was in case of interception, but it still seemed a little odd that they would use code names. He briefly wondered whether Remus was Thomas L’Ordinaire before he put the letters back and walked over to Ron and Hermione.
They had finally stopped arguing and were sat in a comfortable silence. Harry had the feeling that they had been watching him reading through the letters but he didn’t ask; it didn’t matter whether they had or not.
“Ready to go?” Hermione asked him. They stood up as Harry walked over to them and nodded. There was a loud knocking at the door, interrupting whatever Hermione had been about to say next.
“What the hell is that? I’ve never heard of anyone being interrupted in Gringotts before,” Ron said. Harry noted with some unease that he sounded quite worried and he walked to the door before the other two. He pulled the door open easily and stepped out to see Coldlang looking quite tense.
“What’s going on?” Harry asked him and Coldlang immediately walked back over to the cart, indicating for them to get inside.
“There’s an attack on Diagon Alley,” he said calmly and the other three stared firstly at him and then at each other in horror.
“An attack?!” Ron almost yelled, suddenly very much aware that Ginny and his mother were in the bank somewhere. “By who?!”
“You already know who,” Coldlang said calmly as he ushered them into the cart. “It is in the interests of your own safety that we return you to the surface. There are quite a number of people demanding your return in order to remove you from Diagon Alley for the present.”
Before he had even finished speaking, Coldlang had pushed a button on the front of the cart and they set off at an alarming pace back up towards the surface of the bank. The speed was one which had both Ron and Hermione clinging onto the rails at the side of them with white knuckles and even Harry was beginning to feel nauseated by the ride. Harry could put good money on the people he would find once they resurfaced and a hysterical Molly Weasley was one of them.
Sure enough the three of them were instantly swept into a tight embrace by Ron’s mother whilst Ginny, Kingsley, Remus and Mad Eye stood in the background. All three of them seemed particularly eager to leave the wizarding area as soon as possible.
“Are you all right?” Molly asked them even as Mad Eye stepped forwards and seized Harry’s arm, marching off with him towards the door and naturally causing everyone else to follow.
“We’re fine, Mum,” Ron said, sounding quite exasperated by her concern. “Besides, what was likely to get us so far down there anyway?”
Molly didn’t answer and merely quickened her pace to match that of Mad Eye’s as they neared the Floo. There was no other logical way out of the situation; they couldn’t Apparate inside Gringotts and Mad Eye said he’d sooner face the Death Eaters single-handedly than risk an illegal Portkey.
“The Floo’s been blocked!” someone screamed nearby as everyone who had just stepped through the fireplace had been spat unceremoniously back out onto the cold marble floor. Panic seemed to engulf all those that were present except for those surrounding Harry, and it did not fail to reach his attention that the adults had encircled him.
“Right,” Mad Eye began. Clearly he was not in the mood for being held up in the bank and Harry had a sudden mental image of a hold up with Mad Eye adamantly standing in the middle of it. He began barking out orders to those around him, “Remus, Kingsley; you’re coming outside with me. Molly, stay here with the children and keep the doors closed if you can.”
“…can’t we come with you?”
“…seventeen so I can do what I want!”
“We’re never allowed to…”
“QUIET!” Molly ordered and Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were instantly silenced. Remus gave Harry a fleeting smile before he disappeared through the crowd with the two others and left through the large front doors.
There was a roar of noise as the double doors to the bank were flung open and then it stopped as suddenly as it had entered the bank as they clanged shut. Molly ran forwards to lock them with her wand but there was no need; two goblins that Harry had never seen before were quickly casting spells to keep it securely locked for the duration of the battle, although Harry never saw one of them lift a wand.
For Remus, Kingsley and Mad Eye the noise did not instantly die down with the slamming of the doors behind them. If anything it seemed to intensify as Madam Malkin’s was torn down and Madam Malkin herself went running from the shop and into Flourish and Blott’s next door. Remus caught a glimpse of dozens of terrified people in the book shop through the window, all pushing further back into the shop with expressions of horror as the sign above the doorway came crashing down into the street. It was clear that they were the only ones apart from Death Eaters present and there was no way for them to call anyone else at present.
Nothing like being out numbered by twenty Death Eaters to three members of the Order of the Phoenix was going to stop Alastor ‘Mad Eye’ Moody from defending the most popular wizarding shopping area in Britain, especially whilst it was filled with terrified shoppers. He stunned three Death Eaters close by before they even saw him and at a speed which would put Remus’s own skills to shame.
Kingsley and Remus quickly followed his example and very soon every Death Eater near them had been stunned and a few more at the other end of the street, even as two more Death Eaters stalked into Flourish and Blott’s, which was by far the busiest of all the shops. Mad Eye was already after them as fast as his legs could carry him, not wasting his time and stunning another two Death Eaters as he raced towards the shop.
Remus found himself wondering whether the man had been in Gryffindor as he managed to run in front of one Killing curse and two stunning hexes as he went. It was only by sheer good luck that none of the three hit but he and Kingsley made sure to remove the remaining seven Death Eaters from their consciousness before following their eccentric ex-Auror’s lead. This proved easier said than done however.
The only reason they had been able to stun so many of the Death Eaters in the first place was the fact that they had been casting the spells silently and at such a speed. Now they were one less and seven Death Eaters remained on the outside, with Mad Eye on the tail of two more.
‘Stupefy, Stupefy, STUPEFY!’ Kingsley thought and three jets of red shot out of the end of his wand at three of the Death Eaters advancing upon them. He supposed that if there was one good thing coming from the fact that he and Remus were now having to dodge numerous curses from the remaining four of Voldemort’s followers it was that they had left those in the shops alone. Two of those who remained seemed to be along their train of thought and, after sending another stunner or two in their way, they turned and marched off towards Gringotts, from where the three defiant individuals had originally emerged.
Now that it was only two on two, Remus and Kingsley fancied their chances were much better. They would probably have ended up stunned or maybe even killed had the other two remained but, as they hadn’t…
Remus took his chance and sent a burning spell, a freezing spell and a stunner straight at one of the Death Eaters. He dodged the first two but didn’t see the last. He crumpled to the floor, unconscious and Remus ran past him towards Gringotts even as Kingsley knocked out the one remaining Death Eater.
They were too late however. The large doors had already been swung open and shouts and screams could be heard from inside. There were three flashes of green light close together and neither Remus nor Kingsley had any hesitation as they raced inside.
Remus realised the moment they ran inside that their brashness had been their first mistake. However, as Harry launched himself quickly at Remus and pulled him to the ground, just as the Killing Curse shot over their heads, he was very glad he had remained inside the building. Harry rolled off him and already had his wand out as he remained on the floor. A glance over his shoulder showed Remus that the two Death Eaters had hidden behind the doors, keeping their wands firmly trained on the fearful civilians as they did so.
Kingsley leapt back to his feet and sent a barrage of hexes towards one of them, encompassing what Remus thought to be every spell he had ever learnt. Remus quickly took care of the other, taking advantage of his shock at Kingsley’s bombardment of the other.
As the last Death Eater fell to the floor, twitching uncontrollably from an unidentified spell from Kingsley, Mad Eye burst through the door and ducked the spell which Kingsley shot at his head. Remus tried not to laugh at the expression on Mad Eye’s face as he eyed a rather sheepish looking Kingsley coolly.
“Come on, kids,” Molly said briskly. She didn’t need to tell them twice and, just as the Ministry Aurors arrived on the scene, Mad Eye, Kingsley, Remus, Molly, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all exited the building through the fireplace.
“I really wish she’s stop calling us ‘kids’,” Ron muttered as he stepped through the flames to Grimmauld Place. Ginny didn’t appear to be annoyed by the term as such, just quite irritated that she hadn’t managed to get all her shopping done before they were attacked.
“So I think it’s safe to say Mrs Weasley won’t be letting us leave the house ever again now,” Harry said as he brushed himself down in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place.
“Certainly not,” Molly said and then her tone softened slightly. “Well, I suppose you can go to school.”
She smiled and Harry, Ron and Hermione tried to do the same, although Remus raised an eyebrow when he caught Harry’s eye.
“You’ve not told her yet?” he muttered to Harry once Molly had left the room to hang her cloak up. Harry looked everywhere but at Remus, suitably answering his question. “You do know that you’ll have to tell her some time, right?”
“She’s not my mother,” Harry retorted but Remus merely smiled.
“You and I both know that that doesn’t make any difference whatsoever, Harry,” Remus told him. He moved towards the door before turning back and muttering so low that Harry could barely hear him. “Thanks for… saving my life,” he mumbled and quickly left the room, but not before he caught the answering smile on Harry’s lips.
Remus had intended to go up to his room but, upon seeing Minerva talking to Molly about something stopped him in his tracks. Molly’s face went from the relieved, pale colour it had been before to an infuriated red as she marched back towards the kitchen.
“It would appear that Molly was not aware her son and surrogate children aren’t returning to Hogwarts in September,” Minerva said mildly as Molly barged into the kitchen. Ron froze in place and Harry was less than amused to see Remus and Minerva appear in the doorway.
“What’s this about you not returning to school?!” Molly demanded and Ron visibly flinched.
‘Not again…” Harry thought as he braced himself for a world of shouting.
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