August was a hot and stuffy month and Harry was thankful that the work in the Ministry was indoors and underground. The atmosphere in the Auror’s office had changed a great deal since the time Harry had joined the department. They had captured most of the Death Eater’s with the exception of the Lestrange Brothers who Neville was still following.
“Maybe they’re dead.” Ron said hopefully one morning. “I mean, they should have been caught by now.”
“We would have heard about it.” Proudfoot said. “Maybe Rowle will turn on them.” She had captured Thorfinn Rowle with Neville, Ron and Harry two days previously.
“I doubt it.” Harry said. “You haven’t seen them like I have. They’re nearly as loyal to each other as they are the Lord Voldemort. It’ll take a lot for them to turn.”
“They’ve done it before.” Ron pointed out.
“On lower level. The Lestranges were as close to Voldemort as one could get. Turning on them is almost the same as turning on You-Know-Who.”
“You-Know-Who is dead.” Proudfoot said. “He can’t come after them if they turn.”
“The Lestranges are dangerous. Even without You-Know-Who I doubt there are loads of people willing to turn on turn on them.” Said Neville.
“It’s just a matter of getting the information you need.” Proudfoot said with a sly smile before she stalked off leaving Neville, Ron and Harry with large mounds of paperwork to do.
Harry loved being an Auror; he loved hunting Dark Wizards. He didn’t, however, love doing paperwork and, as he had done with all his homework at Hogwarts, he put doing it off until the very last minute. This, combined with the excessive sleepiness he was experiencing, led him to the point where he couldn’t do any sort of field work. Because Ron and Neville had also avoided to any sort of paperwork. Proudfoot, with a laugh, had declared today to be a paperwork day.
“D’you remember the capture of…” Harry rifled through various stacks of paper. “Uh, Ethel Crosbie?”
“Wasn’t that the witch we caught in Hogsmeade?” Neville asked.
“Nah, that was a witch called Maybell Ernest. She didn’t get captured. She got a fine for selling something.” Ron said.
Harry scribbled something on the paper in front of him.
“I don’t remember doing half of this.” Harry grumbled, throwing the folder into a pile of completed reports.
“That’s why you’re supposed to do them right after the incident.” Harry looked up. An impish man with blonde hair and mischievous brown eyes was looking down at him with a wide smile. “I’m Ulick Erlanger. No need to introduce yourselves.” Harry had begun to speak. “We were at Hogwarts together.”
“We were?” Harry asked,
“Yes.” Ulick said. “I was in my seventh year in your first. I think everyone knew who you were. You wouldn’t forget going to school with the famous Harry Potter.”
Harry chuckled nervously.
“You weren’t in Gryffindor.” Ron said.
“No.” Ulick shook his head. “I was in Ravenclaw. Mum reckons I should’ve been in Slytherin. You’re brothers and I were good friends. I was at the funeral.”
This revelation was met with an uncomfortable silence. Ulick chuckled nervously before shuffling back to his own desk.
“I don’t like him.” Neville whispered. Ron nodded in response.
“Doesn’t matter.” Harry said. “Do either of you know what happened with Jorge Graham?”
Their day continued in a similar pattern. They worked together filling out the reports that hadn’t bothered with during their two months in the Ministry. Neither of them knew exactly how some events went down after so long that there was a lot of falsifying facts in offer to get done as quickly as possible. Harry was one of his last reports of the night when a large hand shut the file. He didn’t register this at first, he was too busy pushing back his glasses and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. When he did notice, he turned around in his chair to see Ron sleeping at this desk and Kingsley sitting in one of the uncomfortable wooden chairs looking at him with an amused smile on his face.
“Hi Kingsley.” Harry said sleepily.
“Hello Harry.” He glanced at Ron. “Long day?”
“You could say that. What can I do you in for?”
“I’m afraid I have to ask a favor of you.” Kingsley said.
“Is this about the Auror’s position at Hogwarts?” Harry asked warily. “Because I’ve already told you, I’m not doing—“Kingsley cut him off with a wave of his hand.
“No. Minerva and I decided you were right. There is no need for Aurors at Hogwarts. I’ve come to ask you for a different favor.”
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“Have you heard of a Muggle-Wizard Relations Officer?” Kingsley asked.
“No.” Harry said. “What is that?”
“It’s a Ministry position. More often than not they work with Muggles who simply have to know about our world. However, on the rare occasion they inform Muggleborns about Hogwarts.”
“What does that have to do with me?” Harry asked.
“There is a student…a new student…at Hogwarts who seems to know who you are.” Kingsley said at last.
Harry didn’t know what to say. Hermione had told him that he was in several books about the history of the wizarding world, but that was nearly seven years ago. Recently there were whispers about him on the street. Then there was the fact that both Harry and Potter were very common names.
“How do you know if it was actually me?” Sensing Kingsley’s confusion he added “Harry and Potter and both common names.”
“Her name is Ruth Berke.” Kingsley said. “She mentioned Teddy. Do you know here?”
“Yeah.” Harry said in a dazed voice. “She was my neighbor…when I was living in the Muggle world. She was odd. Things broke. I saw her a while back. She mentioned…odd things happening.”
“Accidental Magic.” Kingsley confirmed. “She’s been assigned a Muggle relations officer, but her family has requested you.”
“Me?” Harry asked. “Why do they want me?”
“They said there is something trusting about you.” Kingsley added with a laugh “I personally don’t see it. You’ll be excuse from your Auror duties for a day, of course, to show them around Diagon Alley, tell them about Hogwarts. That is, if you agree.”
“I don’t know…” Harry said. “There is a lot of work to be done here.”
“I was an Auror Harry. I know how these things work. Will you do it?”
“I—yeah. I’ll do it.”
“Excellent.” Kingsley smiled broadly. “Harry, could you perhaps do me one more favor?”
“I suppose.” Harry shrugged. “What is it?
“Wake up Weasley and Longbottom and then go home. You’ll need your sleep. You have an exciting day tomorrow.” Kingsley clapped Harry on the shoulder and then walked away presumably back to his office. Harry ruffled his hair and stretched his arms before shaking both Neville and Ron awake and telling them it was time to leave. Harry Floo’d back to Grimmauld Place and checked to see if Teddy was sleeping peacefully before wolfing down a steak and kidney pie Kreacher had made for him. After his hasty dinner Harry ran back up the stairs to Sirius’ room and collapsed on the bed.
Harry awoke the next morning earlier than usual. He had made plans with Andromeda to drop Teddy off for the day. He gathered from Kreacher mutterings that he did not care for looking after a four month old infant, on top of this Harry had to rustle up the muggle clothes he had stashed way in order to blend in to his old neighborhood.
With Teddy safe at his grandmother’s house Harry appeared once again at the flat block he spent his first month after the Horcrux hunt it. The lobby was just as dirty as before. Harry hastily climbed the stairs and knocked on the door next to the one that housed his old home. Ruth answered jumping up and down with frenzied excitement.
“Harry!” She cried. “I knew it! I knew you were odd.”
“Nice to see you as well.” Harry said. “Are you ready to go?” Harry stepped inside the flat. It was still as clean and cozy as it had been months ago. Harry could hear Ruth’s mother and father arguing quietly in the kitchen. Sam, Ruth’s younger brother, didn’t say a word, but stared at Harry with large, curious eyes. Ruth ran around the flat, gathering her family until they were all settled in front of Harry. Lizzie Berke, Ruth’s mother, looked at Harry irritably where as her husband Phil greeted him as an old friend.
“Are we off?” Phil asked jovially. Harry nodded and led them out of the door and down the stairs off the building and into the bright street.
“Er—it would probably be best if we took the underground.” Harry said. He showed Mr. Berke the location of the Leaky Cauldron on a small map of London and Mr. Berke led them to the Underground. Harry insisted on paying for his own ticket and off they went. It took nearly half an hour to reach the Leaky Cauldron.
“Are you sure this is the right place?” Mrs. Berke asked. She obviously didn’t have a lot of faith in Harry or in the wizarding world.
“Ruth can see it, can’t you Ruth?” Harry said kindly. Ruth nodded.
“It’s right there.” She said. “The Leaky Cauldron, can’t you see it?” Mr. and Mrs. Berke shook their heads; but Sam, to Harry’s surprise, nodded.
“It looks like a closed shop.” Mrs. Berke grumbled.
“It won’t for long.” Harry promised. He took point in the group and pushed open the door. The first thing that greeted Harry in the dimly lit pub was thundering applause. The pub was full to bursting and every single witch and wizard inside stood and began to applaud Harry. There were shouts of his name and several dozen people came to shake his hand.
“Mr. Potter!” Tom the toothless bar owned yelled. He reached over and shook his hand. Harry tired his best to guide the Berke family through the crowded pub. It wasn’t easy as just as Harry was free of patron another was on top of him.
“Alright Harry?” One called from the other side of the bar.
“Potter did it again!” Cried another.
One rather large man stood atop a table and lifted his mug of butterbeer above his head and cried “To Harry Potter! The Boy Who Lived! The Chosen One!”
The pub raised their glasses and cried “Harry Potter!” Soon after this, Harry was able to guide the family to the small back room. The roars in the pub died down when the door shut.
“What the bloody hell was that about?” asked Mrs. Berke.
“Are you famous?” Ruth asked excitedly.
“Something like that.” Harry said examining the wall in front of them. He pulled his wand out of the back pocket of his jeans.
“Is that a wand?” Ruth asked.
“Yeah. I got it in here.” He said tapping the bricks on the wall. In front of his eyes the bricks began to move, wriggingly out of the way and creating a giant archway.
“Blimey it’s been a while since I’ve entered Diagon Alley this way.” Harry said stowing his wand back in his pocket. Ruth looked at it in awe.
“This is incredible.” She said gazing up at Harry. “When do I get a wand?”
“After you get money.” Harry said. “C’mon let’s go to Gringotts.”
“What is Gringotts?” asked Phil, looking at the buildings with the same awestruck wonder as his daughter.
“It’s a bank.” Harry said. “The Wizards bank. It’s one of the safest places on Earth.”
“Has anyone ever broken into it?” Ruth asked Harry as the approached the marble building.
“Yes.” Harry replied a smile playing on his lips.
“Who?” Ruth asked eagerly.
“Me.” Harry grinned as he pushed open the door. Phil gave him an alarmed look. “It’s a long story. One I am sure you’ll hear when you get to Hogwarts.” Harry led the small family into the small room where a goblin nodded to them and opened a second smaller set of bronze doors,
“What was that?” Ruth asked.
“A goblin.” Harry said. “Gringotts is run by them.”
“Goblins?” Ruth asked is a whisper. “Goblin’s exist?”
“Yes. So do leprechauns, banshees, pixies, vampires, unicorns, werewolves… nearly everything you thought was pretend exists.” Harry said approaching one of the goblins who sat high in his desk. The goblin looked down at them with an air of disgust.
“Mr.…Potter.” The goblin leered at Harry from his desk. Honestly, Harry had been expecting it. Breaking into Gringotts was a sure fire way to anger a goblin and he did it; he hadn’t exactly expected the goblins to greet him with open arms.
“I’m here to exchange…money. I’m here to exchange some money.” Harry shoved Mr. Berke in front of him to deal with the goblins. Although Harry had saved the magical world from certain doom; there was something to be said for violating the trust of others. As Griphook, the first goblin had ever met had told him not even a year ago, it was a Wizard’s war. Harry looked around the building as the Berke figures out the best way to exchange their Muggle money for bronze Knuts, silver Sickles and gold Galleons. The ceilings in Gringotts Bank where high and echo-y; the sound of chattering patrons and goblins filled the air. It had been so long since the first time Harry had visited Gringotts. He was elven years old, Hagrid by his side and the travelled down, down deep into the ground to Harry’s vault here he was presented, for the first time in his short life with his own money.
“Is Mr.Potter planning on visiting his own vault?” Asked the goblin. Harry snapped out of his revere and nodded. As long as he was in Diagon Alley he might as well do some shopping of his own. The Goblin asked for the key and Harry obliged pulling it out of a small moleskine pouch Hagrid had given to him on his seventeenth birthday and pulled the key out from in between the snitch Dumbledore had given to him and the letter his mother had written to his godfather when Harry was only a year old. Harry gave the tiny golden key to the goblin who looked it over and nodded before handing it back to Harry.
“Everything seems to be in order.” The goblin said with a nasty grin. “Ragnok will take you down. Harry motioned for the Berke’s to follow him and together they followed Ragnok to the cart rails.
“Do you have a lot of gold?” Ruth asked Harry with wide eyes. Harry nodded.
“Ruth!” Her mother hissed. “You can’t ask questions like that!”
“It’s alright.” Harry waved her off as the group got settled into the cart.
The ride to Harry’s vault long and felt like a rollercoaster the wind whipped at Harry’s face and his raised his hand to his glasses to make sure they didn’t fall off his face. After several minutes the cart stopped with a jolt and Harry climbed out of the cart first with Ragnok followed shortly by Ruth and an open jawed Sam. Mr. Berke was looking queasy and took his time getting out of the cart. Mrs. Berke climbed out last her lips pressed into a tight-line very reminiscent of Harry’s Aunt Petunia. Ragnok opened the door to the vault and began stuffing as many columns of gold, silver and bronze into his bag as quickly as possible.
“All of this is yours?” Ruth asked, her hand running over a stack of galleons.
“Yeah, it is.” Harry said ushering the family out of the vault and back into the cart. Ragnok nodded at Harry and then shut the door to Harry’s vault before settling himself back into the cart and whisking the small group back above ground.
“I suppose we should get your wand first.” Harry said to Ruth after they left Gringotts.
“Where am I supposed to do that?” Ruth asked.
Harry smiled. “Olivander’s of course.”