AN: There will be some Weasley bashing. Well, at least parts that paint the Weasleys in a less than admirable light. If this bothers you, my apologies. Our story continues later the same day, after Harry left Daphne's flat.
Harry was finishing his meeting with Ragnok, the Chief Administrator for Gringott's London Branch.
"Very well Mr. Potter, we shall arrange your accounts as you have requested. We will arrange for the sale of your properties as you have also requested. I am not sure how the market will react to some of your properties being sold, but of course will negotiate to your advantage. The arrangements for providing you with new house elves has gone more slowly then we had hoped, as finding relatives of Dobby who are not bound to families who have connections with the group formerly known as Death Eaters has not been easy. But we do have a lead on a couple of house elves that may be suitable to you needs who may be in need of bonding to a new family soon."
"As always, I am enriched both personally and financially to have you in my service. May your gold flow freely and your enemies be ever at under your feet," said Harry as he concluded his discussion.
Ragnok handed Harry a small red and gold pouch that had the Potter family crest on the side. "Here are the port keys you have requested for Potter Manor and for your new flat in London. Once we have completed the sale of the properties in question, we will then begin the task of searching for properties that would meet your specifications. As always, it has been a pleasure, Mr. Potter." Ragnok concluded with a deep bow with his arms to the side showing his respect for Harry and the honor and esteem by which Harry is held by the Goblin Nation.
Harry returned the bow, and slid the pouch inside his dragon skin robe and departed. He quickly checked the time and saw that it was nearly twelve noon. He muttered to himself as he was frustrated that his business had taken as long as it had this morning at Gringott's. He knew he was scheduled to meet with Daphne shortly, and he was hoping to have a little more time before he was to catch up with her for lunch. He noted the butterfly feeling in his stomach as he thought about lunch with the Ice Princess, and the feeling angered him. "You're not a foolish little school boy any more, Potter," he said to himself, and hoped no one had overheard him as he was walking out on Diagon Alley into the mid day crowds. The feelings he was having since he had dinner and spent the night at Miss Greengrass' flat reminded him of when he had a crush on Cho Chang during fifth year, or when he had first become interested in Ginny Weasley. A shiver went through him as he thought about her name. His girlfriend up until just recently when he had decided he had had enough of her games and manipulations.
Harry strode into the early winter sun in Diagon Alley. The breeze was brisk and he looked down the Alley towards the various shops. He was considering which small store he would choose to enter, when he was startled by the shrieking of his name.
"Harry James Potter!" screamed a red-headed witch with her hair ablaze behind her as she strode through the crowds towards Harry.
Harry thought to himself, "Why did I have to think about her name just now? Just my luck." He knew he could not avoid facing her today and she seemed determined to speak with him, even if that meant creating a scene in the middle of a very public place. Not to be out down in formalities, Harry slowly turned to face her as he put on a stoic face and calmly replied, "What can I do for you, Ginevra Molly Weasley?"
Ginny glared at him for using her full name, oblivious to the fact that she had just used his full name in shouting at him. Her Hollyhead Harpies robes flowing behind her as she quickly walked up to confront him. "Just where the bloody hell have you been the past three days? I have been searching for you, there is no response at the place the Order of the Phoenix used to meet, in fact none of us even remember where it was. Just what are you up to? Do you think you can just take off on me like that?"
Harry returned her glare momentarily, then he allowed a calm demeanor to settle upon his face. "Ginevra," he said softly, knowing she hated being called by her given name instead of Ginny, "I am not your property and I do recall that you broke up with me three days ago, at which point I replied by saying, and I think my exact words were, 'well good, because I was thinking of breaking up with you, so I think this is really all for the best.' We bade each other farewell, and that should be that. Or were there some of your belongings from my former place of residence," Harry continued as he knew that none of the Weasleys or surviving members of the Order of The Phoenix would remember anything about 12 Grimmauld Place as he had asked the goblins to place a new fidelius charm on the old Black home, "then I will be happy to forward them along. I do believe you should have already received your things at the Burrow."
Ginny was furious at this rebuff, and she lifted her hand to slap Harry, but he deftly stepped back quickly and avoiding her quick hand. Harry was glad that they were in a public place as he figured it would make it less likely that she would draw her wand against him, but he was slightly worried that she might just try to hex him, so he took another step back, keeping his eyes locked on hers.
"Well, that was all just a simple misunderstanding. Just go back and re-register for your Auror training program, and then we can get back on with our lives together, once you apologize to me." Ginny sneered at him at this point.
"Ginny, there is no way I am returning to the Auror training program. You know that, and Ronald knows that. So give it a bloody rest," Harry snapped and mentally chided himself for allowing his emotions to start to rise.
"But you have to go back to studying to become an Auror," Ginny was now resorting to whining. She forced a pouty expression on to her face, and Harry struggled to openly wince at contortions she made with her face.
"I have to do no such thing," Harry said calmly, already knowing where this conversation was headed – the same place it went the last dozen times they had this conversation after he quit the Auror school.
"I know you're good enough to be an Auror," she smiled sweetly at him, "but it is just what you need to do so you can get a job."
"I do not need a job and I am definitely not going to become an Auror," Harry said simply, reciting the same lines he had to her the last time this conversation occurred.
"But you need a job, and a place to stay," She reached forward to take his hands in hers, but Harry stepped back again, glancing backwards momentarily so as not to trip over anything or anyone.
"I have a place to stay, and I do not need a job, I already told you that," He said, trying to hold back any emotion from his response.
"But Harry, love, you can't live on your trust fund forever," she said smiling again, "It will run out eventually, you know that."
Harry had about enough of his former girlfriend now. He decided that he would pull out all of the stops today, but he paused a moment before answering so as to remain calm as he began to speak. "Ginevra, my trust fund is of no concern of yours, it never has been and it never will be. My welfare is also of no concern of yours, especially after it became clear that you had been using love potions on me back when I was at Hogwarts. You can go back to you life as the famous chaser for the Hollyhead Harpies, the youngest ever, lest any of us forget, and you need to get over your damned crush on the Boy-Who-Lived." harry paused when he thought he saw Daphne walking up behind Ginny. She was still about twenty yards away making her way through the crowd that had gathered and he gave a quick shake of his head to hopefully warn her to stay away for right now.
Ginny noticed his slight head movement and spun on the spot to see who he may have been silently communicating with, as she snapped at him, "That better not be Granger coming to try and rescue you from me."
Harry internally gave a sigh of relief when he noted that Daphne was not visible in the crowd at this moment. "Hermione does not need to rescue me from anyone, least of all you," Harry replied, letting a little of his anger to seep into his words. "Besides, I have no idea where she could even be, as I have not heard from her since she left Ronald last spring."
"Then who are you meeting here?" Ginny demanded as she turned to face Harry once more. "Is it your girlfriend? The one you must have been cheating on me with for the past year?"
"I have no girlfriend, and you know that I never cheated on you," answered Harry with a sigh, and then under his breath he added, "But you know you can't say the same for yourself."
Her eyes burned with rage and Harry mentally berated himself for adding that last statement as she had obviously heard it.
"We're not through, Harry," snapped Ginny.
Harry glanced at his watch, and then looked back at Ginny. "Actually, I believe we are. We are quite through, and please stop harassing me like this, or I shall be forced to call an Auror or make a report to the DMLE. Or perhaps even file a complaint with the Harpies' governing board for behavior that is unbecoming to a representative of their team."
The last statement finally got through to Ginny, as she knew her contract had a public behavior clause. While she knew her skills could buy her some leeway with the coaches, the governing board for the team had a reputation of not showing any leniency against anyone who may besmirch the reputation of their quidditch team. She gave a silent glare at Harry and then spun on her heals and headed down the Alley. Harry was sure she was heading for George's store, but he did notice that she was trying to peer through the crowd that was dispersing, now that their very public argument had come to an end, for whomever Harry had been looking at over her shoulder. Most of the wizards and witches who had gathered were nameless faces who all must have had a thrill in witnessing the public outburst between two famous people in their society, and many of the onlookers anticipated telling their friends and family, who were sure to read about the to do in the next edition of the Daily Prophet, ow they were eyewitnesses to the spectacle.
Harry did not move from the spot he had found himself occupying, backed up against one of the pillars in front of the Gringotts Bank. His eyes followed his ex-girlfriend until he was sure she was out of sight. Then he scanned the remaining crowd and he noticed Daphne slowly making her ways towards him. He was surprised to see her wearing muggle clothing, a pair of tight black jeans with a green and silver jumper that did little to hide her very womanly figure. She did not have a robe to cover her, but the early December day did not require her to bundle up any more as it was quite seasonable. Harry realized he was staring, and he quickly averted her eyes as he noted the smug look that Daphne was wearing.
"Quite the display there, Mr. Harry James Potter," she said with a smirk.
"I was hoping to avoid that," he said with a slight frown, "I wish you didn't have to see that."
"Oh, but it was oh so entertaining," she commented as her smile grew.
Harry thought how nice her smile looked. He started to smile himself, and this was not lost on the young blonde in front of him.
"So, why the head nod?" she asked simply, "Did you not want me to see the full-fledged lover's spat?"
Harry noted the mirth in her voice so he held back responding in anger. He gathered his emotions in check as he answered, "One, we are not and were not lovers. Two, it was not that I did not want you to witness the 'spat' but that she has been accusing me of having a girlfriend behind her back for months, and you did not need to get drawn into anything."
"Oh, and do you have a girlfriend, Mr. Potter?" she asked coyly.
Harry's cheeks flushed at her question. "No I do not," he answered, starting to feel a little shy. He turned away from looking at her directly. "Not sure that I am ready for that right now, so soon after putting an end to the fiasco of my most recent relationship." Harry turned to look Daphne in the eye as he tried to read her reaction to his response. He noted nothing and thought to himself 'there is a reason she is called the Ice Queen.' Harry searched her deep blue eyes for some sort of hint as to what she was thinking or feeling, but he still saw nothing. "But I am woefully in need of a good friend," he added. Then he surprised himself as he gently took her left hand in his right and spun her slightly so that they faced the Leaky Cauldron. "Let's go get some lunch, and a quiet muggle restaurant and we can talk more there." Harry noted the slight reaction of shock on her face as he and grasped Daphne's hand, but the look was gone so quickly he started to doubt if he had really seen it.
Daphne felt that her skills are maintaining an impassive mask on her face were being greatly tested as Harry had taken a hold of her hand. Internally she was grinning from ear to ear as she let the raven haired young men lead her out of Diagon Alley and into muggle London.
Harry nearly dragged Daphne to the restaurant he had been planning on going to. It was a simple establishment, with plain tables and minimalist décor.
"You brought me here?" questioned Daphne as she looked around the room after they were seated in a booth in the corner. "You really didn't have to bring me to such a lavish restaurant. I'm surprised they even let us in here with the way we are dressed."
Harry raised an eyebrow at her comments, and finally even Daphne couldn't keep a straight face any longer as she started to smile.
Harry smiled back as he said, "It's not about the decorations, but about the food and the company."
Daphne reached across the table and gave his hand a slight squeeze. She looked at the laminated sheet that served as the menu. She glanced over the items and looked back up at Harry. "Fish and chips?"
"The best in all of London," said Harry, "or at least the best that I have found."
They proceeded to place their order and settled in to enjoy their time together. However, there was an awkward silence as the two sat and looked at each other. Eventually Daphne's curiosity about the earlier scene in front of Diagon Alley caused her to speak.
"So what was all of that between you and Ginny?" she asked, hoping not to scare him off from talking.
"That was more evidence of why she is my ex-girlfriend, and someone whom I wish to avoid," answered Harry quietly. He looked down at the table in front of him for a moment and then he looked back at Daphne. "Maybe I should explain a little more about that. But then again, maybe I am boring you to tears by my endless monologing about me. Perhaps Malfoy was right, I am just an attention seeking self-centered prat." Harry looked away feeling that he was once again dominating the discussion with his new friend.
Again Daphne reached across the table and this time she gently grasped both of his hands. "Mr. Potter, I learned a lot about you last night, and one of those things I learned is that you are not a prat and that you are not self-centered. It is easy for anyone who knows you to see that you clearly do not seek attention. So back to the matter at hand, I would like to hear about what happened and why. Before I showed up in the pub yesterday, you were the Boy-Who-Lived, and the Vanquisher-of-Voldemort, a mythical character out of some fanciful muggle novel, but now I have been getting to know the real you. I like the Harry I've been getting to know. I care about this person who I met at an unnamed pub yesterday, and I would like to get to know you better. So, I am all ears. Maybe it will do you some good to share about what lead to that encounter with the fiery hair and personality to match." She gave him a soft smile to show her sincerity.
Harry had to work hard to not let his mouth hang open in shock. Here he was sitting with one of the most beautiful witches he had ever met, one who had a reputation for being cold and heartless, and she was being kind and asking him to open up to her, and letting her emotions show all at the same time.
Harry swallowed hard, reached over to take a sip of water from one of the glasses which the waitress had left at the table, then he began to share some of the details of his life he had never talked to anyone about. "Well, it goes back to our sixth year, when I had started dating Ginny. Actually, I was kind of nervous about dating her as she had seemed to be dating one guy after another for the previous two years. And up until that time I had always just thought of her as my mates little sister. Then I started thinking about her all of the time. And we eventually started dating. But then I knew I would not be returning to Hogwarts for our seventh year, and I knew that I needed to distance myself from some of my friends, because I was worried that Riddle would send his Death Eaters after them, so I broke it off with Ginny before her brother married Fleur. Well, then Ron and Hermione and I had to leave to prepare for my final battle against Riddle."
Daphne interrupted him at this point. "We all noticed you were gone. The new staff, the Death Eaters were all livid that you could not be found. What were you up to?"
Harry made a slight frown as he thought of the best way to answer her. "It was something we could not talk about to others, and I am still not sure that telling anyone else about what I had to do would be a good idea." Harry noted the wounded look in her eyes, and he had a sudden urge to tell her everything. He fought that urge as he reached back to take her hand. "It is not that I don't trust you, it is just something that I really can't talk to others about. Stuff that even the Unspeakables at the Ministry of Magic don't know much of anything about."
He paused until he saw her expression soften again, before he continued with his story. "Well, during the time that the three of us were on our mission, we actually got split up. Ron did not stay with us the whole time. It was then that I realized that I was attracted to Hermione. But she was dating Ron and I had encouraged that, I had even told her that I looked at her as a sister and a friend, so as to make it clear that I thought it would be okay for her and Ron to get together. Well, by the time we got back to Hogwarts, right before the battle, well I had realized that I wasn't sure that I really had any feelings for Ginny, and that I really did like Hermione, but it was too late for that kind of relationship with her."
Harry paused in his story as the waitress placed their food on the table.
"So, you know the basic details of the Battle at Hogwarts. After the battle was over, Neville, or Lord Longbottom now, came to talk to me. He shared with me that Ginny had been dating several different guys during the year. He just thought I should know."
"Well, she was quite amorous with a whole series of guys," added Daphne. "I never realized that you two had dated before, and I was actually surprised that you were dating her after the whole war was over. From what I knew of you, from the distance, you seemed a little quiet for her."
Harry just nodded and continued to talk in between bites of the fish and chips and sips of beer. "Anyways, I actually confronted her about what had happened and she denied it all. She claimed that Neville made the whole story up because he tried to make moves on her, thinking that they could pick up from when he took her to the Yule Ball several years before and that he was just mad because she turned him down."
Daphne scoffed at that idea. "Harry, I have known Neville since we were children, being from Noble families and all, and Neville would never do that. He was strong, he was the leader of the Gryffindors and their supporters as they rebelled against the Carrows and the Death Eaters. I hope you believed him."
Harry smiled, "Of course I did, I have never had a reason to question Neville. He has been a true and brave friend ever since we met. He is one of my true friends who has even had the nerve to stand up against me when he disagreed with me. Ginny was furious that I chose to remain friends with Neville after everything that was said."
"Well that explains some of the animosity between the two of you," commented Daphne. "But what was all that drivel she was spewing about living off of your trust fund. Most young people from Noble and Ancient Houses have trust funds, but that can;t be all that your family has left. The Potter family is an old and very wealthy family, one of the original founding families."
"True," said Harry who looked away as he was mentally struggling about how much more he should tell her. "And the Weasley family thinks that is all that I have, and technically, it is all that have. You see, the goblins seized the rest of my family's vaults."
Daphne looked horrified. "Bloody hell, what could you have ever done to make them do that? You single-handedly defeated the most powerful dark wizard in over a century, one who was making business horrible for everyone, including the goblins. Why on earth would they seize your vaults?"
A sheepish grin crossed Harry's face. He answered her quietly, barely above a whisper. "I broke into one of the highest security vaults to steal an item, and I damaged a significant part of the bank when we made our escape on the back of one of their ancient dragons, who we freed."
Daphne was in shock.
"So, the goblins are not to pleased with me," he added, stating that fact as though it were as simple as one plus one equals two.
"I would think not!" she exclaimed, and then she quieted herself down so as not to draw any und attention to the two of them. "You actually stole something from Gringott's, and you stole a dragon? If anyone else told me this story I would know for sure that they were lying to me. But, that is amazing." She paused and then looked at him with her eyes set with a seriousness Harry had not encountered before. "You are in debt to the entire goblin nation? They haven't executed you yet? What are they waiting for?"
Harry shrugged, "Well, we have come to an arrangement, an understanding. I have a job to do for them, or a mission you might say. Once that is accomplished, I will be returned to full status within the goblin nation, my family vaults will be returned to me, and I will be able to move on with my life."
"No one else knows about this deal with the goblins?" asked a still shocked Daphne.
"No, not even Ron and Hermione," he answered. "All they know is that the goblins are only upset with me, not with them. They were with me because I told them to accompany me, or so the goblins view it, and thus they are not demanding payment for the damages from either of them. So, I have been having regular meetings with Ragnok, the Chief Administrator here at the London Branch for Gringotts. He continues to over see the Potter Family Vaults and investments. I just have limited access to anything that is not in my trust vault."
"Which is why Ginny thinks that is all that you have," concluded Daphne.
"But you haven't told her the truth about your finances," said Daphne, clearly making a statement and not asking a question. After a moment she continued, "So why haven't you told her what is going on?"
Harry shifted in his seat slightly, and Daphne could detect that he was getting a little uncomfortable with the conversation, but her continued with his response. "Ragnok did take me to the family vault. My parents' will was there. And there was apparently a copy of my own will."
"You made a will already?" gasped Daphne with her initial surprised. Then she thought about it for a minute and then she added, "But I suppose that would only make sense if you knew you had to face You-Know-Who and you thought you might die."
"I never wrote a will," Harry said flatly. "Well, not at that time. I have one now though."
"What do you mean, you never wrote a will? But you said..." Daphne let her words trail off as the truth started to slowly sink in.
"I never wrote a will, but someone tried to make one magically without my consent," he finished her thought for her.
"But who? Why?" Daphne nearly stuttered as she spoke.
"The answers were clear from reading the will," Harry spoke trying to suppress the anger that was rising within as he recalled the details of the will. "All of my money and my possessions were to be divided equally between the Weasley family, any surviving members of the Order of the Phoenix, and Hogwarts Academy." Harry let the reality of those words sink in for a minute. Then he explained a little further, "The Order of the Phoenix is the group of followers that Dumbledore organized to fight Tom Riddle, and the Weasleys never knew the full story of my vaults, and were only aware of my trust vault as that was the only vault I knew of when I was a student."
"There was a conspiracy against you? From those who claimed to support you?" Daphne was shocked as the enormity of the implications of the will was overwhelming to her.
"To be fair," Harry spoke with an understated kindness, "they all expected I would die in the battle. I don't think Dumbledore had any idea that I would actually survive. Oh, he knew that I would have to be the one to defeat Tom Riddle, but I am not sure he knew that I would also survive."
Daphne looked at him, a tenderness in her expression that flattered Harry, "But there were rumours of a prophecy, concerning the two of you."
"Yes," nodded Harry. "That neither of us could survive while the other lived. Ultimately, he lost, I won, and I am still here. Now I just have to finish the rest of the obligations I have remaining and I can eventually be a free man."
"But the forged will," asked Daphne, "did you confront the Weasleys about it?"
"No," sighed Harry. "Ragnok advised that I keep that information to myself. As that will has been invalidated, and I have created a valid one, it would give me some leverage with them if ever I needed it. However, I don't think that it will be an issue going forward."
"So is that why Witch Weasel wants you to get a job so badly?" asked Daphne. "She thinks you really are poor?"
"She does not want me being supported by her," Harry said with a hint of pity in voice. "She thinks I need to be responsible for once in my life."
"But why don;t you play quidditch?" she asked. "I saw you play at Hogwarts, you are a great seeker. There are many teams that would love to have you on their team."
"I actually was considering it. However, when I made arrangements for my tryouts with various squads, Ron was not being given a tryout anywhere. I knew how devastated he would be if I could play quidditch and he couldn't, so I decided not to show up for the try outs and I moved on."
"You gave up a professional quidditch career for friendship?" Daphne was beside herself at this thought. "You should have been in Hufflepuff," she stated firmly.
Harry shrugged again. "Well, it wasn't as important to me anymore, playing quidditch, So I decided to try and become an Auror, all I really knew was how to fight dark wizards. I've been doing it since I was a toddler. Well, due to the war decimating the ranks of the Auror corps, the qualifications for becoming an Auror were relaxed, so Ron had the opportunity to enroll. However, last week I decided to leave the program."
Daphne had thought she had been surprised enough by Harry so far this afternoon. "Why the heck did you do such a foolish thing?" she asked.
"That is another story for another day," said Harry with a grin.
He noted that they had finished eating their fish and chips. He looked at his watch and he then back at Daphne. "well, I do have a meeting I need to be heading to shortly."
Daphne gave a smile as she explained that she had a business meeting to attend to herself this afternoon. Harry then paid the tab, tossed a tip on to their table as they left the restaurant and headed out into the street. As they were about to head their separate ways, Harry turned to Daphne.
"You know, I would really like to hear about you, and think you must be getting bored from listening to my voice all the time." He gave her a grin as he squeezed her hand and stepped back slightly.
Daphne bit her lip, and then she spoke, "Dinner tonight? My place? You bring the food and I'll tell you about me. How does that sound?"
Harry gave a wry smile. "Sounds wonderful, Actually, if I bring the food, I will cook it there. It'll be a surprise."
Daphne smiled back. "I am not sure if I should be excited or worried. With you cooking that is."
Harry's smile faded slightly. "Oh, my cooking skill is quite good, I've done it for quite some time. That is something you should not worry about at all."
Daphne looked down at her feet and then back at Harry. "Well, say about half five, if you need time to cook? I'll supply the wine, again."
Harry laughed as he remembered how much wine they had consumed the night before. Or at least, how much he realized they had consumed when he saw the empty bottles this morning. Harry then walked down the road to a nearby alley. He then reached into the small pouch that Ragnok had given to him and grasped one of the port-keys. He felt the tug at his navel as he disappeared from the alley.
Daphne returned to her apartment where she changed into muggle business woman's attire. She then headed out to the several scheduled appointments she had, with several merchants that relied heavily on imports for their businesses.
A gentleman wearing a suit that did not quite fit him, walked into the office of one Professor Rawling Smith at Pembroke college. Professor Smith looked up at the man whose face was obscured by a poorly trimmed beard. The sparkling green eyes caught his attention.
"Excuse me, sir," said Professor Smith, "and who might you be?"
Reaching into a tattered satchel at his side, the man pulled out a worn business card. "Hagrid, Professor, Rubeus Hagrid. I had written to you earlier. I teach at a small school in Scotland, McGonagall College. No, I am sure you have never heard of it, but I was hoping to take a moment of your time to discuss some of your writings."
Rawling Smith had never had much academic interest in his writings on myths, legends and magical creatures before. He looked at the card and then back at the man in front of him. Sizing him up he thought he didn't quite look like a typical professor, but then again, he wasn't sure what the typical professor from a small unheralded school should look like. But, he reasoned to himself, here was a potential colleague who seemed genuinely interested in his work.
"Very well, my good man," said Smith. "Why don't you have a seat here?" and he waved towards a chair across from his desk. After the professor with the ill-fitting suit and the piercing green eyes took the seat, he continued. "So what can I do for you this fine day?"
"Well, I have read your most recent book, 'Myth, Mysteries, and Legend' and I had some questions that I felt would be best to speak with you directly about." He noted a wariness come over the professor sitting behind the ornate wooden desk. "No, I am not here to poke fun at you, I truly am curious about several myths and legends, and I have come to the conclusion that you are the only person who can help me answer these questions."
"Very well," responded Professor Smith, still with clear trepidation in his voice. "What sort of questions? I have had enough of crack pot journalists trying to get exclusives for their pathetic excuses of magazines or newspapers. I do not take kindly to people wasting my time for their own perverted pleasure from ridiculing the supposed loony professor."
"Right, then let's get to the point," continued the man with the unkempt beard. "Would you be willing to share with me any of your sources for the myths and legends which you expound upon?"
"From both a personal and a professional standpoint, I am afraid that is quite impossible," came the stern reply.
"I expected that you would say that," sighed the visitor. "Well, perhaps I can persuade you, and no I do not mean coerce you. In your writings, you claim to have knowledge of the existence of such creatures as unicorns, centaurs and other mythical beasts. You make references to beings that would be considered old wives tales – vampires and werewolves. Clearly there can be only one true explanation for such knowledge. And no muggle born could possibly know these things."
The professor stared at him for a moment. "What do you mean, muggle born?"
"Either that or you are a wizard living in the muggle world," stated the man as he stroked his beard. "You are not originally from England, are you? You did not attend school here growing up? Was it the Salem Institute in the States or was it Durmstrang? I doubt highly then that you went to school at Beauxbatons, you do not strike me as the French type."
The professor's countenance fell. He straightened himself in his chair, and his expression became that of an animal that was cornered.
"Relax, my friend," said the man as his green eyes twinkled. "I have no idea why you are hiding here in the mundane world, portraying yourself as a scholarly professor at an esteemed center of higher education. But I assure you, I do need you assistance." He waved his hand and his appearance changed. The beard was gone, the frumpy suit was gone. Professor Rawling Smith stared into the emerald green eyes of a young man wearing a wide-brimmed hat that nearly hid his face, and he noted that he wore a dragon hide cloak. The young man stood from his chair and reintroduced himself. "My apologies for the subterfuge, but I did not want any wandering eyes knowing that I came to meet with you. Let me introduce myself to you again. The name is Potter, Harry Potter..."