Content Harry Potter Crossovers
  • Previous
  • Next

I packed all the unique items from my own little Italian Job, along with some of my other sentimentally valuable possessions that I hadn’t used in a while, into a bag to take with me to Gringotts. I wasn’t sure if I’d leave it there or not yet. If the security on my vaults was so piss-poor that something got nicked, then I’d hardly be in any frame of mind to entrust my own inventions to the Goblins.

The only reason I was even thinking about leaving things with them was because I was willing to give them the chance to convince me. If they could show me how the person got in, and how they intend to prevent that from occurring again in the future, then I’m pretty sure I’d feel safe enough leaving my gear there. If they didn’t have a plan, I could always use my enlarged backpack to withdraw some of the more valuable and rare items. I’d have to then make provisions to store the things at Grimmauld place. With the new version of the Fidelius charm on it, it was inaccessible to all who didn’t know the secret. I daresay I could put together a few more charms on at least one room to deny access to anyone expect myself. Maybe I’d even make my own version of Malfoy’s secret chamber under the drawing room floor.

Just as I zipped my backpack shut, the floo flared green, and a wild-eyed, unkempt Ronald Weasley stepped into my living room. His quidditch training attire was drenched in patterns that clearly indicated he’d been perspiring for quite a while. He probably just finished a training session with the Cannons, and forgot which door from the dressing rooms led to the shower block.

"Harry!" he shouted, catching sight of me.

"Ron," I shouted back. Hey, if he wanted to play the state the obvious game…

"Harry!" he shouted again, advancing on me quickly. Before I could respond, he had grabbed me in a bear hug and lifted me off my feet. The first thing that hit me was the smell. Yep, he definitely just left training without showering. Again.

"Put me down you stinking idiot," I wheezed indignantly. I could feel his coarse chest hairs through his soaking shirt. Ugh.

Rather than complying, he started spinning around in a circle, whooping with laughter.

"Snape! You got rid of Snape! Woohoo!"

Oh for the love of… "Would you put me down? Please?" I said insistently, letting a low growl creep into my voice.

He released me suddenly, and I fell backwards, unable to keep my balance. It didn’t stop Ron from dancing around in circles like a deranged Celtic lunatic. "Snape is gone, Snape is gone. I can’t believe you killed him without inviting me to watch. I’d have pawned the Burrow for a front row seat."

I grimaced. "Ron, stop prancing around like a git for two minutes, would you? First of all, I didn’t mean to kill him. I just shoved him down the stairs before he could curse me. Second, I-"

Ron stopped and stared at me. "You’re not happy. Who are you, and what have you done with Harry?"

I coughed, trying not to chuckle. "Second, I feel really fucking bad about it, since Hermione has decided to leave me because of it."

That sobered him up. "Oh, shit mate. Hermione left? Why?"

I took a deep breath, still sitting on my arse where Ron had deposited me. "I asked her to play along before we went into Dumbledore’s office. Snape was there, and I told Dumbledore to throw him out, or I would. He didn’t, so I did."

Ron’s expression turned into one of bliss. "Tell me again. More detail this time please. Or could you put it in your Pensieve. I’ll see if you can wear out a memory from watching it too often."

I grabbed a cushion off the nearest couch and threw it at him. "Prat."

He caught it easily. His training was quite obviously sharpening his reflexes. "That’s me," he said with a wide grin.

"Anyway, he charged up the stairs, tried to curse me, so I pushed him back down. He broke his neck halfway down. Hermione thinks I goaded him deliberately into cursing me, so I could kill him. I had a brain fart and said that we’d got away with it when we got back home, which she took to mean that I deliberately killed him, and made her an accomplice. She hit me and packed her things."

Ron’s expression conveyed his sympathy more clearly than words. "Mate, I, I don’t know what to say."

I nodded, and got to my feet. "Don’t worry about it."

Something occurred to him, and he suddenly grinned. "Hey, at least you have a spare."

I gave him a low growl. "Blaise is not, and will never be, a spare!" I spat heatedly.

He shrugged, not at all phased by my tone. "Going somewhere?" he asked, looking for the first time at my bag on the table.

"Gringotts," I replied shortly. "I got a letter from them, saying something of mine had been stolen."

His eyes bulged. "What?"

I pulled the letter from my back pocket and handed it to him. "Have a look for yourself."

He quickly skimmed the note. "Jeez, Gringotts have never had a successful robbery before. They’d have to have a hell of an excuse."

I nodded glumly. "Yeah, I can’t imagine why I’d be the unlucky bugger whose vault got hit first," I said sourly.

Ron’s grin returned. "I could. Normal wizards without hyphenated names only get normal doses of karma. People like you, Mr. Boy-Who-Lived, and others like What’s-His-Name, get bigger doses than everyone else, both good and bad."

I scowled at him. "Good and bad?"

He nodded quickly, his grin not shifting. "Yeah. He got to torture Malfoy on a regular basis, but then he ran into a spell of yours that turned his head into pink mist. You get to sleep with two girls for a while, and then you get robbed." He turned thoughtful for a second. "Hey, if I got the chance to get Hannah to join Susan and I, I’d settle for being robbed too."

I shook my head at him, not able to get angry when I was trying not to laugh. "Look you prat, why don’t you come along and listen to their excuses? But first, go and have a shower. Take your time. Really. Take as long as you want. And use lots of soap. Please."

Apparating to Diagon Alley, I took a moment to gather my wits and collect my bearings. The Alley was only about half as busy as it usually was at the end of August, meaning that I could make my way through the crowds with little difficulty. Ron arrived with a distinctive crack behind me; he’d not bothered to learn how to Apparate silently. Typical of the man. When it came to something he enjoyed, like Quidditch, he trained harder than Oliver. But once he could do something that bored him, he didn’t try and improve his skill at all. Well, I suppose that is typical of the majority of the wizarding world. At least he wasn’t leaving little bits of his body behind anymore. Hermione was rather descriptive with the mishaps my fellow classmates had while learning to Apparate.

In a pair of hooded cloaks, we were simply another pair of wizards going about their business. The anonymity the deep hood provided allowed me to avoid the inevitable (not to mention tiresome) gasps of surprise and finger pointing that usually accompanied me during a trip in public.

Gringotts itself was unchanged, and but the atmosphere within proved it was not unchangeable. Incredibly long queues of people lined up to speak to one of the numerous goblins manning (or perhaps goblinning?) the desks along one wall. One queue stretched almost to the front door. Judging from the expressions of boredom and irritation on the faces of the queuing folk, I’d hazard a guess that given the recent theft, the goblins were executing every single documented security protocol they had. To the letter. No matter how long it took.

Well, we sure as hell weren’t going to wait. I took the still (mostly) unread letter out of my pocket, and strode straight up to the massive goblin standing guard at the entrance to the vaults. Obviously he was either born to be a guard, or he was the result of some sort of medical experiment involving an warthog, a walrus, and a brain-ectomy, with bladder-expansion surgery probably thrown in for good measure (to allow him to stand still for long periods of time without having to think about anything). This fellow was nearly as tall as Hagrid, with arms as thick as my chest. The flab on his belly squeezed out through the gap between his breastplate and loincloth indicated that this role was brand new, and desperately needed, since they’d been given the closest thing to a matching fit as could be found at short notice. The goblin raised a gnarled, knobbly arm to stop us. "Get in line," he grumbled.

I gave Ron a quick grin and held out the letter. "Wonder how long it took him to learn that line?" I mumbled under my breath so only Ron could hear. While he went red trying to keep from laughing, I said aloud, "How much business do you think you’d lose if I shouted out that something of mine has been stolen?"

The goblin’s eyes narrowed as its brow creased, evidently trying to decipher my threat. After a few moments, I came to the conclusion that he got his looks honestly. Yep, this goblin was not exactly the sharpest sword in the armory. I took pity. "Look. We have a letter here saying that I’ve been robbed. Who do I speak to about this?"

The goblin guard blinked very slowly, looking as though he was coming to a decision.

Before Goyle’s separated-at-birth-twin could formulate an answer, another goblin, this one wearing what looked like an expensive muggle suit, stuck his pointed nose into the conversation. "Can I be of assistance, sirs?" he asked us, with a tone that suggested he seriously doubted it.

"I’m not sure. Are you intelligent enough to explain how something was stolen from one of my vaults?" I asked, matching his tone.

The goblin blinked. "Mr. Potter?"

"Bingo," I said blandly.

That seemed to throw him. "Mr. Bingo?"

I sighed and shook my head, but Ron let out what sounded like a fart trying to keep from laughing. "It is just a muggle phrase. I’m Harry Potter."

The goblin frowned for a second, but nodded. "I see. If you would be so kind as to follow me, sir. I shall introduce you to your account manager."

I gestured to the goblin with one hand. "Lead on." I turned to face Ron as we were escorted into the main building. "I have an account manager?"

Ron shrugged unhelpfully. "Probably. Remember, this is you we’re talking about. You’ve always had loads of things you don’t know about. Magical parents, the ability to speak to snakes, insane dark wizards out for your blood, that sort of thing."

Ron was rather firmly told to remain in one of the sitting rooms while I was led to an office that housed a seemingly ancient goblin. My account manager who, to my initial hesitation, turned out to be a female goblin. One thing I remembered from Binns’ lessons was that female goblins tended to be viewed as less than capable. The fact that she was here meant that she was both exceedingly capable and ambitious enough to take on the patriarchal society of goblinhood.

"Ah, Mr. Potter. I am most pleased to finally meet you. I am Rilifa, Keeper of your Vaults," she said insincerely, holding out a hand so fragile that I was amazed that she was able to hold a quill. As gently as possible, I took her hand and gave it a shake.

"Harry Potter," I said in introduction. "Why have I not been introduced to you before?"

Rilifa sat down behind her desk before answering, a rather studied insult. "Normally, I only deal with the patriarchs of the old families. The Blacks, the Zabinis, the Marchibanks, the Malfoys, the Potters," she said easily, reeling off a few examples.

I frowned, noting that most of the named families had dark ties. "I’ve been the ‘patriarch’ of the Potter family since I was one, since I’m the last member."

She tilted her head to one side, as if acknowledging my complete ignorance. "Technically, no. You are the last Potter of the direct family line; of that there is no doubt. But according to custom and law, you must be a full eight years beyond your majority to formally be named as the head of a family."

I mimicked her head tilt. "So, someone needs to be twenty-five to speak with you, in the normal course of events?"

Rilifa sighed, and was about to answer when I held up a hand. "No, sorry. You did say ‘normally’."

She blinked, and a small, slow smile spread over her wrinkled face, doing nothing except sending the skin creases to different locations. "Ah, you do pick up on things others miss."

I grinned at her with no humour. "When did you last speak with Aloysius?"

She blinked, and appeared flustered. "I beg your pardon?"

I leaned forward. "Aloysius Zabini," I clarified.

She actually coloured slightly and wouldn’t meet my gaze. "I’m afraid that Aloysius passed on many years ago," she said strongly.

I grinned at her with no humour in my expression. "We both know that’s a lie."

Finally, she seemed to come to a decision, and looked directly into my eyes. "Very well, Mr. Potter. While I cannot divulge my timetable regarding my clients, I must say that you are rather well informed. I know of only one other person who is privy to the fact that the Zabini Patriarch is not Xavier Zabini, Aloysius’ son," she said in a questioning tone.

I waved expansively, and decided to give her a red herring. "I’m dating a young lady named Blaise Zabini."

Rilifa blinked. "I see."

"Could you expand on what you meant by ‘normally’?"

In answer, the goblin gestured to one wall, which blurred and shifted. It finally took the form of a massively detailed family tree. "There are very few of the old families remaining. I am the last of the original council of goblins charged with focusing on only our most valued clients. Over the years, many old families who were once clients of mine have lost favor and influence. Families like the Weasleys. While they are sufficiently ancient to warrant my attention, they no longer have the financial status to command it." She paused. "Though the business acumen of two of the Weasley scions may well reverse that within a generation or two."

I crossed my arms and leaned back in my chair. "Right. So, it takes being twenty-five, from an old family and rich."

Rilifa rose to her feet slowly, and used a cane to assist her movement. "I now have less than ten families as my clients, though these make up over three quarters of all the wealth in this branch of Gringotts." She rapped part of the wall, making a single family tree grow larger and bold, then turned to face me. "While you are still too young to be the head of a family, the fact that you are the heir to two houses is why you are here today." She pointed to the highlighted tree. "The Black family," she said.

I frowned, rose to my feet and glanced over the deeply detailed tree. All the interconnections with the other, non-highlighted families made the thing less a tree and more a hedge. Unlike the tapestry in Grimmauld Place, even the disinherited members were listed, though they were not highlighted to the extent of the rest of the family.

One thing stood out. Actually, it waved its arms above its head and whistled for my attention. "Charlus Potter married a Black? Is he a relative?"

Rilifa frowned at me, then reached out and rapped Charlus’ name. Instantly, the Black family tree faded into the background and the Potter tree became highlighted. Well, the Potter line, anyway. "You don’t know your own Grandfather?"

"No, I’m afraid I’ve never had anyone sit down with me and discuss my genealogy," I said through clenched teeth, reading down the distressingly thin line. Charlus, James, Harry. Says it all, really.

The goblin was kind enough not to comment. "As your Grandfather, Charlus Potter sired James Potter rather late in life. Your godfather, Sirius Black, was actually your second cousin. He named you heir to the Black house."

I blinked, then touched Sirius’ name on the wall. Again, the Black family tree brightened. I followed the convoluted path down one part of the wall. "By direct lineage, Draco Malfoy was the heir," I said with a satisfied grin. "Having me named heir must have pissed him off no end."

"Initially, there was a challenge to have your nomination struck from the record," she said with a sniff. Obviously, she agreed with whoever made the challenge.

I raised an eyebrow. "Someone could do that?"

Rilifa nodded, but sighed. "It is difficult to explain to someone who was muggle-raised. Many of the wizarding customs are lost upon you. Simply let us say that the current Patriarch may name his successor, provided a number of rather complex rules are followed. The nominee must be pureblooded of course, raised as a member of the wizarding elite, and must be a powerful wizard of good character in his own right. Another of the rules is that he must be of the same generation by paternal lineage, and have a common ancestor within five generations."

I held up a hand. "I might be more powerful than the average wizard, but I’m certainly not pureblooded."

Rilifa sighed. "Exactly. While you are of the same generation as Sirius Black, and your reputation surpasses the power and character requirements, your upbringing and your mother’s lineage marked you as ineligible. Your nomination has been challenged repeatedly."

"Let me guess. By someone acting on behalf of one Draco Malfoy?" I said, rolling my eyes.

Rilifa nodded. "Narcissa Malfoy. Her son was the next heir to the Black family, by direct lineage. However, as the last remaining male of his generation, you were the only person Sirius Black could nominate to prevent the Black family from being absorbed by the Malfoys. And the only reason the challenges have not been successful is due to one, overriding rule."

I shrugged. "Don’t bother making me guess. I’ve given up trying to understand why pureblood families do what they do."

That earned me a frown. "A patriarch can name another family patriarch as heir. In the past, families with long histories but few current members have merged with another family and then split again, once the family lines were stable once more. If in this instance, you followed the established protocols, your eldest son would assume the Potter title, while your second son would assume the Black title. Thus, a family in decline could be resurrected. This overriding rule allowed Sirius Black to nominate you, as you are the heir to another ancient family. It was of course assumed that the Patriarch of another family would fulfill all the other requirements."

I gently bit the inside of my cheek as I absorbed this tidbit of wizarding culture.

Rilifa continued. "When you reach the age of twenty-five, both the Black and Potter family fortunes will come under your direct control. This will make you a very wealthy young man in muggle terms, though not one of the London branch’s wealthiest customers.   Remember, much of the wealth is tied up in various ventures and trusts which would take some effort to dissolve. While they return a rather handsome income, they are designed to be permanent, or at least semi-permanent investments. While you will effectively control some millions of galleons, you would be hard pressed to withdraw even twenty-five thousand more galleons than is in your own trust vault in cash."

I raised an eyebrow. "Given what a galleon weighs, I could hardly expect to walk out of here carrying several tonnes of gold in my pocket."

She actually smiled. "So very true."

I leaned back in my chair. "So, while moderately wealthy, I am not a particularly wealthy client, but the fact that I will head two families means that the rules about meeting only those over twenty-five are relaxed in my case?"

Rilifa waved a hand, and the wall returned to its original state. "No."

I frowned, thinking deeply. Just as she was about to explain, the answer came to me.

"You’re afraid I’ll withdraw my assets from Gringotts because of the theft!"

Rilifa eased herself into her chair. "A blunt, but accurate summation, yes."

While the goblin shuffled some papers on her desk, I again withdrew the letter. "Then I trust you can explain this?"

"How it happened, no. We have a timeline, and a report on our security protocols and what was discovered. I can however assure you that the thief has not yet emerged from the catacombs beneath the branch. Whatever he took, I believe it is still within our sphere of control."

A faint flare of hope stirred in my heart. "The thief hasn’t escaped yet? Are you sure?"

"Correct. No one has emerged from the catacombs below since the theft. Anyone wishing to make a withdrawal from their vaults have been given the galleons at the tellers, and an accounting shall be made at a later date."

I leaned back in the comfortable chair as I thought hard about the situation. Perhaps something could be salvaged from this debacle after all.

"Can you tell me exactly which of my vaults was robbed? And perhaps even how many vaults I actually have?"

Rilifa sighed with irritation, but nodded. "Very well. From the Potters first. You have your own trust vault, set up to provide you with funds until the age of majority. At seventeen, you obtained control of both your mother’s and father’s personal vaults. You father’s contains items he personally inherited from his father, but not Potter family heirlooms. Once you reach twenty-five, you shall take control of the Potter family vaults, of which there are three.

"On the Black side, there are four family vaults that you will assume control of at twenty-five. You have already received your monetary inheritance from Sirius Black, even though it is inaccessible at present. At seventeen, you obtained control of his two personal vaults. One was his everyday vault, which holds a few heirlooms, a broomstick prototype of his uncle’s and a botormi-" Rilifa paused and shuffled the sheets in front of her. "Sorry, a motorbike. It also currently contains a single galleon, sickle and knut after the funds were distributed as per the terms of his will, though you are not able to withdraw those."

I frowned. "Why are three coins left?"

Rilifa gave a larger sigh of frustration at my interruption. I guess she is not used to someone displaying my level of ignorance, but it just made me more determined to interrupt her again. "That is the smallest bequest that can be left to a relative, according to the Black Family Trust. Had Draco Malfoy lived, he would have been told that he would be inheriting a secret amount, but only after he disavowed any affiliation with the Dark Lord."

I couldn’t help but grin. "So, if he was still alive, he wouldn’t be informed of the amount he was to inherit?"

"Correct. Had Mr. Malfoy taken Veritaserum and sworn that he did not support the Dark Lord, he would have received that bequest. Due to the irregularities in his death, his estate has not yet been processed."

I burst into laughter. "Oh Sirius, that is priceless. But what irregularities?"

Rilifa frowned at my antics. Sternly, she continued her description of my vaults. "As you are not an immediate relative, or included in Mr. Malfoy’s will, that is not your concern. Now, the other vault belonging to Sirius was initially opened by his brother Regulus, and was specifically deeded to Sirius on Regulus’ death. As far as our records are concerned, apart from the initial opening and deposit, that vault has never been accessed. It may be that Sirius was not even aware of the vault’s existence, or simply did not care to discover the contents."

Whatever was jumping around in my stomach was doing such an energetic job of it that it would probably earn a couple of perfect tens from Olympic gymnastic scorers.   "Let me guess. Whatever was in that vault has been stolen."

"Correct," Rilifa said calmly. "Though it was not the first vault to be broken in to."

I frowned at her calm dropping of the bombshell. "I beg your pardon?"

"Sirius Black’s personal vault was broken into first, almost an hour before the vault opened by Regulus."

"How?" I demanded.

She sighed. "We don’t know. Magic was cast from within the vault, which alerted us to the presence of thieves. When the goblin security detail arrived, the door was still firmly closed. They opened it and examined the interior of the vault, and found nothing. Nearly an hour later, the contents of Regulus’ vault were taken."

I leaned forward, trying to cover my rapidly darkening mood. "And do you know what was stored in that vault?"

Rilifa again examined her papers. "A single, hardwood jewelry box."

Bugger, I thought to myself.

It hardly took any effort to convince my Account Manager to allow me access to the vaults below. Even if the thief hadn’t escaped, they still couldn’t pinpoint how he actually entered Gringotts in the first place. If someone could get in without notice, it hardly seems to be a great logical leap to assume that he could exit without notice too. Rilifa shook my hand and organized an escort down into the catacombs. I picked up Ron who had been stuffing his face with foods from the elegant buffet table laid out for Gringotts’ wealthier clients, and followed our escort.

Walking past the long lines of disgruntled clients, many of whom threw more than the odd nasty glare at us, we climbed into a cart with a familiar goblin. Griphook, the goblin who took me on my first cart ride, was as grumpy as he was the first time. Despite the horrible feeling of having a horcrux slip through my fingers, it was a vaguely comforting sensation of déjà vu that helped me stay outwardly calm. Only Hagrid’s presence could have made it better, even if Hagrid and I didn’t really see eye to eye on the matter of Dumbledore. Not that many people saw eye to eye with the eight-foot tall half-giant in any event.

We flew down several tunnels at speeds that meant that only the charms on the wheels that stopped the bearings from glowing red. One speed only, my arse. There were at least three speeds on this cart. Fast, blindingly fast, and bowel loosening. More than once we rounded corners on two wheels. Mind you, if Griphook was trying to intimidate us, he was spectacularly unsuccessful. Both Ron and I hung onto opposing sides of the cart and screamed with pleasure at the breakneck pace. More than once I had to cough out a bug that got caught in my mouth.

My ears popped as we exited the tunnel and entered a massive, open chasm. Like an open-cut mine, the massive chamber had a rail track for the cart running around the edge, each circuit taking the path one level lower. Like a massive spiral, we zoomed passed dozens of vaults on our way down into the depths. The only difference was the number of dragons flying around on guard.

I fell nearly arse over tit when Griphook suddenly slammed on the brakes. Both Ron and I ended up face first against Griphook’s rather greasy tunic.

He shrugged us off. "Your vault, sir," he said, indicating a hole in the wall that appeared to have been created by a fairly powerful explosion. Scorch marks along the floor gave me pause. I wondered just what sort of spell could cause this sort of damage.

We jumped out of the cart and picked our way through the rubble. There was nothing left of the door, or the walls around the door, for that matter. Mentally measuring the width of the stone doorway, I had serious doubts that even with both my wands acting in unison, and at my most angry, I couldn’t even hope to replicate such carnage.

"What sort of spell did this?" I asked Griphook.

The goblin shrugged, seemingly unconcerned. "No spell detectors went off before the explosion, only a couple of summoning spells happened afterwards. No muggle bomb detectors went off either, before or after. The only other magic signature is a faint conjuration charm. And that wasn’t a spell, but probably an item that got blown up inside."

I froze. An item inside was destroyed?

Ron picked over the rubble. "You know, I’m really rather glad this sort of shit happens to you. I’d have no idea what to do if it happened to me," he said with a grin.

"Gee thanks, mate. Your sympathy is underwhelming."

Griphook coughed. "Anything else you want to see before we go back?"

I frowned. "Why are you in such a hurry?"

He looked at me with an expression of annoyance. "Look, your bloomin’ vault is empty. Not much we can do now, is there?" he said sarcastically.

I shared a glance with Ron, before deciding not to push the issue. "Take us to Sirius Black’s other vault."

He grumbled to himself for a second or two. "Fine. Get in."

This time, he went slow, just to piss us off.

Griphook ran his finger over a section of the door, causing it to open fluidly. I looked over the top of the grumpy goblin and into Sirius’ personal storeroom.

There were only three coins on the floor, but the rest of the vault held various objects. Ron and I entered, and began looking around.

In the very centre of the vault was Sirius’ infamous flying motorbike. That was one thing I’d have to take home to use. I can’t imagine he’d have wanted it to sit here forever. A desk dominated the back wall, and a long broomstick with two seats hung from the ceiling. Several shelves lined the wall to the right.

Ron ran his hand over the motorbike’s leather seat. "Oh, man, what I’d give to freak Mum out by flying this by the Burrow," he said wistfully.

I laughed at the image as I glanced up and down the shelves. Some rather odd looking devices sat alone, while an odd amount of cutlery and china was gathering dust at one end. "You should buzz past her bedroom window at three in the morning for the best result," I offered, picking up various bits and pieces from the shelves. Griphook behind me was getting more and more pissed off. In turn, I gave each item an even more thorough investigation. Passive aggression is a wonderful thing. So long as you aren’t the recipient.

One item that I picked up was a heavy metallic jug. Lifting the locking latch on the lid, I pulled the top off, noting that it was full of water. I frowned, wondering why jug hadn’t been emptied before being stored. I picked up a matching mug from the set and poured out a glassful. As soon as I’d tipped the jug back upright, it quickly refilled itself.

"Hey Ron, check this out," I said, holding it out, drawing out as much time as possible, wondering how annoyed I could get the goblin.

"What?" he asked, wandering over. As soon as I showed him what the jug could do he burst into awed laughter. "These things are cool. They fill up with anything you want." He grabbed the jug. "Pumpkin juice," he said firmly, grabbing another mug. Sure enough, thick, orange-coloured juice oozed out of the jug, slowly filling the mug. As soon as Ron tilted the jug back upright, it refilled. He grinned at me and tapped the rim of his juice-filled mug with my water-filled one. "Cheers," he said, and downed the juice in one gulp.

I laughed out loud, absolutely delighted. "Well, that’s one thing I’m definitely taking with me today," I said, locking the lid closed and putting it into my backpack. Imagine being able to host a party where the booze never ran out? The dream of every binge-drinking teenager in the world.

Griphook’s patience seemed to evaporate. "Are ye coming?" he snarled.

Ron spun to snap back, but knocked the lower shelf with his elbow, sending the contents flying. The cacophony of breaking dishes, shattering glass and splitting wooden items continued for some time.

Ron, who’d remained perfectly still from the instant his elbow connected with the shelf, in the hope that whatever happened it would go away, looked over at me with a nervous expression.

I began chuckling at his clumsiness, building up to a booming, gut-busting laugh. His expression just made it all the more amusing.

"Uh, sorry mate," he said sheepishly, but started laughing along with me soon enough. "I guess I need some more training on keeping in my own personal space," he finished.

I shrugged, still laughing. "Once you stop bloody growing, you might have a chance to learn just how much room you take up," I said, looking around at the broken objects on the floor. Nothing but china plates seemed to be too damaged, and only a few wooden boxes were anything but cracked. I stopped laughing between one breath and the next as I saw a familiar item on the ground. "Griphook?" I said, getting the goblin’s attention.


"How long ago was this vault breached?" I asked, still focusing on a glittering gold necklace.

He checked his pocket watch. "Pretty much five hours ago, exactly," he replied.

A slow, evil grin grew on my face, and Ron followed my gaze to see what the matter was.

An identical smile appeared on his face as he recognized the object of my attention.

A Time Turner.


I slipped the time turner around my neck and then dropped the chain around Ron’s before I gave it five turns. The magical item spun the other way, sending us hurtling back through time. With a slight stumble, we appeared in the pitch-dark interior of Sirius’ personal vault. I shut my eyes and concentrated hard, wandlessly summoning a globe of white light into existence above my head.

"Right, we’ve got a few minutes before the goblins detect that we are in the vault," I said to Ron, who was looking at the intact shelving with a trace of nervousness. "Here, put my invisibility cloak on, and grab that long broom over there," I finished, handing him my cloak and rummaging through the other contents of my backpack. I chuckled to myself as I noticed that even though I had the jug in my backpack, another was sitting on the unbroken shelf.

"What are you going to do?" Ron asked, pulling the tandem broom down from the ceiling hooks. "And why the hell does this broom have two seats? What’s the use of that?"

I grinned tightly. "Susan would bemoan the fact that you have absolutely no romanticism in you at all."

He blinked, and glanced back down at the broom again. "Oh, right. A date sort of thing. Yeah, I could understand that."

I clenched my eyes shut and deliberately coughed to stop my self from laughing. "You were thinking of Quidditch, weren’t you?"

"Well, yeah," he said awkwardly. "Don’t blame me, I play the game for a living."

I grinned. "I am going to wear this," I said, pulling out my invisibility suit. "And we are going to go and stop a robbery."

Ron grinned maniacally at my plan, but still asked, "You sure I can’t ride the bike?"


We waited for the arrival of the goblin brigade by simply hovering above the door. With me in my suit, and Ron under my cloak, which just managed to cover the long broom with us on it, we simply waited for the goblins to burst into the vault, before drifting slowly through the door while they were hunting in vain for whoever had broken their security.

Once free of the vault, we sped up, trying to back track to the section of the catacombs that was like an open-cut mine. A while passed before we found it, a long, spiral railroad followed the line of vaults, one full circuit of the massive pit taking it one level lower. I angled the broom so that we followed the rail track. With the broom partially visible during flight (we couldn’t get the cloak to cover the broom during flight   with a high head wind), taking a shortcut down the chasm may well have attracted the attention of the dragons lounging around the vaults, which would give both our days a turn for the worse, very fucking quickly.   After doing a few laps of the spiraling path, I slowed down to read the numbers of the vaults flashing past.

"Still a few hundred out, Harry," Ron said quietly.

I nodded and accelerated once more, still following the tracks one of the carts would take. Every so often, I’d slow down to drift silently past a nesting dragon. It took us longer than I had planned, but we eventually reached the vault Regulus had opened all those years ago. I checked my watch and noted that it was still a few minutes until the theft was to take place. Looking up, I could see several levels before the entrance to this section of the vaults. With morbid fascination, I crept to the edge of the drop, looking down at the railroad one level below. And the level below that. And below that.

Suddenly, feeling a bit dizzy, I nearly fell forward, straight down to the level below, but managed to keep my wits about me enough to back away from the edge. I quickly shook my head to clear it. I’d flown higher than that on a broom many times, but looking at the levels descending into the gaping depths below made my stomach queasy. I took a slow, deep, but silent breath, and let it out just as silently. I needed to concentrate, and avoid announcing my presence to the local draconic fauna.

"Right, Harry?" Ron asked from somewhere in a whisper.

"Yeah," I replied, just as quietly, noting nervously that the nearest dragon’s head swung around towards us curiously, before shifting back to its previous position. As silently as I could, I crept across the rails to the door to the vault itself. It looked similar to my own trust vault, except that there was a great deal of ostentatious decorations on the door. Angels, demons, knights and wizards were all portrayed in an epic battle scene, once which looked vividly realistic. I shook my head and glanced at my watch; there was little over a minute until the theft. Once more, I looked around, noting that with the exception of Ron and the rather large, dozing Norwegian Ridgeback whose presence was making me nervous, there was not a single being in sight.

With a suddenness that threatened to send me into shock, I had an epiphany.

"Ron?" I breathed.

"Um, Harry, are you thinking what I’m thinking?"

I rolled my eyes, and sent out a tendril of Legilimency. "Yes," I whispered with conviction. "We are the thieves."

No one else could get here in time. Hell, no one else even knew of what was in the vault. And I only got the notification of the theft the instant I realized that the horcrux could be at Gringotts.

Now, all we had to do was work out how to get in. In less than a minute.


Right, Ok. Focus. As powerful as I was, Gringotts had been secure against nearly everyone, with the exception of a possessed DADA professor. I doubt any of the auror level spells Zab taught me would be of any use here.

Perhaps I need to think about this like a muggle.

One of the few times I got to watch television when living with the Dursleys was when there was an educational program on that Dudley needed to watch himself for school. A scene from one of the shows popped into my head as I was staring at the obstinate door. One where the host was using a liquid form of a gas to snap freeze all sorts of items. A tennis ball dipped in the liquid shattered when it dropped onto the hard floor. Maybe that was the way to go.

I drew my wand, but held my tongue, looking around for any nearby draconic guards. It must have looked odd, a floating hand with a wand. Taking no chances, I waved my wand at the door and was about to mentally cast, ‘Frigidum’, when Ron grabbed my wand and lowered it away from the door. "No spell residue, remember?" he hissed.

I nodded. Damn it! That spell wasn’t designed to cool something down from room temperature to minus two hundred degrees anyway. I needed something with a little more kick, something I had on me. With only half a minute left, I remembered the jug I had taken from the vault above.

I pulled the jug out from my backpack, wondering what pranks Sirius pulled on people with it. I searched my memory hard to recall the name of the gas that was cooled to a liquid, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember. I think it ended in —gen. Notragen? No. Ontragen? No. Hypergen? Wait, was it Oxygen? That was one gas whose name I remembered. Shit, why didn’t the wizarding world teach chemistry to its students? For that matter, why didn’t muggle primary schools teach it? Was it the right gas? Hermione would know. But she sure as hell wasn’t here.

"Ron," I whispered. "Quickly, what is the name of a gas?"

"A what?" he asked, pulling back the hood of the cloak, his head appearing in mid-air. An odd thought in the back of my mind told me that at one time, not too long ago even, I’d have considered a disembodied head to be rather odd.

Mentally cursing the inadequate level of muggle educating in the wizarding world, I brought the jug up to near my face and whispered, "Liquid Oxygen," in the hope that Oxygen was cold enough as a liquid.

The sudden sensation of intense lack of heat quickly indicated that Oxygen was indeed scrotum-shrinking cold. I stood on tiptoes and poured the liquid gas all over the front of the door, reaching over the decorations extending out from the stonework. Instantly, the heavy stone door began creaking and snapping, as it rapidly turned colder than any natural situation on the planet. I gave a small grin. Another fifteen seconds of this, and I may be able to hit the door hard enough for it to shatter. But the whole door would need to be cold to do that.

"Ron, here, you do the top of the door," I whispered, handing him the jug. He nodded and with a hand on my shoulder to balance, stood on tiptoes to pour the liquid gas onto the upper parts of the door. I used the broom as a crutch to help us both stay steady.

I could feel Ron’s excitement; I could hear it in his breathing, feel it in his heartbeat. Without thinking, I let a tendril of my mind enter his, luxuriating in the endorphin rush. Suddenly, a sharp, cold, burning sensation flooded my right hand, and I shook my arm with a hiss. Ron however, dropped the jug with a silent scream and fell backwards clutching at his own right hand. Without insulation, the jug’s handle had quickly frozen. Without gloves, the fingers that had been holding the jug by its handle were red and blistered.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. The jug fell from down behind the intricate stonework, coming to a rest upside down, the lid breaking off. Our slow pouring suddenly turned to a rapid gushing, spilling liquid Oxygen over the whole door and onto the stone floor. With panicked eyes, we shared a glance before both shouting in unison, "SHIT!" I reached in, desperately trying to jerk the jug out from its confines while avoiding the rapidly expanding puddle of steaming Oxygen that was cold enough to snap-freeze toes.

I should have used my wand to levitate the jug. I could have cast a spell to negate the intense cold. But before I could even draw my wand Ron’s sudden tugging on the back of my robe combined with the prickling of the hairs on the back of my neck indicated that an enchanted container spilling an unending amount of freezing gas was a secondary danger at this very instant.

I turned at what felt like the speed of continental drift, to look up into the maw of a massive Norwegian Ridgeback. The dragon itself was sucking in a lungful of air in preparation to flash-fry us to a crisp.

"Oh, bugger," I said to no one in particular, and leapt to one side. A sharp, rather ungentle push sent Ron (who was gaping up at the Dragon’s maw in a rather terminally stupid way) cartwheeling away in the opposite direction down the tracks.   The broom still in my left hand fortunately kicked into gear, and by the time the dragon’s breath was passing the little pilot light, or whatever the hell dragons use to ignite their breath, I was sailing at a respectable fraction of the country’s highway speed limit.

I had only wanted to get away from the dragon’s fiery breath. I was certainly not ready for the detonation behind me that turned the world white. Or the shock wave quickly caught up with me, sending me barreling in mid-air down the path.

I was in a mess of pain when I blinked myself awake. The last time I’d been this sore I had to spend a week at the tender mercies of Madam Pomfrey.

I pushed myself up onto my elbows and retained the presence of mind to check my watch. Though it took a bit of concentration, I calculated that I’d been out for less than a minute. With a deep breath, I looked back at the door to Regulus’ vault. Well, the hole where the vault used to be, anyway. Good show, Potter, I dizzily thought to myself. Muggle science, 1, Magical world, 0. It even looks like how we saw it later on. Before. I frowned. Whatever.

From this far away, I could see a couple of levels down the chasm. The dragon that had attempted to invent the dish Potter flambé with a side of char-grilled Weasley was lying unconscious on its back, just two levels down. With a blackened head, neck and chest, no less.

Damn. I hadn’t meant to hurt anything. Oh shit! Ron!

Praying that both the dragon and Ron would survive (if either didn’t, I sure as hell wouldn’t be relating this little adventure to Charlie Weasley any time soon), I rose unsteadily to my feet. With all the dragons circling around, excitedly flaming off at every little thing, I decided against actually approaching the now wide-open vault. Fortunately, I remembered that I was a wizard. "Accio Ron! Accio Jewelry box," I cast, waving my wand.

A charred, battered, and partially intact box flew out of the ravaged vault and zoomed towards me, overtaking a charred, battered and partially conscious Ron Weasley. Fortunately, my invisibility cloak was still twisted around his large frame, and arrived with him. I managed to catch Ron, but dropped the box. "Di’ w’ do it?" he slurred, his eyes a little unfocused.

"Yeah. Hang on now," I said, stuffing the ruined box into my backpack. I didn’t need to cast any spells to determine if the horcrux was within, since the I could almost smell the evil through the smoking lid. "Right. Can you hold onto the broom?"

Ron glanced down at the tandem broom for a few seconds, pondering the seemingly difficult question. "Yeah, think so," he said, a little clearer this time.

I climbed onto the broom once more, and helped Ron climb on behind me, where I covered him again in the cloak. I even stuck him to the seat with a temporary sticking charm, though hopefully he wouldn’t notice unless he was about to fall off. Once secured, we very slowly drifted directly upwards towards the exit. Carts full of goblins entered the area zoomed along the tracks at arse-clenching speeds. I timed my cresting each level so that there was a fair gap between the goblin-filled carts. I had to hover and wait above the entrance to the chasm for the last cart-full of goblins so speed past, which took so long that even sitting on a broom with a comfort charm became an exercise in self discipline. It had taken me nearly ten minutes to rise up a dozen levels, but none of the dragons, or swarming goblins, ever caught a whiff of my presence.

Three minutes after the final cart of goblins rocketed past me, I finally entered the tunnel, still keeping an eye out for any pissed-off humanoids. It took nearly three hours, but I finally managed to get us back to Sirius’ vault without being spotted. We sat down between two vaults a little way down the corridor, shrunk the broom down to the size of a matchstick, and settled down to wait. I checked my watch and made some mental calculations. "I think we’ve got about forty minutes to wait until we arrive with Griphook," I said to Ron. "The first time," I added.

He grumbled incoherently. Sitting on a tandem broom for a few hours without being able to control it at all hadn’t improved my friend’s disposition. "What the hell did you use? What were you asking about gas for?" he demanded, still cradling his injured hand.

I shrugged off my backpack and pulled it out from under the invisibility suit. "Liquid Oxygen. I remember watching a show about how when gas in the air is cooled down, it turns into a liquid. With that jug that makes any non-potion liquid, I figured a liquid gas would make the door cold enough to shatter when we hit it with a rock. I just couldn’t remember the name of any other gas."

He frowned. "How cold does Oxygen have to be to turn into water?" he asked, not quite getting the difference between ‘liquid’ and ‘water’.

I shrugged, not particularly worried. "A few hundred degrees below zero, I think," I said, unzipping my backpack. I pulled out the damaged box whose procurement had set of all sorts of internal problems for various goblins. Briefly, I wondered just how we were going to explain this one away without getting into trouble with the goblins.

I opened the lid, well, broke off the lid, and looked inside. The familiar locket simply sat there, not even glowing or anything. You’d think that when something has been infested with a palpable evil, it would at least glow red or something. I cast a couple of the spells Dumbledore taught me for forms sake, which easily confirmed the presence of Voldy’s soul fragment.

Ron looked down at it. "So that’s what was stolen? We stole it?"

I nodded. "Yep."

Something occurred to Ron. "Hey, we stole it! We broke into Gringotts! You and Me! Woohoo!"

I rolled my eyes. "Pipe down. I didn’t check my watch when we arrived here the first time, so I’m not entirely sure how long we have to wait. Just stay quiet, alright?"

We looked at each other and just exploded with laughter at the same instant. No matter how much we tried to control it, the tension of the past few hours just flooded out, leaving us cackling insanely. It wasn’t until I had no breath left that I managed to finally wipe my eyes clear of tears. Ron pulled back the hood of the cloak and grinned at me with a smile so wide you could have seen the edges of his lips from behind. "The twins are never going to believe this," he said, putting an arm around my shoulders and hugging me tightly. "Harry, mate, we are going to go down in prankster history."

I couldn’t help but chuckle at that, even though my stomach muscles were protesting. "Don’t tell me that Fred and George are documenting the history of pranking?"

He shook his head. "No, but damn, that’s a fine idea. Just imagine, a list of all the great pranks ever pulled. The Marauders would have their own bloody chapter of course, and so would the twins, but we’d have to have at least a couple of honorable mentions!"

I smiled to myself at Ron’s enthusiasm, leaning my head back against the rough wall of the tunnel. I had another piece of Voldemort’s soul in my possession. I’d just had another exciting adventure with my best friend, technically becoming the first successful thieves from Gringotts. Life was good. I even managed to cast a few healing charms on Ron’s injured hand, and though I was not as skilled as Madam Pomfrey, I knew he wouldn’t lose the use of his hand through non-attention.

Something tickled the back of my mind. "Um, Ron?"


"When we arrived the first time, this broom was in the vault, wasn’t it?"

"Yeah, so?"

I turned to face him. "So we took it from the vault nearly five hours ago. So who puts it back there?"

Ron rolled his eyes. "Bugger."

"Any ideas?" I asked.

"Yeah. We have to go back five hours again, wait until we float out of the vault after the goblins go in, then float in, replace the broom, and wait another damn five hours until Griphook brings us here. Once we use the time turner, we can take off the cloaks and leave with him."

I blinked. "Yeah. Exactly. I was just thinking the same thing."

Ron grinned at me, and punched me lightly on the shoulder. "No you weren’t."

A few minutes later, a cart carrying Griphook, Ron and I grated into view, slowly pulling up in front of Sirius’ vault. Under our invisibility, we watched as Griphook ran a finger over part of the door. The vault opened, and the three entered. I tapped Ron on the arm. "Ready?" I whispered, and turned the timer five times.

Once more, we flew back several hours. Once more, we ended up in pitch blackness.

"Right," I said. "Jump on the broom, and we’ll hover on the far side of the door, waiting for us to come out."

Once more, Ron punched my arm. "Eh, just who came up with this idea anyway?"

"Fine, be that way, but I’m going to love watching you knock all that shit off the shelves again," I said with a mocking tone.

Ron, surprising me, grinned. "Could we then go back and watch your facial expression when you saw the dragon for the first time?"

My own response went unsaid as a cartful of goblins screeched to a halt in a shower of sparking brake pads. With military precision, they jumped out, formed a sort of phalanx, and entered the vault.

Even though we were expecting it, we both nearly missed the slight breeze that came from our earlier selves under various invisibility cloaks drifting past. Ron tapped my shoulder, and I nodded, leaning forward on the broom and nudging it into forward motion.

We entered exactly how we left, and hovered in the upper corner while the goblins searched. Finally giving up, they left, once more leaving Ron and I in a pitch dark room. "You know something," Ron asked as we landed.

"What’s that?"

He started laughing. "If we’d taken the broom from the future, instead of the one in the past, we wouldn’t have to bother with all this. We could have just gone in after we took the timer back the first time."

I rolled my eyes. "Now you fucking tell me," I grumbled.

"Anyway, your punishment is having to listen to me for the next five hours complain about how hungry I am."

I sighed theatrically. "Ron, somehow, I get the impression that only one of us is going to walk out of here alive."

Even in the darkness, we managed to feel our way around enough that we could hang up the broom. We sat down in a far corner, hid under the cloaks, and just talked about all the adventures we had during and since leaving Hogwarts. We used the water-filled jug from the shelf to quench our thirst once or twice, and dozed off occasionally. Though it felt like a week in the oppressive darkness, sure enough, five hours later, we entered the room with Griphook.

We watched as I discovered the jug. We shuddered with repressed laughter as Ron again knocked over the contents of the shelf.

We pulled off the invisibility cloaks as the earlier us used the Time Turner.

As the version of us that used the time turner disappeared, Griphook gave a gasp of shock and turned around in a full circle. "What the-?"

"Are you alright?" I called out. Instantly, Griphook looked at us, on the opposite side of the vault. "But, you were over there," he stammered.

"Sorry?" I asked politely.

He blinked. "But you-," he started pointing at me and then over near the broken shelves.

I turned to face Ron. "Geez, I hope he doesn’t space out like that when he’s driving the carts," I said sarcastically.

Ron grinned, taking up the idea. "You reckon we’d better tell his superiors?"

Griphook’s face paled, or at least I think it did. With their different colouring, he could have been turning green for all I knew. "Well, he did take a long time to get us to this vault. Perhaps he’s losing it. Maybe it’s time for him to retire gracefully?" I suggested to Ron.

The trip back to the surface easily broke the existing record, whatever it was.

  • Previous
  • Next