Chapter 5 : A Man Called Potter
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Disclaimer: If I were JKR, why on earth would I submit my Post-Hogwarts fic before my final Hogwarts one? ;-)
Chapter images by the amazing PrincessPotter
Liza didn’t talk for a few minutes after they left her orphanage. She was still in shock.
She supposed she had known, deep down inside, that there probably was a reason why strange things always happened around her, but she had thought it would be a more logical one. After all, she could hardly believe magic existed. If magic existed, then what else could? She couldn’t think of anything else, as magic seemed like the most unlikely possibility of all.
By the third or fourth letter, she had suspected that the letters might be more real than she had expected, but it was still odd, seeing magic right in front of her. And-what if it was a dream? What if it was all just a dream and Hagrid didn’t exist and she would wake up in a few moments, depressed and angry and empty all over again…?
Then there were her parents-her biological ones, the ones Liza had been angry at ever since she knew the situation she’d been born into. Had they been magic too or was she a-what was that word again-muggleborn? Why was Hagrid staring at her so funny, even as they walked? Her mind was swirling with questions, but she had no idea what to ask first. It was as though she was in a dreamlike state and was not completely awake yet.
And yet, another part of Liza was still refusing to believe it. As much as it explained so much about why she had been an outcast in her orphanage, she still felt a bit like one.
“Yeh don’t have any money with yeh, do you?” said Hagrid suddenly, startling Liza out of her dreamlike state. She was worried suddenly, worried that they’d have to return home to retrieve the money she hadn’t thought to bring with her. She didn’t even have very much of it.
“Well-I have a few pounds, but probably not enough to buy everything we need,” said Liza, and she could feel her cheeks turning red. “We could go back though, and get it…I’m sure I could scrape up enough for something, and maybe Mrs. Smith could supply some…”
“Nah,” said Hagrid, looking as though he was thinking it over. “It’s al’right. I doubt that muggle would agree to give us anythin’, and besides, I can probably manage to spare enough galleons to pay for everythin’ you need.”
“Galleons?” repeated Liza, a new possibility occurring to her. “Is there-wizarding money?”
Hagrid nodded. “Knuts, silver Sickles, and Galleons. Galleons are the most valuable-seventeen silver Sickles make up a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts make up a Sickle. Much easier ter understand than all those muggle money rules-never have been able to get a grasp fer them.”
Wondering what was complicated about pounds and pence, Liza didn’t respond right away.
“I don’t want you to have to pay for me,” she told him. No one had ever paid anything for her before, with the exceptions of all her expenses at the orphanage, so she wasn’t quite sure she felt right with Hagrid offering to pay for her.
“Neve’ mind that. Yeh got enough to worry about without havin’ to worry about affordin’ ter pay fer Hogwarts too.”
Before she could ask Hagrid what he meant, she noticed that he was suddenly coming to a halt, and turning in the direction of a tiny bar. A bit put-off, she couldn’t help wondering what he was doing in a pub of all places.
“Yeh’ll find out later,” Hagrid told her meaningfully, perhaps noticing her reluctance to follow him. “A littl’ patience sometimes gets yeh a long-”
He stopped as a dead silence greeted him when they walked into the pub. It was an old pub, Liza observed-old and grey looking-but she hardly had time to look around before the people began to talk, enthusiastically, but curiously.
“Ah, Hagrid! You haven’t been here for ages, I was almost beginning to think you’d never come-” “What’s gotten in to you, we’ve missed you so much-” “I got married since you last saw me, can you believe that-”
“Congratulations,” murmured Hagrid to the short man who had announced his marriage. “And fer yer information, all of yeh, I’m afraid I don’t have time to sit and lollygag-got important business to do here; a pub’s not place for a young girl.”
Liza hid behind Hagrid as he said this, suddenly feeling self-conscious. She probably could have hid from most of the people because of Hagrid’s enormous size if the giant hadn't introduced her.
“Everyone,” he said, a bit gruffly, “this is Liza.”
The reaction was quite similar to the one Hagrid had gotten upon first walking into the pub. Everyone turned around and stared at Liza. People dressed in funny robes and witches’ hats were staring at her. If she had felt self-conscious before, it was nothing compared to how she was feeling now.
Liza nodded to the woman who had asked her the question. Feeling very uncomfortable, she wished Hagrid would just take her from this place, so they could go on and get the shopping over with.
“Well-that’s certainly a surprise, nice to meet you then,” said the woman, as everyone else continued to stare at her. Liza’s annoyance began to build up. She had no idea why everyone was staring at her like she was a creature from another world (though she was, sort of, as she hadn’t grown up with magic), and suddenly, she couldn’t stand it any longer.
“What?” she asked, suddenly and forcefully, causing many people to look up at her in surprise. “What-what did I do? Why are you all staring at me-hasn’t Hagrid brought other kids here before me? I mean, maybe they actually had parents to bring them, but I can’t possibly be the only one Hagrid’s brought-I can’t possibly be…” With a sinking feeling, Liza realized that no matter where she was, not having parents still made her different.
“But-that’s just it,” murmured another person this time, staring at her in surprise. “The only other child Hagrid’s ever taken to Diagon Alley before was-was-”
“Who?” demanded Liza, even angrier now, and she watched as the people turned to each other, as though wondering who would be the brave one and tell her. She noticed that Hagrid in particular was staring at her, as though afraid of what they would say.
“Harry,” said a brave woman suddenly, as everyone else looked away. “Harry-Harry Potter.”
Hagrid looked as though he was seriously fighting some emotions, and everyone else began to talk again, perhaps to cover up the awkwardness of the situation, but Liza barely noticed. For a reason she couldn’t even understand, the mention of that man had sent a shiver through her spine. She looked around everyone, wondering the significance of the name.
“Harry Potter,” she whispered, looking at everyone once again, who were still talking to cover up the awkwardness of the situation. "Who’s-who’s he?”
Liza waited impatiently, but nobody answered her. Finally, Hagrid seemed to realize that they were standing in the middle of the floor in silence and hastily tried to cover up. “Well, we’d better get goin’-Diagon Alley’s busy at this time, and I promised I’d take Liza home at a decent hour-”
The chatter started up again, but this time it didn’t seem quite as animated as it had been before. It seemed rather forced instead.
“Good luck, Hagrid!” “Have fun, Liza!” “Diagon Alley’s really interesting, you’ll enjoy it-you’ll enjoy Hogwarts as well, I’m sure-”
Liza followed Hagrid out of the pub, questions burning in her mind.
“Well, here we are,” said Hagrid, also sounding as though he was forcing cheerfulness. He had led her to a small, walled courtyard, but Liza was so intent on her question being answered that she hardly noticed.
“Hagrid-that man they mentioned earlier-Harry Potter-who’s he?”
“Liza, there’s a lo’ about the Wizarding World yeh have to find out, I don’t have time to tell you now-”
“But-he’s important, I can tell-you took him here when he was my age, what happened to him, I want to know-”
“All in good time, Liza, just be patient and I’ll promise yeh-”
“Hagrid, who’s Harry Potter?”
The question sent Hagrid’s umbrella flying with a gust of sudden wind. Hagrid shook his head at her. “Gulpin’ Gargoyles, Liza! I told yeh the Ministry o’ Magic doesn’t like kids yer age doin’ magic; yeh’ll have to learn to control yer temper or they’ll be after you, they will. Yeh’ll have ter. And next time, make sure it’s not my umbrella-I happen to need that right now.”
“Hagrid,” said Liza in a small voice, trying to control her anger, “I’m sorry. I just-I just wanted to know…”
Liza’s words were cut off as Hagrid, upon retrieving his umbrella, began tapping the wall at the end of the courtyard with the tip of his umbrella. Just as Liza, watching with awe and fascination, began to ask what he was doing, the bricks began to move.
Any uncertainties about magic she had had were mere memories now. The brick Hagrid had touched began to quiver, and a small hole in the wall appeared, becoming bigger and bigger, until they were in an archway in a cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight.
Liza could hardly even speak. Hagrid smiled gruffly. “Welcome to Diagon Alley.”
Liza wouldn’t have even paid attention to Hagrid, if he hadn’t begun to answer her question. There were a thousand shops to see, complete with a thousand things she hadn’t even thought were possible. She could hardly tear her eyes away from it all.
“Now,” said Hagrid as he lowered his voice, looking at all the people surrounding them, “this is a touchy subject fer me, so I apologize in advance if I start to-yeh know. Cry or somethin’ like that.”
“Why would you cry?” said Liza, realizing eagerly that he was about to answer her question. Hagrid merely shook his head and didn’t answer.
“Anyway, the point is, nearly thirty years ago now, there was a man named-named-blimey, it’s still hard to say, even after he’s dead-”
“No, this was another man-a Dark Wizard, by the name of-of-”
“Maybe we should sit down,” Liza suggested, hoping that this would inspire Hagrid to tell her more. She motioned to a pair of benches nearby and she sat in one, while Hagrid had enough room in the other one.
“You don’t have to tell me,” Liza told him, a few moments after they were sitting down. “I just want to hear about this Harry Potter.”
“No, it’s al’righ; you can’t hear about him unless yeh’ve heard about this guy first. His name-blimey, I hope no one’s listening, wouldn’t want ter scare them-his name was-his name was Lord Voldemort. An’ before yeh tell me that’s nothin’ to be afraid of,” Hagrid added, looking at Liza’s open mouth, which she closed quickly upon his words, “yeh haven’t heard of what he did just yet.
“This wizard’s name was Tom Riddle, originally, I knew him at school as a matter o’ fact, but he changed it to-yeh know, the name I told yeh earlier. He started to get followers when he was ou’ of school, oh, about sixty years or so ago now. Pretty soon, he got followers and became one of the most powerful wizards there was. Well, except for Harry Potter-an’ a man named Albus Dumbledore.”
He blew his nose and his eyes began to fill up with tears before he blinked them away. Liza had already guessed that Hagrid had known this Harry Potter, and it seemed that he had known the Dumbledore character too.
“Anyway, Dumbledore was headmaster of Hogwarts fer quite a while-he was the only one who You-Know-Who was afraid of, they say. Great man, Dumbledore-he was like-like a second father to me or somethin’. M’ own died in m’ second year.”
“Dumbledore died?” Liza asked in a small voice, noting Hagrid's use of "was." Hagrid gravely shook his head.
“Yeah. About thirteen years ago, now, if yeh can believe it. It was one of the Death Eaters-You-Know-Who’s followers-who killed him. Now, don’t ask me any more about that, it’s too sad ter think about.” Liza wasn’t sure if she was just imagining it, but from the way Hagrid was saying, she had a feeling there was another reason, too.
“But that was after-after this Harry Potter came to Hogwarts. Firs’ things firs’. People had pretty much given up hope of You-Know-Who ever bein’ defeated when he tried to kill this-this Harry Potter. He was only a baby, a year old at the time. His parents were a great witch and wizard in their day-they were Head Boy and Girl in their seventh year, Lily and James were. It was You-Know-Who who killed them.”
Oh, thought Liza, suddenly beginning to understand. So this Harry Potter was an orphan, too.
“There’s a lo’ of disagreements ter why You-Know-Who tried to kill Harry in the firs’ place-some say he just wanted his parents and Harry came along with the package, but others say it was because of a prophecy that said only Harry could kill You-Know-Who-if he didn’t kill him first. I dunno if it was the prophecy, but it seems to me that a prophecy would explain a lot, seeing as that was exactly what happened.”
“So Harry did kill this Vol-I mean, this wizard?”
But Hagrid cut her off before she could say his name.
“Yeah, he did. And don’ even think about sayin’ the name, it’s bad luck if yeh do.”
Liza looked at Hagrid questioningly as he went on.
“Anyway, he tried ter kill Harry, but he couldn’t. He’d killed millions of people before that, and yet, he couldn’t kill that baby boy. No one still knows why. He disappeared after that, some thought he died-it wasn’t till Harry’s fourth year that he came back.”
“But-I still don’t understand. You knew this Harry Potter, didn’t you?” Although she felt guilty for asking because of the sad, wistful expression on Hagrid’s face, she was also curious.
“Yeah, I knew him. Dumbledore asked me ter tell him when he wasn’t receiving his Hogwarts letters, so I did. He was livin’ with muggles before Hogwarts: his aunt and uncle and cousin. His mum, Lily, was a muggleborn, so they were on her side. Still can’t understand why Dumbledore wanted him ter live with them-yeh might think yer Mrs. Smith is bad, but she’s an angel compared to these lot.”
“Go on….” Liza urged him eagerly. Hagrid sighed before continuing.
“Yeah, so Harry and I knew each other. We were friends-his friends and he came over to visit me all the time.” He blew into his handkerchief again. “Harry’d seen You-Know-Who in different forms, glimpses, before, but it was his fourth year when he really came back. At first, the Ministry didn’t believe it. No one wanted to anyway. It was after his fifth year that the second war really began.
“It was awful. Wouldn’t pay to live it again for anything. Well, except maybe seeing Harry or Dumbledore alive again. It was even worse than the first if yeh can believe it. Dark times. So many deaths. Yeh’re glad yeh weren’t alive yet.”
“He was almost eighteen when he killed You-Know-Who. Long story, really. Hogwarts didn’t open up that year; war was too harsh. It was righ’ after he killed You-Know-Who that he died. No one knows what happened to him, who killed him. There are rumors about that too, that he lost his strength, couldn’t go on…but no one really knows. No one really knows fer sure what happened the night Harry Potter finally died.”
She watched as Hagrid blew into his handkerchief yet again, but louder and longer this time. She wasn’t sure what to say. She could plainly see that this Harry Potter had meant a lot to Hagrid and wasn’t sure what she could do to comfort him, so she merely sat there, watching as his eyes filled up with more and more tears.
And then there were the feelings Liza couldn’t even explain to herself. For some reason she couldn’t explain, she felt like she had a connection with this Harry Potter. Maybe it was because he was the only other child Hagrid had taken to Diagon Alley or perhaps it was because he was an orphan too. Whatever the reason was, Liza couldn’t help feeling sad that Harry Potter had died. She had a strange feeling that she would have liked him.
Liza watched the people who came out of the shops in Diagon Alley, dressed in clothes that she would be getting sometime in the next few hours. This was her world now. She didn’t know it very well, just yet, but this was her world. She had been destined to come into it ever since she had been born, but it was only today that she had entered it for the first time. She couldn’t help wondering what other surprises would be in store for her today. So much had happened that Liza could hardly believe the day wasn’t even over yet.
Suddenly, Liza felt an urge to go into the shops and get her school supplies done with once and for all. She didn’t know why she wanted to so badly, but curiosity had taken over and she was sick of sitting here, watching. She wanted to explore the shops for herself.
“Can we go now?” she asked Hagrid, who blinked at her before getting up, and Liza realized in surprise that she was finally ready to join the Wizarding World for the first time.