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Chapter 4 : MORE THAN YOU EXPECTED
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“They have some pretty cool stuff there,” commented Ron.
“I saw some things that could actually be very useful to the Ministry of Magic,” added Hermione. “If they had some imagination, of course”.
“Don’t be so hard, Hermione, Kingsley is working really hard to reorganize everything and I think he will even do some improvements,” responded Mr. Weasley.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude”
“It’s okay. I am the first one to admit the Ministry could use some imagination”.
“Maybe you could suggest Kingsley to come to the shop and take a look,” said Harry.
“I don’t think so. It would look bad if I recommended my own sons’ business”
“But they have very good merchandise. Just think the use that they could give to the Extendable Ears or the Spy Mirror!” argued Ginny.
“I’m thinking of the use I could give them,” commented Mrs. Weasley and the four teenagers’ faces contorted in horror, making the other four laugh.
“I think we should go to Gringotts”, suggested Bill.
“Great idea!” replied Harry quickly.
The Wizarding bank was very busy and they had to wait in line to get to the counter. Some people offered Harry their places when they saw him but he refused politely. He didn’t want to take advantage of his fame or give anybody a reason to say he was doing it. He also suspected that both Mrs. Weasley and Hermione would have disapproved it strongly.
When they finally reached the front, Harry, Ron and Hermione looked each other nervously. They approached a free goblin.
“Good morning” said Hermione.
The goblin looked at her intensely and said: “I think it’s afternoon already”
“You’re right. Good afternoon. I would like to change some Muggle money, please”
The goblin stared at Hermione and said nothing.
“Come on, Narmelck, we’re in a hurry”, intervened Bill standing behind Hermione.
“Bill, good afternoon” replied the goblin. “Are you with her?”
“Yes, we need to change some muggle money and withdraw some gold from Harry’s vault. I also understand that there’s something for him…”
“Who?” asked Narmelck.
“Me,” answered Harry. “I’m Harry Potter”.
“Oh. I see” And without saying anything else the goblin turned around and left.
“What?!” exclaimed Harry.
“He probably went to get a senior goblin”, explained Bill. And just as he said, a minute later, Narmelck returned with a bearded goblin in a black velvet jacket with golden brims.
“Mr. Potter, nice to see you. My name is Gurlog. I am the senior goblin for legal affairs. Can you come with me please?”
Harry and the other exchanged nervous glances.
“There’s nothing to worry” assured Bill. “I will go with you”.
“Okay” said Harry and followed Bill, leaving Hermione and the rest with Narmelck.
They walked around the counter and stepped into a spacious office lavishly decorated. There were large painting hanging from the walls, each one depicting goblins in different banking or business activities. A massive crystal chandelier hung from the high ceiling and dozen of coins of different metals and sizes were displayed behind the glass door of a wooden cabinet.
“Nice office” commented Bill.
“Thank you” said Gurlog. “Please sit down” and pointed two velvet upholstered chairs in front of his desk.
“Thanks” said Harry and occupied the seat farther from the goblin.
“I’m glad the circumstances of your visit are let’s say… less dangerous than the last one” started Gurlog.
“Gurlog, you know…” started Bill but the goblin held up his long bonny hand.
“We understand that the circumstances were… special. There is no grudge against Mr. Potter”
Harry had the feeling that goblins didn’t forget nor forgive so easily and he felt really grateful that Bill was with him in that moment. But if this wasn’t about the break-in or the dragon, why did a senior goblin need to talk to him? However nervous, he asked: “What do you want to talk to me then?”
“It’s about the vault”
“My vault? What happened? Has it been robbed?” Now that would be ironic.
“No. Your old vault is okay. I want to talk to you about the vault left to you by Mr. Black. Or its contents, actually”.
“What happens with them?”
“Well, you see, you haven’t actually taken possession of your inheritance. As Mr. Black’s heir it’s necessary that you go and physically inspect his vault. After that you must sign a document acknowledging that everything is in order and that you take possession of gold and the other contents so we can move it to your own vault”.
“Oh! I didn’t know that. I didn’t sign anything about my parents’ vault. And Professor Dumbledore never told me I had to do all this. ”
“Well, that was different,” explained Gurlog. “Your parent’s vault was yours by birth right. In this case Mr. Black had no natural heir so there are some additional requirements to transfer its property”.
“And?” inquired Bill skeptically. “Why didn’t you contact Harry by owl ages ago to let him know he needed to do this?”
“Well,” Gurlog looked uncomfortable. “The Ministry forbade us to do it”.
“Minister Scrimgeour sent an official decree forbidding us to notify Mr. Potter –or anybody else– about the steps necessary to take possession of Mr. Black’s legacy. And we are bound by magical law to obey the Ministry’s official decrees”.
“But I though you couldn’t prevent the rightful owners’ access to what’s theirs” alleged Bill.
“They didn’t,” said Harry before Gurlog could answer. “Technically, Sirius money was mine, they didn’t took it. But I couldn’t use it until I took possession and they wanted to delay that moment as long as they could. They counted with me being too busy with Voldemort to come to the bank”.
“Why would Scrimgeour do something like that?”
“I don’t know. I don’t reckon he wanted the money for himself or for the Ministry. But he probably…” Harry turned to Gurlog “How much is it? Professor Dumbledore never told me”.
“Well, I can’t give you an exact number now but roughly, it’s about ten times what you parents left you”, answered the senior goblin.
“WHAT?” Harry could not believe his ears. By all standards his parents had left him a fortune. Ten times that was beyond his wildest dreams. “No surprise that Scrimgeour wanted me far from it”.
“But why” asked Bill.
“He feared I could give the money to the Order. Or part of it at least. He didn’t want Professor Dumbledore and the Order casting a shadow over the Ministry”.
“That’s ridiculous!” exclaimed Bill and the added: “But you’re probably right”.
Harry noticed that Gurlog didn’t comment anything but his eyes had an amused expression and his lips curled in a tiny smile. The goblin nodded almost imperceptibly and finally said: “I hope you understand, Mr. Potter. We had no choice. If Minister Kingsley hadn’t voided the decree, we wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about this until you made a direct question about it”.
“I understand. Well, if this is necessary to do this, I guess we better do it right now,” declared Harry. He certainly preferred to have Bill with him during the visit to the underground vaults. “I also need to stop by my vault to withdraw some gold”.
“No, problem” replied Gurlog and getting on his feet walked to the door and held it open for Harry and Bill who stood up and left the office.
After stopping briefly to tell the Weasley and Hermione that they were going to the vaults and that it might take some time, Harry, Bill, Gurlog and another goblin that introduced himself as Madtock, left through one of the door at the back of the hall. They walked down a narrow passageway lit by torches and finally reached the trail racks. Madtock whistled and a cart stopped in front of them a couple minutes later. They all climbed inside and Harry hadn’t finished saying the number of his vault when the goblin pushed the handle and off they went, riding at a sickening speed through the dimly illuminated tunnels.
Harry was more than happy when the cart stopped in front of his vault. He, Bill and Gurlog descended carefully and, after searching all his pockets, Harry found the small key that opened it, unlocked the door and entered.
Harry took a good amount of gold Galleons, silver Sickles and bronze Knuts. He counted the money and, after some consideration, he took some more Galleons. Fortunately, his parents had left him enough to last for a long time.
“I’m ready,” said Harry.
“Let’s go then,” answered Gurlog and walked back to the cart, followed by the two young wizards. The door closed behind them and as soon as everybody was sit, the cart started again.
As they went deeper and deeper underground the air became colder and their vehicle rode faster, passing by vault doors, crossing dark ravines and avoiding stalactites and stalagmites.
They finally reached Sirius’s vault. An ornate bronze plate indicated that it was number 711. Harry remembered when he and Hagrid had visited vault 713 to remove a mysterious small package that he later learned was the philosopher’s stone. He tried to have a look of vault 713 which had to be just a few meters ahead but it was too dark to make out anything.
Like they had done before, Harry, Bill and Gurlog got off, this time accompanied by Madtock. The latter stopped in front of the vault’s door and stroked it gently. As Harry has seen it eight years before, the door disappeared. But unlike what happened in his first visit to Gringotts, this high- security vault wasn’t empty. Actually, by comparison Harry’s own vault looked empty. The Black Family vault, although quite large, looked crowded. There were large piles of money, most of it gold Galleons. There were also jewels, paintings and even some furniture that looked old and, Harry suspected, expensive.
“Well, I think you don’t have to worry about your future”, commented Bill, chuckling.
“Yeah… well, you can definitely say that,” said Harry and began to laugh. It wasn’t that he found the situation funny but that he didn’t know how to react. The only time he had seen so much wealth was in the Lestrange vault and he had been too nervous and focused on his mission to care. And now he would have given back all that gold and even the one he had inherited from his parents to have Sirius with him, alive.
“Mr. Potter”, interrupted Gurlog, concern in his face. He obviously thought that Harry had lost his mind. “We need you to inspect the content of the vault and sign the reception so we can move it to yours”.
“I’m sorry. You have no idea how bizarre this is. I slept under a staircase for eleven years”.
“I’m glad you get to have all this”, said Bill. “You definitely deserve it”.
“Thanks” replied Harry slightly embarrassed. In his opinion nobody deserved to inherit a fortune more than the Weasleys and he would have given them part of his if he had thought they would accept it.
“Can we proceed, please?” asked Gurlog, producing a long parchment and a quill.
It was a long task. Madtock counted the money in each pile and Gurlog recorded the number in the parchment. When that was finally done, they moved to the art works. Bill happened to be very helpful there. He corrected Gurlog three times regarding the artists who had painted three of the pieces. Working for Gringotts he had had the opportunity not only to break curses and enchantments but also learned about the objects upon which they had been cast, many of which were art works or valuable antiques.
The furniture was next. As Harry had suspected it had been made by very prestigious makers and it was worth a lot. The pieces not especially of Harry’s taste –they looked too formal for him - and it suddenly occurred to him that the sofa, armchairs and side tables would take most of his much smaller vault. It was then than he got an idea.
“Bill, do you think your mother would like the furniture?” asked Harry.
“Well… I’m sure she would. But you aren’t thinking of giving it to her. Are you?”
“Well, actually I am. I won’t be able to put anything else in my vault if I store them there and it’s a shame to have it underground where nobody can see it or use it”.
“You could sell it. It’s very valuable”.
“Yeah but… I sold some thing from Grimmauld Place to buy the car and I can tell you, I will never get what it’s really worth it. I would prefer to see it in your mother’s hands. I mean… she has been feeding me and taking care of me since I was eleven...”
“I’m sure she would love it”, affirmed Bill. “Thanks”.
“Can you have it shipped to the Weasleys’ house in Ottery St. Catchpole?” Harry asked to Gurlog.
“Naturally” said the goblin looking insulted and scribbled something in the parchment..
Finally, after listing the jewels and some gold silverware, there were only a couple of chests lefts. Harry hadn’t seen them initially because they were against the wall, hidden by the painting and the furniture.
“Do you have the keys”, asked Madtock.
“No, I don’t. Before today, I didn’t know that these chests existed”
“Well, we don’t have them either”, explained Gurlog.
“They are probably in Grimmauld Place”, suggested Bill.
“I will ask Kreacher”, said Harry.
“That’s OK. We will list them as chests with unknown content and we will seal them. When you find the keys we can come together and open them so their content can be officially added to your account”.
“Excellent. Let’s do that”
Gurlog wrote something else and then he bent over one of the chests and traced a complicated figure on the lock with one of his long fingers. A red seal with the Gringotts crest appeared, covering the keyhole. The goblin repeated this action on the other chest. This completed, he presented to Harry the parchment where he had been listing the gold and objects.
Harry read the list and saw that, indeed, everything was there.
“Sign it, please” asked Gurlog and after confirming it with Bill, Harry signed at the bottom. Immediately everything disappeared.
“Everything has been moved to your own vault”, explained the goblin. “And the furniture has been sent to our warehouse for packing and shipping. It should be at the Weasleys’ in three days top.
“Good, can we go now?”
“Of course, after you”.
As soon as they left the vault the door reappeared. They mounted on the cart and it departed immediately, riding towards the surface at the same sickening speed it had had on its way down.
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