Chapter 2 : Diagon Alley
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Two weeks later, my adoptive parents finally gave into my sister's pleas and agreed to let Nat and I go on our 'adventure' as she puts it.
I cursed their weak will power.
Why can't they ever say no when you actually want them to?
I mean honestly! Isn't that what parents are good for? Appearantly not. If they were I wouldn't be sitting here on a train to London with Nat asleep on my shoulder (she can't legally apparate until tomorrow and I am not about to spilch myself attempting sidelong-apparation). I wouldn't have had to make reservations at the Leaky Cauldron this morning. And I wouldn't be feeling like I was going to throw up right now.
You may think that I'm joking but I swear I'm not.
If my stomach wasn't completely empty, I can garentee, that I would be puking my guts out right now. Instead, I'm sitting here, bouncing nervously in my seat, wondering why the hell I let Naphtalie talk me into this.
It's a stupid thing to do, really.
Why did I have to reveal the big secret now? I was perfectly okay with pretending. Acting.
It was my specialty.
I'd been acting my entire life. So long, that sometimes I forgot that I was acting.
I acted like my last name was really Porter. I acted like I'd been born on August fifth. And I acted like I was a twin.
And you know what? I was perfectly fine with that. I was comfortable. I was happy. I was loved. I was a creature of habit and this was definitely breaking my routine. I didn't like change and I didn't like confrontation.
This was both.
Yep. I was definitely going to throw up.
My stomach heaved uselessly and then -once it realized I'd yet to eat- groaned in annoyance.
I sighed, a sad, miserable sort of sigh.
Today was most definitely not my day.
"Come on, Ellie! Le temps pour se lever, ma chère soeur! Réveillez-vous maintenant!"
"Too earrrly," I groaned drowsily.
"No! The day is young and so are we. We've only got a few more years of killer bods and firm arses! Get up! Carpe Dium! Sieze the day!"
"Noooo," I groaned, "My firm arse wants to have a lie in. Sleepy dium. Sieze the Slumber."
"That's actually- 'Sleepy day'. Now get up!"
"No. I want to lie in bed until noon!"
"Nope. Up. Now!" She whipped the curtains open and the blinding morning sunlight flooded into the room.
"Uaaaarrrgha! Il brûle! Il brûle! N'allez pas vers la lumière!" I cried, dramatically, shielding my eyes.
"Up!" she said again slapping my covers once.
"Ladies and gents, my sister, the drill sargeant."
Half an hour later, I was ready to go. Nat dragged my lazy arse out of bed and then proceeded to use me as her personal life-sized Barbie Doll.
I was wearing makeup. Granted it was a very small amount-but with my vivid green eyes, that was all I ever needed. And she'd made me wear a skirt. Yes, Naphtalie Aradia Lalaine Porter had finally achieved the impossible, she'd gotten me into a skirt hemmed above my knees.
I felt completely riddiculous. Walking around Diagon Alley in a white flippy skirt thing and a blackish-blue tank top of Naphtalie's. But I looked pretty good, appearantly- if the leer I got from the cute bloke working for Tom at the Leaky Cauldron was any indication.
We stepped out onto the street and began our shopping adventure- attracting even more stares along our way- as we always did.
Because, you see, we got very lucky- as far as keeping our secret went. Though, I suspect the old man had something to do with it. Because-even though we aren't blood related- Naphtalie and I honestly do look like twins.
That's the reason our story has held up for nearly seventeen years. The reason our charade hasn't been questioned by anyone. We really do look practically identical.
The only real noticable difference between us is our eye colors. Naphtalie's sapphire, I'm emeralds.
That's actually what my brother and some of our friends at Beauxbatons used to call us.
Her eyes are blue. Bluer than blue. Like fathomless pools that most blokes just fall into. Crystal clear blue. Like the sparkling Mediterranean waters on a sunny day.
Mine, are piercing green. Vivid and staggering with flecks of gold that shimmered in the sunlight. Intriguing and hyponotizing as one of the few boys I'd dated at Beauxbatons told me.
But not only did we really look alike but, appearantly, we're also pretty attractive looking twins as well. So, we were used to the stares by now. Especially by those people of the male persuasion.
We ignored the leers and continued to shop for school supplies. And- in Nat's case, at least- other items.
"What d'ya think?" Nat asked me, spinning around once in front of me. She'd donned a new set of perwinkle robes -that set her eyes off like sparklers-in Madam Malkin's.
I sighed, "Gorgeous. As always." I told her in a mock-bored voice.
She turned back around to give me a look and said, "Don't sound so enthused."
We laughed musically together and she went to go change into the next dazzling outfit. No doubt something meant to make everyone around her drool. Or have them gape at her with slack jaws.
As she disappeared behind the curtain I heard her say, excitedly, "Wait 'til you see the next one!"
An hour later, we left the shop with not only our new school robes but also four other sets as well (each)- all picked by Naphtalie.
It is an extremely lucky thing that my adoptive family is very wealthy because Nat is no light shopper. She bought us new robes, Quidditch gear, sweets, owl treats and books.
Well, actually, I bought the books.
But Nat got the rest. She purchased so much that I- after lugging all of it around for half an hour or so- promptly sent it all back (by magic) to our room at the Leaky Cauldron.
I hadn't quite gotten used to the removal of my trace yet. Only today did I use my magic without feeling a strange sort of twinge. Because today was what I really considered to be my seventeenth birthday. It was the same day as Naphtalie's seventeenth.
"C'mon," she said, grabbing my now free hand, "let's go see your vault."
"No." I told her for about the eighteenth time today (at least).
"For my birthday?"
Her perfect bottom lip jutted out into a heart-breaking pout, "Why not?"
I sighed. We'd already been through this several times today, but Nat just refused to let it go. "Because." I answered exasperatedly, "I'm s'posed to be a secret, remember?"
"Yes." she grinned with a mischievious glint in her eye.
She loved knowing possibly the biggest secret in the wizarding world ever. She had always joked about being an intimate witness to- an insider on- the biggest cover up in magical history. Our friends laughed-thinking she was joking, but every time she would say something about it I'd kick her under the table or pinch her arm. Hard.
"But you've got the key that the old man left you, yeah?"
"Then what's the-?"
"-Nat!" I cut acrossed her. "I can't just go waltzing in and tell the goblins that vault number. They don't know I exist! No one does! They'll bite my head off! They'll think I'm a thief!"
"So?" she shrugged, "He got away with it. And he didn't have a key to that vault and he broke in. So why can't you? 'Specially when you've got the key. It's your vault, too!" She told me.
But, to me, it wasn't.
To me, the vault I'd entered this morning was the one I considered to be my family vault. The one I shared with Naphtalie and Jacob. The one I shared with my (adoptive) parents and the rest of the Porter clan. That was my family vault.
Not the one Naphtalie wanted me to visit.
"Yes," I told her stubbornly, "but know one else knows that."
She huffed unhappily and then said, "Oh, Fine. Let's go in there then." She pointed to the most colorful and crowded shop in Diagon Alley.
"C'mon my little introvert. A little socializing won't kill you."
"It will!" I cried in a sarcastically dramatic voice, throwing my hand over my forehead and tipping my head back. The classic damsel in distress pose.
She laughed and pulled me towards the shop buy my wrist, "Drama Queen."
"I learned from the best!" I told her, with an implying smile.
As we approached the shop, I saw that the line to get inside was snaking outside of the door. I also noticed that everyone waiting was standing, on their toes, facing one direction. As if they were looking for something specific.
"Wonder what's going on." Nat and I said simultaniously. We had to laugh, as was our custom after these little moments. This happened all of the time, despite the fact that we weren't actually twins.
"Let's ask, yeah?" she grinned, excitedly.
I sighed gustily and rolled my emerald eyes, as she pulled me forward. Of course she went straight for the cutest guys in the line, there were three and they all looked about nineteen.
"Excuse me?" my sister trilled in her charming voice. The one she used to suck up to teachers with. She tapped on the cutest boy's shoulder and he turned around at her voice.
When he saw the two of us his eyebrows shot up and his hazel eyes got as wide as galleons. He looked back at his friends -a mixture of shock and arrogance- and then turned back to us with a cocky grin.
"Can I help you ladies?" he asked, his tone suggestive as his eyes racked over our very nearly identical figures.
Can I help you ladies? Ugh! What a prat! Ew. Ew. Ewwwwww! Boys are so incredibly vile sometimes. It's a wonder we put up with them.
They're lucky they're pretty.
Naphtalie feigned innocence, "What's going on in there? What are you all waiting for?"
The handsome boy's grin widened. "Well," he said in -what I guess he thought was-a deep seductive voice, "word is that Harry Potter is in there."
Both Naphtalie and I took sharp intakes of breath.
We exchanged wide-eyed looks. Mine was panicked, hers was thrilled.
My stomach did a horrendous flip, my heart lept into my throat and my pulse was suddenly pounding hard in my ears.
"Really?" Nat's voice turned unmistakably eager.
"Yeah." The boy shrugged. As if this was no big deal. " 'parently he knows the owner's family really well."
"Hear that, Elle?" Nat elbowed me in the ribs, excitedly.
"Ouch!" I hissed at her.
She shot me a whitheringly annoyed look.
"What?" I shrugged defensively. I was trying to focus on breathing. I felt like any second I would pass out.
"You are so obtuse!" She laughed, "C'mon, let's go get a peak at him."
She grabbed my hand and tried to pull me forward but I bulked.
"Nat, I am not going in there." I said firmly.
"I refuse to ogle him. He's not a bloody fish in a tank!"
"So? You've got more right to see him than anyone here. He's your-"
"We can go see the vault." I cut acrossed her quickly.
I was grasping for straws. Anything that would stop her from dragging me into that shop. Appearantly, I'd said the right thing, though.
This stopped her short. Her eye's got wide with shock. When she spoke her voice was squeaky. "Really?"
I gulped and nodded.
She looked wistfully at the shop. "Can we come back after?" She sounded like a four year old.
"Maybe." I sighed. But I had no intention, what-so -ever of coming any where near here again. Ever.
"Let's go!" And with that she yanked me in the opposite direction.
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
I took a deep breath and dug the small golden key and a folded piece of parchment from my pocket.
"Here goes nothing," I muttered.
Nat tugged on my hand impatiently. She was like a child that had been promised ice cream and now dragged her parent there before they changed their minds. I had to laugh at this image. It was so completely Naphtalie.
We entered the towering building one after the other. Naphtalie with confidence, me with apprehension.
The vast marble hall hadn't changed since this morning of course. Only the goblins were different. But I couldn't tell much of a difference, in all honesty. They were all mean and scraggly looking to me.
Naphtalie pulled me over to the counter and told the goblin the unbelievable truth without even flinching. "Ms. Elena Potter would like to retrieve some money from her safe, please."
It felt so strange to be called by my actual name.
The goblin's eyebrows shot up very high. Higher than I would've thought possible, actually and I blushed. My skin felt hotter than ever and the knot in my throat tightened.
"I see," he eyed me, suspiciously. "And does Ms. Elena Potter have her key?" He sneered, thinking-no doubt- that we were two stupid giggly girls trying to get a peek at Harry Potter's safe or worse trying to steal from it.
This made me straighten up. I didn't like the tone.
"Yes." I said -a fake confidence coloring my tone, "And this." I handed him the piece of parchment and the precious key.
He unfolded the note and scanned it quickly. His eyebrows shot up even more with each sentence that he read, "Interesting. Very interesting." he muttered, to no one in particular it seemed.
When he finally looked up from the familiar narrow loops scribbled on the page his face was smooth. Carefully uninterested.
"Very well." he said, "Follow me."
When he turned Naphtalie and I exchanged excited looks. We held in our screeches of joy though. We already were the most suspicious people in the bank. The most likely thiefs. But we had the key. So the goblin led us to the dark tunnels and nauseatingly fast carts.
We piled in and I shut my eyes and buried my face-as was my tradition- in Nat's shoulder as we zoomed deep underground. My stomach rolled as the cart sloped steeply down a hill.
Naphtalie chuckled. My motion sickness had always amused her. ("How can you love Quidditch so much if motion makes you toss your cookies?" she'd always ask after one of my episodes).
I groaned. I didn't find it a bit amusing that my stomach was so incredibly weak. It was beyond annoying.
At last, the cart came to a halt and we jolted forward. This needless to say, did not do wonders for my ill stomach.
The goblin stepped out swiftly and Naphtalie did too, with me in tow.
As he approached the door his face was smug and expectant. He slipped the long useless key into place and his expression faultered, a trifle shocked.
It fit like a glove, of course.
Which I geussed was his problem. He hadn't expected the key to work, obviously. He'd anticipated being able to send us packing. He'd been excited for the chance to heckle the two naive teenage thiefs and kick us out on our asses with a laugh.
What he had not expected- obviously- was for that precious bit of gold to slide in gently and unlock the vault of the most highly revered wizard in the world.
Within seconds, though, he gained control of his hideous features and opened the door for the pair of us.
Nat let me go first, her smile triumphant and smug.
I worried if the goblins would take this the wrong way. Perhaps they'd think we were most certainly thiefs because of her demeanor. Maybe they'd assume she was pleased at our success. That she was triumphant because we'd outsmarted the system and gotten this far.
Despite my anxiety, I couldn't help but grin back.
My stomach flipped, this time not from sickness but excitement. Somewhere deep inside my pounding heart, I knew this was the first giant step toward my real identity. Towards finding Elena Potter under all of the rubble I'd buried her beneath long ago.
I entered the vault and gasped.
"What-?" Naphtalie asked eagerly as she followed but stopped when her eyes rested on the mound of gold and silver and bronze.
Colums and colums of money. It was incredible.
The Porter's were rich of course. I'd seen identical colums in their vault before. Along with family heirlooms and various keep sakes.
But this gold was different somehow. The knowledge that, all this time, I'd had rights to half of a small fortune- just doors away from the familiar safe my adoptive family shared, amazed me.
"Wow!" Naphtalie gasped after a moment. "It's-It's-"
"Yeah," I agreed breathlessly, "It's incredible."
She scoffed, "Understatement of the century, Lena." She came up to my side and I saw that she was grinning. "All this for two teenagers? It's madness!"
I laughed. That it was. Pure madness.
(So there is chapter two. What d'ya think? Review please!
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