Chapter 6 : Chapter Six - Vaults, Tomes, and Letters from Beyond
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Stepping into the lobby, Harry’s eyes were immediately drawn to the spot on the broad marble floor where they had erupted through on dragonback in their earlier escape from the bank. The marble flooring was unmarked, as if an aging dragon hadn’t come bursting through the floor on its way to freedom just weeks earlier. Shaking his head, Harry gently squeezed Hermione’s hand as they walked across the vast expanse on their way towards the various desks that ringed the room.
The general noise level in the lobby dropped for a few seconds as the three entered, with Griphook accompanying them. Feeling the weight of scrutiny from the goblins, witches, and wizards that were in the bank, Harry schooled his face to remain in what he hoped was a pleasant smile while they headed towards an imposing desk in the center of the one wall. Allowing Griphook to draw abreast of him, he carefully looked around and saw that everyone seemed to be getting back to the business that had brought them to Gringott’s in the first place.
Stepping up to the desk, Griphook took a small hammer from the corner of the desk and rapped it sharply against a small iron shield that was embedded into the surface of the desk. A distinctive ringing sound, reminiscent of a hammer striking an anvil, followed his effort and he looked expectantly across the room. Nodding to a goblin who looked up from his ledgers, he waited patiently for the goblin to make his way to them.
Standing several inches shorter than Griphook the newcomer waited patiently, his eyes darting between the three young humans that accompanied the older goblin. Dressed in a manner reminiscent of the others in the lobby, the three noted the gleam in his eyes as he waited for Griphook to acknowledge him.
Nodding brusquely, Griphook waited for the younger goblin to return the nod before speaking. “Seaxwielder, I have a charge for you. Vaultholder Weasley needs to be taken to Vault 823 for the first time; you are the clan’s honor and representative for this. The Vaultholder is currently a client of mine, as you well know since I’ve had you monitoring her holdings and investments for the past year. Her older brother is an associate of the clan, her father has been a friend of the Nation for years, and she is blood-bound to Master and Mistress Potter. The honor of the Syndics rests in your hands; I have complete confidence that you will discharge these responsibilities in a manner that will bring credit to the Clan and to Gringott’s.”
Smiling, Seaxwielder turned to Ginny and looked at her for several seconds. Ginny gained the distinct impression that the goblin was evaluating her against a set of criteria that she wasn’t entirely certain she understood. The goblin nodded to her, and made a curious gesture with his right hand before speaking. “Vaultholder Weasley, the honor is mine to serve. If you would accompany me?”
The junior goblin gestured towards a broad doorway that led away from the lobby. Having accompanied her father on two occasions and her older brother several times, she knew that the portal led to transportation to the vaults.
“Seaxwielder, let us be about our business, no?” Nodding in return to him, she smiled. Turning back to Griphook, she inclined her head to him again. “I thank you for your knowledge and expertise and I’m looking forward to doing business with you in the future.”
Bowing in return, Griphook smiled. “Profit and stability to you and yours, Vaultholder. I would be very pleased to assist you in the future.” Nodding to the younger goblin, he turned back to the pair of teens awaiting him.
Following along with Seaxwielder, Ginny thought about the changes that had occurred recently. While not appearing overly studious, she had always kept a close watch on the customs of those around her and had watched her father and older brother Bill’s interactions with the goblins whenever they had come to Gringott’s. She found this to be of immense advantage during the underground struggle against the Voldemort controlled Ministry at Hogwarts. Her ability to relate to members of other intelligent species made her the spokeswitch for ‘The Hogwarts Resistance’ when it came to dealing with the other races.
Shuddering a bit as she remembered some of the close calls that occurred during the war, Ginny found herself standing beside a car waiting to take her to the vault she, apparently, was the holder of. Blushing a bit at having been caught unawares, Ginny nodded appreciatively at the goblin who was waiting patiently for her to return to the present. “My apologies, Seaxwielder. Griphook’s comments caused me to think about the recent past a bit.”
“Nothing to apologize for, Vaultholder. Peace allows warriors time to reflect upon the costs, you are hardly the first to spend a few moments counting the costs of the current world.” Smiling, the goblin graciously indicated the waiting car.
“Please, I would consider it an honor if you would see your way clear to call me ‘Ginny’, especially when we’re out of earshot of the powers that be.” Blushing a bit, Ginny shook her head. “And as for being a warrior…” Her voice trailed off as she remembered the faces of her fellow students that had followed her direction and the wounds they had suffered because of it.
“You led your companions against an armed and deadly foe. You proved yourself skilled, not only in the business of war, but the business of making it possible. You are a warrior just as much as any goblin who has sallied forth to defend the goblin nation or their family honor.” Nodding, Seaxwielder smiled again. “The true warrior fights not because she loves it, but because she cannot bear to allow the circumstances that require her to fight to go on. She may return to the hearth or to the business she rose up from, but that doesn’t mean that the warrior has lain down and disappeared.”
Shaking her head, she stepped into the car and settled herself on the seat. Staring at her goblin companion, she sighed. “But what happens when the warrior finds herself unable to go back to where she came from? When she’s changed far beyond the child who was forced to defend her friends and family, what does she do then?”
Touching the pendant that hung around his neck, Seaxwielder willed the car to begin its trip to their destination. “Ah, that is simple to say, difficult to accomplish. You chose to leave your comfortable childhood behind because the person you were becoming couldn’t allow the things you saw happening around you to continue. You grew up by choice, not by default. I understand you have one more year of school left, correct?”
Nodding, Ginny smiled bitterly as she realized that she had indeed chosen to grow up, especially once her childhood illusions and innocence had been stripped from her. “Very true Seaxwielder. In September I’ll return to school, though I certainly don’t feel very much like the student who arrived last September.”
As the car whipped around a hairpin turn and rocketed past a manticore that was straining at the end of its chain to snap at them, the goblin laughed. “Live you next school year and recapture some of the things you missed, but realize that you and most of your fellow students have moved on in life. The true secret to being accounted as an adult is not to forsake the ways of childhood, but to allow yourself opportunity to enjoy them without losing sight of what you’re accomplishing.”
As the cart slowed to a stop along a siding that fronted several vaults, Ginny nodded appreciatively. “My thanks for your wisdom, Seaxwielder. I’ll try to keep that in mind when I’m feeling overwhelmed or adrift.” Smiling wryly, she added. “Or when my Mum is treating me as if I were twelve again.”
Laughing, the goblin gave her a wink and a knowing nod. “Ah, the venerable Molly Weasley strikes again.” Seeing the startled look on her face, he shrugged. “Your older brother has made similar statements, from time to time. Being overly concerned about their progeny is not a trait of wizarding mothers alone, Ginny. Wait until you’re a mother before you judge her too harshly.”
Chuckling, Ginny nodded as she gazed at the door before her. “Everyone tells me that, it must be the correct advice.” Handing the key to him, she smiled. “If you would do the honors?”
Taking the key from her, Seaxwielder gazed at it for several seconds before passing his hand across the door to her vault and touching the key briefly to the door. The sound of whirring gears and retracting bolts came from the door as the door began to open towards them.
Looking into the vault, Ginny could see stacks of coins setting on shelves around the walls, along with some items scattered throughout the vault. As the door fully opened, she saw a trunk sitting in the middle of the floor, with a small lectern standing beside it. On the lectern was a scroll, addressed to her, with a scarlet ribbon tied around it.
Shaking her head, Ginny gasped at the display in front of her. “How much did Sirius leave me?”
Reaching into his belt pouch, the goblin withdrew a small ledger book that expanded to the size of a traditional accounting ledger. Opening the book, he gazed at the figures on the title page. “At the time of the transfer, the vault contained two hundred ninety seven thousand, four hundred and twelve galleons in various coins, eleven items of various degrees of enchantment valued at another one hundred thousand galleons, five items of jewelry which were listed as ‘value to be determined’, one trunk, and one letter.”
Swallowing and shaking her head, she stared at the goblin in amazement. “But, I barely knew him?”
“The Head of the Ancient and Honorable House of Black always marched to his own tune, you must realize that. Forgive me for being presumptuous, but you were and are very close to his godson and, while I didn’t interact directly with Sirius Black directly, I was able to observe him on a number of occasions before and after his incarceration and I think this is well within the standards he displayed.”
Arching an eyebrow, Seaxwielder shrugged and gestured with his hands. “His discomfort with the family he came from and what they had done to bring about their wealth was offset by his ability to pass those resources along to those who, he felt, he could trust to utilize them in a responsible and acceptable manner.” Shaking his head at the very ungoblin like notion of giving things away to redeem them, he sighed.
Nodding slowly, Ginny gazed back into the vault. Seeing the scroll with her name, she became very curious as to what it contained. Looking over at her companion, she smiled. “Would you consider it rude if I asked you to wait here while I read that letter?”
“Ginny, most of the wanded would have assumed that I have nothing better to do than cool my heels here while they went about their business.” Chuckling at the young witch’s question Seaxwielder shook his head. “I thank you for your concern, and I’m totally at your disposal until I return you to you friends.”
Nodding at her, he continued. “The stipulations regarding this particular vault are that the first time you enter, you are to enter alone to allow you a chance to read the letter left for you. A minor enchantment prevents any items or monies from being removed, except for those amounts specified in the trust documents as allowed expenses, until you have read that letter.” Stepping back and leaning causally against the car that brought them, he nodded. “Go ahead; I have some parchmentwork to catch up on while you get acquainted with your holdings.”
Stepping into the vault, Ginny shook her head in exasperation as she had the feeling that things were moving along outside her control, just a bit. As she stepped into the vault, the lights brightened as the door swung softly shut. An overstuffed chair appeared beside the trunk and the scroll began to gleam in an insistent, pulsing manner.
Taking the scroll from the lectern, she seated herself and contemplated the wax seal on the parchment. Muttering, ‘not very subtle, Sirius’ to herself, she placed her fingers on the seal for a couple of seconds. Feeling the magic in the seal of the House of Black recognize her, she slid her finger under the seal and unrolled the parchment.
Settling back to read, her eyes grew wide as she began to chuckle.
This isn’t the original letter I left in your vault, which is a fairly strange statement considering the fact I’m currently ‘indisposed’. As you know from recent events, I’m not quite as gone as everyone thought, and a friend of mine has the contacts to deliver this letter to replace the original one.
In answer to the question ‘Why in Merlin’s name did Sirius Black leave me a vault full of stuff?’ the answer is twofold. The first is ‘because I can’. I realize that’s hardly a satisfying answer, but you have to admit, it’s a valid one.
The second is that I’m very fond of and have a great deal of respect for your family as a whole and my godson Harry thinks a great deal of you, which is reason enough in my estimation. Also, since it seems that since you’re going to be part of this asylum known as the House of Black, there are a few things associated with my House that may just suit you.
All I ask is that you keep an open mind and consider the fact I might just be in my right mind. And since the goblins thought I was sane enough to leave a valid will (which just goes to show they might not be infallible when it comes to such things) here you are. The original letter was quite different than this one, but current circumstances are quite different than they were then. The main reasons for remembering you in my will remain valid, so here you are.
The trunk contains some documents granting the bearer an interest in various muggle and wizarding companies along with some books that I selected based upon what I was able to observe about you. I now realize that you’re thinking about having a career as a quidditch player (tell Gwenog that she still owes me for standing me up that time) to look forward to, but you have the abilities for other options, and some of the things I’ve left to you may help with that.
While the original letter dealt with this more fully, I’m glad that you and Harry were able to sort out things and remain close friends after the lingering effects of what happened to you were resolved. I’m truly sorry that no one noticed what had happened to you that year, and it’s a tribute to your strength of character and will that you were able to carry on with that burden.
The next thing I’m going to say isn’t being said because of anything you have done or haven’t done, but I’m pointing this out to you because I’ve taken an interest in your happiness and future (which is a bit bizarre considering I’m dead, but humor an old dog, if you will). Circumstance has conspired to create a situation where you, at a very young age, owe both Harry and Hermione a Wizard’s Debt, actually two in the case of Harry.
I know that you would never betray either of them, and that it will probably never occur to either of them, but you and I know that these things have an impact upon a witch whether she likes it or not. While I have no doubt that Hermione could recite you chapter and verse about wizard debts, being muggle-born she probably doesn’t understand all of the implications and would never consider the relationship that she and Harry have with you in those terms.
The two of them care deeply about you and their first thoughts, once they clearly realized what had occurred to them, were about you and your brother and what their relationship would do to you two.
I’m not a seer, but it doesn’t take one to see that there may come a time when these debts come into play. Fate has a funny way of arranging things like that, and while you shouldn’t dwell upon it, I’m mentioning this so you might be ready for it when the time comes. Again, if you were to so choose, some of the trinkets I’ve left to you might assist you with that.
Before you start thinking of me in the same sense as Sibyll ‘you’re all going to die a horrible death’ Trelawney, I’m going to close this. Since I’m still around, in a manner of speaking, ask Harry or Hermione if you can hitch a ride to their honeymoon cottage if you feel the need to talk to an old dog. Maeve is looking forward to meeting you and I have the uneasy feeling that the two of you will get along famously.
Your brother Fred sends his love and he said to remind you that if you’re going to pull any pranks in Australia, that you need to reverse any turn instructions since things down under are widdershins to what you’re used to.
May peace and contentment find you, Ginevra. Never doubt yourself, you’re a wonderful witch and while Molly tends to be a bit overprotective, I know she’s as proud of you as I am. Though I don’t know with whom or when, I’m certain you’ll find the happiness you deserve.
Tell Luna her Mum sends her best and she’s very happy for her and your brother.
James and Lily send their best to everyone. Tell your father that he has nothing he should regret, what happened to them, happened for a reason.
Please humor me and wear that necklace that’s in the vault at least once. As paranoid as the Black’s were, you’ll find that the enchantments on it might come in handy in the coming months.
With Love and Affection
Crying silently for the loss that Harry had suffered when he lost his godfather, Ginny shook her head, wondering what Harry would be like today if this man had raised him as his parents had originally planned. Composing herself, she took comfort in the fact that Harry had had as much time with his godfather as he had, and that he would be able to spend limited amounts of time with him in the future.
Smiling ruefully at that thought as she looked over the lines of ink penned on parchment, she saw some of the same traits that Harry had, the looking out for everyone, the self dismissal, the wry sense of humor, and realized that there was more to Sirius Black than anyone had given him credit for. No, Lily and James had correctly assessed their friend and found him to be a suitable godfather for their child.
Standing, she brushed the dust from her jeans and looked around the vault. Taking a moment to take it all in, she glanced momentarily at the stacks of coins and the trunk, before focusing her attention on the velvet covered shelf that reflected the light in a tantalizing manner.
Stepping forward, she inhaled sharply at the display before her. A pair of earrings, a broach, a pair of rings, and a necklace lay glittering in the light. Remembering Sirius’ request, she focused her attention on the necklace.
Resting on the velvet cushioning, Ginny could see that the necklace was made up of a series of gemstones interspersed with goblin silver links. The majority of the stones were reddish gemstones that she recognized from potions as sards or carnelians. A pair of moonstones, a pair of pieces of polished jet and a pair of tsavorites completed the effect. Idly tracing a finger over the stones, she could feel a bit of energy stored in the necklace, along with a feeling of anticipation almost.
Sighing, she picked up the jewelry and hefted it in her hand. The feeling of anticipation seemed to grow as she looked at the links of goblin silver and gemstones with a thoughtful gaze. Trusting Sirius, she unfastened the clasp and brought the necklace around her neck.
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