The Goblins’ Payback
Charles, Mavis, and James arrived early at Gringotts a week before term was to start so they could get James’ books and new robes for school. Charles knew that Mavis had been a little nervous wondering if James would get his Hogwarts letter this term, given what Dumbledore had done to his godson last term, but it appeared that the Headmaster had come to his senses and there was nothing for her to worry about. James’ letter had arrived right on schedule, along with his list of books for third year. James had elected to take Divination, because it was an easy class, and Care of Magical Creatures as well, because Charles said it would look good for his son to be interested in nature, give something to all the bleeding-heart nature wizards out there and garner support for his campaign.
James was eager to help his father any way he could, he’d even thought of a plan to sneak some of his father’s campaign badges into the Gryffindor dorm and hand them out to those he trusted. He would get Mary to give them out to the girls she thought would support Charles’ campaign.
The three Potters headed into the bank so Charles could withdraw money from his vault. As they marched up to where a goblin stood behind an empty teller desk, Charles felt an odd wave of almost . . . disapproval wash over him. Then he shrugged the feeling off. The goblins were not ones to disapprove of what wizards did or didn’t do, their only job was to watch over the wizarding bank and the gold contained in it.
He elbowed another couple out of the way so he could get to the teller first.
“How may I help you, sir?” the goblin asked.
“I’m Charles Potter and I need to make a withdrawal from my vault. Here’s my key,” Charles pulled out the key from his pocket and made as if to hand it to the goblin.
“I can’t accept it, sir,” the goblin said swiftly, an expression of distaste crossing his face.
“What? What are you talking about?” Charles demanded. “I need the money from my vault.”
“I believe I shall let you speak to the bank manager, Magnus Ironhand,” the goblin replied. He rang a bell sitting on his desk. “Step aside, Mr. Potter. The manager shall be here shortly.”
Muttering angrily, Charles did so. Mavis peered around worriedly. “What’s going on, Charles. How come they wouldn’t accept your key?”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure it’s just a stupid mistake made by an inexperienced teller. I’m going to complaint to the manager as soon as we see him . . .” Charles growled.
Five minutes later a goblin wearing a fine three piece suit came towards them.
Charles glared at the goblin impatiently. “Are you the bank manager?”
“I am. Magnus Ironhand. I would like to talk with you, Mr. Potter.”
“Well, I need to talk to you too, about the incompetence of your staff!” Charles began. “You really need to train your people better. Imagine, refusing to take my key! I’ll have you know that my patronage in this institution is of ultimate importance now that I’m running for Minister—”
“Yes, yes, goblins don’t involve themselves in wizarding politics,” Magnus brushed Charles’ words aside. “And my staff is superbly trained. I instructed all of my people to call me as soon as you came through the doors. Come with me.”
“Oh, I see! The VIP treatment!” Charles beamed. “Come along honey, Jamie. See I told you this would all be resolved right quick.”
They followed the bank manager to his office, which was done in shades of gray, black, and gold, austere as befitted the manager of an old reputable institution like Gringotts.
Magnus came and shut the door and then went and pulled a sheaf of papers from the top of the pile on his desk.
“Mr. Potter, due to your extreme prejudice against goblinkind, as stated in your public debate weeks before, I and the other heads of Gringotts have decided to terminate your account with us forthwith. It is clear that you do not wish to have contact with those who—as you put it—tarnish your image and we do not want to deal with a wizard who has such a low regard for us. So . . . it is best for all involved for us to let you go.”
Charles was stunned. Surely he had not heard right. “But . . . there must be a mistake!”
“No mistake. Unless you will claim to being under the Imperius before going into the debate.”
“Of course not! I meant every word of that debate!” Charles began hotly. Then he realized what he had said, and tried to cover, but it was too late. “Look, no hard feelings, right? I said what I had to, and it’s not like you care what happens in the wizarding world anyway, all you care about is money . . .”
Magnus bared his teeth at the wizard. “Gold is the currency which you wizards need, and we goblins had an agreement with you to supply the raw materials, but that does not mean we are without honor. Or without pride in ourselves as a nation. You have deeply insulted us, Charles Potter, and were this another time, we would have come to you with swords in hand and demanded restitution in blood! However, times have changed, and we are more . . . civilized, so we will simply ask you to leave.”
“Leave?” cried Mavis. “But . . . but . . . where shall we go? Gringotts is THE wizard bank, there is no other! What shall we do with the money in our vault? And the . . . the magical objects and heirlooms? You cannot do this, you smelly creature! You simply cannot!”
“Madam, it is done. As of early this morning, I drew up papers severing all ties with us and my staff packed up your vault contents and will give them to you at the lobby doors. All you need to do is sign here.” He shoved a quill and a piece of parchment at Charles.
“I won’t! You can’t do this! We wizards own you!”
“We are not your slaves!” Magnus snapped. “And we will not be spoken of as lesser beings, nor worry about you and yours treating our children like dirt. Sign, Mr. Potter! Or else we shall repossess all the contents of your vault.”
“Hey! You can’t do that!” Jamie blurted.
“You will be silent unless spoken to, you spoiled child!” Magnus growled.
“Charles . . . they can’t just take all our money . . .”
“Sign, Mr. Potter! Otherwise I shall tell my staff to start distributing the contents to needy goblin families . . .”
“Like hell you will!” Charles grabbed the quill and signed.
Magnus took the paper and it glowed for a moment. “Signed and witnessed. Now, leave my bank, Mr. Potter. And remember, you brought this on yourself.”
“I’m going to sue! As soon as I call my barrister, your ass is going to be hauled up in court so fast . . .” Charles cried.
Magnus was unimpressed. “Goblins are not subject to wizard laws, Potter, but by all means issue a summons. It will give me something to laugh about with my relatives at dinner. Now . . . be gone! Your vault contents are at the doors.”
Mavis gasped. “Quick, Charles! We must get to them before someone steals them!”
They rushed out of the office.
They found several boxes and burlap sacks waiting for them right beside the lobby doors, with a single goblin standing over them.
Mavis wrung her hands. “Oh, the nerve of those—those goblins! Why, we’ve been patrons of this bank for centuries! How can they have the right to do this!”
“They don’t, my dear. But we will take our things and go. They haven’t heard the end of this or my name’s not Charles Potter!” He began shrinking boxes and burlap sacks and putting them in his pockets. Mavis did the same.
James stood there, then said, “Dad, what can we do? Am I still getting my books and things?”
“Yes, of course, but I need to get these things home first, Jamie. I’ll take you back to Diagon Alley another time, son.”
The Potters were so busy filling their pockets with all their wordly goods that they didn’t notice Rita Skeeter standing there, writing rapidly in her notebook, a satisfied smile upon her face.
Severus and his grandparents, together with the Black Cloaks, and Lily and her family, were busy shopping several stores down from the bank, and so missed all the excitement the Potters were generating. Marius had to stop in and talk with Ollivander about a case he was overseeing for the wandmaker, a customer was suing him for having a wand malfunction, and as he went with Ollivander into the back room, Petunia, Lily, and Severus stood in the main shop, looking about at all the wands in their boxes.
“Remember when we first came here, Sev?’ Lily asked. “I was so nervous I almost walked out, thinking no wand would ever choose me.”
“Me too, even though I was a Prince. I thought maybe my being a half-blood would make a difference. I should have known better.” He patted his wand in its holster.
A young man around Petunia’s age walked out of the back room. He was dressed in long green and brown robes and was sandy haired with gorgeous blue eyes and a kindly demeanor. “Hello. I’m Salem, Ollivander’s son. Do you require assistance?”
Lily shook her head and Severus said, “No, thank you. Lily and I already have our wands.”
Salem nodded. Then he turned to Petunia. “And I assume you do as well.”
“No. Actually I’m not . . . a witch. Though my little sister Lily is. How do you do? I’m Petunia Evans.” She held out a hand for Salem to shake.
Startled, the wizard did so. “I never would have guessed, Miss Evans. You seem so . . . poised, not at all like some Muggles who come into my father’s shop. Usually they’re spooked by magic.”
“Lily and Severus here have pretty much made me immune to that,” Petunia laughed. “They’ve been doing magic around me for years, since before they were school age, Mr. Ollivander.”
“Please, call me Salem. Or Sal, everyone does. Mr. Ollivander is my father, not me,” Salem said, blushing.
Petunia smiled shyly at him. She had never felt so at ease with a wizard before, except for Lily and Severus and they didn’t count. “And you must call me Petunia, or Tuney . . . Sal.”
“I would be delighted . . . Tuney. Are you here to speak with my father?”
“My grandfather is Marius Prince,” Severus spoke up. “He’s with your dad right now talking with him.”
“Ah, yes! Now I remember! Dad told me about his visit, but I forgot, I was so busy.” Salem shook his head. “Would you care for some tea? Cakes? Crumpets with strawberry jam?”
“Well, if it won’t put you out,” Petunia began.
“Not at all.” Salem said, waving his wand.
A tray with a tea set and a plate with cakes and crumpets and a jam jar appeared on the counter. There was also milk and sugar, cups, saucers, napkins, and spoons with it.
“Help yourselves,” Salem invited.
Petunia, Lily, and Severus did so, and Salem had a cup of tea also, just to be polite.
They chatted about the weather, it was nice and sunny, and what Houses Lily and Severus were in at Hogwarts. Salem was a former Hufflepuff, and said that gave him a view most people didn’t have, since they didn’t have a rabid House rivalry like the Slytherins and most Gryffindors did.
“But you are a pureblood, right?” Petunia asked hesitantly.
“Yes, but my family believes that we should try and co-exist with Muggles, and don’t look down on them for not having magic,” explained Salem. “Dad would have my hide if I behaved like some of these rich pureblood kids do, sneering and hexing Muggles and calling it pranks.”
“Like Potter and MacDonald do,” Lily said darkly.
“Bad form, that. Gives us all a bad name,” Salem said disapprovingly. “I hope you enjoy your time here at Diagon Alley, Petunia.”
“Thank you, Sal. I shall, if all the wizards I meet are as welcoming as you.”
Salem blushed. “It’s nothing, Miss Petunia. Just how I was raised.”
Five minutes later, Marius and Ollivander emerged from his office. Marius greeted Salem, and declined his offer of tea and cakes. “Forgive me, but we must be going, I’m afraid we have a schedule to keep. Come along, children!”
They bid goodbye to the Ollivanders, meeting up with the rest of their group outside the shop. It was decided they would go to Flourish and Blotts first and then stop for lunch. Severus was hoping to meet up with some of their friends at the bookshop, since a lot of them would be getting their books today too.
Orion opened the paper the next morning as he drank his morning coffee and ate his breakfast of poached eggs, toast, bacon, and fresh fruit. His eyebrows went up as he saw what the morning headline was. Potter Family Evicted From Gringotts Bank, Contents of Vault Thrown in the Street! The Goblins Strike Back After Being Insulted by Potter During Debate!
“Anything interesting today, Orion?” asked Walburga as she buttered a piece of toast.
“Did the Wasps win the Cup, Dad?” asked Sirius as he ate some eggs.
“I don’t know yet, son. Haven’t read that section. But here’s something for you, Walla. It seems the Potters have finally gotten what’s coming to them. And while I shouldn’t gloat, I can’t help but feel satisfied that pompous windbag has finally gotten the stuffing knocked out of him.”
“Orion, what do you mean?”
“Here. Read for yourself,” he handed his wife the paper.
Walburga’s eyes widened. “Merlin’s hat! That’s never happened before, has it?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“What happened, Dad?” asked Regulus. “Did somebody sue the Potters for being such dumbarses?”
“Regulus!” Orion rebuked.
“Sorry . . . but it’s true. They are.”
“Though I don’t approve of you using that language, Regulus, I’d have to agree with you,” Walburga said. “They are what you said. And this proves it. Imagine, being thrown out of Gringotts!”
“They got thrown out of Gringotts?” Sirius gasped. “But isn’t that . . . impossible?”
“Obviously not, since the goblins did it,” Orion said. “I wonder what Potter will do now for a bank?”
“This will really put a crimp in his plans for campaigning for Minister,” said Walburga. “A blow like this might just do in his whole campaign.”
“Good!” Sirius said. “He couldn’t run wizarding Britain with both hands, a lit wand, a map, and someone to kiss his ass!”
“Sirius!” Walburga cried.
“Sorry, Mother, but you don’t want him to get in, do you?”
“No, it would be terrible. For all of us. But your father’s right, we shouldn’t gloat. It’s bad manners.”
Sirius nodded, but he thought silently that a little gloating wouldn’t come amiss the next time he crossed paths with James.
Finally, the first day of school arrived. Severus got a large compartment with Lily, Remus, Pete, Alice, Frank, Jane, Emily, Tav, and Caddaric. Reg and Sirius showed up a moment later, followed by Dorian. Everyone got settled, and then they began to whisper about the hot topic of the day—the eviction of the Potters from the bank. It was the biggest scandal to ever happen to a pureblood family in centuries, in fact no one could remember it ever occurring before, and the kids discussed how good it felt to watch the stuck-up Potters get what they deserved for once.
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer family!” Peter hooted and the rest of them clapped and cheered.
“I wonder if that will make Pothead act less like a toerag this year?” Lily mused.
“Only if he swallowed a Personality Altering Draft,” snorted Severus.
“Fat chance of that!” sneered Dorian.
“I can’t wait to see his face at the feast,” Sirius said. “Actually, I can, because he makes me want to puke, but I want to see how he handles his dad not being some big shot important prat any more.”
“We all want to see that,” Jane said.
The others nodded.
They played Exploding Snape and other card games or read for the duration of the ride on the Express, then got into two carriages once the train arrived at the platform.
Severus looked and saw James riding in a carriage with Mary and two other Gryffindors he didn’t know that well, a boy with a ratlike face and a girl with a nose that looked like it was permanently out of joint.
He sighed and hoped the Sorting went quickly this year, for he was unusually hungry and wanted to eat before returning to his common room and listening to the House speech Slughorn gave every year upon their return. But he was also anxious to see how Potter reacted when someone confronted him over the scandal.
James slid into his usual spot beside Mary and his two new companions, both purebloods. The boy was called Daniel Andrew MacTavish III, and the girl, a friend of Mary’s, was named Lisa Troyer. He gazed about and saw Black and Evans whispering together, and said loudly, “Well, well. Looks like Black’s gone slumming with Evans!”
Sirius jerked his head up and scowled at James. “Hello, Potty. Funny thing you should mention slumming, since there’s mud stuck all over you. How’s it feel to be the first family to ever get thrown out of Gringotts? Bet your dad’s really proud of that accomplishment!”
James clenched his fist around his wand. “Shut your mouth, Black! At least my dad isn’t a dark wizard like yours is!”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Really, can’t you come up with a different insult, Pothead? That one’s so old even my grandma knows it. But I guess that’s what you can expect from a member of a family that hasn’t had a new thought since the Dark Ages. Wake up and smell the pumpkin juice, Potter! Oh, by the way, where’s your dad keeping his gold these days? Under the mattress? Or the floorboards?”
James looked like he was going to hex Sirius, but then McGonagall appeared and said, “Would you please quiet down and behave? The Sorting’s about to start, now hush!”
The table hushed, and the witch went back up to the staff table to watch and see who become a member of her House this year. She hoped whoever did so was not so shortsighted and prejudiced as Charles Potter’s son and his cronies. The last thing they needed was more of their ilk.