It was hard for Harry to describe the change he felt inside. His life just seemed, somehow, more complete. Early on, he had been raised as a muggle, but never seemed to fit in. Then he had learned that he was a wizard, and his life became a duel one. He always felt more at home with life as a wizard, but every summer he was thrust back into the muggle world. For the first time he felt that his life was his own, and the choices for it were his to make as he saw fit.
Harry was happier than he had been in years as he sat in the car and listened to everything that had been going on in the Weasley household over the summer. The car, which did not fly, was Ron’s birthday present from a very prosperous Fred and George. Apparently, they were doing so well that they were considering opening another store in Hogsmead, since a good portion of their business came from Hogwarts students.
The long ride in the car seemed to fly by for Harry, and before he knew it, Ron pulled over and parked just outside The Leaky Cauldron. Harry was planning to stay there for the night after getting all of his school supplies for the year from Diagon Alley. According to Ron, they were also supposed to meet Hermione there for dinner.
“I thought Hermione was in France with her parents,” Harry had said to Ron.
“She decided to come back early,” Ron had told him.
As Harry stepped out of the car, he realized that Ginny was getting out of the back seat. She had sat in the back and not said a word for the entire trip, letting Harry and Ron catch up. It was at that moment that Harry recognized the battle that had been going on within him since they got in the car. He had forced himself not to turn around where he could see her during the trip. He was afraid he would go numb again and be unable to take his eyes off of her.
Harry knew that he had been right, as he watched her every movement very closely as she exited the car. He had been so stupid. He had never seen her as she really was. He knew why that was though. Ron had always been like a brother to him, so he had always thought of Ginny as more of a little sister. For some reason, that had changed and he felt as though he was seeing her for the first time.
“Are you just going to stand there?” Ron asked shaking Harry from his thoughts. “I thought you might like to go in and get a butterbeer, but if you have other things to keep you occupied I’ll wait.”
“No,” Harry said, blushing as Ginny grinned, “we can go in. I just had something in my eyes.”
Ron went in the door to The Leaky Cauldron, and Harry followed, but held the door and stood aside to let Ginny go in before him.
“Thanks, Harry,” Ginny said. “I’m glad to see that some people still know how to be nice to a girl.”
“My pleasure, Miss Weasley,” Harry said with a slight bow that made Ginny giggle to herself as she passed.
“Ah, Harry,” Tom the bartender said as he walked in, “good to see you again.”
“How have you been, Tom?” Harry asked.
“I can’t really complain,” Tom answered.
“I’ll need a room for the night if you have one, Tom,” Harry said.
“Already got one waiting for you, Harry,” Tom responded.
“Mum made all of the arrangements ahead of time for you,” Ron explained. “We’ll all be staying here tonight and then leaving for the Burrow tomorrow.”
“A more thoughtful woman there never was, I swear,” Harry said. “She takes care of me like I was one of her own.”
“Come on, Harry,” Ron said. “You know you’ve been like part of the family to her since she helped you get on to platform nine and three quarters that first time. She has an unusual tendency to get attached to people quickly.”
“I don’t mind,” Harry said. “It feels kind of nice to be mothered every now and then.”
“You don’t have to live with it day in and day out, mate,” Ron said. “I’m sure you’ll get all the attention you could ever want while you’re staying with us, Harry,” Ginny said.
At that moment, Harry knew that he would dearly love some attention, but not necessarily from Mrs. Weasley. She was becoming like a drug to him that he couldn’t get enough of. Little Ginny Weasley, the girl who had held a crush on Harry since they had first met, but she had gotten over those feelings when Harry was too busy to notice her. How desperately he wanted to get those years back now. If only he could go back in time and shake some sense into himself.
“…butterbeer?” Ron asked. “Harry. Harry.”
Coming back to reality once again, Harry said, “I’m sorry, Ron. What did you say?”
“I asked you if you wanted a butterbeer before we go to Diagon Alley.” Ron said.
“Oh, sorry,” Harry said. “I think we had better go ahead and get our things if we want to be back here in time for dinner with Hermione.”
“Right,” Ron said, “to Diagon Alley then.”
When they were through the portal and walking down Diagon Alley, Ginny asked, “Are you alright, Harry?”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“It just seems like you have something on your mind, today,” Ginny said.
“Well of course he has things on his mind,” Ron scolded her. “We talked about that before we picked him up. Harry is facing things that no one should have to this year, and he doesn’t need us to pester him about them.”
“Actually,” Harry said, “I haven’t thought about Voldemort all day. I just have other things on my mind right now.”
“Like what?” Ron asked.”
“Ron…” Ginny began to say.
“Hermione,” Harry said cutting her off.
“What?” Ron asked.
“It’s Hermione,” Harry said as he pointed to the steps outside of Fred and George’s shop.
“She wasn’t supposed to be here yet,” Ron said with a bit too much of a grin on his face.
“Careful, Ron,” Ginny said. “If you smile any more she’ll know.”
“Oh shut up, Ginny,” Ron said making an effort to take the smile off of his face.
“Know what?” Harry said.
“All summer long it’s all we’ve heard,” Ginny said. “Hermione this and Hermione that.”
“I said shut up, Ginny,” Ron said as his ears turned a scarlet color.
“Don’t tell me you still haven’t told her yet,” Harry said. “You haven’t seen her all summer and you couldn’t even bring yourself to put it in a letter?”
“That is not something you put in a letter,” Ron said. “I’m just not ready yet so don’t either of you dare say anything.”
“Men,” Ginny said rolling her eyes. “If they only knew how long women sit around and wait for them to just admit how they feel.”
Harry was so stunned by what Ginny had said that he nearly tripped over his own feet. Hermione saw them and ran out in the alley to meet them.
“Harry,” Hermione said as she gave him a hug. “It’s good to see you.”
“Its good to see you too,” Harry said.
“Ginny,” Hermione said moving to hug her, “you look great. How have you been?”
“Fine,” Ginny said. “How are you?”
“Never better,” Hermione said as she began to move toward Ron. “Ron, anything new since your last letter?”
“Uh, no,” Ron said as he hugged her a little longer than a mere friend would.
“I thought you weren’t going to get here until tonight,” Ginny said.
“A spot came open on an earlier flight, so I decided to come back early so I could spend more time with all of you,” Hermione said. “I waited here in front of the joke shop figuring you would come by here sooner or later.”
“This is the first place we stopped,” Harry said. “I thought it would be safer to stop here before I went and got money from Gringotts.”
“It’s a good thing you did,” Hermione said. “Fred and George seem anxious to talk to you about something, Harry.”
“Me?” Harry asked surprised. “What about?”
“I don’t know,” Hermione said, “but they got excited when I showed up thinking you may be with me.”
“Do you have any idea what it may be about, Ron?” Harry asked.
“Nothing they’ve told me about,” Ron said.
“Well then I guess I had better find out what it is,” Harry said. “I expect they want me to try some new candy that will make my head explode and then grow back or something.”
Harry had barely made it through the door when Fred and George spotted him and converged on him with wide grins on their faces.
“Glad you finally made it, Harry,” Fred said.
“Thought you would never get here,” George said.
“Its good to see you guys too,” Harry said. “So, I hear you wanted to see me about something.”
“How right you are, Harry,” George said excitedly.
“All you have to do is say yes and we can start shipping them out today,” Fred said.
“Wait a minute,” Harry said. “What exactly am I supposed to say yes to?”
“Sorry about that, Harry,” George said.
“Right, sorry, Harry,” Fred said
“We’re just really eager to get a new product into production,” George said.
“And we need your approval before we can ship it out,” Fred explained. “We haven’t even advertised it yet, just had a demonstration model in the shop here for two weeks, and we already have a huge list of preorders if we can get it into production.”
“That’s great,” Harry said, “but you still haven’t told me what it is or why you need my approval.”
“You’ll see,” George said. George and Fred led the group to the back of the shop, and pointed to what looked like a tiny model of the Ministry of Magic.
“I still don’t get it,” Harry said. “Why did you need me?”
“Watch this and you’ll get it,” George said.
Fred turned to the model and said, “Harry Potter.”
The group watched as a green mist formed above the model and then slowly coalesced into a miniature version of the Dark Mark.
“That’s really awful to link Harry’s name to that,” Ginny said.
Fred turned to her and said, “Just watch.”
They stared at the model with the dark Mark floating above it and soon noticed another white mist forming near it. The white mist began to swirl and soon formed itself into a very realistic depiction of Harry’s head. The head turned to face the Dark Mark and looked at it for a second. Then it opened its mouth and enveloped the Dark Mark. They watched as Harry’s head chewed for a while before swallowing and giving a small burp. Then the head dissipated and the whole thing started over again.
“Hogwarts,” George said and the scene stopped altogether.
“So, what do you think?” Fred said smiling.
“You have got to be kidding,” Harry said still half believing they were playing a joke on him.
“What do you mean, kidding?” Fred asked, his smile fading.
“Why would anyone ever buy a thing like that?” Harry asked. “You guys don’t really think you could sell this do you?”
“Show him,” George said to Fred.
Fred went behind the counter and retrieved a stack of papers that he put down next to the model and said, “These people say we can sell it. They all reserved one just in case it went into production.”
“And not one of them cared how much it cost,” George said. “I tell you everyone will want one of these.”
“I don’t know guys,” Harry said. “I really have spent the last few years trying to live down the ‘famous Harry Potter’ label. I think this will look as though I’m conceited or something.”
“I think it puts into a visual form the hopes of the entire wizarding world, Harry,” Fred said.
“That’s what these customers have told us so far,” George said putting his hand on the stack of orders.
“We aren’t just in this for the money, Harry” Fred told him. “Voldemort’s power comes from the fear that he inspires in people. We see this as a small way to counteract that power.”
“I think it’s brilliant,” Ron said suddenly.
“Really?” Harry asked him.
“Just look at us, Harry,” Ron said. “A few years ago, not one of us would dare even whisper Voldemort’s name. Then you came along, saying it at the drop of a hat. It took a wile, but we finally realized that doom didn’t befall you just because you said his name. If this thing can inspire that kind of hope in just one person who buys it, I say it’s worth it.”
“I have to say that I agree with Ron,” Hermione said. “This is bigger than just you, Harry.
“Like it or not, Harry,” Ginny began, “this may not be great for you, but it is exactly what the rest of the wizarding world is asking for.”
“But what will it do to their hope if I lose,” Harry said seriously.
None of them had a response for him as a sudden pang of guilt shot through each of them for not understanding the pressure it would put on Harry. It was bad enough that he was going to have to fight a battle that he may not win, but they were asking him for permission to profit from his misery.
“Sorry, Harry,” Fred said. “We’ll keep this product to ourselves.”
Harry thought very seriously for a moment before looking at Fred and saying, “No. I want you to sell as many of these things as you can. If I do lose, the fight won’t just end there. There have to be enough people out there who believe in what we stand for to pick up where I left off. You were right. Part of Voldemort’s power comes from fear. If this is what it takes to eliminate some of that fear, so be it.”
Harry’s mood was a bit soured from his earlier happiness, so he told everyone that he was going to run over to Gringotts to get his money before they went shopping.
“I’ll go with you, Harry,” Ron told him.
“No, Ron,” Harry said still very serious. “You stay here and look around. I’ll meet you all back here when I’m done.”
Harry turned and walked out of the shop, taking up a brisk walk and forcing his mind to settle. By the time he had made the short walk to the front doors of Gringotts, he had managed to regain his composure enough to regret being so harsh to the people who had always been there for him when he needed it most.
Before Harry pulled the door open that would take him onto the bank, he paused long enough to turn and take a look at where he had just come from. She was there. She was standing right where he, even as he had tried to control the anger rising inside him, had wished her to be. Ginny stood on the steps in front of the joke shop and watched him. The longer he looked at her, the more Harry felt the happiness returning to him. It soon became clear that he wasn’t going to be able to move another inch further from her, so he did the only thing he could.
Harry waved to Ginny to join him. Ginny was surprised that Harry had changed his mind about wanting company, but she wasn’t going to refuse his request. She had been afraid that Harry had been on the verge of another of his temper flares, but as she ran over to him she noticed that a small grin had reappeared on his face.
“Thanks, Harry,” Ginny said as she came to within a few feet of him. “I’ve never been inside Gringotts before. I was really hoping to see it.”
“You’re kidding,” Harry said. “How could you never have been in here before?”
“Mum always kept us looking around the shops while Dad went in,” Ginny said. “I suspect she didn’t want Fred and George trying to make deals with the goblins.”
“I can see where she might have that fear,” Harry said with a smile.
He held open the door and once again allowed her to pass inside first. The ride down to Harry’s vault had never seemed to pass so quickly. Then again, Harry had never sat beside Ginny on the trip before either. Once the car had stopped, Harry got out and offered his hand to Ginny to assist her exit.
As her hand came into contact with his, Harry felt a warmth course up his arm and spread throughout his body. He felt so comfortable that he had to consciously remind himself to let her hand go when she was safely out of the car.
The goblin that made the trip with them unlocked the vault and swung the door aside; revealing what to Harry was a familiar sight. To Ginny though, it was nothing short of amazing. Stack after stack of gold Galleons stood in the vault glittering in the light from the lantern.
“Harry,” Ginny said trying to regain her normal breathing pattern, “I had no idea. All of this is yours?”
“Yes,” Harry said. “My parents left it for me.”
“There must be millions of Galleons here,” Ginny said.
“At last count,” the goblin said from behind them, “twelve million seven hundred and forty one thousand one hundred and fifty seven.”
“Harry,” Ginny said barely able to contain herself, “you realize that Lucius Malfoy is estimated to be worth no more than eight million Galleons.”
“I guess I just never really thought about it,” Harry said. “I don’t think I ever even asked how much was in here before. I just come here every year before school starts and take out a little for shopping in Hogsmead and things like that. Come to think of it, I think there may be more in here then there was when I first started taking money out.”
“Gringotts is very prompt with interest payments, Mr. Potter,” the goblin said.
“I earn interest on all of this?” Harry asked a bit surprised.
“Of course,” the goblin answered.
“You may have to move it to a bigger vault if you don’t spend it any faster than you have been, Harry,” Ginny said still amazed with the incredible sight.
“In that case,” Harry began, “school supplies are on me this year.”
“Harry,” Ginny said, “I can’t let you do that. I wasn’t looking for a handout.”
“I wasn’t offering one,” Harry said. “I’m just beginning to pay off a debt.”
“What debt?” Ginny asked.
“The debt I owe to your parents,” Harry said. “Your mum may think of me as one of her own, but I’m not really. They took me in, fed me, and taught me what a family was supposed to be like. I figure that has to be worth something. It’s meant more to me than I could ever say.”
“But, Harry…” Ginny began.
“I want to do it, Ginny,” Harry said. “I don’t feel obligated to. I just want to.”
Ginny looked into Harry’s eyes and saw sincerity in them that she could not doubt, and said, “Alright then, Harry, if it means that much to you.”
“It does,” Harry said, as he examined the way the light sparkled in her eyes. He was secretly hoping that this would not be the last visit to the vault they made together.
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