Something Old, Something New
Appar ently, getting started with their shopping meant that they had to get done all the boring stuff first. They spent the next few hours picking out all the little things that are involved in a wedding, the very same things that had Ginny mentally banging her head on the table the night before. Once they had finished with the last of the minute wedding details, they gathered in the Leaky Cauldron again for lunch. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny discussed what sort of wedding robes she wanted with Gram and Aunt Petunia, while Ron and Harry talked with Remus and Mr. Weasley talked about their robes. Hermione's parents arrived to visit with their daughter, and amongst the three of them and Sirius, talk was about ancient runes of power. Sirius at one point tugged down the collar of his shirt to show them a few different runes from many cultures that all meant protection. Harry began to listen to their discussion then, at first wondering why Sirius had chosen to mark his skin permanently with such an odd subject; he wasn't the bookish type, and he'd never once spoke about ancient runes. Then Sirius answered Mr. Granger's question as to when he had gotten the tattoos; the summer of 1994 after he'd been officially declared innocent of working for You-Know-Who. Harry realized with a jolt that it wasn't any interest in ancient runes that had led his godfather to tattoo himself with protection runes. Harry watched Sirius describe a few he had on his back to the Grangers with a new found feeling of respect. He must have chosen them out of fear of the Dementors.
They finished their lunch sometime around one o'clock, leaving the Leaky Cauldron for the shopping center again. Mr. and Mrs. Granger left as well, saying goodbye to Hermione and waving to the others. The two conjoining families — Harry had decided long ago that Hermione counted as his sister — made their way to Madam Malkin's to begin their search for dress robes.
It was then that the group diverged; Mrs. Weasley insisted on keeping the tradition that Harry not be allowed to see Ginny's robes, nor Ginny see Harry's, though she did not seem to realize that they would see each other's robes no matter what through their bond. They decided not to mention that to her. They agreed to take a break in a few hours time, and meet at Florean Fortescue's for ice cream at three. Ginny, Hermione, and Ginny's mum carried on to another shop, specializing in bridal robes, while Harry went with Ron, Remus, Sirius, and Ron's father into Madam Malkin's.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Potter," Madam Malkin greeted them as they entered her shop. "Through here, I have reserved a room for your appointment."
Harry raised his eyebrows at Sirius, having not been aware that they had an appointment. Sirius shrugged. Madam Malkin led them into a room off the main shop, which had several racks of dress robes that she suggested he look through. She asked him what the color scheme for the wedding was, and Remus answered her.
"Red and gold, ah, over here," Madam Malkin directed him toward a rack near the back. "I recommend golds, with soft reds and whites."
"Thank you," Harry told her, not knowing what else to say. Madam Malkin gave a nod, then started towards the door.
"A shop assistant will be here to help you with fittings in just a moment," she assured them, leaving the room.
Harry looked blankly at the rack of robes. He slipped into Ginny's mind for a moment and saw that she was doing the exact same thing.
I think we shouldn't match too much.
Mum says I can't have any red in my robes.
So I should get reds?
Probably. You don't have red hair.
Harry lifted the sleeve of a black shirt, to realize that the sleeve was adorned with streaks of red sparkle nearer the shoulder. He dropped it quickly.
"Here's one," Ron said, taking out a garishly orange suit with black accents. Harry laughed at it.
"He's looking for wedding robes, not something to go ice dancing in," Sirius admonished Ron.
"What's wrong with orange?" Ron asked.
Ron is not allowed to have orange robes.
"Ron, you're not allowed to have orange robes," Harry said.
Ron scowled. "I like orange," he muttered under his breath, putting away the ice dancer's suit.
Harry returned to the racks, looking through them for anything that caught his fancy. As the five of them searched, they would occasionally lift a set of robes from a rack and set it on a separate rack to be judged again later. The rack soon filled, and Harry felt tired with looking.
"Let's try to narrow the selections," Remus suggested to him, touching his shoulder and leading him to the rack of his possible choices. Harry glanced over it, then lifted off a white and gold set and put it back. Sirius looked disappointed.
"Hello, Mr. Potter?" a man with pale blonde hair stuck his head in the room. "Ah, you've already started! Excellent."
The man entered the room and bowed slightly to them. "My name is Finch, Greggory Finch, I've been asked to help you with your wedding robes."
Harry began to feel slightly uncomfortable with the amount of people that knew he was shopping for wedding robes at that point.
Mr. Weasley stepped forward, holding out his hand to Finch. "I'm Arthur Weasley," he introduced himself, "father of the bride. This is my son, Ron." Ron waved.
"Remus Lupin," Remus said as he shook Finch's hand.
"I'm Sirius Black, Harry's godfather," Sirius added as he took Finch's hand.
"It's very nice to meet you all," Finch told them, giving another slight bow. "I gather that you have picked through the room; these are your top choices?" he asked, touching the rack.
"Yes," Harry said. "I, well, all of us picked those out, I haven't looked at all of them yet."
"Well, let's see here," Finch said, turning his attention to the rack of robes. "Hmm… I would advise you avoid these brighter reds," he said, lifting a set of black and red robes from the rack. "They would clash with your eyes."
"They would?" Harry said. He had liked that one.
"Yes," Finch told him, "more subtle reds, those would work, especially if you paired them with gold. Malkin told me that your bride-to-be has picked gold and red for the color scheme?"
Don't forget the all-important distinguishment from white, ivory.
"And ivories, apparently," Harry said.
"Ivory works," Finch said with a nod and a warm smile, "gold and ivory robes would go very well with your complexion and your hair color."
Harry tried not to frown, having never thought that he had to get robes to match his skin tone.
"This set, especially," Finch added, taking down a suit of dark gold from the rack, "would complement the color of your skin quite nicely. Paired with an ivory cloak, perhaps a gold broach fastening."
He set his hands on Harry's shoulders, steering him towards a mirror; Harry hoped the shop attendant didn't notice his flinch. Finch held the robes under his chin. "See how the ivory enhances the natural caramel of your skin?"
Harry tried not to look incredulous; caramel wasn't ever a word he had used to describe the color of his skin. Or any skin color really.
"If you wanted to add a few reds, now," Finch set the robes back on the rack, and started to search through them again, "here, this set has a nice burgundy." Finch held the robes up to Harry's chin, this set colored mostly a deep pinkish red with gold fastenings. "We can add an ivory and gold tie, perhaps with a paisley or similar pattern, a vest, or maybe even change the cloak."
"I like the dark red cloak," Harry said.
"Yes, it does go nicely with your hair," Finch said, smiling warmly at him then.
How's it going?
Apparently, my skin has a natural caramel color.
Had you never noticed?
Caramel is a candy, Gin.
I think that fits. A light caramel.
I think that's called tan.
"What about Ron's robes?" Sirius said. "Don't they need to match?"
Finch raised an eyebrow. "Is Ron the best man?"
"Yeah," Ron answered, stepping forward. Finch pursed his lips, his brow tightening.
"I don't think he could wear burgundy robes," Finch concluded, "not with his hair color. Is it natural?"
"Of course it is," Ron scoffed. "Why would anyone chose to be this ginger?"
Finch gave him a wan smile, shaking his head. "My boy, don't be so dismissive of your hair color; ginger is quite attractive, really."
"I agree with him on that," Harry said, half smiling as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder at Finch.
"Is your bride a redhead as well?" Finch asked.
"Yeah," Harry answered. "But her hair is a darker red than his. Ron's is pretty orange."
"Potters always fall for redheads," Sirius told Finch.
"Do they?" Finch said, though he was looking down at the robes in his hand and tapping a finger against his chin, sounding a little absent. "Perhaps if we switched the color scheme…"
Finch hung the robes back up and started sifting through the others. "Young man, please stand over here a moment," he said to Ron. Ron moved closer obediently. Finch lifted a set of plain white robes from the rack, then took the burgundy tie from the set he'd held before Harry a moment before and held it before Ron. "Yes, I think this would work. Mr. Potter, would you be content with your best man's robes matching yours but inverted color wise?"
"That's fine," Harry said. Finch gave a nod, then set the robes back on the rack.
"So," Finch clapped his hands together, holding them at his chest as he turned to face Harry, "what are you thinking so far?"
"I like the burgundy," Harry said.
"Do you want to keep looking, or would you like to try on this set?" Finch asked, touching the set of burgundy robes.
"I like those," Harry answered, "with the gold and white tie; like you said."
"Alright, what about you?" Finch asked Ron. "What are you thinking?"
"Erm," Ron said, looking at the rack of robes. "I dunno. I like orange, but apparently, I can't wear it."
"Do you like the idea of the ivory and the gold to match Mr. Potter's?"
"Yeah, I guess," Ron said.
"You sound unsure," said Finch, looking at Ron with a kindly and patient smile.
"I just don't really care much about fashion," Ron said with a shrug. "I don't really know what looks good and what doesn't."
"That's fine," Finch said, giving him a pat on the shoulder. "I'll set out a few sets of robes that match this style, and you can pick which one you like best from there."
"Sounds good," Ron said. Finch gave a nod, then lifted the set of burgundy robes from the rack and made eye contact with Harry.
"I'll go get the right additions for this and some robes for Mr. Weasley," he said, "I'll be right back."
"Okay," Harry said. Finch left with the robes.
How's it coming on your end?
I am not wearing a princess gown.
I don't want a princess gown.
What even is that?
It's a tiny bodice with this huge poofy skirt.
Harry raised an eyebrow. Who suggested that?
The shop woman.
I've got burgundy and gold robes.
You're way ahead of us. At this rate, you'll be done long before I even start trying things on.
Just tell them what you want.
I don't know what I want, though.
Sensing Ginny's frustration, Harry tried to pass feelings of calm through their minds. He inhaled deeply, looking into her mind and telling her to take a breath. A moment later, he had caused some of her agitation to dissipate.
You don't want a princess gown. Start where you don't want, and you'll end up where you know what you do.
That's probably a good idea.
See, I have those from time to time.
Thank you, Harry.
"Let's take a seat," Sirius suggested, as Finch hadn't returned yet. "It'll probably take some time for him to come back."
Remus waved his wand, and five chairs appeared. They took them, Harry leaning his back against the wall and staring up at the ceiling. He let his eyes shut and took a deep breath.
If you fall asleep, I'll never be able to focus.
Harry opened his eyes again, giving a sigh. What are they showing you now?
Take a look.
Harry closed his eyes once more, trying to focus on what she was seeing. Ginny had always been better at looking through his eyes than he had at looking through hers. After a moment, a picture of a rack of dresses and robes appeared in his mind's eye. He saw Mrs. Weasley picking through them, holding up a set of robes with a feathery skirt.
That looks horrifying.
Yes, it does, doesn't it?
What about something less wizard? If all the normal wedding robes seem to repulse you.
It's not so much that they repulse me, it's that I don't care that much.
Harry's sight through Ginny's vision faltered, then resumed; she was digging through another rack. She seemed to huff under her breath, hesitating as she looked down at a simple white gown, its skirt overlaid with lace and the hem a gold border.
Oh, these are all sleeveless…
Is that bad?
I don't really like sleeveless.
Ginny didn't answer him in thought, rather, her hand lifted to her left arm, holding her upper arm to her body.
I like the sleeveless dress, Harry thought.
It's beautiful, like you.
Like your scar.
I don't know, Harry. Harry inhaled deeply, unsure of how to reassure her. The scar from her ordeal in the Chamber of Secrets had never faded, the slashing word weighed on her like the diary was still dragging her down. It was.
It's part of you. It's part of what makes you strong. Which is beautiful.
I don't want people to stare at it.
Harry relented. He didn't want to push her. If you don't want to, that's okay.
Ginny let the dress slip from her fingers, moving away from it. Her hand still clutched her arm. Harry wished that he was there, so he could take her hand and keep her from dwelling on it.
I appreciate the thought, Harry. I'm okay with it. I am, I just don't like the idea of having it on display.
It's not true.
"Here we are," said a bubbly voice, breaking Harry's concentration. Finch had reentered the room, levitating a stack of robes with his wand. "Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, are you ready?"
Love you, Ginny, Harry thought quickly as he stood up.
Love you too.
"You may step behind this to change," Finch said to them, gesturing to a room divider in a corner. "Mr. Potter, you first."
Harry took the first set of robes from him and stepped over to the room divider. He moved behind it, then, trying not to feel awkward, quickly stripped off his jeans and jumper. These robes were like the ones he'd worn to the Yule Ball, in that there was a shirt and some trousers as the base, then a sleeveless robe and a cloak. There was a vest and a tie as well, and these he put on after the trousers and shirt. He pulled on the robe, then fastened the gold buttons and draped the cloak over his shoulders.
He stepped out from the divider and held up his arms. Finch gestured him forward, so he did. The wizard flicked his wand, conjuring a stool with a quiet mutter. He produced some pins from his robes and gestured again. "Please, step up here, Mr. Potter."
Harry did, then Finch went to pinning.
Somewhere between fifteen and thirty minutes later — though Harry thought at one point that it had to have been to an hour —, Finch had pinned the last fold into place and stepped back.
"What do you think?" Finch asked.
Harry stared into the mirror, then rotated slightly on the stool to examine his reflection better. The ivory and gold of the shirt, tie, and vest did complement his skin color, combined with the deep red of the robe and cloak. He liked the gold fastenings, the pattern of the tie, the slight billowing of the sleeves of the shirt.
"It looks good," Harry said, turning his attention back to Finch.
"You like it?" Finch asked. "Think this might be the only one you need to try on?"
"Yeah," Harry said with a nod. "I like this."
"Wonderful," Finch said with a clap of his hands. "Then, you may change back into your Muggle clothing, just please be mindful of all the pins."
Harry stepped off the stool, trying not to feel too much like a human pincushion. He changed carefully, replacing his jeans and shirt. He gave the robes back to Finch, who waved his wand over them and boxed them.
"Mr. Weasley, your turn now."
Ron's robes took much longer to settle; the first set was too short, and in the second the hem of the trousers stopped far above his ankle. The third set fit better, the sleeves being slightly too long, but Finch had that pinned soon enough. The robes were the same as Harry's; vest, tie, robe and cloak over trousers and shirt, but as Finch had said, the colors were inverted. The tie and vest were a deep burgundy, the shirt was a soft gold and the cloak was something that was almost the color of butter. As Ron stood on the stool, Finch having finished the pinning, the rest of the group examined him.
"It's too bright," Sirius said.
"Yes, it is," Finch sighed. "I had hoped that the ivory would work, but the pale color of his skin drowns it out."
"Maybe he ought to try a set of burgundy robes," Remus suggested.
Finch lifted a cloak from his stack, then took the gold cloak from Ron's shoulders and replaced it with a red one. He tapped his chin, then snapped his fingers and took the cloak off, as well as the robe Ron was wearing.
"I'll be right back," Finch said, and he left the room with that. Ron stood there, looking almost blindingly pale in his ivory suit.
"I'm not very versed in fashion, but I don't think this is good looking," Ron said.
"No, not quite," Mr. Weasley agreed. Finch reappeared in the room, then handed a fourth set of robes to Ron.
"Try this one," he said. Ron took it, then raised an eyebrow. "Go on," Finch insisted, patting him on the shoulder. Ron shrugged, then disappeared behind the room divider. He reemerged a moment later and stepped back onto the stool.
These robes had a lot less ivory, but they weren't the deep burgundy that Harry's were. They were a much paler red, a color that was somehow not pink at the same time. The trousers and shirt matched the robe's pale color, and the cloak was a slightly darker shade. His vest and tie were gold with ivory accents, rather than the reverse as Harry's were.
"That's much better," Mr. Weasley said.
"It's pink?" Ron said, raising an eyebrow.
"It's not pink," Finch promised. "It's a light wine."
Ron caught Harry's eye and raised his eyebrow further. Harry gave a minute shrug.
Is Ron wearing pink?
I think it's supposed to be light-ish red.
I guess I kind of see that?
"What do you think, Mr. Potter?" Finch asked.
"I think it's fine," Harry answered quickly.
"And you, Mr. Weasley?"
Ron gave his reflection a hard stare for a moment, then shrugged. "I like it."
"Excellent!" Finch said with a bright smile, flashing white teeth. "Now, if you will hold still while I pin you."
Finch completed Ron's fitting about twenty minutes later, just in time for Ron's stomach to grumble loudly. Finch thanked them for their business, promised Harry the utmost confidentiality, and advised Mr. Weasley to feed Ron. Mr. Weasley laughingly agreed. They took the two sets of dress robes to Madam Malkin at her front desk, where Harry got Sirius to distract Mr. Weasley while he paid for both sets of robes. If his father-in-law complained about it later or tried to insist on paying him back, Harry decided that the price of Ron's robes was much closer to one hundred galleons than two.
The clock read quarter past three when they left Madam Malkin's and headed for Fortescue's ice cream parlor in the middle of the alley. Harry told Ginny they were done, and to no surprise, she wasn't, but she, Hermione, and her mother joined them a few minutes later anyway. Ginny threw her arms around Harry dramatically and leaned into his shoulder, bemoaning the whole experience as she did. Harry rolled his eyes at her but still hugged her back. They ate their ice cream and discussed Harry's and Ron's robes, Mrs. Weasley and Gram were skeptical of Ron wearing red, but Sirius assured them that the robes didn't clash with his hair. Ron muttered to his ice cream as this was happening that he felt like changing his hair color.
After they finished their ice cream, the idea of Harry returning with Ginny to the dress shop was brought up again. As they had finished their shopping, the three men and two boys had nothing left to do.
"No, no, I insist we respect the tradition," Mrs. Weasley finally insisted. "You'll have to find something to occupy yourselves with."
"We could go back to the Leaky Cauldron," Mr. Weasley suggested.
"Tell you what," Sirius said, leaning forward in his chair, "you and Ron go with them, provide your fatherly and brotherly advice, Remus and I will take Harry to Gringotts."
"Why do we need to go to Gringotts?" Harry asked.
"Because you have a minor amount of adulting to do," Sirius said to him. "We didn't have a chance to see your account manager during the summer, so it would be wise to do it now, especially in light of the marriage license."
Harry tried not to pout. It seemed there was more boredom in his future.
Ginny left with her parents, brother, Harry's aunt and grandmother, and Hermione a few minutes later, then Sirius and Remus made their way towards Gringotts. Harry walked a little behind them, watching his feet as he followed them. Remus and Sirius walked a little closer together than most people did, their hands almost touching as they hung at their sides. Harry wondered if they'd always walked like that, and he'd never noticed.
He was quiet while Sirius spoke with a goblin, requesting a meeting with the goblin that they'd met with last summer, Boldblood, Harry recalled. He thought that they wouldn't be able to, that surely Boldblood was busy, but the goblin appeared almost immediately, bowing his head to them respectfully.
"My office is through here," he said, gesturing for them to follow him.
"Thank you for meeting us on short notice, Boldblood," Sirius said to the goblin as they followed him away from the main hall. "I apologize for any inconvenience.
"It is no trouble," Boldblood told him. "I oversee few accounts so that I am able to meet with my clients more quickly than most."
"How many accounts do you manage?" Harry asked without thinking. Sirius shot him a look, warning paired with a request for patience.
"Five," Boldblood answered him with a smile that showed his pointed teeth. "Yours and Mr. Black's are the two of the largest accounts of Gringotts."
Harry raised his eyebrows. He knew that he was rich, but he didn't realize that he was that rich.
"In here," Boldblood said, pointing to an open doorway to their left. "Take seats, please."
"Thank you," Sirius said. There were a few chairs in the room, two before the desk, and two off to the side. Sirius moved one over, then pulled out the other chair for Remus. Harry took the third chair and tried not to fidget too much.
Boldblood seated himself in an impressive but short armchair behind his desk, folded his fingers together, and looked over them at the three of them. "How may I help you this afternoon?" he said, smiling, and again showing the points of his teeth.
"Harry would like to receive the annual review for his account," Sirius said.
"Of course," Boldblood inclined his head. "Shall I begin with August of last year or January of this year?"
"August, please," Sirius said.
Boldblood pushed back his chair and crossed to a filing cabinet behind him. He opened the fifth drawer and rifled through it a moment, then withdrew a thick sheaf of parchment. He crossed back to his chair and dropped the stack on his desk.
"The short version, I gather?" Boldblood asked.
"Yes," Harry said, then added quickly: "Please."
Boldblood once again inclined his head and sorted through the stack. He set aside some of it, perhaps half, then withdrew several thick pieces of individual parchment. He set these aside as well, then took the bottom one and unfolded it, revealing it to be much larger than the rest, explaining why it had lain so thickly.
"A summary of your account, from August 2nd, 1994 to September 1st of that same year," Boldblood began.
Going through the summaries and review for his account since the last August took much less time than Harry would have thought it ought to; Boldblood was very clear and concise as he explained everything, giving Harry enough broad details and a few more minor ones to fill in the rest of the information. Apparently, he had hundreds of stocks in several different companies, most prominently Sleekeazy's Cosmetics — though he was unsure why —, and despite the large amount of money he spent that fall on expanding his and Ginny's rooms, that was barely a dent in his wealth. As Boldblood finished the year's summary, Harry had a new appreciation for knowing how to multiply by percents.
"Thank you, Boldblood," Sirius said, bowing his head as the goblin reordered the stacks of parchment to replace in the filing cabinet.
"Thank you," Harry echoed, also bowing his head. Boldblood returned their slight bows, then moved back to the filing cabinet and put the papers away. He then returned to his desk, leaned back in his chair, and fixed his dark, beady eyes on Harry's.
"I assume you wish to hear about the inquiries you requested I perform last summer?" Boldblood asked.
Harry thought back to the summer before, trying to remember what he'd asked Boldblood to do. He racked his brains, but couldn't remember any of them. "Erm, yes, please."
Boldblood leaned over and opened a drawer of his desk, then withdrew a long, thin velvet box, which he opened to reveal a golden dagger. "Of the things you requested, I believe this will be most prevalent to your interest."
Harry leaned closer, now remember the dagger they'd found in the family vault. He couldn't remember what Boldblood had said about it, other than deep red and purple stones were garnets, and that the one on the pommel was uncut for some unknown reason.
"Yes, this was quite curious, wasn't it," Remus mused. "You said when he found it that it was imbibed with a magic you couldn't identify at the time?"
"Yes, that is correct," Boldblood said. "By now, however, I have identified it. This is a ceremonial dagger, one that would be carried by the head of the house. The rampant griffin carving on the handle is the same as the Potter crest, and the uncut garnet is a symbol of the natural wealth of your family. The blade itself is uncharmed, but the handle is enchanted so that any who tried to take the dagger as a sign of becoming the new head of house without a strong enough blood claim to the family would be severely injured. Records indicate that the injury would be localized to the hand that gripped the dagger."
"Wicked," Harry said.
Boldblood raised one wispy eyebrow. "Indeed."
"Didn't you say that it didn't seem to be Goblin made, though?" Remus asked.
Boldblood nodded, turning his gaze back to the dagger. "Yes, and I stand by that. The blade was made by a Goblin, but the handle and sheathe were created by Wizards, I believe in an attempt to mimic the talents of we Goblins. The enchantments placed upon it are of Wizard origin as well. Blood wards are a favorite among Wizards, you see." He closed the dagger's box and set it on the edge of the desk.
"This is very interesting," Sirius said, "do you have anything else for us?"
"Yes," Boldblood answered, reaching into the drawer again. "You requested I appraise all items in your vault, Mr. Potter, and to check that nothing unsavory was there."
"Was there?" Harry asked.
"Unfortunately," Boldblood nodded to him. He withdrew a velvet drawstring pouch, opened it, and pulled a thick book from it. "But there were relatively few. There was a knife that was imbued with a very strong poison, an enchanted chest that attacked anyone who opened it, several books of Dark Magic, and naturally, three possessed suits of armor. Those were exorcised immediately, and the chest was destroyed as it had no monetary value and there was nothing inside it. The books and the knife, I set aside in a charmed container in your vault, so that you may decide what to do with them at your leisure. But this book, I believe, you will find very interesting."
He set the book on the desk, then slid it towards Harry. Harry picked it up and turned it over in his hands. There was no title on the spine nor on the front or back cover. He opened it and found the first-page blank. And the second. He flicked through it and saw that the whole book was blank.
"It's empty," Harry said, looking up.
Boldblood held out his hand again; Harry held out the book, but the goblin shook his head. "Your hand, please."
Frowning, Harry held out his hand, setting the book on the desk again. The goblin took his hand, turned it over and held his index finger between two of his own. Then he took a short knife from a drawer and looked up at Harry.
"This will not hurt much," Boldblood said, then pricked Harry's finger. Harry held back a hiss, as Boldblood turned Harry's hand over and squeezed his now bleeding finger. A drop of blood landed on the old black leather, then a second. Boldblood offered him a handkerchief, and Harry wrapped it around his finger.
"Look now," Boldblood told him.
Harry turned his gaze back on the book and gasped. The blood had been absorbed into the leather, and as he watched, several runes formed themselves in deep red ink on the cover of the book, lining the edges.
"I recognize a few of those," Sirius said. "What is this?"
"Open it," Boldblood offered.
Harry picked the book up again, then opened it to the first page. His eyebrows shot up, then he turned it so that Sirius and Remus could see.
"Is that Latin?" Sirius asked.
"In Libro de Sanguine," read Harry.
"The Book of Blood?" Remus murmured.
"That would explain why it was blank until you pricked his finger," Sirius said to the goblin.
"What is this?" Harry asked Boldblood, his brow furrowing.
"It is one of the oldest tomes on blood magic that I have ever seen," the goblin replied. "It has been dated to be at least eight hundred years old, perhaps even one thousand. From what little I was able to glean from it without activating it, its main thought is of blood wards."
"Blood wards," Harry repeated. "Like on the dagger?"
"It is highly possible that the recipe for the dagger is in this book, yes."
"Have you not read through it?" Sirius asked.
Boldblood shook his head. "I was able to use an old Goblin magic to discover what it was and how to activate it, but without the blood of Mr. Potter here, it has stayed blank."
"It's enchanted to prevent people from reading it?" Harry asked.
"It is," Boldblood agreed. "In quite an ingenious way as well."
Harry looked back to the book, then began to turn the pages. The rest of the book proved to be in Latin as well. "I can't read Latin," Harry said, looking up at Remus.
"My skill is very rusty," Remus said. "I would need a refresher course before being able to read this."
"With this book," Boldblood said, catching their attention once again, "I found a small journal."
He took from the pouch a thin black book, the spine worn and the cover blank. He handed it to Harry.
Harry set the book on blood magic on the desk and opened the journal to the first page. There were notes on the theory of blood magic, in a thin, slanted cursive. "It's just notes," Harry said.
"Oh, my god," Remus whispered.
"What?" Harry asked, looking at him.
Remus took the journal from him, then flipped to the back. He showed it to Sirius, whose eyebrows shot up.
"What is it?" Harry asked again, bewildered.
"This is Lily's," Remus said. "This is her journal."
Harry's mouth fell open. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Ginny dropped a wedding gown.
"My mother's?" Harry muttered.
"It's her journal," Sirius said. "What was it doing in the family vault?"
"Was it in her and James's personal vault?" Remus asked. "Was it taken from their house?"
"It was not," Boldblood answered. "Anything of value was taken from their house in November of 1981 and brought here, but this was not among those items."
"It was already in the family vault?" Sirius said. "Why would Lily leave her journal in the family vault?"
"I could not tell you," Boldblood answered.
Harry slipped the journal from Remus's hands and stared down at it. It had fallen open to a random page, the slanted script seeming to continue on from the previous page.
I swear, that child never sleeps. It's half past two in the morning, and Harry is still bouncing about in his crib, wide awake and happy. I tried to sing him to sleep, but that only seems to make him more wakeful. I wonder if I could get a sleeping draft for babies…
I fed him around twelve, but maybe he's still hungry. Healer Tierney suggested I start breastfeeding him less, since he's almost a year old, but I can't help but default to that. He doesn't like baby food anyway; you can't blame him for that. I got him to eat some applesauce earlier, but he seems to like milk the best. I don't honestly mind. I like how peaceful he looks when he's feeding. It's the only time he shuts up, to be honest —
"…maybe she left it there one day by accident?"
Harry jerked his gaze away from the journal, distracted by Sirius talking.
"I don't see why she would take it with her to the family vault to begin with," Remus said. "What would she need her journal for in the family vault?"
"Maybe it has to do with the book," Harry said, flicking back to the beginning of the journal. "I mean, the first entry is on blood magic."
Remus looked down at it, then sighed. "Maybe," he murmured. "Lily was studying to be a Curse Breaker when she and James went into hiding."
"My mother was a Curse Breaker?" Harry asked, a bit surprised.
"In training," Sirius said. "It takes years to become one officially."
Bill was in training for six years.
I never thought of my mother as a Curse Breaker…
"But why was she so interested in blood wards?" Remus said.
Harry looked down at the journal, his eyes going out of focus on a paragraph near the end of the page. What would his mother be so interested in blood wards for? According to what Boldblood had said, the book she'd been studying was dark; or maybe it wasn't, and he had just brought it up because of the dagger. He tried to think back, of anything he'd ever heard about blood magic.
"Blood of the enemy…"
"Didn't Dumbledore say that when my mother died for me, she somehow enacted an old magic to protect me?" Harry said. "And that was the reason I lived with my aunt and grandmother?"
"Yes," Remus said. "But I always thought that it was her sacrifice that did it."
Harry lifted the journal. "What if it wasn't?"
"What do you mean?" Sirius asked.
"Well, this book, it's got all sorts of blood magics in it," Harry said. "What if she used it to cast some sort of charm or ward over me? To protect me?"
"Lily," Remus murmured, his voice almost too soft to hear. "You genius."
"I could ask to have the book translated," Boldblood told them. "If I could get a large enough sample of your blood, Mr. Potter. I am unsure how long two drops will last."
"I can translate it," Remus said. "I've been meaning to get back into studying Latin anyway."
"Thanks, Remus," Harry said.
Boldblood inclined his head, then handed the small velvet pouch to Remus, who put the book and the journal inside it. "You may take the dagger with you as well if you wish, but I advise you allow me to return it to your vault."
"That's fine," Harry said. Boldblood put the dagger away. The goblin folded his fingers together once again, and, leaning back in his chair, looked at Harry with a waiting expression.
"What else may I do for you, Mr. Potter?" he asked.
"Erm," Harry said. He glanced at Sirius, who tapped the ring finger of his left hand. "Oh, er, I got a marriage license this year. Or, rather, I found out that I had a marriage license this year."
"Yes, you are bonded to one Ginevra Weasley," Boldblood said, raising his eyebrows. "Since November first of 1981."
"Pardon?" Harry said.
"Our records show that you were bonded to Ginevra Weasley on the morning of November first, 1981," Boldblood repeated. "Her name was added to your account then."
Harry blinked. "I'm sorry, but the Ministry — we were recorded as married in July of 1991."
Boldblood shrugged his shoulders. "The magics used by the Ministry to detect a soul bond is different than Gringotts," he said.
"You know it's a soul bond?" burst out Harry, becoming even more distressed.
"Yes," Boldblood answered him, "I assure you that this information is held in the highest confidentiality."
"Who does know?" Sirius asked.
"Myself, my assistant, and the goblin who recorded it," Boldblood answered. "He has since now passed, leaving just myself and my assistant."
Harry leaned back in his chair, feeling better that only two extra people knew about the soul bond, but still confused. "November first?" he murmured. "Of 1981?"
"That is correct," Boldblood answered. "The bonding was detected just before dawn that morning."
Harry frowned at the desk, unsure of what to make of this. "Why specifically then?" he asked.
"That was when we detected the bonding ceremony."
"Bonding ceremony?" Harry asked. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that you were bonded to Ginevra Weasley just before dawn, November first, 1981, by an unknown person or force."
Harry's frown became even deeper. He was half aware of Mrs. Weasley asking Ginny what was the matter, half aware of Remus and Sirius staring at him with open mouths.
What the bloody hell is going on?
I have absolutely no clue.
Something bonded us the day your parents died?
Why would he do that? He didn't know about it until Mum told him!
What if he did, though?
I doubt it.
Then who was it?
I have absolutely no clue. I always thought… I don't know. I guess I just thought we always had it.
I did too. I never thought about an origin of our bond.
We just were born like this?
Yeah, I guess.
"Harry?" Sirius said.
Sirius opened his mouth, and shut it again, shrugging. Remus was frowning as he stared at the velvet pouch in his hands.
"I gather that all this information is new to you?" Boldblood said.
"Yes," Harry answered, unable to meet the goblin's eye. "We didn't even know we were already married until this summer."
"I had assumed you were aware of this," Boldblood told him. "My apologies for not telling you sooner."
"It's okay," Harry said. "There was no reason for you to think we didn't know, I guess."
"What was your initial question, Mr. Potter? Relating to your marriage?"
"Erm, just if there was anything I needed to tell you or that needed to be done," Harry said. "But I guess not."
Boldblood shook his head. "No, there is no information I need from you. Mrs. Potter's personal savings account was added to your own last summer when you asked to transfer your own personal vault to your family vault."
"Ginny has a savings account?" Harry said.
"Yes," Boldblood said with a nod, "a small amount of money set aside by her parents from her birth. There were a few additions to it over the past decade, mostly interest save for a few lump sums by her grandparents until their deaths in 1984 and '87."
Harry nodded vaguely, still unsure of what to do. Boldblood waited for him to speak again, and when he didn't, turned to Sirius.
"Was there anything else?"
"Not for Harry's account, no," Sirius said. "I made a change to my account earlier this year, has that been processed?"
Boldblood pushed back his chair again, then moved to filing cabinet and opened the first drawer. He took a folder from it, looked over it, then nodded and replaced it. "Yes, Mr. Lupin's name has been added to the account."
"Thank you," Sirius said, rising from his seat. "I believe that is all for now, then."
Boldblood bowed at the waist, as did Sirius. Remus rose from his own chair and copied the bow, then Sirius caught Harry's eye and raised his eyebrows, so Harry did as well.
"Have a good evening, Boldblood," Sirius wished the goblin.
"Thank you," Harry said, gratefully even though he was still slightly shocked.
Why on earth do we keep finding out things happened years ago that we really ought to have known much sooner?
I don't know, sweetheart.
Sirius touched Harry's shoulder, and he followed him and Remus from the office, back into the main hall of the bank. He walked behind them again, watching as their hands occasionally brushed from the way they walked so close together.
"What shop are they at again?" Sirius asked, meaning the other five of their group.
It's called something Bridal Emporium.
"Something Bridal Emporium," Harry said.
"That's very specific, thank you," Sirius said sarcastically.
Harry heard Ginny asking her mother what the store was called.
Something Old, Something New Bridal Emporium.
"Something Old, Something New Bridal Emporium," Harry clarified.
"That's better," Sirius said, looking around the thinning crowds of the main street. "There it is."
We're coming, warn your mum.
We haven't settled on a set of robes for me yet.
Oh, shut up Harry, wedding robes have to be extremely specific. We have Hermione's and I'm trying on the final four right now.
Well, that's good at least.
"Harry, keep up," Remus called. Harry lengthened his stride to follow behind his godfathers.
They entered Something Old, Something New and a soft musical tone chimed above their heads; a petite girl standing at a counter by the door looked up at the sound. A name tag flashed — reading Cecilia something — in the light as she turned to face them, lowering what she had been reading a moment before. Her eyes widened as they landed on Harry's forehead and the scar there, then got even larger when they landed on Sirius. She seemed conflicted on whether or not to welcome them or call the Auror Department.
"Don't panic, I was cleared last summer," Sirius said quickly. The girl hesitated again, her face suspicious now.
"Okay?" she said very questioningly, her eyes still quite large behind her glasses.
"We're here to meet the Weasleys," Sirius told her. "Molly and her daughter Ginny."
The suspicion vanished, and she looked back at Harry. "Ohh, okay, of course, this way." The girl set down a magazine she had been holding and stepped out from behind the front desk; she opened a door leading off the main showroom and started up a flight of stairs. Harry followed directly behind her, Sirius and Remus behind him. They reached the second floor, and the girl knocked on a doorframe, covered by a white curtain.
"Mrs. Weasley," she said, sticking her head in. "Um, Sirius Black is here, with Harry Potter."
"Oh, I told them —" Harry heard Mrs. Weasley sigh — "alright, they can come in."
The girl turned back to them and waved them in; Harry pushed the curtain away and stepped inside. The first thing he saw was Mrs. Weasley, sitting on a sofa with Aunt Petunia and Gram, her arms crossed over her bosom and frowning at him.
The second thing he saw was Ginny. She was standing on a raised platform surrounded by tall mirrors. Her face was unamused, her dark brown eyes sparkling with a kind of angry mirth, her hair was pulled back in a messy bun. Her arms were sheathed in white lace, a high lace collar covered her collarbones, a satin sweetheart neckline led to a bodice that was long and sewn with beaded lace; it was tight to her waist, where it flared out into a skirt that gradually shifted from white to a pale orange. She raised an eyebrow at him, her arms folding over her chest, and Harry couldn't take his eyes off the change from the lace to the satin.
"Harry, would you mind going all the way in the room, and not stopping in the middle of the doorway so we can come in too?"
Sirius's voice caused Harry to snap out of the kind of trance he'd fallen into; he stepped forward quickly, allowing Remus and Sirius to follow him into the room.
I know you were staring at my boobs.
Harry realized then that his face was flushed because it flushed even redder.
Sorry. You're just — you're beautiful.
Ginny blushed too, then, and looked down at the hem of the skirt.
"What do you think, hmm, Harry?" Mrs. Weasley said.
"I, uh, it's — it's — " Harry stammered.
Mrs. Weasley raised an eyebrow.
"He thinks it's beautiful," Hermione translated.
"Well, take a seat, if you're here you might as well participate," Mrs. Weasley sighed. "I suppose it's no use trying to keep up the pretense of tradition."
Ginny met her mother's eye and a look passed between them. Harry could tell then that Mrs. Weasley had known all along that she wouldn't be able to keep Ginny's robes a secret.
"I'd like to try on the other ones," Ginny said. "This one's pretty, but the high collar isn't very me."
"That's just fine, dear," said a woman Harry hadn't noticed until she spoke. She stepped forward and helped Ginny step off a stool, then down off the raised platform; Ginny had bunched up the skirt in her hand and was leaning over it to see her feet.
It's too poofy.
Of course, it is.
The woman — Her name's Rebecca — led Ginny to a changing room; Ginny stepped in, then asked her to unzip the back of the dress. Rebecca did as she asked, and Harry caught a glimpse of Ginny's back, her shoulder blades sharp and her skin pale but for the freckles scattered over her, before the shop woman pulled a curtain shut. Harry realized that his mouth was slightly open still, and shut it hurriedly. Sirius caught his eye and chuckled. Harry flushed bright red again and muttered something about Sirius stuffing it under his breath.
A moment later, Ginny passed the dress out through the curtain to Rebecca, who took it and replaced it with a set of robes, this one a softer white. It seemed that it took longer for girls to don dress robes than boys because she didn't exit until a minute or two later.
Opening the curtain with one hand and holding her skirts with the other, Ginny stepped out of the changing room and walked back to the raised platform. Rebecca smoothed out the layers of the robes, and Ginny turned to face them. Harry felt just as appreciative of this as the first dress; the outer robe was tight to her torso, then relaxed some at the hips, but didn't flare as the other dress did; the sleeves were slit down the from the shoulder, but there was a second gown beneath it, the sleeves clinging to her arms. The neckline of the robe plunged low in a V, and the gown beneath it had a scooping neckline that was hemmed in gold. The cuff of the sleeves and the final hem of the skirt had a gold border as well.
Your mum picked that one?
"What do you think?" Mrs. Weasley asked, and Harry could hear the smile in her voice without even turning to look at her.
"It's nice," Ginny said.
"I liked the first one better," piped up Ron.
Ginny made a face at him. Harry elbowed him for her, and Ron glared at him. When Harry shrugged, he turned his glare on Ginny.
"It looks more comfortable than the first," Hermione said.
"It is," Ginny said, rotating on the stool to look at herself in the mirrors.
"But?" Rebecca asked.
"I don't think so," Ginny sighed, turning back to face her mother. "Sorry, Mum."
"Oh, don't be sorry dear," Mrs. Weasley said. "If you don't like it, that's fine."
"I don't like it," Ginny said.
Mrs. Weasley shrugged. Gram leaned towards her and patted her arm, whispering something to her. Mrs. Weasley smiled to herself lightly while Ginny stepped down again and walked back into the changing room. A minute later, she re-emerged in another lace gown, this one more of a yellower color. As she mounted the stool, Harry watched the way the dress clung to her frame. He liked it well enough.
The way it makes my butt look has nothing to do with the final decision.
I respectfully disagree.
Ginny turned and rolled her eyes at him. Harry smirked. The robes really were lovely, unlike the first one, the outer robe was made entirely of lace. The sleeves were a more floral pattern, much of her shoulders were exposed, and the scooping neckline had an inch or two of pure lace before the satin undergown. The satin gown was a pure white, contrasting the old effect of the lace, and fell to the ground and stopped just past her ankles. The lace robe split at the waist to expose the satin gown beneath, then fell just past it. A cloak was attached to the shoulders of the robe, trailing a few feet behind her.
Wow, was all Harry could think.
I like this one too, thanks.
"Well?" asked the shop woman.
"It's really pretty," Ginny said, turning to look at the back of the gown. "I especially like the cape." She lifted the cape and twirled a little on the stool, then let it fall over her side.
"This is one of my personal favorite designs as well," Rebecca said, her face positively glowing. "You look absolutely beautiful."
"I agree," Mrs. Weasley said.
What she said, Harry thought.
Are you still staring at my butt?
Harry quickly jerked his gaze upwards. No.
Ginny looked over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow at him. The shop woman looked at him too, seeming to think Ginny was asking his opinion.
"What do you think, Mr. Potter?" she said.
"It's beautiful," Harry replied.
"He seems to have some control over his tongue at last," Rebecca chuckled. Ginny rolled her eyes but smiled at him.
"Do you want to try on the fourth gown?"
Ginny pondered a moment, then nodded and stepped down. She changed, then exited the changing rooms again, and Harry immediately forgot about whatever he had been thinking the second before. She took the stool again, her back to the room, her beautiful back, completely exposed by the cut in the gown.
Look at the rest of the dress too, please.
Harry tried to subtly shake himself; look at the rest of the gown. He could do that. The scoop in the back stopped just past her waist, and Harry could almost count the freckles on her back; there was a line of them, all leading down —
The gown had lace, like the rest of the dresses, but this lace wasn't pure white or aged, rather it was a soft white, the color Harry guessed to be ivory. The sleeves were satin, tight to the elbow where they loosened and flared into an angel sleeve. From what he could see of the back of the gown, there were a few layers to the skirt, the longest making the train a few feet long. As Ginny turned to face them again, he saw that the neckline of the gown was a sweetheart as the first had been, the dress clung to her curves and accentuated her hips perfectly as it loosened over her legs; the layers were three, one of lace, one of a shimmery, sheer fabric, and finally satin. It was simple, no extra colors or beads or slashed sleeves, and it was very beautiful.
I like this one best.
Ginny met his eye and smirked. I figured you would.
It's not just the low back! Harry insisted. I like the… the…
The train, he finished lamely.
Ginny's smile softened. You like the way it looks. I like the way it looks. I think I like this one best.
You know what they say, fourth time's the charm.
"It's very lovely," Mrs. Weasley said.
"It is," Hermione agreed. "Ginny, you look positively radiant."
Ginny beamed at her friend, clearly pleased. "Thank you, Hermione. I'm glad you found this one."
"What do you think so far, then?" the shop woman asked. Ginny turned to examine the dress from the side, then did a little shimmy to let the skirts flare out. Ginny tapped her chin, then shut her eyes and Harry knew she was looking through his eyes to see what it looked like from the back. She opened her eyes again, then lifted the skirt and turned around on the stool.
"I like this one best," Ginny said, catching her mother's eye.
Mrs. Weasley gave her daughter a warm smile. "You think this might be it?"
Ginny nodded. She looked over at Mr. Weasley, her eyebrows lifting. Her father emulated Mrs. Weasley's smile, and Ginny grinned.
"This is it," she said, looking at the shop woman.
Rebecca clapped her hands together and grinned. "Wonderful, my dear, wonderful." She approached Ginny on the platform and began checking the fit of the gown, pinning here and there. A few minutes later, she finished and let Ginny down; she changed back into her street clothes, the shop woman taking the gown and enveloping it in a dress bag.
Ginny exited the little changing area and the group made their way downstairs; Rebecca led them, carrying Ginny's dress. They reached the front counter and the witch who had greeted them looked up.
"Cece, dear, take this to the back for me," Rebecca said to her. The witch took it and made her way out the room, disappearing behind a curtained doorway. Harry and Mrs. Weasley reached the front counter at the same time, as Rebecca rang them up.
"With all alterations necessary, it comes to 345 Galleons and 10 Sickles," Rebecca said. Mrs. Weasley reached into her purse, but Harry touched her arm.
"I can pay for it," he said softly. She looked up at him, then smiled and shook her head.
"No, thank you dear, but the bride's family traditionally pays," Mrs. Weasley told him.
"Mum, please, I insist, let me get it."
Mrs. Weasley hesitated. "It's okay, Harry," she said finally. "Thank you, but no, we planned for this." She drew a more threadbare coin purse from her handbag and began to count out Galleons and Sickles, weighing them on a scale the shop woman gave them. Harry stepped back and to Ginny, then shrugged.
I tried, he said.
Thank you for trying, Harry, Ginny thought. At least you paid for Ron's.
Harry echoed her shrug.
They left Diagon Alley a short while later, Mrs. Weasley saying that she would return in a few days to pick up the completed robes for the four of them. At the Floo, Mr. Weasley invited Sirius and Remus to return with them to the Burrow for supper. They accepted, and all of them Floo'd back to the Burrow.