This was originally going to be the last chapter of book 2, but I decided that it fit in better here. This probably takes place in January or February 1993, right after Daphne joins the gang.
The following disclaimer applies to the entire document: Me no ownie. Lawyers, behold.
Edit: I just realized this morning that I'd said Saysa witnessed the Treaty of blahblah. Yeah. That was somewhat humiliating. It's fixed now.
Five wizards and a basilisk Apparated into a bank.
"Is this the right room?" wondered Hermione.
"I think so, Pallas," said Harry. "My 'source' never really had a Gringotts account- it would be a bit difficult for him to walk through the Alley every week just for a few Galleons- but this seems like the right place to me."
"It has to be," Daphne told them, a bit uncomfortable in her Fae form. "Goblin wards are phenomenal, and they only let them down to allow special visitors access to private meeting rooms. Since we were able to get in, this is obviously the correct location."
A goblin stepped into the room. "Right you are, Miss…?"
"Frost," she said, fighting back a smile, "Bianca Frost."
The goblin raised an eyebrow. "I see. I am Axshaft Swordsmasher, personal assistant to Director Ragnok." He glanced at Saysa, looked hurriedly away. "Do you wish for refreshments, my Lady?" he asked, pointedly ignoring the humans.
"Very well," Axshaft shrugged. "Before you meet with Director Ragnok, are there any services that we of Gringotts could provide? Vaults, security consultation, preferred customer status…."
In the next hour, Axshaft and Saysa (the humans were still ignored) engaged in some good old-fashioned haggling. The basilisk wanted a vault, personal tutors in Gobbledook and Mermish for her humans, increased security on Founders' Isle, and for the goblins to spread the word of the Speaker's coming to their other inhuman allies. She also wanted a cup from the vault of one Bellatrix Lestrange. That, of course, led into a discussion of Horcruxes and their mission to take down Voldemort (she conveniently neglected to mention how they knew about the foul artifacts).
In return, the goblins had two very odd requests: her memories and her venom.
Saysa stared. "Pardon?"
"Basilisk venom is one of the deadliest substances known to goblinkind," Axshaft explained. "As such, it is incredibly valuable. Also, it has practical purposes. We want to imbue our guards' blades with a combination of your venom and a weakening agent so that whoever is scratched by one is automatically Petrified. This would contribute greatly to the security of our bank.
"Now let me explain the memories. We possess something called a Pensieve, one of only six in the British Isles (though wizards believe there are only five). Since you are a witness to the Treaty of the Wood, your experiences are literally priceless. My Lady, in the thousand years you have walked this land, you've talked with the Founders, negotiated a powerful peace treaty, and witnessed key moments of history. That is why we ask for a copy of your memories." He hesitated. "Of course, your comrades would be welcome to the Pensieve as well."
Saysa frowned pensively. She glanced at Harry, or more specifically at his scar. Her lips tilted. "Done and done, Master Axshaft."
The goblin looked relieved. "Excellent, my Lady. Shall we schedule another appointment to fulfill this bargain?"
She nodded. "Next week at the same time?"
"Excellent. Our representative will bring the cup and the Pensieve."
As though Saysa's agreement were a signal, a pair of heavily armed and armored guards walked into the room. "Director Ragnok will see you now," they intoned.
It was an old tactic: make the petitioners wait, make them come to you. It left no doubt about who was the dominant partner. The goblins knew that they owed Saysa, but they wanted to remind her that they'd only promised to meet Harry, nothing more.
She really should have been more forceful, all those years ago.
As they walked through the corridors of Gringotts, Harry began a conversation in Parseltongue. "Do you think I could contribute some memories as well?"
"Why would you want to?"
The young wizard tapped his forehead. "Because Voldemort's memories are an incredible advantage, and I don't know if I'll still have them after the Horcrux is removed. Besides, this way I can introduce everyone to combat situations and familiarize them with his strategies without putting them in danger."
"A good idea. I shall ask." She did, but Axshaft's only reply was to take it up with Ragnok.
They stopped before huge gates of iron and granite. The metal was shaped into dragons and goblins intertwined, the stone intricately carved with perfect miniatures of scenes from goblin history. It was beautiful, but its beauty was cold and imposing and warlike. The two guards took up their position on either side of the gate, gesturing at their guests to stop. Axshaft kept walking.
"Her Majesty, Lady Saysa of the Chamber, Queen of Serpents, Mistress of the Prophecies, Servant of the Four, Friend of the Nations." Taking that as her cue, Saysa walked into the chamber, head held high.
"Master Alexander Chamberlain, First Among Lions, Swordsman, the Prince of Flowers."
"First Among Lions?" Neville wondered quietly. He decided it was a prophecy he hadn't heard before and walked inside.
"Madame Bianca Frost, Maid of Water, Cloud-Gatherer, the Daughter of Frost." A few chuckles came from the meeting room as Daphne walked inside.
"Master Apollo Peverell, Enemy of Both Sides, Dream-Seer, the Smoking Mirror."
"Madame Pallas Dhar, Heiress of Salazar Slytherin, Maker of the Wards, Truth's Messenger."
There was a pause.
"Master Pollux Riddle, Stormson, Moon Lord, the Lightning Speaker." Squaring his shoulders, Harry walked inside
He instantly realized that Ragnok wasn't the only important personage present. The goblin dignitary was there, of course, and he occupied the seat of honor, but with him were a dwarf and a lovely young woman who could only be a veela. He fought back a blush. The veela was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, except perhaps the Winter Queen herself.
The dwarf was introduced as Lord Baffur Bouldershoulders, and his veela counterpart was Lady Estella Papillion. Ragnok himself sat between them.
Harry bowed three times to them before taking his seat. Their stares made him uncomfortable, but he didn't look away. Head held high, the Lightning Speaker met the director's eyes. Ragnok nodded slowly.
Saysa rose to speak. "Many years ago, your ancestors vowed that when the Lightning Speaker came, their descendents would meet with him. They thought me mad, as, perhaps, did you, yet here he sits. The Speaker has come, and with him his four companions. Here and now, you fulfill the promises of your predecessors.
"And now I ask you not only to fulfill those promises, but to surpass them. Give the Speaker your aid. It is not a heavy yoke you would put on, but the mantle of an equal partnership. Already the centaurs and the Fae have joined our alliance- and if you doubt me, look at their forms! All five are covered in the Winter Queen's own glamor. If you doubt me, speak to your centaur friends, for my companions have wandered among them for months.
"Think of the farmer toiling in his fields. He labors long and hard, it is true, but think of how great his reward shall be! When the harvest comes, he and his shall feast on the fruit of their labor. I do not even call for that farmer's devotion, only for the promise of aid and training when needed. Yet I must assure you, even those who do not stand with us will sup at that feast- we do not blackmail you. Instead, we extend to you an invitation to join in that feast with the satisfaction that you yourselves helped create it.
"I know that you are people of honor. You do not take what you have not earned, and I know that, if you do sit down at that feast without contributing, the guilt will burn your hearts. Come work with us, as honor and destiny beg you to do. Give the support of your nations, for with each soul that pledges, the feast grows so much more abundant.
"And so I ask of you- naye, I beg!- to stand beside us. Work with the farmer in the field, help us fight for your children. We will not threaten, we will not destroy you for saying no. Instead, we simply ask you what is best for your people: this stagnant 'freedom' of poverty and shame, or the brighter tomorrow promised in the prophecies? Think well, my lords and lady, and choose wisely, for anyone's denial may blight the harvest. Stand with us, that the whole world may feast."
Silence, save for the echoing of Saysa's words. Tears stung Harry's eyes, but he blinked them away. How long had she worked on that speech? How many cold, lonely hours had she spent in the Chamber with nothing but hope to keep her warm?
"A lovely speech, my Lady," murmured Papillion respectfully. "'Twould take a heart of stone to deny you." She sighed. "Yet in this time, every leader bears granite in her breast."
"We do not deny you outright," Ragnok explained, and Harry realized that the meeting had only been for show. The three leaders before him had already made up their minds. "We have nothing but respect for you, but these five humans have not proved themselves. Yes, they rescued a few young witches, and yes, the centaurs and Fae believe, but centaurs live in their precious stars and the Fae are more than half mad. They needed no more assurances, but we do."
"Fulfill the prophecies," rumbled Bouldershoulders. "Specifically, the cycle referring to curing lycanthropy. We will teach you our tongues and histories, but until you have proved beyond doubt that you are the Lightning Speaker and that you do care for the races, we will not follow you."
We will not follow you. The words seemed made of ice, freezing Harry's heart. We will not follow you, Horcrux child, mad outcast with a fool's mission. You cannot break the world, you cannot save your brother.
The thought of Mark pulled him up short. He was still furious with the other Potter, but he still loved him. He still wanted to make up, but he'd given up. It seemed that Dumbledore was too powerful, that while Mark still hid behind his garishly colored robes, Harry couldn't touch him.
But then again, the same could be said for the entire Wizarding world. He had already sworn to save the one. What stopped him from saving the other?
Harry turned to Blaise. "Apollo, you're the Seer. How soon do you think we can do this?"
The Smoking Mirror started. Then he smiled, turned to the three leaders. "Be ready," he advised. "We'll return by the harvest moon."