Chapter Two: The World of Magic

One week after Harry's escape from the Dursely's house, he was introduced to a giant. Well, not a true giant, (although he seemed plenty gigantic to Harry) but a half-giant. Since Harry had never seen an apparent "true" giant, it was all the same to him.

The half-giant, dubbed Hagrid, was a rather cheery fellow when Harry first met him at Grimmauld Place- even if he was stooping slightly to keep his head from banging against the dining room ceiling. "Hullo, Harry! Haven't seen you since you was a baby! You was barely big enough ta fit in the palm o' me hand!"

Given the ridiculously large size of his hands, Harry was more than willing to believe that. However, despite the gigantism of the man, he had latched onto a more interesting bit of information.

"You knew me when I was little? Does that mean you knew my parents?"

Hagrid's cheery look drooped just slightly. "Aye, I knew 'em. I knew Lily an' James. Good people, yer folks. Miss 'em terribly."

Harry bit his lip nervously. "Could you tell me about them?"

Andromeda, who had taken charge of Harry since Kingsley had to return to the Ministry of Magic (whatever that was) stepped in. "We can tell you about them once we're done shopping for today, Harry. There's a lot that needs to be done to get you ready for Hogwarts."

"Aye," Hagrid agreed. "Tha's why I'm 'ere. Professor Dumbledore gave me orders to help ye get yer school supplies. Means we need ta take a trip to Diagon Alley."

"Diagon Alley?" Harry echoed. He'd never heard of it. "Is that in London?"

"It is," Andromeda answered. "But it's not somewhere muggles can find on their own. Harry, you won't need your bag, but you're welcome to bring it if your…friend wishes to join us. Just make sure she understands that she can't come out."

"What sorta friend?" Hagrid asked. He'd apparently picked up on the fact that Harry's "friend" wasn't necessarily human.

The woman's eyes lit up slightly. "That's right, you're the Magical Creatures Caretaker at Hogwarts, aren't you, Hagrid? Harry somehow managed to get a rather…unusual reptile when he was staying with his muggle relatives. Perhaps you can help him find a book about them in Diagon Alley?"

Hagrid stroked his dark beard with interest. "I don' see why not. It'd help if I knew wha' sorta creature we was talking 'bout."

"I'll inform you. Harry, why don't you go get your friend?"

He had a feeling she was going to tell Hagrid about the snake he'd brought the moment he was gone, but that was okay. Harry would be lying if he said he wasn't interested in learning more about her, and just how on earth he'd managed to bring her to life from a previously frozen chicken egg with the help of a rather unfortunate toad.

Andromeda waited for Harry's footsteps to reach the top of the stairs before she lowered her voice and spoke to Hagrid urgently. "Don't ask me how because I'm not sure myself. Kingsley believes Harry somehow managed to create a Basilisk."

Hagrid's large face grew very pale. Andromeda went on. "He hasn't done anything about it because it looks like the Basilisk listens to Harry—he can speak Parseltongue. It's loyal to him and only him. The only reason Kingsley didn't confiscate it was due to those factors and the fact that Harry created it in an attempt to defend himself. The muggles he stayed with were abusing him."

The half-giant's face went from white to red faster than what should have been possible. His voice became a dangerous, deep growl. "They were what?"

"Kingsley left to detain and interrogate them," Andromeda explained. "Harry will be safe here in Grimmauld Place. But he doesn't know anything about magical creatures, Hagrid. I know you're experienced as well, but do you know anything about Basilisks? I…as loathe as I am to admit it, she's very protective of him and I think he'd become greatly distressed if we forcibly took her from him. We can't afford that since he's a unstable right now. We'll need to find a way to take care of her if Kingsley gets permission for Harry from the Ministry."

Hagrid crossed his bulky arms contemplatively. "Hmm…I dunno much 'bout 'em. The Acromantula's I've cared for were terrified of 'em. I think it's 'cause they've got so many eyes- a Basilisk could look at 'em from almost any direction an' kill 'em."

"What about your old mentor?" She asked. "Mr. Scamander?"

"I could send a message to 'im and see if he could meet Harry at Hogwarts. I'd have ta ask Professor Dumbledore first, but I'm sure he'll agree."

"Thank you," Andromeda said graciously.

Their conversation ended as Harry came back down the stairs with his bag slung over one shoulder and the small Basilisk coiled around his free arm and neck. Hagrid couldn't stop himself from observing the reptile with an interested eye—the color of her scales was a dark, yet vibrant green the same hue as emeralds. She was little more than three feet long, yet there was a surety in the way she held herself, a natural grace despite being so small and young. It was as though royalty flowed through her blood.

He also noticed with some interest that while the snake took to observing him with an equal amount of curiosity, (probably because she'd never seen something so large in her rather short life) she made an effort to avoid looking directly into his eyes. Her gaze was always fixed on something else to prevent a direct line of sight to the amber orbs, which were like drops of liquid gold. Even when she studied his face, Hagrid realized she was looking at his ears or beard instead of his eyes.

Harry apparently noticed that and smiled, gently stroking the scales beneath her chin. "We're trying to make sure she doesn't accidentally petrify anyone. It only works for a little while right now. Kreacher was only stunned for a few seconds."

That hadn't been a fun accident two days ago. Kreacher, the house elf who kept Grimmauld Place in order, had accidentally tried to move Harry's bag to dust the desk beneath it, not knowing that the Basilisk was inside. It only took an unfortunate shift to bring the surprised elf and Basilisk eye-to-eye. Kreacher had fallen over, stiff as a board to the floor, for a grand total of six seconds before he disappeared with a loud crack. Harry had thought he'd died until Andromeda reassured him that the elf was just annoyed and decided to clean up elsewhere.

Sure enough, Kreacher had been in the dining room later that day, grumbling to himself. He gave Harry and his bag a magnificent stink-eye, finished cleaning, and disappeared with another loud crack.

Kreacher would not be doing Harry any favors for a while, no sir.

Hagrid was rather impressed by Harry's handling of the magical creature and her obvious intelligence. If they'd been dealing with an aggressive, instinctual creature, then maybe things would have been more complicated. But the Basilisk was quietly and easily sharing the space with others, at ease so long as she was with Harry. She was even taking care to avoid stunning people with her eyes.

Yes, he could see them working with her without problems. At least, that's what his intuition told him.

"Ye named her yet?" Hagrid asked.

She made a hissing sound, tail flicking in what might have been irritation. Harry only smiled a bit and hissed something back in Parseltongue. It was slightly disconcerting, hearing such a sound coming from the mouth of a ten-year old, but Hagrid had a feeling there was nothing aggressive about it.

Harry glanced back at the half-giant a moment later, looking amused. "She wants to pick her own name."

"Ah, I see. Well then, excuse me," Hagrid apologized, well aware now that the Basilisk could at least understand english. It was important to be respectful towards intelligent creatures, he knew from experience—especially if it was a creature he didn't know well.

Her tail flicked again, this time more slowly and with less annoyance. Harry hissed to her again and the Basilisk took that as a cue to slither over his shoulders and into the bag he was carrying. The boy zipped it up just enough so that she could poke her head out if she needed to and then looked up to Andromeda. "I'm ready."

Andromeda nodded. "Right, everyone come here. Give me your hands."

The woman received a hand from two of them and gave Harry a reassuring look. "This is going to feel odd, but you'll be fine. Just stay still, okay?"


"Good. And three, two, one—"

In a split second, it felt like Harry was being squeezed through an incredibly small space, like a rubber pipe. It made his stomach churn and crushed him from every angle possible, but before the second had passed, it was over.

Harry stumbled and let go of Andromeda's hand with a gasp as they touched solid ground again. His head was swimming and he thought he'd be sick for a few moments, but he crouched and rubbed the sides of his head, groaning to relieve the strain.

"Sorry about that," Andromeda apologized, seemingly unaffected by the shift. Hagrid looked a little green, but he wasn't as messed up as Harry. "I would have taken the Floo Network to get here, but Hagrid wouldn't have fit in the fireplace. Apparition was the only way we were going to get here in good time."

Harry made some sound between a groan and a moan, but he stood up slowly and felt the nausea leave his body. He blinked and his eyes went wide on reflex.

They were no longer standing in the dining room at Grimmauld Place—instead, they were in the middle of a large street, surrounded by shops and in open daylight, with crowds of people bustling all over the place. Harry stared around, doing a full turn to take it all in. The people were wearing odd clothing—cloaks and robes and the like that would have been very noticeable (and not in a good way) anywhere else in London. Yet here, it all seemed to fit. The atmosphere had an older feel to it, like they were in an earlier age or something hundreds of years ago.

Most noticeable were the variety of magical objects being bought and sold. Harry caught sight of a floating broom in the window of one shop, apparently on display. A customer walked out of the same shop with a small, golden sphere hovering around them on rapidly beating wings not unlike a hummingbird.

"Welcome to Diagon Alley, Harry," Hagrid said cheerfully, no longer feeling the ill-effects of Apparition.

Andromeda did a quick turn and nodded to their left, towards a part of the huge street that was divided by a large, imposing building. "Right, Gringotts first. We won't be able to get any of his school supplies without money."

Harry frowned and looked at her. "But I don't have any money."

Andromeda smiled at him and set a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry about that, Harry. We'll get it all taken care of. But before we get in there, I need to tell you a few things—Gringotts is run by goblins, Harry. They're quite foul things, really, but they're loyal to their customers and protect their gold jealously. Don't try to cross them or make it sound like you owe them anything. Don't even thank them. They'll jump on any chance to get a debt out of you. Be polite, but curt about it—like you would if you had to meet with someone you didn't like."

"Also, when a goblin dismisses you, it's going to say a phrase that sounds violent, but don't be alarmed. It'll be something like this- may your enemies suffer and die for all eternity. Well, it'll probably be more eloquent and descriptive than that, but you get the idea. All you'll have to do is respond with a similar phrase."

Well, that sounded easy enough. Harry mentally began to come up with phrases as gruesome and frankly downright violent as Andromeda led him and Hagrid into the wizarding bank.

Harry glanced at the goblins that lined the entrance hall of Gringotts, sitting at high tables as they performed various tasks- whether it was speaking with witches or wizards, transferring currency for clients, or writing financial records. They were all shorter than Harry by about a head, with long, pointed noses, sharpened teeth, and beards. Their faces seemed to be contorted in perpetual scowls, but there was an intelligent gleam in their eyes that bespoke a cleverness one should not wish to test.

They met with the goblin at the very end of the entrance hall, a grisly, elderly creature with white hair and thick glasses. The goblin looked up at them—glared, really—and set down a feather quill he'd been writing with moments earlier. "Yes?"

Hagrid cleared his throat. "Mr. Harry Potter would like to make a withdrawal."

The goblin raised an eyebrow, unimpressed, and leaned over the desk to study Harry with a rather predatory gaze. "And does Mr. Harry Potter have his key?"

"Ah—ah, yes!" Hagrid patted a few of the pockets in his thick jacket frantically for a few moments before pulling out a gold key that was tiny in his enormous fingers. "There's the li'l devil!"

The goblin grunted upon seeing the key and looked back at Harry. "You may proceed. May your enemies bleed out their ears and lose all the change in their pockets."

Yep, customary goblin talk, just as Andromeda had said. Harry hoped his response would be good enough. "And may yours bleed and suffer alone in silence forever."

The goblin's snarl upturned into a feral grin. "An amateur response, but one with promise for your first try, Mr. Potter. Next time mention the enemies of goblins losing all of their money as well."

"I'll remember that," he said, recalling that he wasn't to thank the goblins.

Hagrid got the goblin's attention one more time. "Mrs. Tonks will have to go with Harry to his vault. I got a letter for ya from Professor Dumbledore."

He handed the letter over to the goblin, who read it over carefully before frowning. Hagrid muttered lowly. "It's about the you-know-what in vault you-know which."

The goblin nodded sharply. "Very well. I'll assign one of our chiefs to you. Mr. Potter, if you and Mrs. Tonks will proceed, a goblin named Griphook is waiting to escort you."

Harry looked at Hagrid curiously, but the half-giant just smiled. "Is' alright. I'll meet ye both outside once I'm done 'ere."

Andromeda nodded and took the key to Harry's vault from Hagrid, although she looked just as confused by the unexpected deviation. She led Harry past the goblin and to the back, where another, younger looking gobbling with an exceptionally long and pointed nose was waiting for them next to a gaping hole in the wall—and a mine cart.

"Griphook?" Harry asked.

The goblin nodded. "So, you're Harry Potter? Well, come on. Let's get on with this. Into the mine cart, and don't let any part of your body leave it while we're moving."

The reason for that quickly became apparent- the mine cart traveled at a ridiculous speed to the point that Harry almost threw up. They raced past points of jagged rock and stone that would have severed their limbs if they'd let their arms hang out of the cart. He wondered if this was what a roller coaster felt like. On and on they went, for several minutes until Griphook yanked on a lever to slow the cart to a halt.

When they left the cart, Harry's legs felt like jelly and Andromeda looked slightly green. Griphook only smirked nastily. "You're doing better than most first-timers, Mr. Potter. You haven't vomited yet."

"Not so bad, then," Harry managed. Griphook chuckled and took the key when it was offered by Andromeda. They were deep inside an underground cave system, lit only by fiery torches on the walls. The cave was dark and cool, with parts of the wall chiseled to construct the vaults within them. The vault they reached had a thick, black iron door the same texture as the surrounding rock. Harry briefly wondered why the vault was so far down.

Griphook, aware that this was the first time Harry had visited Gringotts, filled him in before he could ask. "Newer or smaller vaults are usually kept in the upper levels. The lower you go, the more carefully guarded the vaults are. If you ever get to the bottom, well, you'd best make your peace first."

Harry frowned. "So why is my vault here? I've never been here in my entire life."

Griphook frowned. "Surely you didn't think your family would have left you with nothing, did you?"

Andromeda intervened then. "Harry's living circumstances have been rather…isolated until recently. He has much to learn about the wizarding world."

The goblin blinked in understanding, but he still looked disbelieving. "Well, it's none of my business. But regardless, House Potter has not left you with nothing, boy. Far from it."

Griphook inserted the gold key into a keyhole that Harry couldn't even see; it was so well camouflaged that it blended in with the vault door. The goblin stepped back, holding his arm out to keep Harry and Andromeda from getting too close until the massive vault door swung open.

Harry felt his mouth fall open as his eyes were treated to the color gold in copious amounts within the maw of a cave the same size as a large living room. It was literally ridiculous how much gold was in there- good grief, he could probably build his own castle with it all. He was glad the Durselys hadn't known about this. Knowing them, they would've taken all of this as "compensation" for keeping him in the first place. Vernon certainly would have.

Griphook eyed the mass of gold and silver with a measuring eye. "Behold the treasure hoard of House Potter. For a noble house some seven hundred years old, they lived rather modestly and did a good job saving their gold. Used to be some of our most loyal and respectable customers, the Potters. Been storing gold in our vaults since the early days of Gringotts. They never bothered to spend more on security than was necessary- they trusted us to keep some of our most loyal clients safe and we have done so. That's why this hoard is not in the deepest levels, where security is more expensive. And they didn't bother spending loads of gold on trivial things like certain other pureblood houses do even today. Smart witches and wizards. Knew how to manage their currency wisely."

Harry managed to close his mouth and swallowed a lump past his throat. So his parents really hadn't been the useless, drinking scum his uncle told him about. They'd been good, smart people who had been humble about how they lived despite the great sum of money they had at their disposal. Even Griphook, a goblin, seemed to respect and perhaps even admire their saving habits.

He decided that he would do his best to meet the same standards as his family had.

He pulled out the list of school supplies from his bag he was going to need and glanced from Andromeda to Griphook. "How much do I need for these things? I don't want to take out more than I need, but I don't know much about wizard money."

Griphook smiled almost gleefully. "You might just be a Potter yet, young man. You won't need to take out too much comparatively if it's just standard school supplies for Hogwarts. I imagine you might need some spending money while you're there as well in case of emergencies. Let's sort you out and I'll show you how to calculate wizarding currency…"

The goblin gave a brief explanation of how wizarding money worked- how a Galleon was worth seventeen silver Sickles, which were worth twenty-nine bronze Knuts. A single Galleon was equivalent to about five British pounds and about seven and a half US dollars. Not that Harry planned on going overseas anytime soon, but it was nice to have a few comparisons from the muggle world that he was more familiar with.

When they finished calculating how much Harry would need for school supplies and taken the necessary money, he was stricken by how utterly unaffected the massive hoard of gold and silver appeared to be. He would be just fine financially for a very long time. He just wished he knew a way to start adding onto the hoard his family had so painstakingly saved up.

Before they left the vault, Harry paused for a moment. Griphook had helped him out without question or complaint. Andromeda had warned him not to do anything to become indebted to the goblins, and although Griphook seemed nice enough for one of his race, Harry wasn't sure if he wanted to test that impression given that he barely knew him, so he snatched an extra gold coin from the huge piles.

They rode the mine cart back up to the top and when they were back on stable ground, Harry tossed the Galleon to the goblin once he had Griphook's attention. He snatched the coin out of the air with practiced ease and looked at Harry curiously. The boy nodded to him just as Andromeda had told him- polite, but curt. "For your trouble."

The goblin grinned with a rather fiendish delight. "No trouble at all, Mr. Potter. On the contrary, I'm pleased you've already learned to play our little games. We at Gringotts are happy to have the House of Potter back in our care. May your enemies burn in agony and find that all their vaults have been emptied."

"And may your enemies be bitten by venomous creatures and have all their money stolen," Harry replied, hoping that was better than his last attempt.

Griphook simply nodded and walked away to attend to his duties. Andromeda nudged Harry's arm and he was relieved to find that she had an approving smile on her face.

"Well done. You picked up on clearing that small debt quickly."

He let out a breath once they were out of earshot from the goblins. "I didn't think it'd be a good idea to take the lesson he gave me for free. You did say that they'd try to find a way to make me owe them something."

"And they did," Andromeda said as she led him out of the bank. "The important thing is that you clear up those debts before they can grow. If a goblin tells you anything that is valuable to you, make sure you pay them back in an equal or greater amount for that knowledge. It clears up your debts and, more importantly, means they'll be far more willing to work with you in the future. Some goblins have even been known to provide greater security for their best clients, and you've given them an excellent first impression, Harry."

He was glad that the visit to the bank ended on a good note. For some reason, Harry had a feeling that goblins were not creatures he wanted to antagonize. Call it instinct.

They found that Hagrid was waiting outside for them. The half-giant smiled upon seeing them leaving the bank. "Everythin' went alright then?"

"Yes," Andromeda confirmed. "Harry should have more than enough money to pay for his school supplies. Would you mind taking over from here, Hagrid? I need to do a little school shopping for my daughter."

"Sure!" Hagrid said. "Where should we meet once we're done? We can't get back inta Grimmauld Place without ya."

Harry tilted his head in confusion. "Why not?"

Andromeda was quiet for a second and he thought perhaps she even looked uneasy. "My cousin technically owns Grimmauld Place, but he allowed me to come and go as I please. Trouble is, I'm the only one who can grant anyone else access while he's…away. So unless I'm with you, we can't return there."

He wasn't sure how that worked, but Harry assumed it had something to do with magic. Maybe there was a special lock on the house or something? He shrugged mentally. He'd look into later.

"Let's meet at the Leaky Cauldron in three hours," Andromeda decided. "That should be long enough to get all the supplies we'll need."

"Agreed," Hagrid replied, after which the woman strode off to conduct what business she had. The half-giant turned away from Gringotts and glanced down at Harry. "Right then, lad! Let's get movin'!"

The next couple of hours were spent wandering up and down the cobblestone path of Diagon Alley, getting school supplies like books, robes, quills, and ink. Some of the more unusual items, used for a class Hagrid called Potions, were things Harry was sure would be considered biohazards in the muggle world.

Hagrid had gone out of his way to buy a couple of books that, he explained, might have information on the magic snake still hiding in Harry's bag. The half-giant insisted they were an early birthday present when Harry protested that he could afford them.

He wanted to read them right then and there, but there was still lots of shopping to do. So Harry abstained, albeit reluctantly. The sooner they finished shopping, the sooner he could read them and hopefully find some answers.

Speaking of the snake…

Hagrid had given him a brief explanation on what a "familiar" was—an animal that would act as a messenger for him whenever he needed it. Harry had (discreetly, mind you) told the serpent within his bag what that meant when they stopped shopping for a quick lunch break. He figured that she would be his familiar, so that he wouldn't have to buy an animal from one of the stores.

Apparently not. She insisted that she would not be doing something so mundane as mail deliveries. No, she would be staying with Harry and not traveling great distances, thank you very much. So far, Harry's sort-of-first familiar was too lazy to do anything but sleep, eat, and save his sorry, pre-teen butt with angry magical glares. Joy.

He would need to get a familiar that would actually do those tasks, so a trip to the animal store was in order.

They ended up going to an Owl Emporium, where Harry found himself surrounded by a variety of owl breeds, some of which he'd never even heard of. In all honesty, he had no idea which one to pick, but Hagrid gave him some pointers.

"Look at 'em in the eyes for a few seconds," the half-giant explained. "If they look away, screech, or ye just feel like they aren't right, try a different one. Keep goin' until ye find one that clicks with ya."

Harry did as was suggested. He went through over a dozen of the birds, varying from a small Barn Owl to a massive Great Grey, but none of them really felt right. He eventually found himself looking into the amber eyes of a beautiful snowy owl. Maybe it was because the color was so similar to the serpent in his bag, or the serene disposition of the gorgeous bird, but Harry felt an instant connection with her.

He approached the cage she was held in and carefully opened it up before offering his hand to her. The bird inspected the proffered limb with her sharp gaze for several moments, then maneuvered her feet to grasp his wrist and work her way out of the cage. She climbed up to his shoulder, careful not to pierce his skin with her sharp claws, and let out a quiet hoot.

Harry grinned. She was definitely the one.

"I still need…" Harry scanned the school supply list that they'd been checking off as they purchased the items required. It was almost complete, save for one thing. "A wand."

Hagrid, who was carrying nearly everything they'd bought, nodded towards a small, yet elegant shop as they worked their way closer to the Leaky Cauldron. Harry had no idea how he managed to carry all of that stuff, but the half-giant didn't even seem to notice the extra weight. "Olivander's is the place you'll be wantin'. Best wand shop in Europe, it is."

They stopped outside the store and Hagrid gestured for Harry to go inside. "Ye should probably do this on yer own, Harry. Pickin' a wand is a personal experience."

Harry only nodded, since he had no idea what he was in for. He carefully set down the cage holding his new Snowy Owl. The bird in question was wide awake and alert—it was gonna take some getting used to, having a diurnal species. He'd lived most of his life thinking owls were nocturnal, but then he'd also had no idea magic was a thing.

The more you knew.

He kept his bag, though, and thus the magical serpent within it. Although he believed Hagrid when he said that wand selection was an experience best done by yourself, he didn't want to be alone.

The serpent's presence, however silent, was still reassuring to him as Harry walked inside the store.

It was quiet and dimly lit, with a not insignificant amount of dust covering the furniture and various objects within. If he didn't know any better, he would have assumed that no one was running the place. Harry cleared his throat and tried to get the attention of the shopkeeper…wherever he was. "Hello?"

He jumped at the sound of wood sliding and his eyes flew to the right, where an elderly man with wild white hair had suddenly appeared on a ladder that reached the high ceiling. Harry met his gaze and managed not to shift uneasily as the shopkeeper studied him with meticulous detail.

After a second, the man—who he presumed was Olivander—smiled. His voice was old and somewhat gruff, but kind. "I'd been wondering when I would see you, Mr. Potter."

That gave Harry pause. He'd been expected?

Olivander climbed down the ladder and immediately began to sift through various boxes the general size and shape of narrowed shoe boxes. "It seems like it was just yesterday that your mother and father were in here to buy their first wands…ah."

He extracted one of the boxes and carried it over to Harry. Olivander opened the box, revealing a long, light-brown wand with a twiggy appearance. "Try this."

Harry carefully took the wand out and held it up, not really sure what to do about it. He glanced at Olivander, confused.

The elder raised an eyebrow. "Well, give it a wave."

Oh, so that was it. Harry looked around and flicked it at the nearby lamp. It exploded in a burst of glass, causing Harry to jump in shock. Olivander muttered something under his breath before extracting his own wand from his sleeve and flicking it at the destroyed lamp. To Harry's fascination, the broken furniture repaired itself in a matter of seconds.

"Not this one, then," Olivander decided. He carefully took the wand away from Harry and placed it back in the box, returning it to its place on the shelves. The elder then walked down the hall for a moment before trying a different box on a higher shelf near the ceiling.

When Harry wielded it, the second wand caused a dozen wand boxes to fly out of the shelves, creating a slightly smaller mess than the first one. But after cleaning that with yet another flick of his own wand, Olivander looked pleased. "Getting warmer, then…"

"Warmer?" Harry echoed, confused.

The wandmaker grinned in amusement. "With particular customers like yourself, Mr. Potter, the less destruction a wand causes, the better—it means I'm getting closer to your ideal wand. You'll know it when it's in your hand, for power is nothing without control. The wand chooses the wizard."

They tried out four more wands in turn, varying in destruction. One punched a large hole in Olivander's desk, but another ignited an inferno that singed the elder's hair before he got it under control. Harry was confused by how gleeful the wandmaker seemed to be until Olivander started to walk to the very back of the hall. "It's been far too long since I met a wizard who gave me such a challenge, Mr. Potter. You're proving to be as extraordinary as I've come to expect."

He had no idea what that meant, but Harry held his tongue when he saw Olivander pull out another wand box—the seventh—and stared at it in silence for nearly a minute. At the edge of his hearing, he swore he heard the man murmur softly. "I wonder…"

Olivander carried the wand back to Harry and carefully opened the box. Within was a wand of jet-black Holly wood nearly a foot long, lithe and thin, yet strong. Harry pulled it out and wondered at how naturally it fit in his hand. He concentrated on it and froze as the air around him seemed to grow thicker, building a presence that he found…empowering, rather than threatening or destructive.

Upon that realization, the air around him flared with energy and the wooden floor beneath his feet cracked in all directions for nearly a foot. Yet the wand did not generate destruction as the others had. It could contain the magic it wielded.

Olivander stared at the cracks in his floor with wide eyes. "Curious…how very, very, curious. Tell me, Mr. Potter, how long have you been suppressing your magic?"

Harry frowned. "What do you mean?"

"This is indeed the wand you were meant to have," Olivander explained. "And that in itself is fascinating, but I find myself wondering at the amount of magic that has overflowed from you upon finding an outlet. How long have you been suppressing your power, Harry? And why?"

"I…" He wasn't sure what to say. He'd heard Kingsley quietly mention something called an Obscurus to Andromeda when the man thought he wasn't paying attention, something to do with his magic being suppressed. Maybe that had something to do with it? "I don't know if I've been suppressing it or not, sir. But the muggles I grew up with didn't like magic. Is that a bad thing? That I've been keeping it down?"

Olivander's eyes cleared in understanding and he eyed the boy with an appraising look. "Let me explain to you Harry something that the wizarding world has long tried to keep quiet. Magic is a dangerous force if it's forcibly contained in certain ways. A wand is an outlet- a channel for a wizard or witch to release their powers from. When one has no outlet such as a wand, magic has a tendency to release itself in other ways—some barely noticeable, others more…destructive."

"Have you ever tried to stop it? Force it down?"

Harry pursed his lips nervously. He had. He slipped up sometimes, (like with Dudley at the Zoo) but more often than not he could feel it. Harry hadn't known what to make of it and since Vernon tended to beat him more so than normal whenever he had an "incident" he did his best to stop them from happening at all. He'd force the feeling of energy building up inside of him, even if it hurt, to prevent an outburst.

His silence said it all for Olivander. The wandmaker continued. "Do not ever do it again until you can control your powers, Mr. Potter. It's very dangerous."

"What happens?" He asked, almost afraid to know the answer.

Olivander's eyes suddenly looked very tired, as though he were even older than he looked. The elder walked over to a stool and sat down with a sigh, gesturing for Harry to come to him. When the boy approached, Olivander took Harry's hand which held the want and squeezed it in a firm, comforting way. "Before wizards and witches went underground, when our kind were being hunted by muggles…Young witches and wizards sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid being killed. By doing so, without providing an outlet for their powers or learning to control them, they developed what was known as an Obscurus."

So it was the same thing that Kingsley had mentioned. Olivander's face took on a haunted look. "It's a parasitic, dark magical force that bursts free from its host and destroys anything nearby. And then…it vanishes with the host. Obscurials do not survive long, you see- the unstable magic force ruptures and destroys their bodies. Most die before they reach ten years old. By the time the signs appear, it's often too late to save them. There was an Obscurial in America seventy years ago who somehow managed to survive into his teenage years because he was more powerful than most others, but he too died."

Olivander looked into Harry's eyes, peering into the boy's very soul. "You are powerful, Mr. Potter. Very, very powerful. I'm not an expert, but I don't feel your power is yet so unstable that you've developed an Obscurus. But if you continue to suppress your power, you will only serve to hurt yourself. Whatever your reason was for restraining yourself, let it go."

Harry nodded, feeling a little sick. How much longer would he have lasted in that house with the Durselys if he continued to suppress his power? How much more abuse would it have taken to trigger an explosion he wouldn't be able to hold back?

He shook his head, dispersing those frightening thoughts. He was far away from them now and he would never go back there again. There was no need to forcibly bottle up his power anymore. Instead, he focused on something else Olivander had mentioned. "Sir, what did you mean when you said that my having this wand was fascinating?"

The gleam returned to Olivander's eyes, but the old man did not smile. "I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. It just so happens that the Phoenix who's feather resides in the core of your wand gave another feather. Just one other. It is curious that you should be the one who receives this wand when it's twin was the one who gave you that scar."

And just like that, the anxiety in Harry returned tenfold. His eyes grew wide and his body felt far too shaky for his liking. He'd always wondered about the lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead. Vernon had always told him he'd slipped and smacked his head, (probably to explain his apparent stupidity to the Dursleys) but every now and then it would burn in a way that hurt much differently from other wounds. He'd never considered that it might have been caused by magic.

Olivander saw the bewilderment in his eyes and continued. "That is no ordinary mark on your skin, Harry. A scar like that is created by a curse—and a dark one at that. Why else do you think you're called the Boy Who Lived?"

"The…the what?" He repeated, confused.

"Goodness gracious, what hole have those muggles been keeping you in?" Olivander grumbled. "Have you not yet learned your importance in our world?"

Harry shook his head and the wandmaker sighed. "Mr. Potter, you are known far and wide throughout our world for surviving the wrath of one of the most evil wizards history has ever known. A wizard so foul and dark, people fear to so much as speak his name—the same wizard who put that scar on your forehead. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did terrible things, no matter how great they may have been had he used his powers for good. And you were the only one who survived his curse. That's why you are the Boy Who Lived."

"What happened to him?" Harry asked, feeling cold and clammy.

"That's the question, isn't it?" Olivander murmured. "No one knows for certain. All that we know is that somehow, you stopped him that night he tried to kill you. Something you did, Harry, destroyed him. I've no idea why you were hidden with muggles of all people after that, but you're a celebrity in our world. People will try to sway you to their side to gain favor in the wizarding community—do not let yourself fall prey to those seeking to use you for their own desires. You are new in our world, Harry, but you are known to all."

He fell silent, perhaps allowing Harry time to grasp that latest bombshell. Olivander studied him for several more minutes before standing up and pulling away, walking towards the back of his shop. "I think your friend is growing anxious waiting for you outside, Mr. Potter. Do not forget what I have said, but do not let it trouble you for too long, either. The darkness that has plagued you throughout your youngest years has passed- be calm now, and look forward to your future."

The elder turned around a corner and disappeared then, leaving Harry standing by the still-cracked floor with the Holly-and-Phoenix wand in his hand to contemplate all that he'd learned.