Harry Potter and the Hermetic Arts

Chapter 2: Hunter Whiplash


The small raven-haired boy found himself alone in Diagon Alley, a heavy bag of gold in hand. Rubeus Hagrid, having tossed his cookies, had begged off to drink at the pub, and though he had suggested Harry get his uniform, the boy had other ideas. Mainly, to do something about the sack of galleons he was lugging around, because he was quite sure he could use it as a blackjack and bludgeon somebody to death from the sheer weight of it, though he also asked himself whether he wanted to follow the instructions of somebody who shamelessly declared they needed to go day drinking to a wee child and whether he really should go to a school that employed such an alcoholic.

So, alone in the sea of people dressed like steampunk LARPers thronging in the streets lit by lanterns despite being in the daylight hours, Harry looked around and wondered just why nobody seemed too concerned at an unattended child wandering about on his own and decided he really did not want to think too deeply about it, particularly if it reflected on magical society's views towards children. Nonetheless, he wandered the street on his own, looking into shops through their display windows to determine what they sold; only when he found a display window filled with various trunks and other pieces of luggage did he enter a boutique.

The young woman at the counter started what was likely the store's standard greeting but stopped herself at the sight of the small boy clutching a large, misshapen sack. "Hey," she said, in as reassuring a tone as she probably could. "What's a boy like you doing wandering around all alone? Where's your mom and dad?"

"Daddy died in the war, and mama's busy with the biz, meetin' diplomats and other such folk," said Harry, adopting an exaggerated drawl like one might have if they came from the American south and a bright smile. "The alcoholic uncle Ah came to Diagon Alley wit' went day drinkin' after he blew chunks all over a goblin's loafers."

The young witch looked taken aback at the boy's airy tone. "You know… a lot of complicated words," she said, after a moment.

"Well, Miss, Ah've many smart friends," Harry replied, looking around the shop before turning back towards the young woman. "Listen," he said. "The drunk Ah came to Diagon Alley wit', God bless his soul, being an imbecile, filled this here rather large sack wit' many gold pieces and gave it to a small child, namely myself. Now, Ah imagine you's an intelligent woman, so Ah reckon you can figure out how this might be a prah'lem. Hell, Ah'll even give yous three guess, and the first two won't even hafta count."

The young woman stared at the rather rude boy in front of her, carrying a heavy-looking sack with both hands, and the answer quickly dawned on her. "It's very heavy," she said.

"Got it in one, Miss," said the boy. "Now, this seems like the type of place one might go to buy thangs that can hold other thangs, and as you've surmised, Ah need somethang to hold this here sack of coins, and all the school supplies Ah'm about to buy, Ah reckon. Ah mean, bless his poor soul, but what kind of bakebrain sends a small child to buy school supplies without getting somethang to hold those supplies in first?"

The young woman wasn't sure how to answer the question, then decided it was rhetorical and thought better of it. "I'm sure I can help you find something that'll suit your needs," she said with the smile of somebody who was used to working retail. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I didn't catch your name, Mister..."

"Oh, where are mah manners?" said Harry with feigned chagrin. "Mama would be so disappointed in me for not introducin' mahself." Taking the young woman's hand in his, he leaned forward slightly as he kissed the air above the back of her hand. "Hunter Whiplash, of the Louisiana Whiplashes. It is an absolute pleasure to make yer acquaintance."

"Constance Corbyn," said the young woman, blushing fiercely as she pulled her hand from the small boy's, "Mister Whiplash, do you know what kind of trunk you're looking to purchase?"

"Miss Corbyn," said the now-named Hunter Whiplash with a smile, "Ah'm sure the trunks ya sell in this here shop are of the fahnest quality, but a trunk is but a trunk, and if ya put it down, you might forget ya had it. No, Miss, Ah would like to purchase somethang not unlike a haversack or a rucksack, something with one or more straps so Ah don't lose mah luggage just because Ah put it down and forgot Ah had it wit' me."

"I believe we have some of those in the back," said Constance, as she led the way to the back of the shop where rows of various bags hung from the wall by hooks.

"Wonderful," said Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash. "Now, Miss, wouldja be so kind as to educate me about these products in this here fine shop?"

"Certainly, Mister Whiplash," said the young saleswoman. "All of our bags are charmed with a Featherweight Charm and an Extension Charm, which make them light as feather and capable of holding much more than their size would suggest."

"And just how much more could such a bag hold?" asked Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash.

"As much as you need it to, Mister Whiplash," said Constance.

"That surely is a mighty handy haversack," said the boy, as he took one from where it hung on the wall, a black leather number with seemingly one large compartment, two smaller ones and straps and buttons to secure all of them. Holding the bag by the shoulder strap, he heft its weight, then nodded to himself in satisfaction. "Ah believe Ah shall purchase this one here. However, Ah still need somethang to hold all my gold pieces."

"I believe a Mokeskin pouch would suit your needs, Mister Whiplash," said Constance. "We've an assortment of them, right by the till."

Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash followed Constance Corbyn to the register, and like the young woman said, there were a variety of scaly-materialed bags, pouches and purses on display, before picking up a black pouch on a thin silver chain. "Miss, am Ah correct in believe these pouches too are charmed with a Featherweight Charm and an Extension charm?"

"Yes, Mister Whiplash," said the saleswoman.

"Then, Ah shall have this pouch as well as this handy dandy haversack."

"That will be one hundred twenty Galleons," said Constance.

Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash placed the heavy sack of gold pieces onto the counter, then counted out the appropriate number of gold pieces, before counting out an additional twenty Galleons and pressing them into the young woman's hands after she had finished the transaction. While he loathed to waste money, it was certainly something he knew Hunter Whiplash would do. "A tip, for your fine service," he said, before the young woman could protest, before he opened the small black pouch and poured the contents of the sack he had withdrawn the gold from into it before lifting the chain up and over his head, letting it settle behind his neck before he lifted the pouch off the counter and tucked it under his shirt.

"Thank you again for your fine service," said Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash with a bow as he departed from the luggage store. "Have yourself a mighty fine day, Miss Corbyn."

~ooOoo~

Flourish and Blotts was the bookstore Harry had been directed to by a stranger on the street when he had asked where he could purchase the books necessary for a first-year student attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once inside, he felt a certain sense of greed as he enviously eyed the shelves stacked to the ceiling with all manners of tomes. Thus, like every time he went to a bookstore or a library, he found an appropriate book and then plopped himself down on the floor to read it.

In this case, the book was one entitled, Harry Potter: The Boy-Who-Lived, which purported to tell his life story, but was fictional, as far as he could tell, though he did learn a few things from it, particularly when he cross-referenced it with several other books, also supposedly about him.

Apparently, Harry had, at the tender age of fifteen months, somehow "stopped" some kind of dark lord whose name he couldn't find because every book vacillated between calling him "You-Know-Who" and "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". The books also all mentioned this dark lord had slain Harry's parents just prior to being stopped by the toddler, and was a terrible monster of a man who had killed many others. However, beyond these two points, the books agreed on little else; some had him as a hero traversing the world and saving damsels in distress and slaying monstrous creatures, while others imagined him living a quiet life with relatives in Scotland.

So focused was Harry on the books he had laid out before him that he didn't even notice the girl with bushy hair standing in front of him, impatiently tapping her foot, until she cleared her throat.

With a start, Harry jumped to his feet, immediately slipping into Hunter Whiplash and his southern drawl. "Pardon me, Miss," he said, quickly extending a hand. "Ah di'n't see you there. Mah name's Hunter Whiplash. Pleasure to make your acquaintance."

The girl gave Harry a quizzical look as she took his hand. "Hermione Granger," she said, shaking his hand with a soft one of her own. "You have the fakest sounding accent from the American South I have ever heard, and a name so obviously fake, I can't believe anybody would believe it was real."

"Curses, foiled again!" said Harry darkly, realizing his cover had been blown. Looking into the brown-haired girl's eyes, he saw what he thought might be a spark of intelligence, something that had been sorely missing from his cousin and his uncle, and decided to make a gamble. "Listen, Hermione Granger," he said, looking around to make sure nobody was listening as he lowered his voice and leaned in conspiratorially, letting his Southern drawl drop completely. "Can you keep a secret?"

Obviously intrigued, the girl, no older than Harry himself, leaned inwards as well. "I can. And it's just Hermione."

"I'm actually Harry Potter," whispered the-boy-titled-"The-Boy-Who-Lived" directly into the girl's ear, before pulling back and holding up the book in his hand to show the cover, letting her read the title of it, Harry Potter: The-Boy-Who-Lived.

"Then why would you introduce yourself as Hunter Whiplash?" Hermione whispered back, eyes narrowing suspiciously.

"As you can see from all these books, I'm apparently very famous," whispered the small boy, gesturing towards to the books laid out around him. "The last time somebody said my name in a public place, people swarmed me like I was giving away the secret to eternal youth. And I don't like being swarmed by strangers I don't know who want to touch me; it's creepy and weird."

"That makes sense," said Hermione, pulling back. Then, with a mischievous smile, she said, "So, Mister Hunter Whiplash, would you be so kind as to move aside? You're blocking some of the books I need for school."

It took a moment for Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash to register what those words meant exactly; then, he dropped into the a crouch, quickly gathering the books he had strewn around the floor. "Shiet, Ah forgot Ah was here ta buy school books," he said, once again assuming the accent. Then, realizing she already had a stack of books with her, he said, "Mayhaps Ah can be of assistance, Miss Granger. Please allow me to carry at least some your books while you continue to find the books you wish to purchase."

Together, the two went about the shop, taking from the shelves the books Hermione needed as well as the ones she found to be of interest. As they neared the counter, Hermione frowned. "Mister Whiplash, you have no books," she observed, meaning all the books he carried were for her alone. "Didn't you say you needed to buy the ones for school?"

Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash gave her a crooked smile. "Ah've this under control," he said airily. "Jes' wait, you'll see."

Together, they waited their turn, and after Hermione had made her purchase, for a total of fifteen Galleons, he said to the clerk, in Upper Received Pronunciation, "I would like to purchase one of everything."

Hermione gasped, and the clerk opened his mouth to say something, though nothing came out for a moment, before he swallowed and croaked out, "One of everything?"

"I am here on the behalf of Mister Harry Potter," said Harry. "He is currently indisposed as he is at a meeting at Gringotts Wizarding Bank, but if you would be so kind as to charge the purchase and deliver his books to his vault there, and he will take the ones he requires for his schooling as well as any he might be interested in for his own personal perusal when he has time. Please be so kind as to categorize the purchase by subject matter, sorted in order of difficulty of the content of the book, with the simplest on the top and the most challenge at the bottom, and to stack the books from the Hogwarts curriculum closest to the front of the vault, sorted separately by year, with the lowest nearest to the door."

Hushed whispers rippled through the customers of Flourish and Blotts at the sight of the posh-sounding-yet-poorly-dressed valet of the legendary Boy-Who-Lived, a young boy in the service of another boy who clearly had more important things to do than do his own shopping.

"Certainly, I can do that for Mister Potter," said the clerk quickly, and Harry instantly knew his gambit had paid off.

"Thank you," said Harry, before turning to go. "Miss Granger, I may be of assistance..."

~ooOoo~

Outside Flourish and Blotts, the two children carrying books were met by a tall man and a woman of average height; though Harry did not recognize them, Hermione clearly did, and from that, the small boy surmised they were her parents.

"Missus and Mister Granger Ah presume," said Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash, nodding to each as he addressed them and receiving a nod from each of them. "Mah name's Hunter Whiplash. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Ah'd shake your hands, but as you can see, mine be full."

"Here, let me take that," said Mister Granger, and Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash let him take the stack of books he had been carrying. Looking down at the boy, he said, "Why are you…"

Before he could finish, Hermione was tugging on his sleeve and leaning up; realizing his daughter wanted to tell her something, he leaned over and the girl whispered into his ear at length before his eyes widened almost imperceptibly before he stood back up and grasped Harry's hand in a firm grip. "Thank you for helping our Hermione with her books," he said, before turning to his wife as she frowned and whispering something in her ear, which only deepened her frown for a moment, but she nonetheless shook the boy's hand.

"Tell me, Missus and Mister Granger," said the boy in his drawl. "Didja plan on carryin' these books by hand while ya did yer other shopping?"

"We had thought they'd provide us with bags for the books," admitted Hermione's mother, who had taken the stack of books her daughter had been carrying.

"That is fair, Ah suppose," said Harry-as-Hunter-Whiplash, with a seemingly sage nod. "Well, if you would allow me, Ah can take ya to a fine shop selling various pieces of luggage enchanted to hold far more inside than their outside would suggest."

Hermione's parents looked at another before they nodded to Harry in unison; apparently, had silently agreed a container of some sort that was bigger on the inside would most certainly help them in their shopping trip.

~ooOoo~

"Five hundred pounds sterling!" vented Mister Granger in frustration as the two adults and two children exited the store selling charmed luggage. "Five hundred pounds sterling!" he repeated, as if for emphasis.

Harry wasn't quite sure how much money that was, because he had never really been allowed to handle money before, but the way Mister Granger spat out the number, he couldn't help but think it a high one.

"Perhaps you should think of an investment in the future," said Harry, letting slide his Southern drawl and slipping into his regular received pronunciation. "Hermione will need such a trunk at some point in the future, and the price will inevitably rise with inflation; since she's going to need the trunk anyways, you might as well buy it now and get a few extra years out of it. Besides, you heard the saleswoman; the trunk is guaranteed for life."

A momentary hush hung the air as the people accompanying Harry digested what he had said. Then, Hermione's mother said, "That's a very enlightened view."

"Ah happen to be good friends with a professor of economics," drawled Harry with a smile. "Now, shall we go and purchase our other equipment?"

~ooOoo~

It wasn't long before they had purchased cauldrons, scales, telescopes and phials; as the purchases had been smaller and with fewer gold pieces, Harry could remain Hunter Whiplash while he made the purchases. Still, as he, Hermione and her parents made their way towards Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, which had been recommended by the sales clerk in another shop, Harry found his stomach tying itself in knots at the prospect of having to face the large lunk named Rubeus Hagrid.

The reunion went just as badly as he had expected.

"Harry!" blubbered the big man as he rushed to envelope the small boy in a bear hug, fat tears running down his cheeks, which were flush, likely from the alcohol he had consumed. "I thought I lost yeh! Why'dja wander off?"

"Because you wanted me to buy my uniforms when I didn't have anything to put them in while you went and had yourself a drink for a pick-me-up," snarled the boy as he extracted himself from tearful man's embrace, his Southern drawl having vanished without a trace. "What were you expecting me to do, carry them around in my hands while I bought everything else? It's not as though I knew how long you were going to take or how drunk you were going to get."

Behind Harry, Hermione's parents seemed uncertain whether they should be appalled at the small boy's rude behavior or outraged at the crying giant for abandoning a child in a busy shopping district to go day drinking, before they decided on the latter and let the big, hairy man have a piece of their mind. Harry, however, was already not paying attention to the stern lecturing the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts was receiving, as he was already walking into the seamstress' shop, while Hermione looked torn over whether she should follow Harry into the shop or stay with her parents while they berated the shaggy-bearded man, though when it became fairly clear they would be a while, she followed after the small boy.

"Hogwarts, dear?" asked the squat, smiling woman bedecked in a mauve robe.

"Something like that," said Harry. "Must be getting a lot of them, tho, if that's your first guess."

The woman chuckled as she pointed Harry to the back of the shop, where a younger woman beckoned while the older one turned towards Hermione and gave a similar greeting. Wordlessly, Harry joined the woman who had beckoned him, and, at her direction, stood on a footstool as Hermione soon joined him on the one nearby.

"Harry, that was quite rude what you did back there," chided Hermione, as the younger woman dropped a long robe over her head and began to pin it to the right length, while the older woman did the same to the raven-haired boy.

"He was the one who decided to get drink and leave a small child in a strange, crowded place," Harry countered. "If nothing else, that's child endangerment, which is a crime where I'm from."

Hermione found she could only nod in agreement; clearly, Harry had the law on his side, so she decided to change the subject. "Why did you buy all those books at Flourish and Blotts?"

"Because I could," said the boy flatly, "because knowledge is power, and because I'm sure there'll be something useful in most of them."

"But how could you buy all those books? It must have cost a fortune!"

"I found out just today that I'm apparently extraordinarily wealthy," the small boy said flatly. "Giant-heaps-of-gold-pieces-stacked-almost-to-the-ceiling-of-a-quite-large-bank-vault wealthy. And I once asked a man who owns a similar shop how much his inventory cost; he told me it was close to twenty-five thousand pounds. After taking into consideration the eight books you purchased for school totaled only fifteen gold pieces, and that I may well have inherited millions of pounds, if not more, it seemed a reasonable guess I could afford the purchase; it's not as though there are many things I'd really want that would be as helpful to me as the books."

"Why did you say you were in a meeting at Gringotts? Why not just take the books to the clerk and buy them there?"

"Can you imagine how many books that would be?" asked Harry with a chuckle. "I wouldn't want to wait for them to retrieve a copy of every single book they have in stock, then have to count out the exact number of gold pieces it would take to pay for them. Easier to just have them ship it to my vault and take the payment from it themselves; saves me time to do other things.

"But to do that, I needed to establish which vault the purchase was to be charged and sent to without giving away my identity, because I did not want to be swarmed again," continued Harry. "That meant I had to create an excuse for why I wasn't at Flourish and Blotts and had sent a servant in my stead. A meeting at Gringotts sounds important, don't you think? And that establishes the idea of Harry Potter having a vault, which is perfect for what I wanted to do."

"How did you know they'd believe you were a servant, though?" asked the bushy-haired brunette, clearly already mull over what Harry had said.

"Karen always tells me, when you're playing a part, you need to have confidence in being the character," the boy explained. "If you don't believe you're them, why would anyone else? It's mostly a matter of having confidence and acting like you belong there, and if they think you don't, showing them they're very clearly wrong. It's a confidence trick, in a way; you hook the mark by playing to their expectations, and then you exploit the holes in their perception. I told the clerk I worked for Harry Potter and I made him believe Harry Potter had a vault, so I was able to convince him to sell me the books without first confirming my identity as a representative of Harry Potter; because the clerk knew Harry Potter was famous, he accepted the idea he might have a servant and be a busy person, so he didn't question why a child was sent to purchase books in his stead. The clerk accepted Harry Potter would have somebody else buy his school supplies for him if he was busy, and thus it never even dawned on him I myself might be Harry Potter, because surely someone as famous as Harry Potter wouldn't be dressed in hand-me-down clothes barely fitting him."

"That doesn't sound very nice," said Hermione, distractedly.

Harry started to answer back, but was interrupted when the short, mauve-dressed woman said, "That's you done, my dear."

Stepping off the stool, Harry doffed the robe and folded it neatly before handing it to the woman who had been marking the alterations to be made. "How long will it take to make the alterations?" asked the boy. "Also, the supplies list requires I have a total of three sets of robes, a pointed black hat, a pair of protective gloves and a black winter cloak with silver fasteners; where can I find those?"

"It'll only be but a moment," said the mauve-dressed woman holding the robe. "All we need to do is use a Severing Charm to cut the robe to the correct length, then repeat the process for the additional robes. As for the gloves, the hat and the cloak, you can find those on the counters."

"Thank you for your assistance," said the small boy with a nod. "I'll be back for the robes."

Going into the racks in the store, Harry is soon joined by the bushy-haired brunette. "What do you still need to buy?" asked the boy, as he flipped through the cloaks on the tables.

"I bought my wand first thing," said the girl, "so I think I have everything I'll need for Hogwarts."

"Well, I think this is where we parts ways, then," said Harry. "I still need to procure a wand."

"Well, I'll see you at Hogwarts," said Hermione wistfully.

Harry caught her tone. "Or, perhap we could meet again before the school year?" he suggested, and as Hermione nodded eagerly, he added, "I'll find some paper and a pen, and you'll give me your phone number so we can arrange something?"

Hermione nodded, and Harry went off to find something to write with and on.


Author's Notes: My writing style is hugely influenced by cyberpunk fiction. Because of this, plot elements will often show up without explanation at the time, only to be better supported in the future of the story. For example, Harry is hugely suspicious of authority figures (as vaguely demonstrated by the first chapter); why he is this way is touched upon in a later chapter, so it's not as though he dislikes authority for no reasons, just that the reason hasn't been explained yet.

My thanks to Shinshikaizer for writing the original pitch, and my friend goalie12345 for editing.