Harry Potter, Squatter

By Enterprise1701_d

Chapter 50

Harry whooped loudly as Bucephalus raced across the plain. Next to them, Nemmy, the Nemean Lion, in full-on Lion form, bounded along. The giant cat had its mouth open and seemed to relish the chance to run.

As the warhorse moved beneath him, its hooves hitting the grass and dirt, Harry settled into the rhythm. Horrendously off-key, he started whistling the opening lines to 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' – simply because the rhythm matched so well and he loved the song.

Bucephalus whinnied at the same time as Nemmy growled at him, and he stopped immediately. "Sorry guys," he muttered. His off-key singing stopped, both animals settled down again, and enjoyed their run.

They ran for what seemed like ages, before stopping at the edge of a forest. The Nemean Lion panted happily, his giant chest pumping strongly. Bucephalus, the Ghost Horse that used to belong to Alexander the Great, didn't even have the grace to be sweaty.

Harry dismounted, and patted his horse on the neck. "That was awesome," he told his latest friend. The horse neighed happily, then pretended to graze despite it being a ghost horse and therefore not needing food.

The demigod grinned, and built a small cooking fire, upon which he started preparing lunch. Nemmy flopped down next to it, and watched him as he cooked.

"Sometimes," Harry told his pet as he cooked, "I wish Hestia wasn't so overprotective. I mean, I get why she won't let me turn Bucephalus into a Harley. I'm eleven, it's way too big for me. But a Vespa is just about my size."

Nemmy yawned, and kept watching the food cooking.

"She even told me she doesn't care about Bucephalus in horse form, and he's just as fast as a horse as he is as a Vespa. I just don't get it."

Nemmy scratched at some itchy spot, and kept his gaze focused on the food.

"Sometimes, gods are just weird," Harry decided as he stirred the pot.

Nemmy licked his chops.

"I'm glad you agree," he said with a grin as he dished up food for the two of them, Nemmy getting the giant Nemean-Lion-sized platter and Harry getting the eleven-year-old-demigod sized one.

Nemmy fell upon the food like a starving lion, and Harry smiled widely, enjoying someone liking his food.

They finished eating, and Harry had cleaned the cooking implements in a nearby stream, ready to pack them away, when someone shouted from behind him.

"You!"

Harry turned, seeing a little old lady with bony arms and silver hair point a gnarled finger in his direction. "Me?" Harry asked, confused, as he'd never seen the woman before.

"Yes! You!" she shouted. "Do you have any idea what you've done?"

Harry, pointing at himself with confusion, blinked. "No?" he asked, having no idea what the crazy old woman was babbling about.

"You… !" the woman seemed apoplectic.

From next to the remainder of the cooking fire, Nemmy got to his feet and growled deeply. He didn't like his this old bat was talking to his servant! Nobody got to bully his servant but him!

The old woman turned to the Nemean Lion, and glared. "Shut it, fur rug."

The Lion blinked, stared at her, and seemed to recognize something as he meekly laid down again, pretending to be tired and going to sleep.

Harry frowned; what had this woman done to poor Nemmy!?

"Now, you!" the woman said, pointing at him again with that bony, gnarled, finger. She approached quicker than Harry had anticipated and grabbed his shoulder; sharp fingernails dug into his skin and suddenly he was somewhere else.

"Here he is," the woman snarled at two other old ladies; Harry could see the family resemblance between the three and guessed they were sisters.

"So he is," one of the other two women said, staring at Harry as if he were a very interesting insect.

"Sisters," the third one sighed.

The first old lady, the one that had grabbed him, was still glaring at him. "You broke a prophecy!" she snarled.

"Oh, that," Harry said, shrugging. "That drakon had it coming. It tried to hurt my friend and kill me."

"Do you have any idea what the repercussions of that are!?" the woman snarled. "All of reality could have become undone! You could have doomed the entire world to oblivion!" Spittle flew form her mouth in her rage, and Harry backed up, paling.

"Sister," the third woman said, sighing again. "You're scaring him."

"That's the idea!" the first woman snapped at her sister. "This little-!"

"Sister, that's enough," the third old lady said, standing up. She approached Harry, who backed up even further. He didn't know what was going on, but the teleportation trick was something he'd only ever seen gods pull off, so he was wary.

"I am called Clotho," the kind(er) old lady said. "That," she pointed to the angry old lady, and said "is Atropos." She pointed to the third woman, the quiet one, and said, "My third sister is called Lachesis. We are the Fates."

"Oh," Harry muttered, scuffing at the floor with the front of his right foot. He'd heard of the Fates, and didn't like to come to their attention like this.

"Yes, oh," Atropos snapped. "You-!"

"Sister," Clotho said, halting Atropos. "We're the three Fates," she repeated. "I spin the thread of life. Lachesis measures the length of the string, and Atropos cuts it to length. Together, we weave the fabric of fate."

"Oh," Harry repeated.

"The thing is, it isn't the first some that events surrounding you have altered the fabric of reality," Clotho said, pointing to the loom where a cloth-like weave was spilling from. "Four years ago, your destiny was altered drastically."

"Altered?" Harry asked. "How? By who?"

"If only we knew," Lachesis said, the measurer speaking up for the first time. "Your destiny altered, and all of the weave changed as a response. It is possible that we were subject to the past altering to fit the future, or there simply was a higher force that intervened."

"What happened?" Harry asked.

"You found your way onto Olympus," Clotho said. "From that single event, the past altered itself to fit the present, and the present altered the future.

Harry frowned, that whole sentence made no sense at all. "Causality works both ways," Clotho said, tone hardening. "When your present altered to allow you to find your way onto Olympus, your past altered itself to fit. For example, your mother, Lily Potter," Clotho explained, "was a mortal woman. And yet, somehow, she became the aspect of Tyche, the Goddess of Luck, the moment you found yourself in New York, and from there, onto Olympus."

"From there, your altered past and changed present spilled forward, resulting in you finding your way into the warm embrace of Hestia. You can imagine the damage done to the weave due to that one changed fact," Atropos snapped. "Reality almost broke down entirely. We were forced to weave an entirely new destiny!"

"You were supposed to have a standard level 4 Downtrodden Hero destiny," Lachesis stated. "Instead, you find yourself with a surreal childhood since age 7, and your nemesis dead before you even knew his name. Prophecies made about you and your destiny were broken without your direct interference."

"You can see the amount of work you created for us," Clotho said.

"Sorry," Harry muttered, not liking the sound of endangering reality nor causing trouble for anyone. Especially Clotho and Lachesis, they seemed nice. Atropos, on the other hand…

"You have to forgive Atropos," Clotho said, as if reading his mind. "She cuts the threads of life to measure; it is the hardest task of the three of us. Ending life is necessary, yet it is a harsh and thankless task."

Atropos huffed.

Harry felt a little sorry for her. He turned to Clotho again, and asked. "What did that mean, a level 4 downtrodden hero destiny?" he asked.

"You'd be screwed over while young and end up with a wishy-washy life," Lachesis said. "Cinderella has a Level 3, she ended up with a kind prince and a Happy Ever After. A level 4 has a similar life, but without the prince and the happy ever after," the Fate explained.

"Lucky escape," Harry muttered.

Atropos snorted. "At the expense of reality coming apart."

"But it didn't," Harry protested.

"Because of our hard work," Clotho said, trying to quell an argument. "We did not interfere with you because what happened did not happen because of you. It happed to you, but it wasn't anything you did. However, now we find you breaking prophecies by your own will.

"Due to the events in your past, the events that triggered a change in your birth and your destiny, you are less susceptible to prophecy. It makes it easier for you to break them. You broke one. And that, Harry, we can not let go."

Harry stared mulishly at the ground. "Stupid drakon tried to kill Miss Zoë," he muttered angrily. "I wouldn't have done that if it hadn't tried to kill Miss Zoë."

"It was destined to die against a child of Ares," Atropos snapped.

"It can be attributed to another change because of the initial change in destiny," Clotho said, suddenly thinking of something. "Then again, the prophecy spoke of a child of Ares, and aren't all pupils considered to be children of their teachers?"

Atropos shot a venomous, acidic look at her sister. "Stop making excuses for him!" she shouted. "He broke the prophecy, we all agreed!"

Clotho shrugged. "Harry would not have encountered the drakon if he were still in his family's care, in Britain."

Harry swallowed; he'd never been more grateful to whoever changed his destiny than right there and then. He'd still be with his relatives otherwise.

Atropos looked ever angrier, and opened her mouth to shout something else.

"But!" Clotho interrupted. She turned to Harry, crossed her arms, and stared at the young demigod. He shuffled awkwardly under her glare. "This is the final time. No more breaking of prophecies!"

Harry wanted to nod desperately, but then an idea struck him. "Knowingly," he said. "I can't avoid one if I don't know about it."

Atropos looked like she had swallowed something foul.

Lachesis and Clotho didn't look much happier. "It would be considered good manners for a demigod to be well-versed in prophecies," Clotho said.

Harry grumbled, and wished he could mouth off. If the Fates made less prophecies, maybe they wouldn't break so often. If a boy with a bow and arrow could break one, they couldn't be all that strong, anyway.

"I can't know every prophecy in every country," he protested instead. "So I might break one accidentally."

"Prophecies do not break that easily!" Atropos shouted. "Just look at the Great Prophecy, despite your best efforts it's still on track!"

"I broke one with a bow and arrow," Harry protested, ignoring the bit about the Great Prophecy. Thalia had joined the Hunters, so it would probably be Bianca, Mister Hades' daughter, who it pointed to.

"A divine weapon fired from another divine weapon, enhanced by magic not of this world," Atropos ground out, standing right in front of him and leaning close so her nose almost touched his.

"True. And I doubt Miss Zoë would ever lend me her bow again," he muttered softly. "Stingy Hunter. That bow's awesome."

"And can break prophecies when combined with your sword," Clotho declared. "I think it is time to prepare a prophecy to ensure no Hunter of Artemis will ever allow you to use her bow ever again."

"Not fair," Harry grumbled.

"You'd rather risk reality?" Atropos demanded on a dangerous tone.

"Only to save my friends," the demigod protested.

"No more reality means no more friends, either," the Fate declared on a 'why-doesn't-this-idiot-get-it' kind of tone.

"Fine, I'll try not to break any more prophecies," Harry muttered, looking away. As long as it doesn't endanger my friends, anyway, he added quietly. He'd deal with the fallout if it meant saving his friends.

"I don't think he means it," Clotho said, sadly.

"I don't think so either," Atropos declared, suddenly brandishing a bronze club that, for some reason, scared Harry worse than the Terror Stare from the drakon.

"You'll do more than try, Harry Potter," Lachesis said. "Because if you do not, and we have to clean up after you again, we will not be having a friendly chat. Instead, you will find that Atropos' shears can cut the thread of your life in an instant."

Suddenly, Atropos was holding a pair of bronzer scissors instead of a bronze club. A ball of blue yarn appeared next to her, a thread of which inched towards her. She grinned maliciously, and aimed the scissors for the thread.

Harry swallowed and nodded reluctantly.

"And perhaps, we should nip this problem in the bud," spoke Atropos, the Unturner, the Inflexible. With a motion quicker than he could follow, she snipped at his thread despite his half-hearted reassurance.

The shears snipped.

Harry gasped, pale as a ghost, unable to believe what was happening.

"And perhaps now, you will realize our power," Atropos spoke, releasing the shears and letting the thread dissolve.

"That was common wool," Clotho stated, giving her sister a look. "Despite what she implied, we do not cut the threads of life so easily. The fabric of reality requires stability."

The young demigod nodded again.

"For once, we will trust on your word. But know this. We will be watching," Clotho said.

Harry swallowed, eyes still locked on those shears Atropos had wielded.

"Now begone, " Clotho spoke, "and considering what we divulged, you will forget this conversation ever took place, even if the particulars of your promise will stay with you forever." Suddenly, Harry was back in that field.

He blinked, looked at the position of the sun, and frowned. Something had happened, but he couldn't recall what. Harry swallowed; for some reason he suddenly felt the Fates were scary. Very scary.

Which was odd, considering he'd never met them before.

And for some additional reason, he was determined not to mess with prophecies again. Well, not unless they threatened a friend of his, that was.

0000

"If you're Minister Fudge's Umgubular Shalshkilter sent after us, we are not the Lovegood Family," Luna's voice chirped through the fire when Harry called. "If you're not, you've reached the Lovegood Family."

He laughed, Luna was hilarious. "Hi Luna, it's me!" he greeted.

"Harry!" Luna said, sounding happy to hear from him. "Come on through!"

"Alright, coming through," he answered, stepping through the green flames. He emerged in the Rookery, the Lovegood family home, and immediately smiled.

Despite it's strange design and it's completely different interior design, the building immediately struck him as a home, making his Hestia-given Boon happy.

Before he had a time to recover, Luna grappled him into a fierce hug. "Happy birthday," she cheered.

"Thanks, Luna," he said, happily.

She grabbed his hand and yanked him. "Oh! Cake!" she said, pulling him along. For a moment, he debated how strange it was that a tiny slip of a girl could yank him around, despite him being well-trained.

He remembered how Silena and Annabeth had similar mysterious powers.

He just decided it was something girl-related when Luna physically deposited him in a couch, facing Mister and Misses Lovegood – Xeno and Pandora, he remembered – and the most unusually-shaped birthday cake.

He didn't know what it was supposed to represent, but it looked quite artistic.

"Hi Mis-" he started greeting Xeno, who gave him a mild but non unimportant look. "Xeno," he corrected himself. "Hello, Pandora."

"Hello, Harry. Happy birthday," Pandora said for the both of them, gracing him with a motherly smile.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be at your surprise birthday party," Luna said, depositing herself right next to him on the couch. "We were in Lithuania looking for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks."

"It was regrettable we couldn't find any," Xeno said. "We probably have to look further north. Maybe Finland."

Harry nodded thoughtfully, while Pandora smiled indulgently at Xeno and Luna. "As we couldn't find any, we decided that a Crumple-Horner Snorkack cake would be appropriate," Luna said, pointing to the birthday cake.

"It looks awesome," Harry said with a wide grin. "Now that I know what one looks like, I'll keep an eye out, definitely."

Luna hugged him. "Thanks, Harry," she said, releasing him. "It's ever so nice to have real friends."

"I agree," Harry replied, thinking of all the friends he had made, Luna included. "Friends are your greatest treasure." Luna nodded sagely.

Pandora coughed at the unexpected emotional conversation and handed over a nicely decorated birthday present. "We couldn't have a birthday without a present," she said.

"Thank you, Mis-" he corrected himself before her look got halfway there, "Pandora," he added, and accepted the present. Suddenly, he thought of something and had to laugh to himself.

Luna and Xeno looked like laughing to oneself was a perfectly normal occasion, but Pandora looked curious. "Harry?" she asked.

"Sorry," he apologized.

"Nonsense, old boy, no need to apologize for having a good laugh," Xeno said, waving his hand. "Although I suppose some of us are a mite jealous and may wish to join you."

"Ancient Greek His… Mythology," he corrected, remembering belatedly that he shouldn't inform outsiders that Greek Mythology was real. "There is the story of Pandora." Even though it was a pithos, and not a box, in reality, he thought silently.

The three magicals looked curious, so Harry told the commonly accepted version of the story of Pandora, and her mystical box.

"And Pandora just gave me a box," Harry ended his story. "So, I'm about to open Pandora's box."

Xeno and Luna both laughed, while Pandora looked playfully upset for a moment, before laughing along.

Harry carefully opened the package, making sure not to damage the wrapping paper. He was indeed, left with a box.

Opening the lid, he found a number of books.

"You didn't grow up in the magical world, so these might come in handy," Luna explained. "It's a collection of children's books from the magical world."

"Awesome!" Harry said, always loving a good read. "Thanks so much!"

"You're welcome, I'm glad you like them," Luna said before her parents could. "I picked them out."

"They look fun. What are The Tales of Beedle the Bard about?" Harry asked, picking up the book at the top of the box.

"They're fairy tales, everyone in the magical world knows them," Luna said.

Harry nodded, and looked at the second book. "Harry Potter and the Mysterious Princess?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"More children's tales, this time with you as the main character," Luna said with a giggle.

"We did warn you that you are famous," Xenophilius grinned.

Harry laughed, and picked the book out. "What is it I am supposed to have done?" he asked.

"Oh, that one is about you rescuing a princess, locked up in a castle by her father," Luna explained.

Harry thought for a moment, wondering where this author got their information from. He didn't remember rescuing any princesses.

Then again, Mel could be considered a princess, given her father was King of the Underworld. "I wonder where they got their information from," he said as he thumbed through the book. "I mean, it was a cave, not a castle."

"Sorry?" Pandora asked, while Xeno and Luna just grinned widely.

"Technically, Mel is a princess, but it was a cave, not a castle," Harry said, still engrossed in scanning the book.

"You actually rescued a princess?" Pandora asked, while Luna giggled and her father simply nodded as if it were expected.

Harry nodded. "Let me tell you about my friend Melinoe, and the cave I freed her from," he said, starting his tale and heavily redacting it to remove references to the Greek gods.

0000

"I spoke with your new headmaster," Hestia said as she fussed a bit over his clothes. She was in her adult mortal form, looking in her mid-thirties. Harry, amused at her sudden motherly actions, allowed it. "It isn't a problem to bring both your… cat… and your owl. Apparently, it's not an uncommon request. The rule is there to prevent students from bringing an entire aviary."

Harry nodded. "Cool."

A flash appeared in the living area of Helios' Temple, depositing Tyche, Goddess of Fortune.

"Hello, Tyche," Hestia said, immediately stopping with fussing over Harry and turning to the new arrival.

"Hi, Mom," Harry said, shyly. While he'd often conversed with his mother, it was all via letter. He wasn't at all used to seeing her in person.

"Lady Hestia," Tyche greeted respectfully. "-" her voice broke as she tried to greet her son, and both looked sad.

"Now, now," Hestia said, attempting to cheer them up. "We have a nice day of shopping ahead of us, and as long as Tyche speaks to me, we should have no problems. No need for long faces."

"Thank you, Lady Hestia," the Goddess of Fortune said, gratefully.

"Just call me, Hestia, dear," Hestia said on a motherly tone, patting the other goddess' upper arm.

"Were do we go?" Harry asked.

Tyche tried to answer for a moment, realized her voice stuck in her throat, and turned to Hestia instead. "We should go to the Leaky Cauldron, on Charon Cross Road, in London," she answered Harry's question as a statement to Hestia so it would fall outside the parameters of her curse.

Stupid Zeus.

Harry nodded. "Thanks, Mom," he said as if she had replied to him, and waved his hand at the fire, turning it green.

They stepped through and emerged in a rather dark and shabby looking pub. In the gloomy atmosphere, Harry was able to make out a few women sitting in one corner, sipping sherry.

And how he come to know the drink was sherry, he didn't know.

Next to the bar was a small man wearing a tall top hat, talking to the old bartended who was completely bald and toothless.

Everyone fell silent at their arrival, and stared at them.

"Don't mind us, we're just passing through to the Alley," Tyche said.

"Good lord," the bartender said in the sudden silence. "Is that… can it be…"

The entire pub fell even more silent and still than it had been before.

"Harry Potter," the bartender continued, stepping from behind his bar. He rushed over and took the demigod's hand, actually having tears in his eyes.

"What an honor," the old man said, shaking Harry's hand.

Harry, who always tried to live up to Hestia's teachings, shook the man's hand. "It is very nice to meet you, too, sir," he said politely.

"He called me sir!" the old bartender shouted, sounding extremely chuffed. "Just call me Tom, Mr. Potter. Welcome back. Really, welcome back."

"Then I'm just Harry," Harry said, grinning, still shaking Tom's hand. It seemed that the old man really liked shaking hands, as he gave no signs of stopping.

Suddenly, the handshaking was interrupted by the scraping of chairs, and Harry found himself greeting every patron of the pub. Again, Hestia's teaching took over, and despite feeling rather odd and out-of-place at the center of attention, he found himself replying nicely to everyone willing to shake his hand. As if by instinct.

The Lovegoods hadn't been exaggerating his fame, it seemed.

"Doris Crockford, Mr. Potter, can't believe I'm meeting you at last."

"Nice to meet you, Miss Crockford," Harry answered the old woman, who seemed to be completely chuffed at being called 'miss' at her age. Again, when he told her to call him 'Harry', he found himself allowed to call her by her first time.

"Delighted to meet you, Mister Potter. I can't tell you how much. Diggle's the name. Dedalus Diggle."

"I remember you," Harry said, suddenly remembering the strange man with the top hat from before. "You once bowed to me in a shop! It's nice to meet you, Sir. Please call me Harry."

"He remembers!" Dedalus said, excitedly, actually losing his top hat in the excitement. "He remembered me, do you all hear that!?" he turned back to Harry, and said. "Please, just 'Dedalus' will do, Harry. Honored to meet you for real this time. Truly honored."

Harry grinned at Doris Crockford, who apparently came back for seconds. He laughed, and shook her hand again. He was going to enjoy the Wizarding World, if everyone was this friendly.

A pale young man made his way forward. He looked healthy, but he was the kind of pale of someone who didn't get nearly enough sunlight.

"Professor Quirrell!" Tom, the bartender, said as he turned to Harry. "Harry, this is Professor Quirrell, he's one of the teachers at Hogwarts. I reckon he'll be one of your teachers, too."

"Mister Potter," Quirrell said, grasping Harry's hand. "I can't tell you how pleased I am to meet you."

Harry grinned back. "It's nice to meet you, too, sir. What kind of magic do you teach?"

"Defense against the Dark Arts," the teacher answered easily. "I just spent the summer holiday in Eastern Europe; Romania, Transylvania, that sort of place. Tried to find some vampires to study."

"Like Count Dracula?" Harry asked, interested.

Quirrell laughed. "He was killed over a century ago. Van Helsing was quite the hunter." He patted Harry's shoulder. "I'm looking forward to having you in my class, I'll tell you all about him."

"I'm looking forward to it, sir," Harry said, smilingly.

Quirrell looked pleased at that, then leaned down. "A note of advice, Mister Potter. A professor is usually addressed by 'Professor'. Some of my colleagues are touchy about that. You may want to keep that in mind."

"Thank you, Professor," Harry answered easily, substituting the title. He found it strange; even gods and goddesses didn't mind if he called them 'Mister' and 'Miss', or 'Sir' and 'Ma'am'. It was something to keep in mind, he supposed. Mortal Adults again.

The other patrons wouldn't let the professor keep Harry to himself, and it took another ten minutes before Hesrtia, as politely as she ever was, extracted Harry from the small crowd.

Harry shook hands with Doric Crockford one last time, both of them laughing at her silliness, and Hestia and Tyche led him through the bar and into a small courtyard, completely walled in from the surroundings.

The courtyard was empty, safe for one trashcan and some weeds that bravely made their way up through cracks in the stones.

"Three up and two across," Tyche said to Hestia as she pointed out bricks in the stone wall above the trashcan. As she touched the wall three times, the last brick wriggled and a small hole appeared. As it appeared, the surrounding bricks wriggled as well and pulled away.

In such a fashion the rippling of the bricks continued as the hole grew, until they were facing a large stone archway that gave way to a cobbled street that meandered out of sight.

"Diagon Alley," Tyche said, again to Hestia.

The three stepped through, and Harry glanced over his shoulder, where the archway immediately snapped back into a wall. It made for some interesting security, Harry thought.

As they walked, the first shop on the right was a cauldron shop.

"Harry will need one of those," Tyche said. They entered the shop, and Tyche immediately started discussing things with the proprietor, obviously drawing on the experience of her Lily Potter aspect.

"A pewter cauldron is for idiots," Tyche said. "Copper or brass is better. Pewter melts too easily."

"Of course," the proprietor said as he guided them to a second with bright and shiny cauldrons. "What is Hogwarts' board thinking, right?"

Tyche scoffed. "I've been asking myself the same thing. Trying to save a few knuts, no doubt."

Harry bit his tongue to ask what knuts were, but Tyche saw the question on his face anyway. To thin air, as if explaining things to herself, she said, "Galleons are gold, Sickles are silver, and Knuts are bronze."

Harry nodded.

"Muggle raised?" the shopkeeper asked, his tone shifting subtly.

"I was raised on Olympus," Harry interjected.

"Greece?" the shopkeeper asked, shifting again. He sounded friendly again, while he'd sounded a tad uncomfortable just before. "That must've been quite the experience."

Tyche nodded. "It was." She turned back to the cauldrons. "Brass aids in stability, Copper aids in potency."

"So brass?" Harry asked. The shopkeeper started to reach for one, but Tyche interjected.

Once more, speaking to thin air as if making a comment to herself, she stated, "Lily had a knack for potions and used a copper one."

Harry looked at her. Tyche didn't respond; nor could she if she even wanted to. For a few moments, Harry thought.

Potions sounded like cooking, and he loved cooking. Hestia's teachings in the kitchen would no doubt aid him greatly. "A copper one, please," he told the shopkeeper, who smiled widely. With the drop of the name, he'd come to realize who he had in his shop. The friendliness became smarminess, and Harry found himself growing uncomfortable.

They left the shop with a top set of scales for weighing ingredients and a collapsible brass telescope.

They ducked into the apothecary next, and Harry found himself assaulted by the smells and the sounds and the sights of the various ingredients; some of which looked like they had crawled right out of a bad horror movie.

In other words, he loved the place.

"Rather than buying a potions kit," Tyche told Hestia. "I will compose my own. No doubt, mistakes will be made and it is always better to have reserves. Plus, if even half the stories I hear about Harry in the kitchen are true, I will expect him to start experimenting. Better to have some additional resources and ingredients."

Hestia nodded, and Harry smiled widely. He loved his mom. Even if she couldn't be his mom in public. And couldn't talk to him directly.

As Tyche started scooping various ingredients into their own containers, she talked to herself, as if reminding herself what each ingredient did.

Harry followed along in silence, absorbing the knowledge.

They emerged from the apothecary. "Thankfully, Arachne supplied him with better clothes," Tyche said to Hestia as they passed Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occassions. Harry nodded; shopping for clothes sounded like a special kind of punishment. He had never been more grateful to Arachne than right that moment.

"That's the bank," Tyche identified a building erected from some kind of pure white stone, towering over the neighboring shops. "It's run by goblins. Nasty little creatures, but good at their jobs."

"Tyche," Hestia said, reproachfully.

"They are," Tyche defended herself. "Never a greeting, a thank you, or a you're welcome. They're rude, cold, and curt. But, like I said, good at their jobs, so you can depend on them for that much, at least. Every now and then, an outsider thinks it's because nobody's nice to them. All politeness gets you is a sneer for wasting time."

Hestia frowned at that. They definitely didn't sound very nice.

"But, like I said, best bankers out there," Tyche continue. "Oh, that reminds me." She handed a key over to Hestia. "This is Harry's vault key. He has a trust vault that has enough gold in it to cover his expenses for Hogwarts ten times over, and he'll gain access to his parents' vault when he turns 17."

Hestia accepted it with a smile, and immediately handed it to Harry. "Make sure he doesn't lose it," Tyche said. "I can call it back, but someone else who has it can access his vault."

Harry immediately took off the chain that held the key to the simulator, and slipped the vault key onto it, before putting it back over his head.

"Next up, books," Tyche decided, pointing to a shop called 'Flourish and Blotts'.

Harry, having grown up in Athena's library these last few years, imediately both fell in love and had a heart attack.

Fell in love because of the sheer amount of books present; the books the size of pavement stones wrapped in the finest leather; small books the size of a stamp wrapped in even finer silk; books with peculiar symbols; and a couple of extremely mysterious ones that didn't seem to hold any contents at all.

The heart attack came because the books were simply stacked, one on top of another, on top of shelves that seems designed to hold a fraction of the total number of volumes present. There appeared to be no climate control to ensure proper temperature and humidity, and worst of all – there was no system to their placement at all! It was as if this bookstore had never heard of the Dewey Decimal System!

Athena would be outraged when he told her about this, he was sure of it.

They emerged from the store somewhere between an hour and two hours later, with Tyche physically dragging him out.

"But… !" Harry protested.

"He has enough books," the Goddess of Fortune told a highly amused Goddess of the Home.

"Including that book by Vindictus Viridian," Hestia answered smoothly. Tyche looked displeased about that.

"It sounds like great fun," Harry mulishly protested, sulking like only a young boy could.

"Curses and Countercurses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue- Tying and Much, Much More)," Tyche said. "It's a recipe for getting in trouble if ever I heard one."

"Yeah! Isn't it great?" Harry said, enthusiastically, no longer upset at being dragged from the book store. The curses sounded harmless enough, and he bet that Silena and Annabeth would get a kick out of some of them.

Tyche looked at Hestia. "I tried to bring him up like a proper young man," Hestia said, before Tyche could speak. "I blame some of his other teachers, probably Hermes or Ares."

The Goddess of Fortune remained quiet, not wanting to incur the wrath of either of two major deities.

"Ollivander's," Tyche said, pointing to a shop. "That is where we'll get his wand." The establishment was old and and looked shabby. Peeling letters of faded gold declared that they were 'Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.'. Behind a dusty window, upon a sun-bleached purple cushion, lay a single wand.

The shop was small, and a bell tinkled somewhere in the hidden depths of it as they stepped inside. Narrow boxes were stacked from floor to ceiling, but a sense of quiet and depth hung in the air and the dust of the place.

Harry, attuned to magic thanks to Marduk's teachings, recognized the signs of deep magic when he encountered them. There was something powerful hanging in the air of this shop.

"Good afternoon," a voice said from behind Harry.

That was a mistake; Harry was a demigod possessing divine reflexes, trained in combat and had fought for his life on multiple occasions.

Immediately, the demigod stepped forward to put distance between himself and the voice, while simultaneously spinning around and bringing up his weapons.

His finger traced the ring that hid the Godslayer sword, but remembered just in time that Hestia was here, and she disliked violence of any kind. His finger automatically rolled the ring containing Hestia's Lasso, allowing it to emerge from subspace, and in a singular motion made to throw it.

The old man barely had time to bring his hands up; his eyes were wide with surprise as he saw the golden weapon arrive in Harry's hands.

Thankfully, Harry stopped himself before capturing the proprietor. "I believe I should find a different introduction," the man said, slowly lowering his arms when it became apparent that Harry wasn't going to throw the lasso at him.

"You should," Harry said, cheerfully, before making the lasso turn back into a ring.

"What an interesting piece of magic," the strange old man said with admiration, looking at the ring that used to be a lasso, before those creepy eyes noticed the myriad of rings and bracelets on Harry's fingers and wrists.

"I am Ollivander," the man said, turning instead to Harry himself. "I thought I'd be seeing you soon, Harry Potter. You have your mother's eyes; it seems like only yesterday when I sold her her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches, willow. Excellent for charms."

Impossibly, the creepy old man moved even closer. "Your father, though. He favored mahogany. Eleven inches, pliable, excellent for Transfiguration. Well, I say favored, but I should instead say 'mhogany favored him'. It is, after all, the wand that chooses the wizard."

Their noses almost touching, Harry could almost see his reflection in those creepy, misty eyes. And yet, the demigod refused to back up. He'd faced down monsters. He'd faced down angry gods. He wasn't about to back down from some creepy old man.

The old man reached for Harry's forehead, but seemed to realize only then that Harry's strange lightning-bolt scar was no longer there. For a moment, Ollivander looked flummoxed, but he recovered almost immediately.

The man finally stepped back himself. "Let's see, Mr. Potter. Which is your wand-arm?"

Harry had no idea how to answer that, considering he hadn't yet owned a wand. "I'm predominantly right-handed," he finally said, lifting the right hand in question.

"Predominantly, eh?" Ollivander said, his misty eyes suddenly mischievous. "Someone has been studying, I see."

"Miss Athena would be most disappointed if I didn't," he answered honestly. "And you don't want to disappoint her."

The 'Make of Fine Wands' studied him for a moment, then nodded with a strange grin. "I look forward to hearing your exploits, Mister Potter." he pulled out a long tape measure with silver markings, and started measuring the right arm that Harry had lifted up earlier.

Most measurements made no sense. From shoulder to finger en from wrist to elbow made sense. But from shoulder to floor, knee to armpit, and around his head made no sense at all to Harry. The demigod had the impression that Mister Ollivander liked being creepy and mysterious, and was simply playing up the angle.

Considering some of his other friends, Ollivander was downright normal, when you considered it, and so Harry decided to just enjoy the experience and play along.

"Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magic substance," Ollivander explained as he measured. "Unicorn hair. Phoenix tail feathers. Heartstrings of dragons. No two wands are ever the same, just as no two unicorn, dragons, or phoenixes are ever the same. You'll just never get the same results with another wizard's wand, of course."

Harry chuckled when the tape measure, now measuring on its own, was measuring the distance between his nostrils. "That's enough," Ollivander told it, causing the magical instrument to crumple to the floor in a pile.

"Right then, Mister Potter, let's try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartstring, nine inches, nicely flexible. Just take it and give it a wave."

Harry took the wand and had the curious sensation of his magic, the shen in his mind, touching the wand being surprised and confounded by it. At the same time as his magic touched the wand, the wand seemed to touch his magic and recoiled instantly.

Ollivander snatched it from his hand immediately. "No, no," he muttered, and deposited a different wand. "Maple and phoeix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try-"

This wand didn't just recoil; it fled, as if it were afraid of him. Ollivander snatched it away immediately. "No, no, no," Ollivander muttered. "Ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy."

Harry felt like he wasn't given time with any of these wands; he was pretty sure that he could get them to work, or at least do something, but the strange old man snatched them back before he could.

Honestly, wand after wand either recoiled, or fled, or ignored him completely, and before he could do something about that, Ollivander took them back. It was frustrating.

"Tricky customer, eh?" Ollivander said. "Don't worry, we find something for everyone. Let's try something different; Holly and phoenix feather, nice and supple. One of my unusual combinations."

For a moment, it felt like the wand touched him back, but then it seemed horrified by something and yanked itself back immediately.

"I was pretty sure of that one," Ollivander said, frowning.

"It felt like it wanted to connect, but then it found something and pulled back," Harry said, hoping to be helpful and be out of this small shop. While Ollivaner was entertaining now that he understood the game the old man was playing, it was starting to get boring.

"Excuse me?" Ollivander asked, peering at Harry.

"When I grasp the wand, my magic touches it, too. And the presence in the wand started to connect, but then it was horrified by something," the demigod explained.

"Are you tell me, young man, that you have realized your magic? At such an early age?"

"If you mean that I can feel my magic, then yes, I have," Harry said. "Marduk is a great teacher. Mysterious, though. The kind of teacher that thinks it's best to find the answers for yourself."

"I see," Ollivander said, mostly to himself, continuing to stare at Harry. "And just why are you going to Hogwarts?"

"Mom and Dad went there, and I'm curious about it," Harry said. "I've gotten letters from Mom describing the place, and it sounds awesome." He made a concerted effort not to look at Tyche.

Ollivander hemmed. "And you need a wand to attend Hogwarts, yes," the old man said. "With your magic realized, most wands will be… intimidated… or even scared… by you. We should find something that can stand up to you."

Harry grinned.

Ollivander rubbed his chin, pacing back and forth, muttering arcanely to himself. Harry had the impression that the man knew exactly which wand he wanted to try next, but was, again, playing it up for effect.

He had to admit, Ollivander was a showman.

"Here, a collaboration effort," Ollivander finally said. "Elder wood. Powerful. But scorns to stay with a user that is not the superior of their company. Elder needs to respect you, or it will leave you."

He was holding the wand out, but had yet to put it in Harry's hand. "It's a collaboration effort with Shikoba Wolfe in the Americas. She infused this with the tail feather of a Thunderbird. Powerful. Very powerful, yes, but difficult to master. It must have respect for you, like the Elder Wood. Powerful for transfiguration, and able to sense danger. When necessary, it can preemptively cast curses on its own to protect itself and its wielder. When it respects the wielder, of course."

Harry stared at the wand being held by the wand-maker. It seemed the old man was not yet done. "It was an attempt by two foolish wand-makers who wanted to recreate the famed DeathStick, the Elder Wand of Deathly Hallows fame. While it is not that powerful, it certainly is that demanding."

Harry, who had read the tales of Beedle the Bard that Luna had gifted him, swallowed. He had to admit that creepy Ollivander was getting to him.

He held out his hand anyway. He wanted to try that wand.

The moment it made contact, and his magic touched it, the presence in the wand seemed to test him, pushing back, demanding he gave in. He grasped it tighter, and pushed back with Shen.

For a few moments, it seemed the wand was going to dismiss him, but then it seemed to realized just how little effort Harry was putting into this, and just how much he was enjoying the tug-of-war.

It yielded, instantly, Harry's magic overtaking the wands and flooding through the focus.

In the distance, a bell tolled once.

Harry felt a thrum go through his chest, making his teeth rattle and his midriff tremble.

A second bell tolled once, further away.

Ollivander's eyes were wide-open as he stared at Harry. "Give it a wave," he encouraged.

Harry waved the wand, and the connection between wand and wielder seemed to burst into life, a wave of magic radiating out and into the shop.

Suddenly, the shop looked brand-new; all the dust had been cleared and the atmosphere was now bright and cheerful. Harry didn't look, but he was sure that the purple pillow in the window-front was now at full color, and the golden lettering outside had more than likely been repaired.

Ollivander stood stock-still for a moment. "I will expect great things from you, Harry Potter."

Harry grinned at the wand. "I thought I would just get one and never use it, but this feels incredible," he said, staring at the focus. Then he blinked. "Now that I think about it, maybe that's why Marduk doesn't like foci. Oh well, we'll see."

The trip left the shop, with Tyche 14 golden Galleons poorer for the purchase of the wand. The sun was touching the horizon in the early-evening.

"I believe we have everything," Tyche said to Hestia, who looked like she wasn't sure what to think about the creepy wand-seller and the strange wand he'd sold to her favorite mortal. "Perhaps a bite to eat before we return?"

The Goddess of the Home felt her smile growing more genuine. "Let us return. I shall cook."

"I was hoping you'd offer, Lady Hestia," Tyche said happily, causing the Goddess of the Home's smile to widen further.

"You could have just asked, dear," Hestia said with a pat on Tyche's shoulder. "Come, Harry. Let's go home."

"Okay, Hestia!" Harry agreed.