Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything by Robert Frost either.

A/N: Italics are mind-speaking and ::This:: is Parseltongue.


Almost one year later, it was finally Harry's 10th birthday. Happy Birthday, Harry! Tom said as the time changed to midnight.

Harry smiled in his cupboard. Thank you, Tom. The year had been so much better now that he had a friend. Oh, he was still beaten, starved, worked too hard, and neglected, but he had someone to talk to, someone who actually cared now.

You know, in a year you will be able to go to Hogwarts and get out of this place.

Harry smiled even larger. Tom had been telling Harry more and more about Hogwarts, giving him hope for a time without the Dursleys. He still thought that Tom was probably just a figment of his imagination and he was crazy, but if the delusion gave him hope, he was willing to go with it.

Why don't we do something special today? Tom asked. Your cretins (Tom refused to call them his family) are all leaving today for that daytrip they had planned. What about we go out too?

I'm 10-years-old Tom. How am I supposed to get anywhere? And, where would we go?

Tom laughed. I know you still think I'm not real, so I thought I would prove it to you. How about a trip to Diagon Alley?

That's the wizarding shopping area you were telling me about, right?

That's the one! You up for it? I think we would have a good time! Tom really wanted to go somewhere that wasn't the Dursley's house or Harry's school. Plus, he figured that if Harry finally believed that magic was real, then he would have more hope and be able to make it another year until he could leave this horrible place.

Harry shrugged. Might was well. We just have to be back before the Dursleys.

Harry used magic to unlock his cupboard as he had been doing for a long time now and left the house as soon as the Dursleys' car left the driveway. He pulled the hood of the ratty, old sweatshirt of Dudley's that he was wearing over his face as he locked the door to the house behind him. Ok, Tom, how do you propose to get to this magical shopping area of yours? I assume you have thought about what we're doing once we get there too right? You know we don't have any money.

Oh, Harry, a little trust… Harry could feel Tom smile, and there was excitement in his tone. Harry assumed that Tom probably missed being outside and around people. Harry really hadn't known any differently in his life so far, and what you didn't know you couldn't miss, so he figured he would humor the voice in his head.

I think there's a bus stop down the street…

Harry, you are 10 and you look about 6, so I think people would ask too many questions. We could do the Knight Bus, but I think it'd be the same issue. How about we apparate there?

That's when you disappear in one place and appear in another, right? Like when I landed on the roof?

Yeah, do you think you could do that again, but intentionally this time. Tom didn't really think the child would be able to apparate intentionally, and without a wand, but he kept surprising the spirit, so he figured it would be worth asking the question. If you think you can, you will need to let me direct you. It's dangerous to apparate anywhere that you haven't been before.

You can do that?

Harry felt a mental shrug. I'm in here. I think if you can wandlessly apparate us, the least I can do is make sure we land in the right place.

Ok, but how dangerous is this?

Tom laughed. Do you really want me to answer that question?

Erm, no, maybe we just chance it. Harry felt the welcoming bonfire in his chest as he focused on the feeling he had when he landed on the roof before. He had just wanted to get away to move to a new location. He felt himself compress as if he was moving through a tube. As the weird, sucking sensation increased, he felt a nudge from Tom and a mental image of a place flash in his mind before he crashed down on the pavement, losing his balance and stumbling.

Oops, probably should have warned you about the landing. Tom laughed, excitedly. I know you don't realize what you just did, but you are amazing! Truly, that was phenomenal!

Are we where we're supposed to be? Harry looked around. They were in a bare and empty alleyway with nothing of importance around them.

We'll I couldn't land a 10-year-old right in the middle of the alley now could I? You'd be mobbed. Now, just walk around this building, and we should be in the right spot. Keep your head down though and pretend like you're with an adult somewhere. Maybe no one will notice you.

Harry walked around the building they were behind and gasped. He stood staring in awe at the bustling alley filled with people laughing, shopping, waving around wands, and doing all kinds of magical things. Is this real? He gasped out.

It's real, Harry. Welcome to the wizarding world!

Wow!

First, we need to get you some money.

Of course, let's just get some money. I assume it grows on trees here. Harry said sarcastically.

You know, I don't remember you being this sarcastic growing up. Maybe I've been a bad influence.

The serial killer in my head a bad influence, no…

It's official, I've corrupted you.

Ok, oh evil one, where do we find this money? I'm not going to steal.

Tom laughed nervously. Well, I hate to bring it up, but your parents weren't bad off. They probably did leave you some money. I have no clue who has your vault key though. You probably can't access it until you're 11 and going to Hogwarts anyway.

Ok, so not helpful…

I was saying, Tom cut him off with a mental eye roll. I have a vault you are welcome to. Since I'm currently floating around somewhere out in the world without a body, it's not like I'm using it anyway.

I'm still getting used to there being other bits of you out there, and the fact that you might actually be real. You're hurting my brain. How do I access your vault?

Tom mentally smirked at him. Lucky, for you I'm a paranoid psychopath instead a just a regular psychopath.

Erm, isn't that the same?

Tom ignored him. There are many ways to access a vault: you can have a key, blood wards, magical signature wards, a password, or there's a personal spell, which is basically the same as an advanced password. I have all of these on my vault and you just have to satisfy two of them to get access.

Ok, which two can I do?

Tell me, do you know what I'm saying when I say: ::I can speak snake::

::You can speak snake?::

::Excellent! I was hoping you would have access to my Parseltongue ability since my soul is in you!::

::What's Parseltongue? Something snakes speak?::

::It's what you're speaking right now?:: Tom laughed.

::Wait? I'm not speaking English? Hey, I'm not speaking English! This is so weird! How can I know a language and not know that I know a language?::

Tom gave him a mental smile. Magic, Harry. Sooo, anyway my password is in Parseltongue. Since you can speak the language, that takes care of one of the keys to get in. I think we can either get you in with the magical signature ward or my personal spell. I'm less confident that there's enough of me in you to fool the magical signature ward, so I'm going to have to teach you my spell. You just have to do the spell in front of the goblin.

Goblin?! I get to meet a goblin?! That's awesome!

Calm yourself, child. As happy as Tom was to finally get out of the house, a hyper 10-year-old was tiring. Tom took the time to teach Harry how to cast a complex and very dark charm to conjure an iridescent snake that then turned into a skull.

That's super creepy you know. Harry grumbled, though still excited to be learning a new spell. He couldn't really learn much from Tom being locked up at the Dursleys', though they did sometimes practice things late at night.

I'm a creepy dark lord, what do you expect? Just keep your head down until we get into the bank. It's the big marble building over there.

Harry gaped at the huge, gleaming structure they entered that was guarded by two fierce warriors that could only be goblins by their appearance. Harry had never been anywhere as large or as nice as the bank, and he stopped to just gape at all around him. He was given a bit of a mental shove from Tom. Walk past all the tellers and speak to the goblin at the desk in the back.

Trying to refocus, Harry pulled his hood farther over his face and walked through all the robe clad individuals trying to be as invisible as possible. "Erm, excuse me sir?" Harry tentatively asked the stoic looking goblin at the desk.

"Yes?" The goblin frowned down at the small child.

"I'm looking to access my vault."

The goblin frowned, obviously thinking this child was much too young and poorly dressed to have a vault, especially the high security vaults he oversaw. "What is the vault number?"

Vault 546

"It's v-vault 546, sir," Harry stammered out.

The goblin frowned more deeply at the boy. "Are you sure?" He asked slowly.

Well, he obviously knows that's my vault, shi…crap. Tom caught himself, trying not to swear in front of a child. Tell him yes and that you are willing to give him a password and a personal spell.

"Y-yes, sir," Harry nodded. "I have a password and a personal spell for you."

"Follow me," the goblin stood with a sigh and walked towards a door behind him, thinking this was about to be a waste of his time.

The goblin took Harry into a small, dark room that only had a black, glass orb on a bare table. "Vault 546, Lord Voldemort," the goblin said to the orb.

Tom sighed. Yes, he definitely knows it's my vault.

You went by Lord Voldemort? That's a horrible name!

Hey, no judging from you when I'm giving you access to all my money!

Sorry, Tom.

"Say your password into the orb," the goblin instructed.

Harry turned his attention to Tom who recited a poem by Robert Frost in Parseltongue. It was one that Tom had mentioned before really liking in their talks late at night in the cupboard, and it had stuck with Harry, so luckily he only had to focus more on getting it in the right language than the words themselves.

:: Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice::

The goblin raised an eyebrow in surprise. "The personal spell…" The goblin looked at the child in amazement. He had recited a poem by a muggle poet not well known to wizards in a language no one in Britain should be able to speak. The next part though was a wandless and nonverbal spell using dark magic. Surely, the child wouldn't be able to pull that off…

A brilliant, green iridescent snake swirled around the room before turning into a skull that slowly dissipated. The goblin looked more closely at the boy, staring deeply under the hood. "You are Harry Potter, are you not?"

Oh, shite! This time Tom didn't catch the swear.

"Y-yes, s-sir," Harry stammered, shocked that the goblin knew his name.

"Now, why would the Boy-Who-Lived be trying to get into the vault of the one he destroyed?" the goblin narrowed his eyes suspiciously.

Any help, Tom?

Ummm…

"Who's the Boy-Who-Lived?" Harry asked, stalling for time, and really not sure what the goblin was asking.

The goblin pushed Harry's hood back and traced a long finger down Harry's lightning bolt scar. "You are, Mr. Potter. Am I to believe, that the one who gave you this scar might not be as vanquished as we were all led to believe?"

Well, I never attacked the Goblin Nation and always respected them, even when I was insane. Tom sputtered indignantly. This just isn't good service. You gave him the information to get in.

Harry narrowed his eyes, not liking to be touched by anyone. "I gave you the required information. Where it came from is none of your business. Besides, isn't there the saying 'to the victor go the spoils?' If I killed this Lord Voldemort, shouldn't I have access to his vaults by right of conquest? And, sir, I ask that that be the last time you touch me if you want my continued service at this bank!"

Where the hell did that come from?! Tom exclaimed in awe.

Uncle Vernon said something similar at a fast-food place once. The right of conquest thing was in a book I read a couple years ago. Too much?

No, definitely not! I'm just impressed.

The goblin's face slowly broke into a frightening grin. "Of course, Mr. Potter," the goblin chuckled. "Follow me."

He's not about to kill me, is he?

Probably not, that wouldn't be good business.

Probably not?! Harry squeaked in his head.

The goblin led Harry to a small mining cart where they careened down into the depths of the earth. After about half-a minute, Harry was absolutely positive the goblin was leading him to his death. When Tom let out a sigh of relief when they stopped in front of a vault, Harry echoed the sigh. I might have a really bad life, but I'm glad I get to keep it a little longer.

Agreed. You survived me, the most powerful wizard of the age. It would be a shame to die because of a misunderstanding at the bank.

Harry almost forgot himself and laughed as the goblin ran his finger across the door of the vault opening it. Harry did gasp though as he saw the piles of gold, silver, and bronze on the other side of the door.

Evil pays well. Harry heard with a mental shrug from Tom.

After taking a bag from the goblin, Harry shoved several piles into it before quickly turning to leave. It was all just too overwhelming for him.

As the goblin waited for Harry to get back into the cart, he cleared his throat. "You know," the goblin said sternly. "It would be best for you to keep that hood down and ask for me, Farshield, next time you visit the bank. It wouldn't do for too many people to know…whatever it is that's going on here. Frankly, I don't want to know more than I do."

"Thank you, Farshield," Harry sighed as they got back into the cart to head up to the surface.


Harry took a deep breath of fresh air as he exited the bank. Apparently, you are fairly well known, keep your hood down. Tom advised.

I guess killing you was a big deal?

Of course, it was a big deal, child! Don't insult me.

Yes, oh evil one. Where to next?

You need to eat something. I grew up in an orphanage during a war and ate much better than you. Food first.

After buying a sandwich at a street vendor, Harry sat on the steps of the bank to watch the people walking around. Everyone looked so different than those he saw around his neighborhood and at school. Wizards dress very differently than muggles (that's the word, right?).

Yes, muggle is the correct word. And, yes, robes are all the fashion in this culture. The styles are slightly different than I remember from when I was alive though. More people are wearing the open robes with trousers underneath now.

Harry shuddered. That would be weird to not wear trousers. I'd feel naked.

Well, you look strange enough wearing your horrible rags, so just keep your head down. Let's stop by the bookstore and get you some books on wandless magic as well as the apothecary to get you some nutrient potions and some general healing balm. I think it will help this next year go more smoothly for you.

Hmm, maybe also a book on how to make those for myself?

You would have to come back for the ingredients, but it wouldn't hurt to get the book. If you have to return to those slugs during the summers, you could brew them at school.

The bookstore was uneventful. A child in a bookstore without an adult isn't such an unusual thing to see as everyone assumes the adult is in another section of the store. When asked at the register, Harry told the lady that he was going to meet up with his family later. It was true, but just at their house instead of outside the store, so he didn't feel too much like he was lying. With Tom's advice, Harry got two books on wandless magic, one on healing potions, and Hogwarts: A History. Tom said it would help him to understand where he would be going the next year.

Can I get a wand, Tom? Harry asked, catching a glimpse of a store named Ollivanders that displayed wands in the window.

They won't sell you one until you turn 11, and it seems that people do know who you are if Farshield's reaction is typical.

Harry sighed and went to a store with a mortar and pestle on the sign, assuming it must be the apothecary. Here they had more problems. There were several options for both nutrient potions and healing balms. Tom admitted to not being the best at healing potions (poisons were more his specialty) and was unsure what they needed.

Something the Dark Lord isn't good at? Wow, I'm dying from shock!

Ha, ha. Why don't we just ask someone?

Harry looked around the store. Shi-crap! Tom exclaimed.

You do know that I know most of the swear words at this point. I live with Dudley and Vernon.

I refuse to corrupt you more than I have. Quick, hide!

Harry ducked behind a rack of different types of feathers. Who am I hiding from?

Severus Snape. He was one of my followers…I think. Anyway, he's also a potions master. He got a job at Hogwarts right before I died. I have no clue what he's doing now. I never could figure out that man.

Wouldn't he help us then? Harry asked, confused.

If he truly was one of my followers, then he would have Harry Potter, the boy who killed me, alone and he might try to harm or kill you!

But, if he still works at Hogwarts, then he's going to be one of my teachers. That doesn't seem like a good idea.

Who knows? Tom breathed out in frustration. Like I said, I never could figure that man out. I kept him around for the challenge. Maybe he wasn't on my side. Do you really want to chance it now though?

Any ideas then, or do I keep trying to pretend to be a bird amongst all these feathers?

There's a spell, it's a dark spell, but it keeps people from recognizing you now and in the future. It's more like a powerful notice-me-not spell.

You do realize that I don't know what you're talking about, right? Does dark spell mean bad?

Not necessarily. This one isn't bad, it just affects the viewer's mind, which is what makes it dark. I promise it will cause neither you nor anyone else harm.

Ok, what is it then?

Invisibilia ignorari.

Harry pulled the flames of his magic around him and focused on the words. Did it work?

Yes, I can feel it. Tom sighed. Now, why don't you go ask my old friend about the potions you need?

And, you're sure he won't be able to tell who I am?

Positive!

"Excuse me, sir?" Harry asked, cautiously walking up to the tall man that might either be his assassin or teacher in a year's time.

"Yes?" Severus Snape asked, turning and looking down at the small child with a frown on his face.

Harry gulped as he looked up into the dark eyes of the stern man wearing all black robes. "I was wondering, could you help me pick out which potions I need? I haven't gone to Hogwarts yet, so I'm don't know what they all mean."

The man seemed slightly irritated at being held up by a child, but to Harry's surprise, he gave a short nod. "What are you looking for?"

Harry listened to Tom in his head for a minute giving his list for what he thought would help them. "I want a good nutrient potion. One that will keep for a while if I buy a lot and store it. I also need a general healing balm, a pain potion, and…is there something that heals internal injuries?"

Snape's frown deepened as he looked the boy over. He didn't recognize the child nor could he place anyone the boy reminded him of, so he couldn't tell who the family would be. The ragged clothes, the way the child was shrinking in on himself, and the list of potions, caused the usually very stoic man to pause, coming to a disturbing conclusion. "May I ask your name, son?"

"Erm, Tom…Smith. Tom Smith," Harry tried to smile innocently, but it was probably more of a grimace. He wasn't used to speaking to people outside of the Dursleys, and he had already spoken to so many that day.

Snape frowned down at him, knowing the name was fake. "How old you are?" He tried a different tactic as he looked at the child who he was guessing was around 6.

"I'm 10, sir," Harry smiled, happy to answer this one as he didn't see any danger.

"You'll be at Hogwarts next year then," Snape nodded but with a grimace at the small size of the boy. He picked up a basket and went through the shelves adding any potion he would recommend for a severely abused child, as he was certain that was the situation presented before him. He also took the time to explain each potion, how it worked, and when it should be taken.

Harry nodded along knowing that if he didn't remember everything, then Tom would. Snape finally slid the basket onto the counter and took out some money. "Oh, I have money, sir!" Harry spoke up as he reached into his pocket.

"Nonsense," Snape grumbled at him. "Consider this a welcome to Hogwarts gift for next year. I expect you to do well in my class. I teach potions."

Harry smiled up at him. "I just bought a potions book!" He exclaimed. "It's about how to brew healing potions!"

Tom groaned. You were doing so well…

What?

He knows you're abused. He's going to try to get more information out of you.

Oh, well, I'm good at hiding. And, you said he can't see past this spell. Besides, he seems awfully nice for a follower of an evil git like you.

He doesn't know who you are…

"Oh really," Snape smiled down at Harry. "Be careful that you follow the directions very specifically or you may have an accident."

"Oh, I don't plan on brewing the potions now," Harry said, taking the basket and thanking the former Death Eater. He realized that Snape seemed to have forgotten whatever he came in for originally as he followed Harry to the door.

"Really? Then why would you buy the book?"

"My family are muggles, so trying to brew a potion in their house is suicidal. I plan on brewing them at Hogwarts before I have to return during the summers. I'm just reading up now to have a plan before I'm busy learning about everything else next year," Harry smiled at him innocently, knowing he would never be this honest without the anonymity of the dark spell around him.

Snape stopped and stared at the boy's candor and wondered how he even knew about the wizarding world if his family were muggles. "Well, thank you sir! I'll see you next year! I look forward to your class!" Harry smiled and hurried away from the man.

Brat! You're going to have to duck behind something or disappear completely. He's definitely following us.

You have a spell to disappear completely?

Same spell, but drop the ending. Just use invisibilia.

Harry changed the spell and his form disappeared behind Flourish and Blotts. Harry covered his chuckles as the potions master turned the corner behind him and looked around in confusion.

That was close, Harry. Tom sighed in relief.

We got the potions we needed though. Is that all we need from the alley? I think we may need to head back soon before the Dursleys get home.

Yes, that should be all. You ok to apparate back?

Yeah, I think I've got the hang of it. Harry immediately apparated back to the corner of Privet Drive; for some reason he couldn't get closer to the house.

There seems to be some kind of wards around your house.

That's odd, right? Harry asked as he unlocked the door and snuck back into his cupboard, locking it behind him. He dispelled the disillusionment charm and shoved his purchases in the far corner of the cupboard.

Odd, but not unheard of. We'll have to figure it out once you are at Hogwarts. What book do want to read first?