Chapter 16: Confidence is the feeling you have before you understand the problem
Tackruk sat behind his desk at the New York branch of Gringotts, as he did every morning, with a stack of papers to confirm and oversee. As head of this location there wasn't anything that went on involving the bank that he didn't know about, as apprentice goblins recorded and reported every transaction from a single knut, to full vault location transfers. Holding such a high ranking position in the bank meant he'd seen his fair share of oddities since he'd assumed the title, and there was very little that goblin or wizard could do to catch him off guard anymore. Which was why this particular morning would eventually be counted amongst those few events, as a senior goblin from International Relations strode purposefully into his office and stopped to bow the required distance from his desk.
"Senior Manager, Tackruk," the goblin known as Kudgtorn said, "we have received information from guild leader Ragnok at our primary British branch that this is to be delivered to you for immediate perusal and reply."
A slight raise of his eyebrows that equated to the goblin equivalent of shock appeared for but a moment before he gestured for Kudgtorn to place the thick envelope on his desk. Bowing once more upon his task completion, the senior goblin immediately left him to the task. Considerably curious as to what could be so important as to warrant immediate action from the guild leader, Tackruk quickly unsealed the file and read the notes within. There had been a trigger of two notification charms on the Potter family file apparently, and while one had only been in place for a year, the other referenced a will that dated back over one hundred and fifty years ago.
The New York bank manager's face grew pensive as he absorbed all the information inside before deciding on his course of action. A neatly penned note was first sent to Ragnok stating his intended decision, and was immediately sent off via an apprentice to the International Communications office; while a second letter was started to be sent upon approval from the guild leader. The implications of the possible meeting that lay before him could have enormous reparations to the magical community on both political and financial fronts, and Gringotts would see itself come out on top in both arenas if they handled this properly.
It had only been a week since the reunion of the Hamilton family, and Hatter felt like things were progressing along nicely. Robert was currently living with himself and Harry in a flat that had been set up by the Prince, while he slowly got to know Carol and Alice again. After her initial emotional reunion, Carol had been relentless in her questions about what had happened to Robert, and Hatter was more certain than ever that Alice took after her mother in all things of a serious nature. They'd ordered pizza for supper that night -on Hatter's suggestion- and while she still seemed reserved about everything, Carol was definitely interested in getting to know her husband again. The pair had been on dates almost every night since, and if Robert's increasingly good mood was anything to go by, then Hatter felt fairly confident that things were progressing nicely in their relationship; which was brilliant because he had his own Hamilton woman to court at the same time, and not that he didn't like the man -far from it really- but he was looking forward to having a place with just Harry and himself once more.
Hatter had specifically not told Jack about how much of his belongings had survived the wreckage of his store so that the Prince would have to pay up for all of their accommodations, thus allowing him to use his own savings towards setting himself up properly in Alice's world. It didn't have the same satisfaction as beating the piss out of the poncy royal for what he'd put Alice through, but it did offer him a level of gratification to get one by the soon to be King. When Alice had come by for a visit the other day and he told her of his plans to start up an exotic tea store using the Wonderland altered plants he'd brought along from his old shop, she'd thought the idea was properly fitting, and offered any assistance she could in finding a way to discreetly exchange his gold and silver coins for some of that paper they used for money in her world. The exchange still didn't seem to be a fair exchange to Hatter, even on this side of the Looking Glass.
Alice was at his place researching ideas on that typewriter with its electronic screen that she'd called a computer at the moment while he was going over lessons with Harry. She had tried to insist that he enroll the lad in some sort of 'public education system', but Hatter was suspicious of placing his cousin in anything run by any government. So until they could agree on a better course, he just continued to educate Harry on his own as he'd been doing for years.
While it was only mid-March in Alice's world -as opposed to the middle of July in Wonderland- the weather had been quite warm that day, so he'd left the window open in the hopes of catching a bit of a breeze. They were just breaking for lunch when a small white bird came to land on the open window ledge. Not an uncommon creature for this world, but the note that had been tied to it's foot was certainly new to him. Instantly cautious and curious as to what this could be about, Hatter made cooing noises at the bird and it flew over to land on his arm before sticking out a leg for him to remove the attached note. He deftly untied it with one hand and raised his eyebrows in surprise as the front was clearly addressed to him, right down to exact room location, and the back was sealed with wax like a proper letter. Alice hadn't told him the animals here were smart enough to train to deliver post in her world. The white bird had slowly climbed up his jacket covered arm to rest on his shoulder.
"Make yourself at home then I suppose," Hatter remarked sarcastically, and the bird just cooed happily as he went to congratulate Alice on something from her world for once. She was working on lunch in the kitchen when he found her, and she smiled when she looked up to greet him before staring curiously at the bird.
"What're you doing with a dove on your shoulder?" she asked, and he held up the piece of mail.
"He delivered this to me. Came right through my window. Why didn't you tell me your world had animals smart enough to deliver post? I'm really impressed," Hatter informed her, and she stepped around the little 'island counter' to come look at the letter in his hand.
She examined it curiously while she spoke, "I told you before that we get our mail delivered to the boxes on the bottom floor, remember? Some people have trained pigeons to deliver notes but that was never to unfamiliar locations before." Alice raised an eyebrow questioningly at him now, "This isn't some elaborate joke…right?"
"Please, Alice," Hatter rolled his eyes, "This has neither the subtlety nor flair to be worthy of a joke on my part."
They both turned to look at Harry simultaneously, and the lad scoffed indigently. "Don't look at me. If anything, I think I'm a bit insulted that you think I'd just send a letter by bird for a laugh." With no small amount of curiosity and caution now, Hatter broke the seal and pulled out the letter inside while Alice read over his shoulder.
To Mr. David Hatter,
We at Gringotts have recently become aware of your change in permanent residency from Wonderland, to the city of New York here on Earth, and that you claim guardianship to one Mr. Harry Potter as well. We congratulate you on finding your way through a Rabbit Hole, and welcome the return of a missing line of the Potter family.
A meeting to discuss the finical effects this has on the Potter account with our banking establishment would be appreciative, and should be mutually beneficial to both yourself and Gringotts. We await your response by the dispatched dove, as it is highly likely you are without a way of contacting us otherwise, to arrange a time that is convenient for yourself, and Mr. Harry Potter, to meet at the local branch office and discuss your options.
Tackruk the Menacing
Gringotts New York City Bank Manager
"You know if this is Jack's way of keeping me in check or some such then I have to say I'm a tad bit impressed by the effort," Hatter remarked casually as he passed the letter over to Alice before moving on to pick up one of the finished sandwiches.
He set it on a plate and passed it to Harry, who added his own opinion on the matter. "Nice of him to include me as well, but a bit sloppy in delivery. I mean…I thought the whole point was for people not to know we were from another world."
Hatter made a noise of agreement as he started grabbing other lunch items out of the fridge. "There is that, but it makes a nice contradiction so it's not so unusual."
Alice had read the short note several times over and was now regarding the unconcerned cousins with disbelief. "Guys there is nothing in here at all that mentions Jack," she pointed out, "I mean other than the reference to Wonderland, how do you even know it's from him?"
"Who else could it be?" Harry pointed out after finishing a bite from his sandwich. "Cause other than maybe a handful of people, who have all been to Wonderland, no one knows anything about us."
Alice inclined her head in acknowledgement as she continued to think. "Okay, you're right about that but still….I don't like this. During either time I've known Jack…his humor, his whole style really, was nothing like this."
"I agree," Hatter stated calmly, and Alice looked at him in surprise considering what he'd been saying, "It's not something Jack would do, and I don't see him coming through the Looking Glass just to have a meeting, yeah? But our Connecter to Wonderland?" Hatter shrugged, "They could be an entirely different kettle of onions for all we know."
"Hold on a sec here," Alice held up her hand in the universal sign for stop, "You mean to tell me that you still haven't even…talked to the contact Jack left for you?"
"Yes…well," Hatter fumbled with his response, "It's not like the bloke was left here just for our sake or somethin', and besides, I haven't exactly had a reason to get a hold of him now have I?"
Alice casually brandished the dove delivered note and narrowed her eyes in frustration. "I'd say this is a reason, wouldn't you?"
Hatter sighed and looked to Harry for support, but the lad was conveniently focused on eating and feeding crumbs to the dove that had flown off his shoulder at some point. He looked back up at Alice. "Look, would it make you feel better if I rang him up then?"
"Immensely," she stated and folded her arms across her chest.
Hatter gave her a pleasant smile as he walked over to stand before her and ran his hand up to cup her cheek. "Then consider it done love." He gave her a small kiss there as he removed his hand and walked past her back to the study he'd left not minutes ago.
Alice stood quite flustered and deflated of her sudden ire in the kitchen. She blinked a few times to try and mentally switch gears when what sounded like a snort to her right caught her attention. Turning to face it she caught a brief glimpse of mirth filled emerald eyes and a smirk before the eleven year old looked back down to take a bite of his sandwich. Alice raised an eyebrow at him challengingly, "What?"
Harry swallowed and shook his head, "Nothin'. I didn't say anything." A smirk that still grazed his features however betrayed his attempt at nonchalance.
Before Alice could press further though, Hatter's footfalls were heard coming back their way, accompanied by the bright chirps that signaled he was dialing a number on his new cell phone; a piece of technology that the former Wonderlandian found equally amazing and bothersome. The two of them turned just in time to see Hatter enter the room with said phone held up to his ear, and a once folded piece of yellow paper in his other hand. Hatter set the paper down on the little island in his kitchen as they all waited for someone on the other end to pick up.
It didn't take long thankfully until someone did as Hatter spoke up. "Hello!" he chirped brightly, "This is David Hatter." There was a brief pause and he ran a finger down the paper he brought with him before stopping about half way down. "I have often seen a grin without a cat." Alice looked confused for a moment until Hatter rolled his eyes as he mimed knocking on a door. The pass code clearly checked out as Hatter switched to leaning with his back against the counter.
"Yeah, listen, the reason I rang was to see what the hell is going on about this note I received from you lot today." Hatter furrowed his brow as he motioned for Alice to pass the note to him. "It came by a dove that-" he frowned, "Yes, a dove, and that was a neat trick and all-" Hatter scanned the note before him, "It's signed as some bloke claiming to be from a place called Gringotts." There was a longer pause this time, and Hatter's puzzled expression coupled with his frown did nothing to ease the tension of the two observes in the kitchen with him.
"I see," Hatter finally stated after the long stretch of silence, "Well thanks very much then, we'll keep an eye out for 'em." He pulled the phone away from his ear and snapped it shut with a pensive look on his face.
After a few seconds of silence, Alice finally spoke up, "Well, what'd they say?"
"It appears," he slowly started while remaining fixated on the note, "That this was not from our contact, who may I just say sounds about as pleasant as Dodo, but, that they know a bit about the ones who sent this and are sending an expert over immediately."
Hatter looked questioningly at Alice, "How long might it take someone from across city to get here?"
"A few hours possibly depending on if they're coming by taxi or subway," she supplied.
Harry broke off a few more pieces of bread for the dove next to his plate. "Looks like you'll be waiting on that reply for a bit then little bird."
The dove cooed in a dejected sort of way and set about eating the offered food.
Posted June 24, 2010
Edited June 27, 2014