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Ancient Symbol

August 1, 1992, 11:35 AM, Harry’s Room, Grimmauld Place

Harry Potter

He could feel it, floating at the very edge of his psyche, but Harry had no idea what it could possibly be.

“So I’m not just imagining this…” Harry murmured as he twisted and turned in his bed. He hadn’t felt like getting up early that day, instead opting to save his energy for just a little while longer. He stayed silent for a few minutes and tried to make sense of the nature of his current sensations.

He huffed, a great swell of annoyance rising within him as the feeling disappeared. Damn it.

It wasn’t the first time this happened. For the past week since the attacks in France, Harry had been experiencing these strange, almost ghost-like sensations. When he’d asked Sirius if the house was haunted, the man had just laughed and given him a pat on the shoulder.

‘I doubt any Black ever wanted to remain in this sorry place for the rest of their un-life.’ He’d said before amending himself. ‘Or, I suppose, remain in what this place used to be. It’s our home, now.’

Harry smiled at that thought. He looked around his room, and though he was now intimately acquainted with all of its features, he still felt as if he was seeing it for the first time.

“Home.” The word slipped out of his mouth, carrying with it a deep, unfathomable sense of longing mixed in with satisfaction. “This is my home.”

He took a breath and shook the sentiment away, instead trying to focus on the previous feeling, but it had already slipped from his grasp.

He was disappointed for all of three seconds before he turned his gaze to the clock sitting at his desk. Quarter till noon! Already?

It was almost time for them to head out!

Sirius said he was going to take them to Diagon Alley to get their school books today, and so Harry was excited. He got out of bed, stretching his arms and legs, feeling the warmth of the sun streaming through the window.

He went over to his wardrobe and opened it, pulling out some Muggle clothes— a pair of pastel beige trousers and a light blue shirt. He put them on, smoothing them out against his frame; he smiled when he realized that there was no need. These clothes fit him well.

He walked up to the mirror and gave himself a once-over to make sure. Yep, no creases or stretches anywhere in sight. They were nothing like Dudley’s old castoffs that Petunia had foisted upon him, that was for sure.

Getting these clothes had been the first thing that Sirius had helped him with when he’d first gone to live with the man.

Harry frowned at that: it was the first time he got a clear sense of the cost of Muggle clothes. Needless to say, his resentment towards his Aunt and Uncle rose that day.

True, they weren’t extremely well-off, but they certainly had been able to buy all the expensive knick knacks, gadgets, as well as mountains of presents for Dudley. Before, Harry had borne it all with an air of resignation since he was at their mercy, but now that he was free of their oppressive atmosphere, he allowed himself to feel all those things which had been denied to him.

He allowed the resentment, envy, jealousy and hatred to consume him for a few moments before looking himself in the eye and deflating.

He shook his head and murmured, gesturing at his own clothes in an attempt to convince himself that his past hurts no longer mattered. “What’s done is done. I don’t have to deal with them anymore.”

Harry grabbed a comb, stared at it and then at his messy hair before putting it back. Yeah. No.

He went back to his bed, putting on his shoes as well as retrieving his wand from the nightstand, feeling the familiar rush of warmth go through him. Harry exited his room and headed down the stairs to the ground floor, where he saw Sirius and Remus standing around and chatting.

“There you are.” Sirius said, smiling at him as he ruffled his hair. “Did you even try to comb it?”

Before Harry could even answer, Remus spoke as he turned Harry around slightly. “See how it’s parted?”

Harry was confused, even as Sirius laughed. “Just like James! Some things never change…”

So my dad didn’t bother combing his hair, either… Harry thought, a hint of red entering his cheeks as he felt mildly embarrassed. “Erm…”

“Is Adam ready, yet?” Sirius asked.

“I don’t think so.” Harry took the change of topic happily, pushing Remus’ hand off with a light smile. “Maybe he’s sleeping, still?”

“I can never tell with that kid.” Sirius said, shaking his head. “Sometimes he’s up in the afternoon, and other times he’s up by six.”

Knowing him, he’s probably just not sleeping, instead using Potions to keep himself in vitality just so he can study for a few extra hours. Harry thought, shaking his head as he felt some mild worry at this information.

Adam had changed a little after the attack, as well. Though he still made time to talk to Sirius, Harry and Sirius, he’d become more obsessed with his studies, and his sleep schedule had turned extremely erratic as a result.

“Mind going up and getting him?”

“All right.” Harry agreed easily, turned and went back up the stairs towards Adam’s room. Soon enough, he found himself standing outside of the door.

He knocked twice. “Adam?”


Harry tried again. “You up? Adam?”

Still nothing. Harry frowned again, worry suffusing into his being. Maybe his new brother was exhausting himself to the point where his health was suffering?

“I’m coming in.” Harry announced and turned the knob, wondering just what he would find on the other side.

As he came in, he saw Adam sitting at his desk, intently focused on something in front of him. Obscured by the boy’s back, Harry didn’t know what it was, and so he stepped into the room.


The boy still didn’t answer, so Harry hurried his step a tad. He finally saw what Adam was fixated on: a small box. Adam’s eyes were locked onto it, unmoving and unblinking, as if he was having a deep, mental conversation with it.

He appeared completely absorbed in whatever it was he was doing, his posture tense and focused. His fingers were fidgeting restlessly on the desk, occasionally tapping out an uneven rhythm as he simply stared. His wand lay a few inches away.

“Um…” Harry said as he grabbed the boy’s shoulder. “Adam? Are you—”

Adam nearly leapt out of his chair at the touch, eyes wide with sudden surprise as he lost balance and tipped the chair back. With a loud crash, he let out an inarticulate, hilarious cry of shock and fell backwards onto the floor, arms flailing and legs akimbo in a comical fashion.

Harry couldn’t help it. He started laughing.

“You—” Adam said and glared as he picked himself up, cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “Don’t sneak up on me!”

“Sneak up—” Harry stopped himself and laughed again. “I knocked the door— twice, mind you— and I called out for you, but you didn’t answer; I even walked up to you!”

“I would’ve noticed.” Adam said, but he didn’t seem to believe his own words.

The boy seemed to calm down a little after a few moments of dusting himself off. “Sorry. I guess I got a little distracted.”

“A little… That’s putting it mildly.” Harry said and poked his head out from behind him, staring at the open box with some interest. “Is that a ring?”

“Yeah.” Adam said, stepping aside slightly so Harry could get a better look.

“Where’d you get it?” Harry asked, feeling curious as he moved a little forward to stare.

“Oh, uh.” Adam blinked and grabbed Harry’s hand when it tried to reach. “No. Stupid thing’s cursed, so don’t touch it.”

“Cursed?” Harry said and withdrew his hand instantly, pulling out of Adam’s grip. “I thought they got rid of everything when we went to France.”

Adam seemed to be considering the boy for a few moments before nodding. “Keep a secret?”

“Please don’t tell me you’re the one who cursed it.”

“No, no. The Blacks did, at some point or the other. They don’t do things by halves, I’ll tell you that. The box was also cursed, but I got past it.” Adam shook his head with a little amusement. “I’ve wanted to start learning exactly how to break Curses.”


“Well, if I want to do that, I need to practice.” Adam continued. “And to practice…”

“You need cursed objects.” Harry connected the dots quickly. “You had Kreacher hide the cursed things, didn’t you? That’s why he likes you so much now? You helped him keep Sirius’ family’s possessions?”

“Well, that’s one reason he likes me, yeah.” Adam said, his smile not quite reaching his eyes. He gave Harry a serious look. “Promise you won’t tell?”

Harry was conflicted— he didn’t want to lie to Sirius, but this didn’t really seem like something important. True, the objects in question were cursed, but they’d been in Adam’s room for ages, and nothing bad had happened.

“What if he tries to clean your room, or something?” Harry raised the question.

At that, Adam nodded, closed the door to his room before heading towards the closet, gesturing for Harry to follow. He opened the door, showing him its contents— his clothes, a few shoes and knickknacks.

“Nothing’s here.” Harry said, throwing the other boy a look of confusion.

What was he trying to show him?

“That’s exactly right.” Adam said, nodding. “However, there’s a hidden compartment in the back wall. As far as I know, Sirius doesn’t know about it, but that’s where all the stuff is kept. It’s out of reach and isolated with warding spells— apparently, his brother put them in a long time ago, linking them to be sustained by the magic woven into the house’s enchantments.”

Harry blinked, not having expected all of that information. How did he know all of that? Was he now able to discern the histories of the spells cast on things? He didn’t put it past someone as obsessive and as driven as Adam to figure that sort of thing out.

“At least, that’s what Kreacher told me.” Adam answered his unspoken question, turning back to Harry. “Satisfied?”

Harry nodded, still feeling somewhat uncertain, but much less than before. “I guess so. As long as no one gets hurt, I don’t see the problem.”

“Well, I might screw up, at some point.” Adam said, shrugging as he walked back to the box at the table, closing it with a click. “The box, for example, could’ve bitten my whole finger off.”

Harry’s green eyes moved towards it, seeing it in a new light. “And you broke the curse?”

“Naturally.” Adam said and tapped his wand against the box, locking it with a spell. “Who do you think you’re talking to?”

Harry shook his head at the bravado. “Tough words coming from the bloke who just fell off a chair. And do I need to remind you of your rolling adventure?”

“…” Adam looked like he wanted to say something, but he huffed and gave Harry a nod of concession. “Touché. So, what was it you wanted?”

“Oh.” Harry blinked and nodded. “We’re all ready to go—”

“Wait, what?” Adam said and swore. “What time is it?”

Before Harry could answer, he quickly checked the clock resting on his table. “The Hell? Almost noon? I guess the time flies.”


“Yeah, just give me a minute to get dressed.”

“But you’ve already got—”

“I know.” Adam cut him off before gesturing at a dark stain Harry hadn’t noticed around Adam’s sleeve. “I kind of drooled without noticing.”

Harry frowned at that. That sort of stain could only appear if Adam was sleeping on the desk— Harry should know, it had happened to him last spring, one night while he was studying for his Final Exams.

He thought about saying something, but Adam shooed him out of the room before he could get a word in. Harry stared at the closed door for a moment before shaking his head and making his way downstairs, rejoining the two adult wizards in the Drawing Room.

“He’s getting dressed.” Harry said.

“That so?” Sirius said and nodded as his expression turned somewhat somber. “How is he? You know him best, Harry.”

Harry considered the man’s words for a moment before speaking. “He’s studying more than I usually expect him to, but it happens from time to time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…” Harry said, stopping to think. “He just needs to be alone sometimes, I think.”

“Oh, say no more.” Sirius cut in, patting the boy’s shoulder and getting a strange look in his eyes. “I completely understand that. I once knew someone like that.”

Remus threw him an understanding expression, but Sirius shook his head. “As long as he’s not hurting himself and as long as he’s getting better, that’s all that matters.”

I don’t know if exposing himself to Curses counts as him hurting himself. Harry thought, wondering what he should do. The moment was interrupted by the sound of someone walking down the stairs.

“There we are.” Remus murmured as Adam came into view. He’d changed his shirt and put on the same shoes he’d been wearing since the trip to France. When Harry had asked him why he hadn’t gotten new ones, Adam had said something about ‘keeping the legend alive’, and Harry had been too confused to ask why, at the time.

He supposed Adam would eventually tell him.

“Sorry I’m late.” Adam began but stopped at Sirius’ raised hand.

“You are not forgiven!” Sirius said in a deep, over-the-top voice before sending the boy a grin. “Only joking. All right; everyone ready?”

He got a round of nods for his trouble.

“You go first.” Sirius said, sending a look towards Remus.

“Very well.” Remus said and held his arm up for Adam to grasp. “If you would, Adam.”

“I hate Apparition.” Adam said, but did as he was bid.

“Wait till you learn—” Sirius said as the two disappeared with a loud pop. “—it. Heh.”

He turned his attention to Harry and held his arm up. “Ready?”

“Ready.” Harry said as he closed his eyes and grasped tightly onto his guardian’s arm; a feeling of unease began to churn in the pit of his stomach. He had experienced side-along Apparition before, but the thought of being whisked away to a different location in a split second was still more than a little daunting to him, no matter the convenience of it.

Suddenly, there was a sharp pull, and he felt as though he was being squeezed through a tiny tube. His body was compressed and contorted in a way that made him feel as though he was being twisted into a pretzel.

The sensation was disorienting, and for a moment, he lost all sense of direction. But as quickly as it had begun, it was over. He felt his feet touch solid ground once more, and as he opened his eyes, he was greeted by the sights and sounds of Diagon Alley.

The summer sun beat down on the alley, casting a warm glow on the busy street. People bustled to and fro, their colorful robes and swishing in the gentle breeze. From their spot in the Apparition point, Harry stared for all of one second before Sirius gently moved him forward.

“Can’t stand on the Apparition spot for too long.” Sirius said by way of explanation as they stepped down the small platform, joining Adam and Remus. The two stared ahead at their surroundings, acknowledging them with small smiles.

“So, what first?” Harry said, smiling as well.

He could hear the tinkling of bells from the Apothecary, the clinking of coins from Gringotts Bank, and the chatter of excited children as they ogled the latest broomsticks at Quality Quidditch Supplies.

It looked so much different— perhaps even less refined— from the Village Du Phantasime, and yet Harry preferred it this way; a sort of home-y aesthetic that simply could not be replicated anywhere else, save Hogsmeade.

“Gringotts.” Sirius said, idly gesturing at the tall, imposing marble building in the distance.

Adam perked up. “I’ve not been inside before. My first time here, Snape paid for everything.”

“You’ve had to spend a whole day with him?” Sirius stopped to look at me before shaking his head. “I don’t envy you, kid.”

“It is what it is.” Adam said and shrugged before moving ahead of the group. He stopped and turned to them, a mildly excited look in his eyes. “The other students said there’s a fast cart system in there— like a rollercoaster.”

Harry smiled at that, quickly joining Adam’s side. “Yes, there is.”


“Maybe we should go to a theme park sometime?” Sirius suggested as he and Remus walked behind the two boys.

Harry and Adam threw the man a look before staring at each other for a second, nodding and smiling. Adam spoke for the both of them. “That’d be great! I’ve not— erm— been to one of those.”

He beat his chest and cleared his throat. “Sorry, there was a bit of dust in the air.”

Sirius waved it off, and they resumed their walk. Before too long, they found themselves at the base of the steps leading into the Bank. Harry’s eyes beheld the cold, almost imperious majesty of such a building in an otherwise warm place.

Beside him, Adam grunted. “Nice poem.”

Harry turned to see the same sign he’d seen a year ago. “It’s more of a warning, I think.”

“True.” Adam said, studying the words intently for a second longer before smiling. “I just didn’t imagine they’d be into poetry, though.”

Everyone there chuckled, and Harry could’ve sworn that one of the Goblin guards standing by the open doors was staring at Adam. When he turned his gaze to the Goblin in question, Harry saw that he was once again staring straight ahead.

“Come on.” Sirius said, leading the way inside. The rest of the group followed. As they entered, they were greeted by a cool, musty air which stood in stark contrast to the warmth felt outside.

The clinking of gold echoed throughout the large entrance chamber as the various tellers went about their work. Harry spied a few Goblins carting entire chests full of jewels and golden statues, but took his eyes away almost instantly when he noticed the suspicious gaze of one of the spear-wielding Goblins standing guard.

‘Clever as they come, Goblins, but not the most friendly of beasts.’ Hagrid’s words from the previous year came to him, and seeing the ease with which the guards held their spears, well…

I definitely don’t want to run afoul of one of them. Harry thought, and then smiled in amusement. And if even Hagrid is saying that something isn’t friendly, then you know it’s bad news.

“I’d like to make a withdrawal.” Sirius said as he approached one of the free tellers, holding up his key. The Goblin stared at the man and the key for a single moment before nodding and turning his head to a Goblin who was stacking empty boxes to keep them out of the way of other workers.

“Gornuk!” He barked at the Goblin, who stopped what he was doing. “Take them to Vault 711.”

Gornuk the Goblin nodded and walked past the group, not even bothering to tell them to follow.

“Goblins.” He heard Sirius’ mutter before they all rushed to catch up with the surprisingly quick footed Gornuk. He led them outside of the main hall, past a few hallways with closed doors. Eventually, the well lit halls of marble gave way to dark rock, dimly lit by what looked to be growths on the ceiling.

The cool air and the sound of the mine cart wheels against the tracks made his palms sweat with anticipation. They boarded it without fanfare. The Goblin didn’t even bother giving them a by-your-leave before he pulled the lever.

With a sudden jolt, the cart lurched forward, propelling them deep into the depths of the bank’s cavernous mine. The walls of the tunnel rushed past him, illuminated only by the occasional flicker of a lantern.

As the cart picked up speed, Harry could feel the wind whipping past his face, and his heart pounded with the thrill of the ride. The twists and turns of the track made his stomach drop, and he could hear the sound of his own laughter, as well as Adam’s, echoing off the walls of the cavern.

Suddenly, the cart plunged down a steep incline, and he felt the rush of adrenaline as he hurtled towards the bottom. The cart careened around a corner, and he could feel the G-forces pressing against him as he was thrown to the side.

As the ride drew to a close, the cart slowed to a stop, and Harry stumbled out, breathless and exhilarated.

“Vault 711.” Gornuk announced.

“That was…” Adam’s voice came from beside as he joined him, panting with excitement. “Fun!”

The glee in the boy’s voice took Harry off guard, even as Harry smiled at him.

Gornuk, for his part, didn’t even seem bothered by this, heading to Sirius and holding his hand out.

Sirius gave the key to him, and Gornuk in turn unlocked the vault.

A series of clicks filled the air, and the large metal vault door opened with a heavy thud and a loud creak, revealing a large chamber filled with glittering coins of gold and silver. The walls were lined with shelves, each one stacked high with even more gold and silver. Harry even spotted quite a few precious gems.

Harry’s eyes, however, were mostly drawn not to the riches, but to a strange glow at the back of the vault. He followed Sirius inside, passing by the man to stare at it.

The white glow took on hints of black as it coalesced together to form a stylized symbol of what appeared to be a flame.

What… is this? Harry thought in confusion, slowly reaching out to it.

“Harry?” Sirius said, breaking the boy out of his trance.

Harry turned quickly to see the group staring at him in a mixture of confusion and mild concern.

“Are you all right?” Sirius continued, taking a step forward.

“I— erm.” He turned to point at the glowing symbol on the back wall, only to see that it had disappeared. “Huh.”

Had he imagined the whole thing?

Harry shook his head and turned back to Sirius. “It’s nothing.”

Sirius gauged his words for a few moments before nodding and filling up his pouch with Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. Finished, he looked towards Harry again, smiling. “Ready to go?”

Harry nodded. “Let’s.”

Stepping out of the vault, he couldn’t help but throw one last glance at the back wall, even as the large vault door closed with a loud thud, once more. Had he been hallucinating, or had that flame-like symbol been real?

He didn’t know.

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