Chapter 42

Ines wasn't one for routines, but she ate breakfast with the Potters almost every morning without fail. Mrs. Potter, who prided herself on her cooking abilities as much of the food in the house was thanks to the house-elf, made pancakes with all sorts of syrups every morning. Ines was on her second serving of chocolate drizzled pancakes when she turned to look outside. Something very small and gray was bobbing in and out of sight beyond the glass. She stood up for a better look and saw that it was a tiny owl, carrying a letter that was much too big for it. The owl was so small, in fact, that it kept tumbling over in the air, buffeted this way and that. At the same time, the boys were waltzing into the kitchen. They had stayed up a bit late to finish a game of exploding snap, and Sirius even later to spend time with Ines and had only just woken up. They followed Ines' line of sight and spotted the owl as well. "Thought we wouldn't be getting our Hogwarts letters until at least next week," Sirius said as he rounded the table to give Mrs. Potter a good morning kiss and sit in his seat.

As the owl got closer, Ines quickly pulled down the window, stretched out her arm, and caught it. It felt like a very fluffy Snitch. Se brought it carefully inside. The owl dropped its letter into Ines' hands and began zooming around the kitchen, apparently very pleased with itself for accomplishing its task. James picked up the letter. It was addressed to him. Trembling slightly, he opened the envelope. Two things of paper fell out — a letter and a shiny 'Head Boy' pin.

The news of James being elected Head Boy sent the house into a flurry. After Sirius and Ines got over their laughter, thinking that it was a joke, they joined his parents in congratulating him. Ines teased him about how Lily would have her hands full, as she was no doubt elected head girl, and told him to remind her to send an owl over later. Mrs. Potter proposed they take a celebratory trip to Diagon Alley, to get a jump start on the supplies they would no doubt need and to get something nice for James. They all filed through the fireplace and floo'd into the Leaky Cauldron less than an hour later.

The bar of the Leaky Cauldron was packed. Tom, the stooped and toothless landlord, was polishing glasses behind the bar counter; a couple of warlocks having a muttered conversation in the far corner glanced at the no doubt unusual sight of them and retreated back into their shadows. They made their way out the door and with the tap of Fleamonts wand on the wall the bricks began to whirl and spin: A hole appeared in the middle of them, which grew wider and wider, finally forming an archway onto the narrow cobbled street that was Diagon Alley. People were bustling around from shop to shop, vendors filled the sidewalks, and Gringotts loomed over them all from the end. Mr and Mrs. Potter turned to them, "We'll meet you guys back here in an hour or so, we have some errands to run". Mrs. Potter squeezed James' cheeks at this comment, excited to spoil her son for his accomplishments.

The three of them were left on their own, not that they minded, to roam Diagon Alley. Sirius listed all the things he wanted to buy, a new bookbag, something from Zonko's, and shoes. James' already giddy with excitement, was just excited to see what his parents would get him. All the while they were talking, Ines couldn't help but feel Gringotts looming above her. "What about you Ines, didn't you mention last week you needed a new Beaters bat grip?" Sirius asked, breaking her out of her trance. "I wonder if I can still access my vault at Gringotts," she said, stopping the two of them in their tracks. "Well not exactly my vault, me and Oberon have a shared one. I haven't gotten any money on me, and I do need that bat grip. I'll need to try and get it one day, so why not now". They contemplated it, it wouldn't take much for Ines' claim on the gold to be taken from her considering her father's position with the banks, but it was worth a shot.

After wading through the crowd of people they arrived at the foot of the marble steps leading up to the great bronze doors. A pair of goblins bowed them through the silver doors and they were in a vast marble hall. About a hundred more goblins were sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these. Ines couldn't help but feel their eyes on her, her father had always been mistrusting of the goblins and the unknown powers they no doubt had, and despite truly knowing little about them for sure, she believed him. The no doubt knew who she was from the second she walked in the door, possibly even before. They made their way to the head counter, where a goblin was peering down at them.

"I wish to enter my vault," Ines said. "You have . . . identification?" asked the goblin. Ines fumbled with her words, the only times she had ever gone to her vault before were with her parents, and they let their family in without question at the sight of her father. The goblin seemed to know this, "Your wand will do, madam," said the goblin. He held out a slightly trembling hand as if worried what the consequences of speaking to his boss' estranged daughter and delinquent friends would be. She handed her wand to him, and the goblin looked at it closely. "That seems to be in order.".

He then whistled to summon a little cart that came trundling along the tracks toward them out of the darkness. They climbed in with little difficulty and were off. With a jerk the cart moved off, gathering speed: They hurtled past other tracks leading to the lesser vaults, then the cart began twisting and turning through the labyrinthine passages, sloping downward all the time. Ines had been to the official Avery vault a few times, and the riches behind it was enough to solve world hunger. She couldn't help but wonder what her vault would hold after all these years if she could even get in. They were going even deeper now and gathering speed. The air became colder and colder as they hurtled around tight corners. They went rattling over an underground ravine, and James leaned over the side to try to see what was down at the dark bottom but Sirius groaned and pulled him back by the scruff of his neck.

Vault 1,217 had no lock, the goblin simply prompted Ines to lift her hand, and the door of the vault melted away to reveal a cavelike opening crammed from floor to ceiling with golden coins and goblets, silver armor, the skins of strange creatures — some with long spines, others with drooping wings — potions in jeweled flasks, and a skull still wearing a crown. There was no divide between what belonged to Ines and to Oberon, it belonged to the both of them. In the back, there was a large pit, filled with enough Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts to last her for the rest of her life and her children. Ines reached inside and took a handful, mostly Galleons, and shoved them into her pockets. The boys, having no shortage of riches themselves, still took to gazing around at their surroundings. "If this is for the two of you, I can't imagine what the Avery Family one has,". James exclaimed. "I've never been," Ines replied, "It's much further down, by the Lestranges vault if I remember what Oberon told me correctly.".

One wild cart ride later they stood blinking in the sunlight outside Gringotts. Ines didn't know where to run first now that he had a pocket full of money, and access to plenty more. After an hour spent in Quality Quidditch Supplies, they headed for Flourish and Blotts. Walking down the cobblestone path, Ines felt a grab at her hand. She was delighted to look up and find Sirius attached to it, but the look on her face alluded to it's meaning not being one of compassion. He wasn't looking at her, but Nocturn Alley and when Ines did the same she caught a glimpse of Regulus staring back at her. They hurried their pace, making it to Flourish and Blotts in record time. Just as they made their way to get in, they were greeted by the friendly faces of Euphemia and Fleamont.

Euphemia jumped back at the sight of them, "Oh, we were just going to look for the two of you." Euphemia looked to Fleamont, not having suspected to see them all so soon. "Oh just give it to him, doesn't make a difference where he gets it.". She looked torn but gave in, handing James a large package. It became obvious to all who it was immediately, and underneath all the wrappings. James' smile grew a thousand sizes at the sight of his new broom, a Comet 290. He hugged his parents tightly and they congratulated him on his accomplishment once again.

James was over the moon, he could hardly get his words out about his plans for the upcoming quidditch season the whole walk back to the Leaky Cauldron. But what reversed it all, was the owl perched at his window once they returned home. They had all settled into his bedroom, tired from the day they had had, to find they were being watched; A tawny owl with a nicely written note in its clutches. James ripped it open excitedly, Sirius didn't understand the smile on Ines' face and went over to join James in reading it. He was reluctant, moving away from Sirius and back closer to the owl. Lily's owl.