Chapter 2: Gringotts
We don’t manufacture magic, we’re just transporters of magic.
This was Flourish and Blotts.
The textbooks of the Hogwarts first through seventh years were located inside, as well as very useful random books such as “Hogwarts, A History” and “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”.
The first step in understanding the world of magic would naturally begin with Flourish and Blotts. But how to enter the bookstore?
Charles remembered that Flourish and Blotts was in Diagon Alley, and that the Leaky Cauldron was the entrance to Diagon Alley. But the problem was, a magic wand was needed to open that passage.
What to do! Whatever, let’s get that first sum of funds.
After a while, thanks to the faithful representation of history books in the recording of this period’s history, Charles had quickly amassed his first sum of funds and the plan to enter Flourish and Blotts could finally begin.
The Leaky Cauldron was a dirty and small pub in the streets of London, and some sort of muggle repelling charm had been cast on it. Therefore, although people walked to and fro in front of it, no one had ever noticed it. The business within the bar was quite sparse as Tom, the owner of the bar, was half reclined on the counter reading the Daily Prophet that was fresh off the presses. All was as usual.
But today also seemed a bit different from usual in the eyes of the customers of the Leaky Cauldron who saw this scene.
A six or seven year old little brat had came sauntering into the bar. He then looked left, right, and scratched his head occasionally.
Whose child was this? The currently present customers and pub owner Tom had questioned.
After a while, the brat walked up to Tom and asked, “Excuse me, how do I get to Diagon Alley?”
“What do you want to do in Diagon Alley?”
“I need to go to Flourish and Blotts in Diagon Alley.”
“What do you want to do there?”
“Mommy says not to talk too much to strangers.”
All the wizards and witches broke out into laughter after his words, with huge black lines hanging over Tom’s head.
“The child is so cute.” One of the witches there couldn’t bear it anymore. “I’ll take you to Diagon Alley myself.”
She then took Charles and circled past the counter of the Leaky Cauldron, arriving at a small walled courtyard. There was only a dustbin leaning against the wall here and a thick growth of weeds. The witch counted three bricks up on the wall from the dustbin – and another two to the side. She then took out a wand and tapped on the brick wall three times. The brick she touched started to tremble – the middle of the wall started wriggling violently as a small hole appeared – growing larger and larger. An arched doorway big enough for two to walk through appeared in front of them after a second. This arched doorway led to a street paved with cobblestones. The street twisted and turned in front of them until they could no longer see it.
“Welcome to Diagon Alley.” The witch chuckled.
Although Charles had simulated this scene in his mind many times, he was still incredibly surprised when he actually saw this happen. The witch smiled faintly at him as the two stepped through the arched doorway together. Behind them, the doorway swiftly turned into a solid wall again afterwards.
The light was much brighter after entering Diagon Alley than when compared to the Leaky Cauldron. Charles had noticed that the friendly witch had a head full of pretty blond curls. Her charming face had a pair of eyes as blue as the ocean. She looked not that old, about seventeen or eighteen, and was likely a sixth or seventh year student at Hogwarts or a recently graduated one. The vigor of youth had emanated from her body.
“I need to go exchange for some galleons first.” Charles said to the friendly witch. “Will big sister take me to Gringotts?”
“You’re so sweet for one so young. By the way, I’m called Julie. You can call me big sister Julie.” The witch chattered happily for a while as the two followed the cobblestone path of Diagon Alley, walking towards the wizarding bank.
Charles maintained a tight grip on his curiosity to appear less of small wizard who had snuck out from his muggle home. When they walked out onto the streets, his eyes had continuously darted everywhere and scanned everything, memorizing all that he saw, such as shops, items outside storefronts, etc.
There were large cauldrons stacked outside the storefront of the closest shop. There was a signboard hanging overhead saying, Cauldrons – all sorts of sizes – copper, brass, pewter, silver, self-stirring, collapsible.
A plump madame stood outside an apothecary not too far away, swivelling her head vigorously and calling out loudly, “Dragon liver, 17 sickles an ounce…”
A low, gentle hooting came from a dusky shop. The signage on the shop said, “Eeylops Owl Emporium – Screech, Barn, Tawny, Brown, and Snowy.”
Many boys who looked like they were first years had firmly squashed their noses on another store’s window. Charles knew that the magic brooms of their dreams were inside.
There were also many stores selling robes, binoculars, and odd silverware that Charles had never seen before. Buckets of bat spleen and eye of eel were also piled within the shop window. Tottering piles of spells, scrolls of parchment, flasks, and all sorts of round objects also joined the mess.
“This is Gringotts, little brother!” Julie said.
They had arrived in front of a snowy white building. This building towered over the surrounding small shops. Creatures that were evidently goblins wore uniforms of scarlet and gold as they flanked a set of burnished bronze doors. Charles strode up the white stairs towards a goblin. The goblin were about the same height as the current Charles. It had a dark colored, clever looking face and pointy mustache. Charles had also noticed that his fingers and toes were quite long.
When they walked in, the goblins bowed at them. They were now facing a second set of doors. Those were silver and had a few words carved on them:
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
“Little brother, you’re not thinking of robbing the place, are you?” Julie joked.
“Whoever would rob this place would be seriously crazy.” Charles shook his head, and silently added a sentence at the same time: for now at least.
When they passed through the silver doors, two more goblins bowed at them. They then arrived in a vast marble hall with roughly a hundred goblins sitting on the stools behind the counters. They were scribbling away in record books, using brass scales to weigh the weight of coins, and using magnifying glasses to closely examine precious stones. There were countless numbers of doors that opened into the hall, and even more goblins leading people in and out of the doors. Julie and Charles walked directly towards one of the counters.
“Good morning.” Charles said to a goblin that wasn’t busy. “Can you exchange pounds into galleons for me?”
“Yes.” The goblin said. “This way please.” The goblin led Charles to a counter after he was finished, and Julie walked away tactfully. Charles took out a large sum of cash and exchanged it for a thousand galleons. He then took out two galleons for the goblin as a tip, and then took out another twenty to ask the goblin to cast an extension charm on his little bag. This charm could increase the space within his bag, and could be recast again and again to further increase the space. The goblin helped increase the space within Charles’ backpack to one square meter, and Charles put the rest of the galleons inside. He then gave the goblin another two galleons. When he saw the goblin’s overjoyed expression, Charles knew that these galleons were well spent. It would be much easier to conduct business with this goblin in the future.