Harry watched Ragnok sift through the documents in his hands as he slowly consulted whatever information they held. He paused only to compare what he read to the devices on his desk. It was a rather nice desk. Mahogany, polished to a metallic sheen, and - most beautifully of all - providing a vast barrier between the righteously angry midget and Harry, though sadly not the armed guard keeping him in the chained chair.
His ability to stretch his senses and examine the devices, or the chains which bound him, was severely hampered by the amazing ward schema of this world's Gringotts. Entering through the front door had been like walking through several layers of molassas, vinegar and olive oil. It was a thing of beauty, so intricately weaved that Harry couldn't discern where one ward ended and another began.
He'd been so enthralled by the overpowering sensation of the Goblin magic that he failed to react in time as an army of guards descended upon him like a rugby team. A rugby team composed of especially tiny, and especially ugly, players - even by the beauty standards set by the average athlete specializing in the sport.
Resorting to using his eyes - of all thing - to examine the device he easily deduced what some of them were. Some indicated vault numbers, others loan eligibility, and one he couldn't make heads or tails of kept beeping and displaying a red light.
"What does the beeping one do?" Harry dared to ask when he gave up on figuring it out himself.
Ragnok didn't look up from his papers.
"It's an alarm to indicate when a person who has stolen from Gringotts has entered the premises." He said simply.
What? But Harry hadn't stolen from Gringotts before. Or at least not this one. So how would the wards here have recognized him? Either the records of his theft transcended dimensions or..
"The wards mark a person as a thief, and that mark stays on the person, not in a magical record kept here." Harry concluded out loud.
This time the old Goblin really did look up.
"Impressive reasoning skills." He said as he placed the documents aside. He then motioned for Harry to continue.
"I'm guessing whatever stain was placed on my magical signature cannot be removed?" Ragnok nodded. "But the wards in the bank proper can be taught to ignore it, or the stain modified if the transgression was forgiven or justified?"
"The latter." Ragnok said simply.
That certainly explained why Harry never had trouble with his own bank in his own world.
"There's just one problem." The branch director added. "The identification markers in your stain also indicates the vault number and the processing ID of the object stolen."
Harry nodded. He could see where this was going.
"The processing ID is for an object that rests soundly within the vault in question. Or so says the auditors I sent down to check."
And there was no questioning the veracity of a claim made by Goblin auditors.
"A malfunctioning ward then?" Harry offered with a grin that clearly showed even he didn't believe such a possibility.
"My thoughts exactly. Even though such a thing has never happened before. If it were only one ward malfunctioning we would have contracted you to help fix the flaw. Problem is, multiple wards are all saying impossible things, leading us to believe that they are not malfunctioning."
Harry noted the Goblin's use of the word 'contracted' to describe what would have been a much uglier form of employment.
"Tell me mister Potter. What is it that you saw fit to steal from the Lestrange vault of your universe?"
A loud ringing sound filled Harry's ears, a ringing sound that had nothing to do with the noisy contraptions in front of him and everything to do with his brain stuttering like a fax machine in his panic.
He racked his mind for some possible explanation for how they could know his name, or lineage. They hadn't taken blood from him for an inheritance test, of that he was sure. They certainly hadn't breached the tungsten missile silo vault door he called an occlumency barrier. As he eliminated possibility after possibility he was left with one, incredibly improbable solution to this riddle.
Eliminate the impossible and what you're left with, no matter how improbable, is the truth
He surprised everyone in the room with his uproarious laughter.
"You brilliant bastards!" He said between fits. "The blood tests and keys are all a sham! Your wards identify a person and their blood relations the moment they walk through that door."
That was the only explanation. Their wards recognized him as the son of James Potter, and likely Lily Evans - assuming she hadn't married in this world. That alone could be explained as him being their lost bastards son, or hidden child, but combined with the nonexistant theft, reconciliation and whatever else they had detected they must have figured out the truth. Just like he had, through process of elimination. Even time travel couldn't explain all of this impossibilities.
Ragnok returned his smile with rows of needle-like teeth and Harry knew his friendship with the old Goblin transcended dimensions.
"I assure you, Mister Potter, that they are not a sham. Our wards can only detect immediate blood relations. Providing keys and tests both give a sense of security to our customers and the funds raised from issuing them goes towards maintenance, allowing us to forego userous practices through fees, rampant stock market speculation or interest rates on credit."
Harry nodded. God, but did he ever love Goblins!
"Formalities hold power over those who believe in them." Harry repeated the ancient Goblin saying. "Or so you always told me, sir."
Ragnok leaned back and waved for the guards holding an array of weapons to his throat to stop doing so. The chains remained tightly fastened to his limbs.
"I see. So we were rather close in your world?" He said more than asked.
"We were friends. Mostly of the Sunday brunch variety." He told the wizened banker. "Speaking of, I could kill for some chimera haggis."
His captor raised both eyebrows inquisitively.
"Could you, now? Most wizards can't stomach our food. It's a bit too flavorful for their delicate pallets." Ragnok warned him. "I've heard many a man talk a big game about liking our dishes only to disappoint."
"People just don't seem to understand the importance of pairing food with the proper drink." He said offhandedly. "They can recognize how red wines compliments red meats and white wines compliments seafood, but can't grasp the concept of pairing beers and rums with stronger tasting foods."
It was true. The pungent smells and taste-bud nuking capabilities of chimera haggis, for instance, was easily offset by a good ale. A strong, citrus variety. The one that the Goblins made from rye bread, and roasted before fermenting like a rich, dark coffee after drowning it in grapefruit and lime served with a slice of..
"I have already called for the inheritance specialist. He is currently tending to another client and will be here shortly." Ragnok said, interrupting his reverie. "Any man capable of stomaching our food and being merry is plenty trustworthy in my book."
"Hm?" Harry said dumbly as thoughts of cucumber slices left him. "Oh right! Much appreciated."
"Am I right to feel confident in the belief that you had a good reason for stealing what you had, Mister Potter?"
Harry hesitated before answering.
"It did save a lot of lives." He admitted. "But it was still a crime and a sin. Only offset by the fact that the item was itself stolen in the first place."
That was the correct answer when discussing something as abhorrent in the race's moral code as theft.
The director leaned in and continued in almost a whisper.
"What exactly was the object you stole and for what purpose?"
Harry winced, knowing that his friend wouldn't like his answer.
"I can't tell you sir." He confessed. "I knew before coming here that it isn't in the Lestrange vault, and I honestly can't be certain if it shares the same history or importance as it did in my world. Even if it does, it may not even be in the bank at all."
Whatever object shared the ID number was in all likelihood some other heirloom in the not-so-mad woman's vault.
"If you would merely describe the object I can check." He responded, a bit too readily.
Harry stared at the diminutive banker. His stare quickly turned into a glare.
"Ragnok, if you are suggesting what I think you're suggesting then I swear by all that is holy I will reach across this desk and backhand you so hard that Meirna will feel it." He told his friend, who raised his eyebrows in fear at the sound of his mother's name. "And after she proceeds to come up here to whoop my arse for trouble, she will then proceed to whoop YOUR arse once I tell her how you offered to aid me in a theft."
The director and his entire entourage reacted predictably. Not with outrage at the threat, but by swelling with pride at the reminder of their duty and his respect for it. Again, that was the correct answer.
The chains binding Harry to the chair fell away.
"Well! It's a good thing I was suggesting no such thing. I doubt either of us would want that." Ragnok said with a nervous chuckle.
"Noooo sir!" Harry said, matching the chuckle. "I won't pretend to know how bad or desperate things are here, but I am certain another decade of Voldemort is preferable to a minute of that kind of divine wrath."
A few minutes later the head of inheritance, an even more elderly and ornately dressed Goblin than Ragnok named Inkgots, joined them in the office and made preparations for the inheritance ritual.
Harry recognized the expense and fashionability of the Goblin's clothes not as a pompous display, but as a means of honoring the more senior workers within Gringotts. It wasn't a matter of expense or even dickwaving - though Goblins were as guilty of that as any culture - but instead of recognition of his service.
The process was rather mundane. Harry merely had to write his name on a heavily enchanted and potion soaked piece of parchment with a specialized quill. The writing implement was metallic and wrote in his blood. It took exactly seven drops of the life giving liquid to write out all of the information he needed.
The use of the writers blood was the sole reason the process was legally regarded as a ritual. Harry had already done this ritual before in his own world, and it was just as mind-numingly boring the second time. The only difference this tome was his request to only check and access his maternal inheritance. It would not do for his father to get a bank notice telling of Harry's existence.
He knew his mother's line descended from a series of Squibs who escaped into the Muggle world in search of a life worth living. As such the squiggly diagram of a family tree the parchment displayed held no surprises. Centuries of either Muggle or female descendants up until this point prevented any claimants to the long unused vaults of certain wizarding families. Lack of male heirs was a huge problem for Goblin run banks. If you had a few hours to spare you could easily broach the topic with a bar hopping Goblin and they will wax on about stagnant wealth going unused and the good in the world gone undone from lack of investment and business loans as a consequence.
It especially enraged Goblins because they, like Jews, determined inheritance and lineage on the maternal side. Why the sadistic race universally despised Talmudic Judaism - as you could also discover by broaching the topic over a bar table - was beyond him. The only group Goblins hated more was the Jesuits, which Harry could definitely relate to.
The ritual eventually concluded and displayed two inheritances.
Morrigan Estate….. designated by Lord Nathaniel Gryer Morrigan of the Noble House of Morrigan, 1897
Wentforth Family….designated by Eloise Harriet Wentworth, 1980
Harry couldn't decide whether to frown or smirk. There had been more names In his world, to be sure, but one of these was new. He didn't even recognize Wentworth as a vague memory, but surmised it was yet another line wiped out by this Voldemort's pointless war.
"That is unfortunate." Inkgot allowed with a sigh.
Frown. Definitely frown.
"Why is that?" Harry demanded.
Both of the older Goblins groaned as they clearly searched for a diplomatic way to share the news.
"All liquid assets and properties of the Morrigan and Wentworth lines were seized by the Ministry in order to provide..." Ragnok paused to think of a word. "Remunerations for 'victims' of DMLE investigations that failed to lead to convictions."
Harry allowed the growl to escape his throat unimpeded. He knew openly fuming at the Ministry's tendency to take that which belonged to others was only outstripped by the similar proclivities of Muggle governments. Hiding his rage at these turn of events would only offend his hosts, who appreciated honest displays of justified wrath.
Knowledge that the money and property stolen from him was siphoned off to Death Eaters to recoup their losses from bribing their way out of prison nearly made lose control of his magic.
A knock on the door interrupted his angsting.
"Ah. And now for the good news." Only it said as a surly looking Goblin youth handed him a stack of folders.
"Both estates did have investments in companies and stocks whose dividends have, up until now, been siphoned away by the Ministry." Inkgot explained.
Harry let a smile grace his face.
"And now that I can claim ownership all future dividends go to me?"
The older Goblins nodded.
"If you'd like we cab sell the stocks and bonds and open a vault to store the liquidated assets." Ragnok offered.
Harry looked at his friend in confusion.
"Now why would we want to do that?"
From what Harry knew about them, Goblins despised 'hoarders' as they were called. They believed that people with money should use that money to better the world. Not by giving it away to worthless charities that rarely achieve their goals, and more often than not achieve the exact opposite of their mission statements.
Fuck all that.
You loan money to create businesses that will hire people and drag them kicking and screaming out of poverty. You fund the research and development of new technology that will raise the standard of living to the point that the poor of today live better lives than the kings of yesterday. You fund projects and ambitions to rival the seven wonders of the ancient world and, succeed or fail, at least you can say you were part of something cool. That's how Goblins role!
So why was a Gringotts branch manager suggesting he abandons such efforts?
"Well, Mister Potter.."
"Morrigan." Harry corrected.
He needed an alias and it would serve him well to take the name he knew would entitle him to a seat on the Wizengomat and Hogwarts Board of Governors.
"Well, Mister Morrigan." Ragnok amended. "Most of your inherited investments have lost value due to recent market forces. We are required to recommend, for your financial benefit, that you abandon these investments."
Ah. So that was it.
"Director. We humans have a term for describing people who abandon bear markets for the safety of mattress stuffing. A term you might like."
Ragnok considered Harry for a moment.
"And what do you call them, Mister Morrigan?"
Harry soon found himself practicing his new signature on a mountain of documents.
Harison Edward Morrigan had officially entered the game.
I made a lot of changes in this chapter from the original story. Harry inheriting a metric kilotonne of money is lazy writing and boring storytelling. So I changed it. He barely earned anything from the effort in all honesty, but enough to start building something in this new world.
As for his name, Harry is using a variety of Harry as Harrison and took the middle name 'Edward' after his godson. Edward Lupin. You all remember him right? Son of Tonks and Remus? Metamorphmagus? Ringing any bells?
That's chapter four. I hope you all enjoyed.