Thursday, December 2, 2010

“No… no… I really must get back,

“No… no… I really must get back,” said Lupin at last, declining yet another goblet of wine. He got to his feet and pulled his traveling cloak back around himself.

“Good-bye, good-bye – I’ll try and bring some pictures in a few day’s time – they’ll all be so glad to know that I’ve seen you –”

He fastened his cloak and made his farewells, hugging the women and grasping hands with the men, then, still beaming, returned into the wild night.

“Godfather, Harry!” said Bill as they walked into the kitchen together, helping clear the table. “A real honor! Congratulations!”

As Harry set down the empty goblets he was carrying, Bill pulled the door behind him closed, shutting out the still-voluble voices of the others, who were continuing to celebrate even in Lupin’s absence.

“I wanted a private word, actually, Harry. It hasn’t been easy to get an opportunity with the cottage this full of people.”

Bill hesitated.

“Harry, you’re planning something with Griphook.”

It was a statement, not a question, and Harry did not bother to deny it. He merely looked at Bill, waiting.

“I know goblins,” said Bill. “I’ve worked for Gringotts ever since I left Hogwarts. As far as there can be friendship between wizards and goblins, I have goblin friends – or, at least, goblins I know well, and like.” Again, Bill hesitated.

“Harry, what do you want from Griphook, and what have you promised him in return?”

“I can’t tell you that,” said Harry. “Sorry, Bill.”

The kitchen door opened behind them; Fleur was trying to bring through more empty goblets.

“Wait,” Bill told her, “Just a moment.”

She backed out and he closed the door again.

“Then I have to say this,” Bill went on. “If you have struck any kind of bargain with Griphook, and most particularly if that bargain involves treasure, you must be exceptionally careful. Goblin notions of ownership, payment, and repayment are not the same as human ones.”

Harry felt a slight squirm of discomfort, as though a small snake had stirred inside him.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“We are talking about a different breed of being,” said Bill. “Dealings between wizards and goblins have been fraught for centuries – but you’ll know all that from History of Magic. There has been fault on both sides, I would never claim that wizards have been innocent. However, there is a belief among some goblins, and those at Gringotts are perhaps most prone to it, that wizards cannot be trusted in matters of gold and treasure, that they have no respect for goblin ownership.”

“I respect –” Harry began, but Bill shook his head.

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