Finally. After months upon months of agonizing waiting, September was just around the corner. Voldy could hardly wait. In just a short while, he would be on the train for his first day of school! How awesome would that be? Dumbledore had promised to take him shopping for supplies, and even see him off when the train left. Voldy had of course told him he didn't have to – he could take care of himself just fine – but Dumbledore had insisted.
The whole school business was also somehow keeping Voldy's mind off missing Quirrell. Now that he could actually occupy himself with something, not to mention focus on something other than feeling sad, Voldy felt more content and okay with the world around him. Still, Quirrell did cross his mind every now and then, and he was still convinced that his life would be infinitely better with his best friend around.
One day late in August, Voldy waited anxiously in his room for Dumbledore to show up so they could go prepare him for school. Everything he owned was packed and he was ready to go any second now. He was so excited that he could barely stand still. Finally he could get out of this miserable orphanage and leave all the other stupid kids behind. They had given him a very hard time since Quirrell had left (teased, pointed and laughed, snickered, and whatnot – all from a distance), and he was so happy to just be rid of them.
What was taking Dumbledore so long? Surely he remembered that they were supposed to meet before going shopping, right? Voldy bit his lip nervously and tightened his grip on his wand. He couldn't have forgotten. Dumbledore was always pretty punctual; surely he had just taken more time than usual to get ready or something. Yeah, that was probably it.
Sure enough, only a couple of seconds later, the old wizard apparated into the room. He didn't say anything at first, and just had a look around the room, grinning. He then had a look at Voldy, who was practically bouncing with excitement. "I see you've packed all your belongings?" Dumbledore asked humbly.
"Yeah, I just finished last night!" Voldy said and tried to refrain from jumping up and down. "What took you so long anyway?"
"Oh, I had to make sure you could actually afford everything you need for your education," Dumbledore replied and took out a piece of parchment from his robe pocked. "As it turns out, your mother had assigned you a vault before she passed away. Clearly, she expected you to have magical blood in you."
Voldy stared at Dumbledore and tilted his head in confusion. "My mom did what?"
"Your mother deposited a few dozen galleons into Gringotts, expecting them to expand as the years went by, and then be able to withdraw it for you to use one day," Dumbledore explained, reading off the parchment as he did so. He then folded it together and put it back in his pocket. "Which means that our first stop shall be Gringotts, the wizard bank. To take out some shopping money," he added when he noticed that Voldy didn't seem to grasp what he was talking about. He then grinned and reached out an arm to Voldy.
Hesitating a bit, Voldy grabbed his trunk with one hand, and prepared to touch Dumbledore's arm with the other. He had a look around the room for a quick moment, remembering everything that had taken place in it that fateful year Quirrell had actually been an orphan too. He felt the lump in his throat appearing again, so he shook his head in an attempt to make it go away. Voldy then looked up at Dumbledore and nodded.
"It's going to feel a little tingly, but don't worry, the trip is very quick," Dumbledore said just before Voldy's fingertips touched his arm.
The touch barely lasted a millisecond before Voldy felt like something was sharply pulling him backwards from the inside. His entire room spun rapidly around him, and he felt like his intestines were all going on a rampage. Not like a fever-rampage, though. This was actually somewhat painful. He tried releasing his hand from Dumbledore's arm, but was completely stuck. He tried to let out a little scream, but heard no sound.
After what felt like minutes of mindless torture, Voldy's feet finally found something solid to stand on again. He instantly tumbled down with a yelp, and almost smacked his face on the ground before managing to brace himself with his now free hand. Now that he was actually still, he felt extreme nauseous, and let out a groan as he stood up again.
"Wha… What just happened?" he asked as he rubbed his head, trying not to sound too sick.
"Well, Voldemort, you just experienced your first disapparation," Dumbledore said with a smirk.
Still dizzy, Voldy tried to comprehend what he had just been told. This was what disapparating felt like? Why would people choose this form of transportation? Unless the idea was to clear out sinuses, Voldy saw no point in it.
"Now, the bank should be around here somewhere…" Dumbledore trailed off to have a look around, and then smiled in revelation. "Ah, yes. There it is. My coordinates were slightly off, I see. Well, no matter, no matter. We'll manage a few steps, won't we?" he then asked Voldy.
Voldy had no idea what Dumbledore was talking about, but nodded silently and followed as Dumbledore started walking. He had a look around, and noticed that they were walking down a very short, tight path, with relatively large buildings on each side. Loads of people crowded the small street, children and adults alike, and Voldy wondered just where Dumbledore had taken him. He grabbed ahold of his trunk and dragged it along as the two of them moved forward.
After walking for a couple of seconds, Voldy saw that he and Dumbledore were approaching a large white building at the very end of the street. He gawked at its size, and wondered just how it was standing upright, since some of the pillars holding it up were crooked.
"Hey, uh, Dumbledore, what is this place?" he had to ask.
"That's Gringotts, the wizard bank," Dumbledore replied. "Now come. We can't possibly do your shopping without having a few galleons in our hands, now can we?" He grinned all-knowingly at Voldy as usual and kept moving forward. Voldy followed.
As soon as they stepped inside, Voldy felt like he was in a magical environment. The bank looked much bigger on the inside than it was on the outside, reaching tremendous lengths in all directions; even the ceiling was so high that Voldy could barely distinguish the patterns on it. To his left and right were people waiting behind unreasonably large desks, all of which were occupied by creatures Voldy could only describe as elfish-looking, crumpled, and hook-nosed. They had to be goblins – no elf would ever look this mangled. Voldy shuddered when he accidentally made eye-contact with one of them. He didn't know what it was, but there was something about their gaze that was very intimidating.
Dumbledore walked on until reaching a desk that had no line in front of it, and cleared his throat. The goblin sitting at the desk looked up from what he was doing and flashed a toothy smirk that Voldy wasn't sure was supposed to be welcoming or show malice.
"Ah, Professor. Back again, I see?" the goblin said in an unusually deep and hoarse voice.
"Indeed I am, Griphook," Dumbledore said without so much as batting an eye at the goblin's harsh demeanor. "And I brought a special someone here with me to prove to you that the late Merope Gaunt's wealth was not put here in vain," he added and patted Voldy on the shoulder, making the goblin – no, Griphook – instantly look at him with the same toothy grin. Voldy felt a cold chill go down his spine, but tried his best to look calm.
"Hm, pity. I could have sworn Miss Gaunt was delusional when she deposited her money here all those years ago," Griphook said, shaking his head in disappointment, apparently. Voldy frowned. "Well then, I shall escort you to the vault." He stepped down from wherever he was sitting and gestured only Dumbledore to follow him. When Voldy tried to follow, Griphook held up a hand to stop him and shook his head.
Voldy was not amused. "Hey, wait a minute!" he exclaimed annoyingly. "This is my money! Why can't I come too?"
Griphook turned around and drummed his fingers together. "Because technically it isn't your money, it is your mother's," he said. Voldy immediately pointed at Dumbledore and was about to protest when Griphook noted what he was about to say. "Dumbledore just so happens to have the key to her vault and all appropriate information needed. Now, if you will excuse us…" He walked on.
Voldy folded his arms and pouted. He glared at Dumbledore, who simply shrugged, smiled, and said: "What can I say? Being me certainly has its benefits. Don't worry; we'll be back before you know it."
"Whatever," Voldy grumbled as he watched Dumbledore and Griphook walk towards something behind all the desks. He frowned some more and turned his head, looking for a suitable place to sit and wait. Conveniently, there was a small bench just a few feet away from Griphook's desk, and he instantly rushed towards it, dragging his trunk along. He sat down and then lamely began staring off into space.
For a day he had looked so forward to, it certainly started slowly. Voldy sighed and repositioned himself, now only looking towards Griphook's desk in hopes that Dumbledore would be back with his money sooner than later. He just wanted to go shopping already! Of course they were much longer than they had said – Voldy should have guessed. He hated the way adults measured time, because it always ended up being way longer than they anticipated. Ugh.
Still, sitting on this bench and not doing anything was certainly an okay way to let the mind wander. Despite this day starting out this slowly, Voldy was definitely excited about what had to be done. All the books he could scan, all the equipment he could browse, not to mention the fact that he would get his own set of robes, specifically fitted for only him. How cool would that be?
"Hi! Can I join you?"
Voldy almost jumped in his seat when he suddenly heard someone speak to him. He snapped out of his thoughts and turned around to see a dark-skinned girl with crazy, curly, black hair standing next to him. She was smiling sweetly at him, pointing her wand at the empty spot next to Voldy on the bench. Voldy looked down at it, unsure what to do. This was the first time in months a kid had actually spoken to him, so he was quite rusty in the social department.
"Uh, yeah, sure," he replied plainly and scooted slightly to make more room for the girl. She hopped on the bench and sat down next to him, then sighed.
"I really hate waiting, don't you?" she said, clearly not expecting Voldy to reply because she then kept talking. "I mean, my parents know they have enough money to buy me school stuff, but they still wanna check out their vault! And because it 'technically'," she used air quotes, "doesn't have my name on it, I can't go in with 'em. It's just so… ugh, you know?"
"Yeah," Voldy said, without knowing what else to add to that. Boy, this girl was really talkative.
"I know it's only my first year, but still!" she continued, not noticing how uninterested Voldy was in her complaints. "You'd think they'd be more prepared!" She let out a high-pitched laugh that probably would have pierced into Voldy's ears if he had been paying more attention to what she was talking about. She then reached out for a handshake and smiled wide. "My name's Bellatrix, by the way, Bellatrix Black. Most people just call me Bella for short."
Feeling a slight tingle in his stomach that had no business there (was it because this moment seemed familiar?), Voldy took Bella's hand and shook it. "I'm Voldemort, but, uh, you can call me Voldy if you want," he said and grinned sheepishly.
"Ooh, Voldemort," Bella said, putting extra emphasis on Voldy's name, as she let go of his hand. "That's such an awesome name! And it sounds so spooky… I like it!"
Instantly forgetting to tell Bella to tone down her voice a bit, Voldy just stared at her, looking puzzled. "Really? You think so?" he said, feeling slightly more comfortable around her than just a few moments ago. "Definitely haven't heard that one before. I mean… really? My name's spooky?"
"Well yeah!" Bella said excitedly. "It's like, it sounds so powerful and- and just so cool. It could totally be the name of a bad guy in a fairy-tale or a book or something!"
Voldy snorted at that. "Wow, I never thought of it like that before," he said. He really hadn't. All these years of calling himself 'Voldemort' and he never made the connection that it sounded genuinely fierce.
"Oh hey, is this your first year at Hogwarts too?" Bella asked, making Voldy stop giggling at his own silliness.
"Yeah, it is. I'm actually waiting for my money too," he replied. "See, I'm an orphan, but my mom put some of her money in here for me before she died, so I'm having someone pick it up for me."
By just saying the word orphan, Voldy noticed that the excited look on Bella's face melted away to make room for a sympathetic one. "Aww, you poor thing!" she said in a way that only a girl would sound. "Are you okay?"
What kind of a question was that? "Uh, yeah, I'm fine. I never knew my parents anyway, so I don't have anything to miss." He stopped talking immediately as he felt another tingle. This conversation was sort of familiar. Why was that?
"Still, it stinks that you never got to meet them or anything," Bella said, and then completely changed the subject (Voldy wasn't sure if it was because she felt uncomfortable or because she didn't want Voldy to elaborate more on him being an orphan). "Anyway, which house do you hope you'll be sorted in? I know I wanna make Slytherin," she continued without giving Voldy a chance to reply. "Since, you know, my whole family's been in Slytherin for generations, and I wouldn't wanna disappoint them or anything."
She stopped talking and stared at Voldy, her eyes full of glee and excitement. Voldy scratched his head. "Uhh, I dunno. I haven't really thought about it that much," he said, speaking the truth. "I don't really care where I end up, but… I dunno, I guess I'd like to be in Slytherin too. My mom was a descendant of Slytherin himself, so I think it'd be pretty cool."
Bella squeaked in excitement, making Voldy wish he had some sort of earmuffs to prevent losing his sense of hearing. "OMIGOSH I don't believe it!" she exclaimed and then flailed animatedly. "You're really a descendant of the Salazar Slytherin himself?" Voldy nodded. "That is so freaking cool!" She then turned her head sharply to the right, where she spotted somebody. She practically started jumping up and down in her seat, waving at whomever it was she had seen, and pointed at Voldy as she shouted: "Mom! Dad! This guy totally has Slytherin blood in him!"
As soon as Bella had let go of the word, several people around them either turned around, did double-takes, or glanced sneakily at Voldy, making him blush a bit. To his relief, nobody rushed up to him or was as excited about it as Bella was. He looked up to see two grown-ups, a man and a woman, walking towards the two of them. The woman walked slightly faster than the man, and as she approached Bella, shushed her.
"Bellatrix, stop this infernal yelling," she said, her voice much deeper than Voldy had expected it to sound. "This is no way to behave in public," she continued as she brushed some of Bella's hair from her face.
"But it's true, mom!" Bella yelled – seriously, could she not lower her voice level? – as her father came into view as well, looking just as unimpressed with his daughter as his wife. "He really is a descendant of Slytherin! Tell her, Voldy!"
Hearing his nickname again after all this time gave Voldy yet another tingle in his tummy. He didn't know what it was about, but it wasn't anything that drastic or feverish, so he decided not to think about it for now. He looked up at the Blacks, who were looking at him curiously, as if they didn't believe a single word Bella had said.
"Uh, yeah, so…" he began, struggling with where to begin. "My mom's name was Merope Gaunt, and—"
"What do you mean, 'was'?" Bella's father cut in, putting a hand to his chin in thought.
"Well, um, she's not exactly alive anymore…" Voldy said plainly, though still trying not to come off as rude. He had barely seen them for five minutes and already he had decided that the Blacks were very unpleasant people to be around.
"Ah, I see," Mr. Black said, still sounding quite indifferent. "Go on, then."
Voldy swallowed, and then spoke again. "And uh, my grandpa was Marvolo Gaunt—"
"Oh!" Mrs. Black suddenly exclaimed and clapped her hands together. "I know of him. I think he's also linked to the Peverell family tree, isn't that right?" she asked Voldy, who had no idea how to respond.
"Sure, yeah," he simply said, trying to not make it obvious that he had no idea who the Peverells were.
Bella squirmed about in her seat and squeaked again. She then grabbed Voldy's arm, taking him by such surprise that he let out a little "Whoa!" as she did so. "See? I told you he was a real Slytherin!" Bella exclaimed as she snuggled up to Voldy's arm. Wow, this was clearly a very big deal for her.
"Yes, yes, Bella, now let go of the boy's arm," Mrs. Black said in a much gentler tone than before. She then looked at Voldy and reached for a handshake. "I apologize if my daughter is being a nuisance to you, dear. My name is Druella, and this is my husband Cygnus."
Nuisance? What does that even mean? Voldy thought before hesitantly taking Mrs. Black's hand and shaking it. "Hi, I'm Voldemort." He paused when he noticed that the Blacks were looking at him in a suspicious way, and then laughed awkwardly. "Well, that's my nickname. My real name's Tom, but I never use it. Ever."
"Nice to meet you, Tom," said Mr. Black, which made Voldy cringe a bit. He wasn't sure why, but he hated his real first name. It just sounded so… plain.
"Voldy's starting his first year too!" Bella suddenly said, still sort of holding Voldy's arm, even though her mother had told her to let go. "So we can totally be friends!"
Bella's parents let out a small laugh before Mrs. Black took her hand and urged her to get off the bench. "I'm sure you will be," she said as Bella reluctantly hopped off. "Now come on, we have to do your shopping." Bella frowned at her mother, obviously not wanting to be parted from Voldy just yet. "Don't worry, you two will surely see each other on the platform. This isn't goodbye forever, you know."
"Aww, but I wanted to stay and talk!" Bella whined (Voldy still resisted putting his fingers into his ears). "Can't we stay just a little longer?"
"Bellatrix," Mr. Black dragged strictly and eyed his daughter.
Bella sighed. "Fine." She turned to Voldy and grinned. "See ya later, Voldy!"
"Yeah, see you," Voldy said and waved goodbye to the Blacks. As they walked away, Voldy looked on, deciding that this was one family he would never want to be a part of. They all seemed so conceited for some reason. Well, the parents did – Bella was just super active. Voldy smiled and shook his head. Maybe befriending Bella wouldn't be as bad as he thought it would be.
He turned in the other direction, and noticed that Dumbledore was coming back from the vaults. His spirit lightened instantly. Finally they could go shopping for supplies! Voldy hopped off the bench and walked towards Dumbledore, who was now carrying a little sack that jingled with each step he took – it was obviously full of coins.
"So? Are we ready to go now?" Voldy asked as he and Dumbledore met each other midway.
"I suppose we are," Dumbledore said and smiled. He then tossed the coin sack in Voldy's direction, which he promptly caught. "This should be enough for at least your school supplies this year. I also put a few extra galleons in there for leisure and such, so you won't have to worry about shortage or anything."
Voldy opened the sack to have a peek. It turned out to be much larger on the inside than it seemed from the outside, and he could tell that there was a lot of money in there. He jiggled it in his hand for a moment to hear the jingle-sound before closing it again and putting it in his pocket. The then looked back up at Dumbledore and grinned widely. "Okay! I'm ready!"
"Shall we go, then?" Dumbledore said and gestured Voldy to start walking ahead.
"Yeah!" Voldy exclaimed, grabbed his trunk, and practically ran out of the bank. This was going to be so much fun. And if not, then hey, at least he could occupy himself with something while waiting for September – tomorrow, actually – to start!