- Magic’s Chosen-Season One, Episode One-Desperate Measures
- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
June 20th, 1993
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Madam Pomphrey gave him a cursory glance, didn’t so much as cast a diagnostic spell, yelled at him for wasting her time and chased him out. After all he’d already been to the Headmaster’s office and traipsed all over the castle he was fine.
He was only too willing to go, even if McGonagall was there and marched him to Gryffindor Tower. She demanded Percy and the twins go with her, glared at Harry and sent him to bed.
Dean and Seamus loudly declared they weren’t sharing quarters with a murderer.
Ginny wasn’t dead. All but, though still breathing. Ron wasn’t dead, but drooling and mindless as much as Lockheart.
McGonagall glared. “Mr. Longbottom.”
“I’ll room with Harry.” Neville said standing a little straighter, shoulders squaring.
McGonagall looked disgusted at Neville. “Fine. Mrs. Weasley has already requested Harry be placed in another room due to circumstances. The Headmaster is inclined to allow it.” her tone said how much she disapproved. A narrow doorway appeared. “Mr Potter, Mr. Longbottom, that is your doorway, no one but either of you may pass it.”
She called a house elf and demanded all of Harry and Neville’s things be packed and brought to her.
“All their things–even the things that are being taken.” the one house elf asked.
“If they are in the castle, yes,” McGonagall scowled.
The house elves popped away, returning with their trunks a moment later. “Will gets the taken things now.”
“Deliver them to the chamber at the top of this stair. You will deliver their meals there for the next eight days as well. They will be responsible for cleaning up after themselves, and their laundry–there’s a bathroom up there. They can wash their clothes in the sink.”
McGonagall went on to announce that a list of essays in place of year end tests would be delivered by morning for all but OWL and NEWT students, whose scheduled testing would begin the next day–Monday–as intended. Harry and Neville were confined to quarters for the remaining eight days until school was out. Not even allowed to the library for their assignments which most assuredly were still due even with classes suspended in the wake of Ginny’s near death.
A House Elf was declared to be their warden. They were to take their trunks and GO! Out of her sight.
They did. Harry too furious to allow himself to open his mouth. Neville had done nothing. He could feel the venom, and the tears, warring in him. It felt like he was going to burn up. Every joint ached, his scar tugged oddly but was drown out by the agony in his arm.
He could feel the shattering of so many spells as they lugged their trunks up the stairs.
Neville made a startled squeak and whispered “Harry.”
“Yeah, let’s just get up and see our room.”
The stairway was narrow and steep and the only reason they could see in front of their faces was the tips of their wands lit up by lumos spells. It had to wind it’s way all the way up to nearly the top of Gryffindor Tower.
Finally the stairs ended and Harry stepped into a massive room. There were two huge windows at either end of the room. Huge. Bigger than some storefronts Harry had seen and deep seat nearly four feet wide piled with pillows in each of them. One looked out over the lake and you could almost see all the way to Hogsmeade, the other looked out toward the forest.
Despite the size of the room, which was maybe six times the common room where all of Gryffindor gathered with room to spare, it was cozy and well appointed. How something so bloody huge could be cozy was baffling but it was.
There were four different fire places scattered about. Shelves built into the walls in several places. A table with a dozen chairs about it in one corner towards what was…a kitchen. The fireplace had ovens built in about it –six on either side! And that was a stove top–a block of marble carved into a lovely counter with shelves under the ‘stove-top’ where a dozen thick copper whorls that looked something like a cross between Celtic knot circles and a muggle electric burner were placed with a copper griddle like area as well in the middle. The marble went up, making a hood over the counter/stove and had more storage space and some air-cleaning spellwork to make it rather like a range hood on a muggle stove. It was gorgeous.
Counter space on either side of a sink with a pair of what looked miniature pumps rather than faucet taps but that didn’t make any difference to functionality, just a bit odd looking at first glance.
“You is wantings kitchens stocked, Master Harry?”
“Yes, please. If someone can show me the spells or get me a list of the spells for the ovens and stove-top.”
“It be stocked when you wake up in morning. I am Cawthyn. I’m the Watcher of the Hogwarts Elves.” the House Elf said. “The paintings are sleeping just now, they’re updating languages. They’ll be awake in the morning too. Their other frames be packed away in storages so they only in these rooms or in one of storage frames. No where else in Castle. This is the stone for the magics of these rooms.” Cawthyn pointed to a cluster of runes. “You has you athames?”
“No…I don’t have one.” Harry frowned, not exactly sure what an athame was, but it sounded important, like something he should have.
“Neither do I,” Neville shook his head.
Cawthyn huffed and two little points raised out of the center of the runes at the entrance. “Each of you pokes your finger on one of the little thorns. And say your name and lines. Let you magic guide you.”
Neville looked ready to panic.
Harry took a deep breath and pushed his index finger against the first thorn. Magic surged up within him and the words came tumbling out, “I am Harry James son of Lily daughter of Rose daughter of Hyacinth of the blood of Caradoc and Meurig. Blood heir of the Dumnonii. I am Harry son of James son of Charlus and Dorea, Charlus son of Fleamont and Euphemia, Dorea of the blood of Edward the Black, Euphemia the blood of Wildig and of Powys and Emrys, Fleamont son of Edmond and Casira, Casira heiress of Ignotus and Antioch, daughter of Gorrin of the blood of Rhonwen. I am Harry son of Sirius Orion true heir of Edward the Black.”
The magic seemed to let go of him and at Cawthyn’s nod Harry stepped back. Neville visibly screwed up his courage and did the same, naming himself Neville, son of Frank and Alice, Alice of the blood of Salazar and Frank son of Edmund son of a half dozen more and a few females with blood of something or other added in blood of Longshanks and Heir of Gryffindor in there as well.
“Adds that to lists.” Cawthyn scowled. “We be using the magics of this tower a lot! Get you sorted proper!”
Neville and Harry exchanged a confused look.
Cawthyn huffed. “Bedroom being through that arch, and bathing chamber off it. That lead to potions room, that lead up to greenhouse on roof. House elves have taken care of it always so is in perfects conditions. Library and office through there. Library take a couple days catch up and need fresh batches of parchments and leathers and glue but we get them. Library be in shape and updated in three days. Only one bed, but it be big enough you sharing. Magics of the tower not liking things changed up that much and furnitures are part of tower.
Cawthyn prodded them both into the bedchamber. The bed was bloody huge. Five or six of Hagrid could sleep comfortably in it! Harry and Neville could sprawl any which way they wanted and still have a couple yards of empty bed between them. yeah, okay so sharing a bed was odd, but it was Neville, and overall, Harry wasn’t sure it counted for much. The bed was bigger than Dudley’s second bedroom.
“Why is it so big?” Neville gaped.
“It was Godric’s bed. His mother was Icenii Cawry.” Cawthyn huffed and prodded them onward to the bathing chamber.
Neville looked ready to faint.
“Nev?” Harry asked hesitantly.
“Icenii Cawry were a race of giants, small giants. They only got about Hagrid size usually. Some minor metamorphamagus ability, they could shrink down their size a bit, not quite half. They only got to about nine to eleven foot tall, and a full blood Icenii Cawry could maybe get down to five and half foot tall to seven foot but supposedly they’d revert to true size sleeping. Boudicca was a quarter Icenii Cawry, and I think she was actually five-eleven or there abouts. If Godric was half and his bed is that big…he was probably nine foot tall or better when he slept.”
“That’s not in Hogwarts; A History because Hermione’s never said a thing about any kind of giant.”
Neville gaped a minute. “You’re right.”
Harry fought down the slightly crazed laugh that tried to escape. By the contortions of Neville’s mouth he was doing the same.
Cawthyn shook his head and shooed them into the bathroom. there was a thankfully normal sized commode off in a corner. A long counter with two elaborate sinks, a massive shower that could fit three of Hagrid easily, a pair of Hagrid sized bath tubs–as in big enough for Hagrid to sink into his neck and stretch completely out and a steaming bubbling Jacuzzi hot tub like pool nearly as big as the bloody bed.
Cawthyn ordered baths. They opted for the shower, again odd because technically they were sharing a shower, but there were four different shower heads and if they each stayed to their own side of things well, there was actually more room between them than the line of shower-heads in the bathroom the first and second year boys shared in the dorms. Neville vetoed taking turns because Harry looked like he was going to keel over any second.
The decidedly odd House Elf discretely supervised, seconding the keel over opinion then all but chased them into bed and tucked them in.
“Sleeps, we’ll be making sure you is safe and all that should be yours is returned.”
It was well into morning when Albus Dumbledore finally made his way to his office. The gargoyle at the bottom of the stairs gave him a murderous look before it moved aside. If the damned thing was welded into the magic of Hogwarts he’d blast it to pieces and get rid of it. It also threw off spells to force it to behave with irritating regularity.
Amelia Bones was a pain in his neck as well.
Harry was successfully kept out of anything though. Gilderoy took the blame for the unfortunate condition Ginerva and Ronald were in. Not that it particularly mattered since the man was in a vegetative state at St. Mungo’s he was not going to recover from. A little nudge here a little nudge there, the quite likely permanent damage done by the backfired obliviate was reinforced. Lucius wanted nothing about the diary ever getting out so Cornelius was going right along and of course Gilderoy attempted to murder two children to keep his secrets.
Merlin knows how anyone who had met Ronald Weasley would ever believe he uncovered a plot if there wasn’t food or gold at the end of it for him, he was as lazy as he was greedy and petulant.
Poppy was properly memory charmed and resting quietly. She was going to damage herself permanently if she kept throwing off spells like she did. It was a near weekly chore these days to modify her behavior and memory. Minerva needed to have the spells on her reinforced as well though he’d have to wait to catch her for that.
Filius was a problem. Though he was hopefully distracted enough by his summer plans that he’d be effectively sidelined. He was a brilliant teacher. Albus hated him. At least it was merely charms and Filius was well aware of his position and did not so much as glance outside the given curriculum. Damned Goblins anyway. They’d forced their half-breed on him with the threat of expelling him from the bank and naming him an enemy of the horde years and years ago when Dippet had been in this office and Albus running things behind the scenes because Armando really had no mental defenses what so ever. Only memory charmed twice and he’d been permanently damaged and all future work had been spells to keep Dippet functioning long enough to ensure Albus was the next Headmaster.
Still, Filius was a containable, known and predictable problem. A nudge or two and he could have the entire board and the Ministry up in arms about a half-breed goblin in the school despite the fact the half-breed goblin had been in the school, teaching, since 1937. Easily diffused well, because Filius had connections to the bank and they didn’t want to possibly lose their access to their accounts. It was a delicate balance to keep just the right amount of suspicion and disdain.
And by Merlin did Pomona go through and taint every Hufflepuff the night they were sorted. Not a single one in that worthless house were suitable for the restoration of Ginerva Weasley’s magic. it was rather annoying but hardly a loss, they were merely Hufflepuffs not as if they were likely to have any truly powerful amongst them. And it wouldn’t due to have a number of girls disappear from one place.
He wondered at Filius too because the situation in Ravenclaw was much the same. The students from the oldest and most powerful pureblood families weren’t but the rest were tainted to make ritual sacrifice impossible. That half-mad little Lovegood girl was powerful enough for any five witches and she was wholly tainted as a sacrifice. Old pureblood lines in her, and Xenophilius was hardly a deterrent, but she was out of the question tainted as she was.
Severus knew the muggle world well enough. He’d be tasked with finding what they needed, both in Britain and the Continent, it would be best to spread them out as they’d need more than one, perhaps as many as seven to get Ginerva remotely functional. Ginerva was still eleven, no had just turned twelve, but it would be easily enough done to find the older of incoming muggleborn girls to harvest the power needed to restore Ginerva’s magic. For a ritual born child, Ginerva’s magic had always been an issue. It shouldn’t have been, and the ritual had been done correctly. She should have been far more powerful and more intelligent than she was before this damage.
And the timing was off this should have been the end of the term, not still just over a week left with NEWTs and OWLs and the ministry officials coming to administer the tests. He still had petrified students and the Mandrakes were a month from maturity. That could be remedied by paying the accursed goblins fees for the mandrake they produced and the time necessary for the brewing well he had a time turner Severus could use.
The little brat had the diary as well. He’d have to send a house elf for that.
Lucius had been a pain in the arse and he’d not had time to check the spells on Harry that they hadn’t been undone.
Albus scowled seeing that house elf in his office. He’d thought he’d gotten rid of the damned thing.
“Albus Dumbledore, all things belonging to Harry Potter have been returned to his possession, all things purchased with his stolen gold have been delivered into his possession as is right. You may have your office and the mundane running of the school but you are here by declared an enemy of Hogwarts and her heirs. The magic of the castle is out of your reach permanently. The House Elves of Hogwarts will no longer serve you outside of meals in the great hall. I suggest you brush up on your cleaning and laundry charms. As you ordered, Harry Potter has been removed to a private room no one else can enter–not even you. Hogwarts herself has seen to that–and that will be the room Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom will reside in whenever they are within Hogwarts Walls. The School will remain within the castle because the School will endure longer than you. The Castle is no longer yours to command, the Castle has revoked its recognition of you. All things rightfully part of Hogwarts Castle and its Magic are no longer yours to command as you have been proven to have violated every vow you made to become headmaster of the School. Let Magic Judge NOW!”
Albus staggered with the force. The near shattering of his core. Only preemptive measures taken to ensure his core did not shatter over contractual vows kept him from totally losing his measure but the weakest of the first years was now possibly more magically powerful than he was. Damn it. That just upped the number of sacrifices needed. And he had a month of school before he could take care of it.
“Your staff have lost all connection to Hogwarts. The School has no Domain over the Castle, the Castle has Domain over the School and you have been warned. The School’s employees have Seven years to correct themselves or suffer the consequences during and after that time. And professors <i>must be living</i> Cuthbert Binns has been removed from this school and forced to pass on as he should have been. The spellwork on all portraits has been broken and they are completely reabsorbed into Hogwarts Magic, all pieces of Hogwarts magic have been removed from your reach permanently.”
Fawkes screamed and dove at Albus, laying open his cheek with an impossibly sharp talon. the song trilled out was painful and dark and wholly unlike a phoenix. It rattled agonizingly through Albus.
Albus was left panting on his bare office floor. The portraits of the previous headmasters were…gone. Still copies appearing asleep, not the actual portraits remained. The Sorting Hat was gone, <i>everything</i> was gone. Nothing but bare shelves and a desk full of student related parchments that he had yet to foist off on Minerva. The assortment of things on his shelves, the books, everything gone. Copies of the last ten years curriculum sat on the helves in place of the books that had been there. Worthless geegaws and brick-a-brac where so many important things had sat, all of it gone.
“You sleep at all?” Neville asked wandering into the large main area of their quarters still in his pajamas.
Harry shrugged. “Some.”
Neville looked worried for a second, worry melted away in a jaw popping yawn.
“Mmm yes, er…”
“Cawthyn has been showing me how to work the appliances. They’re brilliant. Much better than Aunt Petunia’s.”
“Oh my–those are Dumnonii eyes if I’ve ever seen them.” a woman said wandering into the kitchen area’s portrait frame. She had silvering auburn hair that was rather streaked, neither one truly any longer but not yet the other either. A slim braid back from each temple caught at the back of her head in a simple clip and left long and loose past her hips. Her dress was a simple tunic style gown–or gowns. A dark charcoal under gown and a smoky-blue-gray over gown both heavily embroidered, a belt around her hips with a slim short sword with jeweled hilt and matching knife. “And you…” she caught her breath looking at Neville. “What are your names, lads? Cawthyn told us of course but which is which?”
“I’m Harry, that’s Neville. You are?”
“Serla,” she smiled. “Godric was my great-grandfather. And I’m glad you like my kitchen. The spellwork has held up, yes?”
“It’s bloody brilliant,” Harry blurted.
Serla grinned broader. “I was always rather proud how that working turned out. My Aedhon was injured in the Elven War, the curse he took damaged his lungs permanently and the least little bit of smoke would aggravate the damage.”
“You made these? And Elven War? Binns has never mentioned an Elven War–I don’t think it’s in any of our books….” Harry looked to Neville.
“No, you’re with her more than I am, but no, she lectures everyone on everything, Harry. I haven’t heard anything about an Elven War either.”
“Of whom do you refer?”
“Hermione, she’s a student–second year like us.” Harry answered.
Serla stared. “Second year? You should be apprenticing soon, not beginning…”
“Er, we start school at eleven and go seven years, no one apprentices anymore, well, not often.”
Serla looked stunned by that. “We’ll see about that.”
“You–Cawthyn acted like the portraits would be a few days. We leave Hogwarts eight days from today?” Harry looked to Neville who nodded and added, “Next Tuesday school lets out for summer holidays.”
“At least. Cawthyn over-estimates the ability to assimilate language and update especially so long out of circulation. I have a gift for languages, that transferred into my portrait, so you lads will have to make do with just myself for the next week or so. Meet the others when the school resumes. And I’m going to be slower gathering other knowledge–I’ve gotten the language but not much of it makes the most sense and historical updating is slow going. Histories were never my best subjects.”
Harry turned off the burners and dished up two plates–fried potatoes, bangers, eggs, toast. Plates set on the table he went back for the tea kettle. Neville moved to get the cups and silverware. “There’s milk in the fridge there, Nev.”
“Er, muggle word, refrigerator, what they call their chilled cupboards that run on electricity instead of magic.” Harry said biting his lip. He was used to just keeping his head down and trying to figure out what was being said or going on around him in the magical world with so much automatically assumed students knew, what was common knowledge even a four year old knew. He wasn’t used to being the one that was assuming basic knowledge and having it utterly going over another’s head. Cawthyn had called it a chilled cupboard but…Cawthyn was a nearly twelve hundred year old Wyl’aelf who bound himself to Hogwarts as guardian of the ‘crippled ones’ (the crippled ones being house elves and Harry had to assume Wyl’aelf was Wild Elf)
Cawthyn had been very very careful not to do <i>anything</i> just talk Harry through the functions of the kitchen, which was surprisingly easy as far as Harry was concerned and baffling as far as Cawthyn was concerned, at least baffling as to how easily Harry intuited the kitchen appliances. The smoke from fires bothering whoever Aodhan was exactly–likely Serla’s husband or son Harry supposed–necessitated the stove-top. and the ovens were really basic, nothing so different than what muggles might have had–and honest still had other than electricity or gas and construction materials. It was a heated box in which too cook. The spellwork had more control over temperature making it more precise in the manner of modern muggle oven, but really the basic function or use hadn’t changed in all the years there had been ovens, simply accuracy and method of heating and materials of construction. It was an oven not…not…rocket science or alchemy!
The dishwasher well whoever had created that…it was likely Serla as it felt the same as the stove-top. and there was no reason for it other than a dislike of hand washing dishes. It was a brilliant piece of work and Aunt Petunia would be horrified that a witch from a thousand years ago had had one and Uncle Vernon was too cheap to allow her one.
Tea kettle was a brilliant bit of work too. It heated the water right up and had a disfuser that could be dropped in to heat and brew all at once and no mess of loose leaves and the tea was lovely.
Tea had baffled Serla though, she was worried they were ill because they had the kettle out, which she had made and used to brew the herbal tinsades that Aodhan had needed.
Tea was from China. (Neville hadn’t known that either) and Harry preferred black–cheap simple plain black tea. Mostly because that was what he was used to. Aunt Petunia would allow him a single cup of tea in the mornings–so he was properly awake and didn’t burn Uncle Vernon and Dudley’s breakfasts, but she was not spending a pence more than the cheapest black tea bags she could find on Harry. Harry’s preference for strong, bitter black tea with nothing in it was admittedly unusual for his age, and he’d been drinking his single cup of morning tea that way since he was perhaps four. The <i>only</i> thing he missed of the muggle world while at Hogwarts was a cup of tea in the mornings. Pumpkin juice morning noon and night got tiresome but the absence of tea was almost unbearable.
“Merlin, Harry, this is amazing!” Neville exclaimed once Serla’s worry over the tea was laid to rest and they had their drinks –tea and a glass of milk each–laid out.
“It’s fried potatoes and bangers,” Harry managed, confused. “Thanks, but…its just fried potatoes and bangers.”
Neville said nothing at the amount Harry ate–which he’d dished himself up maybe a quarter of the amount that Neville ate, and Neville went back for seconds to finish up what was left.
Serla scowled. “Give me one good reason why a healthy magi of your age is eating so little!”
“I can’t eat much at once. I’ll probably by hungry in a couple hours and absolutely starving by lunch, but right now I’m so full I can’t eat another bite.”
“And Hermione throws your food away if you manage to sneak some bangers and toast or an apple in your pocket to eat between classes.”
“There’s no rule against it. I looked. She still won’t let me. I have this term but..”
“Hermione’s been petrified since November. Ron’s a pig though and I’ve seen him steal every bite to eat himself when he catches you with food. Why don’t you fry up another batch of sausage if there is some left and you can snack on sandwiches until lunch. Not like anyone can tell us what time to eat up here since we’re under confinement.”
“Why!” Serla demanded.
“It’s me. I’m under house arrest, for…basically breaking a bunch of rules, saving Ron and Ginny’s lives and killing a giant basilisk that petrified several students. Neville just is loyal and honorable to a fault and said he’d keep me company in isolation. Think we could try to brew this morning, Neville? I could use some pepper up and pain reliever. Cawthyn was going to stock up the potions lab up here as completely as the kitchen.”
“I want you to start at the beginning.” Serla demanded.
Harry and Neville both looked at the painting in confusion. “The beginning of the school year?” Neville finally asked. “Or beginning of last school year–or maybe, Halloween 1981.”
“Halloween?” Serla prompted, brows knit together as if that particular word wasn’t quite caught up in her ‘language update’
“And the date now?”
“June 21st, 1993.”
“And this story starts eleven and a half years past? How old are the two of you?”
“Twelve, almost thirteen. We share a birthday, July thirty-first, 1980.”
“Common enough, a lot of children are conceived during the Bonfires.” Serla smiled. “Two of my own were, one ritual one not.”
“Can–can I summon my house elf? My parents tasked her with guarding me and their final instructions, they were worried my Gran would be…tampered with, and she was somewhat. She’s better now. But…”
“You may try, I do not know what bounds have been put on you.”
“No one else can enter–but that doesn’t seem to effect Hogwarts elves. And we have to do our own cooking and cleaning. Nothing was said about supplies or things being brought in–because we’d starve without at least food delivery. Tigs is here in Hogwarts anyway. She follows me everywhere, she just isn’t allowed to do anything I want her to bring me a box my parents left me is all.”
“Well see if she can if it will help explain anything.”
Neville nodded. “Tiggs”
A house elf appeared, not with a pop, as if she were already there and just allowed herself to be visible. “You is not supposed to be callings me when you at school.”
“I get box, even if you breaking rules, I get box. Missy Alice’s godson need know too. That old goat not tell him anything.”
“Tiggs, can you bring Harry a pain potion and a pepper up, maybe.”
“I be seeing if I can manage it. Not pepper up. pepper up and basilisk venom not be mixy.”
“BASILISK VENOM!” Serla shouted.
“I got bit by a basilisk…yesterday?”
“Yeah, yesterday, you and Ron disappeared about lunch, and it was almost curfew when McGonagall brought you back to the dorm. Basilisk venom is fatal though, Harry.”
“Fawkes cried in the wound so I didn’t die. But Phoenix tears and basilisk venom are all pins and needles and fire. My arm is killing me.”
“CAWTHYN!” Serla shouted for the Wyl’aelf, and who knew a portrait could manage to shout for any kind of elf. She was…well, Harry was certain it was nothing short of cussing a blue streak nearly incoherently but he had no idea what the language was and couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.
Harry looked over at Neville and saw the same resignation he felt, a ‘here we go again’ sort of look on Neville’s face. “You did it this time.” Harry huffed.
“How do you figure that?”
“You’re the one that had half a clue and mentioned things!”
“Fine, I did it this time, but it’s still about you, Harry.”
Harry groaned. “Of course it is, it’s always me.”
Serla stopped her cursing and spluttering and stared at them. “By the Gods, Cawthyn…”
“A hundred and fifty years ago I was caught with a curse in the back by a young professor. By the time I had recovered, our crippled ones were bound horrifically, many of the ward stones of the school were damaged and many of the paintings so spell damaged that…I ahve been working on undoing the damage since. I’ve had to be careful, and I’ve only just regained my full health. You can be assured I’ve reclaimed complete control of the magics of the castle–with Hogwarts full and willing approval. I’ve disbanded the school board and invoked the school charter magics with a seven year limit–punishment immediate and in perpetuity for violation. But I’ve only been able to do this since Beltane magically and if not for circumstance might have waited another year to regain a bit more strength magically.”
“Good. Are you strong enough to manage?”
“Strong enough, it would have been more comfortable and with more ease in a years time but strong enough.”
“Take my descendant, and his betrothed–”
“WHAT?” Harry and Neville both yelped.
“The bond between you is clear as day, sharing a day of birth I wouldn’t be surprised if you were ritually conceived with the intent of betrothing you. Powerful children for a powerful alliance and a powerful destiny. And it certainly isn’t as if you’re not able to take a wife between you, or a contracted mother for heirs. Really…”
“Such isn’t done anymore. I don’t…I don’t think they outlawed it but it’s well out of favor for…three or four hundred years now.” Neville managed to stutter out.
“Outlaw the most basic will of magic? What sort of fools…” Serla started ranting and most likely cussing again. “My sweet boys, the magic of a bonding such as has settled between the two of you would <i>not take</i> so deeply and strongly and completely without full willingness on both your parts no matter what your parents might have intended. The bond between you is pure and untainted, which means your magic was so uniquely suited you parents likely made the bond for your own protection and to see to it you at least gave each other consideration, it could be turned to sworn shield brothers rather than husbands without harm to either of you should the marriage aspect not appeal to both of you but it’s there, it’s strong and shining and honestly a crime against Lady Magic herself if you dare deny the full depth and breadth of it and what it might become. Think of it as no so much a betrothal but alliance bond right now, deep and through all points your magic is compatible, and it will be up to you as to how you decide to turn it now that you’re of betrothal age.”
“That’s not fair!” Harry was furious. “That’s just plain cruel to Neville!”
“Well, you’ll just have to let me help you not get killed every other week, Harry.” Neville shot back, that spine of steel rarely seen under the shy and stuttering making itself known again. “Making me put up with Ron and Hermione is cruel. Dealing with the world trying to kill you every other day is just–you’re Harry.”
Harry swallowed. He really didn’t know why he was friends with Ron and Hermione. Well, Ron…
Ron talked to him, was so eager to be friends. Harry had never had anything like a friend before. Malfoy showing up to act like Dudley cemented that before Harry had a chance to really think of anything. Hermione…He knew what it was like to have everyone against you, even if she was a bossy know it all of a horror, he’d pitied her. Thought maybe if he showed her how to have and be a friend she wouldn’t be so bloody obnoxious. She just got bossier.
“I never had any friends. I was the target, my cousin and his gang went Harry Hunting and if the found and caught me they beat me to a pulp. Ron knew things about being a wizard and was nice to me. I didn’t realize what a bloody arse he was until far too late, but he’s useful for keeping away fans, I guess, even if he’ll be right there leading the mob with pitchforks and torches in a heartbeat. Keeping him at my side means I got an idea when I’m going to get stabbed in the back. Hermione…I tried.”
Neville snorted. “Yes, very well, point. I tried being Hermione’s friend too. She’s just really bad at anything th at isn’t books. And awful about it.”
“Smarts the only thing she ever had…and she’s so obsessed and obnoxious about smart she’s a bleeding idiot.”
“With a side of authority worship.”
Harry nodded. “Side? Only a side?” he muttered. “She’s as obsessed and obnoxious about authority worship as she is about knowing everything and always being right.”
Serla had calmed down, or rather got herself in check enough to stop cursing and pay attention to the boys.
“Cawthyn is my personal vault easily accessible?”
“I want the boys to go to it, I want Neville to have my amulet,” she reached and pulled the amulet from where it was tucked in the bodice of her gown. “And Harry to have Aodhan’s. Beyond that, I want the boys to take a satchel and anything that calls to their magic or catches their eye be brought here.”
Harry glanced over at Neville to make sure he wasn’t the only one confused.
“Let me check something,” She moved out of the kitchen frame for a moment. “I’ll meet you in the Vault, the frame that Eirnan put there is in place. And as soon as Eirnan’s books are updated, I want the boys to each have a copy. They can at least have reference for their new possessions and we’ll go from there. It’s as good a starting point as anything. Do you boys know anything about…”
“No.” Harry shrugged.
Neville frowned. “Probably not. Gran broke the spellwork on her when Uncle Algie dumped me out a window, she nearly killed him. But then Dumbledore showed up and potioned them both stupid. The house elves hid me and I live in the greenhouses since then. The house elves take turns impersonating me and cowering around the house. The two days Gran was free of the spell work she was really nice, even if she was so upset she was alternately blasting furniture to pieces and crying and cussing and hugging me hard enough to bruise begging forgiveness and swearing to kill Dumbledore. Then he shows up and she’s all deranged again. I was eight, I remember that clear enough. She’s–damaged, maybe irreperably, and Uncle Algie’s just an evil old git, I’m pretty sure he’s a Death Eater, the elves said he was. So I live in the greenhouses and the house elves get on with things while pretending to be me. The house elves sneak me what they can, but they’re in a tight spot. If gran actually notices anything missing, well, then that’s a problem.”
“You don’t know what I was going to ask.”
“Doesn’t really matter,” Harry said. “You got the answer for just about any subject you could possibly think of.”
She looked ready to start cussing again but said tightly, “Cawthyn, take the boys to the vault I need to calm down before we find out if it is possible that portraits might experience emotionional magic and upheaveal.”
“Here, got a sausage left,” Neville said spearing the untouched sausage patty off his plate and stealing Harry’s leftover pieces of toast. Quick simple sandwich slapped together and wrapped in an untouched napkin from the table with a couple quick preservation spells and an impervious on the outside of the napkin. “Take that with you, think this is going to take a while…”
Neville’s house elf Tiggs popped back with a couple potions. “You be taking these Little Master Nevvie’s Harry.”
“TIGGS!” Neville yelped red-faced and Harry was sure he wasn’t any less red as warm as his face felt but he grabbed the potions and downed them. The headache receded. His arm maybe a bit better. The burning pain pulled back from wrist to mid-upper arm rather than finger tips to top of his skull so that was an improvement.
Cawthyn glared at them and herded them along through a corridor, and then a set of tight circular stairs that seemed to go straight down, even deeper than the chamber of secrets, certainly far lower level than the currently used sections of the dungeon.
“The Vault of the Gryffindor Legacy which Lady Serla was keeper of in the family magic. You are her descendant, and heir if the Gryffindor Legacy accepts you, Lord Neville, and Mage Harry is your bonded.”
Harry looked at back at Neville who was a step behind him.
“Lord Neville? Mage Harry?” Cawthyn demanded coming back up having made his way several winding steps onward out of sight.
“Why do you refer to Harry as Mage and me as Lord? The House of Peverell-Potter is Most Ancient and Most Noble and holds a duchy on both sides—muggle and magical.”
“He has the eyes of a Dumnonii High Mage and he named them when he allowed his magic to guide him.”
Harry looked at Neville again.
“Never heard of it, don’t look at me.”
“So, Potter, just more weird to be stared at like a freak for you,” Harry muttered.
“Yeah, might be a change up from your scar and being a parseltongue though,”
“Oh yes, that improves things so much,” Harry snorted. “If it’s something that isn’t common knowledge it has to be something weird and rare and really, can I ever catch a break? Just once?”
Harry snorted. “You really are a good mate, Neville, always kicking a bloke when he’s down.”
“I try,” Neville smiled.
Cawthyn stared at them horrified. “We go to the vault!” he snapped murderously. The Wyl’aelf was almost vibrating and magic sparking oddly along his skin with his fury.
The vault at the bottom of what seemed a miles worth of tightly coild spiral stone stairs was guarded by a stone griffin.
It raised up on its feet, wings stretching, making a ruckus of moving stone that seemed to echo a forever. “I thought you were dead, Wylding.”
“Cursed and weak, and slowly recovering not dead, Guardian.”
“What have you brought me? A Dumnonii and a child that looks Aodhan reborn? Unexpected…”
“The gods only know what curses these two belabor under and they are so woefully uneducated as to not even know who and what they are. And bloody bonded, as well. Lady Serla is awake and in the frame Eirnan made within. She wants to gift these two with her and Aodhan’s amulets and whatever else might accept them within the vault.”
“Well, come, you two, present your magic?”
“Neville?” Harry sighed tiredly, only concentrated effort made it a sigh not a whine.
“How do you think I know?”
“I lived in a muggle boot cupboard until I got my letter and was punching bag for my cousin and treated like a Death Eater’s house elf when not in my cupboard. You’re the bloody pureblood actually raised in the magic world.”
“No, I’m not, mum wasn’t pureblood. Half-blood from a line of squibs and I was hidden in the greenhouse because Dumbledore had Gran cursed to completely insane! and Uncle Algie is probably a bloody Death Eater, he has the personality of one.”
“They all think we’re almost married, Nev. We’re twelve. Portrait, aelf and now a stone griffin.” Harry said, the ‘bonding’ business belatedly truly sinking in.
“Well, if we get the bond declared by the bank, between us we should be able to pay them to say it was done at birth by our parents whether it was or not. We can get married housing next year—no more Ron snoring.”
“That would be nice. I– I’m a bad friend but I—Ron’s awful.”
“No, Ron is a bad friend you’re the idiot that let him bully you for two years. We’re not going to be friends with Ron unless he grovels a lot and the first time he’s an arse I’m going to hex him stupid.”
“Wouldn’t take much of a hex to do that.” Harry muttered uncharitably. Mention of Ron brought back the mess in the Hospital Wing. Mrs Weasley screeching at him and might have attacked him if not for Madam Pomphrey and McGonagall. Ron was going after Ginny with or without him and bloody hell, Ron was…well, Ron would be dead and so would Ginny if Harry hadn’t gone with, and of course not a single teacher about except that ponce Lockheart.
“You need another pain potion? Eat your sandwich.”
“So I guess you’re the nagging wife of the two of us?” Harry grumbled.
“I want to just…blast things to pieces and bounce most of our house mates and professors off the rubble repeatedly. I hurt and…”
Neville sighed and moved to stand shoulder-to shoulder with him, or rather shoulder-to-barely more than elbow. Neville had been growing like a weed all year. Harry was a good seven or eight inches shorter than him now. Of course Harry was shorter than half the bloody first years as well and Neville was on his way to being one of the tallest in their year.
“WYLDING!” the stone Griffin roared.
“Only my vows keep me from going on a murder spree. I am sure Lady Serla would be did she have any way to despite being confined to portrait frames as she is.”
Neville had had enough evidently, Harry had seen his temper a few times before, but this…this was spectacular, all the more so because Neville was usually so quiet, and rather wandered off into the woodwork unoticable.
“Harry was bit by a basilisk not even twenty-four hours ago, and alive only thanks to a phoenix. He’s in too much pain and has too much of a headache for this screaming nonsense! Now, how the bloody hell are we supposed to present our magic or we’ll just go back upstairs and forget this entirely.”
“Aodhan’s face, Serla’s temper, after all these centuries, the blood still is strong in this one.” the griffin huffed eyeing Neville. “And you’re pure Dumnonii, aren’t you? Basilisks and phoenixes. Very well come here boys and stand before me.”
Harry shrugged and moved. Neville moved in step with him.
“Any symptoms since you were bitten?”
“Pain, raging headache, pain at the bite and burning from my finger tips tot he top of my skull, almost like the phoenix tears cried into the wound are still battling the basilisk venom. Figure that’s normal.” Harry said. “I really don’t like Ron, almost like I’ve never liked Ron, and twenty-four hours ago I would have sworn I would always be his best friend. I can feel a connection to Neville that was never there before even if the bond we supposedly have is so advanced Lady Serla assumes were were bonded in infancy. I’m thinking a lot clearer, my scar feels different, my mind is working different, faster, and my magic feels…different. More connected? Stronger maybe? I don’t know.”
“I don’t–” Neville frowned. “I mean—no, I can’t say I feel anything in my magic different than I ever have when it comes to you and a bond should be <i>noticed</i> at least now that we’re aware there’s an intent bond between us—I’m assuming an intent bond, because it would have had to have been done by our mothers. Only a mother can cast such a thing on a child under ten and your mother was dead and mine better off dead by the time we were fifteen months old.”
“The only thing that I know about my mother is I have her eyes and my aunt Petunia hated her guts. She gave me you, I—think I might keep you, Neville.”
“You think…well that ends you hanging out with Ron Weasley because it’s me or him.”
“No contest. You.” Harry said. “You’ll win over Hermione too but I—I honestly don’t know what to think about that. Ron’s worse to her than anyone. So I think she honestly wants to be a friend to me but…”
“But…” Neville snorted. “We’ll see what she’s like next year.”
“So how do we do this?”
The griffin stared at them a moment. “Your name, your full name, Lord Neville step forward to me and allow me to put my forehead to yours.”
“Neville Franklin Harfang Longbottom,” Neville said as the griffin leaned head down and forehead-to-forehead a glow enveloped him.
The griffin reared up shaking. Harry stepped in front of Neville shoving him back, magic crackling around him.
“Be at ease, Mage Harry. I mean Lord Neville any harm. I am furious but not with him. Lord Neville, you’ve been bound magically and mentally and have several potions influencing you.”
Harry didn’t relax his defensive stance.
The griffin bowed down and pressed his forehead against Harry’s and reared back again shaking and struggling not to growl.
“You carried a soul shard and it is still tethered. Someone bound it. Bound it to you even more than Lord Neville but–”
“But I got bit by a basilisk?” Harry snorted.
“I suspect so.” the griffin agreed.
“They may pass, even if they are compromised and limited, they are not in a way that will keep them from entering. Lord Neville needs unbound and cleansed, Mage Harry has numerous issues that need contended with but they are able to enter the Vault and Lord Neville is indeed Lady Serla’s heir. Make sure they take their time in Eirnan the Second’s room and find one of his craftings to suit them.”
The Vault—could maybe fit all of freaking Gringotts vaults in it. It wasn’t so much a vault as a dozen castles that Hogwarts could fit in a tiny corner of each.
“Magic makes my head hurt sometimes. I liked science in primary. This…”
Neville looked at him worriedly.
“You’re not going to start lecturing like Hermione, are you?”
“No, just boggling.” Harry shook his head. “Did you ask me to marry you?”
Neville stared at him and went bright red, squared his shoulders. “Might as well, we’ve already got a bond. And if we do, we can claim our lordships, we’re from Ancient Houses Harry, our Family Law is older than the bloody ministry and trumps it. Ancient Protocols still exist. If we get to the bank on our birthday—and get married—we can claim our family vaults, and do an inheritance test because there were a lot of people who willed stuff to the boy who lived, I know Gran mentioned that and the house elves told me—she ranted at the one who was impersonating me that day so I had to know it. Dumbledore tried taking control of the Boy Who Lived bequests and the Goblins pitched a fit and lodged protest with the Wizengamot. Dumbledore your parents Wills, they were never read and the Goblins said that no one could touch your vaults.”
“Dumbledore had my key, and so did Molly Weasley.”
“Yeah, well we meet our account managers on our birthday—a Goblin is getting beheaded for that dragon dung!” Neville scowled.
“Are we going to have a hard time? Do Wizards get stupid about two men being married?”
“They can be stupid all they want, there’s no law against it, per Ancient protocols Alliance marriages are allowed a joint spouse if the bonded pair aren’t able to conceive on their own, and Ancient and Noble Houses are allowed two spouses besides to ensure the continuance—you and I are the last of ancient and noble houses, we could each have a wife and one we shared eventually. We’d have to live together but our wives could live elsewhere if that became an issue. Ancient politics and Family Law were tricky, and we’re still bound to those not the dragon dung the Ministry puts out that Muggleborn are stuck with. I—I like the idea of having someone that’s mine, and being able to find a place out of either of our properties where we can ward the daylights out of it and no one can get to us. And at school they’d have to allow us married housing and we would be able to watch each other’s backs and have a safe place to be.”
Harry swallowed. “You are such a Gryffindor, Nev. I—I like the idea too. I don’t know about three wives, but maybe just one. Whenever we might want kids.”
“We have to have kids, or our line and our family magics will die out and–”
“My parents didn’t die for me to let our family magic die,” Harry said certainly. He didn’t have a clue what family magic actually was, but they didn’t sacrifice themselves to have him basically flip them the bird and ignore everything. “Three wives? Girls are mental.”
“They might get better when they’re older…”
“You really think so?”
“Probably not.” Neville shrugged. “Dunbar’s nice, and tolerates Granger the longest out of any of the girls of our year. She’s from an ancient house but her parents were killed around the time yours were. She was raised by a great-aunt that is legitimately crazy. Like hundred and ninety years old and hundred years crazy with fifty years senile on top of the crazy. We could send her a note?”
“Not at school. Someone will get a hold of it and take it to Dumbledore.”
“Talk to her on the train?”
“We can do that. If we already have our wife, might stop some of the fans from trying to angle for that position.”
Neville frowned. “We better just say we’re not considering further until after a couple masteries a piece.”
“They’ll try to kill Fay then to speed up our taking someone Dumbledore wants me married off to.”
“We’ll ward her so heavily she’ll be drunk on magic for the rest of her life and if she so much as stubs her toe whoever is responsible gets both their legs broken.” Neville said. “And swear on our magic we’ll never marry a Weasley. Ginny Weasley is foul, worse than Ron and she follows you.”
Harry nodded. “You get warded up just as much because –Ron will try to kill you, and probably Mrs Weasley and maybe Percy. And Seamus, and Dean and…”
“Basically all of Gryffindor,” Neville shrugged. “We’ll all get warded up from here to Lady Magic’s Hall. How’s that? So we getting married on our birthday?”
“At least we won’t forget our anniversary.” Harry offered. “Yeah, I—I’m sick of being alone and having to do everything alone.”
“Me too. So yeah. We’re getting married?”
“We’re getting married.” Harry agreed.
“We can ask Fay if she wants in on it. Get away from her aunt and Parvati and Lavender are kind of awful to her—and Hermione’s Hermione. With what you said, Fay doesn’t have anyone any more than we do so…we make our own family and house and have someone in our corner.”
“No other wives, or even husband because Fay is from an Ancient and Noble House, she could have one besides us, or wife I guess but…we all have to have two masteries before we consider taking anyone else on.” Neville said.
Harry nodded. That sounded good. He thought putting off kissing, let alone anything remotely to do with sex until they had two masteries sounded good too. “Just friends until after our OWLs?”
Neville nearly wilted in relief, flushed almost purple and nodded. But there was still something hurt in his eyes that made Harry feel horrible.
“Everyone is going to be after us if we do this. Dumbledore’s going to blow his top. McGonagall is going to hate us, half the school will be trying to hex us in the back.”
“And then there’s the bloody ministry,” Neville said darkly, hurt easing out of his eyes a bit. “We’re going to be too busy trying to keep alive to worry about that.”
“Yeah, probably.” Harry agreed.
“Very sensible marriage negotiation, lads,” Serla’s voice came to them.
They both startled and Harry felt his cheeks warm even more than they already were with the conversation.
“Aodhan called me a spoilt willful little lackwit who needed beaten and ranted at me for over three hours before he finally calmed down enough for our vows to be said. My grandmother was trying to arrange some political alliance or other. I was first choice to seal the alliance. I pitched a fit and swore on my magic I’d wed the next unrelated male that walked through a particular doorway and never any other. Aodhan walked in with my Uncle, newly arrived to Hogwarts to apprentice with said Uncle. Once Aodhan was done having a fit he agreed to marry me to save my magic and perhaps to gain right of spanking my backside. My father and Uncle drew up the contract and our bonding sealed within two hours of Aodhan done shouting at me. I learnt his name during the vowing. I was ten, Aodhan was fifteen. The marriage wasn’t consummated until I’d finished my first mastery at sixteen but our marriage was full magical bond so consummation didn’t really matter. The bond was sealed completely with our vows. My sister was eight, she was the one that ended up with the contract I protested vehemently. She was wed only a few weeks after I. She never had to tolerate the foul little creature though, he caught a bloody pox from a mundane whore and died when she was eleven and still in our parents house, our father was not about to allow her to live with her vile husband until she was at least thirteen. As his wife though she got all his estate, his father having died by a rather suspicious accident months before that foul thing that was my sister’s first husband. Ela went on to make something of a career of marrying well and being widowed better. She always was the sensible one of the two of us.”
Harry and Neville both gaped at the portrait, now hung on a little wall of bricks barely bigger than the portrait frame affixed on a wheeled cart essentially making it portable through the vault. Portraits needed a wall to activate their magic, but nothing said the wall had to be stationary it seemed.
“Well, I have to admit, I was absurdly lucky. I could have ended up in a horrific situation. Aodhan was honorable and a good man. Your families were obviously close, your mothers built the consideration bond for the two of you due to that closeness as much as your magical compatibility. There is a lot of protective magic worked into that bond as well. Your mother’s intended that bond to shelter you both even if you didn’t turn it to a marriage bond. Being of Ancient and Noble houses, the bond won’t stop you from consorts and heirs if that is your choice, but it will protect you from being forced into a marriage otherwise. Very wise and practical.”
Harry wasn’t so convinced it was wise, but it was a way to permanently leave the Dursleys, and Neville to get away from living in the greenhouse with house elves impersonating him, and maybe Fay if she agreed to get away from the poor senile old lady she was stuck with. Harry wasn’t assuming that Fay’s Aunt mistreated her, just if the woman was so old, and senile, she was likely extremely fragile of health and Fay was most likely raising herself as much as Neville was and Harry wasn’t so much raising himself as trying to survive. The two, maybe three, of them would muddle along a bit better maybe, at least not be alone, if they went through with the marriage bit.
“We definitely need a bond that is going to stand up, even unconsummated. Most bonds these days require–” Neville trailed off turning redder.
Oh. That was a problem. Harry wanted the floor to swallow him as that sunk in.
Serla clucked and dismissed that concern. They’d sort out a bonding contract and which particular bond the boys would use—with a proper triad alternative if this Lady Fay agreed to join them but…no they needed their possible lady with them in the vault as well. Protest of McGonagall forbidding anyone to go to their quarters for the remainder of the school year, well they didn’t want to get Fay in trouble.
Serla had an answer for that too and sent Cawthyn to fetch Fay while they waited. And bring a satchel for Lady Fay as well if she was allowed past the Vault Guardian then she was indeed worthy of Serla’s ‘darling lads’.
“I think we just got ourselves a portrait mum, Harry,” Neville whispered while Serla was giving Cawthyn orders.
“Yeah, think so.”
Fay Dunbar squeaked and nearly startled right out of her chair. She was in her favorite corner of the library with notice-me-not charms cast as strong as she could make them—cast on her person before she slipped in the library following a group of Ravenclaws just in case, she did not want noticed and she did not want on Madam Pince’s badside for daring to cast in the library.
The house elf was…taller and different complected than house elves generally were, most were grayish or greenish kind of sickly tinted, this one was robust and healthy and was oddly calm and assured. House elves tended to be such nervous hyper things all too often.
“You’re not a house elf.”
“No, I am not, Lady Fay, I am a Wyl’aelf. My name is Cawthyn, and I am Steward and Sentinel of the Castle.”
Fay managed not to gape. Wyl’aelfs were related to House Elves. Saylee told her that. Though Saylee might be as senile as Auntie Elizabeth. Saylee said the Wyl’aelfs left when the High Elves sealed their realms to Wizards.
“What do you know of the Ancient Protocols, Lady Fay?”
Saylee. Oh Magic bless Saylee. She’d presented Fay with a stack of books and demanded she’d read them all when she’d returned home from school last year. Saylee declared Auntie Elizabeth had a year, maybe two left, she was too old and too frail, too mad and senile that her magic was fading. DuLac was Ancient, Most Ancient and Most Noble, granted the family name had changed a few times owing to a single daughter as heir and an arse of a Wizard that could be found to be bound to the family magic refusing to give up his name as he should. Compromise was made to keep the family magic whole and continued, thus Dunbar was now the name and had been for nearly four hundred years. Before that it had been Aethelstan. Both Families she was Heir of were thought extinct, the name a closely kept Family Secret that Fay herself wouldn’t have known except for Saylee and long conversations with great-great-grandfather William’s portrait.
Saylee and Grandfather William’s portrait had picked out the books. All about the Ancient Protocols and types of marriages and bonds available due to the Ancient Protocols. Both Saylee and Grandfather William’s portrait thought she should get married as soon as she was able, which was July of this year when she turned thirteen.
They really didn’t listen to reason much on the subject. Auntie Elizabeth was fading, and if Fay didn’t use the Ancient Protocols and get herself married then she’d have a guardian that would plunder her inheritance, possibly find out the secrets of the family legacy and exploit Fay to the point she’d end up as mad as Auntie Elizabeth.
“I’ve read of them extensively,” she said carefully. “It has been suggested as a course that would benefit me, though that’s about impossible.”
“Come with me, I swear on my magic, and my duty as Sentinel of Hogwarts, you shall be safe. There are two who would speak to you of the Ancient Protocols. Both are known to you and of an age with you.”
Harry and Neville. There was no doubt in her mind that was who it was. Who it had to be. Well, possibly Susan Bones, but she was the only other ‘of an age’ with Fay that was able to claim any part of the Most Ancient Protocols, and there was only perhaps a score through the school entirely but ‘of an age’ was Harry, Neville and Susan. Susan simply didn’t make sense. Amelia Bones was healthy and a force to be reckoned with. Susan couldn’t possibly be desperate enough to go looking toward the Ancient Protocols.
It was the Ancient Protocols or putting Auntie Elizabeth’s corpse in stasis while she finished her schooling. Auntie had gone on a fit of insanity and had a full vaults worth of galleons taken from the bank and installed in one of the Vaults below lake keep. There was also the Catalogs which would accept a key impression and made portkey delivery. The house elves grew enough at Lake Keep to feed themselves. Her tuition was taken directly from the school trust for her. Her measurements could be taken to the tailors for school uniforms, text books could be ordered via catalog. It could work, she could manage until she was seventeen that way, not entirely different than it had been done for almost as long as she could remember with Auntie’s health so poor and her mind, well, so gone. Just Auntie’s corpse in stasis in the dungeons of Lake Keep, and the issue of how to mask how long that she was in stasis. They could use a stasis chamber, that would mask the length of time possibly enough. Say Auntie died while Fay was at school and the crazy old elf had tossed Auntie in the stasis room to wait for Fay to get home….
She’d been researching the law, and nothing she’d found said she had to report a death, Auntie Elizabeth would have to report Fay’s but not the other way around since her parents wills had locked everything up tight. Auntie Elizabeth had no access to anything but the house she’d always lived in really anyway. Fay could claim her ring and emancipate herself at fifteen. Just pray Auntie lived another two years and a bit. At least until the start of Fay’s fourth year then the stasis route would be easily defensible, elderly deranged elf scared of what to do. Elderly ill witch dying of natural causes, just Fay wouldn’t be able to claim her ring until after the end of her fourth year, the end of July between fourth and fifth, so Auntie Elizabeth’s body (if, or rather when she died) would have to be in stasis until then.
That option was less appealing than the Ancient Protocols, she’d thought it the more possible option though until just that minute because what was she supposed to do? Go ask Harry, Neville or Susan to marry her? She wasn’t about to do that. Well, she was trying to screw up her nerve to ask Susan, because Madam Bones might help, and they could work around it, but she wasn’t keen on that idea. All Susan seemed to be able to do is giggle with Hannah Abbot, which was the sum total of what Fay knew of Susan outside of the single class they had with Hufflepuff.
This was a chance. She packed up her parchment and books with shaking hands and followed the Wyl’aelf. She was torn between being sick and breaking down crying when after endless corridors and stairs she’d never seen before going down deep below the castle, they arrived at a stone griffin.
“Present your magic, Lady,” the griffin rumbled.
The world went black. The next thing she knew her head was pounding as only an envenerate spell could manage and Harry and Neville were crouched by her.
She wished the floor would swallow her up.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked with a frown. “You hit your head?”
“No, I–” she gathered up what nerve she had left. The stress of what to do had been eating at her all year, school was almost out and who knew if Auntie was even still alive actually. And… “The Wyl’aelf, he said you were asking about a bond by ancient protocols–”
“Yeah, uhm, both of us. We have a bond we can build on, our mothers did it when we were babies. But we can add you in because–”
“You’re both boys,” And while Lady Magic might recognize an heir created with wild magic and extensive spell work, but the Wizengamot didn’t, nor did most countries of the ICW these days. The spellwork was considered dark, mostly for the fact it needed a magus or archmagus pairing to accomplish, and accomplishment of such was practically a myth. There had been a three documented couples, all witches, that had tried in the p1300s centuries in Europe, and been killed. Mostly it was blamed on their enemies, which they might have had, at least furious rejected suitors, but the biggest danger was the fact both parents were about as able to defend themselves from magical attack as a squib, all their magic pooled into the crystal egg their child grew in, making both parents and the child extremely vulnerable until the child was born. Harry Bloody Potter couldn’t spend forty weeks magically helpless and extremely vulnerable. It was just never going to be possible.
“Yes so, you want to?”
“You’re both in your pajamas.”
They both stared at her like she might be a bit mental at that blurt.
“Yes, please, when? Auntie is too frail and…” she burst into sobs and launched herself at them. Awkward almost frightened arms went about her—one from each of the boys—with hesitant almost nervous pats on her back. Like they were petting a dog that might bite or something delicate they were afraid was going to shatter. She wasn’t sure how long she cried all over them, but they were polite about it at least. Maybe petrified was more accurate, she thought as she finally gathered herself enough to pull away having made a complete ninny of herself.
“Your Aunt is dying?”
Fay sniffed inelegantly and wiped at her eyes. She had to look a fright. “She’s maybe a year left, she’s almost a hundred and ninety and…really frail…it’s marry you—either or both—or have the house elves put her corpse in stasis under the keep and hope I can get away with it until I’m fifteen and can claim my title by right of Last of Line. You two can claim Last of Line at thirteen but I have to be fifteen.”
“I can’t. My father’s still alive. In the Janus Thackery Spell Damage Ward of St. Mungos where he’s been since November 1st 1981 and he’s not getting out, but technically still alive. Last of Line protocols don’t apply to me unless I sever him from the family magic and that would kill him. Harry could but I can’t. And both of us. Unless, I didn’t think about Last of Line. You could claim that and–”
“And then what do we do about the bond our mum’s set for us?”
Neville swallowed, nodded and looked at Fay, “Both of us. If–”
Fay nodded. “Yes, yes. I need to do something. Dunbar isn’t the original family name. The family magic is Ancient, predates Merlin and I have to…”
“You can’t let the secret of what the Family Magic is be known even if the recognized name has changed a few times.” Neville concluded.
“I’m sure Serla has ideas on how to work that in the contract she thinks we need to write up tonight.”
“We should, and have it delivered to the bank to hold. Do you know your account manager?”
“I have one?” Harry huffed.
“I wasn’t asking you I was asking Fay.”
“Olgar of Jagged Flint,” Fay swallowed. “I’ve never met him but I’ve exchanged letters since I was ten. I don’t go to the bank.”
Neville sighed. “And I don’t like ours. Gran has him so terrorized he practically wets himself when she shows up and he hates me.”
“So no bank?”
“No, we each will have to hold a copy.”
“In the vault, Lady Fay, Lord Neville, Mage Harry.”
“And of course you two chose…” the lady in the portrait groaned. “Don’t worry, child, I won’t spill your secrets. Now. Let’s get to work and see what chooses each of you.”
“May I ask who you are?”
“Serla of House Gryffindor, Godric was my great-grandfather. First things first—warded jewelry—Cawthyn, can you move my frame over there?”
“Whose things are these?”
“This Vault was began by myself and my husband. It is accessible from Gringotts as well. It was a boon to Aodhan who could not travel well after the Elven Wars. I was my great-uncle’s heir, he bonded with a Dumnonii traveler they collected things extensively, particularly matched sets of three which we’ll definitely be looking at those in the various collections but Jewelry first.”
There was little to do but follow the portrait on it’s little rolling wall moved by the Wyl’aelf’s magic. The Wyl’aelf had other ideas and took them to a room of trunks and chests.
“This is a better starting point. They have nothing to put their things in. Their magic is going to call much to them according to their guardian, all their lives, and likely start here.”
Serla huffed from her frame. Then gasped as a stand rose up from the floor. “Cawthyn?”
“We’re doing this the expedient way.” Cawthyn growled. “There is far too much to allow them to wander about aimlessly.”
“I had a list of rooms composed in my head.”
“And we shall visit as many as we can.”
Fay had never heard of a vault that could be accessed from anywhere but the bank, though she supposed Hogwarts was secure, especially as hidden as it was, and a stone griffin that would not let anyone past it it decided unfit was good security.
“All three of you together, put your hand on the index and push your magic at it.” Cawthyn said. The index being the massive book that appeared on the pedestal that had risen from the floor. The contents of the cavernous room started shaking and twitching. “STAY WHERE YOU ARE!” Cawthyn shouted.
Harry and Neville pressed closer turning a bit to shield her as much as they could just in case. Three massive—well chests more than trunks, they were ornately carved of some kind of wood. Fay wasn’t sure. Twenty-one locks on each which was shocking. That was practically a myth. There were whispers of a few chests like that still surviving but the ability to make them long lost.
“Right, this is going to go like everything goes for you, Harry.”
“Lovely,” Harry muttered.
Fay giggled. She could kick herself. Harry and Neville were going to think she was a weak, weepy, giggly nutter.
Four small money or jewelry chests sat themselves on top of each trunk, a dozen jewelry boxes settled themselves on or next two each of the three trunks, three money pouches, three satchels, three sets of saddle bags (Merlin, what would they need saddle bags for) three rucksacks, three valises, three sets of luggage Three tall cases, as tall as Neville easily. The tall cases that stood on end were joined by a veritable army more of similar of varying sizes.
“Do you now see my point, Serla?”
“No need to be smug, Cawthyn.”
“Right…so…there wouldn’t happen to be carts down here would there?” Neville said faintly looking at the pile of luggage and chests.
“Set the blood wards on the main trunks, everything else can be stored and sorted later.” Serla said.
Neville and Harry exchanged a doubtful look but they all three followed the instructions to set the wards on the trunks, which would return to this vault with everything in them unless entailed otherwise, then an item would return to whatever the appropriate vault in Gringotts was. Resetting the blood-ward lock was simple a drop of blood, claiming it with their name and a push of their magic and a password. Cawthyn declared they had to do that for each lock, but the lock he had them do such on was the endless storage.
The Wyl’aelf hurried them along, similar little blood magic claims on the rest of the luggage and chests and boxes and bags that had flown at them with the summons. Serla huffed and scolded Cawthyn. Harry and Neville just looked at each other, shrugged and did what they were told. Fay followed along, really, what else was she to do?
“Are you okay with trying to stay friends with Hermione?”
Fay gaped at Harry. Cawthyn was leading Serla’s rolling portrait further on.
“I vetoed Ron. He’s an arse, sorry Harry he is. And he’s–”
Harry shook his head. “Let it go, Neville, I feel bad because he’s…well I don’t know if he’s even recovering from the Chamber, Ginny either–”
“No big loss,” Fay muttered.
Harry looked upset.
Fay gave herself another mental kick. “Hermione hasn’t been so bad this year.” she offered.
“She’s been petrified for most of it,” Neville pointed out.
Harry winced, looking pained and almost sick. “Give her til Christmas to have maybe caught a clue on her own and gotten over some of the bossy and then if she’s horrible we’ll lay it out what we’ll tolerate and what we won’t and if she can’t have it figured out by the end of school next year, that’s it?”
“If she’s intolerable she gets put to her exactly what is what by Halloween,” Fay said. “I have to share a dorm with her.”
“Married housing, we won’t have to.” Neville pointed out.
Married. Bonded. Please let Auntie Elizabeth still be alive and live til Fay’s birthday. “I can’t get bonded yet, not until July.”
“My birthday and Harry’s are both on the thirty-first.”
“Mine as well,” Fay whispered. “Several tried to get custody of me after my parents were killed. How Auntie pulled off sane and healthy enough to take care of a baby but the Goblins backed her and said they would declare anyone who interfered with her custody of me while she was alive an enemy of the Horde.”
“Come along, children!” Cawthyn snapped.
“Halloween. Give her more time to figure it out,” Harry said sadly. “Hermione’s really bad at things not in books.”
Fay bit her tongue. That was so far beyond an understatement she didn’t have a clue what it was, but yes, Hermione Granger was really bad at things not in books. She was good at memorizing, but she believed the first thing she read and with Hogwarts keeping to exactly one narrow tract—too narrow according to Grandfather William’s portrait—everything reinforced her beliefs that what she read was the exact correct thing. Until she thought wizards were backwards and horrible and Family Magics were pureblood nonsense and absolutely not real and so on. The rant she went on when Parvati’s betrothal contract arrived for her to look over missing the point that it was Parvati allowed to make edits and set the date for three years after she finished Hogwarts.
Hermione wouldn’t even listen to the fact that it was only the start of negotiations, a first draft and there were letters and gifts and several stages that Parvati (and Padma) had been taken to a Naga matchmaker to have their magic assessed, their parents were then given a list of fourteen families to consider for introduction for Parvati—the parents met first (and it was a given did extensive background checks before meeting) and then there were rounds of magical compatibility tests, and family discussions between parents and grandparents long before the then infants and toddlers were allowed to meet and see how their magic interacted. Parvati was over the moon, even if her betrothed was six years older than she, their magic was an unparalleled match. So much so that they weren’t allowed to see each other in person again until Parvati was seventeen and they began their year of formal courtship. Parvati could call it off without penalty on her eighteenth birthday. It was a NAGA CONTRACT.
Naga Matchmakers had a sort of Sight when it came to magic of small children and the compatibilty of children’s magical signatures especially in infancy and toddlerhood’s level of purity and absolute innocence the matchmakers found magic that was most likely to resonate well enough to make a deep and truly magical match. Parvati and Padma’s parents took them to Naga Matchmakers at a week old rather than look for any sort of political matches that would advance their house politically and financially. The importance on a deep and true magical match was not given much consideration in Britain but the Patils kept to the traditions from the area of India their grandmother’s family was from.
Fay was so jealous of that contract. Parvati had a true magical match and they were pen friends writing at least once if not twice a week, gifts exchanged almost a dozen times a year and when she got around to marrying her Wizard (and Padma her witch) they were guaranteed contentment at the very least, if not the stuff of fairy tales. Hermione listened to nothing and was horrified that a snake chose Parvati’s future husband. Parvati had to be stunned to keep from hexing Hermione through a wall—more than once.
She didn’t have a contract yet, didn’t have a bond yet, even if Harry and Neville agreed. She was going to keep her opinion on Hermione, the derisive sneering and just sheerly willful, hateful ignorance and arrogance that had been evidenced in the girls dorm. Hermione was practically as intolerant as a Death Eater, except it was whatever offended her muggle sensibilities that was foul, backwards and any number of things. She made no effort to understand just derisive and dismissive of everything that didn’t fit in her little boxes.
“What?” Harry had stopped and looked at her worried.
“Hermione is going to go spare over a triad-bond. Any kind of triad-bond,” Fay whispered.
“She’ll get over it or she won’t.” Harry said tiredly. “I am not going to survive to see eighteen at the rate I’m going and I’d rather live. We have a better chance together right? And if I end up dead, well you won’t have to deal with me.”
“You’re not ending up dead,” Neville glared.
“Troll, Quirrell possessed by Voldemort, Dobby trying to keep me from going to school this year, my Uncle nearly beat me to death with the trouble he caused. Dobby blocking the way to the platform and missing the Hogwarts express. Flying into the Whomping Willow with Mr. Weasley’s car. Basilisk. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things and I’m afraid to even set foot back in my Aunt and Uncle’s house after the Weasley twins broke me out—and broke a window, fetching me in August just before school started. Me being gone all year isn’t going to cool my Uncle’s temper.”
“You can come to Lake Keep.” Fay whispered.
Cawthyn was practically hyperventilating and the portrait was ranting in a language Fay didn’t recognize.
“We’ll discuss all that later, children, we need to get to the jewelry. NOW.” the portrait demanded. “No more delay.”
By the time she was led back out by Cawthyn to make it to supper on time in the Great Hall, Fay was bedecked in several new pieces of jewelry which she’d attached to her magic under Serla’s careful instruction. The pieces would not come off as long as she lived, though could easily be disillusioned as they were now. Diamond stud earrings, simple, tasteful and not something that would ever go out of style were in her ears. One held a translation charm enabling her to understand what was spoken in her hearing in over a hundred different languages even if she couldn’t speak anything in return but English, she knew what was being said provided it was a language embedded in the earrings. The earring was a bit warm, not uncomfortably so but noticeable. Serla said that would fade, part newly attached to her magic and part language updating which would take perhaps a week. Perhaps less. The last witch to wear the earrings died in 1783, so while there were some discrepencies and certainly numerous changes in usage, language between then and now were still largely recognizable mostly usage and words falling in and out of favor that would be the issues.
The earring’s mate gave warning of the trustworthiness of anyone near her, warning her who was a threat and how.
She had an inch wide mithral band on her left wrist, the hinges had disappeared and the band sealed itself though she was reassured it would grow with her as a Lord’s Ring or Heir Ring would. The band had two portkeys set into it, Lake Keep and Gringotts, each location set into a diamond shaped onyx in the band, but had four more onyx stones that were able to be given destinations.
The first necklace was a mithral collar almost with several gemstones set into it, one acting as a barrier to legimency, a second as protection from behavioral curses, even limited resistance to the Imperious the longer she wore the collar and pending on her own magical ability which Serla estimated easily reaching magus level at her maturation so eventually there would be some resistance, not complete but some, to the Imperious.
The second was a bloody huge chunk of emerald cut into a multi-faceted ball nearly the size of a golf ball on a long chain Serla horrified Fay, Harry and Neville by saying the gem would eventually rest between her bosoms once she actually had some. The emerald was practically a war ward, a goblin wrought war ward at that. A Sanctity Ward Serla had called it, had had near had a fit it most definitely was not a chastity ward that had been popular for several centuries and were entirely different. Fay could conduct herself any way she chose, though the triad-bond they hadn’t gotten to starting to decide upon would limit all three of them equally. The Sanctity Ward would react to any physical encroachment with a gentle push back, keeping a bit more than arms length distance if Fay found some one annoying or uncomfortable and she wanted them to get out of her space. It would warn once, would violently throw anyone who attempted any kind of unwanted threatening physical contact the second time, the third was death.
Harry had been upset about that, thinking the second step unnecessary. If someone intended to hit or hurt her, then they needed put through a wall fatally and done with it. Serla pointed out there would be no exception for them. Harry wanted a few tons of bricks dropped fatally on him if he ever became Vernon Dursley so he had no problem with that. Hopefully Neville got him with a blasting hex or piercing charm to the heart before he got close enough to scare Fay or Merlin forbid any future children.
Harry had insisted on the mithral bands around Fay’s upper arms, Neville had backed Harry after a second’s frown. The two sapphire encrusted bands under her uniform and were completely unnoiceable she was wearing them acted as a powerful shielding ward. It could only provide the protection of six shields-three each band- and then needed twenty-four hours recharge, nothing suitable to a battle but would protect her from an arse in the hallways between classes or give her a chance to portkey away if she were attacked.
Fay was finally starting to believe she would be safe. Auntie had better live to August.