- Magic’s Chosen-Season One, Episode One-Desperate Measures
- Magic’s Chosen- Season One, Episode Two- Meltdowns
- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Other Trigger Topics
- Permanent Injury
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Fix It
June 29, 1993
Neville watched Serla pace the largest portrait frame in the living area of his and Harry’s quarters, the setting was the room he and Harry were in, right down to the kitchen area in the far corner of it just barely visible. Aodhan had joined her, settled back in a chair, chiming in occasionally in language just outdated enough to not quite be comprehensible and vaguely foreign but they could almost understand him. Not really, but almost. Aodhan was tall, long oval face, long everything, with dark hair only a shade off black and dark eyes, and he did look remarkably like Neville. Rather Neville looked like him, he supposed, save for the hair. Though Neville expected that was a matter of time. The pale blond hair he’d had in baby pictures had steadily darkened, and at nearly thirteen his hair was a dark sandy color heading toward field mouse brown. Longbottom men tended to be blond babies but ending up with darkest brown hair before they started to go gray.
He glanced over at Harry to see…well he wasn’t quite sure. He couldn’t expect Harry to have anymore of a clue than he did. Neville wasn’t precisely sure what Serla was ranting about this time. At least they eventually got answers from the portrait when she finished raging, that was more than they ever got from most.
Harry was sound asleep, even with the volume of Serla’s raging from the portrait frame. Harry looked like death warmed over, even in sleep there were dark sunken circles under his eyes. He was too pale and too worn, his mouth and jaw tight, furrow between his eyebrows as if he couldn’t escape pain in his sleep even. Or maybe a nightmare? Harry had those, often. Always had. Harry at least knew how to put up silencing charms on his bed not to disturb anyone. Once in a while he forgot them. He’d woken Neville with his nightmares then and Neville had cast the silencing spell before Ron, Dean or Seamus woke up. Dean and Seamus could sleep through Ron’s snoring and Ron only woke for food, eventually, in the mornings.
“Tell us in the morning, you should be done with your fit by then. I’m putting Harry to bed and finishing my charms essay.” Neville said and pointed the wand he’d gotten from the vault at Harry, casting a very careful mobilicorpus and floated Harry into the bedroom with Serla’s stunned silence and Aodhan’s soft laughter drifting behind him until the bedroom door closed.
“Come here, you stubborn thing,” Aodhan said softly.
Serla put her hands on her hips and glared.
“Husband.” She glared harder.
Aodhan sighed. “Very well, my brat, our descendant was correct, you should be done ranting by morning, on with it, then.”
“I’ll show you a brat.”
“You have since the day I stepped foot in this castle. I expect no less.” Aodhan chuckled.
“They’re leaving the day after tomorrow! And…”
“The portrait frame in the vault can go with them.”
Serla stopped pacing, her eyes widened. “CAWTHYN!”
The Wyl’aelf appeared before the frame with an air of impatience and annoyance.
“I’m sorry, I know you’re busy, old friend, but the frame from the vault, can you make sure it goes with the children?”
The impatience and annoyance melted off Cawthyn’s face replaced with the same sort of stunned disbelief Serla had had. Both undoubtedly wishing to kick themselves for not thinking of something so simple. “I will, Lady Serla,” Cawthyn agreed and disappeared with a manic look in his eyes at whatever had occurred to him.
“You know he is bound to the school and castle as steward and guardian, not to your House, wife.”
Serla swished her hand at him as if batting away a fly. “That is a matter of semantics. Neville is the rightful lord of the castle.”
“I don’t think the lad has quite realized that.”
“Of course, he hasn’t!” Serla huffed. “He’s as thickheaded as you!”
Aodhan shook his head.
“The name can’t be coincidence, Aodhan. It CAN NOT BE!”
“I know. I know, love. I don’t believe it is either.”
Harry was up first. His habit of waking up at four AM far too deeply ingrained, and the thought of returning to the Dursley’s the next day wasn’t all that inducive to sleep either despite the fact he didn’t remember getting to bed the night before.
The portrait frame was thankfully empty as he set to work. The kitchen had been stocked enough to feed Hagrid and ten more with his appetite for a year. No matter what Serla might have on her agenda, Harry was baking that day—an emergency supply of food for the summer for all of them, mostly in the form of small filled pastries and such for all three of them.
The cupboard that held trestle tables that were completely dismantled was first. Harry almost laughed as the simplest tap of his wand had the tables–carefully politely, all pieces in an orderly fashion–moving themselves out of the magically enlarged storage cupboard and assembling themselves ready for extra workspace and cooling pies assembled they took up nearly half the massive main chamber. He was going to need the space, trying to get two and a half months emergency food rations for all three of them done in one day. He’d been wanting to do this all week, but Serla had been insistent on lists of things they should know, learn and more excavation of the Gryffindor Legacy Vault. Today Serla could go hang, Harry was baking.
And the spellwork for peeling fruit was amazing, the charmed knives were a wonder too. In no time apple, plum and peach pie filling were simmering on the stove. Rhubarb-sweet-cream, as well as berry fillings, were quick enough to follow. The cherries took the longest to prep, the de-stoning spell was a right tricky pain in the neck.
He started in on a massive amount of dough. The ‘bowl’ was more of a trough sat on the counter a foot deep and longer than Harry was tall, thankfully the charmed mixing spoons did their job amazingly. This batch of dough was more pie crust than any kind of puff pastry or thin bread, in Harry’s mind pie crust was less likely to be bollixed up with the unfamiliar spells on the spoons and first time using them.
He was probably going overboard. He eyed the trough of dough and massive kettles of pie fillings bubbling away on the cooktop as he went to the walk-in ‘cupboard’ which was more a huge storeroom with the magical space expansions and hauled out three massive roasters which would each fill up one of the very large ovens, easily half again Aunt Petunia’s oven.
The walk-in chill cupboard next, which had been stocked overnight with the list Harry left. Roasters loaded with the hundred and fifty pounds of beef, split evenly between the three, some water added to the bottom of each roaster, the spice blend that had become his personal favorite to mix up—and Aunt Petunia bragged as her secret recipe blend when she served pot roast to dinner guests rubbed into the meat which honestly took forever, his hands, arms and shoulders already protesting especially the arm that had the fresh scar from the basilisk fang. Thank Merlin for levitation spells, which he most definitely used to put the roasters in the oven. Thanks to the speed settings the roasted should be done in just over an hour. Serla’s description sounded like contained to a small space mucking about with a time distortion inside the oven more than speeding up cooking but, well, he’d see how it went.
Back to the walk-in chill cupboard for chickens to be spitted and roasted. A dozen on each of the seven spits that fitted into the massive fireplace, those just basted with butter and put over the fire, careful attention to the spellwork on the roasting spits, committing it and its feel to memory. Spells, what spells he’d used since the basilisk bite, were different or maybe the basilisk bite broke something binding him up to keep him from feeling magic so much, but he could feel the weave and weft of the magic, how it bent and shifted and shaped.
Second batch of chickens taken out and lined up on the one counter slathered with butter and a crushed rosemary based herbal blend. He checked the book hovering against the wall above the sink, caught in the little web of invisible work Serla put there for just such a purpose. The cold meats had his hands throbbing, only slightly relieved by the hot water he washed his hands in as he murmured ‘dry marinating spell’ at the newly made modern English copy of Serla’s recipe and cooking spell book.
He cast the spell wandlessly as he dried his hands—Serla’s book said a wand wasn’t necessary. Serla herself said many magi hadn’t used wands unless necessary for work that required the extra direction and focus, far safer to escape notice that way. Many had cast silently as well as wandlessly, at least for basic things, which sounded like first and second year work to Harry.
It worked though. He was sure of it. The magic felt like it worked. Now to roll out the dough for the fruit pies.
This was going to be a long painful day, the basilisk bite which had been finally calming and honestly ignorable was starting to flare up. He was going to be beyond exhausted when he got all this done, magically as well as physically even if magic was somehow easier now. Neville was going to have to all but carry him to the train Harry thought. But he was baking today. They would all have food for the summer.
Neville’s elves were devoted and snuck him as much as they could, but Augusta Longbottom was so messed up and kept a paranoid, near psychotic watch on the house elves of Longbottom Manor. Neville ended up feeding himself quite a lot from the greenhouses and the fruit bushes and vegetables growing there it sounded like.
Fay lived with her Auntie Elizabeth who was so old and frail and senile that she required round the clock care rather than able to care for Fay—and that had been the case as long as Fay could remember really. The one house elf that was still about, that one bound directly to Auntie Elizabeth and as ancient and frail as Auntie Elizabeth still managed a bare minimum or had the summer before but the elf was fading right along with Fay’s Aunt, mostly because Fay thought the house elf, Saylee, was using her magic to keep Auntie Elizabeth alive long enough for Fay to be safely old enough and as a result, Saylee was slowly killing herself and probably would die with Auntie Elizabeth. By what Fay said, Saylee had taken excellent care of her when she was little and took excellent care of Auntie Elizabeth. Saylee even managed to wake one of the portraits that had been bespelled to sleep until Fay was of age, the portrait of Fay’s grandfather William–or maybe great-grandfather or couple greats? Harry wasn’t clear, Fay hadn’t quite said exactly just Grandfather William’s portrait. Grandfather William had been a scholar in life and his portrait regularly had new books on a number of subjects added to it by the house elves up until Fay’s parents’ deaths. Harry didn’t understand that, or how it was possible, but Grandfather William had been Fay’s tutor before Hogwarts and Fay knew more about just about any subject there was than Harry or Neville, or Harry and Neville combined even, thanks to a portrait.
Someone had interfered with Fay, and her inheritance and very existence, as much as Harry had been, or Neville for that matter. There were more house elves and portraits but those were belaboring under spells and most of the house elves weren’t strong enough to set foot near the house let alone in it, so it seemed Fay had a small colony of house elves on her family property going a bit mad with greenhouses and barns and what not to keep themselves busy while they were sort of semi-wasting away at not being able to serve their lady and take care of her. The most they managed was crates of fruits and vegetables and meats about thirty feet from the back door that Fay or Saylee brought into the house. House might not be the right word, it sort of sounded like a castle but house worked.
Cawthyn appeared as Harry finished rolling out the dough for the first batch of for the hand-pie like pastries.
Cooking with magic helping things along was, well, it was bloody brilliant. Harry was still quicker doing things without magic at times the last week, too used to the muggle way, but it he was getting the hang of kitchen spells. Certainly, made keeping up with clean dishes a lot easier. Not to mention the brilliant peeling spell that Serla had taught him. He’d taken to keeping a leather-bound journal Cawthyn had produced for writing down kitchen spells and recipes as much as any other spell he’d learnt the past few days and notes of things to remember to look up.
Hermione would have fits seeing it, it was disorganized and as he thought of it and certainly not up to her standards of academic research. Never mind she’d likely be outraged at household spells and recipes. Harry was sure of that, though couldn’t explain why he was so certain. He was also certain she’d be outraged that he was cooking and baking, never understanding he liked it as much as gardening because cooking and gardening were the two chores that he had always excelled at and were a bit of peace as well.
Aunt Petunia would often enough take herself off to have tea and gossip with Mrs. Marlow in number eleven Privet Drive and take Dudley with her when he cooked dinner, breakfast no one was even up yet. Cooking was the most guaranteed peace and lack of abuse he had once he’d mastered not burning bacon at the age of four. Gardening was at least outside and sunshine and fresh air, even if it had the risk of Dudley and his gang being bored enough to come torment him, that didn’t happen often because Aunt Petunia alternated craning her neck out the back window to look at him, watching a few minutes of her programs on the telly and peeking out the front curtains to see if there was anything going on. Truly it was a wonder there wasn’t a very well-worn path in the carpets, enough of one Harry thought perhaps he’d accidentally made sure the carpets were wear and stain proof when he was little because Aunt Petunia’s carpets looked perfectly brand new just laid down and Harry couldn’t remember any different carpets at 4 Privet Drive.
He cast a glance in askance at Cawthyn who seemed happy to just stand and stare, so Harry simply ignored him and cast the spell to cut circles about seven inches in diameter in the dough that now covered the entirety of the work top scraps were gathered up with a flick of his hand and dropped in a bowl on the counter by the stove to be rolled again for the next batch. Apple filling was closest in reach so apple it was. He carefully dished out the filling onto each crust, murmuring a spell from Serla’s recipe and kitchen spell book as he went that folded the crusts over and sealed the edges which had Harry grinning all the way because that just saved an enormous amount of time right there, and using the quick-cook settings on the ovens the beef roasts should be done in less than a half hour now in and the pork roasts were already prepped. The chickens would be done to swap out with the already prepped rosemary-herbed ones when he put the apple pies in the oven—and they’d only take less than ten minutes.
Melted butter brushed over all the neatly sealed crusts with a shaker of spiced sugar—cinnamon and nutmeg in this one—liberally sprinkled over all the pies. A murmured spell had the pies placing themselves neatly on the baking sheets. Two dozen on a sheet, three sheets per oven, all three ovens loaded up.
“Did you need something or you just watching?” Harry asked as he reached for the wand from the Gryffindor vault that decided it liked him, polished rowan with dragon scale and basilisk skin dual core. His own holly wand didn’t work so well since the basilisk bite and the rowan wasn’t imbued with any monitoring spells for underage magic or tracking spells. He bit his lip as he carefully murmured the spell in what Serla had said was Icenii and the spits lifted them selves off their holders and moved to the first trestle table, a dozen large chickens slid off each of the seven spits, all neatly in rows. Another Icenii incantation had the spits going to skewer the rows of herbed chicken a bit viciously, Serla hadn’t been kidding when she’d said that was an adapted battle spell. A third spell had the long spits taking themselves back to their spots in the massive fireplace.
Harry moved back to the big bowl with the dough and grabbed a big blob more of it with a whisper at the shaker of flour which set about coating the island counter he was using for a work top. Much easier to use the island as a work top now that he’d figured the adjustment spell on it and it lowered down to the perfect height for him. Serla had been tall, six feet at the very least. Probably three or four inches past six feet as high as the counters were and she was the one who had done up the kitchen and all the spellwork for it.
Dough given a quick cursory knead and this time he dared use the runes on the long stone rolling pin and it set itself to quickly covering the entirety of the work top with the pastry dough, rolled to the perfect thickness without any thin spots or tears. The counter rune activated that it whisked off the overhang and Harry caught the shaved off dough with a quick wave of his hand and sent it back to the bowl with the remainder of dough. Spell to cut the circles of curst, the remainder of the dough whisked back to the big bowl it had come from with a flick of Harry’s wrist, he grabbed the apple filling to finish it off, whispering the spell to fold the dough over and seal edges almost absently this time as he started to fall into a rhythm. Butter baste, cinnamon spiced sugar from the spelled shaker, spell to load them all onto trays and set on the racks near the ovens—also from the storage cupboards to wait.
“One more batch of apple.” Harry murmured and set to repeating the process prepping the next nine trays of hand-held apple pies. Just as he was finishing that set the timer went off and the first were done baking. He was extra careful with the spellwork again as the nine hot trays of apple pies came out of the oven and carefully unloaded themselves at the trestle table which had been set to “cool” with a wire cooling wrack that had popped out of it covering the entire top of the three-foot-wide, twelve-foot-long table.
He really was going to have to look at the copies he had of Serla’s kitchen and household spellwork carefully when he got the chance. And maybe Eirnan’s crafting spell books as well. Serla had been fond of cooking and weaving, her grandson Eirnan more wood and metal working. This was working so well he really wanted to see what else was in there, and what he might be able to do himself once he’d learnt enough.
Six hundred forty-eight apple pies. Plus, he had all the other fruit and…oh well. They wouldn’t starve, and Fay had her Auntie Elizabeth and the house elf Saylee, and Neville could share with his elves Harry supposed.
Next batch of pies into the ovens, dough rolled out again. Overhang from the edges and circles cut, remainder going back in the dough pot almost instantaneously this time. He rather thought he was getting the hang of the spellwork on that. He started with the blueberry filling this time, crusts folding over and sealing as he went. Sugar glaze put on these and onto the trays to wait. More dough rolled. Process repeated even more quickly as he settled deep into what Dean or Seamus would probably say was a ‘zone’.
Batch two of apple pies out of the oven and onto the cooling rack table slightly more confidently this time, final batch of apple pies from the waiting racks into the ovens.
“You’re seriously just staring, then?” Harry muttered. Hands washed and dried again. The first bunch of chickens deboned with a spell that was rather wicked, but it worked like a treat. Chicken meat whisked up and placed in a huge pan. Second batch of chickens taken off the fire and slid off the spits onto the table the other chicken had just vacated with careful silent movement of his hands.
“Damn it forgot the broth cooker.” He murmured and headed off to the equipment cupboard, emerging a moment later with a large lidded cauldron on wheels, a second, third, fourth, and fifth trip brought out four more of the same leaving two in the equipment storage. Serla evidently believed in making things in sixes and sevens. Harry thought he’d rather prefer a nice simple number like ten, easier to divide and calculate what was needed and time spent than sixes and sevens.
Water tap turned on with a thought. Wordless, wandless magic was easier than it seemed most thought it was. Hopefully it was easier, at least for simple things like turning on a tap, or it was just more for him to be a freak to be gawked at over. His luck it was more for him to be a freak to be gawked at over and Cawthyn was gawking, which leant credence to that particular thought. A wave of his hand had water arcing out in a neat stream from the tap to the cauldrons, filling three of them.
Chicken bones went in the first. To the large chill storage cupboard for a large bundle of beef bones that went into the second. The ‘cupboard’ store room that acted as a massive root cellar next—half bushel each of carrots and parsnips and celery. The baskets of vegetables sat on a table to wait as he went to the ‘spice cupboard’. Cawthyn’s contact with the goblins had gotten the lists Serla demanded they write up and she hadn’t been satisfied until they each had a fifteen-foot scroll crammed with things they wanted.
Harry had been annoyed enough to write down every spice and spice blend he’d ever seen on the grocery shelves or seen in the cooking magazines and cookbooks Aunt Petunia had. Aunt Petunia’s magazines and books were for show, she never so much as glanced at them. She never allowed Harry to look at them either but had to realize he’d snuck more than one look when she came up with some elaborate froufrou thing she ordered him to make for supper that Harry hadn’t been able to spell let alone have a clue what it was especially when he’d been younger.
The muggle industrial-sized containers of spices, the sizes that Harry imagined big restaurants ordered, had been a surprise, since it made it obvious Goblins managed to do business in the muggle world. Some time lost opening and tasting a dozen different brands of ‘Poultry Seasoning’ in gallon sized containers. He picked his possible favorite; not sure his tongue was quite telling the difference after so many variants in a row, but he’d wasted enough time. Salt, pepper, dried parsley flakes and poultry seasoning in with the chicken bones. Seasonings added to the beef bones was far quicker, he knew exactly what he wanted there.
Switch out of pies in the oven. Much quicker this time.
“You’re really just going to stand there and stare?” Harry looked at Cawthyn getting well past annoyed. “You haven’t seen anyone cook before?”
Cleansing, peeling and dicing spells done on the combined bushel and a half of vegetables and those were tossed in the third cauldron of water, seasonings put in. Lids on all three on and sealed and a quick check of Serla’s book which had the runes etched on the lids explained—beef broth and vegetable broth started, chicken waiting for the second round of chickens being done and deboned. He wasn’t quite sure what he was doing with those, but at the very least he could jar them up and they’d be able to use them when they came back to Hogwarts.
Switch out of pies from the oven. That was the last batch he had made up, though so he was going to have to get back to that quick. Beef roasts taken out of the oven and put on another trestle to rest, but the three ovens that were freed up now.
Back to the root cellar cupboard and pumpkins. Bloody hell pumpkins. But those were best gotten out of the way now. Washed, seeds and pulp removed on bloody ninety pumpkins spellwork hesitant and whispered as he started, hand moves sure and utterly silent with the last. Cawthyn evidently preferred Serla’s counting by threes and sevens, Harry much preferred the fives and tens of the metric system he’d learnt in primary, twos were good too. Threes and sevens were annoying, he was used to them somewhat from potions no matter how crap of a teacher Snape was. But threes and sevens were still annoying and awkward.
Ninety giant pumpkins. He was going to be jarring up pumpkin custard for next year’s use as well quite likely. That was alright though, between classes and whatever was going to try to kill him next term, and the inevitable fallout of their plan to get married, having a stock up that didn’t take much to dump some soup in a pot or make some quick pastries like this to eat while they studied or discussed survival strategy wouldn’t hurt. Just bloody Serla had them in the vault and in the vault sorting through books and weapons and a lot of truly interesting and useful stuff and they’d had time to finish their homework all up but bloody hell he’d rather have had two or three days to do this not just one.
And Cawthyn was still staring. Pumpkins loaded onto trays and put into the three ovens—and no he wasn’t questioning the spatial mucking about that made them fit–pies quickly taken out while he muttered under his breath, a touch darker than all the others but not truly burnt. A massive iron box that he was only able to move with magic retrieved from the equipment storage cupboard and hung over the fire of the massive fireplace, filled with as many cleaned and gutted pumpkins as Harry could pack in there. The box would work as another oven now that he was done with the spits for a while, maybe completely, he wasn’t sure yet. Spits scoured with a spell and sent back to the equipment cupboard with a silent wave of his hand. The feel of the magic was getting clearer and easier and cooking or cleaning used magic was comforting, settling, safe.
He was an hour and a half in and he was frowning at his progress. First rounds of chicken and beef roasted, he wasn’t sure he was doing a second round or not, if there’d be time. Broth started. Nearly 1300 fruit hand-pies done. Filling done for more and pumpkins in, he wasn’t doing too badly but there was a daunting amount to do on his mental list and not enough hours to get it done.
“What…what CAWTHYN!” Serla screeched from her portrait frame.
“I. AM. COOKING. TODAY!” Harry shouted at Serla. “WE ARE GOING TO HAVE RATIONS TO SURVIVE THE SUMMER ON! STUFF YOUR RUDDY VAULT UP YOUR FRAME! TODAY I’M COOKING!”
He turned his attention to rolling out more dough, half formed thought of some jams would be easy enough to do. Fay and Neville could get bread from their elves and have bread and jam.
“Cawthyn, I need heavy cream if you can get it, enough to fill all seven of the butter churns in the equipment storage.” The massive churns had a rune that ran them, just as easy to do it that way, and he thought it would be easier to turn the butter into spreads that way too while it was still soft and fresh rather than the hard blocks that he’d managed to melt like nothing but just softening for the dough hadn’t worked so well—and he had the proof of that in how much melted butter he had in the pot with the don’t-scorch-keep-warm rune to be used for basting crusts. He was not mucking about with that damn softening spell when he was in a hurry and so tight on time. The churns could run themselves off against the wall and butter would be ready for if and when he got to making spreads, if he didn’t? Well there were preservation spells and they would have plain butter at least, and the Hogwarts elves could have the bulk of excess for the kitchens, stasis spells would keep it perfectly til school started.
Serla watched in disbelief. She’d done every bit of spellwork on the kitchen and all of the equipment and pots and pans, Aodhan helping with the rune work, yes, but mostly in the laying of the runes, she knew them and what she wanted, but Aodhan had a defter hand at working a rune array into an object and had gladly humored her outfitting her kitchen. Or acted like he’d been humoring her, he’d liked her cooking far too much to even think twice about a thing she came up with kitchen related. Typical man, thinking a quarter of the time with his stomach, and the majority of the rest with anatomy further south, the fourteen children Serla had borne a testament to that fact.
She had never gotten such results out of her kitchen. She had never seen anyone in life or in the years since as a portrait able to move with such speed and dexterity about a kitchen and using kitchen spells. No one had told Harry that magic and kitchen spellwork simply did not work that way obviously. Not even house elves could manage what Harry was just now. House elves were extremely powerful, and some were skilled beyond measure in kitchen work, but the ways they went about their magic work in a kitchen was a limiter, as well as their perfectionism streaks. This…this was madness.
Neville wandered into the kitchen, bleary eyed in his strange sleep clothes the boys called pajamas with hair every which way. “Harry?”
“Cooking, Neville. You can snitch a couple of the pies on the very end there. They’re apple. The glazed are blueberry and the ones closest to the apple are likely well cool enough to be edible too.”
“Why?” Neville yawned.
“WHY?” Harry shouted furiously not missing a step in filling, folding, sealing then glazing strawberry pies and loading them onto trays as he went, the glaze pitcher levitating behind him and sugar glaze poured as he went without a thought, pies leaping off the worktop onto waiting pans hovering in the air as he went, condensing a half dozen steps into little more than a thought and magic complying in ways that had Serla hard pressed to keep her jaw from dropping.
“So much…” Neville’s voice sleep slurred and distorted with another yawn as he rubbed his eyes.
“Food for the summer.”
“Oh. All right, then…tea? Or should I make it?”
Serla’s jaw did drop at Neville’s reaction to the scene playing out in her kitchen. He was utterly unconcerned about the very visible grip of madness on Harry. She wasn’t sure if it was uneducated idiocy, pure foolishness, or the boy simply wasn’t awake enough to comprehend what he was seeing. Harry’s eyes were frenzied and so was his magic with his determination to get his cooking done. Frenzied to the point it was honestly, truly madness.
“Fill the diffuser and the kettle and bring it here I’ll hit the rune, easier than trying to tell you which.”
“Ohay,” Neville mumbled out around yet another yawn.
If she wasn’t a portrait, Serla would have shaken them both. This wasn’t sane. This wasn’t healthy, and half of what Harry was doing just wasn’t possible for any normal magi! This was full unleashing of Dumnonii power—in her KITCHEN!
“Cawthyn? Is getting cream enough to fill the churns possible?”
“Yes, High Mage, I’ll see to it now.” Cawthyn said and disappeared.
“Am I crazy or his language better and less house elf by the day?”
“You’re crazy, but it is.” Neville said stifling a yawn and approaching Harry. “Rune. I need tea. And it smells amazing in here.”
“Thanks.” Harry touched the rune to start the kettle and turned his attention back to his work.
Neville took the kettle, grabbed a mug from one of the dish cupboards near the sink and snagged two apple pies on his way to sit at a currently unused trestle table, summoning a stool. He moaned as he took a bite of the pie. “These are delicious, Harry. You need help when I wake up a bit here?”
“You got any guesses on what Fay would like for pies? And what all do you prefer?”
“Serla, anyway we could get around Dumbledore’s decree and get Fay up here? We’ve got the official betrothal bond signed by us at least, even if it hasn’t made it to the Goblins. Is that good enough to get around Dumbledore?”
“Yes, yes, it is.” Serla managed watching the frenzy of fruit pie making warily.
“I smell pumpkin?”
“In those ovens and the box there. Make some pumpkin pastries as well. At least should be able to get the pumpkin custard made up and jarred for us next term.” Harry said working on the next batch of dough rolled out and crusts cut. “You and Fay can get one of our real big trunks out, one for each of us and separate and pack the pies when they’re cool enough. Fay gets enough for her Aunt and Saylee too. Don’t think Saylee’s able to do much anymore.”
“No, doesn’t sound like.”
“We can owl food packages once a week when we get back to school in September.”
“If Aunt Elizabeth is still alive, yeah, but even if she isn’t Saylee likely isn’t going to be cooking much for herself if the rest of the elves are still banned from indoors and Saylee from outdoors. You awake enough to roll the churns out here and help Cawthyn fill them?”
“Yeah.” Neville said pouring his tea and taking a fast gulp before shambling toward the equipment storage and rolling out the massive churns on little wheels. “That’s an awful lot of butter.”
“Yeah but I can make some fruit-butter spreads and garlic and savory herb butters if I get to it. Easier when it’s soft and fresh. The rest can be blocked up and put in stasis, or all of it if I don’t get to the spreads before I crash tonight.”
“Sounds lovely.” Neville said and went back for another churn.
Serla’s mouth worked silently, too stunned at both of them to even speak.
“Well, it looks like your plans are well and truly put to rest for the day, love,” Aodhan said joining her in the portrait.
“Good morning, Aodhan. I’m bloody cooking. Tell her that.” Harry said not glancing away from his work.
“Did he understand me?”
“I don’t think so, just your voice—” Serla said. Aodhan’s language hadn’t finished updating by far, but his presence was a comfort and the boys seemed untroubled by Serla needing to translate every few minutes. And Aodhan content to sit back and watch her in a tizzy regardless if he understood a word spoken. She switched to Cumbric and murmured. “He’s mad. This..Aodhan…this is sheer madness, a frenzy the like I’ve never seen not even Toran’s fits.”
“He’s had a trying month, and no matter how mad a frenzy he’s in, he has himself well in hand and magic under control. Worse frenzies he could work himself into than a kitchen tantrum that looks a bit like some of yours over the years, he’s not even slamming about pots and pans and kettles and cauldrons like you were wont to do when the children or I angered you.”
“The way you chopped carrots and parsnips for a full six months after you found out you were carrying Falaena was rather frightening, love.” Aodhan teased.
Serla glared at her husband “Be serious, you cur!” She had been far from best pleased realizing their youngest child was on the way, especially when she’d had a handful of years of fever-flushes and her cycle dwindling, their youngest next to Falaena finishing up his first apprenticeship and they’d had a parade of grandchildren visiting to spoil. Falaena had been a shock, a rather unnerving and not exactly pleasant shock. Serla had loved Falaena as much as any of her other children and never once acted otherwise, but no, she had not been at all pleased finding out she had fallen pregnant with their fourteenth babe right when she thought all her children grown and well on making their ways in the world.
The notification rune visible on the inside of the frame lit up signifying someone had entered the Vault.
“Go love, I’ll keep watch and get you if I need to.”
“Send Cawthyn for Fay when he returns.” Serla called loudly and got Neville’s agreement at least. She left for the portrait frame on the rolling wall-stand in the Vault. Called an elf bound to Gryffindor and had the elf, who called herself Libidy, move the rolling wall-stand to the secured small office like area that a Goblin could enter.
“I am Serla of Gryffindor, you are?” she demanded of the Goblin standing there. “Beyond of Clan Nokorron?”
“Garnok, son of Ragnok, son of son Kelnok, son of Tennok, son of Rygnok.”
“I remember Rygnok fondly. He was more bloodthirsty than any of your kind I have ever met. The Goblin Hordes could not have had a better and more vicious king.”
“My father Ragnok rules the Hordes now. My grandson Havnok is his Heir presumptive, though only in his eighty-ninth year.”
Another would never have noticed the Goblin’s strain or nervousness.
“I would never have given my son Eirnan a sword, just the same as I would never have expected my daughter Falaena to ever do something as calm and expected as needlepoint or weaving. Eirnan was a scholar and Falaena a warrior.” Serla smiled. “I compliment Ragnok’s wisdom not to force a child to a role they’re not inclined to but to get the very best from the child at the gifts they were born with.”
The Goblin relaxed slightly. No, she was not insulted by the fact that the Goblin who arrived was neither King nor Crown Prince as was right of Gryffindor to expect, even more right of the Dumnonii to expect as well as Lady Fay’s lineage. Just as the Goblins had every right to expect to deal with the Lord or Lady or Heir of Gryffindor and Fay’s line or the High Mage or Heir Presumptive of Dumnonii. Equals met as equals and did not send sycophants and lackeys.
“I am sure your father’s time is at a premium, and your grandson is still at his lessons. No insult is taken by Gryffindor. I hope you’re not insulted by my own limited circumstance as my Heir is but a ten and two of years yet and his education has been interfered with.”
“Of course not, Matriarch Serla.” Garnok said relaxing completely. “The Hordes are not unaware of the treacheries of the enemies of Gryffindor.”
“My Heir has managed to get himself into a Triad Betrothal, one party had an infancy bond made with my heir by their mothers well before their first birthdays. They, of course, picked a lass that will make the entirety of the Magi of the Isles lose their little tiny minds.”
Garnok grinned, sharp teeth shown dangerously, vicious glee in his eyes. “The Hordes will enjoy the loss of tiny little minds.”
“Yes, the Heir of Gryffindor and Longbottom and Marsh Lord Intendant, the twelve-year-old High Mage of the Dumnonii who is also Lord Peverell-Potter, Heir of Black and Conquest-Blood Heir of Slytherin. Bonded at Birth with Infancy Consideration and they chose the Heiress of DuLac, Arelat and Orkney.”
Garnok rubbed his hands together. “This shall be fun. Is the betrothal contract sealed? And blood for inheritance verification?”
“Yes, but there are issues. The Account manager of Longbottom is questionable, the account managers of Peverell-Potter and Black are corrupt. The Account Manager of the Heiress of the Lake is quite a boon to her house. The Heir of Longbottom and the Heir of Peverell-Potter and Black want their accounts audited with prejudice, they would like to have account managers of the same clan as their Lady, properly and thoroughly vetted, I would ask Lady Fay’s account manager be reviewed and revetted just to be safe. No blood nor contracts will be turned over until the auditing and vetting are complete.”
“In that case I would like to meet them in person.” Garnok said.
“It was my intention for the day, but I’m afraid you will have to go to them rather than them come to you. I do not believe we are getting the little mage from my kitchen today, not until he collapses of magical exhaustion. He is in a frenzy, worried over food for the summer, and in the process of making enough food for a military campaign not just treats for summer away from school.”
“My Mate was born to the Hardrak Clan of Nokorron and the Chief Healer of the Nokorron Horde.” Garnok said quietly.
“Fetch her, please, her services will be paid from the Gryffindor Trust, the children have—been interfered with greatly to an untold level of detriment. Our little Mage was bitten by a basilisk less than a fortnight past and only alive by grace of a Phoenix shedding its tears into the wound. Either one or the other has broken a good number of bindings and curses on him, though perhaps not all. And there is the matter of a soul shard as well, somehow destroyed but yet lingering by the way it was forcibly bound to him. Libidy will remain here and escort you through and up to the chambers the lads have taken, with their lass to join them in September. Her account manager is Olgar of Jagged Flint.”
“It may take an hour or three, Matriarch.”
“Noon? Libidy will be here to take you through the vault to the chambers at noon.”
“That will be sufficient.”
Serla made her goodbyes and hurriedly returned to the frames in the apartment.
“Lady Fay, you will come with me. Your things will be brought, and you will not be missed, Lord Neville and Mage Harry have need of your presence. You will remain with them until you leave the Castle tomorrow.”
Fay yawned and blinked. “Cawthyn?”
“Come, my lady,” Cawthyn reached for her hand and the next thing she knew she was standing in a kitchen gone mad in her nightgown.
“Morning, Fay. C’mon over here, safer til he needs some help. Tea?”
She stood and stared stupidly watching pans fly in and out of ovens and… “What is he doing?”
“Making pies for the summer. Come here and sit. Do you want apple, blueberry or strawberry? Blackberry are in the oven now.” Neville asked then broke off as Harry started muttering curses under his breath as something somewhere dinged. Ovens and the great black cast iron box suspended in the fireplace flew open and baked pumpkins on trays flew out. “SHITE, DUCK, FAY! HARRY, PAY A LITTLE BLOODY ATTENTION PLEASE DON’T KILL OUR WIFE WITH FLYING PANS OF PUMPKIN!”
Fay didn’t have time to duck, she was smooshed flat to the floor with, thankfully, a cushioning charm under her. If she wasn’t so desperate, didn’t need security, she might run and never look back. The smashing let up enough she lifted her head, giant pans of baked pumpkins hovered in the air, the assortment of utensils stopped, everything flying about the kitchen came to a standstill. And in the midst of it, there stood Harry, looking like a bedraggled little puppy all confused with flour on his hands and a bit on the pajamas he was still wearing and a smudge on his cheek.
She wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh or just hex him to the wall and Neville too. “You can let me up now, Neville.”
“Oh…I uh…uhm…finite incantatem?”
The inch of invisible softness between her and the floor disappeared. Fay grunted as she hit the floor. Only an inch but enough to knock her chin on the floor and her teeth together. “Thank you, Neville.”
“We. Need. Food. I. AM. Cooking.” Harry said, suddenly furious and defiant and shaking.
“Yes, and Neville and I will help, just don’t get so lost in your magic we’re dodging flying pots and pans.” Fay said getting up. She spared half a thought to how many demerits she’d get and just how ruined for life she would be if it ever became known she was ‘consorting’ with two boys in her nightgown and they in their pajamas. In most instances it would be a bit of gossip in the common room, but it was a bit of common room gossip that would could destroy her with the amount of gold she had in Gringotts and the Ancient familial magic.
There were those who sought to destroy the Ancient Magic and Ancient Protocols, the so-called Purebloods as much as the bloody Muggleborn who never even tried to learn and…from a political stand point it was something that could haunt, and rumors be built on follow her for her entire life that could limit and taint the Legacy she was Heiress and Guardian of simply because there were those who would want to take or destroy what was hers. But they’d signed their betrothal contract four days ago and had their marriage contract finalized though it would not take effect nor be magically binding until their shared birthday.
The politics Grandfather William’s portrait had drilled her in since she was big enough for Saylee to lead to the portrait hall and leave there for lessons at about three or so shoved aside. Those earliest lessons were more endless lectures on behaving above reproach and as perfectly as possible, she was too vulnerable, and anyone would take the least excuse to take her way from Lake Keep, take her away from Auntie Elizabeth and take everything. All the ways the least infraction in proper behavior could be used to ruin her and destroy everything and put her in horrible danger. Grandfather William hadn’t spared anything in the endless ways she could be abused and misused if someone else gained control of her. The nightmares Grandfather William’s portrait induced with those warnings seemed to have come to pass with both Neville and Harry and bits they let slip of their lives outside of school.
“Too right you are. I can butter bread and make a sandwich and I’m much better off doing that than trying to eat anything Saylee has made. Neville and I will help what we can too. Stop looking at us like that—he’s not Weasley and I most definitely am not Granger. Just…try not to collapse of magical exhaustion on us or injure us with flying pans. I want tea and breakfast. Are you at a stopping point to sit and have a cuppa and eat one of those little pies that smell divine? Take ten minutes to lay out your attack plan, so we at least know when to go duck on the other side of the hall here. You need to eat a bite or two, and we need a bit of clue how to help.”
Food supplies for the summer was a sensible plan, Fay had been working up the nerve to ask Cawthyn that day about at least some loaves of bread to take home with her somehow. She had a careful hoard in her trunk of food slipped from the kitchens. She’d done the same her first year as well. Grandfather William had told her where the kitchens were and how to gain access. And taught her some excellent food stasis spells and impervious spells to wrap the food in. There was food dropped at the door by the other elves at Lake Keep. And enough of it that it wasn’t like Fay was going to starve—and she’d managed to make a couple roasts in the past, dry overdone and barely edible but better than Saylee’s cooking. Meat was generally given stasis-preservation spells and tossed into the frozen goods storage room.
Already cooked hams that just needed warmed up—or not—fruits and vegetables that could be eaten raw and the occasional already made loaf of bread were lovely. There was also an endless amount of little fancy cakes the other elves thought to leave as little treats. Fay rarely got those, Auntie Elizabeth seemed to exist solely on those and she ate so little that Fay let her have them all.
She’d certainly never been hungry or close to starving, but Hogwarts food had been a revelation. Some of it too rich that she didn’t dare eat too much of it, but it was amazing. She rather believed Neville was in the same boat as her. He certainly had access to plenty in the greenhouses he hid in, and his elves slipped him enough bits of this or that, enough that he didn’t go hungry, but his diet before school likely left a lot to be desired.
She and Neville had had enough to eat, however uneven and occasionally monotonous their diets might be at times. Harry didn’t. How he could only eat a little at a time, how he had looked like a starved wraith the night they were sorted and again when they returned for the start of their second year. No, there really wasn’t any question Harry had starved for years.
Neville was even worse at dealing with people as she was. A mark of their isolation, Grandfather William had at least given her the education to be a formal ice princess which was socially acceptable. Neville was nervous and shy and bumbling. Harry was almost feral. How no one ever seemed to notice that was beyond Fay. Harry kept to walls and close to exits and watched everything so warily, something about him always seemed on the edge of running or, well, biting maybe if he wasn’t so blank it was terrifying.
Grandfather William had said people at large were idiots and would see what they wished, more what they were told to, rather than what really was there. The world was told to see The Boy Who Lived, or at least HARRY POTTER. Fay wondered if Weasley or Granger had managed to see Harry yet. She doubted it.
The bedraggled lost puppy look was back, the hovering pans and everything else made their way slowly to their destinations. Baked pumpkins now on a large table fitted with a raised wire piece across the whole of it, quickly but one by one plucked off pans and sat to cool.
Almost as an after thought three massive pans of beef set to shredding itself. The franticness of what looked to be peach pies assembling themselves eased, the pies continued assembling themselves but more sedately.
“Who are you?” Neville demanded dangerously. The air shifted, and Fay found herself in a vicious glowing bubble of energy that felt more Harry than Neville but somehow both, as if they had accidentally cast a shield on her at the same time.
“I am Casworan,” the Wyl’aelf that was now standing by Cawthyn said. Casworan the Wyl’aelf was disturbing with green tattoos the color of Harry’s eyes—a band of them across his forehead, two lines of them on each cheek, more bands ringing his arms at intervals, a knotwork/whirl pattern partially visible on his chest where his leather vest gaped open. He had a sword on one hip and a wicked looking knife on the other and dressed in leather pants and soft-soled leather boots which no house elf ever would. He wore a necklace of what might be wolf teeth and bone earrings in each ear. “I am the leader of the Wyl’aelf of Brawze Kellys.”
“Clear as mud.” Neville mumbled.
“What is Brawze Kellys?” Harry asked.
“The land under the rule of the Dumnonii High Mages, your land, Mage Harry,” Casworan managed to get out. He rather looked like he was ready to have himself a proper fit to Fay’s eyes.
“Is that where the food for my cooking came from?”
“Yes, Mage Harry,” Cawthyn quickly spoke up. “As I said, you needn’t trouble yourselves with the costs of what you wished to obtain. Casworan saw to your lists and half of Lady Fay’s with the help of the Goblins, Lord Neville’s lists and the other half of Lady Fay’s were covered by the Gryffindor Legacy, of which he is heir.”
“I can pay you both back—” Fay said quickly. “I do have my own accounts.”
“Certainly, easier to get to the Gryffindor legacy this time, and I’d bet the Dumnonii legacy is as unable to be monitored as the Gryffindor, just safer this time.” Neville said reasonably.
“So, you did catch you’re the heir of Gryffindor?” Harry tilted his head.
“Yes. I’m surprised you did.”
“The way your magic interacts with the Griffin and the vault, hard to miss.” Harry frowned.
Fay gaped at Harry.
“Guess what? I think we’re now at thing number hundred and seventy-four to stare at you about,” Neville sighed.
“Lovely. The noticing magic interactions are…” Harry trailed off, visibly worried at what the answer would be.
“A kind of mage sight.”
Harry whined, “One of you do something, have some stupid ability that it’s not just always me. Please.”
“Get right on that, Harry.”
Fay couldn’t stop the choked squeak at Neville’s droll answer. It seemed if he spoke, Neville could be a proper smart alec. She almost liked it when the two forgot she was there, or forgot to be on their best behavior around her since they didn’t quite seem to forget her. Either way, if they weren’t being proper, the banter between the two of them could devolve into her own private comedy show. “You two are terrible. How do you manage to be so quiet all the time?”
“You’ve met the boys in our dorm. And Hermione for that matter, haven’t you?” Harry asked, looking sad, almost sick, as if saying that aloud hurt him desperately.
Neville and Fay had mostly avoided mentioning anything about Ron or Hermione since that first day, Fay couldn’t think of anything good to say about either of them, and she thought Neville was mostly the same at least about Ron, maybe more sympathetic to Hermione but Neville didn’t see how she was in the girls’ dorms. Ron’s nastiness was so extreme that Hermione seemed to bite her tongue and be more tolerable around Ron.
Casworan snapped out something at Cawthyn in a language that most definitely wasn’t one Serla and Aodhan spoke between themselves, or with Cawthyn. Fay couldn’t guess if it was “Wyl’aelf” or some long since fallen into disuse human language. She didn’t suppose it mattered all that much. Casworan was looking nearly as ready to have an apoplectic fit as Cawthyn did at least once an hour when he was about.
“Tea, a bite to eat, and you can instruct Neville and I on how to help.”
It was far too early for this. Though, there was never a good time of day for hysterical screeching, Albus supposed as he directed the best fatherly concerned expression he could muster across his desk at Molly Weasley. He silently cursed that blasted elf and his own extremely weakened, fragile magic.
His headache increased as Severus stepped through the floo in his dressing gown with a murderous scowl on his face.
“I only just finished the mandrake potion and retired an hour ago. What could possibly be so dire you needed to drag me from bed?”
“I told you, you obnoxious bellowing cow, I cannot do anything for either Ronald or Ginerva without a complete history of what sort of behavior modification potions and spells they’ve been subjected to in their entire lives.”
“You have no right!” Molly screamed. “HOW DARE YOU—”
“MOLLY!” Albus shouted, voice harsh and commanding. “Please, calm yourself and be quiet and allow me to speak to Severus.”
Severus leveled a lethal glare on Albus. Damn the man was far too useful, but Albus was beginning to worry is dangerousness was going to outstrip his usefulness. Once his own magic was restored to its proper levels, Albus was going to have to reinforce his hold on Severus somehow.
Molly huffed and went nearly as red as her hair, arms crossed under her bosom fury radiating off her so heatedly it was a wonder she wasn’t putting off sparks.
“Now, Severus, I’m certain Molly misunderstood your refusal to help Ronald and Ginerva recover.”
“You yourself explained to that cow when the rituals were done to increase Ronald’s magic to allow him to attend Hogwarts that his magical core was such poor condition and barely existing to begin with that it would not be possible to perform any other similar ritual on him, and the magic imbued from that ritual is starting to slip away, damaged with his mind perhaps, it will most likely shatter his core when the last of it fades away. I would guess that will happen within the next forty-eight to seventy-two hours. He has the slimmest chance of survival barely being a squib to begin with, but his body has grown accustomed to magic flowing through it, that lowers the chance further. Even should he survive, he is already showing resistance and almost allergic reaction to magic. He will not be able to live in a remotely magical setting without existing in sheer agony. His best chance of survival is a controlled drain of his magic and immediately transport him to a muggle hospital and leave him in the muggle world. It’s that or simply cast the killing curse on him and put him out of his misery, the drain of his magic is evidently painful, he’s been screaming in agony for four hours now. Poppy has nearly worn herself out with restraining, calming and silencing spells and he’s reacting badly to them, they are actually inflicting more pain. She attempted to give him a simple pain draught and it sent him into convulsions. That cow was warned ten years ago when she demanded the rituals for Ronald’s magic to be increased.”
“NO SUCH THING WAS EVER SAID!”
Severus ignored her.
Albus wished he dared cast a stunner at her.
“Albus’ neglect in telling you the risk to the boy is not my problem. If you were remotely intelligent, you would have asked to see the rituals and study them yourself. Of course, you wouldn’t want to dare sully your eyes with something so dark, merely have your spawn and your own ambition benefit.”
He rather wished for the ability to cast a Cruciatus on Severus. Molly had been no where near her right mind when the ritual to increase Ronald’s magic was done.
Arthur and Molly had both been ravaged with grief and far from rational when they joined the Order, what with just burying Molly’s parents Lucretia and Ignatius Prewitt and their own oldest two children, Arthur Jr. and Persphone. Unfortunately, Gideon and Fabian Prewitt showed up alerted by a blasted house elf and William survived.
William Weasley was a problem, especially working for Gringotts but Molly had been the one who kept all her children well in line, and there was no illegality of a mother potioning her children and no one would think twice about a daughter of a Black doing such a thing. Lucretia Prewett had been a Black. Had they lived Gideon would have been the Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Prewett, Fabian would have been Lord Black—once Sirius and Regulus were out of the way. That wouldn’t do, Gideon and Fabian Prewett had been more untractable than Fred and George Weasley were.
Albus gave Severus a very disappointed look as Molly’s hysterics resumed, thankfully further in the direction that Severus was a Death Eater than any—very deliberate—failure to explain the risks years ago.
Ronald’s loss—which he was written off as a loss, whether he survived or not—was a blow to Albus’ plans. That Ronald was losing his magic was effectively taking him completely out of Albus’ carefully woven plans.
“Shut up, you stupid cow,” Severus snarled
“Now, Severus,” Albus said mildly, disappointed look firmly in place. “Your assessment of Ginerva?”
“Completely tainted whore that it’s a shame she survived the chamber. I cannot begin to asses any viability for any ritual to try to return the girl to some sort of functioning level. She gave herself as a Willing Sacrifice to the magic within the diary. Whatever loyalty and behavior potioning Molly had done to keep the girl biddable, was firmly transferred to the diary it’s magic far more powerful than whatever amount Molly exerted over the girl but the girl was primed to be the perfect target. Does she regain full use of her magic, at best you have another Bellatrix Black LeStrange on your hands insane and obsessively loyal to the Dark Lord.”
“How dare you! My Ginny—”
“Has consorted with an object enchanted by the Dark Lord and fully under its spell for ten months. The idiot child became a willing sacrifice to it. According to Narcissa, Bellatrix was a willful and rather wild toddler prone to magical accident, the potioning done to tame her, resulted in the mad whore of the Dark Lord who barely had to crook his finger at Bellatrix to have her sprawled at his feet begging to be used. Your daughter is much the same, were she a few years older she probably would have been using sex-magic sacrifices to the diary’s power she is still completely in it’s thrall and insane from its destruction. It makes one wonder about the insane women of the Black family, if Walburga wasn’t another attempt at the same to make her biddable and instead Orion fell on the sword of containing the mad bitch. There is not a hope in all the hells for Ginerva if I do not have a detailed list of what she was potioned with, where the ingredients were procured from, how they were procured, who procured them, who prepared them, how was the girl dosed and who did it how often, what spell work was used in conjunction and what exact conditions. As well as a proper paternity test on the girl. I know very well Arthur was rendered entirely sterile when you were pregnant with Charles which explains the age gap between Charles and Percival. I can believe that Percival and the twins were spell-concieved with donation of material from one of Arthur’s brothers. Even possibly Ronald. Doubtful as Weasleys do not hold with spell-conception, but possible. There is no way Ginerva is Weasley by blood. Weasleys only have one daughter every fifth generation, that daughter was Persephone. The next daughter will be from William or Charles’ lineage in five generations.”
Severus gave Molly a speculative look. ”Unless you managed to lie and convince Arthur your bastard was his get, which I doubt because there is no way to my mind Cedrella Weasley would have allowed the marriage to take place without some verification the child was Arthur’s, you would have been up on charges of Line Theft and Coersion if it had been a son, you only got Arthur because the first child was his, and a girl unless you got one over on Cedrella Black and she still is twice the witch you ever were.”
“HOW DARE YOU! MY GINNY IS THE NEXT LADY POTTER!”
Severus burst out laughing. “You’re more insane than Bellatrix. No bond will ever take. The Peverell magic, even with Isolde Peverell marrying some mud-crusted peasant of a potter and using that name so far beneath the Peverells it is a travesty to this day, the magic of the Peverell line is ANCIENT, Royal even if it sullied itself by winding a skilled serf into it a thousand years ago and nearly sentient! It will not allow for such to take place, there is no way to bond a WILLING SACRIFICE to a Bloody Damned Potter Spawn. Your tainted worthless bastard daughter is good for nothing but following in the footsteps of your cousin Bellatrix!”
Molly reached for her wand, no matter how twisted her ambition and how damaged by grief—and spellwork—her logic through the first war and the years since, and even more unhinged with her youngest two in the infirmary, she was quick with a wand and as ferocious as a mother dragon, her children had always been the key to any manipulations he’d had to employ when it came to Molly.
Severus was quicker. Where Molly was a rampaging dragon perhaps one caught in an area too small to maneuver, Severus was a snake, striking in less than a blink. Molly was caught in a body bind, gagged and Severus snarling out “Legimens!” Despite the body bind and the gag Molly seemed to be almost seizuring as Severus tore through her mind and muted screams came through the silencing gag.
“Magical upheaval, she’s been hysterical all over the school when by rights she shouldn’t even be here, Madam Pomphrey has been flooing St. Mungo’s with recommendations for a calming regimen worried over the cow. She can share a room with her daughter in one of the long-term care wards in St. Mungo’s. I refuse to have part in anything concerning Ginerva Weasley.”
“Severus! Ginerva will—”
“Be struck dead if you attempt to force her on Potter’s Spawn. So will anyone that had a hand in forcing such. I will be no party to that.”
“Severus, you forget yourself,” Albus glared.
“I have forgotten nothing, Albus,” Severus said coolly. “I am sworn to keep that creature sired by James Potter alive to the best of my ability and protect him while he is in the walls of the school. I am acting on that vow you demanded of me. Ginerva Weasley is tainted by the Dark Lord, does he manage to resurrect himself, he will kill her and allowing such a thoroughly corrupted being anywhere near the Potter brat is a threat. It was you who made me swear upon my magic, and Lily’s memory to protect her child from threats within the school. Ginerva Weasley has made herself one with her consorting with the bloody horcrux and so potioned into having no self by that cow that the girl willingly became a sacrifice to it. That cow’s ambition for her spawn and refusal to listen to reason or leave this school when she has no business being here, made her a threat. Family Magics you dismiss too often, Ancient Wells are something you would do well to school yourself on Albus. That damned boy has link to one of the most ancient and powerful wells in Great Britain.”
Albus glared. “Superstition has no place in this, Severus.”
“On you be it,” Severus said simply. “Does anything happen to me, I have ensured that a wealth of information will go to where it will do the most damage. But by virtue of the vows you forced me to take, I cannot do otherwise than I have. Now, I am going to get a couple hours sleep before chaos overtakes my Snake’s Den.”
Severus gave a flick of his wand in Molly’s direction stepped back through the floo to his quarters and presumably bed leaving Albus to deal with a drooling Molly on the floor. Magical upheaval was understandable and honest enough, Molly had been hovering dangerously on the point of it Severus had pushed her past with his rummaging through her mind. The Upheaval and shattering should wipe out any trace of any other interference if anyone thought to check, but Molly had been loudly unhinged all over the hospital wing which Amelia Bones and several aurors had seen being aggravatingly prompt at checking three times a day in seeing if there was any change in Ronald or Ginerva’s conditions. Poppy had been flooing St Mungo’s almost hourly over Ronald’s worsening condition and Molly’s hysterics.
No, Molly permanently incapacitated wasn’t an issue as far as explaining it away, Molly’s position in his plans had been a crucial point. Her control over her children, for their own good, of course, was a key piece in Albus’ plans. Plans Albus had personally orchestrated over the years as susceptible to potions as Molly had been in her youth. The crowning moment that put Molly completely in his control was the deaths of Persephone and David when she was pregnant with Charles. William unfortunately escaped that despite being just a toddler of not quite two. Persephone was five and the darling of the Weasley clan, David at three and already showing every indication of being an extremely powerful Archmagus, William was a bloody natural born cursemaster.
Molly had blamed Septimius and Cedrella for their politics, making the family targets. Persephone’s death had been a blow that seemed to cripple the entire family, Weasley’s all but worshipped the rare daughter born into their line. Septimius and Cedrella had sent their other sons elsewhere, breaking up the fortune Cedrella was credited for restoring with money sent with their other sons to resettle their families all about the globe.
Cedrella had vowed no grandchild of hers would set foot in Hogwarts while Albus was headmaster. She’d told Albus as much and somehow garnered Arthur’s agreement to homeschool William and Charles. She’d never attempted with Percy, the twins, Ronald or Ginerva. Cedrella very clearly announced to all who knew of her vow that the five youngest children Molly bore were not recognized by the Weasley’s as Arthur’s. That was…well, Ginerva looked decidedly like a young Cedrella, but thanks to two wars with two separate dark lords there might not be many that realized it, and certainly there were none who did not have access to Black Family Portraits that did not realize both Cedrella, and Ginerva, and honestly Nymphadora Tonks, all bore a striking resemblance to Phineas Nigellus Black’s mother. There was a Burke Girl who had left Hogwarts after her OWLs three years before who looked like Ginerva Weasley’s black-haired, grey-eyed elder sister. Any resemblance, no matter how convenient, between Ginerva and Cedrella was on shared Black Blood through Molly, not any drop of blood from Arthur.
The Weasley Fortunes, while quiet, were more than most assumed. Carefully hoarded for five generations, with Persephone dead, the legacy from the last Weasley daughter was split and cast far from Albus’ reach, without Arthur seeing a single knut of it.
Too much was unraveling.
Severus was right though, at least in that the two youngest of Molly’s children had rendered themselves useless. Albus placed no store in the nonsense about Ancient Family Magic. Rot and nonsense. Myths. The Ancient Families were almost, almost gone, Albus had seen to the destruction of several for the Greater Good. Ancient Protocols wiped from the curriculum nearly a century since. While he could not get them off the law books without breaking the entire Statute the Ministry was built on, and that would only put Magical Britain under the direct authority of the bloody damned Squib Queen and her line, which at best were hedgewitches and hedgewizards, a very limited talent or two but squibs, muggle living squibs.
That Squibs should rule Muggle Britain was the most idiotic and horrible idea Albus had ever heard, but there was nothing to do for that.
The Blacks, Peverells and Longbottoms had collected royal brides like it was a competition. A granddaughter of Alfred of Wessex had married into all three. A sister of Vortigern had married into the Blacks, a bastard daughter of Cnut to the Longbottoms, daughters of every last blasted Kingdom or ruling tribal leader that had been on this Isle for 3000 years had been bred into the Blacks, Peverells and Longbottoms long before the names had settled to Black, Peverell and Longbottom. Each house married in an illegitimate daughter of the Plantagenet King John, each managed to wed York and Neville legitimate daughters in successive generations that were listed as ‘died in infancy’ in Muggle record, even managed a daughter of Henry VIII each, by-blows all, but Tudor daughters all the same. Not even squibs but muggles. The vast majority not even muggleborn, just simply muggles.
Royal muggles though, most bastards but some not, and, though mostly, not just from the British Isles. Royal muggles who made Black, Peverell and Longbottom the last three families with a claim to Magical Royalty in Britain.
Black was sufficiently destroyed. Longbottom would be, it was simply a matter of waiting for the current heir to be old enough to cast the infertility hex on. Neville Longbottom was a meek and thoroughly cowed, remarkably unintelligent waste of magic.
Albus threw the teacup in his hand at the wall. The shattering wasn’t near as satisfying as it could be. Curse it all, Ginerva and Ronald Weasley were the key to controlling the Potter fortunes. No one else of an age was as completely under his control.
Anger was going to solve nothing, once his magic was restored fully he was going to lay waste to that accursed elf and rid himself of it once and for all. There were still the twins, they were close enough in age. One of them, and Potter was ancient enough to allow for a brood mare—Granger was powerful enough. Yes, that would work, a twin and Granger in a triad. It was what he had been considering as the back up in case of Ginerva failing at her task—and she had spectacularly consorting with that accursed diary. Well, Ronald and Granger in a triad. But a twin could be substituted for Ronald, or even Percival. All was not lost yet. Granger alone wouldn’t do. Proper spellwork and the child would be the twin and Harry’s with Granger just carrying the brat, no muggle taint which the bane of Albus’ existence already had enough of from that accursed mother of his.
He stared at Molly’s prone form on the floor. He heaved himself up with a snarl of frustration. When he threw the powder into the fire his face was schooled to exhaustedly worried “Poppy, please come through it’s Molly, she’s collapsed. It—Poppy it looks like upheaval.”
Poppy burst through the fire in a concerned whirl of activity. Albus answered on autopilot, how Molly worked herself up in such a state over young Ronald and Ginerva, then collapsed, true enough, just editing Severus’ part out. Severus was going to have to be dealt with as well, as soon as Albus had his magic back to fully functioning.
Neville had to admit Harry’s plan was brilliant. The little pies were a good choice. Easy to wrap, label and pack to carry, and both he and Fay had mastered a simple warming spell wandlessly without any trouble. Harry had jumped for joy. Literally, jumped a good foot off the ground with a fist punch into the air above his head, “Yes, I’m not the only one that can do wandless!”
That had Fay laughing and teasingly saying that she and Neville had to keep up with Harry. Fay really wasn’t a bad sort once she let the proper behavior slip. She hadn’t much yet, but what bit she did gave Neville hope that she’d get on all right with the way things went with Harry about.
Neville thought maybe he was beginning to feel the bond their mothers had made. That maybe Harry’s magic was wearing it down now that Harry’s end wasn’t blocked. He’d been drawn to Harry, absolutely fascinated by him since the moment he’d caught a glimpse of the tiny black haired boy in the train compartment when Hermione had been dragging him from compartment to compartment in search of Trevor. That fascination had quietly grown over the past two years but he’d kept his distance, not able to brave the barrier of Weasley and Granger who kept everyone else away—Ron by being an unmitigated vicious arse and Hermione by being insufferably muggle and lecturing everyone on how wrong and backward their thinking was.
Casworan had gone and gotten a trio of storage trunks, all heavily layered with food preservation and stasis charms with the interior of each partitioned into a ridiculous number of sections that were just about perfectly sized, maybe half inch too large at most, for Harry’s pies, and six more of the forty-nine configurations of the trunk were partitioned out similarly enough that pies would fit in the partitions easily enough.
They did get the explanation the trunks had been used by traders for spices, herbs, plant-based potions ingredients, fruits, nuts, berries and such like. That was abstractly interesting but mostly all that really mattered was it had seven configurations the pies fit in easily. Even better, each partitioned area was basically bottomless. The spellwork would keep the supply to the top of the partition until it reached level with the bottom of the trunk and then they’d have to reach for the final few in the partitioned space but they could all fit their arms in easily to the bottom. Neville not quite as easily as Fay and Harry, but he managed a wandless summoning charm that would do the trick if he grew more. Fay and Harry wouldn’t have to worry about that this summer though Fay could do the charm as well and well, Harry was the one that mastered it first.
Even well and truly stuffed, the smells of the kitchen had his mouth watering as he and Faith set to packing away the cooled pies into the trunks. Cawthyn being roused enough to teach them a wandless cooling charm, but soon enough lost back in his slightly crazed conversation with Casworan in whatever language they were speaking.
Despite Fay’s protest, the pies were split by four, not three. She had Aunt Elizabeth to feed, and Saylee, after all. The trunks were brilliant. And Serla had coughed up how to make the trays and ovens expand, so Harry had bread dough rising and had sent Cawthyn and Casworan running for bananas, a number of kinds of nuts and more apples, a whole scroll of things honestly along with about a million jars and masonry crocks.
Massive cauldrons with runed-in heating spells, no need for a fire under them were brought out and pumpkin custard was being cooked down in one. Neville wasn’t quite sure what Harry was doing with the other two but he had something in them.
The butter had gotten done amazingly quickly though there was a moment of ducking out of the way of cauldrons. It was divided up, the majority whipped plain or with salt added, but there were a dozen with various herbs added and another half dozen with fruit.
Fay knew a copying spell, and as Harry had yet to ward his noting book or the translation of Serla’s Kitchen Book, Neville and Fay each had their own and were pitching in ‘round the edges of things when they caught up with cooling and packing pies. With the full use of the expansion work on the ovens and pans, pie making had gone even faster and Harry was almost done with what he set out to do originally.
The skewering spell and the deboning spell were a bit unnerving. Harry insisted they both practice it on chickens and turkeys that were roasted.
More beef and pork were roasted in huge slabs with the bone vanished rather like that idiot Lockhart had done to Harry earlier in the year rather than the violent deboning spell practiced on poultry.
Neville and Fay were set to carving the variously seasoned meats into thin slices for sandwiches, packaging them in impervious-ed paper and hitting them with every stasis spell they could then tucking them in the trunks. The trunks were brilliant. Neville wished he had one for harvesting his plants from his greenhouse.
Serla stifled her upset and began making suggestions. She said something to Casworan who disappeared and returned with three young looking Wyl’ealfs, one nodded and looked hopefully at Fay. The other two shook their head, Casworan disappeared with the other two, leaving the one still looking at Fay behind. This was repeated a half-dozen times more until there seemed to be a Wyl’ealf that wanted both Neville and Harry as well, actually five that wanted Harry and two more that seemed to want Fay and Neville respectively making a total of nine.
“Harry, my stomach is trying to eat itself, lunch.” Neville announced.
Harry looked ready to argue for a minute.
“You need to eat. So do we.” Fay said firmly. “Actually, getting dressed wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Bit odd still being in my nightgown at lunch.”
Neville realized then he and Harry were both still in their pajamas, and Fay was still very much in her nightgown. “Let’s eat first.” Neville said. “Then you can go shower and dress. I’ll take my turn after you but food first.”
Fay glanced at Harry and nodded.
Fay really was a good sort. She hadn’t panicked at Harry being…oddly and extra Harry this morning. Though really not so odd, nor more Harry than usual if Neville thought about it. Harry assumed he was responsible for everything around him, especially if it was something wrong. Fay was, for her part it seemed, as overjoyed as Neville at the prospect of having a trunk full of food too take home for the summer. Neville never went hungry but his diet was mostly what he could pick and eat straight off the plant when he was at home.
That Harry knew his way about a kitchen and could cook was absolutely brilliant. He might outdo the Hogwarts elves for cooking in Neville’s opinion. At least not so rich and drowning in sauces and gravies which, honestly, had Neville headed for the infirmary for indigestion potions once or twice a week. Once Harry had gotten the frantic mostly out of his system, still a bit worryingly single-minded about getting it all done but the frenzy eased back a bit, the entire morning had been just…amazing. For his part, Neville had learnt more spells in the past four hours than he did in a month of any four of his classes. Dead useful spells too, Neville knew that it was building on theory and such but he couldn’t quite think of any reason he’d ever have to turn a tea cup into a small budgie ever.
They sat down to sandwiches with the broccoli-cheese-ham mixture that had yet to be put in a pie crust for a side dish. The muggle syrup added to the tankards of milk had Fay arching an eyebrow for a second but she had to admit chocolate milk was brilliant, tons better than the never-changing unending pumpkin juice served in the great hall.
“Get yourselves a plate and sit. If there’s nothing here you like or can eat, one of you go get what you can eat and fill up a plate for each of you and sit.” Harry waved his hand at the expanse of the table sitting just beyond the kitchen which had roast beef and cheddar pies going about making themselves just now. Harry broke off and whined. “And not me not me! That’s on you, Neville, Serla did it and she’s yours!”
Fay squeaked as the group of goblins were led in by a tiny house elf.
The poor Wyl’aelfs were varying degrees of confused and horrified, Cawthyn the least but he’d been ordered to sit and eat with them a couple times when he’d been about when a meal was on the table.
The goblins, to a one, looked like they weren’t sure if they were going to faint or launch a rebellion and tear apart the castle bare handed armed with nothing more than fingernails and teeth, though, to be fair, it looked like the fainting might take precedence, then bloody carnage after they revived.
“I’ve only ever seen goblins once before, when I went to the bank with Hagrid before first year but…are they well? They don’t look so good. Neville? Fay?”
“Well, you’re up to reason one hundred and eighty-nine now? Or maybe it’s reason one for the three of us jointly.” Neville finally said.
“Have to be reason two for the three of us jointly, because that there’s three of us would be number one.” Fay managed a little unsteadily, realizing as Neville did, Goblins did not make house-calls. You went to them, and truthfully with the current laws on the books at the ministry, house-calls might be illegal for Goblins to make. Neville wasn’t sure on that. Maybe his elves could sneak him some law books to the greenhouse this summer.
The youngest appearing of the goblins spoke up. “Is it normal for young wizards and witches to bake in their nightclothes at noon?”
“We have a running tally of why people are gaping at us now. I’m not sure we’re capable of normal, no matter how hard we try.” Fay, unbelievably was the one who said that.
Neville glanced at Harry who had a shocked slightly stupid expression on his face. Neville knew his own had to be similar. They both started grinning and turned the beaming grins on Fay. Yeah, their wife was really rather alright for a girl, even if she got a bit twitchy and weepy now and then.
A couple of the older goblins snarled at the youngest, the one goblin coughed almost as if covering amusement.
None of the goblins were dressed what Neville only realized he considered “normal” when he saw these. No little tweed suits or even bank guards uniforms on these goblins. To a one the goblins were dressed in leather tunics trousers and boots, two of them had sleeveless tunics with tattooed arms, all of them had at least a knife on their belts, half of them far more heavily armed than that—the two on the outside perhaps guards.
“Those are nightclothes, are they not?” the youngest goblin persisted
“Yes, we are all still in our pajamas. Harry got an early start on summer cooking and Fay and I got caught up in it as well.” Neville managed.
The goblins all looked around and seemed even more irritated, well beyond the obvious at the youngest of their number being so curious.
“Why is all this cooking necessary?”
“My gran is cursed, my uncle is maybe a death eater, the house elves have hid me out in the greenhouses for years. Fay’s aunt and her aunt’s house elf are old and in poor health and Fay mostly fends for herself and tends those two and worries herself sick over the school year. Harry gets locked in a boot cupboard when he’s home because the muggles he lives with are awful. Food supplies for the summer for all of us—and in the fall be that much easier to keep up sending things to Saylee and Aunt Elizabeth for Fay with access to this kitchen.”
That brought snarling.
“Are you joining us for lunch?” Harry asked. “I’m not sure I have anything here you’d like, but you’re welcome to join us and if there’s nothing made that suits you tell me what you’d like, I’m fairly sure I could manage something edible. I apologize we’re caught flatfooted here—we weren’t expecting anyone today.”
“I tried to tell you, the lot of you ignored me.” Serla huffed from her frame, voice sharp and eyes kind of squinty, mouth a little tight, rather like McGonagall before she started a tirade with ‘Never in all my years teaching,’ and started taking points right and left and handing out detentions like there was no tomorrow.
“You’ve kept us so busy with everything else, that yes, today I’m cooking. We are going to have food for the summer.”
Neville hadn’t quite realized he was moving until he bumped shoulders with Fay. Harry stood on her other side, looking ready to leap in front of Fay and battle goblins to protect both Fay and Neville, considering he was Harry, that was likely the case.
“I’m Harry Potter. And these are my betrotheds Neville Longbottom and Fay Dunbar. Sorry, we’re flatfooted here, but food is very much a priority to survive the summer. Also, please correct our manners if you feel the need—I was raised in a boot cupboard before I came to Hogwarts to nearly die a dozen or so times the past two years, Neville was hidden in a greenhouse by house elves until he came here to be bullied to tears regularly. Fay’s aunt is very old and frail, as is the house elf that cares for them, Fay has the best grasp on properly and mannerly dealing with Goblins but she’s also raised herself and tried to care for an extremely elderly woman. Basically, we have as much clue as drunken muggles but we’re not meaning to be offensive and are so very willing to learn, we just haven’t a bloody clue.”
“First, you are High Mage Harrigan, Lord Presumptive of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Peverell, Heir of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Black your betrotheds are Lord Neville, Heir of the Most Ancient and Royal House of Gryffindor, Heir of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Longbottom and Lady Fay, Heir of the most Ancient and Royal House of LeFay and Heir of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of DuLac.”
“My name is Harrigan? Not Harry?” Harry gaped. “Really?”
Several goblins growled at that.
“I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t even realize my name was Harry until I was six and started primary school. My relatives called me Freak or Boy, and as far as I have been told thus far, my name is Harry James Potter…”
“Your name was registered at Gringotts as Harrigan James Orion Antioch Potter-Black, with an AKA of Harry James Potter at birth. You are named thusly on all your accounts though using Harry Potter is allowable since the alias was given you at birth by your mother. In your parents’ wills you are named Harrigan James Orion Potter-Black. Lord and Lady Peverell and Heir Black did not want the news of their Triad being public knowledge at the time as it was dangerous for them, thus the omittance of Orion and Black off your public name. Your parents also debated on your name quite heatedly and the compromise was Harrigan, called Harry as I understand it.”
“I am Garnok, son of Ragnok of Clan Nokorron of Nokorron Horde, my mate Matriarch Kardira Chief Healer of Nokorron, born to Clan Hardrak of Nokorron. The youngling who will be revisiting Etiquette is our grandchild Tarnok, Son of Kebnok, Son of Garnok of Clan Nokorron of Nokorron. The rest of our group are of Clan Jagged Flint of the Jagged Flint Horde as requested by Matriarch Serla—Senior Account Manager Olgnar who manages Lady Fay’s accounts. Senior Account Manager Barbed Wire of Clan Jagged Flint of Jagged Flint who inherited the post of the Dumnonii Manager a century ago. Manager Brasspipe is the candidate for taking over the Longbottom Accounts, Manager Delvar is the candidate for assuming the Peverell-Potter holdings. Contact was made with Arcturus Black, Lord of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Black, he agreed to an audit of all Black Accounts within the bank and a new account manager if audits found anything on his list of disapproval. Manager Redrock of Clan Jagged Flint of Jagged Flint is the candidate to take the Senior Account Post for the Black Accounts. Lord Arcturus has given his Heir Mage Harrigan permission to assume active control of the accounts though it is subject to his veto and he demands his heir at Blackwood Keep in three day’s time.”
“I’m not sure how I’d manage that, Dumbledore is insistent I return to my muggle relatives.”
“Portkey will be provided.”
“Wards on Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey need to be checked then if it’s possible. Supposedly the wards on my relatives house keep me safe and could possibly bar magical transport.”
“Hermione?” Neville looked at Harry with a frown.
“One mention of the wards on my relatives house being the reason that I have to go back on the train going home last year. Coming to school this year I heard all about how there are ever so many wards that do ever so many things while Ron, Dean, Seamus and Ginny bickered their way through a game of exploding snap.” Harry shrugged.
“Please, join us for lunch and we can discuss the business that brought you here over it.” Fay said taking the lead, even as she reached and clutched Neville’s wrist in a desperate grip.
Food and place settings appeared on a table further from the very well-orchestrated chaos in the kitchen of food still preparing itself. Harry’s control was back even if the whole bit in the kitchen was almost more worrisome now that it was under control. Harry’s magic had gone a bit mad since he’d been bitten by the basilisk. Almost backlash from being bound, well, probably no almost about it, considering what they knew. Harry was being Harry about it though, all locked down and unassuming until he snapped. At least he snapped over making food and even if he hadn’t yet seemed to be wearing down, he had to be making a good bit of progress wearing off the pent-up backlash of magic.
“We need to discuss accounts and Matriarch Serla has requested medical scans of each of you.”
“Food first, we need to eat, especially Harry.” Fay said firmly and glanced at Harry who looked confused then Neville who gave her a nod and a little smile though he wasn’t sure what she was thinking and his hand was going numb from the grip she had on his wrist. “We can discuss accounts while we eat. While the accounts will remain entirely separate, and we fully intend for separate heirs. We…” she glanced at Harry again who had caught a clue of her intent and Neville, both giving her an encouraging nod. “We are a full triad partnership. If my health in the future dictates need of a bearer contracted to ensure another heir or two, that of course will happen, but none of us will be taking a consort. For the next century or two, these accounts will be very much connected—not consolidated, but connected, and were something to happen to one of us, the other two would need to be well versed in that account as Regents for an underaged Heir or merely advisors for an inexperienced Heir. Which the three of us are all underaged and very inexperienced right now. Harry will be emancipated with Last of Line Rites as well as all of us with our marriage bond, but we’re doing this together—and one might think of a question the heir of a particular account might not. Our accounts are ancient, none of us have the full extent of what they might have for business holdings, we need to know the entire scope of what we have between us, what we can do, and then decide where we want to go forward. I have final decision of my accounts—and I may not agree with Harry and Neville and not take their advice in certain instances, and the same is true for each of them, but we all need to know the full scope of what we have to work with between us.
And we need to work together to go forward for our own survival, the survival of our Houses and Heirs.
“I would suggest contract of bearers immediately upon your marriage and ritual conception of heirs. Natural children can be considered in a decade or two, but with your houses and situations, I would advise a ritually conceived heir by contracted bearer for each of the major houses at the time of your bonding, and a spare ritually conceived and carried by contract bearers no latter than your second bonding anniversary.”
Fay looked at both of them. Harry looked as horrified and panicked as Neville felt. Fay was a little more wild eyed and she had a strong grip. Neville was starting to get worried she was going to at the very least dislocate his wrist if not break it.
“Can we do the conception ritual and use a few years stasis before contracting bearers. Ensure the existence of an heir and spare with all the proper documentation and legalities covered but wait until we are finished with our own education to begin interviewing contracted bearers. Absolute priority if we must have one contracted now, would be an Heir for Harry. But none of us like the idea of a set of children turned over to nannies and house elves to raise while we’re at school ourselves. Perhaps after our OWLs leave school for home tutorial for NEWTs and begin the process then. As much as heirs are a priority, they are our children and our future, not pawns, so we’d like to secure their existence but wait for their birth.”
“Wise.” Matriarch Kadira said. “We will discuss this after your bonding and see to it that the stasis globes are immersed in the proper family magics.”
“Sounds good,” Neville managed.
“Yeah.” Harry agreed. “As much as we need heirs, not ready for kids.”
Neville thought they both sounded almost as if they weren’t ready to panic or faint, almost, maybe. They gave a good attempt at least. Conception rituals were slightly frowned upon, but most Heirs of Ancient houses were conceived with some kind of ritual at least a ritual to ensure the child was magical.
“The first matter we must see to is Heir Tests. While there is no doubt of your primary claims, the Gryffindor and Dumnonii claims must be proven, and while the Ministry forbids us to do lineage tests and Heir tests on muggleborn, there is no law against the children of muggle born, nor would there be an issue as you, Lady Fay, and you, Mage Harrigan, are from ancient and noble houses. The ministry’s attempt at treachery and wish to seize dormant estates despite the fact the property wards hold which means someone of the bloodline remains and the bank’s vaults register as dormant not dead are proven to be what we accuse them are—greed and theft, by you Mage Harrigan as the Dumnonii inheritances come from your mother as far as we know. It will be curious to see what other inheritances might crop up.”
They agreed, what else were they to do?
Olgnar, Clan Jagged Flint of Horde Jagged Flint—Neville vaguely wondered how that would be expressed in Wizard—Olgnar Jagged Flint of Jagged Flint?—at any rate Olgnar took a shrunken trunk out of his pocket and enlarged it. The trunk was one that was tall rather than wide, and often opened to have drawers and had a series of locks down it. Olgnar had to stretch on tiptoe to push a bit of magic into the very topmost lock of the wardrobe style trunk that stood five and a half foot tall since Olgnar was a bit on the short side, even for a goblin.
A drawer in the trunk was opened and three shrunken tables pulled out, though when sized up they only stood about waist high and no more than a foot and a half on any side of the top. Three parchments and three quills, one set laid on each of the table.
“If you would get your athames?”
“Any old knife work?” Harry asked. “We each have an athame from Serla’s vault but—they’re heavily entailed and the magic on them is set to private ritual—think it might not work with this.”
Olgnar looked like he might faint or go on a murder spree. “Any old knife will work.”
The goblins gaped as three paring knives went flying toward them stopping and hovering in front of Harry long enough for him to scowl at them and sharpen visibly as they hovered in the air. He frowned and looked toward the kitchen. Neville bet every single blade of any kind in the kitchen got a sharpening spell slapped on it with Harry’s frown.
Instructions to prick their thumb and leave a bloody thumbprint on the bottom of the page were followed. Neville didn’t cry out when Fay released his wrist to do as they were instructed, but it was a close thing and he’d have to find a way to get some bruise balm on his wrist at the very least.
Fay flicked a quick healing spell at each of their thumbs then very politely but firmly herded everyone save Olgnar to the table, including the flummoxed group of Wyl’aelfs that Neville was fairly sure were now their personal Wyl’aelfs someway or another.
There was a flurry of Gobbledygook.
“It better not be all me,” Harry muttered and began filling his plate.
“Is there an issue?”
“No, merely some surprises.”
“Surprises?” Neville questioned.
Garnok had gotten up to look at what had Olgnar—well, Neville assumed cussing a blue streak in Gobbledygook. He growled and cursed as well.
“Lady Fay, you are Heiress of LeFay and DuLac as is known. But also Pendragon, Orkney, MacLiir and Vortigern. Lord Neville you are Heir of Longbottom and Gryffindor as is known. You are Heir of Gray, Hufflepuff, apCai, apDaffyd, Hardrada and inexplicably and disturbingly LeStrange.”
“LeStrade.” Neville whispered shakily. “My mother’s great-grandfather was LeStrade. I know that much.”
“Mmm. We are going to need to do a family tree for each House you are heirs of to sort this I believe. Mage Harrigan is Lord Presumptive of Peverell Potter, High Mage Dumnonii and Heir Black as expected. He is also Heir Ravenclaw, Heir Emrys, Lord Presumptive Slytherin and Heir Aurelius. Though kept separate by the vastness of them, Emrys and Aurelius are as intertwined and linked as LeFay and DuLac. Gaius Aurelius was the mentor-and great-great grandfather- of Myrddin Emrys. Myrddin wasn’t Gaius’ heir though. But in the time of Myrddin’s great-grandson the other line of inheritance had died out and Aurelius and Emrys Legacies were partially intertwined in Merlin Gaius Ambrosius but too strong to truly merge into one title and well.”
Neville shook his head slightly, that was simply too much. “Let’s just worry about the accounts we have managers in attendance for today and next week go over the rest, which will allow time for a thorough audit of the accounts and holdings and properly vetted candidates for managers for those accounts.”
“Wise course of action as to the best of my knowledge, Orkney, MacLiir, Pendragon, Vortigern, Gray, apCai, apDaffyd, and Hardrada have numerous once vassal houses and wells that have been returned to them entirely in property and vaults and to varying degrees magically with the dormant vassal wells attaching very closely to the dormant liege-wells.”
“Maybe I should apologize? I think you two just got sucked into the…”
“Harry Potter Chaos Effect?” Fay said with a shaky smile.
“Whatever. I’m cooking,” Harry insisted.
“You’re eating lunch first.”
When questioned why not just have one of the elves deliver meals Harry’s answer was elves could be interfered with—like Saylee unable to leave the manor and the rest of Fay’s elves unable to get within a certain distance of the house.
That set off another long round of snarling of Gobbledygook.
In the end, it was nothing more than a very very long afternoon and evening of list making interspersed with snarling Gobbledygook and a hurricane of cooking whirling around Harry in the kitchen at terrifying speeds. Healer Kadira’s scans took ages, and produced a stack of parchments about an inch high for both Neville and Fay with result readouts. The stack of parchments for Harry was nearly five inches high, though Neville, Fay and Harry seemed to be the only ones not surprised by that.
Neville had to admit to be fair, he “helped”, at least listened and tried to think of questions, Fay was left to be the one to sort out what the Goblins would do with the parchment stacks the Healer’s scan would have and what auditing would be done on accounts and where the bloody hell they even wanted to begin. She had the most clue of anything, the one actually taught anything, albeit by the portrait of a man who died a hundred fifty or so years ago she at least had a clue. Mostly his help was sitting tight to her side and holding her hand while Harry wore himself and his magic out with his crazed obsession to make sure they had food. It was determined that Harry at the very least would not be returning to his relatives, Cawthyn insisted that Dumbledore would be sufficiently distracted, Casworan would join them on the train, disillusion Harry in a muggle toilet stall and then portkey them to the steps of Gringotts. Gringotts would be expecting a disillusioned wizard and Wyl’aelf, security would let them pass.
Harry called out the address when asked, a team of cursebreakers and warders would investigate the area surrounding his relatives house overnight. Likewise a team of warders and cursebreakers would at least explore the outside of the wards at Lake Keep, though it was doubtful anyone would actually be able to get in to Lake Keep if even rightfully belonging there house elves were being barred from the house, not even a healer for Auntie Elizabeth. Neville’s frown at that brought the rebuke surely there were nutrition potions and calming and pain potions that would keep her comfortable and not somehow further injuring herself what time she had left. He hadn’t thought of that, rather mentally kicked himself for not thinking of that.
The biggest thing as far as Neville was concerned—and he knew Fay and Harry agreed—was the betrothal contract which brought three more Goblins, one important the Matriarch of the Jagged Flint Clan of the Jagged Flint Horde, Dull Rusty Blade, and her two honor guards. A young goblin Memnor arrived shortly after getting a baleful look and set down as scribe.
Their betrothal contract was rewritten with a few more protections for Fay, as Neville would be able to claim Last of Line rights and emancipate himself at thirteen for any of the other inheritances he had beyond Longbottom. While she was last of line several times over, Fay could not claim such until she was fifteen. While the original intent had been to protect heiresses, without the minimal age for marriage consummation set for fifteen as well, it effectively made an heiress over the age of eleven free game for whoever could get control of her, the good intentions forced to a compromise that made it worse.
Dull Rusty Blade was the one that insisted all the modern legal options were laid out for consideration, all were vetoed with prejudice by both Neville and Harry. They settled on some of the most ancient and unused rites there were with no primacy between the three of them. Three equals, as they’d attempted to intend in their contract and their choice of binding rite. Legalities took a bit of reworking
Harry snapped and huffed. The Dumnonii title, even if it wasn’t one the ministry recognized was some eight thousand years old, easily the oldest of the titles they seemed to have had foisted upon them. As oldest title, he would have primacy. Harry argued more and things got to be bloody scary the way the flew around the kitchen area.
Neville sighed. “What’s the oldest of my titles?”
Dull Rusty Blade scowled. “apCai or apDaffyd.”
“Leave a blank for the primacy if you can and we’ll fill it in after we work this out. If the Ministry doesn’t recognize the Dumnonii Well as valid then primacy and guardianship of Fay could easily be declared invalid and they’ll try something. Still might go back to you having to take primacy and guardianship of Fay, Harry, you’re the one that can claim emancipation and last of line with your natal house not just a slew of ancient dormant houses through a line of squibs that returned to magic.”
“That puts too much attention on Fay—”
“It won’t be any more attention than we’ll get just for doing this with you being you and our houses being known.” Fay argued. “I’m the one that has to live with the consequences the most of this with primacy at least for the next two years. I’ll agree the Dumnonii claim, while the most valid is the most likely to get the ministry trying to pull something and the most opening for them to since the Dumnonii claim isn’t protected by the current Wizengamot structure. Grandfathered untouchable being so much older but those idiots won’t recognize that. Best for all of us if Peverell-Potter takes primacy and we register all this with the ICW in person while copies are delivered to the ministry.”
“I—”Harry looked ready to either break down and cry or fly off into a meltdown of unimaginable proportions
“When the bloody hell have any of us ever gotten what we wanted?” Neville asked cutting off the argument Harry was bound to make.
Harry just sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault. I’ll hit you with tickling jinxes until you wet yourself and your ribs and stomach are sore for a week laughing if you apologize again!” Fay threatened. As threats went, that was kind of diabolical. Harmless enough, but diabolical all the same.
“We’ve got an evil wife, Neville.”
“Yep.” Neville grinned widely.
“You don’t need to leave it blank. Put Peverell-Potter as primacy, if that’s what Fay wants.”
“It’s what we all need, the more tightly following the traditions we keep, the more difficulty the ministry is going to have interfering. We need solicitors—a whole bloody office worth of them to keep on top of what the ministry is going to pull.”