Oathbound – Chapter 10-16

Status:
  • Rough Draft
  • Complete
Content Rating:
  • PG-13
Fandom(s):
Harry Potter

Relationship(s):
Harry Potter/Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy/Hermione Granger, OC/OC

Warning(s):
  • Character Bashing
  • Dark Themes
  • Death - Minor Character
  • Discussion - Child Abuse
  • No Beta
  • Violence - Canon-Level
Genre(s):
  • Alternate Universe
  • Het
  • Slash
Word Count:
29,503

Author's Note:
More 'shit I once posted on Facebook'. Harry had PTSD. Albus Dumbledore is a dark mother fucker and he has done some really not-okay shit. Part 4 - Goblin-on-goblin bondage (not the sexy kind) and non-graphic magical torture. Timeline? What timeline? Family Magic and consequences, because the aaaaaaaall those fuckers need to learn consequences.

Summary:
A stupidly self-indulgent Lord!Harry fic where Sirius escapes Azkaban before Harry's 6th year, because I felt like it.


Banner by Myan Mystic Moon

Chapter 10 – August 2, 1996

 

The seven of them are standing on a hill in a park in the middle of London, right around the corner from the Ministry of Magic.

To Muggles the area is hardly more than a bench or two with a bit of grass but to Magicals it’s a.. well, it’s more a small forest than a park, really. The Post Owls love it. Mostly because the lake in the middle always has fish just about leaping out of the water to be caught.

The important bits about it to Andromeda and her party is that it’s outdoors, they can cast magic there, and the park has several naturally occurring circles of stone, tree or flower to lend strength to their magical actions.

Healers One and Two, Mediwitch McPanic and the curse breaker from before are all in attendance but Unspeakable Rowan has been replaced by both Croaker and Hecate.

It’s exciting and nerve-wracking to have her craft on display to such distinguished if disguised individuals.

Convenient, too.

Hecate finishes drawing her rune circle and claps once, transporting the child formerly known and Dudley Dursely complete with his containment circle and everything in it from deep in the bowels of the Department of Mysteries to the center of the circle of stones Andromeda had chosen within the park.

All seven of them move to stand at the edge of the containment circle around the table holding the child.

She can feel the other six look to her as she maintains her focus on the horizon. When her magic prods her, she turns to them. “Let us begin.”

They move into positions much like the list time they dosed the child together only this time the curse breaker is in Rowan’s spot and Croaker and Hecate stand witness.

Andromeda Tonks taps the vial filled with purple potion and speaks the words that in theory should turn it gold.

She’s never actually done it before, so it’s rewarding to see it fade from a dark, thick purple substance to a transparent gold. The transition finishes just in time. As the first light of dawn after the new moon breaches the horizon it hits the newly altered potion causing the potion to glow like a gentle echo of the sun itself.

On her signal, the newly golden vial gets two firm shakes and the clear green vial gets the usual three. The two liquids combine in the first mixing bulb and turn into a misty white something that is too substantial to be a cloud but too intangible to be cotton.

Andy squirts two shots of the Activator into the second bulb and nods the Healer Two. He nods back and opens the release valve. The white substance all but sprints into the waiting gray cloud.

When the two have combined into a light pink cloud, Andy signals the curse breaker to release the mixture.

Breathlessly they watch it make its way into the child’s mask. Once the mixture touches the baby’s skin, a shudder runs through the tiny body.

The little boy takes his first breath in three days.

A second breath and the mumbles a bit, making a fist.

They need another round. “Again,” she orders.

In the minutes it takes to generate a second pink cloud, the glowing gold vial goes dark and turns the color of apple juice. Fuck.

Andy fights the urge to bite her lip and fidget as the cloud enters the mask and the child breathes it in.

One breath.

Two.

Another shudder and a cry breaks the peace of the morning.

Oh, thank Merlin. Andromeda sways but manages to keep her feet.

Perfect. They did it completely perfect.

Croaker and Hecate step forward and cast several diagnostics on the child.

Once the two Unspeakables are satisfied and step back, the procedure’s participants take down the potions and all of the paraphernalia. All the tubing is shoved into the mixing bulbs and then the bulbs are magically sealed. The potions are individually magically sealed. Finally, everything is placed back in the satchel they came out of and the satchel is magically sealed.

The curse breaker quickly changes the containment circle so that it doesn’t affect biological organisms and closes it down, sealing the table and potions satchel inside but leaving the baby seated on top of it all.

She’s about to pick up and comfort the baby when Croaker calls out a name that Andromeda has not heard in almost 20 years. She must have heard wrong. There is absolutely no way-

But sure enough, there she is. Andy’s middle sister fucking materializes from the tree line.

She looks so much like she used to. She’s not gotten any taller. Her hair is the same riot of curls it was at 16 but it’s longer now. Her eyes still hold the same wild light. For a moment Andy thinks there’s some pain in her sister’s gaze but she looks away before Andy can be sure.

At Croaker’s direction, Bellatrix walks right up to the table and touches the child. As soon as her hands are on him, the baby quiets and opens his eyes.

He looks up at Bella and grins, positively coos. When Bella sits him up so that she can wrap him in a rich blue cloth, he just claps and looks around eagerly, his face alight with curiosity.

He doesn’t even look related to the child that originally had laid out on the table. His prematurely balding mouse-brown hair is now Malfoy-pale blonde. His beady black eyes are now large and crystal blue. At his age, it’s hard to tell but Andy is certain that as he grows not even his face shape will be the same as Dudley Dursley’s was.

“This lad has an appointment with Healer Richards at Saint Mungo’s, Bella.” Croaker just bosses the second daughter of Black around. Like any of them have ever allowed such a thing. “Do get him cleaned and properly dressed before that.”

Bella just agrees with him, pulls the child firmly to her chest and rides a medical-grade portkey away. No good-bye for her little sister. Not a nod. Not a wave. Not even a glance. Just “Of course, Croaker,” and gone.

Um, no.

Hurt and furious, Andy approaches Croaker. “Does your caretaker have experience with children that age?”

It comes out quick and scornful because she knows – she knows now that her sister has experience in this area. Why else would Croaker give Bella such a task? Why would Croaker call Bella by a last name that is absolutely not Black? Her sister got married and had children without letting them know.

“Other than caring for her younger sister, you mean?” Andromeda flinches at his frosty tone. “I believe she has experience with a few boy-children but it would be inappropriate for me to discuss the details of my employee’s private life.”

Oh, Merlin. Was Bella pregnant when she ran away? Is that why she ran? Did she go through all that alone? Great, good Agrippa. Please say it isn’t so.

“I,” Andy has to clear her throat in order to speak. “I would like to assist her.”

“Very well.” Croaker finally says after several minutes of quiet examination. “If you would honestly like to help her and care for the boy, present yourself to the DoM Research Department’s Secretary. He can put you in contact Bellatrix. The rest will be up to her.”

-*-

The pink of sunrise is just starting to paint its way across the sky when he, Neville and Alastor Moody land outside Hogwarts’ gates.

Harry lands on his ass, nauseous and clammy. It’s humiliating! The Portkey didn’t affect him this badly last time. To make things worse, Alastor and Neville land on their feet but Nev has to kneel in the bushes for a few moments so it kind of takes the edge off.

Whatever, he’s done with portkeys. Maybe it’s because of the distance they traveled but even Floo isn’t this unsettling.

When he and Nev have both pulled themselves together, the three of them approach the right-hand gate post. At chest height for a grown man or head height for Harry, there is a think black and bronze plaque the reads:

‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’

‘Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus’

Just as his grandfather’s journal had described.

Reaffirming his conviction to follow the instructions of a dead man he’s never met, Harry pulls his wand and waits. Without and conscious decision to do so, he starts tapping out a pattern on the corners of the sign.

Top-right, bottom-left, top-left, bottom-left, bottom-right, top-right.

Moody’s hands on his shoulders pull Harry a few steps back as a loud, slow grinding fills the air and the plaque starts rotating away, using the top-right corner like a hinge. The sign-lid-door thing only stops moving when it’s hanging in mid-air, perpendicular to and above its original position. It’s absence reveals a large box-like hollow inside the stone post.

When the three of them step forward to investigate it, a light slowly brightens into existence, lighting up a stone from underneath. It’s the only thing in the cubby hole and it is a perfect four by four by four-inch cube of rose quartz so pale that it looks white.

According to Charlus Potter’s journal, it’s a keystone, one of three lesser stones that Harry can use to… bend the castle’s wards to his will, the will of Potter.

Using his wand he cuts his palm and grasps the stone firmly, allowing his blood to flow over it. The stone warms under his hand until it’s slightly above the temperature of his body. That’s when he speaks. “I am Hadrian Charlus Potter Lord of Gryffindor, Lord of Slytherin, and Lord of Pendragon. I claim these lands for myself and my Family. Know my will: on this land we will protect creations of Lady Magic so that they will never be lost, within these walls we will shelter those loyal to Lady Magic so that they will grow strong, through this School we will guide Lady Magic’s chosen humanity into adulthood so that they may know Her and that She may prosper.

“This is the duty and the privilege of the House of Potter.

“This is the duty and the privilege of the Founders.

“This is the duty and the privilege of the House of Pendragon. In the name of Magic, so mote it be.”

“So mote it be,” Neville and Moody echo back to him as a clap of magic breaks the morning stillness, startling birds into the air all around them.

In a wash of magic, the cracked, gray stone fence posts transform into solid pillars of blindingly white stone and the creaking black wrought-iron gives way to bars of rune-worked gold. The winged boars actually shake off decades of neglect to reveal the silver and mithril statues described in his grandfather’s journal.

When Harry lifts his hand from the stone, it is healed without a scar or even a single residual mark. There is no trace of blood left on the stone or in its chamber and the stone itself is now a rich pink color, practically pulsing with life.

He gestures Neville forward. His husband cuts his hand with his own wand and holds the wound above the stone, allowing his blood to drip on the stone.

“Recognize the blood of my spouse, Neville Xavier Longbottomm the Lord of Longbottom,” Harry commands. “From this moment forward heed his will as my own and guard all touched by his Family Magic.”

As with Harry, Neville’s hand is completely healed by the time he moves it out of the stone’s tiny chamber.

Next, Alastor steps forward, cuts his hand and lets his blood drip onto the stone.

“Recognize the blood of my armsman, Alastor Alfgard Moody-Bones. Yield to him and aid him in his duties as Guardian of these lands.”

Moody removes his hand and yet another hand is healed by magic.

The keystone now looks more like a clouded ruby than a piece of rose quartz as it sits in its little cubby, pulsing magic to the beat of Harry’s heart.

Once again taking up his wand, Harry taps twice on the top-right corner-hinge and the plaque begins the slow grind back into place. It locks into its original position with an audible click and the school’s gates open invitingly.

The three of them begin the long trudge up to the castle, taking note of several new things.

First of all, there is quite obviously a new building visible on the grounds. Also, both the Lake and the Forest have grown in size. They don’t have the perspective to be able to tell but Harry would guess they must have at least doubled. After all, he would have kept at least as much land for his family’s use as he would give the school, surely his ancestors thought the same?

The doors to the Entrance Hall open of their own accord as the trio approaches and they make their way into the Great Hall. They settle in at the Gryffindor table, Neville and Harry on one side, Alastor on the other.

“Zabi,” Harry calls for the rainbow haired elf and she immediately pops into place, standing on the bench beside him.

“Master Harry,” she answers with a bit of a pout.

The previous evening, Harry had instructed Crow to get started on cleaning the Family sections of Potter Keep. The elf had been so excited to receive such a large task from his lord that Harry hadn’t had the heart to reign him in other than reminding him to leave at least one elf on duty with the DMLE and one in the school’s kitchens. The head elf’s daughters had drawn these duties and they were both quite put out about it.

“We would appreciate some breakfast, Zabi.” The little elf snaps and a full school term breakfast appears on the table. “Get comfortable, eat, tell me how the restoration is going.”

One of the really cool things about house elf magic is that they are uniquely in tune with the minds of their immediate blood relations. It’s not quite a hive mind but it makes either of his daughters are just as capable as reporting on anything Crow is doing as he is. It’s actually one of the reasons they were drawn for ‘boring duty.’

Zabi conjures herself a booster chair and fills a saucer with strawberries and bacon.

“Crow be frantic. He has everyone but me,” There’s that disproving little pout again. “And Azure cleaning Family areas. The Family Library and the Lord’s Library be closed up proper. Tuk and Tav be lifting preservation spells and airing them out.

“The personal quarters not well closed. Cats be in the linens, Master Harry. They run off the mices but they shred furniture and no want to know what they do to the towels. All towels, curtains and bed sheets being replaced.

“The greenhouses be a mess and the stables destroyed. No one knows where the horses gone. Potterses bred prize Aethonan and Granian for two hundred years! And they all gone!”

“Wow,” Harry hadn’t known that. Maybe there will be some clue in his great grandfather’s journal?

“It be a disaster,” Zabi nods cheerfully. “It be so much funtimes, even if I don’t get to play.”

“You’re keeping everyone fed and watered, though, right?”

She nods again. “And making old one take breaks. We on schedule for Mater Suite and four for nini tonight. Missy be moving Masters’ things?” Her tone is wistful and her sigh dramatically put upon.

“There is plenty of work for everyone.” He reminds her. “Play nice and I’ll have Crow switch you out with someone tomorrow.”

“Yes, Master Harry,” She pops away as Andromeda Tonks and Minerva McGonagall enter the hall.

The two professors forgo using the High Table and take seats on either side of Alastor, opposite Neville and Zabi.

The elf pops back into place with personalized breakfast plates and coffee for both women.

Harry is thoroughly relieved when his Head of House asks them about their summer assignments and completely avoids any of the numerous and possibly awkward conversational topics currently available to the group.

They get into yet another lively discussion about Tonks’s assigned Potion essays. McGonagall is more than a little shocked to realized they are Hermione, Harry and even Neville’s favorite summer assignment for the year.

Harry, Neville and Alastor are in the process of excusing themselves to go tour the Family sections of the castle before they have to head off to the Ministry when Augusta and Gaia sweep into the Hall and tap their fellow women for private conversations.

Harry supposes he should feel a little guilty with how quickly he gets the other two males moving just so that he can avoid the probably very emotional conversation the women are about to have but he really can’t. Tonks and McGonagall are aware that changes are coming and Gaia and Madame Longbottom agreed to be the bearers of bad news of their own free will.

Harry frowns even as Zabi leads them up the strangely still Grand Staircase. Okay, so maybe they aren’t doing it of their own free will but they are doing it voluntarily. They accepted employment from him and they are getting paid, so that counts for something. Right?

-*-

Formal Robes are surprisingly comfortable and much more varied than modern Dress Robes.

Thankfully the Wizengamot doesn’t have any sort of uniform so Harry can get away with borrowing from Neville. A shopping trip right now would be just too much but tailoring charms? Totally doable.. by the house elves.

Currently, Harry and Neville are sitting in the Waiting Box in the shadow of the Chief Warlock’s bench as the Wizengamot Secretary calls the assembly to order.

The Secretary, Pius Prince, is an officious little man that looks like an older version of Professor Snape but with blue eyes and round belly. “Let the record show that the Date is August the Second of the year 1996 by the common calendar. The time is currently nine o’clock in the morning and the Wizengamot of Avalon in now in order.

“Today we have gathered in a special session to witness the trial of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore for his crimes against Harry Potter.

“First order of business is that of membership and recognizing recently claimed lordships that are eligible for membership in this council.

“Lord Neville Longbottom of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom has claimed his title. The Wizengamot thanks Lady Augusta Longbottom for her service and bids Lord Longbottom to take up his seats.”

Neville stands and walks down the aisle to the wood-paneled that has the Longbottom crest glowing in front of it like a green and gold neon sign made of magic. Inside the box are five chairs, symbolizing Nevilles five votes. The center one, the one currently occupied by Augusta, is taller and of finer quality than the other four.

Augusta stands when Neville enters his family box. He bows to her. She curtsies to him and moves one chair to the right of her original position. They both regain their seats in the new configuration.

“Lord Hadrian Potter of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter has claimed his title. Ministry officials Percy Weasley, Amos Diggory, Delores Umbridge, Dedalus Diggle, Cornelius Fudge, Elphias Doge and Griselda Marchbanks are dismissed from the Wizengamot and thanked for their service.”

The men and older woman are magically whisked away and up into the bench seats of the observation level. The younger woman that looks rather like a toad that painted itself in Pepto-Bismol is moved into the waiting box above and behind Harry.

Various boxes juggle themselves until there is room and a large seven-seat box is formed to the left of the Longbottom Box. The Potter Crest flickers to life in front of it and the Secretary bids Harry to take his seats.

As Harry moves to sit in his new family box, he notices Lord Lucius Malfoy sitting as pretty and foul as ever in a box across the room from his new territory. He is in a box with seven seats holding his son, his wife and four truly ugly cronies. There is the expected ivory and silver crest for the House of Malfoy shining in front of them but there is also the black and gold crest of the House of Black.

Oh hell no.

Harry catches Draco’s eye. The other boy flicks his eyes towards his father then back to Harry, grins wickedly and raises both of his eyebrows in a silent dare.

“Lord Potter?” The Secretary sounds confused.

Probably because Harry is still standing.

“I apologize, Mr. Secretary, but I would like to remind this body that while my House is Ancient and Noble due to the services it rendered to Avalon since even before Camelot, my family is also the heir to Godric Gryffindor through the marriage of his heir Grace Gryffindor to the Lord Antonius Peverell. As such, I am due three Founders Seats.”

The Secretary does his duty by checking a parchment on his desk before agreeing. “Very well, Lord Potter. The Wizengamot recognizes the right of Lord Hadrian Potter to the seats of Godric Gryffindor.” He thanks two Lords for their service and dismisses them.

As before, the magic of the Wizengamot Chamber pulls the dismissed unceremoniously up to the audience level. Three more seats pop into Harry’s box and the Gryffindor Crest flickers to life beside the Potter Crest.

Secretary Prince opens his mouth to move on but stops and frowns because Harry is still standing.

“Yes, Lord Potter?”

“The Wizengamot should have received notice from Gringott’s alerting them that I have taken the Lordship of Slytherin through Right of Conquest. This makes the seats of Salazaar Slytherin rightfully mine.”

The beaky little man checks the parchments in front of him and looks through them rather desperately. He scrambles around a bit until he finally has to resort to a summoning charm to locate the Bank’s missive. Once he locates it, he reads through it twice before acknowledging Harry’s right. He dismisses another two lords and invites one of the lords dismissed during the previous round back down. Three more seats appear in Harry’s box and the silver and green Slytherin Crest joins the two red and gold ones along the front panel of the box.

This time the Secretary of the Wizengamot doesn’t bother trying to move things along, he just waits for Harry to speak again with raised eyebrows.

“Thanks to the wonderful work of the Daily Prophet, everyone should know by now that Sirius Black is the heir to the House of Black and the only true and rightful holder of the Black Family’s Wizengamot seats. Since he has not yet been able to join us, I as his heir wish to claim my godfather’s seats until such time as he can take up the mantle for himself.”

Secretary Prince just nods, not bothering to check any papers this time. He thanks Malfoy for his work as the Black proxy and transfers all five Black seats to Harry.

The Malfoy box shrinks as the Black crest flickers to life between the Potter and Gryffindor crests.

Lady Malfoy and all four henchmen are moved to the observation area, leaving lord and heir alone in their much smaller space.

Finally, Harry sits. Alone. In a box with 18 seats.

A crackling-warm bit of magic touches Harry’s mind. He tries to tell it no and push it away but it makes itself at home despite his efforts. As it settles Harry realizes that it is the magic of the Wizengamot looking for who he wants to be seating in his box and he flushes, feeling a little silly.

He relaxes as several pops sound, depositing Hermione on his right and Alastor on his left with both IMEA reps and all four Heads of House arranged around them.

Harry risks another glance at the Malfoy box. Lucius is stony faced but Harry can feel the fury boiling beneath the placid mask. Draco’s face is equally blank but he is overrun with vicious glee at his father’s embarrassment.

With a total of 21 seats per side, Harry’s 18-seat box has taken over almost his side. Only Lord Weasley with his single seat and Lord Bones and Susan in their two-seat box remain in his vicinity.

“Second order of business, the trial of Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore. The Wizengamot calls Lord-Justice Marcus Crane to preside and do his duty to Magic, Justice, and Avalon.”

Lord Crane, already dressed in his Justices’ robes, leaves his family box and ascends to the Chief Warlock’s bench behind and above the Secretary.

In cases like this one, where the Chief Warlock (or Witch!) is the accused the Wizengamot’s legislative and judicial powers are temporarily suspended until the Chief Warlock has been investigated, charged and tried.

What all that means is that Justice Crane takes the Chair without having to take any of the vows typically associated with the usual chair-holder’s duties.

“Bring forth the accused,” Crane commands.

Two guards, one hooded and cloaked in a gray so dark it almost looks black and the other in the red and black formal robes of an auror walk Dumbledore to one of the tables that appeared in the center of the room when Crane took the bench. They settle Dumbledore at the second chair of the table on the far side from Harry.

Dumbledore looks strange… and very old. He’s dressed in a simple white robe. He has no outer robe so it rather looks like they just pulled him out of bed without letting him dress. He has none of his usual jewelry which helps the illusion.

He has glasses but they are not his usual glittering, half-moon pair. These glasses are simpler, utilitarian.

In his wrists and ankles are cuffs made of some glassy black rock, obsidian maybe? They don’t seem to have any seams or latches and just merge almost beautifully into the dull gray iron chains that connect wrist to wrist, ankle to ankle and upper chain to lower chain.

“Who stands for the accused?”

“I do,” a man stands from the waiting box. He has a lovely golden colored mane but rather plain brown eyes. “I, Gregorius Doge, stand to defend the accused.”

Crane acknowledges the man and he takes the first chair at Dumbledore’s table.

“Who accuses this man of crimes against the realm and a peer?”

“We do.” Harry knows, because he was told, that the man speaking is Xerxes Zabini uncle of Lord Dorian and a world-class prosecutor. He only took the position of Chief Prosecutor for the Ministry within the last month so Harry’s pretty confident that they can rely on him to serve Justice rather than Dumbledore but Xerxes is allowing Gaia to take his second chair specifically for Harry’s peace of mind.

“For the record and all who hear, state the Defendant’s accusations.”

“The Defendant is being accused of: Kidnapping; Custodial Interference; Obstruction of Justice; Unlawful Detainment; Criminal Neglect and Abandonment; Extortion; Fraud; Embezzlement; Magical, Mental, and Emotional torture of two Peers; and the Attempted Line Damage of two Ancient and Noble Houses.”

This entire Wizengamot and Audience are silent save several restless shifters. The depth of the Headmaster’s crimes are horrific and that’s not even all of them.

Harry had had treason struck from the laundry list of Dumbledore’s crimes for a number of reasons.

First, it would be an automatic death sentence when Dumbledore is convicted and the last thing they need is for some wack-ass to make the old goat into a martyr.

Second, because Harry is still trying to wrap his head around this whole being a king thing.

Third, he’s keeping his status as Lord Pendragon a secret for now. He would much rather ambush these old fuckers with it later and isn’t interested in any of them trying to influence him at this time.

There is also some major crime against Magic that Dumbledore has perpetrated but Alastor and Lord Bones refuse to talk about it until it can be proven. They have promised him all the details once everything is sorted and whatever private trial they’ve arranged is complete, so he’s content to wait.

So far as this trial is concerned, Harry has heard the evidence and trusts Gaia’s opinion that the case is a slam dunk, so while it’s fun to watch Gaia and Xerxes work the Court from the Judge all the way up to the audience, he’s mostly here to learn about his fellow lords.

What he finds surprises him. Now that all the Ministry officials have been dismissed from the court’s service, there are no females in the primary chair of any of the boxes. There are several that are seated at their Lord’s right hand. One or two of them are obviously telling their elderly Lord what is happening on the floor below.

It’s confusing to Harry, why have a seeing-eye-daughter? Why not just pass the duty on to her and stay at home in comfort?

He huffs at himself. Either sexism or their Family Charter -typically written by sexists- doesn’t allow for female Lords, obviously.

On a more individual basis, Lucius Malfoy himself is a nasty, conflicted mass of darkness and anger but a number of the so-called ‘Dark’ or rather Slytherin Families present are overwhelmingly positive… Well, okay, maybe not overwhelmingly positive but they are distinctly not-evil at least.

The elderly Lord Greengrass cares for his seeing-eye-daughter with a fierce and protective love the shines from his blind eyes. He answers any of her questions easily and takes the time to make sure she understands. It’s beautiful and Harry rather glad just to see such a relationship exists.

Lord Warrington is just watching out for his family. He’s a little morally dubious but then so is Harry, so it’s not like he can throw stones.

Lord Zabini has a powerful moral compass that he won’t compromise on but he enjoys being sneaky and playing word games. He’s definitely a fan of letting you think he’s saying one thing when, if you take a moment to analyze, you realize he never said what he’s allowed you to assume and he’s enjoying your confusion immensely.

They aren’t nice people surely but they aren’t actually dark and they are not in any way cruel. Just confident, driven and unafraid of unconventional tactics.

They are dismissed for a lunch break.

When they return, Harry starts evaluating the audience that he can see without turning around or otherwise doing anything to call attention to himself.

He’s only evaluated the dynamics in two families when his attention is caught by the court proceedings. Xerxes Zabini has called the Pink Toad to the stand and she’s settling in.

“Identify yourself for the record.” The bailiff instructs.

“I am Delores Jane Umbridge. Currently, I am the Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic, formerly of the Child Welfare Office, Orphan Department.”

She’s shifty as fuck. No, that’s not accurate. She’s loyal beyond all reason both to her prejudices and her Person so she can’t be described as ‘shifty’. She’s very dedicated and driven but it’s to a such an extreme degree that it would be detrimental to whatever cause she’s claimed.

Harry doesn’t know who it is that she’s put on a pedestal and dedicated herself to but he’d guess it’s Fudge considering how she simpered when she said ‘Minister for Magic.’ The poor bastard.

“Please describe your duties in the Child Welfare Office for the court.”

“Specifically, I worked in the Orphan Department. There we ensure the care of magical orphans though several means: periodic house visits, school checks, interviews with the child and by monitoring accidental magic outbursts for trends.”

“Were these visits completed in the case of Harry Potter?”

“No, they were not.”

“Why not?”

“My requests were blocked by Albus Dumbledore. He said it would be too dangerous to reveal the boy’s location and that he was certain the boy was fine. When I tried to go around him through the Wizengamot, he kept me from getting an appointment on their calendar.”

“You tried to take it to the Wizengamot.” Zabini dramatically leans up against the prosecution’s table like it’s all just too much for him. “What could cause you that level of concern? To go around a child’s own guardian.”

“As a young child, Harry Potter’s accidental magic was clearly defensive in nature. After my third letter begging Dumbledore to intervene even if he wouldn’t give the CWO access, he owled me back telling me to mind my own business and to stop wasting his time with such things. That’s when I knew I had to do something before the boy was murdered.”

“Earlier we heard testimony from Arbella Figg that she monitored the situation in the Dursley home and found it satisfactory. What do you say to that?”

“I would say she can’t be sure of that because, by her own admission, she never saw the inside of the Dursely Home. She never actually saw Harry’s living conditions. Did he have his own safe space? Was there ever anything of Harry’s or his parents’ present in the home? Was he ever told anything about who he really is?

“I would point out the discrepancies she saw in the Dursleys’ son and Potter himself. Why did it not bother her that only one of them ever did any chores? Even if she doesn’t know anything about ‘what’s fashionable for boys these days,’ why did she never note the difference in quality and age of clothing between the boys?

“But what bothers me most is the casual way she mentions making sure Harry didn’t enjoy his visits with her so that the Durselys would let him come back. It tells me that they would deny him something that benefited them like free, voluntary child care for no other reason than because he enjoyed it. It tells me that she accepted and internalized their treatment of him until she couldn’t see it as the emotional abuse that it is.”

-*-

They are taking a dinner break when a House Elf pops in with a note. It’s from Rene Lyons, the man he plans on hiring as his Student Transition Coordinator, letting Harry know that he has heard on the wireless that the trial has run over so he and his family have taken rooms at the Three Broomsticks and would Harry like to meet for breakfast instead?

Harry writes him back saying that lunch would probably be better considering how long the trial is likely to take but that he will arrange for his house elves to give Rene and family tours of the school so that they can be better prepared to make decisions later.

-*-

It’s just after dinner when Zabini asks that the IMEA be allowed to give their report on Hogwarts because it speaks to motive.

All three lawyers and the Judge argue about it for a bit but in the end, they decide that they will put Isabelle Chevalier and Lee Scoresby on the stand. They will be questioned regarding their findings at the school but not allowed to just give a report. And only because of the undeniable connection that makes maintaining guardianship of Harry the same as maintaining guardianship of Hogwarts.

They don’t dig deeply into the lowering of scholastic standards or the extinction of several mandatory subjects. They do touch on the fact that Hogwarts is supposed to be free but has charged tuition for almost 50 years -money that has not gone into the Hogwarts accounts- and they really pitch a fit about the fact that there was an incredibly Dark and illegal Object sitting pride of the place on the Headmaster’s desk and the fact that half of his so-called inventions were actually stolen out of the Potter-Hogwarts vaults.

Several of the lords in the audience start mumbling about needing to step in and ‘help’ the school.

Harry eyes them and adds yet another thing to his list.

-*-

Finally, it’s time. Thank god.

All the witnesses have been called. Closing arguments are done. Judge Crane is going through the seated lords and taking their opinions before rendering his decision.

When it’s his turn, Harry stands, “I know there are people in this room, both in this body and in the audience above, that feel that Albus Dumbledore is not responsible for his actions. From their own comments, several people have shown that they feel he was overwhelmed. They feel that we asked too much of him and that it only makes sense that he would drop the ball somewhere. That something would suffer while he held our world together.

“I don’t agree with these people.

“For me, the bottom line is that Albus Dumbledore chose to commit his crimes.

“Albus Dumbledore chose to send an innocent man to prison for no other reason than to protect his own power base.

“Albus Dumbledore chose to illegally make himself my guardian. He chose to pay no attention whatsoever to the situation he left me in, probably hoping that they would kill me and that he could bully this body into giving him my inheritance.

“Albus Dumbledore chose every violation of the Hogwarts Charter that he paid the Board of Governors for. He chose to short change the education of every one of your children and he did so while lining his own pockets.

“These are not the actions of an overwhelmed, old man.

“These are choices made by a corrupt man. A selfish man. A self-important man. A man that does not believe in the system he was supposed to lead, a system that he was supposed to embody.

“I do agree that Albus Dumbledore is only human and that as humans, we mess up. I am thoroughly grateful he did mess up otherwise, we wouldn’t be here today. Specifically, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Harry pauses to let that sink in.

“I want Albus Dumbledore to spend the rest of his days the same way I spent the first of mine. Oh, I don’t want him beaten daily or constantly verbally abused. I want him alone with no contact and no support from anyone. I want him without magic and without any way to get magic. I want him to have to take care of himself in ways he’s never had to before -to have to cook and clean and deal with the mess of his own daily living.

“That is the choice I would make to counter all the choices he has made for me.”

Harry starts to sit down before thinking better of it and turning to face the lords across from him more fully. He spreads and strengthens his stance, his chin comes up stubbornly.

“I would also like to take a moment to remind all the lords and parents present that the changes I make to my school are mine and mine alone to decide. If any of you have a problem with how I handle my property or the affairs of my House, be sure to owl Headmistress Andromeda Tonks before August the 15th so that she may send your children’s academic record to the new school of your choice.”

Harry gives them a tight-lipped nod and sits.

After several moments of silence, Justice Crane moves on, “Thank you, Lord Potter.”

“Lord Bones?” is the last lord to be called.

Algernon Bones doesn’t even stand, he just gestures with two fingers that his opinion goes with Harry.

“The Court would like to thank you all for your attention and efforts today. Before I render my decision, I want to take a moment to point out something that will make it clear to everyone why this verdict is the easiest that I have ever had to make.

“It has to do with oaths. Specifically, the oaths that Albus Dumbledore had to have taken to hold the positions he has in our society.

“According to this document,” Marcus Crane holds up the bamboo tube holding the copy of the Hogwarts Charter given to the DMLE for evidence. “The Headmaster of Hogwarts must take an oath to guide and protect the school and to protect Potter Keep. This oath quite specifically makes the Headmaster a magical villein to the House of Potter.

“Some of you might prefer the term ‘vassal’ but that would be inaccurate. A vassal would have a great deal more self-determination than the oaths of the Headmaster allow. These oaths force the Headmaster to put first the House of Potter and then the School before any other concerns. Even their own family. For as long as they are Headmaster.

“We know Dumbledore took this full and complete oath because, without it, he would never gain access to the Headmaster’s office.

“Now, not long after he took that oath, Albus Dumbledore took over as Chief Warlock of Avalon’s Wizengamot. I’ve looked into it and in order to have access to the magic of the Wizengamot -again, something we know he had because we have all seen it- Dumbledore had to take oaths to treat every lordship and family in Avalon equally and to put Avalon before all other concerns.

“On to his third position, the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. As Supreme Mugwump, he was oath-bound to regard all magical nations equally and to put Lady Magic before all other concerns.

“Obviously, all of these oaths are contradictory. One cannot treat all families equal if House of Potter is their primary concern. One can’t put Lady Magic first if Avalon is their primary concern. This means that as soon as he acted in the service of one oath, forsaking the others, Albus Dumbledore became an oath breaker and broke his own magic.

“Of course, the more disturbing issue is that Dumbledore kept using magic after he broke his own core which leads us to the conclusion that he must have stolen the magic of another. Possibly many others.

“Any of us that lived through Voldemort’s Blood War can probably name at least three methods for such a thing to be done. We also know that every single one of these methods leads to the death -either through ritual murder or eventual suicide-  of the person being stolen from and the theft must be perpetrated by a person with magic, for a person with magic.

“Meaning, Albus Dumbledore intentionally sent himself down the road we find ourselves on now.

“Meaning, he intended to gather all the political and social power he could, even knowing it would cost him his magic.

“Meaning, he planned, in advance, to murder and steal the magic of others to take more power than one man could responsibly hold.

“I have absolutely no problem ordering the death of such a man. I don’t have to think twice about it and I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I know there are men in this chamber that would line up to help me if we decided to enact this sentence by hand. But Lord Potter, as Dumbledore’s first and most recognizable victim, has proven himself to be kinder than all of us. Perhaps wiser as well.

“Therefore, I, Justice Marcus Aurelius Crane, hereby sentence Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore to house arrest for the rest of his natural life. There will be no chance for parole. He will receive no contact and no assistance from the world outside of his Ministry-provided premises.”

“This is the will of the Court.” Crane bangs the gavel three times. “Court is adjourned.”

 

 

Chapter 11 – August 3, 1996

 

Harry wakes to the sound of pages slowly being turned and smiles to himself.

Ever since they married, he and Neville found that they couldn’t really sleep separately. It was a weird thing to suddenly have to get used to but it was also soothing to have another body with him in bed.

Bonus that it’s the rather fit body of someone he trusts as much as Neville.

They had also instigated an unspoken rule about getting out of bed every day together. No matter which of them woke first, they wouldn’t leave the bed for the day until the other was awake.

Though, honestly, Neville woke up first more often than not so maybe it was just some ingrained courtesy the other boy picked up somewhere? Whatever. Harry’s not going to complain about it.

Neville frowns in the most adorable way when he reads. He probably needs reading glasses. Have magicals never heard of reading glasses?

No, of course they have. Both he and Bumbledore wear them.

Maybe it’s just a taboo? A stubborn refusal to use muggle science or something? Harry snorts to himself.

“We’ll good morning.” Neville smiles down at him as Harry pulls on his glasses. “How are you feeling?”

“Good, but I’m pretty done on people after yesterday. Think we can have breakfast alone?”

“Here or in the Library?” Lord Longbottom asks. “Missy said the Lord’s Library is ready for use.”

Harry grins at his husband. It’s not normal etiquette but they’d gotten into the habit of taking all their meals other than dinner in the Longbottom Library. It’s the height of indulgence as far as Harry is concerned and the eager assistance of House Elves makes it a safe practice for the books.

“The Library,” is Harry’s obvious choice.

Neville returns Harry’s grin and tenses playfully like he’s about to race off.

Harry does it right back. He counts to three in his head and they are both scrambling off the bed in opposite directions, racing for their closets.

Minutes later they are racing down the halls laughing. Harry is still holding both his belt and tie for the day in one hand. Neville has a shoe in each hand and is sliding around in his dress socks.

Harry makes it to the Library first, which is fortunate because he feels the sizzle of the ward over the door as he passes through it and manages to stop Neville before he bounces off of it.

They two of them poke at it a bit until they realize it’s there to ensure the Lord AKA Harry’s privacy and he just has to verbally invite his guests inside.

“Neville, please enter and be welcome in my Library.”

Neville enters and then turns and crosses the threshold a few times just to test it.

“Now uninvite me.” Neville prods.

“You are no longer welcome in my library.” Nothing happens.

“Neville, you are no longer welcome in my library.” The ward moves forward, separates Harry and Neville with a thick sheet of orange magic,  and slowly slides Neville right out the door.

“Cool!” The two boys declare together.

“I wonder if it would eject people more,” Neville hesitates. “Forcefully, if you were cross with them when you revoked the invitation.”

“It would,” a high pitch voice answers from somewhere around Harry’s knee. Tuk, the Potter elf assigned to this library is standing in the shadow of his master wearing a smart white button-up shirt and pants of a blue and gold brocade that might actually be upholstery.

“This be Lord’s private place.” The elf explains. “Ward anchored in Lord’s Ring. Master Harry don’t have to be in the castle to kick someone out of his library.”

“Or to let them in?” Harry asks.

The elf tilts his head and thinks about it for a moment then nods. “Or in.”

“Hermione Potter is welcome in my library.” He says immediately because baring his sister from any library anywhere for any reason is an absolutely bad idea. She’ll go away if asked but unilaterally keeping her out? No temporary physical privacy is worth the emotional pain that would bring.

“Oh, so it Alastor Moody.”

The library is a large airy room. There is actually space that could be made into a second, separate floor that’s just open space filled with finely detailed white and gold plasterwork and clear, arch-topped windows.

There are two columns of freestanding shelves running down the length of the room on the primary floor. They are made out of a red-colored wood and black iron work and filled with rows upon rows of books and scrolls.

The room’s outer wall, on the right as they enter, is nothing but windows and the columns to support the arches for the level above. The inner wall, to the left, has portraits tastefully located between the shelves. Some of the portraits contain people, some contain magical creatures.

The hardwood floor is broken up with clean but worn looking area rugs. There’s an empty space that Harry figures must have been home to a rug the elves couldn’t save but there is no discoloration or dust on the floor to support this feeling.

There is a center aisle that leads straight from the entrance to a large dark wood desk and eventually white marble fireplace that Harry can see from the doorway.

The three of them make their way down the aisle toward the desk. Some of the shelves end a little before the others relative to the walkway allowing for the display of various objects without blocking the path. There are at least two suits of armor, one rack of swords and three large globes.

One of the globes is definitely a map of the Earth, much to Harry’s surprise. Another seems to be a star chart? He has no idea what the third one would be but it looks like it will be fun to figure it out.

Once they reach the desk they can see additional furniture arrangements on either side of it.

On the side with the window-wall is a sitting nook with two couches, four chairs and a collection of end- and coffee tables. None of which match each other or the rest of the room but look very comfortable.

On the side of the interior wall is an oval shaped, marble-topped table with a handful of unpadded wooden chairs around it.

The fireplace itself is large enough to put the entire desk and probably one of the couches into. Above the fireplace is a large portrait of a woman. She’s beautiful but she looks like she’s about to cry. She actually looks a lot like Andromeda Tonks but with warm brown eyes like Hermione used to have.

Her blue gown is a cut that Harry can’t identify but is positive must be ancient and sitting high on her forehead is a crown. It looks rather line an eagle with its wings outstretched and a large sapphire as its body.

She’s watching them avidly. Almost desperately. Her lips are clenched together in the tense white line of someone that knows they can’t speak but really wants to.

“I’m Lord Hadrian Potter.” Harry introduces himself, completely at a loss as to what else he can do. “This is my husband, Lord Neville Longbottom.”

“I am Lady Rowena Ravenclaw.” The woman says with a sigh, her shoulders relaxing dramatically. “And it is amazing to meet you. I have been alone a very long time.”

-*-

After breakfast, Harry and Neville go hunting for the ‘Room of Hidden Things.’

The Headmistress before Armando Dippet, the one before Dumbledore, in a fit of pique had ordered all of Lady Ravenclaw’s portraits, including her Legacy Portrait, be stored in the Room after the Lady denied the Headmistress access to her Legacy.

She seemingly forgot what she did and never ordered the portraits’ release, causing both the lack of a Lady Ravenclaw in modern Avalon and the Master Portrait’s isolation because the Lady is terribly unique. Unlike other portraits of specific magical people, Lady Ravenclaw can be in several portraits at once. The flip side of that is that she can only be in portraits of herself and no other portraits can enter her frames. That means once her portraits were dropped in the Come-and-Go Room, they dropped off her network and the only place she had left to go was her isolated Master Frame.

Harry and Neville get to the seventh floor and are halfway down the right-hand corridor before they realize their mistake and turn around. Once they are going in the correct direction finding the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy is simple.

Harry is on his second pass saying, “I need to Room of Hidden Things.” When Alastor joins them.

Harry’s personal guard-dragon is walking strange and doesn’t greet either of them. It’s unusual but Harry doesn’t really have the focus to split and say anything about it. He’s too terrified he’ll mess up and something unfortunate will happen to everything inside the Room.

After his third pass, the wall starts to change. Black lines draw themselves onto the stone and sink in to make delicate carvings of leaves and berries in an arch shape. The wall sinks in a level, making another layer of carvings, outlining another arch, and forming a step. It sinks again to reveal a worn-looking, dark-wood door with thick metal bands running across it parallel to the floor. The area above the door forms into a frieze of a tree covered in flowers and fruit.

Harry pulls the ring door latch. Once he hears it unlatch, he pushes the door open.

The Room of Hidden Things is easily twice the size of the Great Hall. It must be at least four stories tall and there are ribbed pillars at regular intervals that bloom into arches giving the room a cathedral-like effect.

It’s filled with stacks of books, mountains of teetering chairs, and piles of broken light fixtures. Directly in front of the door is a self-playing standing harp that is playing the same 45 seconds of a song over and over again with no variation.

Harry walks to the right of the harp and into the stacks of junk, the other two following in his wake. They find a group of five cabinets or wardrobes with their doors open, arranged for all the world like a group of gossiping old men. There is one broken carriage with five axles. A status that almost looks like a red Buddha but with tusks and horns. Though the horns have been sawn off.

Not sure what to do, Harry looks to Moody for direction but the former Auror just watches Harry and Neville, silently amused before turning around to study the stacks.

At a loss, he turns to his husband.

“Well,” Neville swallows. “She said…”

“Right,” Harry nods, feeling stupid. He hasn’t even done anything and he knows Neville won’t judge him but he already feels stupid. “Grandmother?” Harry calls out. He clears his throat and tries again, louder. “Grandmother! Where are you, Grandmother!”

“Harry!” A woman’s voice shouts back from further in the room.

Alastor rears back in shock and turns immediately to the sound, his wand drawn.

“Harry, back here!” Is called out, five voices strong.

They rush further in and find a cove of portraits. Five of them hold Lady Ravenclaw. Two of the Ladies keep calling out to Harry until he walks around the corner and comes face to face with them. The other three are staring horrified at three other portraits in the cove.

The three they are focused on are not moving. In fact, they seem to be frozen in the middle of being very cross with someone. Two hold men, the third holds a woman.

The first man is in a large golden frame with lions roaring from each corner. He’s young but scar-ridden. He’s wearing a rough linen shirt and leather pants with a sword strapped across his chest, its hilt poking over his right shoulder. His hair is a very dark red and his eyes are a familiar looking blue that seem to sparkle even frozen as they are.

The second man looks like he might have been resurrected in a Brendan Frasier movie. He’s bald with black eyes. He has snake armbands wrapped around either bicep, leather and bronze vambraces on either forearm, a thick gold and emerald bead collar around his neck and a black linen skirt wrapped around his hips. His portrait is framed in snakes that had heads on both ends, looking into corners carved with Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The woman almost looks a little like Ginny, if Harry were to tilt his head and squint. Her hair is the more standard orangey, Weasely red and her eyes can’t decide if they are blue or green. She’s pretty, in a very rough sort of way. She’s wearing a white and silver fur coat over dark leather pants. And she’s heavily armed. She has a wand in her right hand. There is a sword hilt peeking over each shoulder, a quiver at her hip, a dagger in each boot and a short sword on her left hip. Her portrait frame is the plainest of them all. It’s just a nice gold frame with a badger standing like a sentinel on either side on its back legs.

“Grandmother?” Harry asks as he approaches.

“Those are the other Founders.” The largest of the Ladies looks at Harry, her eyes wide and shocked. “I don’t remember them having portraits.”

“Well, we’ll get you all out of here and figure it out.” Harry turns to order his armsman about but he’s moved. Harry keeps turning until he finds Alastor cautiously approaching the chipped bust of a funny looking warlock. The warlock is wearing a crown. The exact same crown Ravenclaw is wearing.

“Moody?” The auror freezes, the set of his shoulders screaming confusion.

Harry feels Neville shift on his left and glances to the other boy to find him frowning. “Uh, Harry?”

“Alastor Moody, what is that?”

Moody turns so that his back is to a pile of ottomans, putting Harry on his left and the crown on his right. The older man makes a sweeping gesture from his head to his feet.

Neville gasps.

“You could see me?” The Auror asks, either shocked or angry, Harry can’t be sure.

Harry flushes, confused. “I didn’t know you were hiding.”

“Sneaking, not hiding. Disillusionment charm.”

Whatever that is, Harry shakes his head. “What’s that? It looks like Ravenclaw’s crown.”

“Yes,” Moody agrees. “I think it used to be.”

“What?” There’s a pop and Harry looks over his shoulder to see only one Ravenclaw. She’s in a portrait that sits above Harry and Neville’s heads, trying to see what they are looking at. “Oh, my- what? How could-? Who would-? That’s vile!”

Alastor throws the portrait and unamused look.

“Moody?” Harry asks, yet again. “What is it?”

“I can’t be sure. We need to study it.” Moody makes a sharp movement with his wand and a silvery dog shoots out. “Two teams.” He tells it. The dog duplicates and they run off together.

“It’s a very dark object.” Moody tells the boys. “The darkest I have ever seen. I’ll have a team of curse breakers figure out exactly what it is, who made it and how we can destroy it and I’ll have Embeth check the portraits to make sure they haven’t been contaminated by it.

“We shouldn’t move anything until it’s all been cleared.”

-*-

Harry knows he should be paying attention.

Physically, he’s having lunch in the Great Hall with his future Student Transition Coordinator and family, several IMEA reps and all four of the professors he’s officially re-hired. Mentally, he’s still back in the Room of Hidden Things, finding a dark object and being told to fuck off by Alastor Moody.

He’s more than a little hurt, to be honest. He thought Moody believed in him. That Moody understood.

He was obviously wrong.

Otherwise, the man wouldn’t have dismissed him. Dismissed him in the face of an obvious threat to his family and his castle. Harry’s not even sure if it’s better or worse that Moody didn’t even take the time to question him about it like Dumbledore would have.

Then again, what could he have said? ‘That the thing feels familiar but I don’t know why?’ or how about ‘Don’t move it, let’s just stab it with a basilisk tooth!’ Right, not so much. He can’t explain his feelings to himself, how could he expect someone else to take them seriously? There’s really no harm in letting fully-trained adults give it a go.

It’s just being dismissed by those fully-trained adults, that’s fucking him up.

Harry runs his hand over his face and focuses on the people around him. Specifically on Rene Lyons. He’s the son of the STC that Dumbledore fired and got killed. There’s something very zen about the guy. Very relaxing. Like you could tell him anything and it wouldn’t surprise it horrify him and he would actually do something about it. And he’d do it in a way that left you anonymous and protected rather than exposed.

As long as he takes the vow Harry’s requiring of his staff, he’d be fine to hire Mr. Lyons right now. But he’d still have to sit through one more course by the sound of it, so Harry keeps his peace.

Rene’s wife Pillar is a beautiful woman with a thick but charming Spanish accent. She’s not all sweetness and light like he mostly expected but she’s not the pushy, clucky type like Poppy Pomfrey was. She’s sarcastic but not quite cutting. She’s one of those people that makes you want to do what she wants you to do without being a bully about it.

Right now she mostly wants them all to eat more vegetables. The Hogwarts contingent all has more vegetables on their plate in this single meal than Harry can remember any of them eating in an entire day.

Well, except for Neville who eats fruits and vegetables by the boat load. She’s made a tactical retreat currently but she spent the beginning of their meal trying to convince him of the virtues of roasted chicken.

An elbow in his ribs gets Harry’s attention. He looks to his sister.

“Did you hear that?” she asks.

“No, I didn’t. ” he tells her honestly.

“You remember, I was talking to Mrs. Weasley last summer about witches and reproduction. She said having children close together wears on a witch magically but it’s worth it to have them all together so that they can be friends.”

Harry nods.

“So I was asking Pillar,” who is a fully qualified healer and a mother of five, Harry’s mind helpfully supplies. “About the facts and how she feels about it, and she says-”

“That it isn’t,” the healer interjects. “Naturally-born magical children remain magically dependent on their mother until about the time they start walking steadily. It’s only once they achieve magical independence that the mother can really start to heal magically and in a few ways physically from the pregnancy. This healing can easily take as long as the child was dependent but not allowing yourself the time to heal and maintaining multiple magical children can have severe consequences. ”

“So that’s why she?” Harry trails off with and open-handed gesture that indicates his whole face.

“Looks at least 20 years older than she is?” Hermione supplies.

“Yeah, that.”

Pillar nods. “It can also create flaws in the children magically and mentally.  I would recommend they see a healer that specializes in Core Care. Whether or not they are currently having any sort of symptoms. ”

“What about ritual children?” Neville asks from Harry’s other side. “Do they have the dependence issue?”

“That depends entirely on the ritual. I can tell you for sure that a pregnancy made in ritual and carried to term by a male parent does. Otherwise, I would need to see the infant to tell. There are two rituals that I know of that handle the dependency issue before the child is born.”

The final course is being laid when Rene Lyons turns to Harry, “I wanted to thank you for letting me see my mother’s office. I don’t remember much about her so it was good to see it. To get to read her words about her daily life.”

“I understand.” And Harry does, he really does. If he could find a place his parents had invested themselves in he would probably never be able to leave it. “There is another journal, after the ones we left in her office. The DMLE took it as evidence. Once they release it I fully intend on making sure you get it. Whether or not you take the job, your mother’s personal belongings are yours and you should have them.”

“And what exactly is the job I’m being offered?”

Harry shoots Augusta and Andromeda and alarmed look.

“Don’t blame them, they told me the name and conditions of a job but this is your school and I would like to hear it from you.”

Harry relaxes, glad they opted to exchange the usual benches for comfy individual chairs. “I want you to be my Student Transition Coordinator. It’s not the same position your mother had. You’ll have all those duties and the head of my Student Advocacy staff.

“We’ve redefined the duties of the Head of House. They’re no longer going to teach but they’ll take on duties more in-line with being a dorm-parent. As such, they’ll answer to you now. You’ll be the boss of we estimate about a dozen Student Advocates that will help you manage the introductory field trips for new students and the Spring Semester pre-session.

“You will answer directly to the Board of Governors.

“You’ll have to work with the Headmistress who is in charge of the academic side of things and the castle’s new caretaker Alastor Moody who’s in charge of security and making sure everything works.”

Mr. Lyons is nodding along like he agrees with everything.

“I’m requiring all of my staff at Hogwarts to take oaths of loyalty to the school and to protect and serve the school and it’s students for as long as they are employed. I’m also requiring every department head – like you -to take the vassal oath to my House.”

Rene looks over to Pillar. She tilts her head back and forth a few times and then nods to him. “And my wife?”

“I’m offering her a position on my healing staff.” He turns and speaks to the woman directly. “I’m looking to hire both a male and a female fully-certified healer for the Hogwarts Infirmary. You’ll provide full medical services to all students and staff at the school.”

She nods, seemingly interested. “I would suggest looking up Florence Nightingale for the other position. He’s at the end of his contract with the Magical Healing Academy in Greece and looking for something less teach-y.”

“Alright. Your job offer will officially come from Len McCoy, so you should mention it to him. He’s my family healer and will be your boss, if you take the position.”

Neville touches Harry’s arm to get his attention and Harry turns to his husband. “It’s almost time for our lesson, we should set up.”

Harry nods his agreement and they both stand. “Call for Zabi. She can finish your tour and show you around the Infirmary so that you can get familiar with it. Len should be by this afternoon. We’ll do the oaths after dinner if you’re both still interested at that time.”

-*-

Three goblins, three hooded Unspeakable, and Alastor Moody stand around a stone table holding three objects.

The first object is a petrified book, bathed in ink and blood, the second object is the broken quill from Lord Potter’s ascension, and the third is the crown Moody found hidden at Hogwarts.

‘Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.’ Is engraved across the bottom band. Ravenclaw’s Diadem. They’ve all agreed that that is what it must be but what else is it?

“A horcrux?” Ragnock asks again. “What is a horcrux? ”

Moody swallows, disgusted. Of course goblins aren’t familiar with this, the blackest of human magic. Why would they know? Their live spans are so much longer than the human norm the idea of trying to extend it must be completely foreign.

“A soul anchor.” Croaker tells the goblin. “A vile bid for immortality. Created through the murder of an innocent. ”

“And these all belong to the same individual? ”

“It’s hard to be certain,” Hecate tells them. “Severing –damaging– your soul like this changes your magical signature and of course the magical signature of the Diary is further corrupted by the basilisk venom used in its death but we are 92% certain they are all matches.”

“How many can a human make?” The chieftain of the horde asks.

“It depends on their magical potential.” Hecate answers. “You must be at least an enchanter to attempt it. If it truly is Tom Riddle, as we suspect, we know that he went to Hogwarts as a child which makes him either an enchanter, a magus or an archmagus. We know he wasn’t an archmagus because there haven’t been any reported in the islands since Arthur, Merlin, and Guinevere.

“Now, allowing for one part of their soul to remain in the body, the Arithmancy I’ve done suggests that an enchanter can sustain three anchors.”

“Meaning we have them all.” Moody feels the need to point out.

“Right,” Hecate nods. “But if he’s a magus he could theoretically sustain seven. The eighth being in his body ”

“Is there any way to know?” Ragnock asks.

“How many he made?” Hecate asks. “No, I imagine he would guard that secret most jealously. I know I would.”

“And he wouldn’t let anyone know his exact potential, assuming he bothered to test himself.” Moody adds. “No matter the results, he would do everything to make his followers certain that he is the most powerful thing since Merlin.”

“Is there any reason not to destroy the ones we have?”

“No. Once the soul is severed this way it can’t heal itself. In fact, two parts coming together would conflict violently. So, with nowhere to go, destroying the anchor will destroy the soul segment.” Hecate answers. “I would recommend disposal through the Veil after destruction just to be thorough.”

“Will the horcruxes we haven’t found know that we have destroyed these?”

Croaker shakes his head. “If they had such connections we would be able to use these to track the missing anchors. We can’t so they don’t. That doesn’t mean however that the areas where they were hidden weren’t warded to alert the other horcruxes or activate some sort of magical protocols that we may not have been able to detect.

“Every horcrux is different, is capable of a different level of activity. The Diary was very active both in its own defense and in trying to acquire a new body. The Diadem is not. I wouldn’t suggest touching it physically and you definitely don’t want to put it on but it hasn’t even done any detectable sort of threat assessment since we moved it. It’s dormant. The Quill is bound tightly by Lily Potter’s magic. It probably would have remained so and never gained our attention for the rest of Lord Potter’s natural life, if his Family Magic hadn’t taken exception to it.”

“So no one has a reason we shouldn’t destroy them?” Ragnock clarifies. All the assembled shake their heads. “Does anybody know how to do it?”

“Basilisk venom will obviously do it.” Moody gestures to the Diary. “What else?”

“Anything that would damage the receptacle irreparably.” Hecate says. “But these are highly magical objects. The Horde probably destroys more magical objects everyday than the Unspeakables do in a year, how do you do it?”

“Typically, Fiendfyre.”

“You can control Fiendfyre?”

“Me? No. But it’s child’s play for a Goblin Matriarch.” Rather than the more standard wizardry of their males, the magic of Goblin females is usually tied up in maintaining mental and magical bonds of their Clan and in keeping their Clan Cavern not only livable but comfortable. Every once in a while a female is born powerful enough to qualify as a matriarch and a full elemental. Very rarely. Usually just in time for a clan’s previous Matriarch to die.

“Would one be willing?” Hecate asks. “To destroy them, I mean. And to let us watch?”

“They will probably fight over who gets to destroy to soul of Lord Voldemort.” The Chieftain says with a mean little grin. “Move this to the ritual room two levels down,” he orders his guards. “You know the way to the observation deck.” He tells Croaker.

“Dolos,” Croaker orders the third Unspeakable as he picks up the dead diary. “Go with them, help maintain security on the objects.”

Once they make it to the Observation Room, Croaker turns to Moody and Hecate. “I want you two to witness the destruction and the disposal through the Veil of both those objects. I’ll have Rowan and Ourania witness me toss this through the Veil on my way to Hogwarts. I owe the boys a ‘Lord Lesson’ on heirs. If I don’t get there soon they’ll start without me. Again.”

“We’ll take care of it, love.” Mood tells his husband. “Store and seal pensive memories of the time we say good bye until you toss it and have the girls do the same of the disposal. Better to be safe than sorry.”

“Will do.” Croaker leaves with a nod.

-*-

Harry and Neville settle onto one of the couches in the Family Library, dropping their various Family Charters onto the coffee table in front of them.

Harry picks up the Pendragon Family charter and sets it back down with a sigh. He starts poking the books on the table into a better stack. Glancing around impatiently, Harry catches a glimpse of Neville’s indulgent smile before it hides behind Neville’s fist.

Okay so he’s not good at waiting. He huffs at himself. “So did you get an invitation from Malfoy?”

“To his ascension on the fifth? Yes, I’ve already told the twins to be at the bank at nine.”

“The twins?”

“My heirs. My Great Aunt Enid’s children. Technically, Jasper is my heir but no one can get him to do anything if Jasmine isn’t involved.”

“Your Great-Aunt’s son? That’s your heir.”

“My House requires a male at the head of the family. Currently, there are no other males in the primary line. There was no secondary line until my grandfather’s sister and her wife had the twins about twenty years ago. Jasper is the only other male Longbottom.”

“I guess I’m lucky Potter and Gryffindor aren’t gender restricted.”

“So you are separating them then?” Neville asks.

“No. I mean I could. They have two separate Family Charters and Antonius Peverell’s journal does mention they always intended on splitting the families again there just hasn’t been more than single children born since the joining and the plan was obviously forgotten. I’m just worried about the school. I don’t want future generations fighting over it.”

“Won’t you already have the same problem with the House of Slytherin? They have as much claim to the school as Gryffindor.”

“No, Geoff Gryffindor bought out the other Founder’s interest in the school before he hired the first Headmaster. The surviving Founder’s Families sort of made up what we now call the Board of Governors.”

“You said Geoff turned ownership of the school over to Antonius as part of Grace Gryffindor’s dowry.”

“Right.”

“And on top of that the school meets in Peverell Keep.”

“Right.”

“So no one has the right to take it from the Potters because you are the Peverells.”

“Right but the re-born lines of Gryffindor and Slytherin, if you want to call them that, will be Potters, too.”

“Biologically, maybe, but not magically.”

“They’ll still have the name. The child that takes the House of Slytherin will still introduce himself as ‘Sherlock Potter of the House of Slytherin’ and he’ll still be touched by the Family Magic of Potter.”

“Yes and no.” Algernon says as he strides into the room and settles on an armchair. “It’s rather murky because as your offspring, all of your children will be touched by all of your family magic and be blood of your blood. They will have the right to your name but magical inheritance for nobles is by magical house.

“But there are several things you can do.

“You can alter the School charter to specify that it belongs to the House of Potter, not just the Family of Potter. You can also make it specify that the Heads of the Houses of the Founders will have however much influence you are comfortable like a guaranteed Board Seat, if that’s what you want.

“Also, I know we haven’t gone over the Longbottom Method with you yet but you can have two biological parents and two magical parents for each child. Normally this would be so that another can step in if one parent can’t make either the biological or magical donations for whatever reason. However, we can use this to increase a certain Founder’s magical influence on the child being created.

“So what, Neville and I do the biological donations and then we wrap the …”

“Seed,” Neville supplies.

“We wrap the seed in Slytherin legacy stones?”

Algie shakes his head. “A seed needs two magical donors to be healthy so you and Neville and do the biological donations and either you or Neville can wear a pendant to hold the seed on you at all times that is lined with Slytherin legacy stones. It can only be lined on one side though, to make sure your magic can get in there. Be aware that the child will take the family name of whoever has the greatest influence on it, so if this theoretical heir of Slytherin has Neville’d biological and magical influence, he will be a Longbottom.

“How do you guys feel about sharing this? I mean, it’s a family secret, right?”

Algie opens his mouth to answer, thinks better of it, and turns to Neville.

“I have no problem sharing it with our allies.” Neville answers. “Because the Method bypasses Nature’s requirements for reproduction, I feel we need to be careful and only give this secret to people we can trust with it. They will have to agree not to spread the secret, to only use it while supervised and I could see some cases where I wouldn’t want people we grant the use of the Method to to tell other know that they are using the Method.”

“That said. Who did you have in mind for us to share it with?”

Harry clears his throat nervously. “I was thinking, when I accepted the Slytherin Ring, that it should go to a Slytherin like Draco. Now Draco’s taking his lordship and he said in his invitation that he would accept a betrothal contract for Hermione if that was a direction the House of Potter was interested in taking.”

“Marrying the Lord of one house to the Heir of another is a very binding alliance.” Neville says with a nod. “And he’s acknowledging Potter as the senior house.”

“Right, so in the case of this ‘theoretical heir of Slytherin’ as Algie called it, Hermione would be me and Draco would be you. We would use to a pendant with Slytherin legacy stones. Hermione donating twice would make the boy a Potter but he’d be raised as a Slytherin by a Slytherin, Draco.”

“So you want to make Draco your Heir-Conveyant for the House of Slytherin?” Algie asks.

“Heir-Conveyant?” Harry asks with a frown.

“The person that with give life to the Family’s actual heir. Usually it’s used when a Family that can only accept male heirs, like the Greengrasses, only have daughters. Daphne Greengrass in Heir-Conveyant to the House of Greengrass. If she is unmarried at the time of her father’s death, she will have the powers of Heir-Regent. They will still be without a Lord, so if she takes too long to choose a husband and have a male heir the Greengrass family magic will eventually start to weaken and possibly break if they don’t have legacy stones already set up to preserve it.”

“Would you be willing to share with Draco?” Harry asks his husband.

“If the betrothal contract Hermione draws up is very clear on the alliance-relationship that will come into being with the Potters being senior and he agrees to be your Heir-Conveyant and he agrees to keep the secret and they both agree not to tell people they are using the method, they yes, I can agree with sharing the Method with them to create your theoretical heir of Slytherin.

“You realize you’re going to get Hermione to agree to it all too, don’t you?”

“She’s been bothering me every day to see if I have more information on the Method,” Harry says, rolling his eyes a little. “I would be very surprised if she had any objections to getting to use it.”

“Alright.” Algie interjects, holding up a scroll. “We’ve discussed the heir to the House of Slytherin. We know Hermione is the heir to the House of Potter. What about the heir to the House of Pendragon?”

Harry takes the scroll, takes a deep breath and starts reading. He half expected it to list Neville as his heir but instead in the ‘Heir to the House of Pendragon’ blank the Family Charter lists – Unnamed Male – 16 Months.

Frowning, Harry looks to Algernon.

Algernon meets Harry’s gaze and he looks old. He looks tired. “When.. the people you were living with were arrested for how they were treating you, they were examined by several Healers and a curse breaker or two. They’d all been magically altered, manipulated. Not a lot, for the most part. Dumbledore just lowered Petunia’s inhibitions against violence and strengthened Vernon’s conviction that his actions were right and therefore no one could punish him for whatever he decided to do to you. But your cousin, Dudley. He was formed by Dumbledore.

“Dudley was young enough when Dumbledore stuck his hand in that there was no self to alter yet.

“On top of that Dumbledore performed a dark ritual on your cousin that deprived him of his Magic, further corrupting him mentally and shortening his life expectancy.”

“You saved him.” It should probably be a question but if they had failed.. who else could this baby be?

“Yes.” Algernon nods. “We had to take him back to the age where it started and he’ll have to grow up all over again but he won’t be anything like the boy you grew up with. Not only is he now free of Dumbledore’s taint, he is thoroughly entrenched in the Pendragon Legacy. Make no mistake, my lord, he was born to be your strong right hand. Albus Dumbledore stole that from you both.”

 

 

Chapter 12 – August 4, 1996

 

“This is a strong little lad.” Len McCoy says as he supports the bouncing baby boy as the Healer works on of his little legs. “He’s too young to be without his mother but luckily he’s manages to establish a new maternal link with Bella here.”

Bellatrix Krum is the employee from the Research Department of the Department of Mysteries assigned to care for the baby after they saved him. For a few moments after their introduction Harry had been completely furious, thinking that the DoM had been experimenting on a baby but both Bella and Algie are quick to assure Harry that the only ones poking at the baby were certified Healers during appointments at Saint Mungos.

They have the Saint Mungos records to back them up so Harry decides to believe them and lets go of his temper.

“Healer Richards made you formula?” Len asks Bella.

The reseacher nods. “He did.”

“We’ll have to make you new. Some connected with Potter.” The healer frowns at Harry. “Assuming you’re adopting him, Lord Potter?”

“I am.” He assures the healer before turning to Bella. “Will you stay on and care for him?”

Bella nods.

“I’m going to require a vassal oath from you. To protect him.”

“I’ll have to leave my job at the DoM.” She tells him. “My employment oaths are extensive.”

Harry excepts and honestly prefers it but it would be crass to say so he just nods. “You’ll both live here. I’ll provide everything. Rooms, clothes, a stipend. Access to the House of Potter’s Medical and Legal staff.”

“I’ll owl my supervisor.” She accepts.

“We’ll need three hairs, milord.” McCoy tells them. “To make the boy’s formula.”

-*-

It’s disgusting.

Only one old man in the entire village gets the Daily Prophet delivered to his home (rather than his business) every day.

Worse, that one lonely, old man only puts his trash and therefore his papers out on the curb once a week.

The dog watches the old man and waits until he has apparated to wherever he spends his day before the dog makes off with the entire brown bag holding the man’s garbage. He sticks to the back paths and alleyways, avoiding both people and their businesses until he enters the foothills that surround Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

Once he’s in the safety of a cave the dog starts pulling out the items the old man has deemed useless, including a week’s work of Daily and Evening Prophets and a tin of old cookies that are a little stale but still edible.

The dog starts with the most recent edition of the Daily Prophet simply because it’s right there on top. The headline reads ‘Finding Sirius Black! The Real Hero!’ Frowning the dog starts going backwards through time via the Prophet.

The headlines are confusing.

The last five days have been a series of ‘Finding Sirius Black!‘s with varying subtitles like ‘Life with the Potters,‘Heir of Black,’ ‘The School Years,’ and ‘Love, Life and Lies.’ Most of them with some guy names Marcus Crane listed in the byline.

The dog has missed something. Something very important. He digs further into the bag until he finds a Daily Prophet tightly folded and shoved into the side of the bag. It’s dated for August the third and has the mug shot of one of the most respected wizards of all time with a headline reads ‘The Life and Crimes of Albus Dumbledore!‘ followed by a trial transcript that takes up almost the entire edition. Reading the transcript starts with a grin as James’s son punks Lucius Malfoy in a positively Marauder-like manner but the dog’s amusement doesn’t last long as the depth of Dumbledore’s crimes are revealed.

The dog has to lie down. He’s shaking so hard with hurt and fury. He can’t even think!

The cold stone under his belly and against his side helps the dog cool off in more than one way. Reason returns and it dawns on him that he’s listed as a victim of Albus Dumbledore during the former Headmaster’s trial. What in the name of the Hallows happened to change him from villain to victim?

The dog turns to the bag again. At the very bottom, actually lining the bottom to proof it against runny egg shells and bacon grease, are two copies -. No, one copy each of the Daily and the Evening Prophet with the same title:

‘Sirius Black: Godfather, Not Goodfella’

It is followed by a brief article prefacing another trial manuscript.

The article is actually a statement from a House of Potter legal representative that the dog have never hears of before. Gaia Fitzgerald tells the audience in no uncertain terms that Sirius Black is innocent, never received a trial, and that his family -namely Harry Potter- wants his godfather back!

When the dog makes it to the end of the transcript it’s a stiff competition as to what makes him happier – the words of a lawyer that may or may not be correctly interpreting his godson’s wishes or the ICW verbally kicking the entire country in the neck on his behalf.

With a happy sigh, the dog rolls over. He opens his eyes and looks directly into the face of a furious Albus Dumbledore.

The shaking starts again.

Why couldn’t this have happened ten years ago? Why couldn’t this have happened in the first fucking place? Why is the dog so disposable? And Harry? What could he have done? He’s just a child. Just a baby! Anything wrong the dog did didn’t apply to Harry. It never had. It couldn’t! He’s just a baby!

The dog bolts from his cave to get sick in a bush and collapse.

-*-

“Tell me about yourself.” Harry… requests of the bonded magical parent of his heir.

“My name is Bellatrix Astraia Krum nee Black.” She starts. “You may call me Bella or Krum. No one ever calls me Trix.

“I am the older sister of Andromeda Tonks and Narcissa Malfoy.

“I ran away from home at 16 after my mother betrothed me to a wife-murderer against my will. I didn’t take anything with me, not even my own wand because I wasn’t sure what of mine my parents had tracking spells on.

“I ran as far east as I could until a herb healer found me almost dead in the snow. This man, Sergei, took me and nursed me back to health. His wife, Natalia, was and actually still is a Hit Witch for the ICW. Rather than turn me over to the ICW for return my parents, they adopted me and I finished my education as my adoptive mother’s apprentice.

“My new parents eventually gave me a total of three little brothers. Andrei, Igor and Viktor.

“Andrei recently claimed his second daughter. He has dual Masteries in Herbology and Creature Studies and is in charge of the largest stand of wandwood-quality trees found on the continent.

“Igor is working on a Mastery in International Law. He plans to lobby the ICW for equal rights for Werewolves and Vampires and to publically fund the acquisition of New Moon Amulets for Werewolves around the world.

“Viktor is your age and the starting Seeker for the Vrasta Vultures. We expect him to make the national team next year.”

“That’s really cool.” Harry says, more than a little flabbergasted.

Bella beams with pride. “It really is.”

“And it means you have experience with baby boys.”

“It does.”

“When did you start working with the DoM?”

“Five years ago.” She answers. “I had just learned that my birth mother was dead. She actually died 16 years ago but I had just learned of it and I came back to Avalon hoping to reconnect with my sisters but that didn’t happen.”

“Why not?”

She takes a sharp breath and shifts, obviously uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry if the question was too personal.” He jumps in. “But you should be aware that Andromeda is also my vassal and the new Headmaster of this school. Will your circumstances make you uncomfortable socializing with your sister in the future?”

“Actually, I look forward to it.” She answers immediately. “I hope it will give us the chance to rebuild our relationships.”

-*-

A man walks into the Three Broomsticks Inn.

He’s wearing a worn and dirty back-and-white striped prison jumper. His hair is ragged and dirty and his beard is growing strong.

He probably stinks but he grew immune to his own odors long ago.

Sirius Orion Black takes a seat at the bar and orders a butterbeer from a slack-jawed Madame Rosmerta.

Normally, he would wiggle his eyebrows and say something outrageous to make the witch blush.

He tries.

He wiggles his eyebrows at her but the words stick in his throat.

She chokes on a laugh like she heard what he couldn’t say, sniffles a bit, and pulls out his preferred longneck. She pops the top for him and drops both bottle and cap on the bar in front of him. She turns away quickly, shouting “Cooky!”

Five minutes later a bowl of thick chicken soup and a plate of large, yeasty rolls appear beside his beer.

Less than a half hour after that Amelia Susan Bones walks into the bar. She bounces a galleon across the shiny wooden surface to the proprietor.

Rosmerta huffs, put out, even as she catches it.

Sirius ignores the silent argument between the two women, just like he’s ignored the villagers that are filling up the tap room to watch him eat.

The floo ejecting a traveler interrupts the witches’ standoff.

Remus Lupin doesn’t even bother to dust the soot off his robes as he storms forward and catches Sirius up in a rib-crushing hug. They may or may not sob all over each other a little bit.

“Harry’s up at the school.” The werewolf tells his pack-brother. “It’s time you see him.”

“Yes,” Sirius does his best not to choke on the word. “Yes, of course.”

They turn to leave together but Amelia moves bodily between them and the door. Wordlessly she holds up a wand. It’s 11 and a half inches long and square. Black, covered in runes. Sirius knows it intimately. It’s his wand. His first wand.

He freezes. He can’t move. He can’t even move his chest to breath.

She pulls his right hand from where it’s stuck against his side and shoves the wand into it.

He can suddenly breath again. He can move. He clutches the wand to his chest with both hands.

“If you want to take Room 3 and clean up.” Rosmerta says as she approaches with a key held out in front of her. “Get yourself sorted. Gerdy next door will get you suited up nice and respectable to go meet the young lord.”

-*-

Bellatrix had just left to put Harry’s newly adopted and named nephew, Valerian Rae Evans down for a nap, so Harry is all alone when Amelia Bones enters the Family Library. She’s unusually cautious in her approach and waits for Harry to look up at her before speaking.

“We’ve found him.” She tells him. “Are you ready to meet him?”

“You found him?” Harry is very, very confused right up until he suddenly isn’t. “You found Sirius Black?”

She nods, grinning. “Ready?”

Already beyond words, Harry does his best to mimic her nod.

She moves back to the nearby door and opens it. They wait but no one comes through. She frowns at Harry almost comically and leans out the door.

“Come on.” The Director of the DMLE says gently, like she’s coaxing a puppy. “He’s waiting for you. You going to make him wait? Come on. You can do it.”

Slowly a big black dog makes his way through the open door. He’s prancing  and whining betraying his nerves but his tail is wagging like his butt is about to take flight.

Something clicks inside Harry. He knows this dog, “Padfoot?”

The dog stops whining and manages to sit even as his tail and paws keep dancing.

Harry closes the distance between them to get a better look. “Padfoot!” He tears up even as he slides to his knees and pulls the dog close.

He cries as he clings to the fur-covered body and can’t find any shame or reason not to. Not even when the dog transforms into a man and pulls Harry into his lap.

They just cling to each other and cry.

-*-

Sooner than Harry likes but probably long after it should have happened, Sirius surrenders to Healer McCoy’s tender mercies. Harry finds himself standing in front of an enchanted mirror, watching McCoy settle Sirius into a healing trance.

Neville is standing on Harry’s right, a solid and supportive but not crowding presence.

Remus Lupin stands on Harry’s left. His eyes are golden and completely focused on his old friend.

“What happened to you parents?” Harry asks his husband with a frown.

“What?” Neville asks, surprised.

“What happened to your parents?” Harry repeats, locking his eyes on the mirror. “Everyone knows what happened to mine but,” Harry huffs at himself. “I know you can’t live with them. Your grandmother talks about them like they are dead. You talk about them like they are alive. So, what happened to them?

Neville shifts and takes a steadying breath. “My parents were tortured by Death Eaters. It drove them crazy. They’re not dangerous or anything, just- broken.

“I know they love me. Sometimes they even recognize me but they can’t live on their own. they can’t take care of themselves. They’re in Saint Mungos and they probably will be until they die.”

Harry doesn’t know what to say. He’s not sure he could speak if he did know what to say.

What would be worse than your parents being murdered before you know them? Knowing they’re alive and where they are but knowing they are unable to take care of you. Unable to love or to even know you. Knowing everyone’s alive but that you’ve lost them anyway. Being taunted on every visit about what might have been, what should have been.

“Move them here.” Harry says suddenly. Neville starts to protest but Harry puts a hand on the taller boys shoulder and gives him a bit of a shake. “No. Bring them home. We have tons of room and a stupid amount of money in the bank. We’ll hire nurses, Len can pick them out. We’ll have three Healers that can oversee your parent’s care.”

Neville swallows hard. His eyes dart around Harry’s face, looking for uncertainty. Eventually he nods. “They should be with family.”

Harry turns back to the mirror.

 

 

Chapter 13 – August 5, 1996

 

Dorian Zabini is waiting beside Neville when the bank cart stops and Harry gets out.

The man had shown up at the Keep to collect his husband for the event but Len had refused to leave Sirius’s side. The young patriarch of Zabini had turned and contented himself with clucking over Harry and Neville’s inability to be fashionable.

Together the three of them walk into the same ritual room they used for Harry and Neville’s ascension to lordship. Somewhere along the way they pick up Jasper and Jasmine Longbottom.

The twins make Harry deeply uncomfortable in ways he can’t quite articulate. They are fraternal twins and, as far as Harry knows, they are the only two he’s ever met. They touch a lot and are always within range to touch each other. They never separate by more than a step. And they seem to be communicating on a level beyond words and glances. It’s creepy.

The ritual room is large, just as wide but half as long as the Great Hall. It’s made of golden marble with black veins and stationed at even intervals around the perimeter of the room are black marble columns with gold veins.

The raised platform is still in the middle of the room but instead of a long table there is an ancient looking wooden desk on it with Ragnok seated in a brown leather chair behind it. The desk is large in surface area but both it and the chair are scaled down to goblin-size.

As the three of them enter Dorian breaks off to offer his sister his arm. She takes it and they fall into place around the platform on Blaise’s right. Hanging off his left arm is Luna Lovegood, of all people. She’s calm and looks comfortable chatting softly with Blaise and Daphne Greengrass and Theo Nott who are standing with them, also arm in arm. Draco and Hermione and Lucius and Narcissa are in their own little knot of conversation, both of those couples are arm in arm as well.

Harry very subtly pokes his husband.

Neville manages not to grin as he offers Harry his arm but his eyes are dancing with amusement all the same.

Harry takes the high road and huffs at him.

Before they have to decide which group to join, Lucius Malfoy releases his wife’s arm with a kiss to the back of her hand and goes up the two little steps onto the platform. He kneels so that he’s closer to eye-to-eye with Ragnok and can reach the desk.

“It is time,” Lord Lucius Malfoy says to the Chieftain of the Horde. “For me to retire from Lordship.”

Ragnok nods and pushes.. it looks like a mirror? Toward Lucius. The mirror lies flat on the table with little fuzzy feet and the frame stands about an inch and a half tall around the edge of the flat surface of the glass. Lucius pulls his wand and cuts his free hand. He allows three drops of blood to land on the mirror before he heals and cleans his hand.

The goblin pulls the mirror close and watches it. After a few moments he’s satisfied with what he finds because he nods and leans back, sending the mirror off to who knows where with a casual flick of his hand.

Ragnok then pulls a small sheet of parchment, an ink well, and quill out of the desk and has Lucius write to his intention to retire of his own free will. He doesn’t seem satisfied with it at first but eventually he rolls it up, seals it with the Bank’s official seal, and puts it in a drawer. “The ring?”

With obvious hesitation Lucius removes the Malfoy Ring from his right hand. The ring box appears on the table between the two beings. Lucius nestles the ring inside and turns the open box to the Bank Director. The smaller being accepts the box from the retiring lord and hits the ring with a series of charms, testing what? Harry doesn’t know but Ragnok is so intent on it that he doesn’t seem to take any notice of Lucius taking his leave and moving back to Narcissa.

Draco moves to stand directly in front of Ragnok, Hermione still on his arm. He stands completely still and quiet in what should be the goblin’s line of sight until the smaller being looks up and gestures at him to approach the desk.

Unlike his father who walked up the stairs and knelt later like a great favor was being demanded of him, Draco pats Hermione’s hand twice and moves forward, directly from standing on the floor to kneeling on the platform. Both of the goblin’s eyebrows shoot up and he claps once. Draco wobbles but manages to keep his stance when a pad appears under his knees.

Silently Ragnok pulls out writing supplies and a single shot of potion. Just as Harry and Neville had done almost a week before Draco throws it back like he’s afraid to taste it. The goblin casts the charm on the taller, blonde male and Draco’s left hand starts to write.

Several sentences later, Draco replaces the quill and throws back the antidote as soon as it’s in his hand.

“The Bank has magically verified the right of Draco Lucius Malfoy to the Lordship of House Malfoy.” The goblin’s gravelly voice breaks the silence. “Do you wish to accept the title today?”

“I do.” Draco says with a nod. The little ring box at Ragnok’s elbow pops front and center before Draco.

At the Director’s prompting, Draco opens the box and slides the ring onto the middle finger of his right hand. He stares at the ring for a moment and then pulls his wand and speaks. “I am Draco Lucius Malfoy, Lord of the House of Malfoy.” Sparks of silver and streamers of ivory shoot out of his wand.

The goblin removes his desk and chair completely and himself to the edge of the platform. Draco stands and holds out his left hand. Without speaking Luna takes it.

As if it’s a dance they choreographed Draco uses the one hand to move Luna until she’s standing in front of and facing him. He drops her hand and uses his wand to cut his left thumb. With his bleeding thumb he starts drawing runes. The first three runes are the relationship – niece/nephew, uncle, family.

An adoption then. The same one Harry used on the child formerly known as Dudley just the other day.

The next three are family virtues – fidelity, patience, cunning.

The final rune, the rune of sentiment, makes Harry blink. Healing.

Malfoy draws the rune for healing but it’s body healing. It’s not heart healing. Well, it’s not just heart healing. It’s heart/home/land healing.

There are no flashy lights, no smoke, no dragon. Just a warm breeze and a fall of soft white and gentle pink flower petals that cling to Luna’s hair like jewels and carpet the ritual platform.

“Lords and Ladies, may I present to you Luna Pandora Lovegood-Malfoy, Heir to the House of Malfoy.” They all clap. Luna looks really happy to be where she is, if her grin is anything to go by. Harry doesn’t even try to contain his own answering grin.

Unlike with Hermione, there are no extreme physical changes in Luna but then she was a Malfoy at birth and for most of her life. Right up until her mother died and Lucius disowned his niece out of spite.

When the clapping dies down, Draco shoots his father a cool glare and in clipped tones like Harry has never heard he tells the older man. “You have your orders.”

Lucius and Narcissa bow to their lord-son and leave the room without another word.

-*-

They lose most of their crowd rather quickly.

Blaise and his mother take off right from the Bank to do some shopping.

Luna goes off to see her father who may or may not know what she was doing with her morning. Luna is very talented at playing obtuse until her questioner just gives up trying to get an answer.

Theo and Daphne go off to report to their Lord-Fathers who couldn’t make it for what sound to Harry like bullshit reasons but Draco accepts their excuses readily so he lets it go.

The Longbottom twins go off to do whatever twins do and for that Harry is beyond grateful.

Harry, Neville, Hermione, Draco and Dorian are left standing near the floo inside the Leaky Cauldron looking at each other.

“Lunch?” Neville suggests, already signaling Tom the Barkeep for private dining.

They are sitting down at a round table when Dorian breaks and asks the question that’s on the tip of Harry’s tongue. “So, what did you order your father to do?”

“Uh, well,” Draco flushes and laughs nervously. “My mother has wanted more kids for a long time but he’s refused her. In our negotiations over the title, he agreed to give her more children. I gave him a week to… take care of it.

“Mom spent the entire time we were negotiating, stocking up on a ridiculous number of potions for everything from fertility to virility to other,” Draco coughs. “Aids. Sexual aids.

“Needless to say, I am not remotely interested in going home.”

“Come up to the Keep.” Harry tells him. “Got tons of room. We can send a house elf for your things.”

“Yeah. That sounds good, actually. I have a meeting with the Bank this afternoon but after?”

“I have one, too. At two. If you just want to Floo to the Three Broomsticks when you’re done, someone can fetch you up to the castle.”

“In the meantime there is something we would like to discuss with all of you.” Neville opens and then turns to Harry to execute.

“It’s your method.” He reminds his husband.

“It’s your idea.” Neville counters.

With a frown, Harry nods. “We’re all allies here and, while we aren’t interested in advertizing this fact, we are willing to share the Longbottom Method with all of you.”

Neville pulls out four green-covered books. They are very thin books, almost more like pamphlets and the fabric of their covers is tough with the Longbottom seal embroidered into it. Neville passes one to Hermione, one to Draco, and two to Dorian.

“Why us?” Dorian asks. “Isn’t this like top secret stuff?”

“Every House needs heirs. Some more than others. The House of Longbottom is willing to coach you each of you and Len McCoy through creation of a child.”

“This is the will of the House of Pendragon.” Harry cuts in when Dorian looks like he’s about to push Neville into an argument. “We cannot allow good and faithful houses to fall into ruin. Especially not ones that are on the precipice of being reborn.” Harry hesitates but then pushes on. “You should also get Healer McCoy to get his lineage tested.”

“What?”

“He was adopted, right?”

“Yeah, by some muggles when he was a baby. What does that have to do with anything?”

“Get him tested at the Bank. Then you’ll know another reason we are willing to share this with you.”

Dorian looks at Harry through suspicious, half-lidded eyes. “A lineage test will answer my question? So he’s descended from someone important?”

Harry feels he’s made it pretty clear that he’s not going to answer this question so he says nothing and turns to Draco. “Once you sign your betrothal contract with Hermione, I want to make you Heir-Conveyant for the House of Slytherin. This may grow into an Heir-Regent position, you and I will need to discuss in the future but, for now and if you are interested, I would like you and Hermione to focus on creating a Slytherin heir using the Longbottom Method. She’ll be principal caster so that the baby will be a Potter but you’ll both obviously be responsible for him.”

“That’s fine. I think. I’ll review the method and get back to you. The lawyers should be finished with the contract tonight or early tomorrow. We can sign it as soon as we’re all comfortable with it.

“Will the House of Malfoy be allowed to create an heir in this way?”

“Of course, it would be only fair.”

Draco just nods he acceptance. “Shall we eat?”

-*-

Gaia Fitzgerald fell into her place at Harry’s right and one step behind as he walked through the Bank.

Together they were shown into a room Harry hadn’t seen before. The first carpeted room he’s seen in the Bank and by far the most ‘human’ in taste and decoration. The room is long and narrow, occupied by a long table with at least a dozen chairs on either side and a single, more plush chair at its head. The wall across from the door it covered in a single gold-framed landscape painting to simulate a window.

Honestly, it looks like a magical attempt at a board room out of a muggle movie. It tickles Harry. The very idea of wizards stealing something of this sort from the very muggles they so look down upon.

There are two men already in the room when Harry and Gaia enter. Gaia handles the introductions.

They look just about the same age.

Bilius is the one wearing the lord’s ring and full robes is more tan and of a thicker build. His hair is longer with less red hair than most Weasleys and he’s got the foundation of a mighty beard growing on his face.

The other one, Cormac, in dressed muggle complete with suit, tie and sweater vest. His hair is just about shorn but it’s Weasley Red. He’s tall and thin. There’s something kind of whip like about him, with no apparent fat on his body and very long fingers.

By unspoken accord, no one takes the seat at the head of the table. Each lard take the first seat on either side, though, putting them on equal footing for negotiations. Once they’re all seated and everyone has tea or coffee sorted to their preference, Lord Bilius begins.

“Thank you for meeting with us, Lord Potter. Gaia has prepared us for your choice in settling the matter between our families but it occurs to me that perhaps you are not aware of a few things that may change your decision.”

Harry sincerely doubts that but he just raises a single eyebrow and waits.

“Molly is not a Weasley.” Bilius says without any further delay. Harry frowns at him, confused. “It was my brother’s seventh year at Hogwarts and he was heir to the House of Weasley at the time. She potioned him into eloping and they married without a marriage contract.

“Our father and hers, Ignatius Prewett, caught up to them after the ceremony but before consummation. Lord Prewett disowned her immediately for her crimes against an ally but my father sobered Arthur up and gave him the chance to make his decision. My brother decided to stay with her even knowing that he would be disinherited for disobedience because he married without a contract.”

Harry can’t say he’s surprised that Arthur would stick with Molly. From what Harry has seen, the father of seven seems to rather blindly look to the good in people.

“What’s the difference?” Harry asks then Lord Bilius takes a breath. “Between disowned and disinherited? Or are they just different ways of saying the same thing?”

“They sound similar,” Bilius concedes. “But they are very different.

“Disowned means that Molly was cast out of her father’s family. She no longer has access to his name, his allies or his Family Magic. She might as well be dead for all her father and family are concerned. If a Prewett were to see her out and about, they wouldn’t even acknowledge her.”

Harry manages not to whistle but his face must give away his feelings because Lord Bilius nods.

“Normally when a person is disowned they could fall back on their mother’s name but Arcturus Black -the Patriarch of Black at the time- denied her petition because she was caught. And because her actions ruined one of his plans.

“Now, my brother was disinherited. That means Arthur is still a Weasley. He’s still our father’s son but he can’t inherit. Since he was heir at the time, he lost his position and claim to the title. He was not listed in our father’s will. All Family Vault access he had was taken away. The only Family resources, be it allies or money, he has access to are the ones I grant him.

“This status extends to all of his children. I’ve given all of them but William the chance to earn inheritance.”

“Why not Bill?” According the Ron, he’s the ‘best’ of his brothers. Of course, Ron’s not the most reliable. The twins prefer Charlie but they aren’t the most reliable, either.

“Ignatius warned me off. Bill’s already been claimed as the heir of Prewett. Poaching another Lord’s heir would make a big scandal and probably make people drag the Molly Scandal back up.”

Harry makes a note to pursue that last statement but continues his previous line of questioning. “Have any of them earned inheritance?”

“Charlie has. He’s playing Seeker for my team, Puddlemere United, so we’ve gotten to know each other quite well. He’s playing to earn the money to start an apprenticeship for Mastery. The crazy bastard wants to spend his life playing with dragons, of all things but amazing with Magical Creatures and they trust him innately which tells me all I need to know about him.

“Percy and the twins are working on it.

“Percy is spying on the Ministry for me.  Once we have all the evidence we can get, we plan to have Fudge and Umbridge thrown in jail until they die. Tracing the depth and origin of their corruption is proving difficult but once they’re in join, I’ll inherit Percy.

“As for the Twins, I funded their shop. They have to maintain my standard of business practices and meet various deadlines for repayment of their loan. When they make it, they’re in.”

“Ron?” Harry prods, as always with mixed feelings about his first-ever friend.

“He hasn’t made me any proposals. He’s not particularly good at anything and he doesn’t stand out in any way.” Bilius shakes his head with a small frown. “He’ll figure it out or he won’t but if he hasn’t started trying by the time he’s 27 I doubt he’ll manage it.”

“And Ginny?” She’s the reason they are there, after all.

“Ginny was inherited at birth. She’s the first female-born Weasley in recorded history so she’s considered a Magical Gift to the Family. A blessing.”

“And now she’s institutionalized.”

“But she’s alive.” The other lord counters. “As long as she lives we can work toward and hope for her recovers. That’s the service you rendered my Family. You gave us hope and preserved a great blessing.”

Harry accepts that statement with a nod. “Why are you telling me this? Because of the ‘Molly Scandal’?”

“Yes.” Bilius says simply. “The whole thing, from the potion to the marriage to Arthur’s disinheritance has tainted us socially. It caused the breech between the Malfoys and the Weasleys to explode again because at the time of his marriage Arthur was betrothed to Pandora Malfoy in the settlement between our families and it lost us a great deal of standing with the House of Black because Arcturus himself had negotiated the settlement. Very few Houses can afford to chance alienating the House of Black.

“Even considering… who you are.” Bilius pauses and gives Harry a significant look. Harry takes that to mean Weasley is referring to his status as Lord of Pendragon and nods once.  “Aligning our houses by taking Cormac into your service could damage your Houses’ reputations.”

“I don’t see how. It just means I believe in forgiveness.”

The older lord raises a single eyebrow “And yet you had Molly arrested.”

“Alright, so I don’t believe in splash damage. I don’t assume corruption or contamination simply due to association. And I had her arrests for crimes she committed willfully and directly against my House.”

“Well, if you’re sure.”

“I need a person I can trust to handle my accounts. An accountant, an investor. A manager sworn to me rather than the Bank.” Harry pointedly eyes Cormac. “You said in your brother is good.”

The bastard in question just grins at him.

“He’s the best.” Lord Bilius assures. “He handles the Weasley Accounts and his track record in the muggle world is without peer. His abilities with money and numbers are his magical gifts.”

“But he’s a squib.”

“He is.” The red head agrees. “Do you know what that means?”

“It means he was born to a magical family but has no magic of his own.”

Both Weasleys snort a little meanly. “That is a terribly pure-blood snob answer.” Harry wonders for a moment if he should tell Bilius that his answer came from directly Ron. “And is not accurate.

“Squibs have magic but it isn’t wand magic. It isn’t the ‘standard’ magic of oaths and lordships. Squib magic is very specialized, funneled into talents. Squibs are actually given to a magical family when that family will need some specific talent.”

“Are there books on this?”

“No, the pure-blood snobs that control publishing in our world would never allow it.”

“Then how do you know?”

“I travel.” The older lord says simply. “I make friends with squibs and I’ve helped several -including my brother- find their talents.

“Every magical portrait you’ve ever seen was painted by a squib talented in art. The best mage-smith alive, Daja, is a squib. Half of the people I just installed as editors for the Prophet are squibs.”

“You own the Prophet?”

“I bought out controlling interested a week ago, when Fudge decided to save his own ass by throwing you to the wolves. How do you think your people have gotten everything they’ve asked for printed? Not only printed but on the front page?

“I also reinstated the program that sends free editions to ever Hogwarts student all year. The school’s too isolated, there is too much ignorance in its graduates.”

That’s.. huh, that’s actually a really good idea. “So how do we do this? You said his magic isn’t the kind for oaths.”

“It isn’t.” Lord Bilius nods. “He can’t makes oaths but he is subject to our family magic. We’ll write out a contract specifying the terms of our alliance and seal it with hi service. I will make the oath of service on his life and our family magic.”

“But then if he messes up it will break your family magic. Won’t it?”

“Good thing I have no intention of messing up.”

 

 

Chapter 14 – August 6, 1996

 

Len grumbles as his husband pokes him into the Bank Director’s office.

He doesn’t want to be here. He has no interest in being here. He, in fact, should not be here because he has a patient in a delicate situation that he should be monitoring. But no, he had to turn Lord Black over to Pillar because his husband insisted -practically threw a fit!- that he had to go to the Bank.

Director Ragnok is sitting behind a human-sized desk. There are two heavily armed and armored goblin guards about three steps behind him, flanking a painting of a sunny little lane.

As they approach the goblin gestures for them to sit.

“We are glad you could make the time to see us so quickly.” Dorian says at his gentlest, most even tone.

Rule 1: Don’t thank a goblin because-

“All living in these islands owe homage to the Pendragon.”

-They won’t thank you for it. In fact, all those muggle tales about never thanking a fairy and the consequences? They’re really about goblins.

At least Len’s pretty sure they mean goblins. He’s never met or heard of anyone meeting any actual Fae so he could be wrong. Or he could be right and they are a legend that doesn’t actually exist.

“The Pendragon instructed me to have my husband’s lineage tested.”

“Then it will be tested.” The goblin pulls out a mirror with an ugly gold frame and wiggles his fingers over it for a few moments, changing its magical settings. Eventually the goblin pushes it across the desk to Len. “Three drops of blood. One to verify your identity, one for your mother’s line, and one for your father’s.”

With a grumble, Len pokes his finger with the tip of his wand and visualizes it working like a lancet. The pain is sharp but small. He holds his hand above the silvered glass and allows three drops to fall. He immediately cleans and heals the tiny cut then puts his wand away.

Together the three of them lean in and watch the liquid dance and multiply upon the magical surface forming words and lines, two family trees.

Shocked Len leans back. Ragnok pulls the mirror sharply over to his side where Len and Dorian can’t see it clearly. Dorian looks between the two of them confused.

Unlike Dorian, Len can read Gobbledygook. He can’t speak it but then very few people outside of the Horde can. He can read it, though, oh yes he can. He doesn’t need Ragnok to explain those symbols to him.

Not that the goblin looks all that inclined to explain as he wordlessly pulls writing supplies from the desk along with a single-serving vial of the same potion Lords Potter and Longbottom took just a few days ago.

Len quickly learns why they boys threw it back so hard, the potion tastes just like it looks, which is to say like dirty dishwater. He picks up the quill in his right hand, the Director wiggles his fingers some more, and Len feels compelled to write –

Inheritance: Lordship, House of Hufflepuff – by right of Blood and magic.

Based on what he read on the mirror, he really isn’t surprised by his result.

Dorian reads it and chokes on air.

Ragnok just nods when he reads it and turns the mirror so that his audience can read it. “As you can see,” He waves his hand and the words translate themselves into English. “Your birth father is Nicholas Ambrose Flamel. Not a nobleman but highly intelligent, powerful and famous.

“Your birthmother is Perenelle Elizabeth Flamel nee Hufflepuff. Though there are several active bastard and squib lines of your heritage, you are the one that we can trace directly and legitimately back to Helga Hufflepuff herself.

“Do you wish to accept the title today?”

Len hesitates. It’s an honor and he always been a little jealous of the flashy Lords and their huge magical legacies but, since he started serving the House of Potter, he’s come to know that these things that he’s been more than half-wanting for himself can be a very real burden. The Magical Legacy of Nobility changes you. It reshapes you. It jerks you out of whatever path you’ve picked for yourself and plants you on the one it wants for you. Which might be all well and good for a 16 year-old with no goals or life plan but Len is damn near 40! He knows who he is and what he wants.

“Can I meet it first?” He asks.

“The Hufflepuff Legacy Stone?” The goblin clarifies.

Len just nods.

The goblin shakes his head “Only the Head of Hufflepuff can access the vault that holds the stone.”

Len looks to his husband. Dorian’s face is painfully neutral but Len knows his husband. His husband is an ambitious creature. Not that that’s a bad thing or off-putting because it isn’t a selfish ambition. Dorian wants to fix the inequalities between pure bloods, half-bloods like Dorian, and muggle-borns. Something Len, as a supposed muggle-born, could really get behind. A cause he still is behind but he doesn’t want to be a Lord. He’s not a leader, he’s a healer. His first love is fixing hurts and defeating disease!

‘Prejudice is a disease.’ The little voice that sounds like his father, uh, the man that raised him says.

Len huffs at himself. Maybe he’s worrying too much. Proxies happen. And he’s pretty sure their wedding vows require Dorian to take on crap like this that Len doesn’t want to deal with.

“Alright.” He says finally. “I’ll do it.”

-*-

The four of them had just settles into the Informal Dining Room for breakfast when an little owl-warrior zooms in through the post-window. He’s actually a fairly large bird for an owl and brown-speckled bird wearing a leather harness with brushed bronze round pressed with the Weasley crest drops a sealed scroll into Harry’s lap and lands on one of the empty chairs, obviously prepared to wait for an answer.

Harry gives it a quick read before looking to his audience. Neville and Hermione’s eyes are on him, waiting to be briefed. Draco is studiously moving his eggs from one side of his plate to another, pretending to give them privacy but too curious to actually just leave.

“It’s from Lord Weasley.” He tells them all. “Arthur and his sons are back in the country and Arthur wants to meet with me in regards to Molly.”

“Arthur wants you to intercede with the DMLE.” Neville surmises.

“Don’t they know that the Horde’s already sentenced her?” Hermione asks, more than a little shocked.

Molly hasn’t really been sentenced because the Horde doesn’t really try people. Not really.

Financial crimes are, of course, prosecuted by the DMLE. Just like any other crime. But thanks to a number of treaties if you commit any sort of crime in, through, or on the Bank, they have the option of taking offense. If they take offense, they can declare someone their enemy which is a death sentence with no trial and no chance of appeal. And it’s not always a decision they broadcast so they can have a Hit Wizard drop in on you without any sort of notice.

Only a fool would risk offending them.

“I don’t see why the Bank would tell them.” Draco pitches in. “Bilius Weasley isn’t her lord and there’s no marriage contract. From what I understand they eloped and married muggle, other than any private, magical vows they might have made to each other there’s no magical proof that it happened.”

Oh, well then. “This isn’t the kind of news you can give through Owl, is it?” Harry shoots his husband the squinty eyes along with the question. Today was supposed to be their first date.

“It really isn’t,” Neville agrees. “And your alliance is too new to risk it.”

Dammit. At some point he’s going to get to have fun. And it better be before school starts! “Alright.” He has Crow get him what he needs to send an appropriate response and turns to his heir and her betrothed. “How about the two of you take our portkey to the Magical Preserve and Zoo near Inverness? We had portkey tickets and the Warden was going to take us around himself.”

“Be a shame to waste it.” Draco puts in.

“I think it would be better for me to go with you, Harry.” Hermione argues. “You need to should show up with your heir at your side to show them we are united as a House.”

“Bad news needs the smallest possible audience.” Harry counters.

-*-

“Hey there, mate.” Ron grins and claps Harry on the shoulder as they all take their seats in a private room at the Leaky Cauldron. “I told my uncle to accept the contract so just send it over whenever. ”

“Contract?” Harry shoots Lord Bilius a confused look. The Weasley lord shakes his head, not sure what Ron’s talking about either.

“For Hermione.”

He’s tempted to pretend he doesn’t understand what type of contract Ron could possibly mean but that would just prolong his exposure to his former friend and wouldn’t be worth it. “Why would I send you a contract for Hermione?”

“Who else are you going to foist her off on?” The red head asks. “It’s the duty of your best mate to take annoying sisters. Don’t worry, I’ll keep her in line.”

“Hermione needs absolutely no one to ‘keep her in line’.”

“Of course she does, she’s a bossy little know-it-all and she’s not very pretty so it’s not like there’s any chance she can get you any good allies. Honestly, Lavender would have been a better choice for you to adopt but that’s okay, I’ll take her off your hands. Best mate code.”

Harry is horrified. Ron is so wrong on so many levels and Harry is just not even sure where to start with correction. “You are not my best mate.” He blurts.

Ron looks at Harry with temper already shining in his eyes. “Of course I am! Who else could be your best mate? Who else would take her? Lady Potter over there?” He gestures to Neville. “He’s been in love with you for ages and doesn’t even have the guts to say anything!”

Harry is once again shocked -Why attack someone not involved? Neville hasn’t even said hello yet! – then he’s all over furious.

“Hermione is already betrothed.” Harry says tightly. “She is betrothed to a wizard of her choosing with a contract she and our lawyer wrote together. He asked for her hand politely and accepted her on her terms. I have no need to foist her anywhere.

“Also. Ron. You are not my best mate. You were but then you lost your mind in third year and became completely intolerable. I would never betroth my sister to you. She’s never been interested in you. Even if the wizard she chose were to fall over dead tomorrow, I would not, under any circumstances, betroth her to you.

“And if you ever try to belittle or insult my husband again you will wish for death long before it finds you. Are we clear?”

Ron is glaring furiously at Harry, his mouth flopping open and closed with no sound coming out.

“Perfectly clear, Lord Potter.” Ron’s older brother Charlie says as he pulls Ron up, out of his seat, and pushes him into a new one between the twins and further away.

Arthur clears his throat and leans forward, drawing Harry’s attention away from his youngest son. He’s flushed, sweating. His eyes keep flicking between Harry and Ron like he’s not sure what to say. Harry has a moment to be glad on behalf of the entire House of Weasley that Arthur is not their Lord and wonders if maybe that was intentional? Could Arthur have intentionally lost his inheritance so he wouldn’t have to deal with things like this? …It makes a strange sort of sense.

“Mr. Weasley?” Harry draws the older man mentally away from his conflict over Harry and Ron’s conflict.

“Ha- Lord Potter.” He says, focusing on Harry and not quite hiding a grateful sigh. “I asked for this meeting to ask you to intercede with the Ministry on behalf of my wife. I know she made a mistake, taking money from Dumbledore, but we have a plan. We’ll repay you every knut she accepted within the next five years but she’s a good person, the heart of our family and we would be poorer in ways no one can repay without her. Please help us.”

Harry sits back, physically distancing himself. At least Ron comes by his talent for being so completely socially wrong honestly. How can Arthur assume a woman that potioned a man she ‘loves’ into marriage or a woman that took bribes to care for an orphan and hid the money rather than use it on her own family is a good person?

“It’s not about the money.” He says and it isn’t. It’s about the lying. It’s about not knowing who he can trust. “It’s about me not trusting you or your family because your wife is a truly foul human being.”

“This isn’t about you!” Ron howls from his place between his brothers and earns himself twin elbows in the solar plexus.

“Whether or not Harry decides to step in on a legal proceeding being taken against a person for crimes they committed against him seems to be about Harry, actually.” Neville cuts in.

Harry manages not to grin at his husband because it would be absolutely inappropriate but Neville is so completely done with Ron Weasley. Has been done for years, if he had ever actually liked the red head in the first place, which Harry rather doubts.

“Look,” Harry says a little sharper than intended. “Molly has already been declared an enemy of the Horde. If I step in now and the Ministry releases her, the Bank will have Hit Wizards waiting for her to leave the Ministry and she’ll die.

“If you actually want to see your wife free and with you, for at least a while, then she needs to go to jail. She needs to be out of reach to give them time to cool down. They won’t forget. They’ll never forget but eventually the price on her will go down. With less money on the table, there will be fewer sharks in the water and you’ll get her back. For a while.”

Arthur is pale and even more shaken looking than he was at the beginning of the conversation but there is really nothing he can do about it. There’s nothing any of them can do about it.

Harry stands and Neville stands with him. “We’re done here.”

Harry is about two steps from the Floo when he hears someone call “my lord,” and a hand briefly alights his arm but doesn’t grab.

He turns to face Bilius Weasley, his lips are pinched together in an unhappy white line. Charlie, his heir, is standing just behind him. “My lord, Puddlemere United is having a scrimmage this weekend – A Team versus B Team. We’d like to invite you and any friends you would like to bring with you to watch and do a spot of training?”

It’s an apology. And a really attractive one, but- “I have plans tomorrow that I will not be canceling. Sunday?”

Bilius gives him a single nod and turns it into more of a bow. “Sunday. On the Hogwarts Pitch? We can see if we can come up with ways to improve the Pitch as well as give your friends tips to improve their game?”

“Sunday,” Harry agrees. “Come for breakfast.”

-*-

Amy nods to Papa Alastor as she slips up the stairs and out of sight.

Papa and Harry had a bit of an argument about security. Papa insisted on an armed escort of at least a dozen Aurors and a half dozen Hit Wizards. Harry wanted no escort other than his husband. In the end they settled on Moody keeping a disillusioned eye on the meeting itself with four Aurors waiting upstairs for Moody’s signal just in case.

Papa was not pleased to have Harry argue with him about ‘basic, common sense security measures’ but it honestly made Amy feel better to have a King that would make up his own mind and stick with it. Even if they compromised in the end, not many people have the backbone to stand up to Mad-Eye Moody.

“Scrimgeour, keep watch for Moody’s signal.” She orders as soon as the three waiting men are within reach. “Robards, Shacklebolt. Secure the floor. We have a Rat to find.”

The problem with wizarding buildings is that the lay out isn’t always the most… logical. You can see an object, in this case the gentle blue glow of an animagus revealed through Magical Sight, but taking the door closest to it won’t always get you where you need to be to actually get the object. And it’s not like animagi can be summoned like a natural creature. No, the magic of animagi makes them immune to such things. Oh, and highly resistant to stunners, too.

So they have to find the creature, in the maze that is the Leaky Cauldron, and they have to do it slow and quiet so that he doesn’t scamper off to some other more impossible hiding place.

Three doors and four rooms later there is a blue-glowing lump quivering under a blanket on the bed in the center of the room. She has her wand out. She is ready to stun it as hard as she can when the damn thing moves. And it is fast.

The bed is destroyed, followed quickly by the desk. The wardrobe takes a solid hit and rocks dangerously but keeps standing.

The Rat is scrambling at a corner, obviously trying to get to a lower floor. Thank Merlin they’ve already sealed it. At her glance Gawain starts drawing the runes and shouts the incantation to seal the room. The Rat bounces back from the wall with an indignant squeak as the enchantment takes effect.

Two more stunners, a great diving catch executed by King, and they have the Rat wrapped and squirming in a blanket.

A bite and a… well, an application of Rat to desk later and they have the vile creature in an animagus containment vessel. It looks like a long, skinny, hexagonal glass lantern but with no light source or fuel well in it and the glass is blue.

Gawain pops away to start processing the Rat and Amy and King exchange a look. The room is a disaster. So much for the most excellent prowess of their Majesty’s Auror Service.

They share a look and laugh.

-*-

The meeting is going much, much faster than Moody anticipated. He hasn’t gotten any signal from Amy about their success and there hasn’t been any pings against the apparition wards of anyone going off to the Ministry.

Silently he casts an Weasley-Repelling ward on the stairs as Harry stands and starts marching to the Floo.

Moody makes it to the fireplace as Bilius and Charles are bowing and moving back to Arthur and throws up a security ward to protect the name of Potter’s private Floo (“Gryffin’s Landing”) from the building’s other occupants. Once his charges are through and off to safety, Moody turns back to the Weasleys. There is something just not right going on there.

Moody watches Lord Bilius dismiss his brother and his brother’s sons. Bilius and the oldest two make it directly over to the bar, 10 AM is not a big enough deterrent to hold a round or three of Fire Whiskey at bay. The twins say good-bye with a series of team back pats and claps on the shoulder, then scamper off. Probably to check their shop after a two week absence.

The Weasley-Repelling ward works. Moody watches as Arthur makes for the stairs, then suddenly decide to go visit his wife and pop away. The third boy -Per-something?- also makes for the stairs until he hits the ward, then he remembers an urgent work issue and sprints off to the Alley.

The youngest boy, Ron, the one that bothers Moody in a way he can’t quite identify, heads to the stairs and stops at the foot only to growl to himself and stomp out into the Alley. Without a moment’s hesitation, Alastor follows.

Ron Weasley is a complete little shit. He knicks an apple from a street vendor, kicks an alley cat (and misses), trips a Firstie carrying a bunch of brand new spell books into the mud, and just keeps right on stomping down the alley. Past Quality Quidditch Supplies. Past Flourish and Blott’s. Not even glancing at the ice cream parlor he, bold as brass, takes the left in front of the Bank into Knockturn Alley. He has his hand on the knob to a shop that Moody knows but has never been able to prove sells all kinds of illegal things like cursed cabinets, love potions, and hexed jewelry when Alastor stuns him and transfigures him into a mouse before he can hit the ground.

He pockets the tiny rodent and walks right out of Knockturn Alley and into the bank. Once inside he makes his way into the room set aside for Unspeakables and summons his husband.

“Why would you stun a child?” Is the first thing Algie says to him once the red haired menace is untransfigured and laid out for examination. “This is kidnapping, Alastor!”

His husband is upset and that’s understandable but he did the right thing. He did! He’s just not sure why.

“He makes my magic itch.” He finds himself saying. “And he smells like Dumbledore.”

Algie purses his lips in his I-am-going-to-end-you way and turns to the boy. Wand out, Algie runs several diagnostics. Alastor doesn’t try to keep up with them, it would be a waste of time. All Unspeakable-grade diagnostic charms only report back to the caster.

“Wow,” Algie says with a sigh as he grips his communication locket. “Hecate, Dolos, report to the Bank. I need you. Diagnostics and containment.”

Two “Yes, Croaker”s later and Algie releases the locket. He then twists it so that his hood rises into place.

Moody frowns. He doesn’t like Dolos. He’s risen in the ranks since Rowan ‘retired’ and Algie trusts him but Alastor never will. The guy’s a Death Eater. No matter why he became a Death Eater he is one and there is no such thing as a retired Death Eater.

-*-

Half an hour later the boy is on his stomach on the examination table. He’s stripped to the waist and under a potion-treated, rune-covered drape that only leaves a hand-sized section of his back visible. There in the small of his back is a coin surrounded by a tattoo that looks like a tribal sun. It’s not a real coin, just a little metal round imbued with magic and the tattoo is not really a sun. The ‘flames’ around the edges of the coin are long lines of tiny runes, also imbued with magic.

Magic with the signature of one Albus Dumbledore.

“We know Dumbledore was core-taping muggle-born children,” Hecate explains to a pale and furious Bilius Weasley. “He used one of his necklaces, a gift he was given of goblin-wrought metal charms to anchor the taps. He turned every, well, coin on his necklace into a reservoir for stolen magical energy.”

“And one of those was implanted in my nephew’s back?”

“Yes,” She answers, her soft voice almost gentle. “It was rather brilliantly done. The tattoo around the coin makes it so that he uses his magical core first and then the tap just accents his magic for spells beyond what he can do on his own, prolonging the life of the Tap. As it is the Tap won’t survive his Hogwarts years.”

“What are you telling me?”

“While he definitely isn’t a squib, without the coin, the boy might be a sorcerer-level magical but he’s probably just a wizard. So, I’m telling you that your nephew is magical but he doesn’t qualify for Hogwarts. For some reason Albus Dumbledore preformed a dark ritual to get him in and his exposure to both the ritual and the coin -which is a dark object- are tainting his mind and his magic.

“We suggest having the object and the runes ritually removed and then sending him for extensive mind healing. We can do the ritual in private here in the bank and, if you were to send him abroad for the healing, we could probably save your family another scandal.”

“He’ll never go back to Hogwarts.” Bilius says, speechless but not yet in shock.

“He never should have gone in the first place.”

 

 

Chapter 15 – August 7, 1996

 

Well, shit.

Tom Riddle was, no, is a mage.

That’s the only conclusion he can draw, seeing a fourth soul anchor. Others of his species might be able to ignore the implications of such a powerful enemy but Ni-ogg has worked with and trained the human elements within the bank to do so. Magus status put Tom Riddle in the top 5% of human magical potential. Combined with a creative and intelligent mind, such a being bent on destruction of the magical world could possibly challenge even the Horde.

Without a second thought the goblin scoops the Hufflepuff Cup into a carry sack and moves to leave the LeStrange Vault.

“Ni-ogg?” The human, Cormac Weasley, who overseeing Vault consolidation for the House of Potter asks.

“Stolen property.” He tells the red haired wizard easily. “Taking it to Director Ragnok.”

The human’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Surprised that’s the first we’ve found.“

It actually isn’t the first stolen property but it is the first item going directly to Ragnok rather than to Reclaimed Property. Ni-ogg doesn’t stop to ask what the human thinks the difference means. Fewer questions are better in this instance.

-*-

“Alright,” Neville starts. “Has everyone read the pamphlet they were given?” All five participants nod. “Have you all brought the required materials?” Again five nods.

“Okay. Good. I can’t stress enough how important it is that once the seed is started and until it is complete 18 months from now it cannot be left without magical exposure. It has to remain in at least one parent’s aura at all times.”

“Because we are handling the infant’s magical dependence now.” The healer in the group clarifies.

“Yes, because we are handling the dependence issue now. Once the seed is completed it no longer has to remain in an aura. In fact, the Longbottom Lord’s Vault has seeds going back several hundred years that I could plant tomorrow and start making more Longbottoms, so once we are done the seeds will be viable a very long time but we have to get them there first.

“How are we going to manage this?” The young Lord of Malfoy asks. “We can’t just carry them everywhere.”

“Necklaces.” Neville answers. “Lockets to be specific. Long ago my family figured out what types of metals to use and how to shape them to best protect forming seeds. So don’t worry.

“We aren’t there yet, though. We still need to collect hair. We’re going to need at least three three-foot long strands including root for each parent for each seed. To that end we’ve mixed hair growth potion with magical shampoo to encourage growth and the antidote with conditioner. We’ll each take our partner and a bathroom and grow our hair.”

Hermione’s hand shoots into the air.

“Wouldn’t it be better just to drink the potion?” Dorian Zabini asks, ignoring Hermione’s indignant huff.

“Only if you want to turn into a walking dust mop.” Draco answers.

“Why not just treat a small section?” Hermione asks. “Like one side of tour bangs or something? Why the whole head?”

“Because even with the antidote the effects can linger and throw you physically or magically out of balance.” Her betrothed answers her gently. “Better to treat the entire area than to stress sections of it out.”

“Right.” Neville nods. “Take pairs of long gloves and wear aprons. Splashes happen.”

They all break up into their three pairs. Harry and Neville use their own bathroom, Draco and Hermione use her bathroom right down the hall, and Len and Dorian use the second bathroom in the Master Suite.

It’s actually pretty fun for Neville because Harry practically purrs while getting his hair washed. The blown irises and long, lazy eye blinks Harry treats him to after both the shampoo and conditioner rounds are really… becoming.

When the group reconvenes back in the Master Suite’s Sitting Room cum temporary laboratory around an hour and a half later, everyone has hair to the waist. Some of them can pull the look off and some of them really, really can’t.

Neville holds up two magical hair brushes. “We need roots intact so be careful. Three per seed you are participating in.” Since each person in each of the three couples is making their own child-seed that’s 6 hairs apiece.

Neville brushes Harry’s hair wishing for a smaller audience so that they could indulge but thankfully it takes one quick run through to get the six necessary strands intact and in the correct length. The two of them work together to get the delicate strings out of the brush, straight, lined up with their roots together and stuck with a charm to Harry’s side of their workstation.

Practiced now, they blow through Neville’s strand collection in no time but have to wait for the other couples. Particularly Hermione whose hair never cooperates with anyone and Draco whose thin white hair is akin to fighting spider webs.

“At the heart of every seed is a gem. I have a collection of correct quality gems here.” Neville holds up a box. “I’ll bring it around for you to pick one. Once you have the one that feels best to you, place it in the jewelry vice on your desk. They are going to be tiny, you don’t want to lose them.” He holds up the tiny crescent moon of light green jade that he picked out ages ago, though he’d be surprised if anyone other than Harry of the Seeker-Eyes could see it since he’s chewed off chunks of finger nail that were bigger, and secures it in the vice on his side of his and Harry’s work space.

He starts with Harry who predictably chooses a small, bright red ruby. Len McCoy takes a small sliver of obsidian. The Zabini Patriarch takes a perfect sphere of blue sapphire about the same shade as his eyes. Malfoy chooses a lumpy little freshwater pearl.

Neville stops Hermione from choosing from the box and pulls a small envelope from his pocket. Inside the envelope are little bits of the legacy stone from the Slytherin Vault. To ensure the new heir-to-be of Slytherin is deeply entrenched in the Slytherin Legacy, Harry, Neville and Gran agreed it would be best to have the child grounded in, to make his foundation, the Legacy itself.

Hermione pouts at him a bit and picks a piece of Legacy Stone that glows a murky gold and is shaped like a four pointed star about as thick as a piece of parchment.

Returning to his work station, Neville picks up his six strands and smiles a little when he fellow seed makers do the same. “Three per parent per seed, so,” he pulls three of his own hair out of his fist and hands them to Harry who takes three of his own strands and hands them to Neville. Once the exchange is complete, Neville lines up all six roots and ties a knot gently in the hair about an inch down from them.

He looks up and watches the others follow his lead. Once they are all looking back at him with their knotted locks in their hands, he nods and continues. “We need to make the hairs as sturdy and as mixed as we can so I’m going to braid mine. You can knot, you can twist. Whatever works, just blend the hairs and make them strong.”

Neville bends to his own task and does his best not to grin at Harry’s increasingly inelegant huffs of frustration. It doesn’t take him long to knot off the end of his braid but by the time he does both Harry and the hair are looking a little frayed.

With a gentle smile, he takes the hair from his husband and soothes his fingers down the locks, willing strength into them much like he would an ailing youngling in his greenhouse. A gentle word, a teasing kiss, and some dancing fingers later Neville once again has a happy husband and a newly completed braid.

Once Healer McCoy finished his knotted strand, Neville continues his planned lecture. “Starting today and once every three months until we are done, we are going to have to treat our seeds in a potion made from the various… personal fluids you were instructed to bring with you today. It’s the same potion every time but we still need to meet up every time so that I can double check your progress. One potion per pair will do.”

There is a copy of the recipe on each desk so the all bend over and after a thorough read through start adding things to the ceramic with gold inlay cauldrons in front of them.

Neville’s been told but wouldn’t know for himself that the potion is similar to but simpler and  more elegant than the Polyjuice Potion. Not that anything containing your blood, saliva, and ejaculate could reasonably be called elegant but at least they didn’t have to spend twenty-something says stewing Lace-Wing Flies.

Altogether the brewing takes about two hours. This time Harry and Neville finish last which is disappointing but not really a surprise.

Each final potion is as different as the couple brewing it but the gray mist rising of each cauldron signifies success all around.

Neville picks up a brand new, thoroughly cleaned paintbrush. “We start by applying three coats of potion to the seed’s heartstone. One coat, dry, one coat, dry and then I want everyone to wait.”

This time Neville is the last one to finish. He’s being fussy about it and he knows that hut this is his heir he’s making. It’s not something to be rushed.

“This time once your coat is applied you need to get all six hair roots embedded in the potion before it dries. The join is going to be delicate but they will stick.

“Oh, and dip the hair up to the first knot we made in the potion before sticking it in your top coat to help strengthen the connection. Don’t let the hair lie in the potion too long because it will damage the root.”

Leading by example Neville paints his stone a third time. He lays it on thick, like he’s trying to hide the stone, even though the stone’s color is already lost to his and Harry’s golden concoction. Not heeding his drips he dunks the hair and brings the hair to the stone. He’s gratified when the roots gravitate to the stone as soon as they are close enough, like his child wants to be made.

Glancing around he takes in his companions’ smiles and satisfied nods and moves forward. “Now wrap the hair around the heartstone. Keep the coverage as even as you can. Keep it tight. You can use the potion like glue to hold the hair in place. You’ll have to take it completely out of the vice for this.

“Once you have a solid level of hair around the heartstone and the roots put it right into the potion for a minute long bath. Don’t overcook it. We’ll do this a total of three times. Give it five minutes to set up between bathes and wrappings.

“There should be hair left over at the end, so don’t worry.”

They work in silence. Focus is absolute. When they’re done they each have the beginnings of a seed about the size of an almond with a tail long enough to wrap around the primary parent’s hand once on the table in front of them.

“Lockets!” Neville holds up a fist full of mithril chains, each with a single mithril charm on them. He takes his cooled seed and moves to the currently displaced and slightly cramped seating area. The others quickly join him.

He hands out the lockets. They are all circles or hearts of delicate filigree. Five of them have clear crystals lacing one side that serve to shield the seed, enhance the seeds exposure to the wearer’s magic, and in the event of an emergency act as a short term supply of the wearer’s magic. Its only good for about an hour of exposure without the wearer but that’s better than just letting the seed die.

The sixth locket, Hermione’s, is different. Rather than clear crystal her pendant has a large chunk of Slytherin Legacy Stone that will encase the seed on all sides except the one that lays against Hermione. Not because she’s a girl or anything stupid like that but because her seed will technically have three parents.

Biologically he (or they) will be Draco and Hermione’s child,  Magically he will be Hermione and the Slytherin ancestor that established their legacy stone, Salazar Slytherin’s. By Name the child will be a Potter because Hermione is a double donor.

Neville shows them how to feed the ‘tail’ into the top part of the locket and how to lock it in so that the seed cannot fall out for anything other than the wearer’s full, conscious intention.

Once he’s certain that they all know exactly how to maintain the formation of their seed, they sat up an appointment to meet on the first Saturday in November and class is dismissed.

-*-

Three goblins stand with three Unspeakables on either side of a ritual stone.

No one speaks but really, what is there to say? Voldemort had been defeated for a whopping four days before they found the Cup and proof they were wrong. That he still lives.

The Unspeakable Hecate puts a green-tinted monocle over her right eye and pulls a clear glass marble from a pocket inside her cloak. She casts silently over the Cup until the marble takes on an eerie red glow. Once she’s satisfied with whatever it is that she did, she carves a ‘C’ into the ball and leaves it on the ritual altar, outside of the Cup’s containment circle.

She then pulls out a tiny satchel with three more glass marbles already glowing in various shades of red from a different pocket inside her robe. One by one she inspects them and lays them out on the table.

“Judging by the degradation of the magical signature, the Diary was the first Horcrux made.” She holds up the glass ball with a fancy ‘D’ carved into it. “Next he must have made the Cup but there is a significant difference between these two signatures that makes me feel that at least one, but possibly two, Horcruxes were made between the Diary and the Cup.” She places the newest marble next to the D marble. “The Diadem or Tiara would have been next.” This ball is marked with a T. “WE can tell that there are no Horcruxes between them because the degree of change is exactly what you would expect in this situations. And then finally the Quill.” She sets the last ball, the one marked with a ‘Q’ down.

“That means the maximum of two horcruxes that we’re missing would go here?” Croaker rolls the Diary Ball away from the Cup Ball and taps the table between them with two fingers.

“At least one of them.” She nods. “So, ideally, we will have an easier time finding them. This would have been earlier in his life so he was a less sophisticated soul with less education.”

“No,” Ni-ogg finds himself disagreeing. “He would have been younger yes but more energetic. It’s more likely that the horcruxes made by his younger self will actively defend themselves where the older ones don’t.”

Ragnok is nodding from his place in the center of the goblin formation. “These are tired. The Quill was deeply hidden, whether by force or by choice we’ll never really be sure. The Diadem just wanted to be forgotten and was in the process of taking the Room of Requirement with it. This Cup hides what it is, almost all of its magic is consumed with it, but is still has cleverly hidden defenses. It expects to be found and held, possibly used. There is poison around both sides of the lip and poison pins in the handles.

“These are very passive defenses compared to the Diary’s all-out assault on Hogwarts that grow more passive as he makes more horcruxes.

“The missing two will be very dangerous.” Ni-ogg just nods along with his chieftain. “We must tell the Pendragon.”

“He is a boy.” Croaker argues. “And the prophecy is broken. There is no reason to involve him in this.”

“He is our King.” Ragnok corrects the Unspeakable-in-chief. “It is his duty to defend the land from such darkness and it is his right to end his Family’s mortal enemy.”

Croaker’s face is hidden but his body language is firm. He will not tell the Boy Who Lived that Voldemort too survives and, unless he enters the Bank, the Horde can’t access the Pendragon without Croaker’s help.

“On your head be it.”

 

 

Chapter 16 – August 8, 1996

 

Harry laughs a little meanly as he leans back in his chair. “I can’t hire a vampire to teach history! I might as well leave it with a ghost, at least Binns won’t kill the students.”

“Bonded Vampires aren’t dangerous,” Lord Bilius inserts. “Unless you attack or somehow threaten their bonded but then you deserve what’s coming to you.”

“Bonded Vampire?” Harry asks, looking confusedly between Madame Isabelle, Mr. Scoresby, and Bilius himself.

“Bonded.” Madame Isabelle agrees with a nod. “About 300 years ago, a German wizard from a long line of powerful Seers created a mutually-beneficial spell the bonds a magical with unstable gifts to a vampire. The Vampire stabilizes the magical’s Gift and the magical stabilizes the Vampire’s blood lust. There are other benefits they give each other but the point it he’s safe.

“Louis du Lac, the vampire I’m recommending, taught history at Beauxbatons for 100 years. We actually were on staff together for about five years until he and his bonded decided they wanted children and quit the school to find a third.

“His two bondeds would be perfect to teach Divination and Potions, to be honest.”

Harry makes a face, not convinced. “But night classes? Wouldn’t a vampire instructor mean night classes? We just got away from doing Astronomy as a night class, I don’t want to back slide.”

“No,” Madame Isabelle says with a shake of her head. “He’s old enough to be awake during the day. I wouldn’t recommend a classroom with a lot of windows but days are perfectly doable.”

“Okay,” Harry picks his fork back up and digs into his breakfast. “But I want an interview with this vampire before he’s hired. What else?”

“Werewolves. This country has an abnormally large population of infected children but none of them are invited to Hogwarts. I was hoping you could explain why.”

“You’re going to tell me werewolves bond too? That they’re safe?”

“A strong pack helps their mental and physical health but no. they don’t really bond.” Lord Bilius answers into his oatmeal. “Well, unless you mean with a New Moon Amulet? I don’t think they really need a pack once they’re magic has bonded to an Amulet though.”

Harry is flabbergasted. “Is there a book on this stuff?”

“On ways for magicals to circumvent or control the darkest conditions and curses that plague our kind?” Bilius asks seriously and holds it approximately two heart beats before his face breaks out in a shit-eating grin. “I’m sure if I had such a thing I wouldn’t keep it in this country and I definitely wouldn’t admit to having it at all in front of an ex-Auror who would feel compelled to report my possession of contraband to the Ministry.”

“Actually,” Moody drawls in response. “I would like to read this book. You know, if they existed or if someone knew how to get these books.”

-*-

Five men in horrifically colored and patterned fitness gear are up to know good. They are always up to no good. If you ask them they run all the no-good in Little Hangleton. Fake IDs? Booze? Drugs? Small arms? They got ’em all and they’ll get ’em for you for a price.

It’s, well, their morning  -they don’t exactly keep regular business hours- and they’re doing a bit of a walk about. Little Hangleton a little town and it’s boring but sometimes interesting things wash up so to speak on the road ways around.

Like this little fucking arch in the woods.

Someone’s been fucking around on their land. Right recent, too. Today because if it had been there yesterday theyda noticed.

Their leader, the big one in three different shades of yellow slips on some brass knuckles and leads them in.

Frankie, the little one, doesn’t belong with guys like this, in places like this. His mum says he’s too smart for his ‘friends’ but he knows that’s not true. He’s too sensitive, that’s why he don’t fit with them. That’s why he never leads things or makes his own decisions because he always wants to give back what they take or lower the price when the mark starts crying.

The other four have to boost him up. Keep him from backing down. There’s no boosting strong enough this time. The woods are wrong. This perfect arching hallway through the woods is wrong. They can’t be here! This is dangerous! They are gonna die!

Frankie turns and runs, much to Big Bird’s disgust. “Huh,” he sneers. “We’ll deal with him later.”

The wooded arch-hallway ends in a clearing. It’s shabby and overgrown and to one side is what might have, must have, once been a shack. All that’s left standing is a door and it’s frame. The door has a vaguely less sun-bleached shape almost like an ‘S’ on it.

The clearing is really rough but there’s no obvious signs that anyone’s been there. Unless the knocked down house thing is the sign? Big Bird approaches the house. There’s nothing special about it, just an abandoned – wait, what? There’s something sparkling in the ruin.

It takes all four of them but once they get to it and get it out they see it’s a fairly large, solid gold jewelry box. They grunt, jostle, and grin at each other in congratulatory greed. When he opens the box, Big Bird finds a single item. A ring. The band is delicately etched, he’s not sure if it’s supposed to suggest wings or scales. He doesn’t know what kind it is but the one and only stone is fairly large, black and pyramid shaped. There is some sort of design inset deep within the stone.

He shoves the box into someone’s arms. He doesn’t bother to look and he doesn’t care, he has to slip on the ring. He has to. He has to do it right now. And he does. He slips it on the ring finger on his right hand. It fits perfectly and it’s gently warm, welcoming. He doesn’t want to take it off.

“Hey!” One of his former comrades pushes at his arm. “Let us have a turn.”

He won’t take it off.

The next few minutes are a blur to him. He’s not sure who threw the first punch but he definitely throws the last one and the man he would have once called his best friend dies with a gurgle.

Big Bird stands panting and victorious, staring at his treasure, when the ring heats up. It’s not warm any longer, it’s hot. It burns. He reaches to pull it off as the hand that’s wearing it starts to age and the ring starts to shine. As soon as his other hand is in the glow of the ring, it too starts to age. Big Bird starts to scream but there’s no one left to help him. The pain spreads up his hands, up his arms, to his chest until he collapses.

His last sight is a boy. A pale boy with dark hair and cruel eyes.

“Four muggles to one wizard.” Tom smirks at the mess all around him. “I guess we know the conversion rate now.” He pulls His Ring off the muggle delinquent’s and steps over the body.

He has so much to do.

-*-

Later, after breakfast has settled and the last of his guests has arrived, Harry is hovering over the Quidditch Pitch on a loaner Puddlemere United Firebolt chatting with Charlie about the various body-types of Seekers and the tactics they use, how to maximize his play.

Blaise is down by the goal posts chatting with and learning a few moves from Oliver Wood and Puddlemere’s primary Keeper, Toby Shay. Draco is working with the brothers Carlyle and Gearóid Hyland and Carlyle’s wife Tamzen about being a Chaser. Gearóid’s husband Feidlimid is in the stands chatting with Hermione, Theodore Tonks, and Luna about.. well, whatever stand-sitters want to talk about, probably.

Alexandra Lyons and Neville are the biggest surprise though. Maybe it’s just that he’s spent too many years thinking of the Weasley twins and the best Beaters to ever beat but they are good. She’s quick and agile. He is a very strong, almost aggressive presence in the air. The sixth year transfer student has yet to miss a swing at the practice bludger Croft and Greer, and Freidman and Hamm are using to put them through their paces and the pair’s team work is strong. They quickly learn to read each other’s plans to move and counter move accordingly.

Lord Bilius is hovering in the center of the field playing the part of Coach because theirs is off at some meeting or the other.

Bilius blows his whistle and all flyers sprint his direction. When they’ve all formed a loose circle around his position. He sorts them for a practice match, assigning Harry to play a Seeker Match against Charlie and setting up a rotation to work in the other students into the game the rest of the positions will play to 500. when they are just about to break formation and start, Charlie interrupts.

“We can’t play here.” He tells them “Not for real.” About half of the team is nodding along with the professional Seeker.

“Why not? What’s wrong with my Pitch?”  Harry asks, feeling strangely territorial.

“Where are the Weather Wards?” Charlie asks him. “They were here when I was playing six years ago.”

“Weather Wards?”

“Weather Wards. It never rains on or within a quarter mile of a professional-grade Quidditch Pitch. Rain? Lightning? Fog? They would too easily make game play fatal.”

“It’s a stupid mistake,” Beater Greer agrees. “The game’s dangerous. Removing the Weather Wards where kids play is horrifically negligent. Practically attempted murder.”

-*-

Tom’s making good time to the muggle village. It’s exactly like he remembers it, like it’s only been days not.. however long it has actually been since he enchanted the ring.

Intelligence. That’s what he needs. Information. He needs to know when he is and if his birth father’s house is still there with all of his goodies… Did he ever get around to Marking followers like he intended? Did any of them survive his death? And what resurrection protocols on the Ring?

He’s half way across the village to his Manor and about a block away from the pub and inn he remembers from his previous visit when it starts raining. He makes it to the inn but he lingers in the doorway, unsure what to say to muggles. The choice is taken from him when a dumpy old woman bustles in clucking at the red-nosed and equally old man that follows in behind her.

“That Riddle House is going to need a new roof. Why don’t you contact that lawyer? Surely they can make room in the budget to keep from ruining the-!” She immediately changes gears when she sees him. “Oh, hello dear. Are you lost? You look cold and you’re soaked through! Come, sit by the fire. We’ll get you something to warm you up.”

And suddenly he’s adopted. The next few minutes see him sitting in front of the fire under a blanket with a bowl of soup and mug of hot tea. It gets worse (or better) once he introduces himself as Tom Riddle.

“Oh! You must be Junior’s son!” The Hen clucks. “We were starting to wonder about you! Your house is in great shape. The old caretaker Frank died years ago but the Executor of your family estate, Maljoy or something like that – pretty bloke with long hair? – made it so that we could all work to keep it up. A trust fund thing? Or something? Let me tell you, it’s been good for the hooligans. That house is the biggest community service project in town!”

That’s how he ends up with a coat, an umbrella, and keys to his own house. Not that locks would have stopped him but snooping muggles lead to dead muggles. Better community support than a list of missing persons and rampant suspicion.

-*-

A house elf pops into place not far from Hermione in the Quidditch stands and gets everyone’s attention by shouting,  “Master Harry! Master Harry!” Two more elves quickly join the first, causing a truly awful ruckus.

Harry pushes him broom into conversation range as quickly as he can. “Missy? Zabi? Poet? What’s wrong?”

“Master Healer Sir says to tell you Master Lord Sirius is waking up!”

Harry makes for the door up on the battlements that will get him closest to the Family Quarters as fast as he can. He doesn’t think twice about abandoning his broom on the breezeway up there.  Vaguely he hears the clatter of other brooms joining his on the ground but the sound is distant, almost unreal to him.

‘Carpets,’ Harry tells himself as he slips and slides down the overly polished marble floors. ‘We need carpets.’

By the time he slides into the Master Suite’s doorway, Sirius is already toddling from the second bedroom into the sitting room with Remus walking backward in front of him and Len McCoy of the two wands behind him.

Sirius is standing, leaning really, holding himself up with both arms and the back of the couch when he sees them. “Cub?” He asks and it opens something inside of Harry.

Harry doesn’t know what it is. He can’t describe it, it’s too new of a feeling for him. He throws himself into Sirius’s arms and only Remus’s hands under Sirius’s arms keep them upright.

There’s some talking and one of Sirius’s arms releases Harry. A second body slots into Sirius and Harry’s space. Neville.

A third body wiggles in on Harry’s other side. Hermione.

There’s more talking. Hermione rocks like she’s been clapped on the shoulder. Then Sirius goes stiff, absolutely still. Harry pushes back and looks up at his godfather’s face. His face is frozen and shocked. He has one hand hanging mid-air reaching for… Blaise? What could Blaise have done? What is-? Blaise isn’t scary. He’s Draco’s friend, he should be fine. More than welcome, in fact-

Sirius’s voice cracks when he speaks.

“Son?”

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One Comment

  1. this story is awesome! Im using it as a reward for keeping on track studying and filling out job applications. One hour of monotony for one amazing chapter <3

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