- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Dark Themes
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Discussion - Murder
- Discussion - Rape
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Fix It
- Time Travel
The note was written in his own hand writing. He looked back at Hedwig who appeared as she normally did when they were alone—unruffled, focused, and sort of unimpressed with him. Harry knew she loved him as much as he loved her but they’d never been able to achieve a familiar bond. He’d come to learn that it was because he was a parselmouth. It had hurt but he’d come to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen.
He tossed the note in the fire place as he’d been instructed and took a deep breath. “Right then.”
Hedwig flew out one of the enchanted windows in the common room as he stood. He retrieved his cloak and exited the tower despite the fact that it was already an hour after curfew. If Ron weren’t being a prat about the stupid tournament, it might been fun to sneak about the castle to figure out the mystery together. He thought about getting Hermione despite the fact that the note had said to come alone but she was probably already asleep.
Harry stopped in front of the tapestry of the dancing trolls and was relieved to be under his cloak. He felt kind of silly as he started to pace back and forth in front of it as he muttered under his breath, “I need a place to meet my future.” This third trip in front of the tapestry, a door appeared. He stared at it for one horrified minute before opening it. The note had said it would happen, but Harry just hadn’t believed it possible.
It was an office—cozy and elegantly furnished. A man sat at the desk and when he lifted his head, Harry’s barely refrained from pulling his wand. He remembered what Hermione had said about people who had cursed themselves while using a time-turner. Based on the hand writing and the cryptic instructions, he’d pretty much expected to find himself in the room. He just hadn’t expected to find someone so much older than himself. He didn’t know time-turners could let you go back decades. Pulling off the cloak, he frowned and started to speak.
“I didn’t use a time-turner,” the man said and smiled when Harry huffed. “No, I’m not reading your mind. At your age, the other forms of time travel would be a total mystery to you. And what I did…well, I had to invent an entire new field of magic to accomplish this.” He motioned towards a chair. “Take a seat. We’re going to be here a while.”
“I’ll be missed…I mean, I’m already out passed curfew. Ron’s being a real jerk right now so he’d definitely tell on me if he found out I wasn’t in bed.”
“Perhaps he would but you know you won’t get into any genuine trouble,” the older Harry said with a wry smile. “McGonagall thinks of you as a grandson and Dumbledore is so barmy that he gave you an invisibility cloak at eleven. Per our father’s will, you weren’t to receive that until after your OWLs.”
“They left a will?”
“Yes, it should’ve been executed when you were eleven but Dumbledore coddled you a great deal. He’s always done so in his own way. He wishes to protect you from your future, your destiny, and most especially he wants you be so dependent on him that you believe his every single word without questioning it.”
“That sounds really bad when you put it that way.”
“He’s not evil or dark, mind you, but he does have plans for you that don’t include living to a ripe old age. He’s under the mistaken impression that you carry part of Tom Riddle inside you.”
“But I don’t?” Harry asked. He touched his scar. Then frowned. “Why don’t you have the scar?”
“No you don’t carry part of his soul but you’re tethered to that corrupt piece of shite and have been since 1981. He’s feeding on your magic, Harry, but we’re going to fix that. As for the scar, after I defeated him the final time it disappeared. It took a couple of weeks but it faded completely. It is a mark of fate, so to speak. I’ll explain later.”
“Will it kill him if we sever the tether?” Harry asked.
“No, but it will prevent him hurting you any further magically or mentally. It took me ten years after killing him the second time to regain what that monster took from me during and after his first resurrection. Because I was weak both magically and emotionally, I was misused and manipulated by people I thought I could trust. I was potioned into a marriage I would’ve never wanted on my own. I allowed my best friend to be subjugated into a marriage to someone I considered a friend and he eventually grew tired of her. He used pure-blood marriage law to ruin her. He divorced her and had her declared an Oath Breaker because she refused to have children with a man that would beat her. They bound her magic, snapped her wand, and forced her out of the magical world.”
“Hermione?” Harry demanded. “Who did that to Hermione?”
“Who do you think?” The older Harry asked. “Ron Weasley. He wanted her because he knew I was in love with her. I fell in love with her before I even knew what love was and my feelings never changed. He did it to get one up on me and he succeeded. I had to watch them do that to her and I could do nothing to stop it. It was, however, the emotional stimulus I needed to break through the potion that Ginny was feeding me. As a half-blood I didn’t have the right to sue for divorce so I blocked all access to my money, put her in a small cottage in Devon, allowed her no visitors, and left her there. It took her five years to kill herself due to the isolation.”
“Well, she potioned you so she got what she deserved,” Harry said quietly. “Why didn’t you realize you’d been potioned? It’s always been Hermione. She’s pretty much all I’ve ever wanted.”
“Have you noticed lately that you’re attracted to Cho Chang?”
Harry frowned. “A little and I don’t understand it because she’s a bully and has always been snotty to Hermione and I hate that.” He huffed. “I’ve already been potioned.”
“Yes, Ginny is actually a very smart girl. The first potion she used was an attraction draught designed to make you find a certain type of girl attractive—mainly someone like herself. But she miscalculated and instead we latched onto Cho Chang.” The man put a small trunk on the desk. “We’ll fix that for you.”
“So, how old are you?”
“Seventy-one but I like to think I appear to be a very fit fifty.”
“Yeah, I mean, not even gray headed,” Harry said weakly. “What sort of work do you do?”
“I started out as an auror. I know you’re on the fence about it but it’s been a very rewarding experience despite the pure-blood crap I’ve had to put up with for years. I eventually joined the Department of Mysteries as an Unspeakable. My code name is Phoenix. You may call me that…it might be easier than calling me Harry.”
“All right,” Harry agreed. “So being an Unspeakable is cool?”
“It’s pretty awesome actually and it gave me the resources I needed to accomplish this. Of course, that timeline has been completely washed away due to the magic I used. Even sitting here, you’ve changed the course of the future.”
“Then how are you still here?”
“I’m not really,” Phoenix admitted. “This trunk and its contents are the only physical things that actually came from the previous timeline.”
“You did all of this to save Hermione?” Harry asked quietly.
“She’s the love of my life,” Phoenix said. “The love of your life and without her magic she fell into a depression. I couldn’t help her—due to magical law all other magical people were forbidden from contacting her. I tried to get around it and I nearly killed myself doing so. The magic they used to banish her from the magical world was dark as fuck. They ruined her and she killed herself at thirty-six, Harry. Our sweet, beautiful, and brilliant Hermione hung herself.”
Harry blinked back tears. “I…she’s always been so strong.”
“The loss of magic is such a breach, such an unforgiveable injury that they might as well have had her kissed,” Phoenix said.
“That’s why you drove Ginny to suicide—to punish her and the rest of her family for what happened to Hermione.”
“Yes,” Phoenix said.
“Good,” Harry agreed and ran shaking hands through his hair. “That son of a bitch—I could go murder him in his sleep.”
“You’ll end up in Azkaban and that is no way to keep your Lady safe.”
“My Lady,” Harry repeated and frowned. “What does that…why did you call her that?”
“You are the Scion of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter,” Phoenix said plainly. “The future Earl of Gryffindor and should you wish it, and I know you do, Hermione is the future Lady Potter. She loves you and the only reason Ron stood any sort of chance with her is because she gave up on you.”
“Do I have the right to change everything?” Harry asked. “I mean…”
“Don’t you dare fucking spout off about the greater bloody good, Harry. They destroyed my magical House, caused the death of the love of my life, and acted like they did nothing wrong. The magical world is corrupt and we’re going to make some real changes—for the better. And honestly, Hermione’s survival and happiness means more to me than anything else.”
“What do you mean they destroyed our House?” Harry demanded. “You said…when did you find out that you were the Earl of Gryffindor?”
“Five days after the deadline to claim my title,” Phoenix hissed and took a breath to obviously calm himself down. “Snape cursed me.”
“I don’t…when did he curse us?” Harry asked.
“The night we were sorted,” Phoenix said. “It prevented anyone from mentioning the title, the Potter vaults, and the estate itself. Additionally, it probably played into why Dumbledore never showed me Dad’s will. It also made me extremely disinterested in learning anything about my magical origins. He didn’t destroy the curiosity about my parents because that would have been suspicious. The Ministry seized everything and I had no recourse—the familial magic of the House of Potter was destroyed. Kingsley Shacklebolt gave me back the gold and property when he became Minister,” Phoenix continued, “but the magical legacy was gone and the title defunct. Snape destroyed the last magical house of Avalon because he hated James Potter and was obsessed with Lily.”
“When can I claim the title?”
“You could’ve claimed it over the summer,” Phoenix said. “That’s why I picked this time to come. I’ve been here since your birthday. Using Fawkes and Hogwarts herself, I’ve been…collecting a few things, making potions to help you get back on track physically.”
“Fawkes won’t tell Dumbledore?”
“Harry, Fawkes is only at Hogwarts for you—the true magical heir of Godric Gryffindor, his first and only true Master. Unfortunately, because you’re a parselmouth he can’t bond with you but you already know that.”
Harry nodded. “Yes, I figured it out after second year because of Hedwig. So Fawkes is loyal to me?”
“Extremely loyal,” Phoenix corrected.
“How did you get your code name?” Harry asked. “I know it can’t be your animagus form.”
“No, I know you decided against pursuing the transformation but I want you to know that I came to regret that decision. The older you are when you learn the transformation—the more difficult it is because it’s a magical creature. It took me four years to accomplish what would’ve taken me six months or less as a teenager. Your magic is fluid and very flexible right now, Harry. It’s the ideal time to learn such magics. Incidentally, you’re going to drop divination and pick up some independent studies which I will be tutoring you on.”
“I have the tournament,” Harry protested.
“I’ve already been through the tournament, I’ll tell you everything you need to know,” Phoenix assured. “You can train in this room as needed. As it is, you’ll only need to learn a handful of spells for the challenges. Some of them are NEWT level, but you already have a Patronus so your magical power won’t exactly be a surprise to anyone. You can get Hermione to teach you—she’ll adore that.”
“That sounds manipulative,” Harry complained.
“It is a bit but you’re far more Slytherin than you are Gryffindor and you know it.” Phoenix raised an eyebrow at him. “Don’t tell me lies, kid, I know you inside and out. You aren’t setting out to hurt or use her. Additionally, I know she’s already researching the tournament and the tasks. She’s probably developed a training schedule for you but is afraid to show it to you. You haven’t been a very good friend to her, you know. You’ve let Ron degrade her for years for traits that you happen to admire greatly. It’s one of my biggest shames, Harry, that I let him do that to her—not just in school but in adulthood, too. He destroyed her.”
“What did you do to him?” Harry asked. “I know you didn’t let him get away with it. I’m tempted to go murder him in his sleep so I know he didn’t get away with it the future.”
Phoenix smirked. “I used parselmagic to castrate him. He spent every single spare sickle he had on treatments but the healers could never find anything wrong with him which is why most people consider parselmagic dark. Ron took to drowning his sorrows in a bottle and eventually had a fatal broom accident.”
“An accident?” Harry questioned with a skeptical look.
“Truly an accident. If I’d killed him there is no way it would’ve been instant. And besides, I was only on step three of my twenty step plan to ruin his fucking life. It was infuriating when that dumb motherfucker got himself killed before I was finished.”
“I bet,” Harry agreed. “I hate when my plans get thwarted.”
“I know.” Phoenix huffed. “I still get mad thinking about and it’s been thirty years.” He waved a hand. “Regardless. Let’s get this party started. I sent Fawkes to Gringotts with a blood bound letter confirming my identity and they sent back all of our stuff. It’s in this trunk.”
“The ring.” Phoenix put a ring on the desk between them. He placed a piece of parchment beside it. “Say these words and put on the ring, Harry.”
Harry stared at the parchment for a minute in silence then picked up the ring. “I, Harry James Potter do swear on my magic to honor the legacy of Avalon and the Ancient and Noble House of Potter.” He pushed the ring onto his ring finger on his right hand and it fit itself to his finger with a flash of magic.
“Congratulations, Lord Potter.” Phoenix smiled. “Before the year is out, we’re going to curse the shite out of Severus Snape. He will never ever be the same.”
Harry grinned. “You’re my new best friend.”
“You certainly need one,” Phoenix said dryly. “And who better than yourself?”
“You’re stuck in this room, though, right?”
“No, but I am enchanted into an object.” He pulled out a thin bracelet platinum bracelet covered in runes from the box. “I can take corporeal shape in this room—that is the magic of the Room of Requirement at play. It may be possible in other very magical rooms. I don’t know for sure. This bracelet is a dimensional repository. It took me ten years to make it. It is the only thing I originally had in the trunk I sent back through time. I couldn’t risk anything interfering with its magic. The trunk was designed especially to protect it and in return me.”
Harry took the bracelet when it was offered. “It looks cool.”
“Most people use them to store their wand but then the ones you can buy in a store are not designed to store more than a wand and a money pouch. No one will be surprised if you have one. You can tell them it was in the Lord’s Vault.”
“What’s in the Lord’s Vault?” Harry asked.
Phoenix pulled a small cube from the trunk. “Let’s find out. Since I couldn’t wear the ring, I was unable to open it.”
Harry took the cube and placed it on the desk. “What do I do?”
“Put your hand on top and say your name,” Phoenix suggested.
Harry settled his hand on the smooth metal box and said, “Lord Harry James Potter.” It grew warm under his palm and doubled in size so he lifted his hand and with a little snick the lid opened. There was a book inside, three scrolls, a time-turner and a gleaming black wand. “You never saw this in the future, did you?”
“I saw the vault itself but I was never able to open it. The Lordship ring fell to dust when I didn’t claim it.”
“I don’t think cursing Snape is revenge enough,” Harry admitted.
“I don’t remember being this blood thirsty at fourteen,” Phoenix said thoughtfully.
“I’m very hormonal,” Harry reminded.
“Too true,” Phoenix agreed. “We can kill him if you like. I don’t have a problem with that at all. He’s a bastard and a Death Eater. Additionally, his boner for our mother makes me furious.”
“Yeah, he has no business having a boner for Mum,” Harry said grimly. “The sorry git.” He picked up the first scroll and opened it. “It’s…a letter from Godric freaking Gryffindor.”
Phoenix huffed. “Yeah, we can kill Snape anytime you like, kid. Read it to me, I doubt I’ll be able to touch it.”
“To My Heir,
This letter is a permanent part of the Lord’s Vault so after you read it—return it to the vault for safe keeping. One day, God willing, your own son will read this letter. The concept of inheritance vaults is a relatively new practice and I am the first in our proud family line to make such a vault. I do hope this tradition never falls from favor as it is such a grand and noble idea that our future as a magical House will stretch out so far and benefit so many.
I hope you were raised in a loving and magical home so that most of what I’m about to tell you is old news. However, if our history has been lost to you for one reason or another I wish it to be known to you and those that you trust that the blood of the last magical king of Britain runs in your veins. I speak, of course, of Arthur Pendragon. He was my many greats grandfather as his youngest and only surviving daughter married Warrick Gryffindor. While it has no bearing on your political or social worth, it is a proud legacy to have and one that has spurned in me a drive to be good and Light and just all of my life. I hope it shall do the same for you.
My granddaughter is the last Gryffindor and she is set to marry Hadrian Potter in the fall. He is a good man and has agreed to do a ritual claiming of the title at my request. He will be the next Earl of Gryffindor and so the name will end up with me and our proud history and familial magic will merge with the Potters who are a brave and very honorable family. My granddaughter is truly blessed in life and in love. I hope that blessing is carried throughout my family line for all eternity.
Marry for love as wealth and social status is fleeting. The love of a good man or woman, however, will see you through the darkest of times.
Admire beauty but do not allow the turn of someone’s face to blind you to their inner qualities. An intelligent, brave, and loyal partner is worth their weight in gold.
Make honorable friends for they are the ones that will not turn their backs on you when you have nothing left to lose.
Defend yourself, your House, and your family. No enemy shall go unpunished.
Have pride in yourself and our House for you are the living embodiment of Arthur Pendragon.
Every Loyal, Ever Light
Earl of Gryffindor
Harry let the scroll closed and he put in back in the vault. “Well, crap.”
“Right. Upholding family honor sucks,” Phoenix agreed. “Now we can’t kill Snape.”
“Unless he attacks us,” Harry corrected thoughtfully. “But I think we can punish the crap out of him.”
“Agreed,” Phoenix nodded.
Harry picked up the second scroll and opened it. He frowned. “Hmmm. It’s a notification that I am the Heir of Slytherin through conquest. The House has no title or familial magic. There are three vaults, however. Apparently, Voldemort had about five million galleons in a vault under the name Slytherin when we kicked his butt in 1981.”
“We’ll write a letter to the bank authorizing that money be transferred to the main Potter vault. Then we’ll close it. What are the other two vaults?”
“He’s apparently listed as a co-owner to a vault that belongs to Bellatrix Lestrange and he had a personal vault of his own under the name Riddle that was emptied six months ago.”
“Pettigrew must have done it,” Phoenix said. “Right well, we can have the goblins clean out the Lestrange vault as well but we need to go there first and collect something. On Saturday, you can ask Dumbledore to take you to the bank. He’s a barmy old bastard but he’ll be thrilled that you’ve taken an interest in your magical heritage. In the afterlife, he told me once that he was surprised that I never had any interest. He was quite surprised and furious to learn that Snape had cursed me.”
“The afterlife?” Harry demanded. “You died?”
“Repeatedly,” Phoenix said dryly. “I’m immune to the Killing Curse but every dark bastard and their brother wanted to test that theory. I’ve taken twenty-four of them to date and the longest I was unconscious was thirty-six hours.”
“Phoenix.” Harry sighed. “That’s how you got your bloody code name.”
“So you mean I’m stuck being called the bloody Boy-Who-Lived for the rest of my unnatural life? Can I even die?” Harry demanded.
“You won’t live forever. I certainly didn’t,” Phoenix said. “I’ve aged slower than most but that’s because I have a lot of magical power.”
“Right, okay.” Harry took a deep breath. “I can live with that. It actually has some strategic value—at least until it gets out that I’m immune and I’ll work pretty damn hard to keep that under wraps.” He touched the bracelet. “So what’s in here?”
“Me and something for Hermione. That’s how I’ll be able to interact with you outside of the Room. But you can store your wand or wands,” he said glancing at the open vault, “in it as well your cloak, the map. I’d put anything I really value in it to be honest. We’ll tether it to your core in the next few days so it can’t be removed from you by any outside force. Since you’ll be telling people it was in your Lord’s Vault, no one will be able to take it from you legally. I’d store that time-turner in there as well. Just pick it up and think about storing it. To call an item from the bracelet you just visualize it in your left or right hand.”
Harry picked up the time-turner and it disappeared with a little flash. He picked up the wand and was rewarded with a shower of sparks. “Well…that’s I mean…the wand maker said that the wand picks the wizard.”
“That is true in most cases, however, there are wands that can come to you through various means including beating someone in a duel. That wand is probably bound to our family magic. You’ll be able to use it just as well as your first wand.”
Harry nodded and with a thought stored the wand in his bracelet. “How did you find out about the curse?”
“The goblins were furious with me,” Phoenix admitted. “Livid—actually. I was ordered to report to the bank and once I got there anyone that came into the room was still unable to speak with me about the title I’d never claimed. Eventually, a curse breaker realized I’d been cursed. They had to break it with a ritual. Then they told me. Not only had Snape robbed me of my heritage and my magical House but the Goblin Horde had been robbed of their wizarding patron. The treaty with the Potters was old and had been grandfathered into the current laws. They couldn’t make a new treaty with a different family. If Snape had been alive at that point—he would’ve been strung up in front of the bank for his crimes against them.”
“So if I’m been cursed, how can I get them to realize that without admitting I know and how I know? I’m pretty sure you how you got here should be a secret I take to the grave.”
“I agree. If anyone else tries to access the memory or avatar I’ve stored in the bracelet against our will—they’ll be violently repelled. Well, Hermione wouldn’t suffer for trying but I’d rather not interact with her unless circumstances are dire. It would only hurt me and confuse her. Speaking of your witch, I’ve made something for her as well. If you think about a diamond pendant—one will appear in your hand. I had it sent to me in July shortly after I arrived so I could start working on it.”
Harry concentrated as instructed and a necklace appeared in his hand. The chain was, to his surprise, mithril. The diamond hung from a heart shaped piece of mithril that was, upon closer inspection, covered in runes. It felt very protective. “This is lovely, of course, but she’s going to freak out if I just give her at least three carats of diamond to wear.”
“It’s five carats and a family heirloom. Our mother was gifted with it—a first anniversary present from our father. I put a ward on it to protect her mind so she can keep your secrets. I put the same mental protections on the bracelet. And there is a way to do it without her losing her mind. You’re a Noble and you’ve claimed your ring. You can bring her into your magical house as a protected member—that requires a token of some sort. You can use the pendant as the token. It has built in tracking charms as well so if someone takes her…or separates you from her you’ll be able to find her. It’ll also tell you if she’s been harmed as I’ve linked it to the bracelet.”
Harry nodded. “All right, that works.” He stored the pendent with a thought and grinned. “That’s pretty cool.”
“It is.” Phoenix’s gaze dropped to the Lord’s Vault. “What is the final scroll?”
Harry blushed. “Sorry, I don’t know what I haven’t already opened…it’s the curse, right? It’s still at work?”
“That evil git,” Harry muttered. He picked up the scroll. “How come you aren’t impacted by the curse?”
“I’m an accomplished Occlumens and I know about the curse. Moreover, I’m made entirely of magic. The curse isn’t powerful enough to impact me,” Phoenix explained. “I knew it would be an obstacle and I made sure this form would be immune from outside influence. This means that even if Dumbledore or some other well-meaning jerk were to memory charm you—that I’d be able to tell you all this again. You can’t discuss the bracelet’s true purpose with anyone. Not even Hermione, Harry. She has very strict ideas about time travel. It would only hurt her to know the truth. The magic of my enchantment isn’t going to allow you to violate these terms. You can discuss the bracelet with her but not its origin unless she figures it out on her own. I wouldn’t expect you to lie to her.”
“I get it,” Harry said quietly. “It makes sense.” He opened the scroll and slumped down in the chair. “It’s from Dad.”
If you’re reading this particular letter then I died when you were under the age of five. It’s difficult to imagine that I wasn’t there to guide you on your path to manhood. As I write this letter, your Mother is putting you down for the night. Today was your first birthday and as is the tradition in our family, I sat down to write my first letter to you, my Heir. Hopefully, I’ll be replacing this letter in the future with another but if I don’t I hope the words I leave here offer you some comfort.
I’m sure you’ve already read Godric’s letter—the vault would’ve compelled you to pick it up first and read it. While I agree that our blood lines and heritage are weighty matters, I’d rather you not dwell on his words too much or allow yourself to be dissuaded from taking a course of action based on some fantasy of what our family honor is. We are a Light family in purpose but there have been members of our family that would and should be considered grey. We serve the Light and Lady Magic, Harry, and at times that requires definitive action. What I mean to say is don’t let that the knowledge concerning Pendragon get in the way of what you feel you must do.
If I died young and you’re reading this on the day you claim the title then it is likely that I was killed by Voldemort. It is my hope that I went out defending you and your mother. I can think of no better death for a man of honor. I love you and your mother so very much, Harry. I’m overwhelmed with the gifts magic have given me—a good, strong and amazing witch and a beautiful son. I don’t deserve such to be honest but then few men do. We all a mixture of flaws and virtues, you see. I’m not perfect and I certainly would never expect you to be.
Do what is right when you can and when you can’t, make sure your actions are just and fair even if the law wouldn’t agree. That’s all I ask of you. If your mother is with you, please see to her every single need and if she is not with you on this very important day know that she is with me and I’m taking care of her. Your mother loves you so much, Harry. Her love for you is…like another person in the room to be honest. It swells in her and spills out all over the place. I can’t figure out any other way to say it.
If I were slightly less emotionally intelligent, I might have been jealous. But the fact is that the moment you were born I was engulfed in the same intense, devoted love for you. I don’t know if this what it means to be a parent as you are our first child or if it was something else. Just know that above all else, you are so very loved in this world.
You’re at least fourteen as you read this so I hope you are strong and mature enough to read the rest of this letter. Take a moment to calm your mind because if you are anything like your mother—you have a terrible temper. I adore the woman, but when she gets mad she bears a strong and horrifying resemblance to a banshee.
Before you were born, there was a prophecy made about Voldemort. He is a dark wizard and I hope that in your time he is long gone but if he’s not…well. I don’t even want to write this down to be honest. I’d give anything, lad, to take your place and take this burden myself. The prophecy declared that one who would have the power to defeat the Dark Lord would be born as the seventh month dies. Eventually, it was determined that you and my godson, Neville Longbottom, were the two most likely candidates for the prophecy. It goes like this:
‘The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. …Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies …and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not …and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. …The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…’
Your mother thinks divination is a bunch of dragonshite and I can’t say I disagree. The problem with such magical predictions that they can become self-fulfilling and once activated the participants of such a prophecy are magically drawn together time and time again until the matter is resolved. If you’re the subject of this prophecy, and honestly I have to think you are, then your life has probably been very difficult. The magic of an unfulfilled prophecy is cruel, Harry. It will plague you until the matter is fully resolved. It must be met and it must be finished—you won’t be safe until that day from the magic of the prophecy or even that dark bastard himself. He can no more help but seek you out than you can prevent yourself from responding to any threat he makes. Magic herself wants you to finish it.
If you are my only child then you are the last of our line and it’s your duty to…carry on and father an Heir. So, if the prophecy hasn’t been resolved and it is about you—then your final instructions from your Patriarch are:
- Kill Tom Marvolo Riddle, known as Lord Voldemort
- Marry the smartest woman you can find (as your mother wouldn’t want you to marry a silly witch)
- Allow yourself to love and be loved because there is nothing more rewarding in this life
- Give me a grandson or two or three to secure the magical legacy of our Noble House
- Play Quidditch, for love of Merlin, it’s an awesome sport!
All my Love,
Lord James Potter
Earl of Gryffindor
Ever Light, Ever Loyal
PS—the wand is a mystery. It didn’t work well for me or your grandfather but your great-great grandmother used it without a problem. It’s a picky thing but if it agrees to serve you—keep it with you at all times as it is exceptionally well made and powerful. Moreover, it’s untraceable and your magical signature is fully masked when using it. The time-turner is entailed into the estate with familial magic and can’t be taken from you. Sojourn Potter made the first time-turner as such the construction of the devices is a family secret—you’ll see the way of it in the grimoire.
At the time that I write this, there are only a hundred time-turners in the world and forty-nine of them are controlled by the ICW. Most of them are in the hands of the British Ministry due to the fact that the Potters come from Britain. You might be asked or tasked with making more in the future—it’s your choice as to whether or not you want to do it. No one can make you.
“Well.” Phoenix took a deep breath.
“I…I hope you’re sitting here tells me that I eventually have the ability and power to get rid of that arsehole forever,” Harry said vehemently.
“Yeah, eventually. He was resurrected my fourth year and wreaked havoc over most of the magical world until the end of what would’ve been my seventh year. We all thought it was over that we’d taken care of…how he’d kept himself in this world but we were mistaken. He was tethered to me you see and not even taking another Killing Curse resolved that issue. He came back again when I was forty but I was able to destroy his spirit finally. We’re going to do better this time around.”
“Great. I look forward to hearing the plan.” Harry put his father’s letter in the bracelet, removed the book, and closed the vault. Once he did, it glowed for a few seconds and popped away. “I take it that it returned the bank?”
“Yes, you can find it in the main Potter vault when you’re ready to put something in it.”
Harry nodded and looked down at the book in his hand. It had Potter written across it. “The family grimoire?”
“So it would seem. I’ve never seen it. I had journals in the vault from various family members which is how I came upon the time ritual. Our family has always been…rather enamored with manipulating time in some fashion or another.”
Harry nodded. “Well, I can read this later I guess…I mean do you want to see it?”
Phoenix shook his head sadly. “I won’t be able to read it unfortunately. It’s bound to you and you alone due to the family magic and the lordship ring. But, I will be able to absorb whatever you read so we can read it together in that fashion.”
“Sure,” Harry agreed. He stored the book and took a deep breath. “Now, the plan?”
“First you’re going to give the students and staff of this school a lesson in social politics and consequences.”
“Harry Potter would like to address the student body and our guests,” Minerva began, “You will be silent and respectful or the consequences of your behavior will be yours to bear for the remainder of the school year.” She glared pointedly at the Slytherin table.
Harry took her place with a small smile. When he’d approached her with the request, she’d agreed without much of a discussion at all which had been a relief. She also hadn’t asked him why he’d done it through her rather than the headmaster. He was glad because he didn’t have an answer to that question. It just felt like it should be her as his Head of House.
“Thank you, Professor.” Harry put his hands on the podium that Dumbledore only used at feasts and to make very special school announcements. “I have this sudden urge to say something silly.” He glanced towards Dumbledore who laughed. “All of your speeches are starting to make sense to me now, sir.” He cleared his throat. “The fact is that I agonized over how to do this because I was furious that the situation in the school has come to this. I’m not a liar and I’m not a cheat. I’ve never been either of those things and I’d challenge anyone in this room to prove otherwise.
“I found out about magic when I was eleven when I finally received my letter. I know that surprises many of you, especially those of you who believed I grew up in a castle surrounded by servants like those foolish little story books talk about. I grew up with a pair of Muggles who hate me for being magical. They tolerate me only because my parent’s estate gives them a thousand pounds a month to do so. That’s about two hundred galleons a month for those of you who have never bothered to learn the exchange rate.
“But more than hate me, they fear me because I’m magical. That’s, I guess, a legitimate fear as magical people are very dangerous. Many of you in this room fear me because I’m a parselmouth. Some of you fear me because somehow my magic banished the Dark Lord from his body in 1981.
“I have a lot of magical power so fearing someone more powerful than you is normal. But your fear makes you irrational and mean. I’ve never done a single thing to hurt anyone in this room, not even Malfoy and frankly out of all the students in this school he’s the only one I feel like I have the right to curse silly. And yet, I haven’t. I think that says a lot about my restraint and strength of character because frankly he’s been a real git to me.” He glanced towards the Slytherin table and found Draco Malfoy watching him with mild curiosity and a little smirk. “But that is partly my fault. You see, as I knew nothing about the magical world—I also knew very little about myself. Until very recently, I didn’t even know I had an estate. I assumed, wrongly, that the contents of my Trust vault was everything I would eventually inherit. I knew nothing of my title or my responsibilities as a Peer of Avalon.
“As a result, in my ignorance I delivered an immense insult to the House of Malfoy without even trying. He was less than gracious about my ignorance and I have to think he eventually figured out I was clueless and kept on being a git. Which honestly speaks more to his character than mine. Never let it said that a Malfoy can’t hold a grudge.” Draco smirked at him and very carefully removed the Potter Stinks badge he’d helped create and distribute. He dropped it on the table in the silence that followed.
“In my second year, when it was revealed that I was a parselmouth—members of my own house grew to fear me and many of you believed me to be the Heir of Slytherin. I’d like to clear that up right now. Through blood and magic, I descend from some very famous people. Actually, it’s humbling. I reviewed my family tree last night, you see and to see the names of people I’d read about in books was daunting. There is a book in the library outlining my family all the way back to Arthur Pendragon of whom I descend through his last surviving daughter. I directly descend, however, from Godric Gryffindor and his wife Rowena, Countess of Ravenclaw. At the end of my second year, I faced a spectral form of Tom Riddle—the dark wizard you know of as Voldemort.”
He paused at the shrieks of terror that caused. “Fearing a word is silly, you know. You give him more power than he will ever deserve just by fearing the fictional name he gave himself because he was ashamed of his father’s Muggle name. My magic banished his spirit when I was fifteen months old. I defeated him at eleven. I defeated him at twelve through the near sacrifice of my own life.” He held up three fingers. “For those of you who understand power of such things—three is a very magical number when it comes to such things as conquest. As Tom Riddle was the last of his line and the Heir of Slytherin through Merope Gaunt, his squib mother, and I defeated him three times I am the Heir of Slytherin through Rite of Conquest. Helga Hufflepuff’s daughter, Julianne married Edward Potter the only grandson of Godric and Rowena to survive to produce children. Just for an FYI.”
He looked over them all and watched Susan Bones, who did almost directly descend from Helga Hufflepuff, remove the Potter Stinks badge with an embarrassed flush. Since the House of Bones was aligned with the House of Potter through an ancient treaty—he wasn’t surprised by her abrupt turn.
“When my name came out of the Goblet of Fire I was…horrified but not exactly surprised. Horrible stuff always happens to me, you see. I have the worst luck of anyone I know. What I hadn’t expected and never could’ve anticipated was the way almost all of you turned on me.” He looked at Ron then and found his former friend glaring at him—red faced and furious. “Some reactions were more painful than others. My first year—I nearly died preventing the resurrection of Voldemort.
“In my second year, I was bitten by a basilisk in my efforts to prevent his resurrection again. I went into the Chamber of Secrets to save the school and to save the life of another student. In doing so, I nearly died while preventing the resurrection of Voldemort through a dark object. I nearly died for every single person in this room—and you’ve repaid that sacrifice on my part with disdain. I don’t accuse you all—I know exactly who in this room I can trust with my back and who I can’t. I also know that many of you sit there – still believing the worst of me. You think I’m an attention seeker and a glory hog. I’ve got news for every single person in this room—there is nothing eternal or glorious about the Triwizard Tournament.
“Before it was announced I doubt fewer than ten of you could’ve even named a former champion. And the money? Frankly—I make a thousand galleons in interest on my accounts on a quarterly basis. Twenty-six of the last thirty participants of the Triwizard Tournament died during or because of an injury received during the event.” He let that fact settle on the entire room. “Though ten of the ones that died of related injuries did manage to live to see thirty years old so that’s something, I guess.”
He checked his watch. “I apologize for keeping you so long after dinner. I have two more…issues and we’ll be done.” He drew the pendant out of his bracelet and took a deep breath. “There is one person in this school that I’ve always been able to depend on. She is frankly the best person I know—brilliant, loyal, brave, and cunning. She’s been instrumental in my survival in more than one instance and in the last few weeks has stood with me even when most of our house did not. And as my first act as the Earl of Gryffindor, it is my wish to bring Hermione Jane Granger into my magical house as a protected member.” He turned and focused on her. “Unless she’d prefer not.”
Hermione stared at him wide-eyed and stood when Neville nudged her. He wondered if she knew what to do but wasn’t surprised at all when she took the hand he offered with a confident smile. “I, Harry James Potter, the Earl of Gryffindor, solemnly swear on the honor of my House shelter and protect the life and magic of Hermione Jane Granger. This pendant connects you to my familial magic. There is no place you can go where I cannot follow. There is no threat that could be made against you that I will not meet. May Magic and God have mercy on anyone who would claim you as an enemy, because I won’t. So mote it be.” Her eyes went wide and wet with tears. He released her hand and lifted the pendant over her head. The diamond settled against the hollow of her throat as the chain shortened automatically.
She nodded, took a step back, and brushed tears hastily from her cheeks.
“One final thing,” Harry said and drew his wand. “I, Harry James Potter, do solemnly swear on my magic that I did not place my name in the Goblet of Fire and I have no interest whatsoever in participating in the Triwizard Tournament. So mote it be.” He stowed his wand. “Thank you all for your time and attention.” He held out his hand for Hermione and left the podium after she took it. He led her down the center aisle towards the doors, ignoring the stares and the whispers.
“Prove it, Potter!” Ron shouted. “Prove you just didn’t lose your magic!”
Harry turned, drew his wand without looking at his former friend. “Expecto Patronum!” Prongs leapt out of his wand and pranced down the center aisle, hooves clicking decisively against the stone floor.
– – – –
Hermione said nothing as he led her through the school by the hand until they reached an old, unused classroom. She turned, put both hands on her hips and scowled. “What sort of moron would think anyone would lie during a vow on their own bloody magic?”
Harry grinned at her. “I know.”
She touched the pendant with trembling fingers. “You didn’t have to…I mean…” She flushed. “It looks really expensive, Harry.”
“I’m sure one of my ancestors paid a pretty galleon for it,” Harry agreed. “It was gifted to my mother last but it’s been in my family for generations. It’s warded to protect you and has built in charms so if…well, if you were to be taken away from me for whatever reason I can find you. You should never take it off. No one else will be able to remove it. I’ve had additional charms worked into it so that you’ll know if you’re ingesting a potion. You’re really important to me, Hermione. I’m never going to give you another reason to doubt that.”
“I…don’t know what to say I guess.”
“That’s a first,” Harry teased and laughed when she huffed and blushed a deeper shade of red. “You’re beautiful, you know. Beautiful and so smart. It’s my honor to be your friend.”
“What’s happened to you?” Hermione asked. “Did you get taken over in the night by a pod person?”
He grinned. “I received a letter…and found out a lot about myself and my family. I was given access to the Lord’s Vault for the Earl of Gryffindor and I claimed my ring. I started reading my family Grimoire. There was a letter from my Dad in the vault…I just…I need to be the kind of person that my family would be proud of…someone you can be proud of.”
“You are,” Hermione protested. “There is…you’re the best person I know, Harry.”
Harry took a deep breath. “How do you feel about Ron and his family?”
“He’s stubborn, mean, and unreasonable,” Hermione said immediately. “I always felt like he was holding you back from being the wizard you could be. His jealousy is petty and ugly. I’ve been considering cursing him on and off since our first year. The other Weasleys are okay, I guess. I mean Ginny’s annoying all the time talking about the Boy-Who-Lived and writing Ginny Potter on her parchments.”
“Gross,” Harry said with a frown. “I mean…she’s barely said anything to me. She couldn’t even look me in the eye when she thanked me for saving her life. Who’d want a fan for a wife?”
“No one I would consider smart,” Hermione agreed. “The twins are funny but sometimes they can be a little cruel, if you know what I mean. Molly is smothering—just staying with them when I did this summer was enough to explain exactly why Ron is the way he is. She coddles him like he’s still an infant. Arthur’s nice enough but I don’t like how he treats my parents—like they are…”
“Freaks in a side show,” Harry supplied. “I noticed.”
Hermione nodded. “I think that’s pretty common though—for magical people. Muggles either fascinate them or repulse them. Ron’s not all that fond of Muggles actually. He says horrible things and expects me to not be disappointed or upset about it.”
“I know.” Harry sighed. He watched her scoot up onto a desk and walked to stand in front of her. “Hermione, should I apologize for putting you on the spot like that?”
“No, not at all,” Hermione murmured and took a deep breath. “I mean that was the most amazing thing anyone’s ever done for me. You made me part of your magical house, Harry. That’s huge—you know how huge that is right?”
“I understand what I said,” Harry said. “I meant every single word of it. You’re my family as far as I’m concerned.”
She bit down on her bottom lip. “Like a sister?”
It was his turn to blush. “I…well. No, that’s not how I see you but if that’s what you want from me I can deal with it.”
“How do you…I mean, don’t you have a crush on Cho?”
“No, she’s pretty enough I guess but she’s a bully and she’s been just as bad as everyone else about the tournament. I don’t want any part of that. It’s…well. Ron said that two of you went to Hogsmeade together last year so I tried to respect that. He pretty much called dibs on you.”
“Dibs?” Hermione demanded. “Are you for real? We never went on a date or anything. I don’t like him like that or really at all! He’s a lazy git!” She waved her hands in frustration.
“So it would be okay if I wanted to be more than your friend?”
She blushed. “Really?”
“Really.” He moved to stand in front of her and picked up both of her hands. “Pretty much since second year but…I mean if you don’t feel the same then that’s fine. You’re always going to be my best friend.”
She pulled him closer and stared at him for a long moment. “You’re…going to have to get better grades if you’re going to be my boyfriend.”
Harry grinned. “Okay.”
He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss against her mouth. Ignoring the bracelet when it warned him to be gentle. He knew that. Her fingers tightened against his and she brushed her lips with his carefully, sweetly like there was nothing else in the world that mattered more than what they were doing. Easy lad, no girl wants her first kiss to turn into a full on snog. Phoenix’s advice was so amusing that Harry laughed a little as he separated from Hermione. He looked down at their hands, her fingers still clenched tightly around his.
“I was reading about this stupid tournament,” Harry began. “There will be a ball of some sort at Christmas probably. Will you go with me?”
She nodded. “Yes, absolutely.”
“Better grades, huh?” Harry asked. “Anything on the list as a requirement for dating the amazing Miss Hermione Granger?”
“Hmmm, well,” she began and swung her feet a little. “I think my boyfriend should probably be pretty brave.”
“I think I got that covered,” Harry confided.
“The very motto of our magical house is – Every Light, Ever Loyal.”
“That’s lovely,” Hermione said.
“I thought so, too.”
“And my boyfriend would respect me,” Hermione said seriously.
“I do and I will,” Harry murmured. “I mean that, Hermione. You’re the very best thing in my life and I’d do nothing to ruin that.”
Her eyes brightened. “You’re being kind of perfect right now. I don’t know what to think about it. Do you think it’s your family magic?”
He laughed. “So I wasn’t awesome before?”
“You’ve always been amazing,” Hermione said seriously. “Now, you’re just being all charming and sweet. If you’re a pod person you should tell me so I can go rescue the real Harry Potter.”
“Would you?” Harry asked, amused. “Rescue me, I mean?”
“Yes, of course, I would.” She pulled him in and tilted her chin up for a kiss.
Harry leaned and pressed his mouth against hers. He kept it light, gentle, and she met each brush of his lips with her own. He figured he might get addicted to kissing her. One of her legs hooked around his thigh and pulled him in closer as she released his hands. Waist only, no groping, Phoenix suggested. Harry figured that was decent advice so he let his hands fall to her hips and resolved not to move them. She, on the other hand, had apparently decided she could touch him anyway she liked because she pushed her hands into his hair and tugged him closer.
“What the bloody hell!”
Harry jerked back from Hermione and glared at Ron. “What?”
“Why are you kissing her?” Ron demanded.
“That’s none of your business,” Harry said. “You’ve already made it clear you aren’t my friend, Ron. What you want or think is not my problem anymore.”
Ron’s mouth dropped open briefly and he glared at Hermione. “Get away from him, Hermione. He’s just a git rubbing his money and title in everyone’s face.”
“Don’t tell me what to do,” Hermione snapped. “Just go away, Ron. I’ve been telling you for three weeks that Harry was telling the truth about the tournament and you ignored me. You told me I was stupid for believing in him. You were supposed to be his best friend, Ron. You’re a petty, jealous little git and I’m finished making excuses for you and your childish behavior. I’m finished helping you with your homework when you barely pay attention to me and complain every single day because I won’t do your homework for you.”
Harry helped her off the desk. “Just leave us alone, Ron. It’s better for everyone, I think.”
They got all the way to the common room before Weasley got over the shock of being told off by them both. He stormed into the room after them, slamming the portrait door shut much to the Fat Lady’s ire.
“You…you…” Ron sputtered.
“What?” Harry demanded. “Liar? Cheat? Glory hog?”
“You should’ve made that vow weeks ago!” Ron shouted.
“I shouldn’t have had to make it all!” Harry took a deep breath and tried to push his magic down, aware that it was drifting on his skin like a storm. Hermione’s hand tightened in his and he closed his eyes briefly before glaring at their former friend. “I’ve never lied to you, Ron. Not once and if you were any kind of friend you wouldn’t have assumed the worst of me. I don’t owe you anything and I’m tired of your crap. We’re no longer friends. Period.”
Ron stared at him briefly then focused on Hermione who was glaring at him. “What about you? You’re going to take his side again?”
“How stupid are you?” Hermione demanded in frustration. “Did you not even pay attention to what happened in the Hall? I accepted the protection and shelter of his magical House! He’s my Lord, you…you…idiot!” She kissed Harry’s cheek and stomped off to the girl’s dorm in a snit.
Harry exchanged a look with Neville Longbottom who just shrugged. “Right.”
Ron huffed and puffed up the stairs behind Harry, who resolved to ignore him as much as possible. Neville trotted in after them. Harry didn’t know if he’d followed them as a show of support or to make sure he didn’t miss any of the drama. He went to his trunk and started to sort through the crap. Per Phoenix’s instructions, he stored the cloak, his photo album, and the map in the bracelet as he worked. They were irreplaceable to him so keeping them on him at all times seemed the proper course of action.
“What? You’re just going to ignore me now?”
“What do you want me to say?” Harry asked as he made a pile of clothes to throw away. Phoenix had taught him to take his own measurements the night before and they’d ordered some clothes with an owl order form. Hedwig had been pleased with the errand. “Hermione’s right – you’re an idiot.”
“So you’re too good to be my friend now, is that it?”
“Don’t put this crap on me, Ron. You’re the one that spent the last three weeks telling our whole house that I’m a liar and a cheat. I’m not your friend anymore because I can’t trust you. You’re a terrible person and I don’t have to put with that. I’d rather have no friends than suffer with your particular brand of friendship.” He held up a hand when Ron started to respond. “I mean it, Ron. We’re done. I’m tired of lowering myself to your level so I don’t have to deal with your temper and jealousy. Professor Flitwick took me aside four times last year trying to get me to stop messing up my essays so you wouldn’t pitch a fit.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ron demanded.
“It means he’s been dumbing himself down for you,” Neville said snidely. “Though it’s certainly not a secret to anyone who bothered to pay attention. His practical work is on par with Hermione’s. There’s no way his theory work is as weak as he pretends it is. You’re the only one who bought it. I’m surprised Flitwick was the only one to call him on it.”
Harry finished separating out his uniforms and put aside all the ones that no longer fit him for the charity bin that McGonagall kept. Then made another pile of his muggle clothes so he could throw them away or burn them. Burning them had appeal and Phoenix was giving his hearty agreement through the bracelet. It was something to get used to but he figured the avatar’s advice about the kissing had been spot on.
“Why were you kissing Hermione?”
“Are you daft?” Neville demanded. “He took an unattached witch into his magical House as a protected member. His feelings for her obvious.”
Harry flushed. It hadn’t crossed his mind that people in the school would see through his intentions like that. He refolded his newest uniforms, put his books back into place and sighed. “I don’t need anyone’s permission but Hermione’s to kiss her, Ron. I asked her to be my girlfriend and she agreed. That’s not any of your business either.”
“Why would you want Hermione?” Ron asked, flabbergasted. “You could have any witch you want! She’s boring and…”
Harry’s wand snapped into his hand as he stood and his magic flared out around him even as the door opened admitting Minerva McGonagall. “Do not finish that sentence, Ronald Weasley. Hermione has been nothing but kind to you since our first year and you’ve taken every chance you could to insult and degrade her. She doesn’t deserve that nonsense from you, especially since you’d still be in second year if it weren’t for her.”
“Lord Potter, the Headmaster would like to see you.”
Harry took a deep breath and stowed his wand. “Yes, Ma’am.”
Harry let himself be led to a chair in front of the Headmaster’s desk, choosing to ignore the glowering presence of Severus Snape near the fire. Flitwick offered him a bright smile while Sprout just inclined her head in his direction. He settled into the chair and shook his head when Dumbledore rattled his candy bowl enticingly.
“You know your mother used to rob me blind on the lemon drop front,” Albus lamented when Harry made a face at the candy. “She always left my office with a pocket full of them.”
Harry scrunched up his nose. “I think that’s the worse true thing anyone’s ever told me about my mum.”
Albus laughed. “You delivered us quite a few surprises this evening, Harry.”
Harry nodded. “I’m sure I did.”
“Do you have any concerns about the Hogwarts Endowment or your role in the management of it?”
“I’m not particularly thrilled with the current Board of Governors. I’ve requested the minutes from the last ten years of meetings and you should be prepared…I will be reseating the entire board.” He flicked a ledger out of the bracelet, frowned at it, put it back and tried again. A green one popped out and he opened it. “I’m having a little problem with the mental organization on the dimensional store,” Harry confided. “I think I got too excited about it and put too much in it at once. The family grimoire tells me I’ll get used to it and that I shouldn’t empty it out. It’s better to learn with a whole bunch of stuff rather than just a few items. But I don’t know.”
“The advice is sound. I’ve never seen that particular bracelet before. Your father didn’t wear it.”
“It was in the Lord’s Vault along with a letter from Godric Gryffindor and a few other things,” Harry explained. “I also had a letter from my Dad. He didn’t tell me why he left the bracelet in the vault but I figured it was pretty cool and since it’s entailed I don’t have to worry about it being stolen from me. I put all of my important stuff in it—it’s safer that way.”
“I agree,” Flitwick said with a smile. “It’s very nice and highly magical. The enchantments on it are light and very protective. You have nothing to worry about on that front.”
“Thanks, Professor. I wasn’t worried because I don’t think my Dad would’ve left anything in the vault that would harm me but it’s nice to have it confirmed.” Harry flipped through the book. “I did want to speak to you about the school budget, sir. Well, I’d like to know why the Governors are so tight fisted? There is plenty of money in the endowment for the various things they routinely deny you. The potion stores haven’t been updated in a decade, the infirmary needs new magic resistant furniture, an updated potions storage cabinet with preservation charms, and all of the school brooms should be replaced for safety reasons alone. They’ve been denying Professor Sprout a new green house for six years despite the fact that she ran out of room in 1983.
“Meanwhile, they’re sitting on a half million galleons in assets. We’re lucky a student hasn’t been killed on a broom during flying lessons. The wards on the school haven’t been updated in twenty years despite the fact that both my grandfather and my father earmarked funds to pay the goblins to update the ward matrix.”
Dumbledore stared for a moment and cleared his throat. “Well…I honestly don’t know, Harry. I was told last year that the school was barely turning a profit. I’ve been wanting to add classes to the curriculum for twenty years but the Board has been steadfast in their refusal to hire additional staff. Internationally, we are behind practically everyone when it comes to the teaching of Magical Theory, Runic Magic, Basic Healing, Alchemy, Magical Arts, Ritual Casting, and Earth Magic. I’ve asked for an eight period day for the past decade and have been denied.”
Harry nodded. “Right. Well. Also, there are currently twelve governors when the Hogwarts Charter clearly states that there can only be five. Additionally, no person may hold the role of governor for more than five years. All but two have been on the board since the 1970s. I don’t appreciate them ignoring the rules that Godric himself put into place. Why don’t they just take a real piss on my legacy and get it over with?”
Albus snorted and Minerva huffed.
“And, not to be a total snot about this whole thing – they’re paying themselves more than your annual salary, sir when they were originally only entitled to a small yearly stipend. That arrogant git, Malfoy, paid himself thirty thousand galleons a year while he was Chairman. None of the teachers in this place have gotten a raise in more than a decade and these…people give themselves annual pay increases and have since 1981 when my grandfather died.
“And all of that doesn’t even begin to compete with the fact that the Ministry purposefully and knowingly violated the agreement between the government and the House of Potter when they put Dementors on my land. Those creatures in turn nearly killed me and as the last scion of the House of Potter – that makes Fudge and the Ministry guilty of attempted line damage.” He flipped open his book. “In fact, they endangered the lives of the Heirs to the following houses through sheer arrogance: Bones, Longbottom, Black, Potter, Greengrass, Cross, and Falkirk. Fudge could have caused the murder the Heirs of six Ancient and Noble Houses not including the House of Potter with that little stunt. I was almost kissed twice last year for Merlin’s sake. And the Board of Governors did nothing.”
“So,” Albus said thoughtfully. “You do have concerns.”
“One or two,” Harry agreed. “I’ve locked down the endowment vault through the goblins and all of these people will be getting letters letting them know they’ve been so completely fired. Did you know that employees of the Ministry aren’t allowed to be on the Board? There are three different people on the board who also work for the Ministry—including that horrible woman, Dolores Umbridge, who authored all of that horrible anti-werewolf legislation that cost Professor Lupin his job. It really ticks me off that she’s been making money from the Gryffindor estate for the last four years. I read she was sorted into Slytherin while she went to school here—which I can’t figure out because she’s really transparent and not at all cunning. But then she’s also lazy, dumb, and cowardly so maybe Slytherin had to take one for the team so to speak.”
Flitwick started giggling.
“Anything else?” Dumbledore asked.
“Yes.” Harry put the book back in his bracelet and took a deep breath. “You owe me an apology.”
The silence settled between them and Dumbledore stared for a long, silent moment before he nodded. “I believe I owe you several.” He held up a hand when Snape started to speak. “No, Severus, keep your own counsel. This is between me and Harry.” He folded his hands together in front of him. “First, Harry, I’d like to know exactly how bad things are with your Muggle relatives.”
“They treat me like slave labor,” Harry said. “My uncle hits me when he feels like it which is often. My aunt told me my mother was a whore and that she died in a car accident with my drunk of a father. My bedroom was a cupboard under the stairs until I received my Hogwarts letter. The one and only time I brought home good grades from Muggle school, my Uncle beat me unconscious for cheating and pretending to be smarter than his normal son. The first new clothes I ever remember getting that fit me were my Hogwarts uniforms. The rest of my clothes are my cousin’s cast offs and he’s three times my size. I’m rarely allowed more than one small meal in their home a day because they say I’m a freak and I don’t deserve to eat. Last summer was the first time I spent more than a month in the house without taking a significant injury as my Uncle Vernon is petrified of Sirius and I convinced them all that my godfather would come murder them in their sleep if they hurt me again.”
McGonagall stood, drew her wand and marched towards the floo. The Headmaster got up and literally ran around his desk to intercept her.
“You get out of my way, Albus! I’m going to go teach those Muggles a lesson!” Minerva hissed and poked him with her wand. “I’m not above kicking your arse first!”
Harry exchanged a wide-eyed glance with Flitwick who looked equally furious.
“Minerva, you’ll end up in Azkaban if you curse his relatives.”
“I don’t care!” Minerva shouted. “Get out of my way.”
Albus held his hands out in a placating motion. “How about…we send them a nice cursed letter anonymously?”
She scowled at him. “Pomona, come get this old codger out of my way.”
Sprout stood and drew her wand. “Get out of the way, Albus. Minerva is brilliant—she won’t get caught.”
Harry stood with a sigh. He walked over to his Head of House, grabbed her hand, and firmly led her back to the chair she’d taken when they first sit down. “I’d rather no one call attention to this part of my life. It’ll be plastered all over the Daily Prophet and frankly the paper has abused me enough.”
Minerva huffed and put her wand away. “Fine. I’ll send them a cursed letter or ten.”
“Muggle baiting is terrible,” Harry informed her and grinned when she glared at him. “It’s fine.”
“It is not,” Flitwick protested. “Why didn’t you tell us in your first year what it was like?”
“He tried,” Dumbledore said gravely. “I didn’t pay attention and for that I’m sorry, Harry. Truly. You have my deepest apologies. You won’t have to go back, ever if I have a say in the matter.” The elderly wizard sat back in his chair. “In your second year, I don’t know why everyone ignored your true heritage. It’s not a secret to basically anyone in the magical world that you’re the Earl of Gryffindor. Yet, for some reason…everyone latched onto a different and wrong-headed idea. I thought several times about making an announcement but never did and even now my mind keeps wondering away…” He frowned and drew his wand. “I’d like to cast a diagnostic spell on you. Is that all right?”
“Sure,” Harry agreed and touched his bracelet hesitantly. The spell wasn’t all that different than what Pomfrey used when he was in the infirmary so he sat still under it like she always admonished him to do and watched fury settle on Dumbledore’s face. Minerva McGonagall was hyperventilating beside him. Flitwick hopped off his chair and started to mutter in a language that Harry didn’t have a hope of understanding. “Is something wrong?”
“You’ve been cursed,” Dumbledore said gravely. “It’s ugly—designed to make everyone around you ignore your magical legacy and never discuss it with you. If you hadn’t found out about your title on your own, your title could have gone extinct under this curse. It’s a travesty—a true crime against Magic. You drew Excalibur out of the Sorting Hat your second year. You’re the living embodiment of Arthur Pendragon, Harry, and to think that someone would do this to you…it’s unforgiveable.” He glanced at the clock as he ended the spell. “Filius, if you would contact your clan leader at the bank? I would like to take Harry to Gringotts now and see about a curse breaker.”
“I was going to ask about going tomorrow since it’s Saturday,” Harry admitted.
“We’ll probably spend the night there. Go and pack a change of clothes, Harry, and come back as soon as you can.”
– – – –
The first thing he noticed when he returned to the dorm was the fact that Neville’s trunk was in the place where Ron’s used to be. The curtains on Neville’s old bed were shut tight so Harry figured that Ron had switched places with their roommate and barricaded himself in for the night. Neville came in dressed in pjs and a robe—obviously fresh from a shower.
“Your idea or his?”
Neville made a face. “His. I don’t care either way, mind you, but he was all weird and freaked out after you left with McGonagall. I guess he never really expected to be on the other end of your wand if you know what I mean. I’m surprised he didn’t piss himself.”
Harry nodded and pulled out a pair of slacks, some boxers, a blue buttoned down shirt, and the only non-uniform robe he had that wasn’t part of his formal set. He put the shirt, slacks, and boxers in his bracelet before shrugging out of his jumper. He put on the robe and fastened the two buttons at the collar. “Would you let Hermione know that I’m in London with the Headmaster? I’ll probably be gone most of tomorrow as well. Would you…I mean…” He glanced towards Ron’s new bed and frowned. “She can take care of herself.”
“Yeah, but why should she have to?” Neville asked. “I’ll ask her to help me with my charms essay.”
“Thanks, you’re a good friend, Neville. Better than I deserve.”
“That’s not true,” Neville protested. “You’ve done nothing to deserve the crap Ron’s unloaded on you, Harry. You were right, you know, he’s terrible to her. He’s been cruel to you this year as well—it’s petty and uncalled for but I guess this is really the first time he’s turned on you like that.”
“But he pulls that crap with pretty much everyone, right?”
Harry sighed. “Right. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize for his crap. Get your House in order, and I’ll be here to keep an eye on your Lady.”
Harry blushed. “She…I mean…”
“Only an idiot could miss the way you feel about her,” Neville said. “Ron’s the only person in this castle who would dare try to bother her at this point. He has no concept of honor or what it would mean for his family if you decided to declare them your enemy. Even Malfoy won’t make a move against Hermione without his father’s explicit approval. She’ll probably get a formal written apology from him for that hex she took earlier in the year that was meant for you. The Malfoy may have achieved nobility in the last two hundred years but they aren’t ancient by any stretch of the imagination and they know better than to court an outright blood feud with you.”
“Thanks, Nev, I count myself lucky to have the House of Longbottom at my side.” He held out his hand and Neville took it immediately. “I mean that. If it weren’t for Voldemort, we’d have been raised as brothers because your mum was my godmother.”
“And yours was mine,” Neville said. “Brothers then. In magic and in war.”
“In magic and in war,” Harry agreed and continued when the bracelet gently prodded him, “may our alliance be eternal.”
To say that the goblins were furious about the curse was saying something. If Phoenix hadn’t warned him in advance, Harry would’ve probably horrified by their reaction. The Chieftain of the Horde appeared half way through the curse breaking and shortly thereafter, the goblin nation all but declared war on the British Ministry of Magic. He was rather relieved that he passed out shortly after Ragnok started shouting about another rebellion. They were still shouting and carrying on when he woke up.
Harry shifted on the altar and turned his head. “Sirius…”
“Harry, Sirius isn’t here,” Dumbledore murmured. He brushed hair from Harry’s forehead gently. “How do you feel, my boy?”
“I want Sirius,” Harry whispered and turned his head to keep tears at bay. He blinked rapidly and ignored the silence that followed. Phoenix was trying to sooth him but it wasn’t enough. Magic was pressing down on his chest…he felt like he might suffocate under the weight of it.
“Why does he want Sirius Black,” a woman asked. “The man’s a criminal…”
“He is not,” Dumbledore snapped. “The Lord Black was thrown into Azkaban without a trial, Madam Bones. Fudge refused to hear my evidence last year and has blocked every attempt I’ve made to get the man a trial to cover his own war crimes. I imagine Barty Crouch is doing his own share of covering up as well since they are both responsible for Black’s illegal incarceration.”
“Please,” Harry whispered. “I need Sirius.” His fingers scraped weakly on the altar. “It hurts. I don’t understand…it hurts. I can’t breathe.”
“It’s the Black family magic making him ask for Lord Black,” a goblin healer said. “He must be Lord Black’s heir. When we lifted the curse—all the family magic he was due started to come to him. Gryffindor, Potter, Pendragon, Peverell, and Black. He’s right. He needs his Patriarch or this is probably going to kill him. He can’t handle this kind of influx of familial magic without an adult present to buffer it for him.”
“Then let it be known to magic and all governments on this planet that Lord Sirius Orion Black is a Friend of the Goblin Horde and he has our full, unreserved protection,” Ragnok said. “Dumbledore, do you know where he is?”
“No, I’m afraid I don’t. I was to send him an owl if I could get him a trial. It’ll take days to send him a letter.”
Call your elf, Harry.
Harry found that confusing as he was positive he didn’t have an elf but even as he thought it, Dobby’s name popped into his head. He’s free, Phoenix.
No, Harry, a free elf would barely survive a year as their magic requires a bond to work properly. Without a bond with a wizard or witch, wild magic will corrupt and destroy an adult house elf. It’s where the legends of gremlins come from. They go insane and usually die within a few months. Especially strong ones might last as long as a year or more but no longer.
“Dobby,” Harry whispered and the elf popped into the room.
The elf stared at him wide-eyed. “You calls Dobby, Master Harry Potter?”
“I need…I need your help.” He took a labored breath. “Sirius Black.”
“Yous dogfather,” Dobby said with a nod.
“Bring him here…I need him, Dobby. Bring him right here to me.”
The elf disappeared with an audible pop.
“Can we do anything in the mean time?” Dumbledore asked.
“I’ve done all I can,” a goblin said. “Fortunately, he has a very high pain tolerance. He has every right to be screaming his head off right now. If this doesn’t kill him, it’s going to drive him insane from the pain alone.”
“I’ll have Lord Black’s ring retrieved from the Black vault. He may need it before he can do what must be done.”
– – – –
“This be hurting,” Dobby warned. “We goes right through goblin wards. My Harry Potter in ritual room under bank.”
“It’s fine,” Sirius said quietly. He braced himself and took the elf’s hands after a look in Remus’ direction. “See you on the other side, eh Moony?”
“I’ll leave as soon as you’re both gone.”
Sirius took a deep breath and let the elf pop him away. It was nothing short of getting stabbed repeatedly in the chest. He stumbled and fell to his knees as they landed and everyone in the room turned to stare at him in shock. He let go of the elf and cleared his throat as the elf cast pain relief charm on him. “Chieftain Ragnok, my apologies for my informal attire—I’ve been hiding in the Muggle world.” He brushed off his T-shirt and jeans as he stood. He focused on Harry who was deathly still on a magical altar in the middle of the room. “What’s going on?”
“Harry Potter was laboring under a very dark curse,” Ragnok began gravely, “designed to strip him of his magical legacy, it has prevented the gradual settling of his family magics on his core as he matured. It was placed on him sometime in 1991. We are still investigating that matter and have harvested the magical signature of the wand used to place the curse. We will find out who did this to the Earl of Gryffindor and they will suffer for their crimes against the House of Potter and the Horde.” He held out a hand and revealed the ring of the Black family. “Take your title, Lord Black, your son requires your influence over the Black family magic to survive the night.”
Sirius took a deep breath. “I, Sirius Orion Black do swear on my magic to honor the legacy of Blackmoor and the Ancient and Noble House of Black.” He took the ring and slid it onto his wand hand.
Harry screamed, suddenly and arched off the altar. Magic flashed over him and he screamed again. Sirius rushed forward and picked his godson up. He fell to his knees with the younger man as Harry thrashed in his arms and screamed.
“What’s…it shouldn’t be like this!” Sirius shouted.
“No, agreed, your presence in the room should’ve been enough to calm the family magics down,” the goblin healer said immediately.
Harry turned him into him, fingers digging into Sirius’ arms. “Daddy, please. It hurts.”
“I have you, pup,” Sirius whispered against his hair as he rocked Harry where they sprawled on the floor by the altar. “Someone do something. This is going to fracture his core!”
Dumbledore watched Harry thrash for a long moment, pulled his wand and cast a sleeping charm. “There is something…I need to leave but I’ll be back as soon I can. Keep him as still as you can.”
Sirius leaned back against the altar and held his godson tightly. Shocked that Dumbledore had been able to make Harry sleep. His gaze focused on a pale, shaken Amelia Bones and he took a deep breath. “I really hope that I can trust you, Amie.”
She scowled at him. “I’m going to ruin Fudge.”
“We’ll help,” Ragnok decided. “Stethfold, go audit the Ministry accounts and make Madam Bones a report detailing all of Fudge’s theft. Martok, go gather all the evidence of the bribes Fudge has taken since he entered office.”
Amelia stared at him for a few seconds then nodded slowly. “I’ll call my Head Auror and start him researching how Dumbledore’s requests for Lord Black kept getting buried. First, we’ll announce that the Lord Black never had a trial and Fudge sentenced him to death without one.” She paused. “That might be difficult with the Prophet in Fudge’s pocket.”
“Then it is fortunate Lord Potter began proceedings to buy the Prophet three days ago. The sale will be complete in a few hours. We were required to wait until he claimed his ring which he did sometime last night. The sale started processing while his account manager was out of his office so we don’t have an exact time. Though, I’m told his main goal in purchasing the paper was to fire Rita Skeeter for saying unsavory things about Miss Granger.”
Dumbledore came back into the room—at a near run—with a glowing red rune stone in his hand. “This is…Lily made it. It was the anchor for the wards on Petunia Dursley’s home.”
The bracelet on Harry’s wrist flashed brightly and soft white light flowed out of it and formed into a man.
“Charlus?” Sirius gasped in shock.
“No, young man, but a distant relative of his. The magic used to create portraits is old and it wasn’t always used as it is your day. Call me Phoenix.” He turned and focused on Dumbledore. “I’m going to tell you how to incorporate Lily Potter’s magic and rune stone into the bracelet the boy wears. “
Dumbledore exchanged look with Ragnok and the old goblin nodded. “Whoever he is—the bracelet has been imbued with pure wild magic, Dumbledore. It’s probably the lightest artifact I’ve seen in five hundred years.”
Albus knelt. “Very well, Phoenix, are you sure it will work?”
“I made the bracelet and used all of my magic in the final moments of my life to implant it with the avatar you see before you. It can handle the addition of the stone. It was created to be added to by those who would come after me.”
“You look too young to have died of natural causes,” Sirius murmured, his fingers combing through Harry’s sweat dampened hair.
“My life was short by a wizard’s standards, yes. I was cursed and there was no remedy. I had ten years to come to grips with my fate. I met that fate with the decision to insure that any Potter that came after me would have my knowledge within their grasp and my power to protect their minds and hearts.” Phoenix touched the bracelet and magic arced off of it. “Dumbledore, I’ve granted you very temporary access to the bracelet’s warding matrix. Be careful as you don’t have full access. Don’t let your mind wander—you’ll be punished severely for it. Move his hand to rest on the stone so that the bracelet meets with it physically. And say, ut in protego mater magicis. You’ll have to push a little with your magic as you speak as you if you were adding this ward stone to a bigger warding scheme for say a house.”
“The wards on the bracelet do what?” Albus asked as Sirius lifted Harry’s hand and put into place.
“The bracelet is entailed to the Potter family through blood and familial magic. It shields the mind of the owner, protects him from most behavioral curses and potions. It’ll warn him if he’s about to ingest a potion. It will lash out magically to prevent him from being poisoned,” Phoenix explained. “Harry is the first Potter to wear it in many hundreds of years.”
“Why?” Sirius asked.
“He has a deep connection with wild magic and is a parselmouth—like myself. I imagine he found it too attractive not to put on once he touched it,” Phoenix explained. “Not everyone who opens the Lord’s Vault would be so moved by the bracelet’s magic. His connection to the Potter’s Familial magic was tenuous at best even with the ring on. The curse at work, I imagine.”
“I have a vial of the Aunt’s blood—she basically gave it willingly,” Dumbledore said. “If the bracelet is built on blood wards…will adding her blood allow Harry to keep the protections his mother’s sacrifice gave him?”
“We can use that blood to bind the stone to the bracelet permanently,” Phoenix agreed. “You terrorized her into giving it, I assume.”
“She’s a monster,” Albus said gravely.
“Harry has no secrets from me,” Phoenix said. “He told you less than half of what was done to him. He’s ashamed of it and may never speak of everything. Saying what he did say in your office was the most he’d ever spoke of what he suffered his aunt’s home.”
Ragnok joined them and pulled an athame. “Lord Black, your blood will be required as well due to your blood adoption of your godson.”
Sirius offered his hand, palm up without argument. “Whatever he needs.”
They cut Harry’s hand first, his blood ran between his fingers and dripped onto the stone. Dumbledore poured Petunia’s blood on top of that and Sirius let blood pool in his palm for nearly twenty seconds before he turned it and poured that on top of Harry’s open wound.
“Ut in protego mater magicis,” Dumbledore enchanted. The stone disintegrated and the blood misted in the air before it was all sucked into the bracelet with an air sucking swoosh.
Harry stirred in Sirius’ arms, shuddered and relaxed. His eyes flickered open and groaned. “Merlin…did someone kick that Dementor’s arse for running me over?”
Sirius laughed briefly against his hair. “Just relax, kiddo.”
Harry looked around and his eyes went wide at the sight of Phoenix. “How did you get out of the bracelet?”
“I can take form without your permission in emergency situations,” Phoenix said. “Do not worry so, lad, there is no one on this planet that can separate the bracelet from you. They aren’t going to take me for study or destruction.”
“What do you have the bracelet besides this old guy?” Sirius asked curiously as he helped Harry stand.
“The Potter grimoire and other important stuff,” Harry said. “You know—like my broom and the map.”
“And a half dozen chocolate frogs,” Phoenix said with a laugh.
“Like I said, other important stuff,” Harry said. “You should get back in the bracelet, I think. You’re probably going to say something you shouldn’t otherwise.”
“I’m not the one rambling,” Phoenix pointed out.
“All the more reason for you to be in the bracelet, protecting my secrets and plans and stuff,” Harry said seriously and he nodded his head drunkenly.
“As the Earl of Gryffindor wishes,” Phoenix said grandly and bowed formally. He disappeared in a flash of magic and the bracelet shimmered briefly.
Harry went weak in the knees and Sirius caught him. “Seriously, what’s wrong with me? No one said this was going to be all that sucky. I was told I’d go to sleep and wake up curse free. I don’t feel curse free. I feel like someone kicked my bum.”
“The curse was interfering with your magical legacy in a way we didn’t anticipate,” Dumbledore said gravely. “But I pulled the ward stone from Privet Drive and we put it into your bracelet to help settle your core. As always, Harry, your mother’s love proved to be your saving grace.”
“That’s…fantastic I guess.” He focused on Sirius. “You shouldn’t be here. You’ll get arrested and murdered by that corrupt motherfu…” He mumbled out the rest of his sentence behind Sirius’ hand.
“I think you’re a little drunk on magic, pup. Don’t talk like that in front of Madam Bones, it’s crass. And, no Fudge isn’t going to murder me. Everything will be fine. Let’s get you somewhere you can rest.”
“Oh.” Harry nodded. “Okay. Hey, I asked Hermione to be my girlfriend. She said yes.”
“I told you.”
“You did,” Harry agreed. “Are you sure that coward isn’t going to murder you? It would really upset me, Sirius.”
“I promise.” Sirius guided him towards the couch of the office they’d been led to and he put the kid there with a sigh. “No one is going to murder anyone tonight.” Dobby appeared with a blanket and tucked it around Harry with a frown.
“I leave my Harry Potter alone with Dumbles for just a few days and look what happens,” Dobby said with a sigh and a severe shake of his head. The elf inclined his head. “Dumbles be removing ward on Muggle house?”
Dumbledore looked at the elf over his glasses. “As a matter of a fact, I did.”
“Good. Dobby not being able to get proper revenge with protections in place,” the elf cracked his knuckles and popped away without another word.
Sirius looked at Dumbledore then at Amelia Bones who had followed them into the office. “Is that something we should worry about?”
“Whatever he does to them, they deserve,” Dumbledore said. “Sirius, I’d like to you to stay here with the goblins and submit to one of their Healers. You’ll be safe in the bank. Ragnok has named you a Friend of the Goblin Horde. Amelia will work on your trial with me at the Ministry and after that we’re going to make sure you gain custody of your godson. He’s not…safe with his Muggle relatives and never has been. I made an unforgiveable mistake. I trusted Petunia to take care of him and she failed, utterly, to do so.”
“How bad?” Sirius asked.
“I don’t know,” Dumbledore admitted. “If what Phoenix revealed is true then I’m…deeply concerned about Harry’s mental state. I don’t think a mind healer would be out of order at all.”
The Leaky Cauldron was practically empty when Harry wandered down to get breakfast. Dumbledore had brought them both to the pub very late but Tom had been around to see them to a pair of rooms. The Headmaster was seated at a table with a man that Harry didn’t know but that the bracelet seemed very pleased to have present. Harry took a seat when the Headmaster offered and smiled when a plate full of food appeared unceremoniously in front of him. Tom knew very well the sort of breakfast he’d like since Harry had a long term guest once before.
“Good morning,” Harry said as a glass of orange juice appeared in front of his plate. He vastly preferred it to pumpkin juice which he thought was entirely too sweet for breakfast and was really glad that Tom remembered.
“Good morning, Lord Potter, my name is Thaddeus Banner.”
Harry unwrapped his silverware as he considered that. He hadn’t been able to read much of the family grimoire but he had read the section outlining all the families aligned with his own in various ways at Phoenix’s suggestion. “Your grandfather was my grandfather’s vassal.”
“Yes, he was.”
Harry nodded. “But your father died young, long before even his own father and you were just sixteen when my own father perished so you never swore yourself to the House of Potter.”
“That is a circumstance I’d like to change today, Lord Potter. It is a matter of family honor and duty. The Banner family has stood with the Potters for nearly seven hundred years, and with Gryffindor before that.”
Harry nodded. “Okay, tell me about you. What do you?” He cut into his sausage as the man gathered himself, Harry thought perhaps he’d been unprepared for the conversation to turn that way. “If you’re going to swear yourself to my House…I’d like to know a bit about you, that’s all, Mr. Banner.”
Thaddeus nodded. “Please, call me Thaddeus, Lord Potter.” He shifted his coffee cup around a bit. “I’m a curse breaker and warder by trade but I was trained in the art of magical combat abroad and hold a Mastery in Dueling. My grandfather sent me away when I was fifteen and in doing so he saved my life. I returned to Britain shortly after the death of your parents but was unable to locate you.” He glared briefly at Dumbledore who had the grace to flush with shame. “It was my duty to see to your safety and I failed in that duty.”
“The Headmaster did what he thought was best and in truth he probably did spare me a great deal of pain. I’ve found the magical world to be quite dangerous since I returned to it.” Harry snatched a piece of toast from the rack in front of him and buttered it liberally. “I don’t hold it against him. He’s working to make amends and that more than anything is the mark of a repentant and good wizard.”
Thaddeus inclined his head as if he agreed. “There is one remaining traditional vassal source to the House of Potter and that is the Wright family. Their only surviving son is a man named Zale. He’ll be arriving via international portkey within the hour. It was our intention to approach you during your first year at Hogwarts but…for reasons neither of us can explain every single time one of us tried to write or meet with you we were dissuaded.”
“I was cursed,” Harry explained. “Even the Headmaster, as my magical guardian, couldn’t discuss my estate or family with me. Moreover, it wasn’t until I claimed my title on my own that he even realized he was being magically manipulated into ignoring my legacy. Everyone, even the goblins, were impacted this curse Thaddeus. So neither you nor Mr. Wright should feel at all guilty about it.” He finished off his orange juice while Banner replenished his own coffee. “So, what about personal stuff? Are you married?”
“My wife’s name is Piper and she’s a Healer. We have a child—a boy named James after your father. He’s just three. We call him Jamie. Your dad was older than me but he was important to me, Lord Potter. I’m greatly ashamed that I let so many years lay empty between you and I. Especially in the wake of what I’ve been told about your adventures at Hogwarts. Whoever cursed you is my mortal enemy from this moment forward.” He paused. “Do you know who cursed you?”
“I have some idea, yes,” Harry admitted. “But I’d prefer to wait for the goblins to name the wizard responsible. It’s simply best that the accusation not come from me. How does your wife feel about your intention to swear yourself to the House of Potter?”
“She knew when she married me that I would take my place as your vassal at the first opportunity. Piper understands the ramifications of magical duty.”
“You know Voldemort has tried to kill me twice since I re-entered the magical world. He won’t stop until one of us is dead.” He glanced briefly at Dumbledore who was staring at him in shock. “These are my magical circumstances, Thaddeus. There are forces at work in my life that guarantee that Tom Riddle and I will be forced together time and time again until one of us is permanently dead.”
“You know,” Dumbledore said sadly. “Harry, my boy, I hoped to spare you as long as possible.”
“My father left me a letter in the Lord’s Vault.” He focused on Banner. “I won’t think less of you if you reconsider.”
“There is nothing to reconsider. I understand and accept the ramifications of your magical circumstances, my Lord. And if that corrupt old bastard wants to pick a fight with the House of Potter, our first order of business after we’re finished with the bank today will be buying you a sword.”
“Oh, I already have one of those,” Harry exclaimed. “I pulled it out of the Sorting Hat.”
Thaddeus paled and turned to Dumbledore. “Sir?”’
“Oh, yes, Mr. Banner,” Dumbledore said. “After all there is only one sword entrusted to the care of Hogwarts. Harry used it to kill a basilisk his second year. But perhaps a visit to a weapons maker wouldn’t be out of line either way. He might find his magic responds to other blades as well. The Sword of Gryffindor is quite large for his current stature.”
Harry scowled at him. “We can’t all be as tall as you besides I’ve found the sword tends to be just as long as I need it to be.”
Albus grinned at him.
– – – –
Zale Wright was waiting in the lobby of the bank. Attractive, was the first word that came to Harry’s mind. The man was turned out, properly, without crossing that line into Lucius Malfoy territory. He looked confident, in charge of himself, and at ease with who he was. Harry was almost instantly jealous much to the bracelet’s amusement. Phoenix appeared to be pleased with Zale’s appearance as well. Harry wondered what sort of relationship his other self had enjoyed with Banner and Wright as a vassal relationship would’ve proven impossible without his title.
They were shown into a large conference room that was empty at present. Dumbledore took a place by a large fire place and pulled out a book out of his sleeve. Harry found the elderly wizard’s antics more amusing than irritating. He knew the nosy old codger was listening to every single word that was said. Zale had spent the last ten years living and working in Paris as an enchanter. He held a Mastery in Transfiguration and like Thaddeus he’d been trained abroad in various aspects of magical combat. It made Harry wonder about the legacy of his house that both men had been trained in combat starting at such an early age. On the matter of marriage, Wright had admitted to preferring wizards and having no desire to have children though Jamie Banner was his godson. His bracelet was telling him that he could trust both men with the honor of his House and more importantly, with Hermione.
He took Thaddeus’ oath first because that appeared to be how they wanted it. It would make Thaddeus senior among any and all vassals that might join Harry’s House in the future. Banner knelt before him and offered both hands in what looked like supplication. It made Harry nervous in a way he couldn’t account for.
“I, Thaddeus Julian Banner, do solemnly swear on my magic that I will be faithful to the Earl of Gryffindor, never cause him harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in times of war and peace. So mote it be.”
Harry took the man’s hands at the bracelet’s instruction and magic surged between them, causing Dumbledore to get up and all but dart across the room. “The Earl of Gryffindor welcomes you, Thaddeus, to the House of Potter. I am both honored and humbled by your service to my family.” The magic continued to swirl around them and settled on Banner like a spring rain. Harry released his hands.
Banner stood and took a deep breath before focusing on Dumbledore. “Relax, sir, it was not unexpected. He carries the blood and magic of the last magical king of Britain. Making an oath to him comes with magical ramifications that I was well aware of before I knelt.”
Zale quirked an eyebrow before kneeling and offering his hands. “I, Zale Maxwell Wright, do solemnly swear on my magic that I will be faithful to the Earl of Gryffindor, never cause him harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in times of war and peace. So mote it be.” He took a deep breath as Harry took his hands. Magic swelled between them much as it had with Banner.
“The Earl of Gryffindor welcomes you, Zale, to the House of Potter. I am both honored and humbled by your service to my family.” Harry waited until the magic settled once more before releasing Zale’s hands. The older man stood. “Now, what am I supposed to do with you both?”
Zale grinned. “You have a house in Hogsmeade. It’s traditionally where Vassals of the House of Potter are headquartered in the event of an underage Earl. I’ll open the house and make myself available to you as your school schedule allows for training. I understand your professors can’t help you with the tournament. We’re not restricted from doing so. I’ll teach you etiquette, social politics, and estate management as well. Banner will handle physical training and dueling for the most part.”
Harry nodded. He flicked a scroll out of his bracelet and offered it to Banner. “The letter my father left me in the Lord’s Vault. I’d like you to both read it.”
Banner took the scroll, opened it and read it in grave silence. He paled as he read and his hands were trembling as he finished it. He handed it wordlessly to Zale who frowned in concern but started to read immediately. Wright took a seat half way through the letter and when he was done he focused on Dumbledore—looking absolutely furious.
“How bloody dare you leave him alone and defenseless in the Muggle world!” He shouted. “You’ve not even begun his training! Turning mice into bloody tea cups isn’t going to keep him alive in the face of this!” He waved the letter in his fury. “Dementors almost murdered him for fuck’s sake! I had to read about it in the goddamned paper! You promised us both, Albus! You promised us he was safe.”
“Calm down,” Harry said and took the letter. He carefully rolled it up and put it back in his bracelet. “I’m going mess Riddle up. He’s going to wish he’d been born a Muggle before I’m done.”
Zale’s mouth quirked up a little as he relaxed. “Merlin, Thaddeus, it’s like you raised him yourself.”
“I swear it to you both,” Harry said. “Tom Riddle won’t end the House of Potter. I’m not going to allow it. He picked a fight with me when I was fifteen months old and he’s really going to bloody regret it.”
“We’ll hold you to that, lad,” Banner said. “In the meantime, we’ll both dedicate ourselves to your training. In light of this news, I’m going to resign my position with Gringotts.”
“Then we should discuss a salary for you both,” Harry said. “You have a family to support, Thaddeus, and I’d not want your son to lack what he needs in any way for your duty to me.” He glanced Zale over. “And I’d hate for Zale’s appearance to suffer. It might interfere with his ability to get a boyfriend.”
Zale grinned. “You wish you dressed as well, the both of you.”
“I do, actually,” Harry admitted. “But I don’t think even you could carry off some of things the Headmaster flits around in. You don’t sparkle enough. As to my wardrobe, I made an owl order with Madam Malkin. I was wondering if you could go get it and evaluate it for…well, I don’t want to embarrass myself and I know very little about how I should dress for my station.”
“First, you’ve got to stop buying from that woman,” Zale complained. “I’ll put an order in with my tailor.” He checked his watch. “I’ll go now and check on what you ordered and make any changes necessary. She’s fine for casual stuff, I guess, and work clothes but not formal wear and certainly not what you’ll need for the Wizengamot.”
“All right. I guess Thaddeus can stay here and protect me from all those old people I fired on the Board of Governors for Hogwarts.”
Zale grinned. “Yeah, I think he can handle that.”
Harry settled in at the conference table with Banner and Dumbledore after Zale left. Sharprock, his account manager, joined them and hammered out a salary package for both vassals. Banner balked initially at the purchase of a second house in Hogsmeade but Harry figured that Piper Banner would want her own space. He suggested Piper look at the available properties in Hogsmeade and make the best choice for their family. Thaddeus agreed reluctantly, though obviously pleased by Piper’s inclusion in the choice of houses.
Only seven of the twelve people he fired actually came to the meeting he arranged to protest and Dolores Umbridge was among them. She brought Minister Fudge with her. Dumbledore retreated to the fire once more but didn’t bother to pretend to read a book. He just stared pointedly at anyone who dared look his way. Harry thought it was funny as hell. Amelia Bones was the last person to join the meeting and she walked to stand beside Dumbledore’s chair with a nod in Harry’s direction.
“Now,” Fudge began as he got settled, “Harry, you’ve made some mistakes and…”
Harry held up a hand. “That’s Lord Potter to you, Minister Fudge. I have not given and have no intention of ever giving you permission to be familiar with me. Your presence in this meeting additionally serves absolutely no purpose as the Ministry has no say in the placement of governors for the Trustee Board established by the Gryffindor Trust.”
Fudge flushed dark red and looked toward Dumbledore who only glared at him. “As the Minister for Magic I must protest your assumption.”
“There are two outcomes to your protest,” Harry said reasonably as Phoenix helpfully silently supplied a list of choices and rules the Minister was breaking. “I can withdraw the Gryffindor Trust and reabsorb it into Potter vault. This will end my relationship with Hogwarts and you’ll be within your rights to seat anyone you’d like to the Board of Governors.” He paused when Fudge smiled. “And the Ministry will be responsible for the financial costs of running Hogwarts—which runs about seventy-five thousand galleons a year after tuition is gathered. You see, Hogwarts, has never turned a profit. It’s maintained through the Gryffindor Trust which is managed and invested by the goblins.”
Fudge paled. “I see. I had no idea.”
“The Gryffindor Trust will exist and provide for Hogwarts as long as the Ministry does not interfere in the running of the school in any way. You’ve already violated that agreement, Minister Fudge, on numerous occasions since you entered office. You arrested a member of staff and threw them in Azkaban without a single legitimate reason, you allowed your pet Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, to blackmail the Board of Governors into temporarily firing Dumbledore and as a result I was nearly murdered by a basilisk in my defense of the school. I blame you for that. In my third year, you set a bunch of Dementors loose on my land and I was almost kissed twice. If it is your intention to end the House of Potter with my murder—you could at least do me the courtesy of declaring a blood feud with me like a proper wizard.”
“I was unaware of the limits placed on the Ministry in regards to the Trust, Lord Potter,” Fudge promised.
“Your ignorance is not a comfort,” Harry replied. “The truth is I find you to be a coward and a liar. If you ever expect me to think otherwise, you have some work ahead of you.” He focused on Umbridge. “Your placement on the Board of Governors was done through inheritance. It was illegal to begin with and became more so when you kept your job with the Ministry. I would be well within my rights to sue you for the money you’ve taken in salary from the Gryffindor Trust in the last four years. Is that your preference?”
Umbridge paled. “No, Lord Potter, it isn’t.”
“Then you can go and thank you for your service, such as it was.”
Umbridge got up and left the room as fast as she could but Fudge stayed behind.
“Mr. Brandle, per the charter that led to the foundation of Hogwarts and the Gryffindor Trust, how long may a single person serve as a Governor?”
The man frowned. “Five years.”
“And how long have you served?”
“And you came in here for what purpose?” Harry demanded. “You know your placement was no longer valid. Did you suppose you could come in here and bully me into keeping you on the board?”
Brandle eyed him. “I imagine anyone who thought that, Lord Potter, is rethinking their position rapidly.” He glanced towards Banner who was lounging his chair beside Harry cleaning his nails with a gleaming goblin made blade. He stood and four others stood with him.
Harry watched them leave with dark, furious eyes then focused the remaining former governor. He raised one eyebrow at the woman and she huffed. He looked down at the list the goblins had provided him to confirm her name. Elenora Figg.
“Mrs. Figg, what argument would you like to make regarding your continued placement on the Board of Governors.”
“I’ve only served two years,” the woman said. “As you must have noticed and I’m not in the employee of the Ministry.”
“I noticed all of those things, yes. Would you like to know what else I noticed?” He raised an eyebrow when she glared at him. “I noticed that you brought forth three different amendments to the school charter that would limit the inclusion of Muggle-born students at Hogwarts. I noticed that you voted against increasing the scholarship fund for the magical orphanage despite the fact that ninety-six percent of the children at the orphanage lost parents in the blood war with Tom Riddle. This, quite frankly, offends me deeply.”
He flicked the green record book of the Board out of his bracelet and opened it. “You lobbied to have Minerva McGonagall fired at every single meeting you’ve been at since you became a governor. That pisses me off. For the record, and so you never need wonder again, Professor McGonagall is one of my favorite people on this entire planet and my Head of House. I find her to be honorable, honest and she exhibits profound amount of grace in the most amazing circumstances. You have some personal issue with her and I don’t care what it is. You’ve let your personal vendetta negatively impact your role as a governor. Over the summer, you were instrumental in having her brought before the board and questioned like a convict regarding an accusation that she’s intimately involved with the Headmaster which is utterly ridiculous, not a violation of the school employment rules and none of your business. I read the minutes of that meeting, Mrs. Figg. In her place, I would have hexed you into next year.”
“She has no morals and has no business teaching children.”
Harry frowned at her. “I know a woman named Arabella Figg. Are you related to her?”
The woman grimaced in distaste. “My husband’s squib sister.”
“She was always especially kind to me,” Harry said quietly. “Though I’m not fond of her cats.” He grimaced and put away the record book for the board. “You’re a bigot and I’m not going to actually pay you spread your nonsense around. Your termination will remain in place. You can go now.”
She started to protest but Thaddeus cleared his throat. “The Lord Potter has dismissed you, Mrs. Figg. Do not give me a reason to throw you out of this room.” He looked up from his knife and stared at her.
Harry watched her leave and turned toward Banner. “Can you teach me how to look at people like that until they go away?”
“You got a pretty intense stare of your own, my Lord,” Thaddeus said wryly. “I thought Brandle was going to piss himself.”
Harry sighed and focused on Fudge. “Why are you still here?”
“I’ve heard that the goblins are they harboring Sirius Black.”
“I see, and did you ask the goblins about it?”
“They refused to discuss it with me and referred me to you.”
“I told you in May that my godfather was innocent and you responded by attempting to have him kissed. I can only thank God that he escaped your murderous intentions. You were told he had no trial, a fact I’m sure you’re entirely aware of at this point as the Headmaster has spent the better part of five months trying to get him one. But you’re more interested in covering your own arse than seeing justice met. Minister Fudge, I find you to be one of the worst people I’ve met since entering the magical world and that’s saying something considering I met a man who was willingly possessed by Voldemort my first year at Hogwarts.”
Thaddeus sighed. “Thank Merlin, Zale has to teach you social etiquette.”
“I hate politics,” Harry said. “I hate reporters, too. I’m not at all fond of liars and that’s pretty much all politicians are. They say one thing and do another. It’s all about appearances with them. Fudge cares about the surface of his political image and doesn’t seem to care at all that underneath it’s rotting away due to his greed, dishonesty, and cowardice.” He focused on Fudge. “I mean as long as it appears as if you’re doing something then everything is going to be fine, right? Had you really been interested in protecting the students and school during my second year you’d have offered the Headmaster help with security. A team of aurors and a few magical researchers from the Department of Mysteries would’ve probably figured out was at work in Hogwarts but appearances were more important than actual action to you.”
“Hagrid was guilty of opening…”
“Oh, shut up,” Harry said crossly. “You’re a bleeding moron, Fudge. Hagrid was caught with an Acromantula which in no way resembles as a basilisk. While both are deadly—they don’t kill the same. A cursory examination of Myrtle Jones body would’ve revealed she wasn’t bitten by a spider at all. Even the smallest amount of research would have exonerated him in 1942. You know what I ought to do,” Harry began thoughtfully, “I should sue the Ministry of Magic on his behalf—for defamation, illegally withholding his wand rights, and unlawful imprisonment.” He tapped his fingers on the table. “Yes, I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“I…huh.” Fudge took a deep breath and his shoulders slumped. “What do you want?”
“What do I want?” Harry asked incredulous even as the door to the room opened admitting Ragnok and Zale Wright. “I want you to be a decent human being, Fudge! For the love of Merlin, why can’t you do the right thing for once? Was your moral compass surgically removed in infancy or what? Why don’t you climb out of Lucius Malfoy’s pocket and have some bloody pride in yourself!”
“I believe what Lord Potter means that it would be a nice gesture if you issued Hagrid a pardon and returned his wand rights to him,” Dumbledore said. “And perhaps a financial compensation for his time in Azkaban.”
“And you can stop interfering with the trial process my godfather is due,” Harry said.
Fudge shook his head.
Harry held up a hand. “You know what? Never mind, we’re done. You can go now.”
“You can’t just dismiss me,” Fudge protested.
“Oh, yes, he can,” Thaddeus assured. “You’re on goblin land, Minister, and Lord Potter is their honored guest. You have no authority in this room or in the bank at large.”
“You’ll have Sirius Black turned over to the Ministry or I’ll…”
Harry stood, aura flaring wide open. “You’ll do what, exactly?”
“You’re very young, Lord Potter. You have a lot to learn about the world. Your actions are only going to make your life more difficult. You can’t hardly know the man and he’s a criminal.”
“I know that an honorable man does what’s right versus what is easy,” Harry said and regained his seat. “I know that my family has sacrificed repeatedly for the Light for over a thousand years and that I have a duty to my legacy to be a good man. When I meet my father in the afterlife, Minister Fudge, he’s going to be proud of the man I became and the life I led. I wonder if you can say the same?”
Fudge glared at him. “You’ll come to regret this day, mark my words.” He stalked out of the room and slammed the door behind him.
Harry turned to Amelia Bones. “Did I keep him in here long enough?”
“Oh, yes,” Amelia said with a laugh. “That was perfect. The Daily Prophet has been fully distributed and can’t be stopped at this point.” She approached the table and placed a copy of the paper in front of him.
Harry unfolded it to reveal the headline: LORD SIRIUS BLACK INNOCENT; THROWN IN AZKABAN WITHOUT A TRIAL
“They didn’t give you any problems?”
“The letter you gave me was more than enough to get everything I wanted from the editor. He’s looking forward to maintaining a more honest paper from now on. I also planted the story you wanted about Hagrid. It’s below the fold which is better than I expected. I think they’re using it as an example of further proof of Fudge’s abuse of power.”
Harry nodded. “Any thoughts on what he really wanted from me?”
“I think he was trying to see how manageable you were going to be,” Thaddeus said. “Which is to say not at all.”
Harry grinned. “Good.” He touched his bracelet because it was radiating amusement at him and took a deep breath. “Okay, so what next?” He focused on Ragnok as he spoke and the old goblin inclined his head thoughtfully.
“You’ve got five people waiting in the room across the hall, Lord Potter. May I suggest you start with Augusta Longbottom? She’s been here the longest and her acceptance will go away with the rest of your guests.”
Harry nodded. “All right.” He turned to Thaddeus who had put away his knife. “What do you know about her?”
“She’s the meanest witch I’ve ever met,” Banner said.
Harry bit down on his bottom lip and relaxed when Phoenix laughed in his head. The bracelet gave him a bit of advice to start with and told him to remain as polite but firm as possible during the discussion. Augusta Longbottom entered the room and sat down directly in front of him.
“Good morning, Madam Longbottom. Thank you for taking time for me this morning.”
“You’re welcome, Lord Potter. Congratulations on the claiming of your title.” Augusta removed her gloves carefully and placed them on the table. “My grandson speaks fondly of you.”
“Neville is a good person,” Harry said. “And far better a friend that I’ve deserved in the past. I trust him without reserve.”
Augusta stared in shocked silence for a moment then nodded. “I was not aware that you held him in such high regard to be honest.”
“I believe him to be a great person with a lot of potential. He’s one of the bravest people I’ve ever met,” Harry said. “He was one of the few people in Gryffindor to support me these last few weeks after my name came out of the goblet. He defended me ardently regardless of the fact that it put him at odds with the majority of our peers. He’s a brother to me.”
“Do you understand the implications of such a statement,” Augusta asked shrewdly.
“Of course, I do,” Harry said mildly. “Our grandfathers swore an alliance with one another during the height of the war with Grindelwald. It is my duty and privilege to continue that alliance. We are brothers in magic and war.” He paused and let that settle on her. “But my alliance with the future Lord Longbottom is not why you are here.”
“It’s not?” Augusta asked. “You’ve aligned yourself with my grandson and that’s not why I’m here?”
“Neville’s alliances are his own to manage. I mean no disrespect, Madam Longbottom, but that is business beyond your purview.” Harry folded his hands in front of him and took a deep breath. “How would you like to be on the Board of Governors for Hogwarts?”
“I’m not working with any of those old arseholes,” Augusta exclaimed crossly.
“Then you’ll be delighted to know that I fired all of those old arseholes,” Harry said cheerfully and grinned when she tried to frown at him. He propped his chin up on one hand. “You know what I need?”
“What?” Augusta asked.
“A witch who’s more than willing to tell someone when they’re being an idiot. I’d like to put you in charge. Hogwarts is behind most of the world educationally because of the former Board of Governors. The staff need better, more comparable salaries, and the Headmaster would like to offer more classes. Next year, every single eligible child from the magical orphanage will be enrolled at Hogwarts. That’s two hundred students, at least. Every Muggle-born will be invited, including ones that have been excluded over the past few years. Scholarships will be granted more generously for those who qualify. Tutors and additional staff will be added to handle their integration into the student body. Some will be significantly behind their peer group but that can’t be helped. No one is going to be denied a magical education in Britain as long as I have a thing to say about it.”
“What’s the catch?” Augusta asked.
“I’m glad you asked,” Harry said. “I think Neville needs a new wand and I’d like him to train with me this year. My two vassals are going to teach me to kick Voldemort’s bum.”
Augusta smirked. “Is that so?”
Augusta nodded. “Very well. Who else are you hiring for the Board? I won’t work with any arseholes, lad.”
“I’m going to offer positions to Eliza Greengrass, Jeffrey Abbott, Colleen Wood, and Miranda Zabini.”
“That’s an interesting group of people,” Augusta said. “I just had tea with them. They had no idea why they were invited to the bank.”
“It’s gratifying that they showed up regardless.”
“When the Lord of an Ancient and Noble House requests your presence at Gringotts, you show up,” Augusta said dryly. “Even if it’s just to punch him in the throat.”
“Thanks for not resorting to physical violence,” Harry said cheerfully. “Do we have an accord?”
“We do.” Augusta nodded. “And I agree with your goals. I take it there is more?”
“The Headmaster has a list,” Harry said. “There is nothing on it I disapprove of currently. I’ll be reviewing the minutes of your meetings on a monthly basis and will let you know if you do something I find unacceptable. I want Hogwarts to be everything it should be Madam Longbottom. It’s a beautiful and magical place—it should be a rewarding and safe place to learn in.”
“Yes, I think so, too. Excellent, let’s bring in the rest and we’ll see about contracts.”
“My account manager, Sharprock, has created the contracts and we’ve developed a salary package that I believe will be fitting. The former board abused the lack of an Earl of Gryffindor to pay themselves stupidly, while allowing the quality of Hogwarts to suffer so we’ve included language in the contracts to prevent such abuse now and in the future.”
– – – –
“Why does Neville need a new wand,” Harry asked Phoenix as the Headmaster guided him through the bank towards the private quarters Sirius had been assigned.
“She forced him to use his father’s wand instead of buying him is own. In my timeline, that mistake wasn’t corrected until sixth year. He’s a strong wizard and good young man. He doesn’t deserve to suffer with such a poor match—it only erodes his already fragile self-esteem when it comes to magic. You did well in the meeting with her—she likes you a lot more than she let on. It’s good.”
”You told Dumbledore and Sirius you were cursed and dying when you made the bracelet. Is that true?” Harry only hesitated a little before entering a large sitting room. Remus Lupin was seated on a small sofa with a book in hand. Thaddeus and Zale took up places by the door.
“I was cursed, yes, in the line of duty. The person who did it hasn’t even been born yet so don’t worry that you’ve got some unknown enemy lurking out in the world besides Voldemort and his Death Eaters.”
Harry frowned slightly and touched his bracelet as he sat down. “Hello Professor.”
“Please, call me Remus or even Moony if you prefer, Harry.” Remus closed his book and focused on him intently. “Sirius told me how rough your family magic claiming was.” He glanced briefly at the bracelet as he spoke. “How do you feel?”
“Less like I got ran over by a Dementor and more like I had to spend ten hours on a broom at Quidditch practice because Oliver Wood is a sadist.”
Remus grinned. “Better then. I really enjoy watching you play. I’ve been attending Gryffindor games on and off since your first year.”
“I didn’t know that,” Harry said. “Why didn’t you ever write me or try to speak with me?”
“Albus assured me you were safe with your aunt and with my condition—the wards on your home on Privet Drive refused me entry. After you came to Hogwarts, I don’t know what kept me from talking to you or writing you. Or honestly, what took me so long to discuss the fact that I was your parent’s friend last year. It makes no sense.”
“Sirius didn’t tell you about the curse?” Harry asked.
“I’ve barely seen him since my arrival. The goblins have kept him pretty busy with questions and healing,” Remus frowned. “Someone cursed you?”
“That’s why I was at the bank,” Harry explained. “It was…subverting my magical legacy in several ways and it prevented anyone from discussing my legacy with me. It also seemed to make it nearly impossible for me to ask about it in retrospect. I found out by accident when I picked up a book in the library on the Noble families.” He was grateful that Phoenix had coached him on this topic but he felt like an arsehole for lying.
“It’s for Hermione,” Phoenix reminded him.
Harry relaxed because ultimately that was true and whatever he had to do to ensure her happiness and survival he would do.
“Do you know who cursed you?” Remus asked.
Harry shrugged. “I have an idea but the Headmaster won’t like hearing it so I thought it would be best coming from the goblins. I’m sure they’re investigating it thoroughly.”
Albus sighed. “Harry, I know you don’t think well of Severus but surely you don’t think he set out to destroy your magical House.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time he tried,” Remus said tightly. “Or do you not remember the infertility curse he hit James with in our sixth year? It hadn’t been for Sirius’ quick reaction, he would’ve ended the Potter line that very day.”
“Severus has a role to play at Hogwarts. He doesn’t resent Harry as it appears.”
“I think he actually resents me more than he appears to,” Harry said. “I mean, I don’t know why he hated my Dad but he surely did if he cursed him like that and he’s treated me horribly from day one. But we can have different opinions about this, sir. The goblins will find the truth of it and we’ll see if your faith in him was so misplaced.”
Albus inclined his head. “Agreed.”
The door opened and Sirius entered, dressed in a robe with runes all over it. He threw himself in a chair and frowned. “Goblin healers are so weird.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “What did they do to you?”
“Basically? They just ritually cleansed my entire person—body and mind.” He turned to Remus. “Remember that time in Paris when I talked you into going to that spa and they did that thing and you swore to me you’d end my magical existence if I ever suggested we go there again.”
Remus laughed. “Yeah?”
“It was like that only worse.”
“What did the spa people do?” Harry asked curiously.
“Herbal colon cleansing,” Sirius confessed in a hushed, horrified tone.