- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Dark Themes
- Death - Minor Character
- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Rule 63
“Is that,” Hermione pauses and looks at the group around her. “Is that a magical book shop?”
“Flourish and Blotts?” Harry checks and she grins at her friend’s excited nod. “Yeah, wanna go in?”
Hermione tenses like she’s about to bolt for the door then stops and frowns. “But. Your appointment.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that.” Harry leans in and says softer. “If you can keep your parents and at least the witches here that would actually be a really big help.”
“Mum I can do for sure but Dad wants to talk to the bank. He has questions.” Hermione bites her lip anxiously.
“Still a big help.” She confirms and then louder. “Come on, let’s go!”
The adults laugh at them as the little girls scamper under the book archway Madam Flouris is levitating into place and the woman shouts a warning at them. With an apologetic grin, Merlin follows Hermione through the door. The girl is in raptures, its adorable.
“You got our list?”
Hermione nods decisively, pulls her little purse around the front of her body and removes the notebook they worked on together the previous night. There aren’t many specific titles on the list because Merlin can’t quite be sure what titles have stood the test of time. What they’ve put together is more of a list of subjects they are interested in combined with their Hogwarts lists.
“Mum! Mum! Come look, see!”
“Hold on, Hermione!” Dr. Amy sounds exasperated as she dodges a book that snarls at her even as McGonagall turns to stun it with prejudice.
Merlin makes his way up to Mr. Blotts at the counter. “Hello,” He smiles at the man and oh so casually runs a hand through his hair, disrupting his bangs and accidentally on purpose flashing the man their scar.
The man squeaks.
“Is it okay if my friends stick around and handle our shopping? I have to go do something with the Bank but it’s probably going to be a while but we’ve got a pretty big order and it would work better for us if they could get it done while I go handle that.”
“Of course, Miss Potter,” The man says almost reverently. “I’ll make room on the counter for them to leave their selections. Just over here, would that be alright? Is that enough?”
Harry smiles and manages not to laugh at the man. He’s doing her a favor after all. “Yes, thank you, that’s perfect.” She turns to where Madam Bones is once again adhered to her shadow. “Would you watch over the Grangers and explain Master Blotts’ kindness?”
That gets her a look so droll it is actually impressive but the woman just sighs. “Of course, Miss Potter. You need to run or Lord Bones will go without you.”
Merlin snorts at the woman but heeds her advice and heads for the door.
Lord Bones opens the door for her and Dr. Robert follows her out.
“How long until our meeting?” Dr. Robert asks.
“We’ll be fine,” Lord Bones assures him. “There’s no need to worry.”
The man huffs in a way that sounds just like his wife but then he stills as he takes in the gleaming white edifice of the Bank. Harry just laughs and pulls him on. Lord Bones may be confident that the Goblins won’t call Merlin on the carpet for being late but she’s not so confident.
No, that’s not right. She is very aware they would never call her on such a thing but they would never call her on such a thing because the idea of it happening is so very unlikely.
“He will see you now,” The goblin at the appointments desk announces just as they come to a stop there ten minutes before their 9am appointment. His significant glance at Lord Bones indicates no need for them to introduce themselves. The two exchange nods and the group troops down the hall behind the desk.
The goblin Do’Derick doesn’t look much like Merlin remembers. He’s recognizably himself but he’s smaller and paler than the vital young Goblin Merlin had hand selected for the post so long ago. He’s sitting on a stack of at least three cushions just to see over his own desk with glasses perched precariously on his nose.
That more than anything so far in this life makes it clear how much time has passed.
Still, the tiny Goblin’s eyes light up when he seems him. “I thought it was you. I dismissed it though when I learned the Potter child was a girl.”
Merlin waves the very Goblinish apology away. “I’ve always been rather… both. Or either/or at different times, I suppose.”
“Not always one or the other but both or sort of flowing into each other?”
Harry blinks up at Dr. Robert in surprise, “Yeah.”
“Genderfluid?” The older man proposes.
Merlin thinks about it. “Yes, genderfluid. Is that a muggle thing?”
“Its an LGBT thing.”
Merlin has no idea what that is even supposed to mean. He has never heard the term before in his life. In any of them, actually, so he gives what he has learned to be the Granger Family standard response, “I’m going to need books.” Dr. Granger just laughs and Merlin focuses back on the goblin. “I’ve always been rather fluid in my own gender. Being born physically female simply provides me the opportunity to explore my feminine side more publicly than I have ever have before.”
“So you won’t be needing reassignment options, then?”
“Not currently, but I wouldn’t take it off the table for later in life.”
“Fair enough,” The Goblin pushes a stack of three large leather books right off the edge of his desk only to have them caught by a House Elf before they actually hit the ground. The House Elf nods to them and pops away silently with the books in his arms. “What can I do for you, Ms. Emrys-Potter?”
“Were the Potters noble? I need to be able to assert my independence rather immediately but I don’t want anyone to know who I truly am before I’m ready.”
The Goblin nods in agreement even though he looks more like an old man trying valiantly not to fall asleep sitting up. “I took the liberty of familiarizing myself with the public details last night. In England, the House of Potter reached Ancient status with your birth and you will be able to ascend to Baroness Potter when you come of age, which as the last of your line will be the moment you take up your wand.”
“I’ll need a trip to my vault, then. Are the Potter accounts in the hands of someone reliable?”
“Ragnorock is a good lad,” Do’Derick says by way of answer. “If you hadn’t come to me now I would have had to swear him into your account management before the year is out, I’m afraid.”
“High praise, indeed.” Because there is no way Do’Derick would even consider trusting the Emrys Account to anyone not utterly outstanding. “Can you tell me anything about the Potter Accounts?”
“Not much. Ragnorock is the most tight-lipped youngster I have met in some 300 years. I know he is having a bit of a cold war with Albus Dumbledore and I have heard tell that Dumbledore is your magical guardian but that’s just a rumor as Ragnorock will neither confirm nor deny. And whether the two issues are related, I could not swear to.”
“Alright, I need to hit my vault and get my wand. You can bring Ragnorock in to discuss the Potter accounts and his takeover of the Emrys account. Oh. And arrange to pay for mine and Miss Hermione Granger’s Hogwarts fees. Quietly, if you please.” Merlin ignores Dr. Robert’s sputtering. “The Grangers’ home will be my official residence until further notice. Unless it’s urgent I would prefer to receive my correspondence there the muggle way. Update the private record to reflect that, will you?”
“Of course, youngling. My grandson is outside to take you to your vault. Number 13, in case you managed to forget.”
Both Lord Bones and Dr. Robert follow Harry out to door and right into Do’Derick’s grandson Riptorn’s care.
Riptorn is an all round medium goblin. Medium height, medium quantity of hair, medium brown eyes. He’s also closer to mid-age than she had expected a goblin that hasn’t earned a warrior’s name to be.
But, then again.
Warriors don’t deign to run the carts and there is a certain honor in being one of the few that can access the most secure lower levels of the Bank like those that hold the Emrys Vaults. As the number suggests only twelve other vaults exist on that level, the ten for the clans of the horde, the Chieftains Vault, and the Bank’s general property vault. The ability to access them is a great trust from and for the entire Horde.
Riptorn grins at her, blood thirsty enough to make any fully-blooded warrior proud and holds up a key. “Ragnorock made me oath to give you the key to your trust vault the moment I saw you, Lady Potter.”
“You are a goblin of your word, Riptorn,” she says by way of thanks with a little dip of her head.
The goblin nods sharply and turns to lead them down the hall.
“Do you like roller coasters, Dr. Granger?” Lord Bones asks gleefully as they make their way toward a vault cart.
“Yes?” Dr. Robert glances between him, Harry, and Riptorn, cautiously confused.
“Don’t worry,” She assures the muggle man. “Despite appearances it’s perfectly safe. Allowing harm to befall a customer within the Bank would be bad for business.”
“Quite right!” The goblin agrees, grinning again. “Where to first?”
“Vault 13, please.”
A pause, then a nod and a “Hold on to something,” and they are flying down to the deepest levels of the bank.
Harry that is Merlin just manages to hold in her whoop of glee but quickly stops bothering when Dr. Robert throws his arms up and cheers loudly from the back seat as they make the first sharply-banking turn.
When they screech to a halt outside his vault only Merlin and Dr. Robert hop out.
The Dentist stops to look at the other two with a frown but Merlin takes his hand. “No ‘full’ Magical can enter the vault but me. As a squib, you can come in and look around but you don’t want to touch anything.”
“Will it eat me?” He asks with a joking grin.
“That really depends on what you touch.” Merlin answers him completely honestly. “If you touch them without me moving it first, the trunks would eat you, the gold would burn you, but several other objects would poison you. Strangling is likely, from the jewelry and such.”
The man laughs but sobers immediately when Merlin doesn’t laugh with him. “You’re serious?”
“Completely. You can stay in the cart, if you like.”
The man considers for a moment but in the end shakes his head. “This is a singular opportunity. How many people have seen the inside of Merlin’s private vault?”
“In this lifetime? Me.”
“Exactly,” the man nods, staying firmly at her side.
They don’t mention the vow and how that will keep him from saying anything about what he’s seen but it doesn’t need to be said. Even if he can’t tell anyone, the experience will be there all the same.
Merlin lays his hand on the door and pushes his magic into it until the whole thing glows, turns into a golden mist, and disappears.
Dr. Robert pointedly shoves his hands in his trouser pockets and in they go.
Of course, then Dr. Robert stops immediately inside the door and Merlin has to acknowledge that the sight that greets them is worth such a reaction.
Arthur’s damn sword sits pride of the place in the entrance hall. The enchanted stone that holds it sharp and ready for its master is draped in fine silks and gold and jewel chains. The tableau is framed by a wall of pristine, priceless tapestries. Not the actual tapestries from Camelot but replicas he had commissioned in his next life on the hope that at some point Arthur would manage to stick around long enough for him to give them to him.
Merlin rolls her eyes and walks around the tapestries to the right, making a beeline for a small niche carved into the wall just off the entrance.
This particular niche is, to Merlin, the most important. There is a single shelf carved from the wall, just above waist height on a grown man with a small stone step so that Merlin can access the shelf as a child as he always seems to have to the first time in a new life. There are two things on the shelf.
Well, okay, only one actually on the shelf. A wand. Half richly-grained golden pear, half smooth white aspen, fitted together into a single complicated and lovely piece around intertwined heartstring of a female Hebridean Black and tail hair of a unicorn stallion given in the prime of his life. A unique and powerful wand that caters directly to the duality of Merlin’s purpose in all of his lives.
The other thing actually floats above the shelf so it’s not really on it but, close enough.
It’s a gem, a crystal. A gift from the Great Purple Dragon himself, floating and pulsing with life like a heartbeat. Arthur’s heartbeat, to be specific. Merlin feels something in the core of himself unclench and he sighs, finally able to actually breathe.
Arthur’s alive. Arthur is well.
And, from that color, Arthur is magical. That’s new.
Silently Merlin reaches up and closes her wand hand over as much of the crystal as she can, focusing with all of her might to learn everything she can about him.
Arthur’s older than her, which, okay. It’s his turn to be older, she supposes. And it makes her decision to go to Hogwarts sit with her all the better.
He’s exasperated in that way that speaks to a close younger friend or a younger sibling and Harry can’t help but smile. Arthur is usually born to a family of high standing, a ‘spare heir’ in such a family just makes sense.
There’s a little.. push, against her through the crystal. It’s not rude or angry, just curious. As of Arthur can feel her scrying for him and can’t quite identify what it is but he’s trying.
Oh, is he trying.
She laughs and releases the stone, picking up her wand.
Following the sound of the only other being to enter her vault in… four hundred years? Five? Harry ends up in front of the cave of books. She can’t even pretend to be surprised. Of course the book cave is where a Granger would go.
A silent flick of her wand and several entire shelves start packing themselves into the trunks set over to the side.
Dr. Robert jumps at the sudden movement, then turns and glares a bit at her grin.
“I wanted to talk to you, Harry,” He starts in a particularly dad tone of voice.
Harry forces herself not to roll her eyes. “You know, when your wife met me. She saw a starving, damaged little kid, and never hesitated to take me in. She never stopped to doubt me, to think I might be crazy or dangerous, even though I was obviously magical and she’s a squib. She never stopped to calculate the cost of suddenly gaining a second daughter, either. She just saw child in pain and decided to fix it.
“I can tell from experience -I can promise you- that kind of selfless, heroic behavior is the rarest gift on this planet. No matter the year or the gender or the species. So if I can ease things for the both of you by spending a little bit of the truly stupid amount of gold I have. Or any of the ridiculous amount I will no doubt continue to receive for absolutely no reason from utter and complete strangers, I would consider doing so a privilege.”
The doctor breathes heavily through his nose, in and out once. He considers her and after a moment offers a compromise. “You cover our magical bills, we’ll cover your mundane ones.”
Hello, permission to pay for all books and school supplies! Harry grins. “Deal.”
She takes the packed trunks, transfigures them into little charms, and personally pokes them to the woven leather bracelet Dr. Robert is wearing. A bracelet Hermione made him at a summer camp, apparently.
She could grab one of the many chains around the room and make herself a necklace instead but… it just feels more appropriate to do it this way. And as a bonus it gives Dr. Robert a heavy magical aura that will make anyone that might think to mess with their little family group hesitate long enough for Merlin to take them down discreetly.
At her magic’s urging, they make a quick stop at her Potter Trust Vault.
The thing is, of course, heaping with gold. There are several bags of it off to one side and she takes several, shrinks, and pockets them but the thing that has most of her attention is the little pedestal in the center of the room.
At first glance it just has even more gold in a white spot light because, for all their sighs and grumbles about wizarding dramatics, goblins do love a good presentation.
On the second glance, though-
On the second glance the pedestal is holding something under a heavy Notice Me Not charm, layered with various and creative booby traps and wards. If anyone one other than the intended recipient tried to mess with whatever is on the pedestal -assuming they would find it- they would end up mutilated, devastated, embarrassed, and quite likely dead.
Thankfully Merlin, or rather Harry, is the intended recipient.
They reach out their left hand and the moment it settles on top of the thing, it reveals itself to be a tan, metal muggle lockbox. With a lily surrounded by antlers in a vague heart-like shape drawn on the lid in what Harry knows to be muggle Sharpie.
There’s a single frozen moment and the lock on the box clicks itself open.
Curiosity easily being their biggest flaw, they open the box. On the very top of the utterly full box is a short letter folded so the words are readily visible once the lid is raised.
My Dearest Harry, it reads in a distinctly feminine penmanship.
If you are reading this, then we are firmly in worst case scenario territory. Your father and I are dead and you probably grew up alone. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that happened to you. It’s not what either of us would have ever wanted.
Inside this box are two journals. These are journals that James and I kept the entire length of my pregnancy and the first year of your life until we went into hiding to protect you. We wrote these journals for you so that we could look back on them together when you were older and laugh at them together but now I hope they help you know us and how much we will always love you.
There are also several letters inside the box. One of them is sealed and I would prefer it go to the recipient that way but they are all yours to do with as you please, no matter who they are addressed to.
All Our Love,
James and Lily
P.S. is added hastily. Don’t trust Albus Dumbledore.
Harry’s eyebrows shoot to her hairline.
She knows who Albus Dumbledore is of course. She might have been a muggle for World War 2 but her position in the mundane world made sure she knew who defeated Grindelwald and ended the war on the magical side of things. For their mother not to trust him? Well, they are obviously some pieces missing.
Now that she thinks on it, the Goblins don’t seem to like him either. Which is strange when you consider how much gold the man must have earned from all of his heroic deeds.
Silently she transfigures the lockbox into a silver coin with the symbol on the box standing in bold relief on the surface. Rather than trust this to Dr. Robert though she puts a mild sticking charm on it and slaps it on her sternum under her blouse.
Tossing one last bag of gold to Dr. Robert, she climbs back in the cart so that they can head back to the surface.
With their cart once again parked Dr. Robert asks, “Is it just me or did it take the same amount of time to go from the top to the first vault, from the first vault to the second, and from the second back up to the surface?”
“Well spotted, doctor.” The goblin congratulates as he leaves the cart.
“It’s a security measure.” Harry is the one to explain. “The more alike everything seems down there, the harder it is for an outsider to find their way around, and the less likely they will manage to steal anything.”
“I can see that.” The man nods.
By the time they make it back to Do’Derick’s office, there are two goblins waiting.
Ragnorock and Do’Derick stand as the three humans enter.
“Your wand?” Ragnorock asks.
Harry holds up their wand and wiggles it at him.
“Very good.” Do’Derick nods and pushes forward a ring box with a delicate finger. “The Ring for the Royal House of Emrys.”
Harry takes the ring and slides it on the first finger on her right hand with a smile.
“As the Ascendant Scion of the House of Potter, it falls to you to to design the Lordship and Heir rings for your House.”
Harry grimaces. “Do you have any histories or other reading so that I may learn about my birth family so that I may design a fitting set of rings? All I can recall about Potters speaks to them being inventors, merchants.”
“Of course,” The Potter Account Manager lays a book, probably a grimoire, on the desk in front of her. “Do you have any questions?”
“Are you prepared to be both the Potter and Emrys Account Manager?”
“Yes. Do’Derick has given me an overview of the account’s requirements and we have agreed to a year long training period before we change over.”
Merlin nods, accepting that. “Once that is complete you may want to consider finding your own minion and doing the same with the Potter Accounts. The Emrys Accounts are rather vast.” The goblin nods to her once and she continues. “I have many enemies and I don’t know who they all are yet or what they want so I require the strictest confidence in my reborn status. Will my status as Baroness Potter cover my emancipation even without a ring?”
“Yes,” both goblins nod.
“I will handle the paperwork myself.” Ragnorock promises.
“Fantastic. And what kind of funds availability am I looking at?”
“Both accounts have extensive liquid assets available and of course as their lord you have unfettered access.”
“Even better. I have already indicated to Do’Derick that I want mine and Hermione Granger’s school fees paid from my accounts as quietly as possible. I also want a bank-direct payment account established with Flourish and Blotts. Authorized users: myself and Hermione, Robert, and Amethyst Granger. Owl orders available.”
“It will be available within the hour, simply present your key to Mr. Blotts upon the first purchase. The owl ordering will require special order forms. We’ll settle on a form and I will send those to your residence by the end of day along with a catalogue.”
“Very good. I also need Goblin War Wards erected around the Granger home. I will handle the keying myself.”
Once an appointment for warding is established they adjourn, the humans heading off to reclaim the rest of their party from the wilds of Flourish and Blotts.
As soon as they enter, Harry sees a… rather impressive stack of books not only in the counter space Mr. Blotts allowed them but also stacking from the floor to the height of the counter in a way that she just knows must be the work of the Granger ladies. She just knows it, in her bones!
Moments later it’s confirmed by Hermione walking up with another five stack and adding them to the literary mountain.
Harry catches her wrist. “What’s all this?”
“Oh,” Hermione blushes. “Well, we started with the books from our school lists. Two copies of everything, of course. And then we added the recommended reading for muggleborns. Again two copies, just in case. And then the list of titles you gave me. And then I added a few other texts on runes and warding that Mr. Blotts said were most reliable and used even by the Bank for their employees. And then I remembered you enjoyed reading on Wandlore and Magical Theory at the library the other day so again, I got recommendations. And then mum recalled you said magical history was very different than muggle history and she picked several books, including Madam Flourish’s recommendations. And then we thought maybe reference books would be good so we grabbed two different encyclopedia sets. And then-“
“I get it,” Harry cuts her off, a little overwhelmed. “Did you grab anything on familiars?” Hermione’s eyes light up but Harry doesn’t release her when she moves like she’s immediately going to go check the shelves. “I’ve heard that Mafalda Greengrass has written the quintessential reference on familiars. Also I would like a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander. I saw a boy reading it in the Bank and I’m very curious. If you want to read it, I suggest picking up two and maybe some supplementary reading for Herbology? I have a black thumb, I swear to the gods.”
Hermione nods eagerly and Harry lets her scamper off before turning to the shop keep. “You might as well start ringing. And do you sell Library trunks?”
“We do.” The man laughs, pulling over the first mini-stack. “Two-fifty, five hundred, and one thousand book library trunks are the sizes we sell. The thousand is wand-quality wood and expandable.”
“Fantastic, a thousand please.”
Harry shrugs, why not. “The name: Hermione J. Granger.”
Hermione squeals from behind them, places her books hastily in the stack and throws her arms around them.
Harry pats her back awkwardly. “We’ll call it a birthday gift, hmm?”
“I’m going to need a dozen copies of the Hogwarts Charter and Handbook.” She instructs the shopkeeper around the bouncing, curl covered head of her.. best? Yes, her best friend.
McGonagall makes a doubtful noise from one side. “Are you planning to take over?”
“No, but from the rumors I heard on my way down the Alley I have to think I may need to know the rules back to front in order to defend myself and those I care for properly. All the rumors of bullying and blood prejudice and invasion of privacy?” Harry shakes her head. “This can’t be how the Founders wanted their school to be. And if it is, maybe we need to look into alternate schooling solutions.”
McGonagall considers her for a second and turns to Mr. Blotts. Then she immediately stops with a small frown.
There are twenty-four copies of the Hogwarts Handbook sitting on the counter, waiting to be rung. Harry raises a questioning eyebrow and Mr. Blotts has the grace to blush.
“The Ministry requires I carry them. They’re buy one, get one free.”
“So rather than give me 12 and charge me for 6, you decided to give me 24 and charge me for 12?”
“I haven’t sold a single copy in almost 30 years.” The shopkeep argues.
Since he can’t really be bothered to come up with a counter argument, Merlin shrugs and waves the man to continue.
“I’ll take 12 and you will charge me for 6.” McGonagall says, stepping up to the secondary register. The shop boy practically apparates into place to tend her.
Several other people in the shop ask for different numbers of the Handbooks, including a trio led by a boy with fun looking dreadlocks and a matching set of red-haired shadows.
Unfortunately, none of them is Arthur.
“There’s a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Volume Two!” Hermione announces as she returns with two copies of volume one and two copies of The Complete Works of Mafalda Greengrass.
“Well get them, and get your mum to bring up her books.”
Hermione rushing back to the stacks draws Harry’s eye to where Dr. Amy is standing, shocked and still. Her eyes are locked on the rapidly disappearing mountain of books and there is a basket of books on her arm.
Harry smirks up at the woman’s husband. “You get to explain to her the deal we made.”
The man sighs heavily and puts his head in his hands.
Harry just laughs.
“Do you have any Single Flame burners at home?” Merlin asks.
Dr. Amy blinks at him. “You mean Bunsen Burners? Like those?” She points.
“Yes. Trust me when I say you don’t want us experimenting with potions on your stove top.”
Dr. Amy sighs, put upon. “You’ll want to get one.”
Harry nods and moves up to the apothecary’s counter. “I need three Hogwarts starting kits, one Year Five resupply kit, one Year Seven resupply kit, three sets of brass scales, and two single-flame burners.”
The man nods and moves to gather her requested items. Harry leaves Dr. Amy to wait and goes in search of Hermione and her father.
Dr. Robert is the one actually doing the work of finding the cauldrons of the evenest thickness while Hermione tries not to drop the two her father has already approved. Harry sends the girl off to her mother with instructions to get three sets of glass vials and accepts the third approved cauldron from Dr. Robert.
“Why do you need so many?” The dentist almost whines.
“Used cauldrons require a special curing process before they are safe to pack with other materials. I don’t have and don’t want an appropriate furnace to do the curing.”
“So you’re buying extras to leave at home when you go off to school.”
“They’ll be clean,” She promises.
Dr. Robert nods satisfied at the fourth approved cauldron of the gods know how many he checked. “We agreed to give you both the room above the garage for all the magic stuff. It has running water and electric.”
Harry nods. She didn’t know that but it makes sense and with a dedicated space she can alter it permanently to meet their needs. “We can ward it so people that don’t know about magic can’t find the room. Do you want all the books and stuff charmed to return there when they aren’t in use?”
“Not while we’re all trying to get caught up but maybe over Christmas? We expect you both to come home.”
Harry grins. She’s never had someone actually parent her before, not in any of her lifetimes. Gaius maybe or perhaps Salazar but he can’t really help but mentally shy away from the attempted association. For various reasons. This though. This is nice. And an adult expecting things from her but in a good and supportive kind of way? It’s really nice.
After the apothecary they decide to do lunch and find both Lord Bones and Madam McGonagall at a table in an outdoor cafe studying the Hogwarts Handbook. Honestly. They’re taking notes and everything.
Harry stares at them more than a little mystified. “You’re taking my concerns very seriously.”
McGonagall glances around before wordlessly casting a low-level privacy charm. “I am the Order of Merlin, second class.”
Wide eyed, Merlin glances at Lord Bones.
The older man nods, “First class.”
“Oh.” He sits down abruptly. “I didn’t expect it to still be around.”
“It is,” He assures. “Same vows and everything.”
“Oh.” Merlin mind is just spinning, he’s so utterly shocked.
After over 900- almost a thousand years? Really? His order still exists? How could he not have known?
But, then again. It’s been about a hundred years since his last magical life and he hadn’t needed them then so why would he have looked? He hadn’t even thought about them but if he had he knows he wouldn’t have expected the Order to last this long long.
Obviously since he can barely wrap his head around its existence even now.
“What’s the Order of Merlin?” Hermione asks. “From my reading, I thought it was just a reward without any real weight. Like celebrities being knighted or something.”
“It is and it isn’t.” Merlin answers. “Merlin was all about equality – gender, race, species, creed, magical status, no matter. He believed in equality for all but more than that he believed that magicals have the responsibility to aid those around them, especially the magicless.
“In order to facilitate this goal or crusade or what have you, Arthur created the Order of Merlin.”
Lord Bones gives him a sly look. “Merlin was already a legend in his own time for bringing the practice of magic back to Camelot. But the Order’s First class members – his administration and field leaders, basically – are where the stories of the Knights of the Round Table actually come from.”
Merlin rolls his eyes because that’s not precisely correct. In fact it has a ridiculous pro-magic lean to it but, whatever.
“So, uh, Merlin is the boss of everyone in the Order?” Hermione asks.
“Exactly. We bear the Mark of Merlin. Usually on a medal or pendant or something along those likes but such a thing requires a series of oaths to obey the will of Merlin and protect the realm.” McGonagall pitches in, shifting her lapel to show the pin she has hanging under it. “The most influential witches and wizards of the ages were all –are all- members of the Order, including Nicholas Flamel and Albus Dumbledore.”
Merlin leans back with a grin. Oh, this is going to be fun.
He’s going to have to open that part of his mind again which is ugh. He prefers the privacy keeping all his mental defenses up provides him but if he’s going to make the most of it, he’s going to have to manage the oaths mentally and enforce them with his magic. But he can do that.
Boy, can he do that.
“I’m going to need books on Legilimency and Occlumency.” Because they might have come up with new stuff since he last studied the mental disciplines. Hels, if there are books on the subject that will be an improvement from when he was first trying to learn. Hermione nods and pulls out a muggle notebook and click-pen to jot a reminder down.
A waitress appears on the edge of the privacy bubble and McGonagall takes it down.
They order “family style” which is definitely different than their lunch at the cafe yesterday. Harry’s pretty sure she likes this option better. There are more choices and she can try a little bit of everything rather than be committed to one single thing for the entire meal.
And no one bats an eye when she reaches out for seconds.
Harry grins and turns to Hermione. “So what are you looking forward too most?”
“I am looking forward to learning about runes, of course. What you did the other day looked fascinating but I really want to learn about familiars.” The other girl flicks a shy, questioning look up at her parents.
The doctors share a look for several moments until Dr. Amy sighs and Dr. Robert grins.
“Are there pet stores on the Alley?” Dr. Robert asks.
“Two. Technically one and an owl shop but owls can also be familiars.”
“Maybe we should hit both after lunch.”
Hermione squeals and throws her arms around her father’s closest arm.
Harry rolls her eyes but she’s grinning. “Maybe after Ollivanders? Unless you don’t want to get your wand now?”
“Is there a reason to get one now? I mean, it’s not like I can use it.” Hermione asks after a moment’s consideration.
“No, you can’t, but carrying it on you will start attuning it to your personality and your magic. The more attuned it is, the more loyal and powerful your wand will become. The easier spells will come.”
“So lunch, wands, and pets.” Dr. Robert nods.
“Can I get an owl?” Harry asks. “At least one but I might need two. I have a bunch of letters from my parents to send out and I need to go through the Potter Family tree and notify any living members of our ascension and new Noble status. Would two be okay?”
Dr. Amy sighs heavily again. Dr. Robert grins without even looking at his wife and nods. “They’ll be your responsibility. You’ll have to clean up after them and keep them fed and everything.”
As planned, they go directly from lunch to Ollivander’s shop.
Well, Merlin does. Hermione and her parents get distracted by something in the Magical Menagerie and Merlin forges on with Madam Bones once again in his shadow.
The shop is exactly like Merlin remembers. Old fashioned and wood with maybe-thinner panes of glass in the windows than it used to have but the even the gilded sign is peeling in the same places.
The bell tinkles as he enters and a creepy voice says, “I was wondering when I’d be seeing you, Miss Potter.”
Merlin looks up and sure enough there’s a man behind the counter. It’s not the shop owner that he bought his ‘official’ wand from last time but this might be his son. It takes a moment of consideration but there, in the twinkling blue eyes, Merlin sees it. The absent minded Ravenclaw boy three years behind him with floppy brown hair and those exact same eyes burning with passion for all things wands that’s not even trying to hide itself.
“Garrick,” He smiles gently up at the boy he once knew. “You got old.”
Garrick’s jaw drops and for a moment he looks So Offended, “Excuse me-“
Merlin pulls out his wand of handcrafted duality and sets it calmly on the man’s counter.
Ollivander’s eyes drop to it, flick up to Merlin, and then back down to the wand. “It cannot be!”
He laughs brightly and puts a finger over his lips.
Garrick snaps his mouth closed and nods his understanding. “It is good to see you so well, my old friend. I know we can expect great things from you, Miss Potter. In fact, I have a wand that’s been calling out for you since sometime yesterday and now I believe I know why.” He reaches under the counter and pulls out a black wand box. “Holly and Phoenix tail feather, a rare combination who’s true wielder is not a person one should ever attempt to thwart.”
“That’s the long way of saying this wand means no one should ever mess with me?”
“Only a fool would mess with you, wand or no. Unfortunately our world is currently quite full of fools. One in particular, He Who Must Not Be Named, was chosen by the brother of this wand. His wand wood is Yew.”
“Already knew he’s not the timid sort,” Merlin shrugs. “It’s not going to help him.”
Garrick squints at him and asks almost tentatively, “You are speaking of him in the present tense-“
The door swings open to the song of the bell. Teal colored sparks fill the back of the shop and Merlin has to dive out of the way as something whistles past his head. He turns to look and sees Hermione holding a wicker cat basket in one hand and clutching a wand in the other.
“Ten and three-quarters inches, vine wood and the heartstring of a particularly lovely Antipodean Opaleye -the brightest and most trainable of dragons, not aggressive until threatened.”
“And then watch out,” Merlin finishes with a grin. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a strong reaction from a wand before.”
“Indeed not,” Ollivander agrees. “This is the second time I have seen this phenomena. It is always with a Vine Wand but this was a much stronger display than the previous occasion.”
The girl in question looks between Harry and Ollivander and back, before sighing expansively -just like her mother- and rolling her eyes. “Honestly.”
“It’s the perfect wand for the Brightest Witch of the Age!” Ollivander defends himself as their entire party files in and closes the door.
“Harry’s got me beat, easy.” Hermione sounds a little morose.
Merlin laughs. “No, I can do magic. I can understand it but I can’t always explain it. But words are hard and taking notes?” He snorts. “Don’t even get me started on writing essays or taking tests. Ugh.”
Hermione looks a little mollified. “You’ll still get every spell before the rest of us though.”
“Maybe, maybe not. I was the Brightest Wizard of my Age a thousand years ago. School and things change. -You can’t argue with me, this is my fifth time going to Hogwarts.- Last time I was barely in the top ten of my class. This time I can afford to do better because you will be there but I can’t be first. I can’t afford the attention.”
“You can probably pick a class or two to do really well in. It might be enough to keep you in the top 10 and allow you let loose a little bit.”
“See? You are a Slytherin. That’s what I did last time. Transfiguration was my choice then since Merlin is known for Charms. I’ll probably do Defense this time considering the Harry Potter Mythos and whatever my Head of House is teaching so they can brag.”
“Why go to school when you already know it all?” Lord Bones asks, curiosity written all over his face.
“Social networking,” Merlin answers promptly. “For the most part, I mean. Things do change but my year group are the people I’m going to change the world with, with a more native view of this world as it currently is than I have. These are the people I will hopefully grow old with. Who I’ll be on the Wizengamot with. Whose children will be friends with my children, should I get lucky enough to do that this go round. Going to school with them is the easiest, most natural way for me to get to know them.
“It will also give me a handy alibi for most of the next seven years, if I need one for whatever reason.”
She focuses on Hermione. “I am so glad someone like you is going with me this time. Everything will be so much more interesting this time.”
Hermione blushes and splutters then changes the subject sharply. “Couldn’t you wait? It didn’t take five minutes to get Crookshanks all packed up and everything.”
“I was just visiting an old friend.” She grins at her best friend. “You went with the ugly squish-faced one, then?”
“He is not! And there’s nothing wrong with his face! He’s handsome! And clever! And-“
“Oh. My. Gods. You’re already bonding.” Harry turns to Mr. Ollivander. “Tell me about my wand so we can get out of here.”
Garrick smirks at her, the arse. “Eleven inches exactly. As I said before, Holly and Phoenix tail feather. An unusual combination but something I feel will be a boon to your magical life as, like you, phoenixes are at the same time neither male nor female and both.”
He holds it out to her again but she doesn’t take it. “You’re going to have to take the Trace off the wand before I take it. The Ministry is not getting my magical signature ever and I am the Lord of two houses so I’m considered a magical adult.”
“Of course,” The man pulls how own wand from the holster under his sleeve and dismisses the Trace wordlessly.
Only then does Harry take the wand.
Then it shoots a lovely display of golden fireworks. Silently she conjures a bouquet of wild flowers and presents them to Dr. Amy with a bow, making the woman laugh.
“We’ll take both wands,” she tells her old friend. “Three wand holsters and your recommendations for books on wandlore.”
“What’s left?” Hermione asks as they leave the shop, trying to bounce in excitement without jostling her familiar in its carrier.
“Owls,” is Harry’s immediate verdict and they veer off toward Eeylops Owl Emporium.
There’s a snowy owl that’s been trying to catch Harry’s eye since they left Flourish and Blotts the second time that Harry’s been ignoring. The owl lands pointedly on a display stand outside of a shop on the way to the Emporium and huffs when they continue to try and ignore her. Finally the owl puffs up and lands with great power but also great gentleness on Harry’s shoulder.
“Oh, come on!” Merlin whines under his breath. “Why’s it always a bird? I wanted something I can cuddle with, dammit.”
Merlin ignores the choking and/or snickering adults behind him as the bird hoots at him.
“Yes, I could get a crup but they are so yappy. And last I checked Hogwarts doesn’t allow them.”
She hoots again.
“You better like cats! Hermione’s bonding with one right now and if you eat him she won’t be happy.” After Hermione liberally applies her elbow to his ribs, he makes a show of adding a grumbling, “And neither will I.”
More hoots. The bird is practically singing at this point.
“Alright, that’s fair but we will revisit this decision in a few years, Hedwig, I mean it.” The damn chicken just looks at him all smuglike. “Alright, we need a second owl though, you want to pick one out?”
The moment he opens to door, Hedwig takes off up to the rafters to find for her new work partner.
Merlin just shakes his head and makes his way up to the counter.
“A travel cage and perch for Hedwig and whoever she picks to come along.”
The man nods and toddles into the back, soon returning with a handsome looking combination travel cage and indoor perch that Merlin heartily approves of.
Hedwig lands on the counter with a brown bird a wingbeat behind that’s easily half again her size.
“Oh, come on!” Merlin complains and Hedwig puffs up in indignation. “There is no reason for a post bird to be that big! He is a post bird, isn’t he?”
“He is,” The shopkeep answers for the owl. “An expensive option but impressive. He gives a certain regal air to just about anything he does. He’s not from around here, though, that’s where the expense comes in. He’s a magical variation of the Wedge-tailed or eaglehawk. He’s from Australia originally.”
“You stupid bird,” Merlin addresses him directly. “Doesn’t anyone miss you?”
The bird just looks calmly at him and blinks nice and slow. Not that he expected different. A potential familiar, this clearly is not.
“Don’t let him fool you, he’s not an idiot though he is a bit of a daredevil. Name’s Galahad because he’s all about long journeys and quests.”
Okay, yeah, he’s completely perfect. Merlin rolls his eyes.
“Travel cage and perch for him too, please.”
Another quick stop by Flourish and Blotts to fill their new list, which makes the shop owners laugh and Hermione blush, and off they go.
After a bit of internal debate, Harry transfigures two toilet paper rolls into secure message tubes and slides two of her parent’s farewell letters into them. Without reading the letters, he is sort of proud to note.
“Alright, you guys,” Harry bites her lip nervously as she holds up the two message tubes. It’s almost dark, should they really be starting this now?
Yes, yes they should because if she doesn’t send them now she’s totally going to violate her parents’ requests and read the letters.
“This is a test.” She says to herself more than them. “Sort of.”
She almost hands each bird a tube but then thinks again and switches them at the last moment.
“Take your time. Be safe. If you can’t find them, just come back. Please.”
The birds exchange looks that say they are humoring her and then take off before she can do more than huff in offense.
A man sits alone in a small house in an almost abandoned neighborhood and tries to silently convince his cooling tea that he is not, in fact, lonely.
It’s just the rain, dammit! The rain is making him maudlin.
And being stuck so many months of the year around children. Hormones are contagious. Honestly.
A lovely white owl with black markings swoops in through the post window of his sitting room and settles neatly on his desk. She regards him silently just long enough for him to feel well and truly judged before she regally releases her burden. A rather old fashioned message tube.
He’s pretty sure that’s what it is anyway, he’s never seen one actually used.
Quickly and gently as he can he unseals the message tube and the bird is back out in the rain before he can think to make an offering of food or drink. Must not have far to go, he assumes as he shakes the message out of the tube. It’s a letter, in an envelope, and the familiar looping script on the outside almost makes his heart stop.
With a silent spell to preserve the envelope’s integrity, he removes the letter and unfolds it.
His hands are shaking as he reads:
There’s so much I want to tell you, so much I want to say, but I don’t want to take up the whole lockbox we are leaving behind for Harry so let me settle on this:
I love you.
I forgive you.
Oh, you silly snake. Of course I do. Of course I did. I’ve loved you since you introduced me to magic and I forgave you the moment you called me that horrible name. I could see the shame and pain of it on your face but I also know how dangerous it was being a half-blood in Slytherin even without a muggleborn best friend. I had to play my part to keep you safe and I did but I hate it.
I thought you were sorry and that you hated it too but then. Then you joined them.
He can almost hear her sigh in the thick, heavy punctuation
I know you are the one that told Voldemort about the prophecy. Dumbledore didn’t say but who else would that Dark Arse believe? Who else would try to save those targeted? Would try to save me? Only you, Sev. Only you.
I know we are going to die here in the little house.
James doesn’t believe it. His faith in Dumbledore is really something else but- but, that’s the thing, isn’t it? I can’t put my finger on why but I don’t trust him. The devotion he expects as his due. The orders that he won’t explain. His answers that don’t. His questions that lead to nothing and nowhere…
At this point, I just hope for a future for Harry. One full of laughter and love with you and Sirius and Remus. I should have made James make you co-godfather for Harry rather than agree to name you godfather for our second.
The second’s not going to happen, if I’m right.
Sorry, I, he can all but hear her sigh again. I’m supposed to prepare you for the worst in this letter but I can’t think of anything else to say. I love you. I forgive you. Try to get along with Sirius and help raise Harry. I know you can do it. I have faith in you.
Your sister in heart,
P.S. You might want to try returning James’s potion book to mend fences with Sirius. I don’t get it, neither of them is particularly fond of potions, but I know it’s some sort of huge deal with them.
A lone wolf howls in the foothills between a tiny town and huge mountains.
Alone. Abandoned. Betrayed.
He howls. He mourns.
As he has for almost 10 years.
A large bird wings past, casting dancing shadows even in the light of the moon.
The howling stops.