Actions

Work Header

Maybe They Did Know What They Were Doing

Chapter Text

Harry was feeling claustrophobic, he was in the middle of what Mad-Eye Moody called ‘a protection detail’. Which in reality, was six people standing all around him, making him walk too slowly to be entirely comfortable. He hated it. He hated that however he swung his arm, it brushed against someone. He hated that he had to constantly look down so he didn’t tread on Kingsley’s shoes. He hated how he could barely see where he was going. 

He looked out of the tight circle of his ‘protectors’ to see Ron and Hermione walking freely. Ron was even laughing at something someone had said to him. 

No-one was talking to Harry. 

Those surrounding him were taking their job too seriously to pay him any mind and his friends couldn’t get close enough. He huffed and tucked his hands under his armpits when his hand brushed against Dedalus Diggle for the umpteenth time. He felt very put out about the whole situation.

Harry had refused to stay behind in Grimmauld Place - where he was constantly plagued by thoughts of Sirius - and did not want to miss out on coming to Diagon Alley. 

He needed to get out and breathe some fresh air. 

After being cooped up at his relatives and then again at the Orders Headquarters, he just wanted to get out and see the real world for a bit. Buy an ice-cream in this oppressive heat or gods, even fly. He seriously doubted he’d even be able to do the first thing though, let alone the second. 

Merlin, he missed flying, all he wanted to do was get on the broom Sirius had brought him and see how high he could go.

He snuck a glance at his jailors, even if he berated himself for thinking of them that way, he wouldn’t be able to appeal to any of them. Maybe Tonks, but she wanted to prove herself useful too much to really be swayed by any argument he might make. They marched up the stairs to Gringotts and Harry, once again, marvelled at the white marble. 

He had always been a little awed by the Goblins, they were a fascinating race, so militarily run and big on respect, but they also made the most beautiful things. The sword of Gryffindor, Harry often thought, was a perfect metaphor for the Goblin race, beautifully crafted and yet deadly. Something that commanded respect. He had read quite a bit on Goblins over his years at Hogwarts, they were really quite interesting.

Harry walked up to a teller with the key that he had made Mrs Weasley give him that morning. She had wanted to hold on to it for him but he insisted that as it was his and he was more than old enough and responsible enough, that he could hold onto his own property. Besides which, not only did it allow access to his vault, it was one of the few connections he had with his parents. That had been the argument that had made the matronly woman cave.

As he approached the desk, with two of his detail following him, Harry gave a short, quick bow to the Goblin sitting there, he remembered reading about it, it was supposed to show respect by efficiency. Time was money after all. 

“The day's greetings to you-” Harry quickly glanced at the nameplate on the desk, "-Sideaxe, I’m here to make a withdrawal, please.”

The Goblin looked him over with a calculating eye and held out his hand for the key. After verifying it he inclined his head towards Harry.

“The day's greetings to you as well, Mr Potter, if you’ll excuse me a moment.” 

Harry nodded at the Goblin and Sideaxe called over another of his race. Speaking fast in Gobbledegook the other Goblin quickly bowed and left. 

“Mr Potter, if you would follow me please, I will take you to your vault.”

Harry thought it a bit unusual that the teller was taking him personally, but shrugged internally. He set off after the Goblin, Bill and Tonks following him, but they were stopped when they came to the door that led into the bank proper. 

“Mr Potter will enter alone,” Sideaxe said. 

Tonks started to make noises of protest and Bill narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. 

“This is due to a new security measure in this time of unrest in the Wizarding World,” Sideaxe told them.

“Tonks,” Harry interrupted the pink haired witch, "I’m going to be fine, if I can’t be safe with the Goblins, inside of Gringotts, I won’t be safe anywhere. They have the best security after all. Besides I’m a client, they wouldn’t let any harm come to me.” 

He saw Bill and Sideaxe give him appraising looks, Sideaxe’s mixed with grudging respect.

Tonks sighed, "Very well then, Harry, but don’t take too long okay? You shouldn’t really need more than twenty minutes.” 

Harry nodded and walked through the door after the Goblin, he glanced over his shoulder to see Tonks and Bill trying to calm an obviously worried Mrs Weasley. He just gave them a small wave as the door closed.

“Well, Mr Potter, your Account Manager Blunttooth would like to see you,” Sideaxe told the wizard walking beside him.

Harry stumbled slightly as he followed Sideaxe through the twisting stone corridors of the bank. 

 “I have an Account Manager?” 

He was surprised, from what he had read only very privileged clients had personal Account Managers, Account Managers were sworn to each family to hold their secrets, well, so long as those secrets didn’t go against bank policy.

“Of course, Mr Potter, we at Gringotts have been waiting for a chance to get you on your own, especially as you have never answered one of our owls,” Sideaxe replied.

Harry swallowed, suddenly a little nervous, "Erm- Sideaxe, I’ve never received an owl from Gringotts before. Why do you need to speak to me on my own?”

“Account Manager Blunttooth will explain it all to you, Mr Potter. Though it is interesting you never got our mail. That will be something we need to look into.” 

Stopping at a door he knocked and when a sharp ‘Enter!’ was heard, he pushed it open. He led Harry inside and spoke quickly to the Goblin behind the desk, as they spoke in their native tongue Harry had no idea what they said, but he saw the older Goblin straighten up in surprise. 

Blunttooth dismissed Sideaxe and beckoned Harry forward. Harry repeated the greetings he had given Sideaxe, his bow a little deeper this time around.

“The day's greetings to you as well, take a seat, Mr Potter, I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here,” Blunttooth said.

Harry nodded as he sat, he looked at the older Goblin with curiosity, the Goblin wore what appeared to be an expensive suit and had tufts of white hair sticking out of his ears. He was completely bald on top and his long nose almost touched his lips. He had very sharp and shrewd eyes, and as Harry examined the Goblin he felt the Goblin examining him too. 

“Erm, yes, sir. I didn’t know I had an Account Manager. Or that you’ve been trying to get in contact with me. I’m sorry about that, I don’t want it to seem like I’ve been ignoring you on purpose.”

The Goblin hummed for a moment, before clasping his hands together on the desk in front of him. 

“Yes, Sideaxe told me you were surprised. Mr Potter, there are actually quite a few reasons we have been trying to get in contact with you. The first is the matter of your parents will, it has yet to be read and it can only be read if you request it to be so. This is because both of your godparents are either gone or mentally incapacitated and at the moment you now have no legal guardian to do it on your behalf.”

Harry held up a hand, "Sorry, Blunttooth, both of my godparents? I thought I only had Si- Sirius.” 

He stammered a bit on his godfather's name. He hadn’t spoken about Sirius since the Ministry.

“Yes, your godmother Alice Longbottom, as she is currently undergoing care at St Mungo’s in the ward for those with severe mind issues, she is incapable of caring for you or making legal decisions on your behalf. I would actually recommend to you that you emancipate yourself, your title as Lord Potter and as Lord Black would allow you to do this.”

Harry was confused, Lord Potter? Lord Black? What was Blunttooth talking about? 

“Hang on, again, sorry. What’s this Lord business?”

Blunttooth looked at him in shock. 

“Mr Potter, your father is from one of the oldest wizarding families in England, your family was ennobled by the Royal Family, many, many generations ago. As such the title of Lord passes to you. Lord Sirius Black made you his heir in his last will and testament and so his title passes to you as well.”

Harry sat there quietly stunned for a moment, "Okay,” he said slowly, “I’m not really sure what all this means?” 

Blunttooth considered his next words carefully, “It means, Mr Potter, that you have a political future ahead of you, as well as a vast family history and considerable wealth and assets to look after. You are entitled to seats on the Wizarding Council, or what the Wizards call the Wizengamot, and you have many businesses and properties to manage.” 

Briefly stopping to ensure the young wizard was taking it all in, he continued. 

“When your parents went into hiding after you were born, your father asked me to look after the family interests in his stead. He stipulated that if he died and then subsequently when you turned fourteen, I was to start keeping you informed of happenings within your portfolio. He wanted you to be aware of your responsibilities before you became of age. These messages are what I have been sending you, to which you didn’t respond. As well as your monthly statements.”

“So what? I’m some sort of- some sort of bloody aristocrat like Malfoy?” Harry asked incredulously.

The Goblin chuckled darkly, “Oh, the Lord Malfoy could only wish that to be so, Mr Potter. You are quite exceptionally more wealthy and powerful than he, his family is only a Noble family. You now have the Black name behind you as well. The Potters and the Blacks are both Ancient & Noble families, which means you hold more votes on the Wizengamot and are of a higher class than the Malfoys can hope to achieve in even the next ten generations.”

Harry blinked, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. How could he not know about any of this? Why hadn’t anybody told him? He asked the Goblin these very questions. 

“I don’t know Mr Potter, you should have been brought up with this knowledge, you are a pureblood after all.”

“Am I? But my mum-” said Harry surprised again.

The Goblin looked at him through calculating eyes, “Mr Potter, I am beginning to think that whoever it is that has been looking after you, they have done you a grave disservice. Both your mother and your father were magical. This means you are a pureblood, on your father’s side this goes back many, many generations. Your mother does not dilute that all, she was a very fine witch.”

“You knew her?” Harry asked softly.

Blunttooth nodded, "I did, I knew them both quite well, as well as your grandfather Fleamont and your grandmother Euphemia. I have been the Potter Account Manager for nearly sixty years.”

Harry nodded dumbly, this was the first time he had met someone who knew his grandparents. Or at least someone who had actually told him their names. 

“Okay, um, so obviously I have no idea about any of this. I need a minute, so let’s just, pause this and come back to it yeah? Let’s read my parents will.”

The Goblin wasn’t sure what the wizard meant by ‘pause’ but he understood the intent. 

“Of course, Mr Potter.” 

He pulled out an orb from a desk drawer and placed it on the table. Tapping the orb it cast a projection and started to speak.

Harry gasped as he saw his father’s face appear and heard his voice.

 

“My name is Lord James Charlus Potter and this is my last will and testament. This version is to be shown should Lily and I both not be in this world anymore. To my friend Peter Pettigrew, I leave 500,000 galleons. To my dear friend Remus Lupin, I leave 1,000,000 galleons, you can’t argue with me Moony, I’m dead, you can’t argue with the dead, and you’ll need it more than me.

To my best mate Sirius Black, I leave you my most precious possession, my son Harry James Potter, look after him Pads, tell him about all the things we got up to, tell him about me and his mother. Tell him how much I love him and how proud I would be of him. I have set up a trust vault for Harry from which you can draw whatever you need to for his care and his school fees are already paid. Make sure he knows what he needs to, for when he comes of age. I have had Blunttooth promise me to look after the Potter assets until Harry is fourteen when he will start to involve Harry in these affairs.

If Sirius Black is unable to take Harry, then we leave him to his godmother Alice Longbottom. Alice, we know you will look after Harry like he was your own.

To my son, Harry, I leave everything else that I own, all my possessions and wealth. I know that it cannot make up for us not being there for you like we should be, son, but please know that I love you and your mother more than anything in this world (yes even you Pads) and I would do anything for you and her. There are letters for you for when you are old enough to read them. Please forgive us for not raising you Bambi, but know that we are always watching over and that we love you with all our hearts.

 

The projection flickered off then and Harry was suddenly aware of the hot tears rolling down his cheeks. He hastily scrubbed at his face and cleaned his glasses, after a few moments he looked back up at Blunttooth. 

“Sir, do you have to honour the will exactly?”

“It’s Blunttooth, not sir, and you can contest it if you like,” the Goblin replied.

Harry nodded, “Good because Peter Pettigrew was not their friend, he was their secret keeper and he betrayed them to Voldemort and he shouldn’t get anything from them.”

Blunttooth raised an eyebrow, "That certainly is not an act of a friend and I can be sure your father would agree with that request, do you have proof?”

Harry nodded, “I can give you a memory of Peter Pettigrew alive and admitting to it.” 

Both of Blunttooth’s eyebrows were raised now, as he passed a phial to Harry. Harry put his wand to his temple and drew a copy of the memory from his third year into the phial.

Blunttooth nodded, "Do you wish for the request to Mr Remus Lupin to be carried out?”

Harry nodded, “Please.”

“Very well, now there is the matter of Sirius Black’s will.” 

Harry nodded again and took a deep breath as Blunttooth took out another orb. Sirius gaunt face rose out of it.

 

“I, Lord Sirius Orion Black the Third, record this, my last will and testament. 

I reinstate my cousin Andromeda Aurora to the Black family along with her husband Theodore Tristian Tonks and their child Nymphadora Alderose. I leave Andromeda 1,000,000 galleons, for Nymphadora, I leave 500,000 galleons.

I cast from the Black family, Bellatrix Bianca Lestrange for her horrendous crimes and rightful imprisonment in Azkaban and reclaim her dowry paid to the Lestrange family for their involvement in that.

My cousin, Narcissa Druella Malfoy, should she bear the Dark Mark is to be cast out as well. If this is not the case she receives 1,000,000 galleons. Narcissa, should you ever wish to leave your bastard of a husband, I have left directions for the new Lord Black to dissolve your marriage and to bring you under his protection.

My nephew, Draco Lucius Malfoy, should he bear the Dark Mark, he too is cast from the family, if not, he is entitled to 500,000 galleons upon his maturity.

To my friend, Remus John Lupin, I leave the little cottage home just outside of Cardiff, Wales and 2,000,000 galleons. You’ll never have to work again my friend.

To my godson, and son of my heart, Harry James Potter. I emancipate him and I name him my Heir and leave him everything, all of my possessions and all that belongs to the Black family. Harry, your great-grandmother was a Black so there is a legal precedent for this. I have left you a letter explaining quite a few things. Pup, I want to urge you to take up your Lordships as soon as possible. I think you will need them, I’ve explained more in the letter. I love you pup.”

 

Harry choked back a small sob as the recording finished. This was turning out to be a very emotional visit and here he thought he was just going to be withdrawing a few galleons to go school shopping. Taking a few calming breaths he nodded at Blunttooth to show he was okay and could continue. 

“Is there anything you would like to contest there?” the Goblin asked.

Harry shook his head and leant forward with his elbows on his knees. “No, no, Sirius knew what he was doing. It’s fine.”

Blunttooth made a noise of agreement, "Well, would you like to do as the late Lord Black suggested? Will you take up your Lordships and emancipate yourself?”

“I’m not really sure what that means?” Harry replied.

Blunttooth harrumphed and shifted he wasn’t annoyed at the young man in front of him, but he was annoyed with whoever thought it best to leave his client in the dark about who he was. 

“It means, Mr Potter, that you would be legally considered an adult. You would be able to take your seats on the Wizengamot and you would be allowed to practice magic without the Ministry breathing down your neck for underage use. You would be able to live on your own, care for yourself etc.”

Harry gaped at him a little before he answered enthusiastically, "Yes, please! How do we do it?” 

Harry was excited, just being able to use magic outside of school without getting into trouble would be fantastic. He would be able to protect himself and practise a lot more this summer than he would have been able to do otherwise and living on his own? Getting away from the Dursleys for good? He was sold.

Blunttooth hid a smile at the exuberance, it wouldn’t do for a Goblin to show that kind of emotion, especially in front of a client, he pulled out some forms 

“You just need to sign these, I took the liberty of having them drawn up in preparation for your arrival, as I thought it would be a possibility that you would need them. They stipulate that you have no available guardian and that it was your last guardians wish you were to be emancipated upon his death.” Harry nodded, looking at the piece of parchment he saw what Blunttooth said was correct. Harry signed along the bottom and watched as the parchment flashed gold. He raised his eyes to look at Blunttooth. 

“It is all in order, Lord Potter, you are now a legal adult, magic had accepted your request for emancipation.”

Harry nodded, not quite understanding what he meant by magic accepting it, but going along with it nonetheless. There was a knock at the door and a Goblin poked his head in to speak to Blunttooth in quick Gobbledegook. Blunttooth raised an eyebrow and turned to Harry. 

“Lord Potter, the people you arrived with are apparently getting restless and wish for you to join them. Do you want to leave right now or would you prefer to continue?”

Harry bit his lip in thought and giddily cast a tempus charm, knowing he wouldn’t get in trouble for it now. He was surprised to see they had already been talking for almost an hour. 

“Let’s continue, I don’t know when I’ll be able to get a chance to come back again and I would rather know everything important now. That way if we need to talk later it will be easy enough by owl. Could I please have a bit of parchment? I’ll write them a quick note, they will probably take it better from me, that I’m staying longer, no offence.”

“None taken, Lord Potter, I understand,” Blunttooth said as he passed Harry a quill and parchment. 

Harry penned a note to Mrs Weasley saying he was going to take longer than he expected and to go and finish their shopping. That he would send them a Patronus when he was done and they could pick him up from the bank. Passing the note to the other Goblin he sat back down at the desk.

“They probably won’t be very happy but-” he shrugged and put it from his mind, he’d deal with any fallout later. “Right, okay, so I’m emancipated, what’s next?”

“Next we verify your heritage and you take up your Lordship rings,” Blunttooth replied as he removed a different piece of parchment and poured a potion onto it. He passed Harry a silver dagger and gestured to the parchment.

“Er, sorry what do I do?” Harry asked.

“You need to spill a few drops of blood onto this parchment, normally a Lord will pass the rings directly to their Heir, either at death or by stepping down, but in cases where an Heir is missing or absent upon death the rings return to their vaults in Gringotts. In these cases, it is protocol to ensure the person taking up the rings is who they say they are. This is called an inheritance test and will show your lineage as well as any titles you are entitled to. It will show you as Lord Potter and Lord Black, it is a formality only.”

Harry nodded once tightly. Steeling himself he drew the dagger across the tip of one finger and pinched the appendage to squeeze out a few drops of blood. When Blunttooth indicated it would be enough he stuck his finger in his mouth to clean off the blood before casting a mild healing spell. Smiling to himself that he could perform magic. Looking back at the Goblin he saw that Blunttooth appeared to be in a state of mild shock. 

“Erm, Blunttooth? Are you okay?”

The Goblin shook himself. Once. Twice. Before passing over the parchment to Harry. 

“Yes, Lord Potter, you should see this, I’m sure you’ll find it as surprising as me.” 

Harry took the outstretched parchment and looked it over, eyebrows disappearing into his hairline even as his mouth fell open.

 

Harry James Potter

Son of James Charlus Potter and Lily Jane Potter

Lord of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter

Lord of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black

Lord of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell

Lord of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Gryffindor

Lord of the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Slytherin (by conquest)

 

“I’m- I’m- what?” Harry sputtered not understanding in the least.

“Yes it is quite interesting, we have never had to test the Potter line before and so it is understandable why your father or his predecessors were not aware of the Peverell and Gryffindor line.” 

Blunttooth rapped a pattern on his desk and another Goblin appeared. There was another discussion in their native tongue which Harry ignored as he stared at the parchment in his hands. This was obviously some kind of joke, there was no way that he was a descendant of Gryffindor! And who was Peverell? And how could he be Lord Slytherin?

He suddenly recalled talking to Dumbledore in his second year ‘ I suggest you take a closer look at the sword Harry, no ordinary Gryffindor could have pulled that from the hat. ’ No ORDINARY Gryffindor, did Dumbledore know? Or did he suspect? Why hadn’t Dumbledore told him? Well, why hadn’t Dumbledore told him about any of it? 

Harry still wasn’t sure why no-one had told him anything. Not even the Weasley’s had mentioned it and surely they would know? Arthur worked at the Ministry and they were a pureblood family. Harry bit his lip. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go back to headquarters if it was full of people who lied to him. Pushing the thought aside, for now, he looked up when he heard the door open again.

A young female Goblin walked in with a few books, as well as several small boxes. She placed them on the desk and walked back out again. Harry looked at his Account Manager. 

“Blunttooth, how am I, Lord Slytherin? I thought Voldemort was the Heir of Slytherin.”

“He was, it says there that you are by conquest, this is decided by magic, you must have bested Voldemort three times in mortal combat or ended the line. May I ask how?”

Harry thought about his answer, "Erm, there was when whatever happened when I was a baby.” 

The Goblin nodded and Harry continued, he went on to explain what happened in his first year when he found the Philosophers Stone and then told the Goblin about what happened in the Chamber of Secrets. He found himself telling Blunttooth about his fourth year and briefly informed him of the fight between him and Voldemort at the Ministry only a few months before.

The Goblin rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “I would say, Lord Potter, that the first three incidents would be the ones that made the choice. Voldemort did not walk away from those battles.” 

Harry bobbed his head in acknowledgement of the Goblins words. 

“Now, we have here the Head of House rings or the Lord rings as they are more commonly known. There is one for each family, and each of them has various enchantments and protections on them. You can wear them on different fingers or you can have them blend into one and display only which one you wish too. They are also charmed to be invisible at your desire. You wear your main family ring on your right ring finger, as for the others, it won’t matter the placement.”

Harry swallowed thickly and reached for the box that was labelled ‘Potter’. Cracking open the lid he saw a beautiful golden yellow ring with a large square ruby inlaid. There were small black stones on either side of the ruby and Harry could make out the letter ‘P’ engraved into the crimson stone. He slid it onto the finger Blunttooth had indicated and watched as it resized itself to fit. Blinking at it for a moment, he reached for the next ring box and slid the Black ring onto his middle finger. The Black ring was a platinum band with an oval onyx stone in the centre. The band was adorned with diamond shaped engravings.

The next ring Harry opened was the Peverell Ring. He placed it on his right pointer finger and the metal was made of rose gold and it was inlaid with a white opal, there was a strange design etched into the stone, a triangle cut in half with a straight line up the centre and a circle enclosing it. The coloured flecks sparkling in the torchlight. 

The ring of Gryffindor came next and Harry placed this on his left pointer finger, it was similar to the Potter ring, heavy yellow gold with a ruby centre. It had a delicate golden lion standing rampant over the ruby though. Last of all was the ring Harry was most nervous about, the Slytherin ring. 

His hand shook slightly he opened the last box and stared at it for a moment, it sat flush against black velvet lining, the bright silver was decorated with a Celtic design and the stone, of course, was an emerald. There was a silver snake wrapped around the edge of the emerald. Harry took it and shoved it onto his left middle finger. Sighing silently when nothing happened except it resizing.

He looked down at his hands and the mess of rings. Perhaps it would be handy to meld them into one, but he left it alone for now.

“Okay, so wills, done, emancipated. check, Lord of FIVE bloody families, done. What’s next Blunttooth? Is there more?” Harry said glibly and rubbed his scar out of habit.

“There is,” said Blunttooth slowly, "But can I ask? Is your scar hurting?”

“Huh? Oh no, well not at the moment, it does sometimes. It’s well, it’s sort of connected to Voldemort and it hurts when I’m around him or when he’s feeling something strongly.” Harry told the Goblin.

The Goblin frowned, "Would you mind if one of our Healers took a look at Lord Potter? I am assuming you would prefer Lord Potter over the mouthful Lord Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin?”

Harry gave the Goblin a half smile, “Yeah I would prefer that, though I don’t know that I want to go public with any of it yet. Why do you want a Healer to look at me?”

“Understandable, Lord Potter, no-one will hear a word of your new station from Gringotts. I would like a Healer to look at you, as scars should not be able to connect two beings as you described.” Blunttooth replied.

Harry thought it over for a moment and then shrugged, he knew Dumbledore had said it was a side effect of the killing curse but really what was the worst that could happen? They said they couldn’t fix it? Well, he already knew that.

 “Yeah okay, if you want.”

“Excellent.” 

Blunttooth quickly knocked on the desk again and said something to the Goblin that entered. Once the Goblin had left he picked up the three books the female Goblin had dropped off earlier as well as two others that were sitting on the desk. 

“These books contain all of the information pertinent to each Family you are now the Head of,” Blunttooth opened one and Harry leant over it, “Looking at this one, the Potter book, you can see it lists your total wealth and all the properties that you own as well as separate pages for each of the business you own outright and pages for the shares in other businesses.” 

Blunttooth flipped through the book showing Harry various things. 

“It would be best for you to peruse these at your own pace as there is actually quite a lot for you to go over.” He said gesturing to the other four books.

Harry made a face, "You’re giving me homework?” he mock-whined. 

Really he was actually quite interested in reading them all, he was quite curious as to what he now owned and quite a bit nervous as to what he was in charge of. Merlin, he hoped he would do alright.

Blunttooth saw the spark of interest and maturity in the green eyes sitting across from him, so he ignored the fake petulance that came out of the wizard's mouth. 

“If you have any questions, Lord Potter, you only need to owl me.” Harry nodded absently as he trailed a finger down one page.

“It says here I own 24% of the shares in the English Wizarding Press Company, isn’t that the publisher of the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly?” he asked.

Blunttooth nodded, "It is and yes the Potter's own that much, let me check the Black book, I am sure they own a percentage too.” The Goblin flipped through to the corresponding page and nodded, "The Black Family owns 20%.”

Harry started to grin, he reached for the other books and started to flip through them. He found that the Peverell family owned 2%, though neither Gryffindor or Slytherin owned any. Harry’s face fell slightly. Blunttooth took note of the young man’s face and asked about it.

“I was just, well, I was hoping maybe if I owned a majority of the Prophet I could get them to stop writing about me,” Harry replied.

Blunttooth grinned, “If you like, I can look into purchasing additional shares for you? Say an additional ten percent?”

Harry looked up and saw the predatory grin, a matching one spread across his own face as he replied, “Blunttooth, I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

They quickly drew up a form that would authorize Blunttooth to negotiate on Harry’s behalf up to a determined amount and Harry signed it. Blunttooth would keep Harry informed of his progress.

“Is there something in particular you would like done once you have the majority, Lord Potter?”

“Oh there are lots of things, and please call me Harry,” Harry said, grinning wickedly, “But for starters, I want to get Rita Skeeter fired.”

Blunttooth returned the grin with one as wicked as his own. The Skeeter woman was a menace to anyone and had written many insulting things about the Goblin race in the past. It would be Blunttooth’s pleasure to help make the woman destitute. 

“Might I recommend a good lawyer then Lo... Harry?”

Harry nodded and the Goblin wrote down a few details onto a piece of parchment, “His name is Mr Stentworth and he is a full partner in the Stentworth and Brown Legal Practice, if my facts are correct, and they usually are, he is the solicitor that your grandfather used.”

Harry took the piece of parchment and after looking it over, tucked it into the Potter account, bookmarking the page. 

“My grandfather? Not my father?” he asked.

The Goblin nodded, “Your father was not Lord for very long and had no occasion to call upon them I believe, though I could be wrong.” Blunttooth replied.

“Right, okay,” Harry scrubbed a hand through his hair, seeing the rolls of parchments still in front of the Goblin he asked, “What else is there for us to go over?”

Blunttooth was about to respond when there was a knock at the door and a Goblin dressed in Healers colours walked in. Harry stood and bowed politely to the Goblin Healer.

“The day's greetings to you, Healer,” Harry said as he straightened.

The Healer looked him over, "And to you as well, Lord Potter, my name is Dagrowth, now what is it I am here for?”

Harry let Blunttooth answer, “Lord Potter informed me that his scar hurts when he is near to the one who gave it to him and that he also sees visions and feels feelings from the other, at times of great emotion or stress.”

Dagrowth’s eyes widened, "Well, Lord Potter, if you’ll lie down,” the Healer quickly conjured a bed and Harry did as she instructed.

He watched as she cast numerous spells upon him. Some he recognised from Madame Pomfrey and others he didn’t have a clue about. After a few of the more usual tests, the Healer focused on Harry’s head. All of her results were recorded on a piece of parchment that floated in the air beside her. Harry tried to remain still as she worked but he quickly grew bored. Finally, when it felt like he had been there for an age, the Healer stepped back and scanned her paperwork, her eyes growing round and horror and disgust lit upon her features.

“What, what is it?” Harry asked, her reaction had him really worried, had she found something horribly wrong with him?

“Lord Potter, I- I don’t know what to say, in all my years I’ve never seen, let alone heard of something like this-,” 

She trailed off still looking at the parchment in disbelief. She started again when Blunttooth cleared his throat. 

“Well, there are a few factors which lead me to believe you have suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Your height, weight, bone density and eyesight for starters. This can all be fixed with a rather extensive potions programs and a few spells to kick-start the process.” 

Harry swallowed, that was surely because of the Dursleys treatment, he never got enough to eat when he was there. 

“What is truly shocking and disturbing though is,” she looked up, "You have a Horcrux inside your head.” She said frankly. 

Blunttooth gasped but Harry just looked at the two of them confused.

“I’m sorry hor- Horcrux? What’s that?” he asked.

Blunttooth was the one who answered him, “It is a foul, vile piece of magic, Lord Potter, it is literally a piece of someone’s soul that is purposely split off from the whole, through disgusting and horrible acts. The ‘purpose’ of this ritual is to extend one’s life.”

Harry's brain spun, putting the pieces together quickly, “Voldemort, it’s Voldemort’s isn’t it? That’s why we are connected.” 

He wanted to throw up, he had a piece of Voldemort’s SOUL in him. His stomach heaved drily and he clamped a hand over his mouth. 

“Can you get rid of it?” he asked once he had gotten a hold of himself.

The Healer hesitated and exchanged a look with Blunttooth before she replied, “The only way I know how to get rid of a Horcrux is to completely and irreversibly destroy the container it is within.” 

Harry paled rapidly at the words, “You mean, I would have to die?” he asked, the words feeling strange on his tongue as he spoke.

Dagrowth nodded, “I will start researching other ways immediately, with your permission of course, Lord Potter.” 

Harry nodded numbly, “This is why he keeps coming back, isn’t it? He’s got this Horcrux which keeps him tied to the living. I bet he’s got more, this isn’t the only one.” The thoughts and words coming unbidden to his mind and tongue.

The Healer nodded at Harry’s quick leap in logic, "I would be inclined to agree with you, Lord Potter, the size of this Horcrux, it’s not very big. I would say that he has quite a few, the ritual literally tears the soul in half. What is inside you is definitely less than half a soul, considering the few I have had the experience to see.”

Harry swallowed thickly, “Okay, I want this- I want him out of me, if you want to fix my body at the same time, I would appreciate that as well.”

Dagrowth made a noise of agreeance, “Of course, we can do that part here and now if you like, it shouldn’t take too much out of you, energy-wise. It will be myself that will be most drained. There will be little recovery for you and I think it would be best if we keep the number of people who know about this small.”

Harry grinned weakly, “Good, I hate hospitals,” he said as he lay back on the bed. 

“The spell I am about to cast will immediately correct your vision. The others will stimulate the processes in your body for growth and development. I will prescribe some nutrient potions which will speed up your growth, as well as give you a diet and exercise program which I would ask that you adhere to as much as possible. The more you stick to the plan the fewer potions you will have to take.”

Harry grimaced but nodded as he fell back with a soft thump. Dagrowth started to cast again and Harry felt a sensation like cool water flowing over his skin and into his body, he shivered lightly. Soon she was done and she helped to sit up. Blinking rapidly, Harry realised his vision was blurry, startled he felt his face and realised he was still wearing his glasses, chuckling softly, he pulled them off and looked around. Everything was so clear! There was more detail than he had ever been able to see before, he smiled at Dagrowth and hugged her. Bouncing back sharply when he realised what he’d done.

“Sorry, it’s just, this is amazing!” he exclaimed. The Goblin blushed lightly, turning her green skin an odd colour.

“It is no problem, Lord Potter, I was just doing my job. Expect to see a bill in the mail.” 

Harry just waved her off as he looked around the room with new eyes. Seeing the distinctions in colours and the texture of the stone.

Dagrowth laughed quietly at him and turned to Blunttooth, speaking to him in Gobbledegook before leaving. Blunttooth managed to regain Harry’s attention and they sat down. Harry vanished the pair of glasses in his hand, no longer having a need for the ugly frames. He frowned slightly as he thought his magic felt easier to access than normal. Turning back to Blunttooth he gave his Account Manager his full attention.

“Harry,” the Goblin started, “Healer Dagrowth informed me that she also removed some blocks and wards on your person, one was a mail ward which ironically, redirects all your mail to a vault here in Gringotts, we will find out who the vault belongs to so we can find out who put the spell on you. The second was a magic suppressing charm which was probably placed by your mother or father.” 

At Harry’s look of surprise, he explained. 

“This is a somewhat common practice, parents will place such a charm on a particularly powerful infant or toddler to bind part of their magic. It is usually released once the child reaches an age where they can understand how to use their magic or at least have some conscious control over it, generally around the five to seven year mark. It is not considered harmful, as it does not bind all of the child’s magic. Only limiting the access the child has. This makes any bursts of accidental magic less dangerous to those around the child.”

“I thought my magic felt a little easier and freer just now, though I don’t know about either of those things,” Harry told the Goblin.

Blunttooth nodded, “Yes well the first was obviously cast by someone who did not want you to receive any correspondence from the wizarding world.” 

Harry frowned as he tried to think who could have had such a motive.

“Now, there are a couple of other things we need to go over and then your vaults also await your inspection. What would you like to do first?” 

Harry cast a tempus and saw that he had been inside Gringotts for almost three hours, the Weasleys were probably starting to fret. Shrugging off that worry he got to his feet. 

“I’d like to see the vaults first if that’s alright?” he rolled his shoulders, "I have a need to walk around.”

Blunttooth smiled, "Quite right, follow me.” 

He led Harry out of the office and down a corridor to the carts.

As they were getting settled in one a thought occurred to Harry, "Blunttooth? How many vaults do I have?”

Blunttooth looked back at Harry as the cart started to move, “There are plain monetary vaults set up for every business, though any profit above 1,000,000 galleons a year is placed back into the main Potter vault. That is the specific set up for all the Potter businesses, though it is a common enough practice. Then there is, of course, your personal vault, which you have seen before, and then there are the Family vaults. One for each of the rings you wear. Harry glanced down at his hands that meant there were at least six for him to visit today.

He grimaced again, “Can we merge my personal vault with the Potter vault? Now that I’m head of the family I don’t see the need for it to be separate.”

Blunttooth nodded as they veered sharply around a corner, “That is easily done,” he said over his shoulder.

A curtain of water was up ahead and they plunged straight through it. Harry watched as it parted for them. A moment later they pulled up in front of a vault. They stepped out and Blunttooth informed him this was the Black Vault. Harry nodded and walked up to it, when he reached it he turned back to Blunttooth.

“Erm, I don’t have a key” he said.

“As you’re the Head of House you need only to lay your hand with the Black Ring on the door and it will open for you,” Blunttooth informed him. 

Harry turned back to the door and did as instructed.

Smiling when it worked, he whispered, “Magic is wicked.” 

Walking into the vault he was really sure what to expect but it certainly wasn’t this, the vault was HUGE! It was at least three stories high and as big as a mansion! Off to one side, there were veritable mountains, of galleons, sickles and knuts. On the other, there were numerous paintings and portraits, armour, clothes, trunks overflowing with trinkets and treasures. There were bookshelves filled with books and artefacts, glass-faced cabinets displaying jewellery of all kinds. Harry was afraid to move, he could barely comprehend what was here, this was all his? And this was just one vault? He gazed around in shocked awe and moved amongst the priceless treasures. After a few minutes of looking around, he decided to come back another day. There was no way he could even begin to sort this out in his head. He decided to just have a quick tour of the rest of the vaults if they were anything like this he could spend days here.

“Blunttooth? I think,” Harry’s throat was dry, he swallowed trying to work some spittle down it and tried again, “I think we’ll just have a quick look in each, leave the Potter vault for last though okay? I’m going to have to come back, there’s no way I have the time now to give this the proper attention that it deserves.” 

He said as he waved a hand to indicate what he was talking about.

“Of course, there are books that are linked to each vault if you would like them? They are self-updating and have an itinerary of what the vaults contain?” Blunttooth told the messy haired wizard as they settled back in the cart.

Harry sighed in relief, “That sounds like a wonderful idea. I can go over them at home and wrap my head around what’s in there before seeing it all again.” 

Blunttooth merely nodded.

They came to the Peverell Vault next and it was much the same as the Black Vault though Harry noted the artefacts were quite a lot dustier as if it hadn’t been disturbed in a while. He frowned in thought as they made their way to the Gryffindor Vault. Harry was a terribly excited as he walked into this one, though he immediately started sneezing due to the amount of dust. He cast a bubblehead charm and started looking around.

Poking around the bookshelves he came across many journals that once belonged to the founder, beyond excited he took them down, looking around for something to put them in he found a small trunk filled with candlesticks, dumping the candlesticks on the ground, he placed the journals softly inside, he cast featherweight and cushioning charms before shrinking the trunk down to fit into his pocket. He looked around a little more and vowed to come back soon.

Blunttooth took him next to the Slytherin Vault, Harry was nervous, what if there was another basilisk inside? What if Voldemort had hidden things in there? Harry quickly voiced the last concern to Blunttooth. 

“Voldemort has never held a vault within Gringotts and he never claimed this one. I don’t think he ever thought to try.” Blunttooth told Harry.

Harry nodded, slightly mollified. Wiping his sweaty palms on his trousers he pressed his left hand against the door. It opened for him and Harry shut his eyes waiting for the tell-tale sound of scales on stone. When it didn’t come he breathed out a sigh of relief and walked inside. It was much the same as the Gryffindor one, the only thing not covered in dust was the money. Harry had figured this was because of all the interest and earnings that regularly came in. Recasting the bubblehead charm he made his way to the bookshelves, wondering idly if Salazar Slytherin was a journaler like his co-founder.

It turned out journaling must have been a common past-time back in the day and Slytherin kept more than Gryffindor had. Harry took out the trunk that he gotten in Gryffindors vault and resized it. Placing the Slytherin journals in there, pausing when he saw the locks on the sides of the books. They were snakes twined around each other and no visible keyhole, they were probably locked in Parseltongue. 

Taking a deep breath he whispered ‘open’ at the lock to see what it would do. He watched wide-eyed as the snakes smoothly untwined themselves from each other and the book fell open in his palm. Feeling elated at the knowledge of being able to read possessions from the Slytherin Founder, ones Voldemort himself had not thought to find, he relocked the journal and put it inside the trunk with the others. Shrinking the trunk once more, he walked out with it in his pocket.

The last stop on the Vault tour was the Potter one and Harry was beyond excited to see what his ancestors had once owned, things his father had probably touched or used. He found himself leaning forward in the cart in anticipation. They finally reached their stop and Harry almost tripped over himself in his excitement, he thought he heard his Account Manager snicker at his behaviour but he really couldn’t care less.

Slamming his hand against the vault, he hurried inside, spinning as he tried to take it all in at once. Running from shelf to shelf and cabinet to cabinet he tried to slow himself down but he felt like he was being pulled in all directions at once. That was until he came across a trunk, it didn’t appear to be anything special. Though it was a very nice looking trunk, the gold corners and metal fittings were highly polished and the dark chocolate leather was well looked after. It was of a decent size and there were twelve locks across the front, similar to Mad-Eye Moody’s trunk from fourth year. But what had Harry stopping in his tracks were the initials, J.C.P. James Charlus Potter. It was his father’s trunk.

Kneeling reverently before it he ran his shaky hands over it, he grasped the lid and was surprised as well as grateful when it opened. The first compartment contained a mess of robes and clothes. Harry spotted Gryffindor colours and realised this was the trunk his father had used at school. Smiling he opened another compartment, he found letters and correspondence. Another held books, and on and on it went until Harry came to the last one, the last lock held items and journals, bits of paper and various potions. Opening one of the journals he found it blank until he looked at the front page and saw the ink prints of two different canine paws, a tiny rat print and a cloven hoof mark. He mumbled the incantation ‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good’ and suddenly the book filled with words and spells and joke potions.

Harry grinned and shifted on his knees trying to get comfortable, his arse hit the floor and he was suddenly reminded of where he was. Sighing he put the book back in the trunk and after locking it, decided to shrink this one down too and take it with him. He could spend the rest of the summer going through it and he could take it to school with him later. A huge smile on his face, he proceeded to do just that, he stood up and brushed his hands over his bum and dusted off his knees. As he straightened his eyes settled on another trunk, this one was much more delicate looking. The silver detailing’s were softer and the leather was a honey colour. The cursive initials burned into it were made by a much more feminine hand. L.J.E. Without even hesitating Harry shrunk that one too. He was going to be able to get to know his parents!

Slightly giddy and sad at the same time, Harry walked a little more slowly around the vault. He took in the portraits that were charmed to sleep, and the various jewellery cases, there was one cabinet that only held rings and Harry, intrigued, was a little pleased to find out that they were all specifically engagement and marriage rings. He noted that some of them had been used more than once throughout his family, he sort of liked that idea, that continuity. Blushing as he realised what he was thinking about he turned to leave the vault. Stopping at the huge stack of galleons before him, he remembered his original purpose for coming to Gringotts today. Finding a leather bag he filled it, not even hesitating to make the bag full. Shaking his head at the thought of all the money that was now his, it would take him lifetimes to even make a dent he thought and that was if it stopped coming in.

He bit his lip as another thought crossed his mind, maybe, maybe if the Dursleys knew about this, they would have been nicer to him. Pinching himself when he felt tears prick his eyes he shook the thought from his head, no use dwelling on what ifs. He put the small sack of gold in his pocket and cast a silencing spell on it so it wouldn’t clink. He made his way back into the cart. Blunttooth took in the expression on the young man’s face and decided to leave him to his thoughts for the ride back.

He led Harry back to his office and they resumed their seats from before. Blunttooth summoned a lower Goblin and directed them to retrieve the Vault books for Harry’s vaults. Clearing his throat and interrupting the wizards introspection he spoke.

“Now there are only two more pressing matters for us to go on with, the first are the letters from your parents and your godfather. Normally, I would ask that you read them privately but your godfather insisted that you read this one before you left the bank.” 

He passed the letter to Harry, it was rather thin. Harry pursed his lip, trying not to feel put out, he had hoped his godfather's last letter to him would be rather more substantial. Sliding his thumb under the seal he now recognised as the Black crest he pulled the letter out.

 

Pup,

Don’t push that lip out at me, this isn’t my last letter to you. This is a warning, these last few months I have been getting weird vibes from Dumbledore, I don’t think he has your best interests at heart. Or mine for that matter, I just found out that he was the one who pushed for a no trial.

You know I have a few holes in my memory but I have recently been regaining some. One was the fact that Dumbledore was the one who cast the fidelus charm on the house in Godric’s Hollow, this means HE KNEW Pettigrew was the secret keeper and not me and yet I spent twelve years in Azkaban because he didn’t speak up.

I don’t trust him, Harry, get yourself emancipated as soon as possible, trust that the Goblins will help you. Even if they don’t like you, they’ll do it for gold and you have plenty of that, especially if you’re reading this. It was my hope that I would tell you this when you finish school this year but apparently, that wasn’t meant to be.

Anyway, like I said, get out from under Dumbledore’s thumb, go to the Potter family mansion. You’ll be safe there and the house-elves will look after you. The wards on that mansion are impenetrable. I’m sorry I can’t be there to guide you and that I don’t know more about what’s going on, well at least at the time of writing this. I will tell Moony everything, Dumbledore can’t read his mind, it’s a werewolf thing. Don’t trust any other adults who are close to Dumbledore, he is held on too high a horse for them to see him clearly. Contact Moony if you can and let him know where you are. He will come to you and help.

I love you Pup.

Your dogfather

Sirius

 

Harry’s hands were shaking with anger as he read the letter a second time. Leaping out of his seat Harry started to pace the office. He thrust the letter at Blunttooth as he couldn’t articulate what was wrong at the moment.

“Ah, I see, well at least someone has seen that Albus Dumbledore isn’t the great man everyone thinks he is,” Blunttooth said calmly when he finished the letter.

Harry shot a glare his way, silently asking him to go on. 

Blunttooth shrugged, “The Goblin nation has tried many times to improve our relations with the wizarding world. But whatever we try to get put through the Wizengamot, it is always overturned, by people swayed by his arguments.” 

Harry stopped suddenly, shocked at this news.  

Groaning Harry slumped back in his chair. “Blunttooth, I don’t know how much more I can take today.”

Blunttooth looked at the wizard with sympathy, everything the wizard had been excited about today had something to do with freedom, whether the ability to do magic when he wanted, the ability to live wherever he wanted, the ability to have someone fired to make his life easier. 

This last bit of business though. This was going to be a blow to some of that freedom he had gained. He wished he didn’t have to tell the young man, he had actually become quite fond of his client in the short amount of time they had spent together. 

As he was about to speak and was interrupted by the Goblin he had spoken to earlier. He came into the office and placed a box and five books on the desk. Blunttooth opened the box and saw that it contained a great deal of potion phials and a note from Healer Dagrowth explaining their use and outlining the health plan she wanted Harry to follow.

Nodding to himself and dismissing the other Goblin, Blunttooth pulled a leather satchel from his desk. He placed the Vault books, Account books and the box of potions inside it, as well as the letters from Harry’s parents and the other letter from Sirius Black. Satisfied that all of his client's things were inside the bag he cleared his throat to get Harry’s attention. He wondered how he was going to explain this to his client, particularly because his client didn’t seem to know any wizarding traditions.  

Harry opened his eyes wearily, remembering that Blunttooth had one last thing to go over with him. He conjured up a glass of water and sipped at it as Blunttooth began to talk.

“Many, many years ago your great-grandfather Charlus Potter sat down with another Lord. They wished to merge the families to sustain mutual growth, blood purity and cordial relations. Part of their agreement was that they would back each other in the Wizengamot. They shared many of the same ideals. The issue was they didn’t feel as though they could trust one another not to betray the other, so they wrote up a contract that would bind their two families together.” 

Harry nodded when Blunttooth paused, to show he was following so far. 

“Well, this contract was a contract of marriage, to ensure trust in one another they tied the families together as one.”

“Okay, and what does this have to do with me?” Harry asked slowly.

“The contract has yet to be fulfilled. You see the contract stipulated that next compatible Heirs - meaning one male and one female - of the families that were born within a five-year range of each other, would be married. So far when your family and the other have had children they have either not fallen within the timeframe nor were both of the right genders.” Blunttooth explained, he saw the moment his client understood, as his nostrils flared and his eyes hardened.

“Are you telling me that, my great-grandfather has, essentially, married me off to someone I don’t even know?” Harry said, his voice barely belying the roiling emotion underneath.

The Goblin shifted in his seat, “I believe you do know them, at least by name or sight, they do attend Hogwarts with you after all.”

“Who?” Harry growled.

“Parkinson is the other name on the contract,” Blunttooth replied, hoping that the girl was at least pretty for the wizards sake, and perhaps his own if the look in the young man’s gaze was anything to go by.

Harry blinked hard for a moment as he took in the words that the Goblin had said before exclaiming loudly, “ PANSY?!?!

Chapter Text

Harry was in a state of shock, this couldn’t all be real. It had to be some sort of cosmic joke, didn’t it? There was no way he was a Lord, let alone of five families, there was no way he could be engaged to Pansy Parkinson

There was just no way. He pinched his arm. Yep, that hurt, he couldn’t be dreaming then. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he asked Blunttooth if he could look over the contract, surely there was a way to get out of it. Blunttooth handed over the document and Harry struggled to read through the legalese but in the end, he found the clause. His hands tightened even further on the parchment. 

“Fuck!” he cried.

The Goblin started at his loud and sudden expletive, “Lord Potter?” Blunttooth asked tentatively.

Harry scrubbed a hand over his face, already silently loving the fact he didn’t have to wear glasses anymore. 

“If I’m understanding this correctly, there’s no way out of this contract, if we back out, we lose not only our own, but we curse the next three generations of our children to lose their magic as well?”

The Goblin nodded solemnly. “Yes, it is not unheard of for clauses like that to be put into contracts like these. It ensures that both parties adhere to the contract, especially if it is written to affect parties who are not the ones signing.” 

Harry sighed, even if he could give up his own magic, there was no way he could do that to his future children. Harry hadn’t really given it much thought, but he had, in an abstract way, thought about teaching his children spells and flying with them. He ran a hand through his hair messing it up even further.

“Blunttooth, I think I’m done for the day. I don’t think I can handle any more news right now. My godfather suggested I go to Potter Manor to live for a while. Do you know where it is? How I can get there?” Harry asked.

Blunttooth nodded, “I am privy to this information, your family has had me make emergency portkeys for them before. It lies on the outskirts of Northumberland National Park, towards the Scottish border. As for getting there your family ring will act as a portkey. You only need to twist it and think of Potter Manor.”

“Oh, okay,” said Harry, “I do feel a little guilty about just leaving. The people I arrived with, they will probably kick up quite a fuss when you tell them I’ve left.”

“Even though these are the same people who have helped to keep this knowledge from you?”

Harry’s lip curled, “I don’t care so much about that. Quite frankly, they can stay in the bloody dark, just as they’ve left me to the same. No, I meant that I feel guilty about leaving several very irate people for you to deal with, whilst I skip off.”

Blunttooth sat back and chuckled, he was liking his young client more and more. 

“Do not worry about that Harry, our client's safety is of the utmost importance, if you do not want to be seen, then you won’t be. And I can assure you, we have much experience dealing with ‘irate’ individuals. They will learn nothing from us except that you left of your own free will.” He grinned maliciously.

Harry returned the smile with a smirk, standing up he collected the bag that Blunttooth had put together for him and stuffed the betrothal contract inside. Settling it on his shoulder he cast a Patronus. 

“Mrs Weasley, I’d ask that you don’t worry about me but I know you will regardless. Please know I am safe, happy and being looked after. I’ll see you at Platform 9 ¾ on September the 1 st . Thank you.”

Harry looked at the Goblin and followed him out of the office to a room that allowed magical travel. Thanking Blunttooth for all his help and patience, he twisted the ring on his finger and felt the hook behind his navel.

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

Harry stood up, dusting dirt from his backside after having been thrown onto the ground by the portkey. Merlin, he hated wizarding transportation. 

Glancing around he realised it was getting dark. Bloody hell, he’d been inside the bank all day! He looked up at the house in front of him and gaped. It wasn’t a house, it was a bloody palace! 

Probably on the small side for a palace, he thought belatedly, but it was huge! It was made of light grey stone and had pillars built into the walls for decoration. There was a large portico over the massive front doors and Harry was certain it was at least three stories tall. Looking to either side of the place, he couldn’t begin to guess how big this ‘house’ was. Surely he was at the wrong place? 

Swallowing nervously he walked towards the front doors. Placing his hand on the door he felt magic zing across his body and settle into his bones. Taking a step back from the doors he found he could now sense the wards, he could sense the boundaries of the land (which was the same as the house, bloody humungous) and he could sense six living beings within the property. 

Confusion evident, he walked forward and pushed the door open. He was convinced magic was involved with that, as there was no way he could open doors that big on his own.

Walking into the entrance hall he felt his mouth fall open. He was sure that it was bigger than the Dursleys entire house and it was wholly made of marble. At the opposite end of the doors, there was a large staircase that split in two and led up to the second floor, which again started as two but merged as one on the third floor. It was quite the visual statement. 

Ornate bannisters ran up the stairs and a plush runner softened the look of all the stone. There were large archways leading off the hallway and small tables with various ornaments and vases filled with fresh flowers. Harry didn’t even know where to begin looking around. Suddenly there was a small popping noise and house-elf appeared in front of Harry. 

“Master Harry, sir! Tibsy is so excited and pleased that you is home now!” 

Harry realised that he could feel her and that she was one of the ‘presences’ he could sense.

“Uh, hullo, Tibsy,” Harry said, “Um... yeah, I suppose I am home now.”

Tibsy nodded eagerly, “Would Sir like dinner? Missy would make Master a wonderful roast dinner.”

Harry’s stomach growled at the thought, Tibsy clapped a hand over her mouth as she held back a giggle. 

Harry smiled ruefully at her. “I think that answers your question, Tibsy, would you be able to show me to the dining room?”

Tibsy bobbed her head again, “Of course! Does Master Harry be having luggage with him?”

“Er… no, my stuff is all at Grimmauld Place and please just call me Harry, at least in private yeah?” 

Harry said, frowning he was going to have to go and get it all, how was he going to do that?

“That is being okay Mas- Harry, Bosto can be getting your things from your other home,” she said brightly as she led Harry into a large room off the entrance hall. 

It held a massive dining table, Harry was sure it would probably hold forty people, chandeliers hung every few feet and dripped with crystals. Gold moulding decorated the walls and ceiling and the lower half of the walls were covered in rich maroon wallpaper. The chairs looked like they probably cost hundreds of galleons each.

“Uh, Tibsy? Is there a smaller dining room?” Harry asked, a bit uncomfortable with the size and opulence of the one they were currently in.

“Oh yes, sir! There is being the family eating room, sorry, Tibsy, be taking you there instead.”

Harry nodded gratefully and followed her through the house to a smaller, cosier room. The table here sat ten and the room was much softer and more suited for everyday use. Sinking into a chair, he pulled the bag from his shoulder. Remembering the box that Blunthammer had given him, he took it out to read through it. Dagrowth had prescribed three potions a day, one with each main meal. She had also told him that he needed physical exercise for at least one hour a day. Whether that was going for a run or flying. Harry perked up at that, he could easily fly for an hour a day. Smiling a little now, he turned back to Tibsy.

“Tibsy I have a lot of questions, so we are going to have to have a big discussion at some point, but for now, is Missy the elf in charge of cooking? Do you think you could introduce me to everyone?”

Tibsy ears flapped as she answered, “Of course, Harrysir!” and there were suddenly five small pops sounding in the room. 

Harry looked at the amount of House-elves and knew they were all the ones he felt when he first got here. Tibsy started to introduce them from the left.

“This is being Missy, she is in charge of all the food and cooking and growing of vegetables. This is Bosto and Losto, they is being a general house-elf, they helps with all things around the house. Haggy is being the gardener and is in charge of keeping the land and flowers pretty and happy. Nubto is the carer for all the animals at this residence.” She beamed at Harry happily. 

Harry had shaken all of their hands as they were introduced and now he sat back and took in their appearance. They were all well dressed in black clothing with the Potter crest, except for Missy. Harry supposed that was due to the fact she was a chef, her clothes were all white.

He smiled at them all, “Okay well it’s nice to meet you all,” they all chorused back to him a mixture of greetings and ‘so good to see you’s, “So Tibsy, you didn’t tell me your job. Are you the boss house-elf?”

Tibsy looked up at Harry slightly horrified, “Oh no Sir! Tibsy cannot be taking Marki’s place! Tibsy is not being a good head elf, though Master Harry is be needing one! Tibsy is a ladies elf, Tibsy used to be the personal house elf for Miss Mia and Miss Lily.”

Harry’s heart clenched slightly at the mention of his mother, “Who’s Marki?” he asked.

Tibsy wrung her hands and Bosto answered instead, “Harry sir, Marki was our old head house-elf and the personal elf of your father and his father and his father. He was Tibsy’s father but he is being dead for a few years now. He was a very old elf.”

Harry nodded his understanding, “So there is no head elf?” They all shook their heads, "Would any of you like to be the head elf?” The shaking continued, “Can I ask why?”

Losto answered in her high squeaky voice, “We is all being very happy with what we do now sir! Of course, if you choose, one of us can be your elf, but sir we is being happy now.”

“Not that we wouldn’t be happy to be your elf!” Nubto said in his surprisingly deep voice, “But Nubto be liking his animals, sir.” The other elves all spoke their agreement about their love of the jobs they already did.

Harry held up his hands in surrender, “Alright, alright, I understand. I won’t make any of you unhappy. But you all seem to think I need a head elf?”

Tibsy nodded vehemently, “Oh yes! You is needing your own personal elf, they is being doing all the things for you and they is the one telling us what is needing doing and lots of other things!”

“Okay, but I don’t know that many house-elves....” Harry broke off as he thought about one he did know. “Okay I’ll get back to you guys on that, for now though do you want to get back to whatever it is you need to do?” 

They all nodded in unison, Harry thought it was quite cute. 

“Missy, Bosto and Tibsy, would you mind staying for a moment though?” 

The other three elves popped away and Harry took the list of prescribed foods and the box of potions. He held them out to the chef. 

“Missy, I saw a healer today and she told me I need to eat better as well as take these nutrient potions. Can you please make sure that I am following these instructions? I give you permission to scold me if I complain too much okay?” he said with a grin at her.

She grinned back at him, “Of course Harrysir! Missy is following the Healers orders and making sure Master Harry is growing big and strong! Missy is going to go finish dinner now!” She popped away with a small bow and Harry turned back to Tibsy.

“Tibsy, you said Bosto could get my things from Grimmauld Place?”

“Oh yes, Harry sir! Bosto is able to go to any of your residences and be doing whatever it is you ask of him!” Bosto nodded in agreement.

“Okay, well Bosto, would you please go there and collect all of my personal items? Also my owl, Hedwig. Please though, don’t be seen. I don’t want anyone there to know where I am or what I’m up to at the moment.” Bosto said he could do that easily and Harry gave him instructions as to where his room was.

“Oh! Wait a moment, please, I want to write a quick letter to Ron and Hermione.” 

Tibsy popped away and returned with some parchment and a quill. Harry thanked her and bent over the table to start scribbling.

 

To Ron & Hermione,

I’m so sorry for leaving so abruptly. But please know it’s for the best and I am happy with what’s happened. I’ll try and contact you soon and yes Hermione, I know I’m probably being irresponsible and childish or whatever but I really couldn’t care less. I’m looking after myself now. Please don’t show this to anyone, burn it after you read it.

Talk to you both soon.

Love Harry

 

“Can you put this under Ron’s pillow? His is the other bed in my room.” 

Bosto nodded, took the note and popped away. A bowl of soup, as well as one of the potions, suddenly appeared in front of Harry and he moaned at the smell. It was pumpkin soup, his favourite. Spooning some into his mouth he closed his eyes at the smooth creamy flavour. He quickly downed the potion, thankfully it didn’t taste as disgusting as it looked and then in minutes, he had the bowl of soup empty too. Harry looked at it a little mournfully.

Tibsy waited until Master Harry was finished eating before she interrupted his thoughts, “Was Harry needing Tibsy for anything else?”

“Huh? Oh yes, um Tibsy what do you mean by ladies elf?” Harry asked.

“Oh, Tibsy is meaning that she is the personal elf to the Lady Potter! When Master Harry is being married, Tibsy is being the elf for his wife! Tibsy be doing anything that the Lady Potter would be needing, help with correspondence, washing, party planning and other such things.”

Harry blushed at the mention of a wife and then groaned as he remembered it would be Pansy. 

“Tibsy, it seems I’m already, I dunno, betrothed? My Great-Grandfather Charlus wrote up a marriage contract and I have to marry a girl named Pansy Parkinson. Do you know anything about that?”

Tibsy shook her head, “Pansy is a beautiful name for the future Lady Potter! But Tibsy is not knowing anything about it Harry sir, but maybe Lord Charlus does!”

Harry looked at her confused, "Erm, Tibsy? Isn’t he dead now?”

“Oh yes! But Tibsy is meaning his portrait!”

“Oh,” said Harry blinking, as a roast beef with veggies and gravy appeared on the table. About to tuck in Harry said to Tibsy, “I think I’ll talk to him tomorrow then, I’m too tired now for what I think is going to be a long conversation.”

Tibsy nodded, “Yes Harrysir, Tibsy be showing him to you tomorrow then.”

Harry was just finishing off his dinner when Bosto reappeared. Harry could barely see him behind the trunk, broomstick and Hedwig in her cage, Stifling a snicker he called out for Nubto. 

When the elf appeared he said, "Nubto, this is Hedwig, she’s my owl. Would you please see to her care? Show her around the place?”

Nubto bounced on the balls of his feet eagerly, “Of course Harrysir! Nubto would be so happy to be looking after Master Harry’s owl! She will be very happy with the other owls!” 

Nubto took the owl gently from Bosto, he let her out and she climbed onto his shoulder hooting at Harry indignantly.

“Hedwig, this is Nubto, he is one of my house-elves and he’ll look after you. This is our new home,” he said as he smiled at her. 

She hooted at him again, much softer this time and fluffed her wings happily. Nubto walked off with her cooing that she was the most beautiful owl he had ever seen. Harry smiled again, Hedwig was going to love Nubto, she was incredibly vain for a bird.

“Bosto, would you just put those things in my room? I’m not sure where it is and please don’t worry about unpacking anything. I’m not sure how much of it I want to keep.” 

He saw the top of Bosto’s head nodding before he popped away again. Missy popped into the eating room and twisting her hands around an apron asked if everything was too his liking. 

Harry nodded quickly, “Pumpkin soup is my favourite soup and the roast was delicious, thank you.”

The house-elf beamed, “Would Master Harry be wanting dessert?” she asked.

Harry shook his head, “No, I think I want to have a bath and go to bed, but thank you, Missy. Although, treacle tart is my favourite dessert, but I would be happy with anything you put in front of me,” she nodded as she disappeared. “Tibsy? Can you show me my room please?”

“Of course, Harrysir! Please be following me!” she started trotting out of the room and Harry had to quickly grab the satchel from Gringotts and hurry after her. 

She led him up to the third floor and down a corridor to large double doors. She left him there saying goodnight. 

Opening the doors Harry saw what was easily the plushest room he’d ever seen in his life. The bed was larger than one Harry had seen before and sat between two glass doors which led out onto a balcony. There was a small table for two off to the right in front of a large window and Harry could imagine taking his morning tea there. 

There was a large beautiful portrait of a sleeping unicorn and her foal in a lush autumn field on the wall that faced the bed. To his left were three doors. The two on the outside opened into large walk-in closets. They were clearly enchanted to use wizard space as they were much larger than they appeared. In fact, they were about the size of the whole downstairs living area of the Dursleys. They even had windows that looked out onto rolling fields. 

The wardrobe on the left held a table, with numerous drawers and boxes on top of it, with a chair and mirror on the wall. Harry assumed this would be a closet for females as he guessed the table was for makeup and the like.

The middle door led into a bathroom more luxurious than the prefect's bathroom at Hogwarts. There was a double vanity on the left and a shower with so many nozzles and heads that Harry rather thought it would be like taking a standing bath. Speaking of the bath though, there was a traditional freestanding clawfoot bath that was big enough for two, a small shelf ran alongside it obviously to place things that might be needed. But there was also a small heated pool. 

Harry could see the steam coming from the water even now. There was a series of taps on one side that Harry assumed would do similar things to the ones he had played with at Hogwarts. Groaning in anticipation he started to remove his clothes. Stepping down into the water he floated happily for a while as he let the heat sink into his weary body. Rousing himself after a while he washed his hair and soaped his body before getting out. Not wanting to put on any of Dudley's old clothes he dried himself and slipped into the bed naked. He very quickly fell asleep under the comfort of thick blankets, fluffy pillows and the softest mattress he had ever lain on.

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

Harry had woken that morning to sunlight streaming through the large windows. He had been confused and disorientated for a minute before remembering all the events from the day before. 

He flopped back against the pillows with a large grin, a laugh bubbling its way up from his chest. He still couldn’t believe it, holding his hands in front of him to look at the lordship rings. He shook his head with a smile, getting out of bed he made his way to the shower. 

It was there, that he remembered the marriage contract. His mood suddenly dampened, he hadn’t given much thought to marriage and such before, only in the vague sense of ‘one day’ and he thought that he would be happy with his wife. 

Thinking about it now though he wondered if he could even be that with Pansy, they hated each other! Well actually that wasn’t entirely true, but he hated Malfoy and she was always with him. So he disliked her by extension of the prat and she had been mean to him and his friends in previous years. 

Though, if Harry was being honest, she never really instigated any of it. It was always in retaliation for something or to back Malfoy up. Which, while still pretty bad, at least she had never gone out of her way to be mean and spiteful.

Maybe they could make something of this situation. Harry really didn’t want to be stuck with someone that he couldn’t get along with for the rest of his life. 

Sighing he turned off the water and started to dry himself off. Walking into his bedroom he opened his trunk and started to dig around for some clothes. Frustrated that all he could find was hand me downs and his school clothes, he pulled on his school trousers and a white shirt. 

For some reason, he just couldn’t bring himself to wear Dudley's things anymore. Thinking that they should be burned, he decided to go out and buy himself some new clothes. He had the money now and he was never going back to the Dursleys so there was no reason not to. Having decided on his course of action for the day he made his way downstairs and back to the family dining room. Missy immediately popped in with his potion and a pot of tea.

“Is there anything specific Master Harry, would like for breakfast?”

“As long as it’s hot I don’t mind Missy,” Harry smiled at her, “And please, it’s just Harry.” 

Missy nodded and popped back into the kitchen. 

Harry fixed himself a cup of tea before downing the potion. Swishing some tea around his mouth to dispel some of the lingering taste he tried to think about what he would need to do today. He’d have to go to Diagon Alley, he really needed to get his school supplies, as well as some new school uniforms. They were just starting to get on the small side and if this potion regime he was on was going to make him grow and bulk up a bit, well maybe he should wait to get those. He’d get them near the end of the summer once he’d completed the potions course. Humming, he still wanted to go into Muggle London though, he would need comfortable clothes now. 

When Missy came back, she set a bowl of thick, warm porridge in front of him, with a side of crispy bacon and a bowl of sliced fruit for after. He asked her about how he would be able to get to Diagon Alley as he couldn’t apparate yet. He’d have to go back to Gringotts first and exchange some of his money for British Pounds.

“Sir can be using the floo to go to the Leaky Cauldron and be getting into Diagon Alley from there or Tibsy can be apparating Sir to the apparition point!” Missy said squeakily before leaving him to eat. 

Harry thought it over as he ate. The porridge was delicious, Harry had never tried it before, normally at Hogwarts he stuck to toast with jam or with bacon and eggs sometimes. He continued to eat as a few thoughts ran through his head. He’d have to glamour himself for one, he didn’t want to go into Diagon Alley only to have someone recognise him and either take him back to the Order or be captured and taken to Voldemort. A glamour and his invisibility cloak should be enough. Finishing up his breakfast he called for Tibsy.

“Yes, Harry Sir? What can Tibsy be doing?” said the house-elf.

“Well for starters, about the head-elf situation. Wouldn’t it be weird for an elf who doesn’t know the family or the manor to be in charge? Shouldn’t it really be one of you guys?”

She shook her head, ears flapping, “Not at all Sir! When you is bonding an elf to the family the family magic accepts the elf and it is giving that elf all the knowledge of the family and the houses and lands and everything Sir!”

Harry hummed thoughtfully, “Tibsy is there a book on house-elves and bonds and the like? I think I’d like to read it.”

“Yes! There is being one in the library! Tibsy can get it for you?”

“Not just now, maybe tonight,” Harry replied, “For now can you take me to the floo? Oh, and would you mind grabbing me a satchel and my invisibility cloak? I need to do some shopping.” 

She nodded and took his hand, practically dragging him to a receiving room that was just off the main entrance hall. He looked around as she popped away, it was a beautiful room. 

Richly furnished without being too overstated, there was a wonderfully plush rug and comfortable looking lounges. There was also a small cushioned stool next to the fire, it was only a few inches off the ground and Harry thought it must be used for floo calls. A large mirror hung over the fireplace which Harry utilised to change his appearance. He charmed his hair to a medium brown and his eyes blue, he even charmed his skin a few shades darker than its normal tone. He managed to get his hair to hide his scar and then cast a mild freezing charm on it, so it would stay that way. He was just admiring his handiwork when Tibsy came back with the items he had requested. He smiled at her and called out the address for the Leaky Cauldron after grabbing a handful of floo powder from the jar.

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

Harry was walking out onto the streets of London, after having stumbled out of the floo at the Leaky Cauldron and into Gringotts. He was now the owner of a card much like a credit card that linked to his Potter Vault. He liked how enterprising the Goblins were because now he wouldn’t ever have to worry about changing over muggle money or making sure he had some on him whenever he deigned to go into the muggle world. Hailing a cab, he caught it to the nearest department store. 

Glancing at the store after swiping his card for the taxi, he saw it was a Debenhams. Walking through the double glass doors he looked around for the men's department, seeing a sign, he followed the directions. Soon he was walking through the aisles, fingering fabrics and looking at various articles of clothing. He must have looked pretty lost as a clerk came over to see if he needed a hand. 

Flushing lightly he rubbed a hand through his hair, “Yeah, I’m here to get a new wardrobe actually. I had a bit a growth spurt this month,” Harry lied quickly. 

The man looked him over with a critical eye, noting that the school trousers Harry was wearing were indeed a little short but as they were in good condition the man didn’t comment on it.

“How did you intend on paying sir?” the clerk asked, “Are your parents with you?”

“No,” Harry said as he reached into his pocket for the card Gringotts had given him this morning, “But they got me this for my birthday.” 

He held up the platinum card for the man’s perusal and technically it wasn’t a lie, it had come from his parents and his birthday was coming up. 

The salesman’s eyes lit up and he smiled.

“Well then, in that case, my name is Hubert. Let’s get you sorted shall we?”

Two and a half hours later, Harry found himself standing on the street, heavily laden with shopping bags. Harry wasn’t quite sure how he’d managed to spend over two thousand British pounds, but Hubert - or Hue as he had ended up insisting Harry call him when they rang up the total - had been very thorough and assured Harry of all his purchases. 

Feeling slightly dazed from the whirlwind that was Hue, Harry stumbled along the street and ducked into the first alley he found. He twisted his Potter ring with some difficulty, due to the many bags, and portkeyed home.

This time when he arrived, it wasn’t outside the front doors, he landed on his butt, in his bedroom. He assumed it was because he was thinking of the room when he activated the portkey. He dumped his recent purchases on the bed and pulled out a new pair of jeans, a long-sleeved cotton shirt and a hoodie. Changing into his new clothes he immediately felt more comfortable than he ever had in Dudley’s. 

Maybe it was because he had chosen them for himself, or because they fit properly or maybe because they were so new and soft. Whatever it was, he didn’t care and he loved it. His stomach rumbled and not realising he had a smile on his face he jogged downstairs, when he reached the family dining room, Missy popped in with a plate of sandwiches and a large glass or juice. Just as he was finishing the last of his sandwiches, Tibsy appeared, wringing her hands together. 

“Are you okay Tibsy?”

“Oh yes! Tibsy is having an idea about who Harry is hiring as the new Potter head elf!” she replied.

“Oh?” asked Harry, "Who’s that?”

“He is being Tibsy’s mate, Tibsy has not seen him for a long time, but we was meeting when he used to buy groceries for his old family. But he is free now and Tibsy was thinking you could be asking him!”

Harry was surprised at the comment about house elf mates. He really didn’t know enough about them he thought, and now he was going to have seven to look after. 

“That sounds wonderful Tibsy, if you want to bring him over one day, I would love to meet your mate.”

“Oh Tibsy can be getting him now Harrysir!” she said with a grin and popped away.

Harry laughed to himself, he had a thought to explore the house, but before he could act on that impulse Tibsy was already back, but this time with a very familiar looking house-elf. 

“Hi Dobby,” Harry said with a smile.

“Oh, the great Harry Potter! Dobby is not realising you is being Tibsy’s master! Dobby is so happy to think you might be wanting him, Sir!” Dobby said in his squeaky voice.

“I thought you were working at Hogwarts, Dobby?” asked Harry.

“Dobby is sir, but Dobby is still a free elf and can accept a bond to a wizarding family if he chooses, Harry Potter!”

Harry thought it over for a moment, he did like the elf and he had thought about asking Dobby anyway, besides this way he could order Dobby to talk to Harry if he thought he was in danger instead of just bewitching bludgers. 

“Dobby, would you like to be my house-elf? To be the head of the Potter elves? They tell me they don’t want the position,” Harry asked the excitable elf.

“Oh yes please, Harry Potter sir! It is being Dobby’s greatest wish to work with Tibsy and to serve you. Dobby is not knowing how to achieve this before but now Dobby’s dream is coming true!” Dobby cried, tears leaking out of his tennis-ball eyes.

“Right, so can I just ask, if you do this are you still a free elf? Will I be taking that away from you?” Harry asked.

“You is not taking anything, Harry Potter!” Dobby said a little angrily, “Dobby is giving it! And giving it gladly!” Dobby replied beaming a huge smile on his little face.

Harry ducked his head, blushing slightly, "Right, er... well let’s get on with it then. I’m not really sure how this is supposed to go…”

“Just hold out your hands and be repeating after Tibsy, Tibsy be telling you the words!” squeaked the small female elf, she too was smiling.

Harry did as he was told and soon found himself repeating the phrases Tibsy told him too, “I, Lord Harry James Potter, accept the house-elf known as Dobby into the Potter Family, to serve faithfully for the rest of his days.”

There was a humming of magic when Dobby swore to do just that and then a golden glow surrounded the little elf. Harry watched as Dobby was lifted into the air and his eyes closed. After a few minutes of floating, Dobby was softly placed back on the ground, but he wouldn’t wake. 

Harry, worried about his little friend, turned quickly to Tibsy, “What’s happening to him? Is he okay? Is this normal?”

“Oh yes! The Potter Family magic is giving Dobby all the Potter family knowledge, the family tree, the manor, the other elves, the land and the other Potter properties. It is being a day or more before he wakes up.” Replied Tibsy, who even though she sounded sure and calm, was fidgeting horribly. She was obviously worried about him.

“Okay then,” Harry replied, thinking quickly, “Tibsy, take Dobby to where he will be staying. I want you to stay with him until he wakes up. You make sure you send someone to me if Dobby needs anything okay?”

Tibsy started nodding and placed a hand on Dobby’s shoulder, “But Harrysir, Tibsy was supposed to be showing you to Master Charlus today.”

Harry waved her off, “Tibsy, I’m sure that Bosto or Losto can show me around as well as you do. Off you go,” he said with a small smile at the house-elf. 

She smiled back and thanked Harry profusely before popping away with Dobby.

Right, Harry thought, that was different. Calling for Bosto he asked the elf to show him around the house. 

“Of course Harry Sir! Bosto can be showing you everything! What would Sir like to see first?”

“Um, I don’t really mind Bosto, but could we leave Lord Charlus’ portrait for last? I’d like to talk to him later.” Harry replied.

“Of course, if you is coming this way Bosto be showing you around!” the house elf set off with Harry trailing behind him. 

Bosto showed Harry around the Potter mansion. It took them almost half an hour just to view the ground floor. It had contained the dining room and family room, there was the receiving room with the floo. Harry was told this was the guest floo and that there was a family floo in the library. There was a ballroom, which Harry didn’t have any intention of using, a music room lay just off that. There was a pool room complete with a sauna and steam room, Harry figured it would be a great spot to exercise when it was too cold to fly. A living room with comfortable couches had windows that looked over a large lawn area. 

Rolling hills of the national park could be seen far off in the distance. All of the rooms actually held large windows that were designed to make the most of the spectacular views. The ballroom, for example, opened out onto a large stone terrace and into a beautiful rose garden. The sheer beauty of the room stunned Harry into silence as Bosto chatted away about various rooms and their uses.

He pointed put different heirlooms and paintings, cloakrooms, storerooms and hidden passageways and introduced him to various family members as they passed their portraits in the halls. The ground floor tour ended with what Harry knew would be Hermione’s favourite room. Though he imagined he would spend a lot of time in there as well. The library was massive, it actually spanned two floors. Both floors had floor to ceiling bookshelves, though not all were full of books, some held pieces of art and other various items. The first floor had comfortable couches up one end, near a fireplace so large. Hagrid could walk out of it comfortably. Well, perhaps not Hagrid, but certainly a full grown man.

There were a few tables with squashy looking chairs that Harry thought would be quite nice to do his homework on, thick carpet covered the floor and the place had an amazingly comfortable feel. There was a circular staircase leading up to the second balcony and there were bookcases as well shelves that reached the ceiling. There was also a nice sitting area in front of the tall stained windows. Bosto led Harry up the staircase. Bosto pointed out the main doors to the library as well as the second smaller one. 

“That door,” he told Harry, "That door is leading to the Lord’s study. There is being two entrances to that room. This being one and the other being in the hallway.”

Bosto led Harry into the second-floor hall then. He pointed the door out that led to the study, it was across from Harry’s room. Bosto pointed to this one next. 

"Of course this is being the Master suite where you is living and then we have more bedrooms, another living room, and the ladies drawing room on this floor, as well as two other rooms for such purposes.” 

He then led Harry down the hallway and showed him the appropriate rooms. Harry realised that drawing room, did not mean an artists room, rather it was a comfortable looking room with a desk and couches made for relaxing. It was decorated in a softer, more feminine style than the rest of the house. There were a few bookshelves and a few paintings in this room. There was one portrait of a man and a woman. Harry, forgetting for a moment about magical portraits, asked who they were. 

“They is being Lord & Lady Fawley, they is being your grandmother Lady Mia’s parents. This was her room and she had their portrait being hung in here when they is dying.” Harry walked up to the portrait gazing at intently, trying to see what, if any resemblance, they had to him.

“Well now, lad,” boomed the man in the painting Harry took a step back, shocked at the volume the man possessed, even for a portrait, "Who are you? Too skinny to be James.” He said, peering at Harry closely.

“Too young to be James, dear,” answered the woman, looking at Harry curiously, "Though he looks an awful lot like him.”

“I’m- I’m Harry,” he replied, “I’m James and Lily’s, son.”

“Oh, that’s delightful! I’m so glad they got around to having children, what did you say your name was again, dear?” the woman asked angling her ear towards him.

“Harry, Harry James Potter.”

“Oh, lovely! Named for your great, great, great grandfather then?” she surmised.

“I don’t know ma’am, they died before they could tell me,” Harry told her.

“Oh my dear boy, I’m so sorry. Well, let me introduce ourselves, this is my husband Hector Fawley – he was Minister of Magic you know,“ she said proudly, "And my name is Anna, we are your grandmother's parents, that would make us your maternal great-grandparents.” She said with a smile, "My dear, who are you here with now? You don’t look as if you are of age yet?” she asked.

Harry shook his head, "Technically I’m not ma’am, but I’ve been emancipated since I took up my Lordship early and even more so now I guess because I’m stuck in some sort of betrothal contract.” Anna gasped.

“Betrothal contract my boy? How’s that now? I wouldn’t believe that James would do such a thing, nor do I think Lily would let him. She was a feisty one,” said Hector in his exuberant way.

“It wasn’t my parents, it was my great-grandfather Charlus apparently, I haven’t spoken to him yet,” Harry told them.

Anna drew herself up and Harry blinked wide-eyed as she resettled her ample bosom and then her hat, “Well! We will just see about this! Follow us, dear! I’m going to have words with Charlus! And oh no, Hector! They will not be nice ones!”

“Calm down love, no need to get in a tizzy,” Hector said jovially.

“A tizzy?! A TIZZY?! Charlus has gone and gotten OUR great-grandson involved in some, in some, business deal!” she said the last two words as if she were describing something disgusting that she had stepped in. “Now come, let us see what he has to say for himself!” She marched off in a huff, her robes snapping behind her.

Hector sighed, and looked sympathetically at a speechless Harry, "I’ve found it’s best to do as she says, Harry, my lad. Especially when she gets like this, her and Charlus never got on at the best of times. Made for several very awkward family dinners. Come on, they’ll be in the Lord's study.” 

Harry nodded unsurely and made his way out of the room. Bosto following along behind him.

Chapter Text

A few days later found Harry hovering in the sky above the extensive Potter grounds, lazily stretched out on his broom. He had just finished getting his daily exercise and as he looked out over the rolling views and changing colours of nature that summer brought, he snorted at the hardship this was. He could feel the sweat rolling down his back now though, from the drills he’d been running.

He’d found a few books on Quidditch in the library and had wanted to try out a few of the moves. Feeling the sun on his skin was nice too, he had started flying without his shirt the last few sessions as he usually sweat them through and this way, the wind just dried him off instead of being all sticky and wet.

Looking at how high the sun was overhead he sighed, he needed to get back down to the house to greet his guest. Even though his grandparents had all assured him that his guest would be late, Harry didn’t want to risk it, and besides, he would need to take a shower. Pointing the broom back towards the Quidditch pitch (he still couldn’t believe he has his own Quidditch pitch!) he made his way back down to the ground. As he put his broom away in the shed and walked back up to the house, he thought back over what had happened the first time he had walked into what was now his study.

His great-grandfather Charlus and his great-grandmother Anna had been yelling at each other in an incomprehensible way, insults and curses flew, though their painted wands did nothing.

Harry had just stood and stared at them all until Bosto had tugged on his shirt. Bosto had pointed out the chair behind the desk and Harry had understood what Bosto was trying to tell him. He’d taken a seat and told them all, quite loudly, to shut up. It had been pretty funny really.

They’d all looked at him rather affronted until he explained that he was Lord Potter while they weren’t and that everything that had happened was affecting him and not them and could someone please just tell him what was going on? He had demanded that Charlus tell him what he had been thinking when he had signed the contract, he’d gotten an answer of sorts and surprisingly his great-grandmother Dorea nee Black had supported the contract, though when pushed for an answer all she would say was that she had her reasons and no-one would be ready to believe her yet. It had been quite a frustrating conversation for Harry and he had blown up a few of the vases in the room.

Thankfully, due to magic, he was able to quickly set them to rights. The days after had been spent learning about his heritage and what that entailed as well as what Harry thought was a crash course in snobbish wizarding customs. He had to admit though, the skills would probably come in handy later. Harry had barely spent a minute doing anything else, the only reason he’d been able to go flying was that it was Healer mandated, otherwise he was sure he would have spent all of his waking hours in what he was now starting to think of as his study. Learning from the portraits what he could, he had even been taking his meals at his desk as he poured over family histories and etiquette books.  

Stripping off the remainder of his clothes as he showered, he wondered how this afternoons meeting would go. He hoped he would survive it.

 


 

Earlier that morning, Lord Heathcliff Parkinson was at the dining table having breakfast with his daughter and son, when a house elf interrupted them. The elf handed him today’s Prophet as well as a letter. He raised one eyebrow at the letter, he hadn’t been expecting any correspondence today. Flipping the letter over to look at the seal he saw it wasn’t one from a family he recognised, though it had a familiar feel to it. Pursing his lips he used his knife to open it as Pansy took the paper from him. He took the letter out and read it as he sipped the remainder of his morning coffee. He was only allowed one cup a day now, so he always made the most of it.

Dear Lord Parkinson,

I know in these uncertain times it is difficult to know who to trust, so I have no problem with you testing this letter for the truth in my words. Should you present yourself at my home today no harm will befall you at my property.

I would not normally ask something like this of a stranger, but it has been brought to my attention that we have some rather pressing family business to discuss. I cannot say more on parchment. If today at 1 pm does not suit please let me know as I am at your leisure. The floo address is Prongs Palace.

Sincere Regards

Lord Peverell

Heathcliff’s eyebrows had risen quite high as he read and reread the letter. Pulling out his wand he cast a few charms and spells as the writer had suggested. The parchment held no lies and the name rang the last bell about the seal. But who was Lord Peverell? Hadn’t the family died out? He racked his brain trying to figure out who this mysterious person was.

“Father?” came his daughter's voice, concern showing through “Father, is everything okay? Pansy asked, a delicate fold between her eyebrows showing him her worry.

“Hmm? Oh yes, just a rather unexpected and intriguing letter. It seems I have a meeting this afternoon. I’m unsure how long I will be..” he trailed off looking at the seal again.

“It’s not..” Pansy hesitated, looking at her younger brother “it’s not, you know?”

“No, my dear, no it’s not. Rather, a new player I imagine, here see for yourself,” he handed her the letter. He always liked to see how Pansy’s mind worked. She was shrewd and very interpretive. He had raised her this way after all, to notice everything, to be aware of her surroundings and others at all times. She was a woman, in Slytherin, she needed all the cunning he could drum into her head. She had made him so proud these last few years. But he worried about his eldest daughter still, he wasn’t sure that anyone besides himself and his son knew the real Pansy.

She chewed her lip as she only did in private before she answered, “the letter seems to be written by someone attempting formal writing. They are new to either being a Lord or to writing formally at the least. See here where they say ‘no problem’? It should really be ‘I would not take issue’. Yet they say ‘should you present’ which is formal.” She sat back in her chair as she looked it over some more, “I’ve never heard of the Peverell family though Papa, who are they?”

“They were a very, very old family. The last I heard was that they had died out, many, many generations ago. The Peverell family is older than even the founders.” Pansy let out a small gasp, “you remember the story of The Three Brothers and Death?”

“That’s my favourite one!” interrupted Aster excitedly, glad to be knowing something about what his father and older sister were talking about. Sometimes they talked about the most boring things or in codes, and they never talked about his favourite stories!

Heathcliff chuckled, “yes I know, Aster,” looking back at Pansy, he waited for her to acknowledge the story, when she nodded he continued, “well the Peverells were one of the families that were speculated to actually own the artefacts.”

“Are you telling me that the Elder Wand, Death’s Cloak of Invisibility and the Resurrection Stone actually exist?” Pansy asked with a hint of disbelief even as her mouth curved into a smile.

He chuckled again, “no my dear, it’s a fairytale, after all, I’m merely illustrating how old the family is, that they were alive when stories like that were being written.”

She nodded again, “are you going to go and meet this Lord Peverell? It could be a hoax.”

“I considered that, but the parchment tells the truth, even if it is a hoax, I will not come to harm this afternoon. It does mention family business, it would not be prudent to ignore this. If it is as you say, then I suspect I will be home rather early and we can go to Diagon Alley as planned. Otherwise, we will have to put the trip off until another day.”

Pansy huffed softly but said nothing. The disappointment was evident in the set of her shoulders though. Aster had started complaining because he really wanted to go to Fortescue's and get an ice-cream. “Aster, we can have the elves makes us some ice-cream if Papa isn’t home in time okay?” said Pansy with a smile for her little brother. He was an adorable boy, nearly eight years old and already wishing to be at Hogwarts, he was growing up so fast Pansy thought. “It’s okay Father, on the chance that it is important then you really do need to go. Though if it’s a hoax and you miss our shopping trip you have to buy me three new pairs of shoes and five books of my choosing.” She warned with a warm smile, as she stood. “If you don’t mind though Papa, I have some summer reading to get started on.”

Heathcliff grabbed her hand as she passed and tugged her down for a brief hug. She was becoming more and like her mother every day it seemed. He couldn’t be prouder of his darling girl. He hoped that her future husband would see in her what he got to see every day. Though that day was likely very far in the future, not something he needed to be thinking of now. Little did he know what the afternoon would bring.

 


 

Harry was waiting in the receiving room for his guest, the cuckoo clock had just chimed half past one. Though Harry wasn’t worried, he was told to expect that his guest would be late, apparently one didn’t arrive on time to a summons, lest they look sycophantic or weak, his Great-Grandmother Dorea assured him of that as she was a Slytherin. He turned a page in the book he had been reading, it was a rather interesting book on Defence.

Dobby already had orders to take the book to his bedroom when he put it down to greet his guest. Dobby was turning out to be a godsend. He was so helpful and anticipated nearly all of Harry’s needs and thoughts, Harry thought in a few years he probably wouldn’t even need to ask Dobby for anything, that they would end up with some sort of, almost telepathic knowledge.

Harry glanced out the window for what must have been the dozenth time today and the thousandth over the last couple. He had sent Hedwig with a letter to Remus and the werewolf had yet to appear, what made him worried was that Hedwig hadn’t returned yet. Biting his lip he turned back to his book.

He smirked a little when he heard the floo blaze a few minutes later. He marked his place and put the book on the small table by the chair he was sitting in. Standing he checked his appearance one last time. He had glamoured himself again like he had the day he went into London. He didn’t want to give away all his secrets at once, plus, it would be more fun this way, he had to live up to the Marauder name somehow.

He watched with a bit of jealousy as Lord Parkinson stepped easily out of the floo. Harry was beginning to hate nearly all forms of wizarding travel. His apparition with Dumbledore earlier that summer, to convince Slughorn to come back to school, had him convinced he didn’t want his license, portkeys were dizzying and made him feel like he was going to hurl, floo’s were dirty and he always fell or stumbled, and the knight bus was surely someone’s idea of a joke.

Stepping forward he held out his hand, “Lord Parkinson, thank you for coming. I hope you’re well?” Harry asked.

“Very well thank you, Lord Peverell, I do apologise for my late arrival, had I had more warning I would have been able to make the appointed time,” Heathcliff replied formally.

Harry smirked openly, “nonsense, you’re right on time, you didn’t really think I would expect you at one? Truthfully you early, I fully expected you to be another half an hour to make me sweat and all,” he replied jovially as he led the older Lord through the manor to the library. He had thought they would be more comfortable there, plus the mini-tour and library were more intimidating than just the receiving room by itself, Harry’s Grandfather Fleamont had said so.

Heathcliff wasn’t sure how to take this young man, he was obviously well aware of what he was doing and yet unaffected by the difference in age and station between them. Parkinson was an Ancient and Most Noble family and yet the young man hadn’t shown him any more respect or awe than was strictly necessary for his rank. Heathcliff wasn’t sure whether to be rankled or refreshed.

Heathcliff sat in the wing-backed chair the young man indicated, they were situated by a large window that overlooked the property, he could see rolling hills of green and the vast purple of heather in bloom. It was a beautiful sight and he could see why the young man had picked it. A tea service was promptly set up by a house elf who kept its back to Heathcliff so he was unable to glimpse the family crest upon its clothes.

“I guess you’re wondering why I asked you here, you don’t know me and I’m guessing as far as you’re aware you don’t know what business our families could possibly have together, otherwise you would have approached me before now. Before we get into anything though, I need to ask you to swear an oath that whatever we speak about today does not leave this room. Unless of course, we both agree, I have.. secrets to keep that you will need to see to believe.” Harry said as he prepared a cup of tea for himself and his guest, gesturing to the sugar and milk and getting a head shake in return.

He waited for Lord Parkinson to come to a decision, “and if I refuse?” the older man asked.

Harry shrugged, “then we part ways today and when school returns in September, I approach your daughter with the same conditions, though this time, you would be out of the loop. I hoped to be able to do this the proper way as it would encourage a better relationship between us. For what it’s worth I am sorry, but they aren’t just my secrets and I can’t risk my safety and the safety of others I care about.”  

Heathcliff turned this over in his mind as he inspected the well-dressed young man in front of him. He was wearing tailored trousers and a button shirt under a charcoal coloured cashmere jumper. After a few more moments to see if he could make the young man uncomfortable he gave in. The lad hadn’t even twitched an eyelid at his most intimidating stare! Slowly pulling his wand from his sleeve he said, “I, Lord Heathcliff Lindon Parkinson, vow to keep the contents of what I discuss here today a secret between myself and the Lord Peverell, until I am released from this vow, unless it would mean harm would come to my family because of this silence.” He ended the spell and put his wand away, “you are not the only one concerned with others safety, Lord Peverell, that is the best I can do, take it or leave it.”

Harry grinned at him, “oh that will be fine and now you’ll see why it was necessary,” pulling his own wand out he pointed it at himself first and dispelled the glamours, holding his wand aloft as he pushed his fringe aside to show his scar he spoke, and watched as Lord Parkinson’s eyes went wider and wider, “I, Lord Harry James Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin, promise to keep discussions between myself and Lord Heathcliff Lindon Parkinson secret unless agreed upon or until released from this vow,” he put his wand away, “and please, it’s just Harry.”

He waited as the shock faded from Lord Parkinson’s face and he recollected himself, “w ell Lord Potter you have my silence and more importantly, my attention, so perhaps you best explain those names, I hardly see how you came by them all.”

Harry nodded and recounted briefly his excursion to Gringotts the other day. He told Lord Parkinson that he had become emancipated, though not how, and how that had allowed him the Lordships. As he showed him the rings he explained the inheritance test. He did not tell him about the vaults and especially not what he had found there or the fact that he had, essentially, run away from those he was supposed to be spending the summer with and that no-one had any idea where he was. When he had finished his tale, he waited for the older Lord to speak.

Lord Parkinson sat quietly for a few minutes thinking over Harry’s story before asking, “why I am here then? I fail to see how the Parkinson family comes into this.”

Though Heathcliff was starting to become impressed with the boy, not once had he shown a hint of arrogance or superiority, even though he was probably now, the most politically powerful (and quite possibly the wealthiest) Lord there was.

“Dobby,” Harry called, the elf popping up at his elbow, “would you please fetch those papers for me please?”

“Of course Harry, Sir!” exclaimed Dobby, as popped away again, “right away!”

Heathcliff furrowed his brow at the sight of Dobby, “I know that elf,” he said, “but I've never been to the Potter residence before, how is that?”

“Perhaps you recognise him from the Malfoy one?” Harry asked slightly bemused “I did sort of set him free from them in my second year.”

“You freed Lucius Malfoy’s house elf?” Heathcliff asked incredulously.

Harry shrugged, “Lucius Malfoy and I have a bit of a history, and he was an arse to Dobby.”

Heathcliff’s lips tried to twitch into a smile at the young man’s words, “why do I feel like there is a rather interesting story there?”

Harry smirked back, “because there is, though, we probably don’t have time for it now.”

At that moment Dobby came back and handed Harry the betrothal contract. Harry quickly skimmed the parchmentwork to make sure it was all there and then handed it to Heathcliff, “my Account Manager gave this to me at the end of our meeting, this is how my coming into my Potter Lordship affects House Parkinson, take your time, I don’t mind,” Harry poured them another cup of tea and settled back in his chair placing one ankle on his other knee in a relaxed gesture.

With a raised eyebrow, Lord Parkinson took the papers from Harry and started perusing them. When he was finished he reread them a second time. Sighing heavily he took a sip of his tea which he noted had been thoughtfully placed under a warming charm by Harry, further proof of his emancipation. “And you think this means you and my daughter?”

Harry inclined his head, “that is the Goblins and my understanding yes. If any of our ancestors had been able to fulfil this I would be calling you Uncle. Or had they refused, you and I would not have our magic. So obviously the contract is still active. Your daughter and I fall within the parameters set out. I don’t see another way of interpreting it.”

“I could interpret this as a false document to try and trick my daughter into marrying you,” Heathcliff said bluntly, needling the boy to gauge his reaction.

Harry inclined his head again “you could but there are a few reasons as to why it’s not, one: I will allow you the time and resources you need to ensure this document is real. You can even speak to Charlus’s portrait if you like. Two:” he said making a disgusted face as he said this next bit, “I’m ‘Harry Potter’ ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ or whatever other bloody hyphenated name they’ve come up with lately, do you really think I would need to trick someone into marrying me? Three: If I had done something like that why would I pick your daughter? I don’t mean any offense, but we hardly have a relationship let alone a good one, and I don’t need the power or prestige of the Parkinson name,” he smiled humourlessly at the other Lord then, “so tell me, what do I gain from tricking you, and her, into this?”

Lord Parkinson was silent for a moment, wanting to needle Harry a little more he returned, “a pretty wife from a pureblood family?”

Harry snorted, “if I wanted a trophy wife, then why not choose one with an… easier temperament and one I already get along with?”

It was Heathcliff’s turn to chuckle “you make a good case. To be honest I do believe you, that this is true, it is certainly my Grandfathers signature and the fussy coot had one that was near impossible to forge. That’s not to say I won’t be following this up with my own portraits and Account Manager though. I’d like to know how this slipped by me and my father as well.”

“That’s a copy if you would like to hold onto it Lord Parkinson,” Harry told him.

“I think, this being what it is,” Heathcliff said holding up the paperwork, “and that it seems likely you’re to become my son-in-law, you should call me Heathcliff, Harry.” Harry nodded to him, “now I would like to spend this afternoon getting to know you a little better and I would like to know what you think of my daughter and what your intentions are going forward. I can see it on you, that this contract doesn’t please you?”

Harry winced, he thought he had hidden it rather well, obviously not. Dropping all pretence he spoke, “look I’m not going to sit here and pretend like all my dreams just came true. The fact is I have.. very rarely gotten to make any real decisions on my own. My future career, to some extent, is planned out already, especially now with these Lordships. My schooling, where I spend my holidays, has all, previously, been decided for me. I thought that dating, marriage, would at least be the one big thing I would get to choose for myself.” Harry took a deep breath of Gryffindor courage before continuing. “Your daughter… well, let’s just say that we don’t exactly have a positive relationship. I have a rather annoying rivalry with Draco Malfoy and as Pansy associates with him.. there have been crossover insults between her and my friends. Not to mention the whole Gryffindor/Slytherin feud. I would like to hope, in light of this contract, and that as she is a Slytherin, she has only shown me one side of herself and that I don’t know the real her, but..” Harry shrugged at this point letting his sentence trail off.

Heathcliff nodded and sipped the last of his tea. “I can understand what you are saying. I will say that the Pansy I know at home is different to the one she shows at school. I will let her elaborate on that though. What outcome are you hoping for today’s meeting? You could have just owled me the contract? Or gotten the Goblins to inform me?”

Harry shifted a little in his seat,“I could have,” he agreed, “but it seemed.. cowardly to do it that way, even if the Hat wanted me in Slytherin, I am still a Gryffindor,” Harry said with a smirk. Heathcliff blinked in surprise, “you can share that tidbit with Pansy if you like,” Harry said, “I’m hoping, that you might consent to let Pansy come here during the day for some of the summer. I would like to try and get to know her and be on, well, at least a civil basis, with her before school returns. Please, know that I would never take advantage of her and should you wish to send one of your elves or someone as an escort I would be happy to accommodate, so long as they also took a secrecy oath.”

Heathcliff pondered this, looking the boy over with a critical eye, he prided himself on being a good judge of character, he felt he could trust the boy not to do anything untoward with his daughter. Besides Pansy had an emergency portkey. “There are many who would take advantage of such a situation, what makes you say otherwise?” he asked.

Harry made a face like he was going to be sick. “Other than the fact that forcing such ‘ affection ’ on somebody makes me feel physically ill and that I consider people like you just described to be disgusting. Well, the muggles have a saying, I’m not sure if it made it into the wizarding world? ‘a happy wife equals a happy life’. Sir, thanks to our relatives I am to spend the rest of my life with your daughter, I would like it to be as happy as possible. Besides I would prefer to keep all of my bits intact.” He smiled at his future father-in-law to share the joke. He was pleased when what he said was taken as it was intended.

“Harry, I think you and I are going to get along quite well,” Heathcliff said chuckling lightly, “and though I haven’t heard that saying before, I must agree with it. I will consent to Pansy spending her days here, I will add though, that a family dinner is added once a week and lunch together on Sundays. I would like to get to know you as well.”

Harry thought it over, it would be for the best he thought, besides he was starting to rather like the man in front of him. “As long as I can host, I have no problem with that. It’s not that I don’t trust you with my safety but you never know when someone might pop by unannounced. I have found myself at fates mercy too many times before and it would be better not to tempt her” Harry said.

Heathcliff nodded, he could be happy with that, the rest of their afternoon was spent talking about how Harry performed at school and their views on different political matters. Harry was surprised to find they shared many of the same opinions, though when they differed, they each argued their case in a friendly way. Harry had conceded twice when he found out he didn’t know enough about some subjects but he had also won Heathcliff around to Harry’s views on werewolves in the workforce.

He had taken Heathcliff on a tour of the house as well as some of the grounds. Harry was explaining to Heathcliff the intricate and powerful wards that were on the property as well as the house as he led him back to the floo, the wards had been there since the very first Peverells and had been added to by every generation as well as Godric Gryffindor himself. They were some of the strongest wards in Britain, stronger than even Gringotts and Hogwarts, the topic had come about when Heathcliff had tentatively asked about Voldemort and how safe they would be here. “I’m sorry to ask this Harry, but if this place is so strong… your parents?”

Harry’s face suddenly saddened, “these wards would hold against a veritable army for a long time. Long enough to either call for help or to get away and that’s just the boundary wards. The only thing better than these wards is a fidelus charm. My parents trusted the wrong person,” he said voice morose but steely.

“Ah… Sirius Black,” Heathcliff said knowingly.

Harry shook his head, “no, he wasn’t their Secret Keeper, it was Peter Pettigrew. Peter framed Sirius, killed those muggles and went into hiding. He’s with Voldemort now. He helped to resurrect him.”

They were back in the receiving room now, standing in front of the floo “Harry… I..”

Harry held up a hand to stop him from going further “I know what you’re going to say, but I can’t go into more detail right now. It is far too long a story to tell. I do have a request though?” He asked meeting Heathcliff’s eyes. At the nod he continued, “would you.. would you please give this to Pansy?” he said holding out a letter, “I suspect she will be rather upset with you, and with me when you tell her about all this but perhaps more so when you don’t give her my name.”

Heathcliff sighed as he took the letter “of course, though I don’t understand why you won’t let me tell her. I’m not sure I like it,” he said reproachfully.

Harry managed to look chagrined, rubbing the back of his neck he replied, “it’s just like I said, we don’t have the best relationship at school and I would rather her come here tomorrow with a somewhat open mind, rather than an already set headspace and opinion.”

Heathcliff nodded, “I can understand that I think, though I would warn you she is likely to be quite angry.”

Harry grinned, “oh of that I have no doubt, but I can work with anger, I can’t work with indifference or the inability to listen. Plus, I’m a seeker, I’m pretty good at dodging.” Heathcliff chuckled again, he liked this young man, he would be good for Pansy. With that startling thought, he never thought anyone would be good enough for his darling girl, he stepped into the floo.

Harry flopped down into a seat. It had only been a few hours but it had been exhausting, and it had gone much better than he had even dared to hope. Now all he could do was hope tomorrow would go as smoothly. As he started up the stairs to the study he couldn’t help but think he’d used all his luck up today.

 


 

Pansy was pacing by the floo. She had known her father might be late when he hadn’t come back from his mystery meeting within an hour. But now it was getting way past the time when he should have been home. Finally, the floo came to life and she rounded on him as he stepped out. “Father, where have you been? Are you okay? I’ve been so worried!” she cried.

Her father pulled her into a hug and pressed a kiss to her forehead “I’m sorry darling, yes I’m fine, the meeting was.. interesting.. well not the meeting as such, more the man himself.”

“Oh?” asked Pansy “can you tell me about it?”

He winced slightly “why don’t we go sit down?” he asked as he led her to the lounge room. Pansy’s eyes narrowed, this couldn’t be good she thought. “Where’s your brother?” her father asked.

“He’s outside with Todly, trying to catch moths in the garden,” Pansy said as she sat down on the lounge. “Now, what’s this about Father? What has you so worried? It’s… It’s not about him is it?”

“No, my dear, it’s not. I hesitate because I don’t think you’re going to be very happy with what I’m about to tell you.”

Pansy raised her eyebrow at him “why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” She said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

Her father sighed and sat down next to her, “there isn’t a lot I can tell you about this afternoon, I was sworn to a secrecy spell for most of it,” taking a breath he told her about what his Grandfather Linden had done.

Pansy sat there with her mouth open, staring at her father. She couldn’t believe it! He had to be joking surely? “You are joking aren’t you? Please tell me you’re joking.” He shook his head, opening his mouth to speak, she raised a hand to silence him as she stood up and paced to the window. “You can’t break it?” she asked not looking at him. She knew he couldn’t otherwise he would have already. But she needed to hear him say it.

“No, if it’s broken, not only you and he but the next three generations of your children will lose their magic,” he told her sadly.

She gasped as she spun around “you can’t be serious? That’s barbaric! Who would write something like that?”

Heathcliff grimaced, “apparently it was Grandfather Linden’s idea, he was.. a paranoid man.”

Pansy bit her lip and looked away “who is it?” she asked softly, envisioning some older man that she would now have to… ugh. She couldn’t finish that thought, she wasn’t ready for that.

Her father’s tone was apologetic as he replied, “I can’t tell you that, I’m sorry.” She gaped at him again. “It was one of the things I was sworn to secrecy about. But you’ll find out tomorrow when you go to see him.”

“What do you mean you can’t tell me his name?” Pansy cried “you’ve spent the whole afternoon with him and you can’t tell me anything about him?”

“Darling, I told you I swore a secrecy oath. I had to swear it before I found out anything about this, it was very cunning of him actually,” Heathcliff said thoughtfully.

Pansy huffed “is he a Slytherin then?” she asked, folding her arms back across her chest.

“Not exactly,” her father replied.

“Not exactly? Not exactly?! What does that even mean? You either are or you aren’t,” Pansy exclaimed fed up with her father’s evasive and non-answers.

“Pansy, please come and sit back down, I will answer any questions that I can, I promise. He was apparently supposed to be sorted into Slytherin but he asked the hat not to put him there. He was sorted into..” his voice stuck and he changed what he was about to say, “another house instead.”

“You can’t even tell me what house he is in?” She asked surprised and intrigued in spite of herself, why would someone fight the sorting? “Wait, is he even in a house now? Does he still go to Hogwarts? How old is he?”

“Yes he’s in a house now, yes he goes to Hogwarts and he’s.. within a five year age gap, as specified by the betrothal contract,” Heathcliff replied.

“What can you tell me about the contract?” Pansy asked.

“Only that it was your Great-Grandfather Linden who signed for the Parkinson’s, I can’t tell you the other signatory. There are the age specification and the break clause. That’s all I can say for now. I’ll be able to tell you more tomorrow, I suspect.”

Rolling her eyes she asked another question “what else can you tell me about him?

“Not much my dear, I can tell you he’s handsome, strong-willed, he has a sense of humour and he is willing to put aside your history in favour of a fresh start. Apparently, you haven’t got on at school previously.”

Pansy thought over her interactions with the other students at the school. Her school persona was very different from her private one. Being in Slytherin meant she had had to say and do a lot of things she didn’t agree with so that she wasn’t ostracised within her house and.. even though she hated to admit it so that she could stay safe. There were those in her house who had been beaten within an inch of their lives because they were classified as muggle sympathisers or ‘blood traitors’.

Suddenly she was worried, would this person, who was going to become her husband, be able to understand that? If they were a muggleborn or came from a family that openly sympathised with muggleborns she wouldn’t be able to have a public relationship with them. Well, not if she wanted a pain free school existence. They weren’t a Slytherin, they wouldn’t know what it was like to live with people who would hate you for being who you were.

“Do you think..” she said softly looking down, “do you think he hates me?”

“Oh honey no. No, I don’t think he hates you. He doesn’t know you. He admitted that much to me.” Heathcliff said as he hugged his daughter. Pansy hugged him back for a moment before standing up.

“I think, I think I’m going to go to bed early, Papa. What time is he expecting me tomorrow?” Pansy asked hesitantly.

“I told him you would be there at ten in the morning. This isn’t one of the occasions where you can be late either my dear,” she nodded as she started to walk off, “a moment Pansy, I have something for you,” she turned her father, he was holding out a letter to her. She swallowed thickly as she realised who it must be from, she took it from him and turning on her heel, quickly fled to her room.

 


 

Pansy sat in her window seat looking out across the night sky. Todly had brought her a cup of tea which had long since gone cold as she stared out the window.  The letter her father had given her sat unopened in front of her. She wasn’t sure she wanted to read it. She didn’t know what to think of this situation, well she knew what to think, but she wasn’t sure how she felt about it all. Disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to date, anger at her great-grandfather for forcing her into this. Resentment towards this unknown person, who wouldn’t let her father even tell her who he was. Huffing out a breath she took up the sealed envelope. Running her fingertips over the untidy scrawl of her name she slid one manicured finger underneath the seal and prised it open. Holding her breath she began to read:

 

Dear Pansy,

By now your father has probably told you about this contract between our families and I guess this must come as a shock to you, it did to me. I didn’t realise that such a thing was possible in this day and age. I don’t know how you feel about this but I’ll tell you what I felt, once the shock had worn off and it really sank in, I’m ashamed to say I was pretty mad and I broke a few things.

(great, Pansy thought, her husband to be had a temper)

I t wasn’t so much about you, as much as it was about being yet another choice being taken away from me. Until this point in my life, I have not had a lot of control over what I do. I explained this to your father as well, I had thought that marriage, (perhaps not the wedding itself) but at least, choosing the person who I would spend the rest of my life with, was something I would get to decide for myself.

I guess I should explain to you why I don’t want you to know who I am right away, it’s basically because you and I have not gotten along well at school, your friends and mine clash a lot, as well as the whole House rivalry thing. I was hoping that maybe you could come tomorrow with an open mind? I sort of think if you didn’t spend all night going over what you think you know about me, then we might have a better chance of being open with each other tomorrow.

I hope I’m right in thinking that the girl I think I know, is really someone else hidden beneath a mask. I know something about that myself. There are very few people who actually know the real me and not what is made up or portrayed about me.

So that’s my idea:  a fresh start from tomorrow, getting to know each other away from the pressures of our school houses, societal expectations and the opinions of other people. I hope that maybe, one day, we could at least become friends.

Sincerely

Lord Peverell

 

When Pansy got to the end of the letter she reread it, trying to pick out information that might lead to the identity of whoever this Lord Peverell was. It confused her that they didn’t know marriage contracts, sure they weren’t common anymore but all purebloods were raised knowing about them. Peverell was supposed to be a pureblood family her dad said. Did it squib out and they forgot about magic, and everything that went along with it, until this person came along? They must have been raised a muggle at least Pansy thought. The bit about control over their life didn’t really narrow it down any further for her though. Lots of kids came from strict families and had obligations and expectations to live up to.

She empathised with the bit about wanting to choose for herself though. Drumming her fingers on her thigh, she kept going, the bit about their friends and House rivalry had her betting it was a Gryffindor, Slytherin didn’t really feud with the other houses, though she and the others did often trade insults with other students and the majority of the school hated Slytherin, so even though the odds were good it was a Gryffindor she couldn’t be certain.

Sighing heavily as she reclined against the pillows, she thought about what he said about masks and people not knowing the real you. Could she really be that lucky to find someone who might actually understand? She snorted, if they were an uncultured Gryffindor, then no.

She got up and went to change for bed, pausing as she reached for her nightgown she thought perhaps that’s what he meant about open-mindedness. She was ready to write him off as stupid and idiotic because he might be a Gryffindor. Sighing again she decided to put aside her prejudices for tomorrow and see what it brought. She would give him a chance, getting under the covers she hoped he wouldn’t blow it.

Chapter Text

Pansy woke the next morning with her stomach in knots. Getting up and going through her usual motions in the bathroom. She stepped out of the steamy shower, wrapped a towel around her bosom and twisted her long locks into another. Pacing into her closet, her fingers walked along clothes hangers until she had selected an outfit. Placing it on the bed she returned to the closet to pull out a matching set of lace undergarments. Pulling on the skimpy set, she sat in front of her mirror and pulling her hair down she cast the drying charm on it. She spent some time styling it to fall in artful waves around her face before applying some light makeup.

Once she was satisfied with her appearance in the mirror she picked up a pair of high heeled Mary-Janes and proceeded to her bedroom to get dressed. She pulled on her fitted charcoal skirt and buttoned the silken, short-sleeved, aubergine shirt. Looking in the mirror she cast a charm on the shirt so the buttons wouldn’t pop open at an inappropriate moment and checked her appearance. She hoped that by showing up in her favourite muggle outfit, it would give her husband to be a better impression of her than the one they usually got at school. Plus, it did do wonders to show off her physique.

She folded the letter, grabbed her wand and placed them, along with her lip colour into her pocket before heading out of her room towards the breakfast parlour. Entering the room to find her father and brother waiting for her she paused for only a moment before taking her usual seat at the table. Smiling at her little brother and nodding to her father she began to tuck into her morning meal.

The house elves had prepared her favourite today, heavily salted, fresh grown tomatoes on toast with lightly spread creamed cheese. She could feel her father watching her as she ate but she made no motion of noticing him. She couldn’t help it, even though she knew it wasn’t his fault she was still a little mad at him for this whole situation she now found herself in. “Pansy,” her father started to say, “I know this may come across as a stupid question but, how are you this morning? Is there anything I can do?”

She narrowed her eyes at her father as she swallowed the last bite of her breakfast, “I’m not sure, Father, is there?” she said scathingly. Her father opened his mouth to say something but Aster beat him to it.

“Are you angry at Papa, Pansy?” he asked with his small forehead creased in confusion, he hadn’t heard his big sister and his Papa fighting.

Pansy sighed heavily and looked at her little brother, “No, Aster, no I’m not really. I’ve found out something that I don’t like and I was taking my anger out on Father, I should not have done that.” Turning back to her father she said, “I’m sorry Papa, that was rude of me. I know this isn’t your fault but I am still upset about this and as the source of my ire is not here, I took it out on you. It was wrong, please forgive me.” She asked him sincerely.

Heathcliff smiled at his daughter, “of course Pansy,” he took her hand and kissed her fingers, “I understand and thank you, for apologising. Just remember that the source of your anger is not the Lord Peverell either. Keep that in mind when you see him today.” Pansy pulled a face but nodded seriously when she saw the look her father gave her.

“Who’s Lord Pe.. Peve.. Peviril?” Aster asked as he took a sip of his juice, spilling some down his shirt.

Pansy shared a glance with her father as she summoned a napkin to clean her messy little brother, she took her father’s silence to answer Aster’s question. “Someone that I hope will become a friend to me.” She avoided going into too much detail as Aster wasn’t really old enough to understand and it would likely bore him anyway.

“Oh!” he said excitedly, “can he be my friend too?”

Heathcliff smiled indulgently at his son, “we shall see, we are going to be having dinner with him soon. You can meet him then.”

“We are?” asked Pansy.

Heathcliff nodded, “when he asked to get to know you better, I told him that I wanted to do the same, in addition to you going to the Peverell Mansion over the summer we agreed that we would have weekly dinners and Sunday lunch together as a family. This boy, he will be family one day, I’d rather him not be a stranger.”

Pansy bit her lip and sipped the last of her tea. Looking at the clock she saw it was almost time to go. She stood, hugged her father and tried to kiss Aster on the cheek. Aster ducked her, protesting that kisses were icky and he was too old for such things. Smiling she mussed his hair instead. Straightening her blouse she walked to the floo and taking a deep breath, called out the strange address and stepped through.

 


 

Harry was pacing nervously on the veranda that wrapped around the back and sides of the manor. He was waiting for Pansy to arrive.

He had asked Tibsy to greet Pansy and lead her out here to the chairs and table that he had set up to overlook the rose garden. He hoped that perhaps some beautiful scenery might put her more at ease, or at least a little less cold. He really had no idea what he was going to do or say. He supposed he would take her on a tour of the manor and the estate at some point, and Missy had been in the kitchen all morning preparing lunch and snacks.

But what the hell was he supposed to talk about with someone who he had never given a second thought too, let alone any nice first thoughts? At least he would get to see Ron and Hermione tonight, Remus had finally received his letter this morning and written back.

Harry had told Hedwig not to deliver the letter unless Remus was completely alone and he had apparently always been in the company of someone the last few days. As tonight was the full moon, Remus wouldn’t be able to come to see Harry himself, but he was planning to send Ron and Hermione through. Harry had mixed feelings about seeing his friends. He hoped they would be understanding of everything he had discovered and not jealous or disapproving of his decisions. Running his hands through his hair for the umpteenth time he let out a noisy sigh. Leaning on the bannister that ran around the edge of the veranda, he tried to gather his wayward thoughts.

Starting slightly at the pop from Dobby, he was told that Pansy had arrived, he nodded and swallowed thickly. Brushing his hair with his hands to try and tame it a little and straightening his clothes he leaned back on the railing and tried not to look as nervous and hopeless as he felt. He watched the door and saw Tibsy come out and point to him. Holding a small breath he waited as Pansy stepped outside a little hesitantly.

She was wearing a very well fitted outfit, Harry saw, a purple top and a grey skirt that showed off some very generous curves that her robes normally kept hidden. Her hair was down from its usual ponytail and fell in long soft waves down her back. He was surprised to see her in Muggle clothes, but as a teenaged boy, he certainly appreciated the stunning picture she made.

She looked around and stepped in his direction, he saw the exact moment that she recognised him. Her eyes went wide, her mouth opened into a little ‘o’ shape and she drew up short with a gasped “ Potter?

He inclined his head towards her and gave a small bow as his grandmother Mia had taught him. Rising up to look at her, he was now grateful for the few etiquette lessons that the female portraits and the house-elves had drummed into him over the last couple of days, at least he had something to say, “Good Morning, Miss Parkinson, I was hoping you might join me for some refreshment?”

Pansy blinked at the manners Harry was portraying, she hadn’t expected him of all people and certainly did not expect him to be able to display any sort of refinery. His manners were a little rough to be sure, but she was still surprised and pleased, to know that he had them all the same. She nodded slowly and walked towards him taking a seat in the chair he had indicated. Crossing her legs at the ankle as she had been taught, she ran cool, assessing eyes over the Gryffindor in front of her. Feeling slightly vindicated that one of her assumptions about the letter he had written had turned out correct.

Harry was nervous, he really didn’t know what to expect now. He had half expected her to either turn around and walk out, or start yelling at him or that she would draw her wand and start hexing him. While he had hoped neither of those things would happen, he hadn’t really planned for her to just come and sit with him. Which was stupid of him really, if he was capable of acting like an adult sometimes, surely she was as well.

“Er- Tea?” he asked as he sat down.

“Please,” Pansy replied after a moment, “one sugar.”

He nodded and busied himself with the pot for a few moments. He handed her a cup and saucer, secretly pleased his hands weren’t shaking under her sharp gaze and settled himself back in his chair with his own cup between his hands.

Taking a hasty sip before he spoke, “look, I realise that.. all this, is a surprise to you, it was a surprise to me as well. I’m not really sure what we are supposed to do or should do. To be honest I haven’t really thought very much beyond seeing your father and then you. So I’ll take your lead, for now, ask me anything, I’ll try to be as open with you as I can but.. it doesn’t really come naturally to me. I also won’t ask you for a secrecy oath like I did with your father,” at her raised eyebrow he looked into his teacup and explained, “even though you and I are being forced into.. this,” he had trouble saying the word marriage out loud, “I’d like to be able to have a civil relationship with you, maybe we could even be friends, I don’t know, but what I do know that we can’t really have a real relationship of any sort if we can’t trust each other, I’d like to see if we can,” Harry said in a bit of a rush. He looked up to see surprise flit across her face.

Pansy was surprised since she had sat down she had expected Potter to be demanding and brash. Instead, he made her a cup of tea and said he would let her dictate the conversation, he wanted to be friends . She sipped her tea to try and gather her thoughts a little, it was an excellent blend, “can I see the contract?” she asked. Potter seemed to deflate a little before nodding, he summoned a house-elf and sent it for the contract.

When Dobby came back, Harry thanked him and handed it to her, “I thought you would want to see it, so I had a copy made, that one is for you to keep if you want.”

She nodded at his thoughtfulness and quickly scanned the parchment seeing the clauses her father had spoken of, it hadn’t really seemed real until she read it for herself. She swallowed thickly and rolling it back up, slipped it into her pocket. She took her teacup back up and she asked about how Harry had found out about the contract.

Harry nodded having expected that question too, “well, it started with a trip to Gringotts, the Goblin at the desk informed me that my Account Manager wanted to speak with me. I didn’t even know I had an Account Manager so when I did sit down with him, it turned out we had quite a lot to talk about. He told me about my being the Heir of the Potter Family and as my godfather emancipated me he helped me to take up my Lordships. Because of those we had a lot of stuff to go through, I also saw a Goblin Healer, hence the no glasses,” Harry said waving a hand at his face, “when it was nearing the time for me to leave, Blunttooth pulled out the betrothal contract, he told me that it would need to be enacted between us.”

Pansy was frowning, there were so many questions she now had because of the answer Harry had just given her, setting her teacup down she replied, “wait, Potter, what do you mean you didn’t know you were the Heir? And Lordships? As in plural? Why did your godfather emancipate you?”

Harry sighed and rubbed his face, resting his chin on his hand he wondered how to answer her without having to tell her everything, “well I grew up with my muggle family, they didn’t know anything about me being a Lord, or at least if they did, they never spoke about it. Yes, I have more than one Lordship and my godfather emancipated me for a few reasons, the first being because he died.”

Pansy was still confused why didn’t his godfather tell Harry about this? She put the question to Harry. Harry looked away for a moment, mouth set in a firm line, just when she thought he wasn’t going to answer him he started to speak, “because my godfather was Sirius Black, I didn’t even know he existed until our third year and after that, well, it’s pretty hard to have a long, detailed conversation with someone who is on the run.” Harry said in a tone that implied he didn’t want to speak any more on the subject. Pansy supposed that was because the man was responsible for Potter’s parent’s deaths.

Sitting back, she was at a bit of a loss at what to say and she certainly didn’t feel comfortable talking about herself, but those were the very next words out of Potters mouth, “look, I’ve done most of the talking here, I have no idea what it is your thinking, or feeling and I don’t really fancy making an arse of myself. So could you tell me what’s on your mind? Did you get my letter?”

She sighed and shifted in her seat, “yes I got your letter, as informative as it was,” she said arching an eyebrow at him, he at least had the grace to look sheepish.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that, but I thought this might go better if you didn’t come in here with a closed mind about me. I know we don’t exactly get along, but I was hoping that maybe..”

“Yes, yes,” she interrupted, “you want to be friends .”

“Is that so much to ask in this situation we have found ourselves in?” Harry retorted, his anger starting to rise a little.

Pansy stared at him for a long minute before replying, “no, it’s not. I know there is a lot more that you could be demanding of me instead.”

Harry made a face at that, “please, don’t tell me you think I would actually..”

“no,” she said interrupting him again “you’re too much the noble Gryffindor for that, though Father said you were almost a Slytherin?” she asked, interested in spite of herself.

“I’ll tell you that story if you answer my original question,” Harry smirked, “did you think I didn’t notice how you didn’t answer me?”

The corner of her mouth rose, well Potter did have a little Slytherin in him after all, “fine Potter, I am not happy with this, situation , as you call it, I was quite upset last night when I learned of it. I was worried at first that I was going to be married off to some crusty old man, I was relieved when I found out about the age clause, angry you wouldn’t let me know who you were, even if I can understand your reasoning. Annoyed that I’ll never go on a date, mad at my great-grandfather for getting us into this mess and worried about who you were and what my life is going to be like from now on. I had my own plans for my future and now who’s to say I’ll ever be able to accomplish that? I’m going to be the pretty, pureblood wife for the rest of my life.” She sighed and finished her tea, setting her cup down on the table.

Harry blinked a few times, taking in everything she had said, “look, Parkinson, not to say that you aren’t pretty or pureblooded, but I don’t want to- to trap you in some marriage or outdated role, if you want a career then you can have one. I don’t want to be the kind of hus- man, who dictates what you can and can’t do with your life.” She looked him in the eye and saw the sincerity there, Harry continued when she dipped her head in acknowledgement, “as to what your life is going to be like? I can’t say I know for sure, but I know that I at least would like to be happy, I hope that you could be as well, I know that I’ll try not to make you miserable on purpose at least,” he said with a small grin, inviting her to smile with him.

Pansy pursed her lips and looked him over, he was quite handsome, especially now that he didn’t need glasses. He was sincere in what he had been saying so far and he was loyal to his friends she knew, the fact that he didn’t seem to want a trophy wife earned him a point in her book. “Okay, I won’t make you miserable on purpose either,” she said with her own smirk, “though I won’t promise to not hex you occasionally if you annoy me, Potter.”

Harry smirked back, “a wife’s prerogative I suppose, just remember I can give as good as I get, Parkinson.” Pansy smiled a little inside at the remark, perhaps they might even be able to have some fun, Potter seemed to have a sense of humour at least.

“Well, you owe me a story and perhaps-” she trailed off and at Harrys questioning noise, she continued, “perhaps we should use each other’s first names, after all, if this is going to work and we are going to try and be friends, don’t you think that would be best?”

Harry nodded in agreement, “that and every time you call me Potter, I want to throw up a shield,” replied Harry with another smirk, one which Pansy returned, “well, Pansy ,” he said “it all started my first time going into Diagon Alley, I’d only just found out that magic was real and Hagrid took me shopping for school supplies, he was the first person that was ever really nice to me, he brought me, Hedwig,” Harry said smiling at that memory, “anyway, I was in Madam Malkins and there was this other boy, he was my age and really stuck up, kept going on about the ‘wrong sort’ and how they shouldn’t be allowed in, how he hoped he was in Slytherin because he’d leave if he got put into Hufflepuff, he made me feel really stupid because I had no idea what he was talking about and he was bragging that his dad was off looking at racing brooms and how it was unfair first years weren’t allowed them, that’s when he started asking me about Quidditch and what team I supported.” Harry took another sip of tea, “Then he saw Hagrid and started making fun of him. At that point I was glad that just then, his robes were done because he left to go find his parents.” Harry paused and took a breath, “the next time I met him was on the train, I was sitting with Ron, and I was really happy because Ron was the first friend I’d ever had. I thought he was brilliant because his mum cared enough to make him a homemade lunch and he had this huge family who all loved each other and were really nice, I’d met his mum on the platform before and she helped me get to Platform 9 ¾, and the twins helped me with my trunk. Plus, Ron was really nice and didn’t make me feel bad about not knowing anything and he spent most of the train ride answering all my questions. Ron told me that Slytherin was the house Voldemort was in and most bad wizards are Slytherins. That was about the time the door opened and the boy I met in the shop was standing there. He bullied Ron, saying some families are better than others and he seemed to only want to get to know me only because I was the ‘Boy-Who-Lived’ so I told him to bugger off,” Harry looked at Pansy and saw her trying to figure out who it was “anyway, we get to the sorting and this boy got sorted into Slytherin almost instantly, I didn’t really fancy the idea of spending my school life sharing a dorm with a bully so when it was my turn I just kept chanting over and over ‘not Slytherin, not Slytherin’ the Hat told me I could be great in Slytherin, but it put me in Gryffindor instead,” Harry finished and waited for Pansy to speak.

“It was Draco, wasn’t it?” she asked after a moment of silence to absorb his story. Harry jerked his head in acknowledgement. He hadn’t wanted to have this conversation yet if they could help it but now, here it was, much sooner than he would have liked.

Pansy sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, “I suppose this is going to be a point of contention with us, isn’t it, Pot- Harry?” he looked at her, “our friends?”

Biting his lip Harry answered, “how about we agree to not say anything bad about them? I mean, just because I’m friends with Ron & Hermione, doesn’t mean you need to be, though I suppose it would be good if we could make an effort to at least be civil to them? I won’t antagonise Malfoy if you can do the same?”

Pansy nodded “look, Harry, something I need to tell you, I don’t hate Weasley and Granger, though Weasley’s table manners are disgusting and that’s not being mean, that’s just pointing out a fact.” Harry lifted one side of his mouth to show he wasn’t mad, “I actually respect Granger, it’s not easy to ascertain the amount of knowledge she has, she has also calmed down quite bit from when we first started school. I think that perhaps given time, we could be friendly at least.” She sighed and flipping her hair over her shoulder she looked out over the garden, speaking in a lower voice so that Harry had to lean forward a little to listen, “it is not.. easy, to be a Slytherin, especially these days. There is a lot of things you need to do and say to not draw ire or the,” she paused for a moment, “wrong attention, in our House. A lot of what I have said to you and your friends over the years is a part of that role I need to play. I am sorry for all of the things I have said or done to you and in the interest of our.. burgeoning relationship, I will make apologies to your friends as well. Privately.” She said in a tone that brooked no argument.

Harry bobbed his head, “that would probably be a good idea, and er.. I’m sorry too, for anything I’ve said to you. Erm, do you want me to..?”

She arched an eyebrow at him, “apologise to Draco? Would you mean it?” she asked.

Harry shrugged, “no, probably not, not for my past behaviour anyway,” he said, “we’ve both given as good as we’ve gotten. I can give my word on a truce, though he probably hates me even more, now that his dads in Azkaban because of me.”

Pansy nodded, looking down, “I won’t betray his confidences Harry, but he may be more open to that than you think.” Harry looked at her curiously but she wouldn’t elaborate, “another big thing we should talk about,” she said hesitantly, “You-Know-Who?” Harry could hear the quiver of fear in her voice. Harry looked at her steadily trying to guess what it was she was really asking him. She went on when he stayed silent, “look you don’t have to tell me anything really, but he’s after you, whether or not that rubbish of a paper is printing truth or lies.”

Harry narrowed his eyes at her, “and how do you know that?” he asked voice growing cold in anger.

Pansy glared back at him, “I am a Slytherin, Harry, and whether you like it or not, I have ways of getting information.”

“Got some Death Eater buddies do you?” Harry asked acidly.

Pansy shot him a nasty look as she replied, “whether I do or not is besides the point, I’m not going to join them, if you must know, it’s also because he has been extorting money from my father since the beginning of last year and told him that if he was to ever get information on you he was to pass it on if he wanted to live!”

Harry deflated immediately at that, quickly reflecting he apologised, “I’m sorry, Park.. Pansy, I said I wouldn’t let prejudice get in the way, or our past, and it’s barely been half an hour before that went pear-shaped. I didn’t know he was extorting people, is your family okay?” he asked honestly worried.

Pansy looked at him with a critical eye, wondering if he was going to blow up again. Crossing her arms and pursing her lips she answered with a huff, “my father is quite good at hiding money, the Dark Lord doesn’t really know how much we are worth so he hasn’t asked for more than we can give without too much thought. There are other families who aren’t so lucky though. The Greengrass’s and Zabini’s for instance, the Boot’s for another.”

“Boot, as in Terry Boot?” Harry asked surprised.

Pansy nodded, “he threatens anyone he thinks won’t fight back against him, tells them that they are protected as long as they cough up.”

Harry’s face became hard and he pushed himself out of his chair. Pacing he ran a hand through his hair. “No wonder Terry pushed himself so hard in the DA last year,” he muttered aloud. Flinging himself back into his chair he looked at Pansy, he could see the worry in her eyes. “What is it? What has you so scared?”

“You,” she replied honestly.

Harry sputtered, “I would never hurt you,” he started to say, she held up a hand to cut him off.

“I don’t think you would hurt me Potter, but I’m worried about who would because of you. Are you planning on announcing this? Telling all your friends? I’m worried about my safety and that of my family. I’ve worked too hard since first year to make sure I am as safe as I can be from him and his fanatics.”

Harry frowned again, “so what, you’re saying that all the crap you spout about muggles and muggleborns is all just an act?”

“Harry, you have no idea what it is like in Slytherin, and I’m not going to enlighten your delicate sensibilities but yes, it’s mostly all an act. Are you going to answer my questions?”

Turning her questions over in his mind and what she had said about her safety, Harry thought it wouldn’t be the smart thing to tell everyone about her. Not just yet anyway, “no, you’re right, if everyone knew it would be a disaster. Not only would it be all over the Prophet, it would make you a target and there are too many knives in the dark at the moment, I couldn’t protect you from them all and isn’t that part of my new job description as your.. betrothed?” he said trying to lighten the heavy mood a little.

She smirked at him, feeling grateful for what he was trying to do, “yes, along with opening doors and pulling out my chair etc.” she replied.

He smirked back, before turning a little serious again, “I’m not going to hide it from my closest friends though, Ron, Hermione, and Remus too. They need to know and they won’t say anything, is there anyone you want to know?”

Pansy sighed as she thought it over, “if you’re sure, Harry, then I suppose I should trust your judgement of them, and no, at least, not right now. If someone needs to know I’ll discuss it with you first if I can, or make you aware as soon as possible after the fact.”

Harry nodded, taking a breath he cast a tempus seeing that they had an hour before lunch he asked her if she wanted a tour of the manor before they ate. “Why not Harry, show me where I’m going to live one day.”

Harry blushed and his grandmother's words ringing in his ears, held out his arm to her. Pansy raised an eyebrow but said nothing as she placed her hand in the crook of his elbow. He led her back inside and showed her around the ground floor, he introduced her to the elves that they saw along the way. Reaching the library, he paused when he felt her stop. Looking at her he saw the awe in her eyes as she took in the beautiful room. He smiled inwardly, it seemed he was right in hoping she wasn’t the same girl as she was at Hogwarts, sure she was still sharp and quick to retaliate but he had seen a very different girl today. Perhaps this was Pansy, and not Parkinson he thought. Pushing away his thoughts he gently tugged her further into the room. She followed this time, though he could see it wasn’t consciously. He led her up the stairs and kept her balance as she continued to gaze around the room. He came to a stop at one of the balconies that overlooked the entirety of the library.

“So, I guess you like the library then,” he said in a teasing voice.

She smacked him lightly on the bicep with her free hand, “yes Potter, this room is spectacular, I can see myself being quite comfortable in here,” she said not looking at him, she had ducked her head so that her hair hid the side of her face, but Harry thought he could detect a faint blush. Grinning to himself at her behaviour, he started walking to the doors that led to the second-floor hallway.

“That’s my study,” he said pointing to it, “the portraits of my grandparents and great-grandparents are in there. And er..” he stammered and blushed as he paused in front of his doors.

Pansy looked at him and seemed to figure it out, “the master bedroom?” she asked.

He nodded and pulled away from her, “I, um, er.. I mean to say, that you don’t have to, I mean any room on this floor is yours if you want to stay anytime, I’m in there but if you want, I can swap, I don’t mind..”

Pansy laughed at his discomfort, it wasn’t a malicious laugh, it was a light and teasing tone, Harry was momentarily stunned at how nice it was and how pretty it made her look, she stepped forward and he tensed wondering what she was going to do. She slipped her hand back into his arm and spoke with that same lightness, “I’m not going to kick you out of your own room. How about, for now, I take my pick of the other rooms and we revisit this conversation later?”

Harry sighed gratefully and nodded quickly, “much later, okay um.. well..” he walked her down the halls showing her the various rooms, they were all fitted much the same. Large bedrooms, with walk-in wardrobes and plush ensuites. Pansy ended up picking the room next to Harry’s, she said she liked the view best. Harry just nodded and told her she could decorate it however she wanted and he would never come in uninvited. It was her own personal space. He called Tibsy then.

Pansy recognised the elf that had shown her through the house when she first got here. “Pansy, this is Tibsy, Tibsy this is Pansy, my betrothed.” Pansy greeted the little elf pleasantly and Tibsy beamed up at her, “Pansy, Tibsy is the Lady Potter’s elf, that means, well, she’s your personal elf,” he said trying to stop his cheeks from going red.

“It is so nice to be meeting you, Mistress Pansy! Anything you be needing please just be letting Tibsy know! Tibsy is so happy to be able to be of service once again!”

“Tibsy,” Harry continued, “this room is going to be Pansy’s do you think..”

“Oh, of course, Master Harry! Tibsy be freshening the room right away!” she exclaimed popping away suddenly and then reappearing with a large vase of freshly cut flowers. She was soon busy arranging them and bustling about the room. Harry smiled and shook his head indulgently.

“Come on, there’s more to see,” he told Pansy.

“She’s quite exuberant,” remarked Pansy as they walked along the hallway.

“They all are,” replied Harry with a fond smile, they soon approached the ladies drawing room and Harry told Pansy the same thing as he had said in her bedroom, to decorate any way she chose too. Pansy was impressed with the room and the view it afforded of the gardens below.

Harry led her up to the third floor, where there were more guest rooms and other versatile rooms like the music room. There was also a small circular stairwell that led to the large owlery. Harry had been surprised to find out the Potters kept many owls. They actually bred their own, and Nubto had quite a large parliament of the beautiful birds. Pansy was particularly enthralled with a smaller northern hawk owl. Harry thought it was quite mean looking, but it cuddled up to Pansy immediately and tried to preen her hair. Nubto was clapping his hands in glee “he is liking you very much, Miss! Nubto was worried he wouldn’t take to anyone, Nubto is happy to be wrong!” Pansy smiled and handed the little owl back to Nubto.

“Well, I’m glad then,” she said smiling at the owl. She turned to Harry, “so is this the end of the tour?” she asked.

Harry shrugged, “if you want it to be,” they walked back down the stairs and Harry pointed out another set, “those go up to the fourth floor, which is mainly storage rooms and the house-elf quarters, there is also the basement floor, with a large fully stocked potions lab, wine cellar, duelling room and a few other things.”

She mused over that for a moment before asking another question, “your house-elves have their own quarters?”

Harry looked at her sharply as the descended back to the ground floor, “yes, the Potters have always treated their house-elves like family, I intend to do no different,” he said in a tone that told Pansy she had better as well.

She held up her hands to placate him, “the Parkinsons are not dissimilar, we aren’t like some other families who treat their elves little better than dirt.” Harry had stopped and was now assessing her words as he looked at her. Finally, he nodded and led her into the family dining room, smirking a little as he pulled out a chair for her. She returned it with one of her own, recalling her earlier words to him.

Missy appeared placing bowls of soup in front of them. They ate in silence, both deep in thought as they did. Unaware the other was doing the same, they snuck glances at each other, trying to assess what to do and say next. When Missy whisked away their bowls, they had a few minutes before the next course. Pansy took the opportunity to ask about Harry’s Lordships. “So you mentioned multiple Lordships? Potter and Peverell?”

Harry nodded, “those aren’t the only ones,” he said with a grin. Pansy blinked at him shocked, two Lordships was uncommon and any more than that was unheard of!

“How many? Who?” she pressed him.

Harry was silent for a moment before catching her eyes with his, “can I trust you, Pansy?” he asked seriously.

She was about to say ‘of course’ blithely before his tone really registered. She bit her lip and thought about it, was she really willing to keep his secrets? She weighed up her options, she could say yes and lie, he would most likely find out and the rest of her life would be uncomfortable at the least, and he would never trust her fully again. She could say no, and he wouldn’t tell her anything, she could stay safely in the dark. But was she really safe in the dark? If anyone found out about her being his betrothed they would take her and torture her regardless if she knew anything or not. Better to know where to look for enemies than not know where they came from. Which left her with saying yes and meaning it, keeping his secrets because she wanted to. She would have the knowledge to protect herself and it would sate her curiosity, the added bonus would be a better rapport between them. Not taking her eyes from his, she nodded slowly and said, “yes. Yes, you can.”

Harry watched as Pansy thought over his question, he could see that she was giving the answer serious thought. He found himself grateful for that and was pleased when she said yes. Smiling at her, he placed his right hand on the table and dispelled the invisibility glamours over the rings.

She gasped a little and leaned forward to look at them more closely, he held his ring finger off the table, “Potter,” he said, indicating the ring, she nodded. Putting down his ring finger he held up the middle one, “Black,” she looked at him sharply, moving onto his pointer finger he said, “Peverell,” she nodded and started to lean back, he smirked at her and put his left hand on the table, dispelling those glamours he lifted his left pointer and said “Gryffindor,” she gasped again and when he raised the last finger he just said, “care to guess?”

Pansy stared at the ring in silence and awe before whispering, “no…” looking up to meet his gaze she said, “Slytherin?” Harry smirk grew wider, “but.. but how?” she stammered.

“The Potter, Peverell and Gryffindor by blood,” Harry replied sitting back in a more comfortable position, “Black, because Sirius named me his Heir, also my great-grandmother was a Black, so it’s not entirely implausible. Slytherin is a little more complicated, it’s by conquest,” he told her.

Pansy turned all that over in her head, knowing the law and history as she did, she knew that conquest meant he had to have beaten the previous Heir or Lord in mortal combat. She sat back heavily in her chair as she processed what he had told her. Merlin, Potter certainly had some secrets!

Missy popped back in with a platter of finger sandwiches and Harry’s nutrient potion, he made a face at her and she giggled before popping away again. Pansy seemed to snap out of her thoughts then and saw Harry downing the potion. She raised an eyebrow at him, wondering what it was for. Harry shrugged, “remember how I told you I saw a Goblin Healer?” Pansy nodded, “she put me on a round of nutrient potions as well,” he reached for some sandwiches hoping Pansy wouldn’t press the matter.

Pansy frowned as she watched Harry, nutrient potions weren’t given lightly, they were usually only prescribed to victims of abuse, severe malnutrition, or to mental patients who couldn’t properly look after themselves. Seeing the closed off look on Harry’s face, she knew he wouldn’t tell her if she asked now. Maybe one day he would, helping herself to the platter she cast around for a subject change. “I know that Draco had hoped to inherit the Black title when it was time.”

Harry rolled his eyes, “great, another reason for him to hate me.”

“Or perhaps a way for you to get to know him better,” she said sharply, Harry looked at her confused, “you are family now,” she pointed out.

Harry gaped at her, closing his mouth he remembered Sirius’s will and how he had said something about Narcissa and Draco then, Harry felt a little bit guilty all of a sudden as he hadn’t yet read Sirius’s letter or his parents. He just couldn’t seem to bring himself to read their last words to him. Perhaps though, perhaps he could start with Sirius’s. “What is it?” Pansy asked him, “where did you go just now?”

Harry shook his head, “sorry I just, I was remembering something from Sirius’s will, he left money for Narcissa & Draco, if they haven’t taken the Dark Mark, also he said something about dissolving their marriage if she wanted too.” He played with a bite of his sandwich before popping it in his mouth.

Pansy stared at him a moment, this could be Draco’s chance! To get out from his father’s thumb once and for all! “Are you going to try and talk to them?” she asked tentatively, she didn’t want to try and control Harry, but if she could help her friend she would be as persistent as she needed to be.

Harry looked at her as if she was crazy, “are you nuts? As if they want anything to do with me? Besides what can I do?”

She narrowed her eyes at him, did Potter not realise the amount of power he had? “Harry, do even realise what being a Lord means? What you are to them? You’re still Narcissa’s Head of House, which means you’re Draco’s too, especially now that his father is in jail. The Malfoy family is nowhere near as prestigious or powerful as the Black one, let alone all your other names. When Lucius married Narcissa it was to get the power of the Black name behind the Malfoy one, if you dissolve their marriage and make Narcissa a Black again, and Draco too, you take that away from him. You also add them back to the Black family and their accomplishments become yours, and as their Lord, you have the ability to dictate what they do or who they marry, you are responsible for them.”

Harry looked at her a little stunned at all the information before the last phrase sunk in, “no, no! I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else!” Harry exclaimed standing up, lunch was now forgotten on the table as he stalked out of the room.

Pansy watched him go, heart, sinking for her friend. She wondered what was going on with Potter, would this be a reflection on all their conversations? Would he always walk out when she said something he didn’t like? Would he even listen to her now? Huffing, she folded her arms and waited for a while to see if he would come back.

When he didn’t return within a few minutes, she made up her mind to go home, she supposed she couldn’t really expect them to be able to get along right away. Perhaps she should let him cool off for a while she got her thoughts in order for tomorrow. She passed the entrance to the library as she walked towards the receiving room, she paused. Well, it couldn’t hurt to stay a while longer and explore the gorgeous library a bit. She entered it quietly and started perusing some of the stacks. Pulling out a book she found interesting, she opened it and was soon absorbed. Absentmindedly making her way to one of the large comfy armchairs in front of the fireplace, she kicked off her shoes and curled herself onto it.

 


 

Harry was pacing in front of the large windows behind his desk, he was thinking about Sirius’s will and Pansy’s words. He had Sirius’s letter out on the desk and kept shooting glances at it as every time he turned around. Why did stuff always happen to him? Why did he have to be the one responsible for pulling Narcissa and Malfoy Jr, out of their mess? He sat down in the chair and looking darkly at the seal of the back of the letter, he slit the letter open. Unfolding the letter he started to read, hoping that Pansy was wrong and he didn’t have to do anything.

 

Pup,

Whatever the reason was for my death, you are not allowed to blame yourself for it. I’m a grown man, I make my own decisions and actions okay? Now there are quite a few things that I need to tell you, it is only recently I have come to have my suspicions and I haven’t had the time to fill you in as I should.

First: don’t trust Dumbledore, I’m not saying he is a bad man, far from it. But I think he believes his own hype too much, I think he believes that his way is the only way and he doesn’t always think of the impact his actions have on individuals.

Second: GET YOURSELF EMANCIPATED! This will take away some of the power Dumbledore has over you, again I’m not saying he is bad, but make sure you question his decisions and actions. Look for another meaning. Make your own decision;, listen to your friends and other’s advice before deciding what YOU want to do.

Third: by getting emancipated you will come into your Lordships early, you are your father's Heir, and mine. You’ll be the Lord Potter-Black and a very politically (not to mention, wealthy) man. With this, you will be able to vote on the Wizengamot, don’t be afraid they are either on Voldemort’s side or a bunch of fuddy-duddies. I know you don’t like your fame, but use it! Make them see Voldemort is back and vote against what you think is wrong and try to push through things you think are right. There are many books in the Black Library about how to be effective on the Wizengamot. Read them. I’m sorry I won’t be able to teach you what you need to know.

Fourth: Becoming a Lord means you are responsible for members of your family. I know that as a Potter there aren’t any left and I’m sorry to say that you will inherit mine. I have cast out Bellatrix from the family as she is a crazy bitch and would never listen to you as the Head of House. My cousin Andromeda though, she is a wonderful woman and her only crime was to marry a muggle. She’s Tonk’s mother, I think you would like her and Ted. Make sure you see them when you become Lord, Andromeda will be able to help you.

Narcissa is a bit of a difficult decision, growing up she was my favourite cousin, she was the youngest of the sisters and closest to me in age. We did everything together and even when I was kicked out of home, she still made time for me at school. The day she was betrothed to Malfoy she came to me crying. She didn’t want to marry him, at that stage, there was nothing I could do. Being on the run I couldn’t do anything either, so I’m asking you to do me a favour Pup, write her a letter, get her to meet you on her own. Ask her what she wants now , if she wants the marriage dissolved then please do it, bring her back into the Black family and her son too if that’s what she wants. If she has taken the Dark Mark though, it means she did so willingly, Voldemort kills those unwilling to take it and as he is a Master Legilimens, he always knows. Cast her from the family, the Narcissa I knew would never have taken it.

I am sorry to burden you with this Pup, but I’m trying to do the right thing. Give my love to Moony and tell him to hurry up and make an honest woman of Nymphadora (you’ll have to give your blessing on that by the way)

Remember this Pup, I’ll never truly leave you, I’ll always be with you and watching over you, make sure you pull a few pranks at school and be true to yourself always. Never doubt for a second that you aren’t loved.

Love Padfoot

PS: When we were little I used to call Narcissa, Daffodil, as the flowers look similar if you use it, she’ll know I truly asked you to do this.

 

There was an inky pawprint on the bottom of the parchment and Harry could now feel the tears that had been steadily rolling down his face. Scrubbing hastily at them, he folded up the letter and put it aside. Folding his arms on the table he thought over what he had to do now and his new responsibilities, he had read a couple of books over the last few days about his responsibilities as a Lord, but he didn’t take them too seriously as he thought he was the only one he needed to worry about for now. Groaning he put his head in his arms.

With Lucius in jail, it should be fairly easy for Harry to get Narcissa alone, but he wondered how exactly he was going to do it. Perhaps Pansy could help. Pansy! He thought suddenly bolting upright, he’d left her all alone, calling for Dobby he asked his elf where she was. Relieved that she hadn’t gone home, he decided to seek her out. He would need to apologise, he hoped that she wasn’t too mad at him, some first impression he was making. He asked Dobby to bring them some refreshments.

Walking through the door that joined the library he looked around for Pansy, spotting her curled in a chair by the fire he smiled a little at the relaxed picture she made. It also felt kind of nice to have someone else in the house, he had been rattling around by himself for the last few days. He took a deep breath and shoving his hands in his pockets he walked down the stairs to go stand in front of her.

When she didn’t look up at him right away, he supposed she was too entranced in her book, or wanted to make him wait for her attention, looking at the title he furrowed his brow. ‘Syllabus for the young student’ was not something he expected her to be reading or at least engrossed in. Maybe his second assumption was right and she was merely pretending to read and had just grabbed the first thing she came across.

Clearing his throat he sat down across from her. Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, he waited for her to look up. She read for a moment more, then after carefully marking her place and setting the book aside, she gazed impassively at him.

He rubbed his hand through his hair, “er.. look, Pansy, I’m sorry about running out on you before, please understand, I only found out about being a Lord a couple of days ago, I know practically nothing about what it means and now I find myself in charge of people? Fully grown and capable people? I mean, what is that about? As well as this,” he said waving a hand to indicate the two of them, “and all this,” he said waving a hand to indicate the house surrounding them, Pansy eyes narrowed slightly in confusion at that, “well I’m kind of overwhelmed and I don’t really have any idea about what I’m doing or am supposed to be doing,” he finished waiting for her to speak.

It was several long minutes before she did and Harry fought to keep from fidgeting. Finally, she sighed, “I accept your apology, Harry, I’m glad that you can at least explain yourself to me, what did you do? Go and break a few vases?” she asked alluding to what he had written his letter.

Harry winced, shook his head and sat back in his chair, “look I know I have a bit of a temper, but I would never take it out on you and I wasn’t angry with you just at this whole thing, how I am expected to do something yet again,” he replied with a heavy sigh.

“Are we having a pity party now?” Pansy asked with wry amusement, a small smile curving on her lips.

Harry looked at her and saw her smiling in amusement and not maliciously, he chuckled, “I suppose so, if you had any idea of what my life has been like you’d be agreeing with me.” He sat up as Dobby appeared with a tray of tea and mini cakes. Pouring Pansy and himself a cup of tea, remembering how she took it from the morning, he sat back in his chair again.

“So what were you doing if you weren’t breaking vases?” Pansy asked again.

“Pacing, mostly, I was in my study, I um, I read the letter Sirius left me in his will. He asked me to help Narcissa and Draco if they weren’t marked,” he took a sip of his tea.

Pansy waited to see if he would elaborate and when he didn’t she asked, “will you?”

Harry nodded, “I’d need to get a letter to Narcissa, ask her to meet me here alone. I won’t risk going somewhere to meet her. Thing is I don’t know how to get her the letter.”

Pansy considered her options, she was certain that Draco and his mother weren’t Death Eaters and Lucius Malfoy was a bastard. She was sure she would be safe in approaching them on Harry’s behalf. Draco was the only one she would consider telling about her betrothal to Harry anyway and this way she wouldn’t be jeopardising Draco’s safety by telling him. “I could pass on a message and letter, tell them I was approached by the new Lord Black and that he wants to meet with them.”

Harry looked at her sharply, “you would do that? Wouldn’t you be risking yourself? What if they are marked?”

Pansy returned his look with a serious one of her own, “I would bet my trust vault they aren’t marked, and if you don’t take risks for those you love who do you take them for?”

Harry nodded and then sat forward suddenly, “wait? Love? Are you and Draco..?” he couldn’t finish his sentence at Pansy’s sudden snort.

“Oh no, Potter, no, no, I love Draco like a brother, we are definitely not together, we would be an absolute disaster as a couple. Besides he has pined after Astoria Greengrass since our third year.”

“Astoria?” Harry asked confused, he couldn’t picture her and he thought that the Greengrass in their year was called something else.

“Yes, Daphne’s little sister, she’ll be a fourth year this year,” replied Pansy.

Aha! That was it, Daphne. Harry thought, sighing heavily as he remembered something Pansy had said before, “please tell me I don’t have to organise his wedding ,” he pleaded eyes big and round.

Pansy laughed, “no, Harry, you won’t have to organise his wedding, I’ll handle that,” she smirked and winked at him, “but you’ll have to negotiate his betrothal contract with Cyrus Greengrass.”

Harry blanched and then groaned, covering his eyes as he leant back into the chair, “tell me, why I am doing this again.”

Pansy had a simple answer for him, “because it’s the right thing to do.” Her words echoed the end of Sirius’s letter so much that Harry sat up and looked at her. After a moment he summoned Dobby for some parchment and ink and penned a letter to Narcissa, Pansy helped him with some of the wording.

Casting a drying spell, he sealed it both with wax and magically, he handed to Pansy and seeing her slightly affronted look, he explained, “I’m guessing you’re not going to tell them about the betrothal right away, I think I’m also right in thinking that any other Lord, would magically seal a letter, especially if they were having it delivered by hand, besides it’s not like you don’t know what it says.”

Pansy sighed in acquiescence, “you’re right,” she replied, looking at the clock that hung above the fireplace, it showed that it was past three. She rose to her feet, picking up the book she had been reading she asked Harry if she could borrow it. He seemed surprised but said that it was okay. “I should probably get going,” she said. “I’m actually having lunch with Draco tomorrow in a little café in Diagon Alley, I’ll owl him tonight and ask him to get his mother to join us.”

Harry nodded, he held out his arm for her again and led her to the receiving room, he really needed a better name for his rooms he thought absently, ‘the receiving room’ was so boring. They were standing in front of the floo and looking at each other, both unsure as what to do now, “well, Harry, thank you, it’s been an interesting day, to say the least,” started Pansy.

Harry snorted, “I’m just thankful we didn’t draw wands on each other,” he replied, “but, yes, thank you, Pansy. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better.”

“I’ll come over tomorrow after my outing with Draco, to let you know how it went.” Harry nodded and she stepped through the floo and was whisked away in a blur of green flame. Harry fell onto a nearby couch, wow, maybe his luck was finally turning, the day had not gone as horribly as he anticipated and there were a few times when he actually enjoyed her company. He felt the big mess of knots in his chest loosen slightly.

Chapter Text

Remus was pacing in the hall, once again cursing his inner wolf. It was the full moon tonight, and he had to lock himself up in the basement instead of going to see his cub. At least he would be able to send Ron and Hermione to Harry though, they would be able to keep him company until he himself could get there tomorrow. Remus knew Harry needed him but there was nothing he could do right now. Damn it! He cursed as he spun and punched the wall. He was never normally this volatile but so close to the change his emotions were a lot closer to the surface. Hearing a soft gasp he turned to see Harry’s two best friends standing there watching him.

“Sorry, it’s Moony,” he muttered in explanation.

The two teens nodded, relaxing at once, they came closer to him. Remus smiled a small smile, how bizarre it was, that they relaxed at one his violent outbursts caused by his wolf, instead of running away in fear like the vast majority of the wizarding population.

“What did you want to see us for, Remus?” Ron asked curiously.

“You’ve heard from Harry, haven’t you?” Hermione said hopefully.

Remus smiled at Hermione for guessing correctly, “five points to Gryffindor,” he said, causing her to blush, “yes, I’ve heard from Harry, all I know is he is alive and well, but he needs us. From the conversations I had with Sirius, before he..” Remus’s throat caught then, “before he died. If I’m correct, Harry is in a unique situation right now. He needs your support and unwavering loyalty. Now is not the time for either of you to falter, I will send you to him if you can promise me that you will stand by him and his decisions, and not get caught in petty jealousies or your own agendas.” He gave them both a stern look.

They both shifted a little on their feet and it was Ron who spoke first, “I learnt my lesson in fourth year, I won’t let Harry down again.” Remus nodded and looked at Hermione.

She opened her mouth and Remus interrupted her quietly, “Hermione, standing behind Harry now, means not standing with Dumbledore. You can’t tell anyone where Harry is or his secrets from now on.” Hermione looked appalled at those words, and Remus went on, “Harry will explain, I'm sure, but you have to promise me first, Hermione.”

She squared her shoulders and looked him in the eye, “I’m with Harry, I trust him more than Dumbledore,” she said with finality.

Remus smiled and hugged them both and whispered, “quickly use the floo, the address is ‘Prongs’s Palace’. I’ll deal with your mother, Ron.” Ron nodded gratefully and they quickly stepped into the floo, they whispered the address so they wouldn’t be overheard and were whipped away in emerald flames.

 


 

Harry was pacing by the floo, he was tired of waiting by the floo, it felt like all he had done these last two days. Suddenly he heard the roar of flames and he spun in time to see his two best friends stumble out. Crying out their names happily he ran towards them and enveloped them in a hug. “Are you two okay?” he asked as they disentangled themselves from each other, “I was worried you wouldn’t make it.”

“We’re fine Harry, Remus just wanted to talk to us before we came through. He said there was a lot going on with you at the moment?” Hermione asked worriedly, her brow furrowing.

Harry poked the wrinkle between her eyebrows, “yeah there is, there’s a lot to explain, how about we go sit somewhere comfy and I fill you in on everything?” They both nodded quickly. Harry led them into his favourite lounge room. It had a sunken floor and the couch was really like a large mattress with lots of cushions and blankets. They all settled into comfortable positions and Ron was the first to speak. “What is this place, Harry? It’s huge and really posh.”

“It’s Potter Manor,” Harry told him quietly, hoping Ron wouldn’t be jealous of his new home.

Ron suddenly understood why Remus wanted their promises, Harry had come into his Lordships early. He had always known this day would come, though he hadn’t expected it to be quite so, grand, he was still okay with it. Besides he had meant what he said to Remus, he stood by Harry now. “Mate, it’s okay, I always knew this day would come.”

“What day?” asked Hermione looking between the two of them, “what do you mean Potter Manor?”

Harry was looking at Ron in confusion, did Ron know Harry was a Lord? Why hadn’t he said anything? Actually, why hadn’t anyone said anything? Turning to answer Hermione’s question he said, “this is my family home, Hermione, this is where I would have grown up had Voldemort not been around. Ron,” Harry said looking at his redheaded best friend, “did you know? Did you know I was going to be Lord Potter?”

Ron looked at Harry with a wrinkle in his brow, “well yeah, but I was told you didn’t want anything to do with it, so I never mentioned it.”

“What?! By who?” Harry burst out.

“Mum,” Ron said, “She said that Dumbledore had told her, he had spoken to you and that you weren’t going to take up your Lordship until after you turned seventeen. Is that not what happened?”

“NO!” Harry yelled.

“Harry, calm down,” Hermione said, “look, why don’t you tell us what you’ve been doing these last few days and then we’ll go from there?”

Harry breathed out a huge sigh, “Okay, well remember the trip to Gringotts? How I went into the bank alone?” They nodded, “well I got taken to see my Account Manager, his name is Blunttooth, anyway he wanted to know why I hadn’t returned any of his owls. He has apparently been sending me owls every year and then since I turned fourteen, every quarter of a year. They were all to do with my families businesses and holdings.”

Harry pulled a face remembering all the work he had waiting for him upstairs. His grandparents had all been quite vocal about him going through and getting to know what he was now in charge of. So far Harry had been putting it off, the thought of going through one House, let alone five was daunting.

“Er, so then we read my parents and Sirius’s will. Sirius emancipated me and he told me to take up my Lordships..”

“Wait, Lordships?” Hermione interrupted.

Harry nodded, “yeah, so after the will readings, Blunttooth had me do an inheritance test.” Ron nodded, but Hermione looked confused.

“Normally Lordships are passed from father to son, Hermione,” Ron explained, “like one day, Dad will give the family ring to Bill and Bill will be the Head of the Weasley family. Most families do it that way, some with a lot of hooha, pomp and tradition others, like us, will just do a special family dinner. That’s when the ring is directly passed though, but if a Lord dies before turning over the ring over to the Heir, the rings are magically sent to Gringotts, and you have to go to Gringotts and do a heritage ritual to prove you are the next Heir.” Hermione looked at Ron a little stunned, “what?” he asked.

Harry laughed, “I think that’s the first time you’ve taught Hermione something that wasn’t Quidditch related!”

Ron looked a little affronted, he looked at Hermione, “I am a pureblood ‘Mione, just because I don’t act like Malfoy doesn’t mean I didn’t grow up learning this stuff.”

“I’m sorry Ron,” Hermione said, “it’s just you’ve never mentioned this kind of thing before, I didn’t realise.”

Ron shrugged, “it’s ‘kay, I guess I’ve never needed to before, I’m a sixth son, I don’t need to worry about any of it really. Harry, if I’d known you didn’t know anything I would’ve told you, taught you some stuff at least, I know Mum would have given you lessons every summer if she’d had known.”

Harry gave his red-haired best mate a wry smile, “thanks, Ron. So, getting back on track, apparently, the Potters have been able to hand the ring over for a lot of generations and some knowledge got lost along the way. When I did the test well,” Harry showed them his hands. Hermione immediately grabbed the closest one to her and looked at the rings, Ron was just staring open-mouthed.

“Wha..?” he said.

Harry gave a sheepish look, “it turns out that not only am I Lord Potter but as Sirius’s Heir, I’m the Lord Black too. Through the Potter line I am also Lord Gryffindor and Peverell and..” he stopped and chewed his lip for a moment, “I’m Lord Slytherin through the right of conquest,” he finished quietly. Ron sat there doing a very good impression of a stunned mullet while Hermione was still examining his rings, she’d moved onto his other hand by now.

“So this is what Remus meant by unique situation,” she murmured.

“Huh?” asked Harry ineloquently.

“Before we came here Remus said you were in a unique position, he must have meant your Lordships,” she told him.

Ron shook himself and said, “yeah but he also mentioned Sirius, he probably only knew about the Potter and Black ones, the fact that those two are both Ancient and Most Noble Houses gives Harry a lot of sway in the Wizengamot…” he trailed off for a moment eyes widening, “the two founder houses are Most Ancient and Most Noble houses, they are powerful on their own, let alone combined with all the other titles, I’m not sure about the Peverell house, I know it’s really old though.”

“Most Ancient and Noble.,” Harry told him, “though I don’t really get what all that stuff means.”

He looked at Hermione, but she bit her lip, from the look on her face it was obviously killing her that she didn’t have an answer for Harry. It was Ron who spoke up again, “well an Ancient Family can prove their bloodline for at least fifteen generations. A Most Ancient family can go back thirty, the Weasleys are a Most Ancient family,” Ron said.

Hermione gaped at Ron, “but with wizarding ages that means being able to go back to, to,” she quickly did some sums in her head, “to before the 1500’s!” she exclaimed.

Ron nodded, “yeah our family tapestry is HUGE, anyway, Noble Houses are honours that are given by the Royal family, for favours done to the crown, like helping to win a war or making an amazing contribution to wizarding society. Most Noble Houses are minor Royal bloodlines, they are actually related to the Royal Family.”

Harry was silent for a minute before whispering, “I’m related to royalty ?”

Ron shrugged and nodded. They were all quiet for a few minutes before Hermione asked what else had happened and why Harry wasn’t wearing his glasses.

“Okay, so after I got the rings, Blunttooth asked me to see a Healer, the Healer was able to correct my vision and..” Harry swallowed, unsure of how to tell even his best friends that he was housing a.piece.of Voldemort's soul, “she gave me a bunch of nutrient potions and stuff to help with the malnutrition I got from the Dursleys,” Harry told them in the end, no sense in worrying them just yet. Hermione pulled him into another hug and Ron clapped a hand on his shoulder in sympathy.

“There’s more,” he said when they all pulled back, “Dobby,” he waited for the elf to appear, “can you get the contract please?” Dobby nodded and Harry saw Hermione open her mouth to chastise him about house-elves. “Don’t start Hermione, Dobby’s girlfriend is a Potter elf and I can’t free them, okay? They are bonded to the Potter Family and they want it that way. It affects their magic and their health apparently. Talk to Tibsy about it later, she’ll explain it all to you.”

Dobby came back and with a tray of refreshments and snacks as well. He handed Harry the contract and Harry thanked him before he popped away.

Harry swallowed, “now this, this is one of the more shocking things that has happened to me and before you go down that path, it’s a magically binding contract, I can’t break it, if I do I lose my magic.” Ron and Hermione both gasped. “I know I was really angry too when I found out, but, it can’t be changed and I have to live with this, so just…” Harry didn’t finish.

He had originally thought about giving the contract to Hermione first, he didn’t think Ron would really want to read it, but in light of Ron’s mature stance tonight and his show of pureblood knowledge, maybe he would be the one who was more understanding. He handed the parchment scroll to Ron, who looked a little surprised but unravelled it and started to read. His eyes widening and his brows shooting into his hairline as reached the end.

“Bloody hell,” he said, Harry watched as Ron reread the contract, “Bloody hell,” he swore again.

“Ron, language,” Hermione chided.

“Take a look for yourself ‘Mione,” Ron said shoving the parchment at her.

Hermione straightened the scroll and quickly read it through when she got to the end she breathed, “bloody hell.”

They both looked at Harry with their mouths agape, he lifted a shoulder, “my great-grandfather and her great-grandfather made it. Neither of us knew about it, Blunttooth was the one who gave it to me. I um.. I met with her today,” he said quietly.

“WHAT?!” they both exclaimed.

Harry nodded, “I wanted to tell you guys first, but my letter took so long to reach Remus, that this happened first. Anyway, she’s really very different than she is at school. She apologised to me for everything she’s said to me, she says she wants to apologise to you guys as well.”

Hermione scoffed, but Ron looked troubled, “Harry, are you sure mate?”

Harry nodded, “yeah, she was, I dunno really, she held some stuff back but she told me that she was and.. well, we got along at least. Plus she’s going to help me with something.” At their sudden flurry of questions, Harry held up his hands and told them everything that had happened that day, as well as what Sirius’s had asked him to do with the Malfoys.  

“You trust her, Harry?” asked Ron.

Harry shrugged, “I dunno yet, but I feel like I can? I mean in my gut you know? And look, you guys weren’t here, you didn’t see her. She was different, she was wearing muggle clothes for one thing! For another, well, she doesn’t want to be trapped in a marriage either, besides they didn’t know about the contract.”

Hermione pursed her lips, “how can you know that for sure, Harry?”

Harry looked at her, “’Mione if they’d known about the contract don’t you think they would have approached me well before now? It’s magically binding, they wouldn’t want to risk it.” Hermione scrunched her nose in thought.

“So mate, what have you been doing these last few days?” Ron asked and Harry filled them in on everything he had done since he last saw them. They talked well into the night and they all fell asleep together on the overly large couch, the house-elves gently covering them all in soft blankets.

 


 

When they woke in the morning Harry took them on a tour of the house and the surrounding gardens. When Ron spied the Quidditch Pitch, Harry had to promise him they could play at least one game this summer. He led them back inside and they sat down for breakfast.

“Harry,” started Hermione once they had been served, “what was through those double doors near your room?”

Harry smirked at her, “I’m not going to tell you until after breakfast Hermione, you’ll just have to wait and see.” Hermione pouted but before she could say anything more Ron interrupted her, with his usual lack of table manners.

“So Harry, do you think we can stay here for some of the summer? It’d be so cool to do some proper flying, you said last night that there are muggle repelling wards and stuff on your land so we can’t be seen?”

Harry turned his smile on Ron, “yeah that’s right, some of my ancestors were pretty big on preserving magical creatures and that’s why there’s so much land here, as well as all the charms to keep muggles away.  Besides, I’d be hurt if you guys didn’t each pick a room to have here.”

Ron grinned, “awesome! I can pick my own room?”

Harry nodded, “yeah, you can have any of the bedrooms except mine and the one next to it.”

“Why not that one, Harry?” Hermione asked.

“Er.. well.. Pansy kind of already claimed it,” he mumbled.

“What?!” exclaimed Ron, “she’s going to be living here too?”

Harry shook his head, “no, well, at least not yet,” he amended, “uh, my grandmother told me it was the right thing to do. To offer her, her own space here. That bedroom is hers as well as the Rose Drawing Room.” Harry told them, “and she is going to be coming around fairly often. She’s coming over after lunch again today, she’s supposed to be meeting the Malfoy’s for lunch.”

“She gets two rooms?” Ron asked shocked.

“Honestly, Ronald,” Hermione chided, “Harry’s right, she should have her own space here and they are going to have to live with each other one day.” Hermione looked at Harry and gave him an encouraging smile.

“Mental, that is,” Ron muttered as he munched a piece of toast.

Hermione smacked his arm, “teaspoon Ron, teaspoon.” Ron rubbed his arm with a grimace and Hermione turned back to Harry.

“Where are you going to house the Malfoy’s, Harry? I mean if they take you up on this sanctuary offer, what are you going to do?”

“The letter will portkey them into one of the sitting rooms here. I’ve had the house-elves ward it so that they can’t get out. I’ll get them to surrender their wands and then have a talk with them I suppose. For the time being, they’ll stay here, I don’t know what state any of my other properties are in, or what the wards are like there. So I can’t in good faith send them to one of those. I suppose once I’ve had a chance to go over my asset lists properly, I’ll let them choose from that.” Harry told her.

Hermione nodded, “blimey so you’re going to be living with Malfoy? That’s rough mate,” said Ron.

Harry shrugged, “well if it goes how Sirius hoped, then they’re going to be my family, aren’t they? My bloody responsibility too,” Harry grumbled, pushing his now empty plate away.

“What do you mean responsibility, Harry?” Hermione questioned.

Ron answered her when Harry did nothing but sulk for a few minutes, “it’s a wizarding family thing, especially in the pureblood lines. Even in our family to some extent,” Ron started off, “Harry’s Lord Black, which means any Black family member ultimately answers to him. Harry has the power to cast them out of the family, has control of their wealth, he has the ability to control every aspect of their lives, from what they study at school, what hobbies they have, where they’ll live, who they’ll marry and all that stuff.” Hermione was looking at Ron aghast, “a lot of families aren’t they heavy-handed anymore. But for example, look at Neville, his grandmother forced him to use his dad’s wand and is making him take the Transfiguration NEWT even though he’s better at Charms. I heard the Patil twins have betrothal contracts waiting for them when they get out of school and Ernie MacMillian has to take over the family business even though he wants to become an architect.”

Hermione was frowning, “I never realised just how outdated some of the wizarding traditions and values are,” she replied. Looking at Harry she went on, “so what does this mean for you and the Malfoys?” Harry shrugged and looked at the table stonily, not really sure himself still.

“Well, they’ll probably have to ask Harry for pretty much everything, at least they will be to start with, the Malfoys are pretty traditional,” Ron told her scornfully. “Like if Malfoy wants to court someone, he’ll have to ask Harry first and if he or his mum wants to remarry, Harry will need to draw up the agreements.”

“Oh, Harry ,” Hermione breathed.

“Yeah,” he finally huffed, “it’s gonna suck, I don’t want to run their lives. Anyway enough of this, I want to show Hermione her favourite room.” He led them out from the dining room and took them across the manor, placing his hands on both door handles he grinned over his shoulder at Hermione, “ready?” he teased. He threw open the doors and Hermione gasped, her hands flying up to cover her mouth as she took in the huge library. Squealing with joy she hugged Harry.

“Harry! This is amazing!!” she shrieked, running into the room and spinning around in circles to take it all in. Harry sneaked a look at Ron, he was trying to hold back his laughter. Harry sniggered and Ron snorted in response, that was all it took and they could no longer contain themselves. Hermione just gave them a look that said she didn’t find them funny at all and started browsing the shelves.

 


 

Pansy was sitting in the café in Diagon Alley waiting for Draco and Narcissa to join her, she had ordered a pot of tea and was gently sipping from a cup when she spied them a few blocks down the street. Breathing out a sigh of relief that Narcissa had joined Draco, she set the cup down and stood as they joined her at the table. Draco came forward and bussed her on the cheek as he took a seat and Pansy greeted Narcissa the same way. “Good Morning, Pansy dear, I must say I was surprised when you asked me to join you two today. I was under the impression this is the type of catch-up you and Draco arrange, for when you want to complain about your parents,” Narcissa said with a knowing look at Draco. Who at least had the decency to blush and avoid eye contact with her.

Pansy smiled slyly at her, “ normally yes, but I had a sudden whim to see you , as it has been too long since I’ve spoken to you, I hope your tea is to your liking, ” she replied as she set about pouring tea for Narcissa and Draco. Slipping the shrunken letter onto Narcissa’s saucer as she handed it to her.

Draco was looking at Pansy with a critical eye, confused as to why she was stressing some of her words. Narcissa too, looked at her curiously before dropping her gaze to her cup and seeing the tiny letter there. Pansy knew she would be able to recognise the seal, even miniaturised as it was.

Narcissa’s eyes widened and she looked up at Pansy, “yes I do believe you’ve made it correctly,” she replied, “are you certain that the milk is not bad ?”

Pansy nodded, “I am sure that the milk is very good . I made certain of it myself.”

Draco realised there was something going on between them, not quite understanding what they were going on about he contributed anyway, “well I’m glad you remembered not to put milk in mine, I prefer my tea dark.”

Pansy nodded, glad that her friend had given her a natural way to say what she needed too, “I, however, am finding myself preferring light tea now. It makes a rather lovely change .” Narcissa’s eyes widened a fraction as she took in the meaning behind Pansy’s words.

“Really?” she breathed. Pansy nodded, “what convinced you to do so?”

Pansy took a sip and looking at the letter, she said, “More a who than a what. He was at one stage, very close to your family, almost a son you could say.”

Narcissa’s hand shook slightly and she set her tea down, she cast a very subtle sticking charm to the envelope and it attached itself to her finger, “well Pansy, let’s catch up, what have you been doing, what information will you offer freely and what do I need to do to get it?” Narcissa said with a teasing smile as if talking to a favoured niece.

Pansy smiled back and leant forward, flipping her hair as if she was gossiping, “well, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and decided I needed a change of scenery . As for doing anything for me Narcissa, you should know I would give you anything freely so long as you were sincere .”

Narcissa bit her lip, this was too good to be true! “ How long are you holidaying for?”

“Only a week ,” Pansy replied, “there are other things I wish to do with my holidays. Like shopping in Paris for instance,” she said excitedly.

Narcissa took a deep breath through her nose, “I am so very sorry Pansy, but I find myself short on time today. I have some business with the bank to attend to before some household errands.”

“Of course,” replied Pansy, standing as well. Draco jumping up as he realised the date was over. He was giving Pansy a confused look as she hugged him, she whispered, “don’t worry Draco, please trust me.” He kissed her cheek, which she took to mean he did.

Narcissa spoke to Pansy once more before they left, “I would have liked to have met your friend today Pansy dear. Perhaps next time?”

“I’m sure that you have everything you need, Narcissa. I’ll see you soon.” Pansy told her as she made her way to the public floos. She gave the Malfoys a quick wave and disappeared into the flames and to Harry.

 


 

Narcissa watched as Pansy disappeared, before walking as fast as she dared to Gringotts, “come Draco, we need to move quickly.”

Draco hurried to walk beside her, taking her arm as he should, “Mother, I don’t understand, what were you and Pansy talking about?”

“Not here, Draco, wait, please,” Narcissa whispered. Entering Gringotts she asked for a private room. They showed her through to a warded meeting room and once the door was closed, she uncharmed the letter so that it grew to its original size. Seeing the seal in its full glory and knowing at once it was not a fake, Narcissa hurried to open it.

“Mother, that’s the Black family crest.” Draco pointed out, “where did Pansy get a letter with the Black crest?”

“Hush, please, just let me read it and then I’m sure I’ll be able to explain,” she reprimanded him. Draco fell silent with a mulish frown.

Opening the last fold of the letter she sank into a chair as she caught the signature,

Sincerely,
Lord of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black

Clutching a hand to her chest in earnest, she began to read.

 

Dear Daffodil,

I realise you have no cause to believe the authenticity of this letter, I hope my messenger was able to convince you of my intent.  

I will tell you this was not originally my idea, and that I am instead honouring the late Lord Black’s wishes.

Should you wish to seek what I am offering this letter will act as a portkey for one week. You only need to speak the word for which you are named and you will be taken somewhere you will be safe. This letter will only carry two people, one of whom must be underage. Bear in mind that it will not carry any cattle.

Sincerely,
Lord of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black

 

Narcissa had tears in her eyes by the end of the letter, one hand over her mouth to hold back a few dry sobs. Draco was instantly worried about his mother, hurrying to her side to wrap her in a hug. “Mother, please, what is it? What could have you this upset?” Never had he seen her this shaken before, not once during his life, even when his father had been at his most cruel and sadistic, she had never shed a tear, never cracked her mask. She hugged him back tightly.

“Oh, Draco, it’s the most wonderful news, we are being given the chance to be free of your father and free of the madman he calls Lord.”

“I don’t understand,” Draco said, pulling back slightly so he could look at her.

“Someone has taken the position of Lord Black, I had wondered if my cousin had taken it, and this letter proves it. He named an Heir, the one I always thought he would and they are offering us sanctuary. They will dissolve the marriage between myself and Lucius and give us the Black name, we will be Malfoys no longer,” she said happily.

Draco looked at her worried, “but, Mother, what about the Dark Lord? If we leave.. will we be safe?”

She cupped his cheek, “I can’t promise you that, Darling, but we are not safe at Malfoy Manor as it is. Without your father present, there is no-one to step in front of his wrath for us. I will tell you this, I never supported the Dark Lord, I only did so as Lucius’ wife, I would rather stand against him and die nobly than to live in fear of a madman for the rest of my life.”

Draco sneered, “that’s such a Gryffindor thing to say.”

Narcissa smiled at him wryly, “I never told you this, but I was very close to my cousin Sirius growing up. He was only a year older than me and the rest of our family were either much older or younger than us. Many of our views differed from our families, though I was better at hiding it than Sirius was, he was very angry with the world and its injustices. When Sirius went to Hogwarts he was sorted into Gryffindor and I was happy for him, I thought he would be able to break the Black stereotype and I could follow in his footsteps. When he came for Christmas, he was beaten almost to death by his father, and verbally ripped to shreds by his mother. I knew then I would not be strong enough to follow Sirius. Nevertheless, Sirius, he stood up to them, all of eleven years old, and told them to go to hell.” She smiled faintly at the memory, “he ran away that night and spent the rest of his holidays at Hogwarts. The Potters took him when he turned sixteen and he ran away for good.”

“The Potters?” Draco asked surprised.

“Yes, Harry Potter’s grandparents. Nonetheless, I’ve always regretted my sorting, and not being able to be there for Sirius over the years, perhaps together we might have made it, but when I was eleven, and sitting on that stool in front of the whole school. Looking between my healthy sisters in Slytherin and Sirius, still black and blue, in Gryffindor. The hat told me I had the courage to be in Gryffindor, but I didn’t believe it then and told it no, anything but Gryffindor. It put me in Slytherin because all I wanted to do in that moment was save my own skin. But I have come to realise, there are more important things to fight for. Sirius knew it then, and I, I figured it out when Bellatrix killed him,” she finished quietly, a tear running down her cheek to blot onto the parchment.

Draco took a deep breath and held it for a few moments, thinking over what she said, finally nodding he took the parchment from her hand and read it. Shaking his head in confusion, “what does he mean by cattle? And why is he calling you Daffodil?”

Narcissa smiled, “it’s what Sirius used to call me when we were little, as the flower is so similar to the one I’m named for. Cattle was something Sirius used to call Death Eaters as they allowed themselves to be branded as such.”

Draco nodded frowning, “so who is the new Lord Black? Who did Sirius name his Heir?”

Narcissa rolled her lips together before telling him, “the only person who Sirius would think of as a son, his godson, the son of his best friends, the grandson of the people who took Sirius in and loved him as their own.”

Draco’s eyes went wide before he scowled, “Potter,” he said forcefully.  

She nodded, “yes, which means you are going to need to be civil to him, not only is he offering us safety and protection, but he is going to be your new Head of House. I’m not asking you to be best friends, I know you two have your history.” She said cutting him off before he had finished opening his mouth, “but you will offer him a truce and cessation of hostilities between the two of you. We are quite possibly going to be living in the same house. We need to be able to get along at least.”

Draco’s jaw worked as he digested his mother’s words, “okay, I can do that, I think.” Seeming to think of something else, he asked more quietly, “do you think Cyrus Greengrass would finally accept a betrothal contract for Astoria if it came from Draco Black?”

Narcissa hid a smile, her son seemed to be truly smitten with the younger girl, “I daresay he would Draco, now, putting that aside for the moment. We need to get out as much money from the vaults as we possibly can. All of it, if possible.”

Draco nodded, “wait, what about your dowry? Do we need to leave it for Potter to take?”

Narcissa shook her head, “no, because if the money has been spent, then he can take it back in property. This way we will leave your father with as little as possible.”

Draco smirked at her, “spoken like a Slytherin, Mother.”

“Yes, well, I never said I was all Gryffindor,” she said as she ushered him out the door.

Chapter Text

Harry had just said goodbye to Ron and Hermione, they were going back to Grimmauld Place to tell the Order that he was fine and safe where he was. Ron was not looking forward to his mother’s expected tirade. They were then going to help Remus pack and recover from the full moon so that he could come to Potter Manor as soon as possible.

He was about to leave the room when he heard the floo activate again, realising who it must be he turned back to face the fireplace in time to see Pansy elegantly stepping out. She had dressed again in Muggle attire, a deep purple dress with a square neckline which hugged her figure. She had fitted black wizarding robes over the top with a lighter purple embroidered at the cuffs and hem. Black high heels completed the look and her hair was once again loose around her face. “Po, Harry,” she said as she spotted him and walked over to him.

Harry gave a short bow before saying, “Pansy, I thought you would be a little longer, how did your lunch go?” he asked.

“Well, thank you. I expect Narcissa and Draco will be arriving today.”

Harry arched his eyebrows at her, “that’s fast, I didn’t expect them for at least a few days.”

“Yes, well, I should think they are desperate to get out of there. Narcissa was going to the bank when we parted, I believe she’s going to drain the account,” Pansy said with a wicked grin.

Harry smiled back at her, “right, er, Dobby,” he called.

Dobby popped up beside him, “I’m expecting two long-term guests, Narcissa and Draco Malfoy.”

“Madame Cissy and Mister Draco are coming here?” Dobby said eyes wide.

“Uh, yeah, is that going to be okay?” Harry asked, suddenly remembering from whom he had rescued the elf from.

“Oh yes! Dobby loves Madame Cissy and Mister Draco! But Dobby is not being their elf anymore, Dobby is Master Harry’s elf now! So Dobby would be having Bosto or Losto look after them unless they is bringing other elves?” Dobby asked.

Harry scratched at the stubble on his jaw, it had really started to come through this year, “I dunno Dobby, we’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, I was wondering if you would be able to set up some rooms on the third floor? Ones that have their own ensuites, I suppose you would know how they might like the rooms decorated so do whatever you think is necessary or they would appreciate.”

Dobby nodded, his large ears flapping wildly, and popped away, “the third floor Harry?” Pansy asked.

“Is there a problem with that?” Harry asked, “I figured they might feel a little more comfortable being at least slightly separated, especially once Ron and Hermione pick a room.”

Pansy frowned, “are Granger and Weasley going to be staying here too then?” she enquired.

Harry looked at her with his face hard, “they’re my friends, they are welcome here anytime, as it is they may end up spending part of the summer here.”

Pansy shook her head, her dark locks swaying gently, “no, I’m just surprised they wouldn’t be with their own families and well, are you sure you want Draco and Weasley in the same house? There is the feud to consider after all.”

“There is no feud between the House of Weasley and the House of Black,” Harry told her, “Draco can suck it up.”

Pansy inhaled sharply and then nodded, “of course, I suppose you and I aren’t the only ones who are making adjustments this summer.”

Harry furrowed his brow for a moment considering what she had said, “no,” he agreed, “and Ron has already agreed to be civil so long as Draco is.” Pansy looked as if she was about to say something else, so Harry quickly continued, “and before you decide to say anything more on this, know that I’m also expecting Remus Lupin today or tomorrow. He will be staying here for as long as he needs.” Harry told her firmly.

This caused shock to flash across the Slytherin girls features, “but he’s a werewolf,” she hissed at him, anger and fear alight in her eyes.

“For twelve nights a year,” Harry replied frostily, “tell me, Pansy, what did you think of him when you knew him?” Pansy stilled and narrowed her eyes at him, clearly wondering what he was driving at. “When he was at Hogwarts, I thought that he was the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher we ever had. He was kind, supportive and always helpful. Never mean or vindictive and he always put the students first. Just because he’s a werewolf, doesn’t change who he is. He’s still the same good man, he just, has a bit of a furry problem. If it bothers you that much, then don’t be here after sunset on the full moon. But know this, he will always have a place in my home, he’s all I have left,” Harry finished with a touch of sadness. Pansy watched as Harry’s shoulders fell and he walked out of the room leaving her to her thoughts.

 


 

Pansy was sitting in the Rose Drawing Room that Harry had assured her would be for her own personal use, Tibsy had brought her some tea and she was currently staring out the window at the beautiful gardens below.

She sighed as she sipped the light herbal blend. Potter, Harry, was adamant about allowing the werewolf house room and she really didn’t think she would get him to change his mind on it. Her mind turned to the individual in question and she thought over everything that had happened in her third year of Hogwarts. It was true that the werewolf had been their most knowledgeable teacher, and that he was a kind man who didn’t seem to stoop to house prejudice. She remembered staying back a lunchtime or two to ask him some questions on the course material or their assignments. He had always made the effort to accommodate her queries even when he was ill.

For which she now knew the reason was that of his lycanthropy. He obviously took Wolfsbane she thought, there had been no attacks at Hogwarts whilst he was there and was obviously part of the reason why he was so ill throughout the year, many of the ingredients used in the potion were poisonous to humans. She let her head fall back against the sill and let out a sigh.

As an individual the man posed no serious threat, perhaps she could at least try to get along with Mr Lupin. Besides if he was still here once she and Potter were actually married, she could always visit her father once a month. She wondered over the statement about how the man was all Harry had left, obviously, she knew her betrothed was an orphan but didn’t he have a muggle family somewhere? And he wasn’t actually related to Lupin, was he? Lupin wasn’t a pureblood name after all. Deciding to go find Pot, Harry, and talk to him about it, she stood up from the window seat. Walking into the hallway she realised she wasn’t sure where he was, she called Tibsy and asked her where she could find him. “Master Harry, being in his study,” Tibsy squeaked at her. Pansy nodded and set off in that direction after thanking the elf.

Knocking on the door she knew led to the Lord’s study she waited until she was bid entrance, she entered to see Harry sitting behind the desk, his hair glinting in the afternoon sunlight. “I wanted to talk to you about Mr Lupin,” Pansy said. Harry frowned but nodded and she came to sit in the chair that was placed just off centre in front of the desk. “I won’t say that I am comfortable with your decision or that I am suddenly pro-werewolf.” She held up a hand when Harry opened his mouth angrily, “let me finish,” she said with a sharp look of her own. Harry stilled and jerked his hand for her to get on with it, “I do remember the man from third year, and it is as you said before, he is a decent man. A gentleman. I will not do him the discourtesy of being anything less than cordial. But you will give me time to adjust to this and to form my own relationship with him. You grew up with muggles, you said yourself you didn’t know of the magical world until you came to Hogwarts. You did not grow up with prejudices shoved down your throat by society and well-meaning family members. I understand that he is important to you, but you need to see this from my perspective as well.”

Harry was silent for a few minutes as he processed what she had said. He could see where she was coming from, he could remember all too well the revulsion of Ron’s face when he had first found out the Remus was a werewolf. He had gotten over it. Perhaps in time, Pansy would as well. He nodded, “okay, I understand and I can handle that. I will however not handle you being anything less than civil.”

“I already said I would be nice Harry, don’t make me say it again,” Pansy snapped at him.

Before he could retort he felt the floo wards adjust to let a person through. He stood and looked at her, “well, I guess we’ll find out, won’t we? Remus just arrived.”

 


 

Remus looked around the familiar house, he had been here a couple of times before, many years ago, it brought back painful memories of his teenage years spent poring over books and flying over hills with James, Sirius and Peter.

He had barely finished vanishing the ash from his clothes when the door burst open and with a happy cry of, “Remus!” he found himself with an armful of Harry. Chuckling he dropped his bag on the ground and wrapped both arms around the young man.

“Hello, Harry,” he said warmly. Harry drew back and grinned at him, he opened his mouth to speak when he noticed Remus’s eyes flick over his shoulder and he turned to see Pansy walking in the door.

“Erm, Remus? Perhaps you remember Pansy Parkinson from Hogwarts? She is in my year.” Harry said, reintroducing them.

Remus held his hand out, which Harry was happy to see Pansy shook without hesitation, “I do, hello Miss Parkinson, you were a good student, though I did not realise you and Harry were on friendly terms, you are in Slytherin house correct?”

“I am Mr Lupin, and perhaps it is best if Harry explains. I have asked Tibsy to procure us some refreshments if you would like to join us in the lounge?” Pansy replied politely.

Remus looked at Harry for an explanation, Harry shrugged sheepishly and called for Bosto to take Remus’s things. The house-elf remembered Remus from his younger days and set him up in the room he had used previously, whilst they adjourned to the lounge room. Once they had all sat, Harry and Pansy on opposite ends of one small couch and Remus in an armchair, Harry provided the explanation. “Well, you see Remus, Pansy here is, well, she’s my betrothed.”

Remus paused in the sip he was taking from his tea, setting the cup back in the saucer he tipped his head towards Harry, “I think you had better start from the beginning Harry,” he said seriously.

So Harry leant forward, elbows on his knees, and told him what he had told Pansy, of the trip to Gringotts and the contract his Great Grandfather Charlus had signed. He would wait for Pansy to leave before he spoke with Remus about the other things he had done and learned there. There were a few moments of silence as Remus adjusted to the information Harry had quickly divulged to him. “Well, things never go the regular way for you do they, Harry?”   

Harry smiled ruefully at Remus and sat back against the couch, “you’d think I’d be used to it by now and not surprised anymore.”

Remus smiled back, “I think you’d get bored, Harry,” he teased.

Harry snorted, “I’d love nothing more than a nice quiet, boring year.”

When no more was said Remus turned to Pansy, “and you Miss Parkinson, this must have been quite the shock for you as well, I imagine?”

Pansy nodded demurely as she settled her cup on her lap, “it was, still is if I am telling the truth, as I’ve only had this knowledge myself two nights and only yesterday morning did I find out that it was Harry.” Remus raised an eyebrow at Harry, who in Pansy’s eyes, at least had the dignity to look chastened. Pansy explained for him, “Harry didn’t want me to know it was him until we met, as I’m sure you are aware Mr Lupin, our schoolyard history is not the best.”

Remus nodded, “please, call me Remus, we shall being seeing quite a lot of each other these holidays and Mr Lupin was my father.”

Pansy nodded, “Pansy then, in private company,” Remus nodded even as Harry sat upright, bristling in indignation.

Stopping in surprise when Remus held up a hand, “she’s quite right Harry, in any public setting, it should be your titles by which you are addressed.”

“Not with me, Remus,” said Harry shortly.

“Harry,” Pansy began and bit her lip when Harry’s angry gaze settled on her, “Harry, I only meant at formal public functions. When eventually you and I complete the contract between our families and go public with our relationship, should we have a need to go to some Ministry Ball or formal event we will need to be addressed as such. It has nothing to do with the relationship between myself and Mr.. Remus, or between yourselves, and everything to do with the prestige of your family name, and the way society views you.”

Harry made a face, “so pureblood, high society, snobbery then,” he retorted, “wonderful.”

Remus cleared his throat gently, “Harry, I know that this has all been dropped on you in a rather short period of time, S-Sirius and I only became aware shortly before the end of the school year that you had no knowledge of this. We were going to spend this summer teaching you everything you should have known growing up and I will tell you this. Your father was a pureblood and used his name when he felt he was being disrespected, Sirius did as well. Up until his mother disowned him and even afterwards, though, generally, he used it to inspire fear in his enemies or those he didn’t like, the Black family is infamous for a reason.” Remus told him, “The Potter name too, carries a lot of weight because of all the things the Potters have done for Magical Britain, the Black as well for similar reasons, as well the dark ones.”

Harry looked confused, “but people have always said what a good man my dad was, and Sirius..”

“Harry,” Pansy said softly, “you can still be a good man and observe societal values and uphold your family name, well, names in your case.”

Harry scrubbed his face with both hands, the opposing thoughts flashing in his skull, “she’s right Harry, just because your father didn’t put up with people disrespecting him doesn’t mean he was anything like Lucius Malfoy.”

“Err, speaking of Malfoys,” Harry said, side-tracked by the next piece of information he needed to relay to Remus, “Sirius asked me..” but Remus was nodding.

“He asked you to look after Andromeda and her family and to reach out to Narcissa?” Remus asked.

“Erm, yes,” Harry replied, “and I, um, well I’ve already spoken, well written to Narcissa, I’m expecting her any minute now. Which reminds me, Pansy,” Harry said looking back at the witch, “are you comfortable with them knowing about our betrothal just yet? Because if you aren’t..” he trailed off.

Pansy looked thoughtful for a moment, “seeing as Draco and Narcissa are going to be living with you, for a while at least, it would be rather difficult to hide it from them. Having Draco know will be helpful for when we return to school, though I doubt I will be able to associate with him openly if it comes out you’re the new Lord Black before then.” She went quiet for a moment, Harry realised there was something else she had been about to say.

“and what else?” he pressed.

“Well, it would be nice for at least one of my friends to know, I would like someone other than my father to talk to,” she replied quietly after a moment.

Harry frowned, she spoke as if it was all his decision and that she had no say in the matter, “Pansy, if there’s anyone you want to know then I’m not going to argue with you over your choices, I just want to make sure that you are safe though, so if that means having to rip off someone’s sleeve by accident or on purpose to make sure they aren’t marked then that’s what I’ll do but, I won’t stop you if it’s safe and yes, I agree, you should have someone to talk with about all this.”

Pansy gave him a small smile, which Harry didn’t really understand so he just turned back to Remus, “so, er, yeah, as Pansy said, they’ll be staying here for at least a little while, I haven’t been through any of the family accounts yet, not really. So I don’t know of anywhere else they can go, except for Grimmauld Place, which is out for obvious reasons.”

Remus nodded, “I’m sure it will be fine, Harry. I have no cause to upset Narcissa and her upbringing won’t allow her to be anything less than civil to the guest of her Head of House.”

Harry rolled his eyes, “back to that again,” he muttered.

Remus looked between to the two teens and saw Harry’s burgeoning frustration with the societal niceties and pressure that had been heaped on his shoulders, he saw Pansy frown and about to say something and he decided to interrupt, “Pansy, do you think Harry and I could have some time alone? There are a few things I would like to talk to him about privately.”

Pansy glanced at him and nodded with a sigh, she stood as she said, “I’ll be in the library should you need me before Draco and Narcissa arrive.”

Harry looked up at her from his position on the couch, “thank you, Pansy. I’ll come find you soon.” She nodded again and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. Remus cast a few silencing spells around the room as well as anti-eavesdropping spells. More to put Harry's mind at ease so he could feel like he could speak freely than for any other reason.

Harry sighed and flopped back on the couch, pressing the heels of his hands to his temples he looked at Remus.

“I imagine this is all very hard for you to get used to Harry, one Lordship is quite a lot for anyone to handle. To have five and to juggle a betrothal to someone you have had a difficult past with on top of all that,” Remus just gave Harry a comforting smile.

Harry sighed again before answering, “it is, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing and I feel like I haven’t really had time to just get used to it. I mean six days ago, I was Harry Potter, the-boy-who-lived. Now I’m Lord Harry James Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin. I’m apparently a business owner, landlord, Wizengamot member, Head of House to at least two families, one of which is the bloody Malfoy’s. I’m supposed to look after them and protect them and sign betrothal contracts for them and Merlin knows what else. I have a.. a fiancé who I barely know let alone liked last week. I’ve had portraits telling me about my Potter history as well as trying to drum in whatever etiquette they think I need. Which according to them, Pansy and now you, is a lot and I need to know it all yesterday . The only time I’ve had a bloody break is when I get to fly, and that’s only because it's Healer mandated that I get some exercise and even that’s not as relaxing as it normally is, because all I can think about is all this stuff I need to do and I don’t know how to do any of it!” Harry cried out exasperated, “and I still have to deal with Voldemort!” he added desperately.

Remus just waited patiently as Harry got his breathing under control, when it looked as though Harry had finished his rant, Remus spoke, “I can help you, Harry, not with everything, but certainly a lot of it. You know that Ron and Hermione will as well. I daresay that Hermione is already holed up in the Black Library looking up all sorts of things for you.” Harry managed a smile at the thought, he could just imagine her sitting at a desk with books piled higher than her head and Ron trying to drag her downstairs for something to eat. “Narcissa can certainly help you with the social manners and quite a few political things as well, Lucius wasn’t half the political shark that he is now before they married. Also, I daresay that your betrothed would help you with whatever you asked of her.”

Harry was silent for a moment as he contemplated Remus’s words, “you’re right, Remus, I don’t have to do this alone. I’ll ask Narcissa for the lessons and perhaps you and I can start going through the books tomorrow?” He asked nervously.

Remus nodded, “of course, we can go through and see what needs to be done, we’ll break it up into much more manageable chunks and perhaps then it won’t be so daunting. I assume you’ve just left all the paperwork in a big pile?”

Harry flushed and looked down, “er, yeah. But I really didn’t know what else to do with it,” he mumbled.

Remus leant forward and covered Harry’s hands with his own, “it’s okay Harry, we’ll figure it out together tomorrow.” Harry looked up and meeting Remus’s amber eyes he nodded. Looking at the werewolf closely he saw how tired and worn Remus was, it was then that he remembered it was the full moon only just last night.

“You should go get some rest Remus,” Harry told him, “you don’t need to be here to greet the Malfoys, I have the elves if it turns out to be a trap and they have warded the room so that no offensive magic can be done inside. Not even a portkey can get out. Take the afternoon and tonight for yourself I’ll send up a house-elf with dinner for you.”

Remus grinned amused at Harry, “I’m not an invalid you know.”

“I know, but I’d feel better if you looked after yourself properly and there is no reason for you to exert yourself today. Now go, sit, stay,” Harry said with a smirk.

“Alright,” Remus said raising his hands in mock defeat, “I’ll go be a good boy and rest up for tomorrow.”

“Good wolfie,” Harry grinned, ducking the half-hearted swat to his head. “Bosto,” Harry called for the elf, “can you please show Remus to his rooms? Make sure he has everything he needs.” Turning to Remus he said, “call for Bosto or Losto if you need anything.”

“Thank you, Harry,” replied Remus as he stood. Harry stood as well and embraced his pseudo uncle. As Remus left the room he took down the enchantments he had placed. Harry sat down again for a few minutes composing himself, he poured another cup of tea and drank it in silence. Thoughts running through his head. After a while, he put his cup down and went to find Pansy.

 


 

Harry entered the library quietly, not wanting to startle Pansy if she was reading again, rounding the stacks he saw she was curled on the same chair she had been the last time he found her here. He cleared his throat as he approached and she looked up at him, marking her place in the book as she did so. Harry sat down in the chair across from her and settled comfortably against the back. “So,” she said with a raised eyebrow. “Did you discuss that you needed to?”

Harry nodded, “Remus is going to be staying, he’s going to help me sort out my accounts and the mess that the Houses are in.” He rubbed his forehead as he contemplated what to tell her. “I haven’t really looked at what each house entails or even needs. Blunttooth, my Account Manager, didn’t really go into detail the other day. We just glossed over everything. I need to sit down and go through every House individually and see what needs doing or changing. Or even just updating.”

Pansy nodded and bit her lip her as she held back her offer of help, unsure that Harry would want her so involved in those affairs.  Harry seemed to notice this, “I would ask you for your help, but I don’t even know what needs to be done, let alone what you could help with. Tomorrow we are quite literally going to be sorting through veritable mountains of paperwork and just figuring out a plan of attack.”

“I could still help,” she said adamantly leaning forward, Pansy did not want Pot.. Harry, to think that she was weak or invaluable in some way. She wanted to be a strength in this relationship, “you did say you didn’t want a trophy wife and if we are going to be equals in this marriage I would like to know what’s going on with the affairs of the Houses and just like your Lord Potter-Black-Perverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin, I’m going to be the Lady Potter-Black-Perverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin and the matriarch of this family. If I’m to do that effectively..”

Harry held up a hand to interrupt her speech, “alright, how about Remus and I get everything sorted and once we know what we are dealing with, give you a call? You can help us, well me, figure out what I can do and if there is anything you want to help with.”

Pansy seemed to accept that, she sat back again, “alright, that seems fair. I would like to spend some time with Draco tomorrow as it is.”

Harry nodded, his gaze drifting to the side, “what do you think I could expect from them?” he asked changing the subject. They spoke for the next hour or so on the matter, Pansy giving Harry her assessment of what might happen and a few pieces of advice on what to say or what he should do. Harry also made a stop in his office to speak to his Great-Grandmother Dorea, to clarify a few things. All too soon for Harry’s liking, he felt the wards being breached and Dobby popped up by his side to tell him that his guests had arrived.

 


 

Harry stood in front of the door to the sitting room on the second floor that the elves had warded for him. Pansy was at his side he looked at her and she gave him a small smile of encouragement. He checked his grip on his wand and then took a deep breath and pushed the door open, he walked in purposefully and stood in front of the wing-backed chair Pansy had told him to use. Narcissa immediately sank into a low curtsey and Draco gave a bow, that at Pansy’s approving nod over their heads towards Harry told him was deep enough to show Draco’s respect. Even if his face did look like he sucking on a lemon, Harry sat and motioned for them to do so as well. Pansy sitting gracefully in the matching seat next to him. She had changed her outfit from that morning and was now in a long, elegant, royal purple skirt that fell softly in gentle folds, a white fitted blouse and clinging charcoal witches robes with subtle silver snake detailing over top. She had Harry dress appropriately too, in the nicest dress pants that Hue had made him buy, as well as a lilac collared shirt and off-black sweater. She seemed almost personally affronted over the fact that he didn’t have any wizarding robes and had vowed to take his measurements soon so she could shop for him on his behalf. Harry had just gone along with her insulted rumblings and decided to argue with her over it later. As he had already decided it wasn’t worth getting any just yet.

Harry gestured for his guests to sit as well, wand still held loosely in his grip on his lap. He waited to see if one of them would break the silence, when they didn’t he spoke in a quiet tone. “I see you both made it here in one piece.”

Draco looked at him sharply, eyes narrowing and darting between Harry and Pansy, obviously trying to figure out the connection here, but it was Narcissa that spoke, “we did My Lord, thank you for allowing us into your home.”

Harry flinched internally at the title but inclined his head, Pansy having told him that sometimes silence was the best answer. “I trust Pansy relayed my message and offer?”

Narcissa nodded, “she did, I received your letter and Pansy said you were offering us a place in the Black Family. She told me you would break the marriage bond between Lucius and I, and make Draco a scion of House Black? So long as we renounce the Dark Lord?”

Harry inclined his head again, “do you actually accept that I will be your Head of House? Can you actually tolerate that and follow and obey me if necessary? It is no secret that Lucius and I were enemies, that Draco and I have a, rivalry.” Harry said looking at the teen in question.

Draco swallowed heavily but answered Harry’s probing look, “I know we aren’t friends Potter, and that I’ve done plenty to make your life miserable, but I do want this. Believe it or not, but you are the preferred option here and not because you are the only one.”

“You aren’t the only one at fault for the current state of our relationship,” Harry told the pale-haired boy. Harry glanced at Pansy for a moment before continuing, “but perhaps we can agree to forgive the past and make a different future.”

“That’s what we want,” Narcissa told Harry, “a chance for a new future, a better one. I, I never wanted the life that I have now, I made a few poor choices when I was young, out of fear and self-preservation. I don’t want to live that way anymore.” Harry didn’t realise how heavy his gaze was at it settled on Narcissa, didn’t realise the picture he made as he sat in his chair with one hand curled around his chin as he thought over what they had both said. Pansy did though, and she rather liked what she saw. Aside from the lack of robes, he looked every inch of a powerful young Lord. She sneaked a glance at Draco and saw that he saw it too.

After a short silence, Harry spoke again, “I have yet to go through the Black family records to find the copy of the Betrothal between yourself and Lucius, so I don’t know the details of what it entails. I do have the knowledge and power to break it though, and I was hoping you could fill me in on what you know. What do you bring with you?”

“Draco and I drained the Malfoy Accounts, as much as we could. We had to leave 500 galleons in each one as that is the nature of the Vaults they were in. I have the majority of my personal possessions and a great many books from the library, rare, one-of-a-kind editions. Some are considered dark, others are not. I also have a house-elf, Ripky, who was bonded to me from the House of Black. My grandfather Pollux was a proud man. Each of us, my sisters and I, all had a house-elf for us in our betrothal agreements, to serve us personally.”

Harry arched an eyebrow, “even your sister Andromeda?”

Narcissa looked down and Harry noticed as her hands tightened together at the sound of her estranged sister's name, “she would have, had she married someone our Grandfather approved of. Instead, as she eloped with the muggleborn Ted Tonks, she forfeited her right to a house-elf in the families eyes.”

“And in your eyes?” Harry asked.

Narcissa was silent for a moment, before she spoke quietly, “I was jealous that she got to marry for love.”

Harry let that sink in before he replied, “thank you for your honesty. Draco?” he turned to the other boy.

“I packed my belongings, and as Mother was emptying the library,” he looked uncertainly at his mother for a moment, “I stole into Father's office and emptied it. All of the things that were there I packed into a trunk. I also had the elves pack up all the possessions and artefacts under the cellar.” Harry’s eyebrows rose at that, he knew that’s where the Malfoys kept their darkest stuff, he’d heard Draco brag about it before at school. “I, well, I didn’t want it to fall into his hands and I can’t just destroy it either. Some of it for historical value, others because it can’t be done quickly.”

There was no need for Harry to guess who Draco meant when he said his, “does Lucius have any living family? Anyone to inherit? Besides Draco?” Harry asked Narcissa.

She was shaking her head before Harry had even finished speaking, “no, there are distant cousins in France, but there is enough distance and bad blood between them that there will be no inheritance due them,” Harry hummed thoughtfully.

“This might be a distasteful question, but no illegitimate children?” Pansy asked, voicing herself for the first time.

Narcissa and Draco both looked at her, clearly wondering why she was here and at Harry’s side, “please answer Pansy’s question if you would,” Harry said firmly.

Narcissa looked down and Draco’s face had become stony, “no there aren’t, Lucius.. there was a hunting accident once, the Healer couldn’t do enough. Lucius publicly blamed me and Draco for his lack of children when it was really him that could not.” She shivered, that had Draco move closer to her to wrap a comforting arm around her as he glared at Harry and Pansy. “It made him more cruel,” Narcissa finished quietly.

Harry’s remorse showed on his face, “I am so sorry, but I had to know, it would have changed some of the things I can do.” He gave Narcissa a moment to compose herself before he stood and gestured for Draco and Narcissa to kneel before him. “I, Lord Harry James Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin, “ He saw both their eyes go wide at his titles, he gave them a small smirk before he continued, “Head of House Black, hereby revoke the betrothal agreement and subsequent marriage between Narcissa Druella Black and Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, due to the unlawful actions of Lucius Abraxas Malfoy rendering him unable to provide. Any children born of this union are now without name.” A soft white glow surrounded Narcissa and Draco before dissipating, signifying the Family Magic had taken hold. He looked at the two in front of him and he saw the nerves they tried to hide. “Do you Narcissa Druella Black accept re-entrance to the House of Black as a daughter of said House? To observe and uphold the values of the House? To support those of the Family that need your support? To be the Family’s strength as the Family is yours?”

“I do,” replied Narcissa, joy clear in her eyes.

Harry turned to Draco, and he would be lying if he said the thought of not allowing Draco in didn’t cross his mind momentarily, “do you, Draco Lucius, accept the House of Black as your House, to be a son of said House? Of my house?” Harry paused, reiterating the point.  

Draco swallowed again, but nodded, “I do.”

“To observe and uphold the values of the House? To support those of the Family that need your support? To be the Family’s strength as the Family is yours?”

“I do,”

“Then stand as members of House Black, so I say, so mote it be,“ Harry said, using his wand to slice his palms, extending his hands to both of them. Narcissa followed suit and then grasped his bloody hand with her own, and he helped her to her feet. Their palms healing instantly as they were covered in soft white light. Draco, however, was looking between Harry’s hand and his face.

Harry cocked an eyebrow at the Slytherin boy, “I, I have a request Lord Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin,” Draco stammered out.

“Oh?” Harry asked, glancing between Narcissa and Pansy, he hadn’t expected this.

“I, I wish to shed completely my father’s name. I would instead like to be known now, as Draco Corvus Black.”

Harry tried to hide his surprise, he wasn’t really sure how to do this, luckily Pansy threw up a quick privacy spell around the two of them and hiding them from sight and sound, she quickly explained what Harry would need to say to grant Draco his wish. At Harry’s nod, she dispelled the barrier. Harry nodded at Draco who then took Harry’s hand, completing the process they had originally started.

Harry then turned Draco’s hand over and cut his own mark into Draco, pressing his wand tip against the open wound he incanted. “I, Lord Black, hereby amend the name of the one who comes before me, no longer known as Draco Lucius Black. But now and forever more known as Draco Corvus Black. So I say, so mote it be.”

There was another flash of light that surrounded Draco and the cut on his hand healed under Harry’s wand. “Thank you, Potter,” said Draco.

“Harry,” replied the Gryffindor, “after all, we’re family now right?” he said with a wry grin.

Draco looked at him a little shocked but nodded slowly. Harry released his hand and they all sat down once more. Harry looked at Narcissa, “your house –elf will be rebonded to the House of Black, though you can continue to use her as your own. What you took from the vaults will be set aside in a trust for a dowry of your own should you wish to remarry and as a gift for Draco upon his marriage. I’ll provide vaults for your personal use.” Harry told them, his voice brooking no argument. “I will also pay for Draco’s education and a mastery should he wish to pursue one, the same for you Narcissa. The books will be housed in the library here until I can have the libraries consolidated and sorted.” He turned to Draco, “the Dark artefacts and the possessions you liberated from Lucius are to remain locked in this room until I decide what else to do with them, they belong to the Black Family now and will continue to be so until I see otherwise. If there is something, in particular, you would like from either of those you’ll need to let me know.”

Draco nodded and pulled a handful of shrunken trunks from his robes he placed them on the ground and resized them. “There is a cloak clasp, platinum, moulded into the shape of the dual ouroboros, it belonged to my grandfather Abraxas,” he said, Harry nodded but made no move to find it yet. Draco scowled slightly but kept his mouth shut.

“Speaking of jewellery, Dobby,” Harry called. The elf popped up beside him with a low bow.

“Dobby is here, Master Harry sir, what can Dobby be doing?”

“Can you please fetch the wooden box on my desk?” Harry asked him.

“Of course, Master Harry, Dobby is doing that now,” and he popped away to come back a moment later holding a carved wooden box out to Harry. Harry thanked him and sent him off. He looked at Draco and Narcissa to see their reactions to seeing their old elf. Narcissa seemed grateful and Draco had an odd look of nostalgia on his face.

“I had wondered what happened to Dobby,” Narcissa said, “Lucius was so cruel to him, I did not think he had survived being unbonded.”

“Dobby worked at Hogwarts for a time living on the excess magic of the castle,” Harry told her, “he has recently been bonded to me as the Head Potter Elf.”

“I am glad,” said Narcissa, “he will be very happy with you.”

Harry nodded awkwardly and then stood, opening the box he turned it so Narcissa could see what was inside. She gasped softly as Harry picked up a ring, similar in design to that of his Head of House ring for the Black Family. There were a few differences, instead of a platinum band, this was silver, the onyx stone was smaller and there were different types of enchantments set upon the ring. He waited for her to hold out her hand, which she extended shakily, he slipped the ring onto the ring finger of her right hand. Doing the same for Draco with an identical ring as Narcissa stared at the piece of jewellery on her finger. He sat down again, holding the box out to his side where Dobby promptly appeared to take it. “These are the Black Family rings, they cannot be removed except by the Family Head. There are protection spells on them against most poisons, spells against a number of curses and protections against legilimancy.” He smirked as he remembered what Dorea had told him would happen if someone tried to force their way into the mind of someone wearing those rings. “A portkey charm has been added to them so that you will to a Black property of safety. All you have to do think the phrase ‘Toujours Pur, Toujours Sûr,’.  Additionally, they have been spelled so you cannot reveal any information about House Black or anything that I do not want to be revealed, either willingly, or by force, including Veritaserum. Which at this moment would be everything from my deepest darkest secret to my favourite dessert.”

Draco bristled at this and Pansy swooped in to calm her friend, “it’s not just about lack of trust Draco. It’s for your protection as much as Harry’s and, it’s about mine as well.”

Draco looked at his best friend and finally snapped, “I don’t even understand why you are here Pansy, since when did you and Potter become friends anyway?”

Pansy looked at Harry who shrugged at her, taking a deep breath she turned back to Draco, “Harry and I, well, our great-grandfathers were allies apparently. An ironclad contract was written and now, well, we’re betrothed.”

“What?” sputtered Draco, “excuse me, but what?”

“Draco,” Narcissa said in a hushed tone, “congratulations on your betrothal, my Lord,” she said formally, “and thank you for the rings, I was not aware that they were supposed to be worn outside the main family line.”

Harry shrugged, “they multiply as needed, if there were a hundred Blacks that I wanted to wear a ring, there would be a hundred rings. Perhaps it is normally done differently, but you and Draco are going to be close to me, physically at least, and that puts you in harm’s way. As your Lord, I swear to do my best to protect you, this is part of that.”

“I have set up a suite of rooms for you on the third floor, a bedroom each, your own bathrooms and study, with a shared living room. I’ve yet to go over my properties extensively to see if there is anything of use for you.”

“There is the main Black House? It has many wards and protections, it’s called.. actually. I can’t recall what it’s called, or where it is.” Narcissa said, looking slightly uncomfortable.

“I know it, it is under a Fidelius Charm and an Unplottable, as well as a host of other things, and as I said, I haven’t yet found anything for you yet,” Harry said.

Narcissa nodded in understanding, “I’m sorry, I hadn’t meant anything by that, I was only thinking of what I knew.”

“It’s fine, I know you were trying to help,” he sighed thinking about what else he needed to tell them now. “I also have another guest staying with me, Remus Lupin. He’ll be here indefinitely.”

“He’s a werewolf!” squawked Draco.

“Twelve nights a year,” Harry replied sternly, “he takes Wolfsbane and is perfectly safe. You will show him the same respect you show me, he’s my Steward.” Harry’s Grandfather Fleamont had used the term when Harry had told the portraits earlier that Remus was going to be helping him sort out his financials. Harry was going to tell the wolf tomorrow. It also had the perk of being a paid position.

“We will, of course, be courteous to your guest Lord Potter,” Narcissa said with another sharp look at Draco.

Harry looked back at her after lifting his heavy gaze from a nervous Draco, “please call me Harry, we’ll be living together after all.” She nodded and called her house-elf. It was slightly older and much shorter than the elves Harry was currently bonded to. “Hello Ripky,” he said, “I’m not sure how much you know has gone on?”

“Ripky be knowing that Miss Cissy be a Black again instead of a nasty Malfoy, Ripky is being happy that Miss Cissy is away from that horrible man now!” Ripky clapped her hands over her mouth and looked wide-eyed at Narcissa, “Ripky is sorry! Ripky is not meaning to say such things to Master Harry!” The little elf’s eyes went wide as she realised what she had called Harry.

Harry glanced at Narcissa for clarification, “I had thought this would happen when you dissolved the marriage contract, Ripky’s bond came straight back to the Lord Black.”

Harry rolled his lips together and felt for the magic that tied him to the elves, once he had found it he realised that it had indeed formed an awareness of Ripky. “Well, that makes things easier. Ripky,” he said to the little elf, “I am the new Lord Black that does make me your Master, you are now a Black elf, not Narcissa’s.” The little elf hung its head in sadness but nodded, Harry’s heart twisted a little, “but, I would like it if you would continue to help Narcissa and Draco. You will need to report to Dobby for your duties though and I may call on you from time to time if I have a need.” Ripky nodded suddenly much happier.

“Of course Master Harry! Ripky be finding Dobby right away!” and she quickly elf-popped away.

“She clearly loves you,” Harry said to Narcissa with a smile.

Narcissa allowed a fond smile to grace her face in return, “Ripky and I have been together since I was a young girl. She has always looked after me.”

Harry nodded, “I’m sure you both are tired from what I’m sure has been an emotional day. I’ll have dinner sent to your shared living room for you so that you may have the night together and to settle in. I usually breakfast at seven-thirty, I would like it if you joined me tomorrow, I will give you a proper tour of the place after breakfast. I don’t expect to you join me every day if you do not wish to.”

“Thank you, Lord-” at Harry’s raised eyebrow she changed what she was going to say, “Harry, we will see you in the morning.” They all rose and Harry called Losto to show them to their rooms. After the two newest members of the House Black left, Harry flopped back into his chair and gave an exaggerated sigh. The corner of Pansy’s mouth twitched as she shook her head at him.

“That went well,” she said to her future husband.

Harry straightened, “it went much better than I expected really. I mean you said they would be civil but I seriously had a few doubts that Draco would be able to accept the authority I have over him. He surprised me with the name change thing.”

Pansy hummed in agreement, “though you hid it well.”

“Thank you, for helping me out with that by the way,” Harry said as he looked her.

She met his eyes and smirked lightly, “I’m your betrothed, can’t have you looking stupid now can I?”

Harry gave her a lopsided grin, “no, I suppose you can’t.”

Chapter Text

Harry woke a little earlier than usual the next day and he used that time to just lay in bed and thinking about all the things that had happened over the last week. His mind playing over various conversations between himself and Pansy, with Remus and then with Ron and Hermione, as well as his interaction with the Malfoy’s yesterday evening. He frowned over something Pansy had said to him the first day they had met. The passing comment didn’t sit well with him. Vowing to do something about it, and the painting in his room giving him an idea, he called for Dobby as he got up and made to get ready for the day.

Harry made his way downstairs some fifteen minutes later, right on time and saw Narcissa and Draco waiting for him at the foot of the stairs. He had wondered if they would be early or late and found he was a little pleased they were early. “Good Morning, shall we start the tour with the dining room?” He asked them with a grin, “I don’t know about either of you, but I’m a much better person to be around after I’ve had something to eat.” He didn’t wait for an answer and instead led them through to the smaller dining room. He took a seat at the Head of the table and looked up with a frown when Narcissa and Draco both appeared to be unsure of where to sit. “Have a seat,” he said. Gesturing with his left hand they both seemed to sigh with relief and Narcissa sat next to Harry on his left and Draco next to her. Once they were seated Missy appeared next to Harry and placed his small goblet of nutrient potion in him, and a stern expression on her little face.

“Everything okay, Missy?” Harry asked her.

“Master Harry is not drinking all of his potion yesterday,” Missy chided, “Missy is being very angry at Master Harry. Missy is making sure Master Harry be drinking all of his potion today or there is being no sweeties for Master Harry!”

Harry bit his lip to keep himself from laughing, “I’m sorry, Missy, I didn’t realise, I had rather a lot of things on my mind yesterday,” he apologised.

“That is being no excuse Master Harry!” she said imperiously.

Harry inclined his head at her, “you’re right, I’m sorry,” and with that, he picked up the little goblet and drained the contents. He tipped it upside down for her benefit. “Better?” Missy sniffed and then clicked her fingers, the table suddenly filling with breakfast foods, though Harry noted his bowl was already full of steaming oatmeal and dried fruits with honey. “A moment, Missy,” he said before she popped away.

“Narcissa, Draco, this is Missy, she is the Potter Chef, if you have any allergies or preferences, good or bad, please let her know so she can accommodate you. Call on her should you need anything to eat through the day. Missy, this is Narcissa Black and her son Draco Black, they will be staying here indefinitely.” Missy gave them both a shallow curtsey and then popped back to the kitchen.

Harry immediately reached for the teapot and poured himself a generous amount. “You let your house-elves boss you around, Potter?” Draco said as he himself reached for some bacon.

Harry shrugged, “when it comes to things like my health and things they happen to know more about, yes. They care about me, so why shouldn’t I let them show it? You’ll find that all house-elves under my employ are allowed to say what is on their mind. I don’t want passive, yes men serving me. It isn’t enjoyable for them and it makes everything less productive as a whole and it’s Harry remember?” Harry reminded Draco as he sipped from his cup of tea, “oh that’s good stuff,” he said quietly closing his eyes for a moment before tucking into his oatmeal.

They ate in companionable silence for a while before Narcissa spoke, “is Mr Lupin not joining us for breakfast?”

Harry shook his head, “probably not today, though you should see him at lunch, the full moon was only two night ago, so he is still recovering his energy.”

“Is the change that harsh on the body?” Narcissa asked morbidly curious.

Harry nodded this time, “they are forced into a transformation that changes their entire being, it’s not like an animagus transformation either, it’s quite painful and once transformed the wolf keeps the person awake all night. It is a combination of muscle/skeletal stress and forced sleep deprivation that causes such exhaustion.”

“Now, now, cub, how many times do I have to remind you I’m not an invalid?” came a voice from the doorway.

Harry grinned at the man who entered, “sorry, Moony, but you and I both know how tired you get.”

Remus ruffled Harry’s hair as he walked past and sat down on Harry’s right, leaving a seat between them as he sat across from Draco. Harry wondered at the arrangement but decided to leave it alone for now. “Have you asked your favour of Ms Black yet Harry?” Remus asked pointedly.

Narcissa looked at Harry inquiringly as he shook his head at Remus, Harry turned to face the tall, blonde woman, “I wasn’t raised in all this,” he said flapping at hand at the house surrounding them, “I only found out I was a Lord a short time ago. I’ve been told there are certain manners and customs I need to learn and portraits can only do so much. I’m looking for a tutor to help me with this. Seeing as Draco has, on occasion,” Harry paused to throw a smirk at his peer, “been able to display these, I thought maybe you would be able to teach me? If you can’t or don’t want to that’s fine. I can find someone else to teach me.”

Narcissa set her cutlery aside and folded her hands in her lap as she replied, “I would be honoured, Harry. We would need to set aside a generous amount of time though if you want to learn as much as possible before school resumes.”

“Define generous,” Harry said.

“A few hours a day, as well as a couple of meal times a week,” she told him.

Harry reviewed his ever-changing, self-imposed schedule and replied, “starting tomorrow, two hours every morning and all meal times that include just those of this household?”

She nodded, “I can work with that, will you allow me to plan some meals so that we may practise different courses and settings?”

“Yeah, of course, just discuss whatever you need with Missy, keep in mind though I prefer to eat light, especially if there’s going to be more than a couple of courses.” Narcissa nodded and they all finished their breakfast. Once they had all finished Harry stood and gestured for them to follow. He led the two newest Blacks and Remus on a tour of the Manor. Remus claimed he wanted the refresher. They started with the ground floor and then worked their way up. After they had finished viewing the owlery Harry led them back downstairs, Remus ducked off to begin work in the Lord’s study.

“There’s only the basement level left,” Harry said, “there’s a potions lab, duelling room and a few other things down there if you would like to follow me?” Draco moved to follow Harry but Narcissa held back.

“If you don’t mind my Lord, I would prefer not to, I’m not fond of being below the surface and potions don’t suit me.”

“Of course,” Harry replied, “after this, I had planned on working with Remus. I’ll see you at lunch and perhaps after that, we can tour the grounds? And it’s just Harry.” he reminded her again.

Narcissa smiled and let out a breath that Harry hadn’t realised she’d been holding, “thank you, Harry.” She replied I’ll see you then.” She set off in the direction of the music room.

Harry watched her go for a moment and then turned to Draco, “well?”

“After you, Pot- Harry,” Draco replied.

Harry led him through the door that was almost hidden in the shadow of the staircase and down the stairs. He pointed out the duelling room which was filled with targets and dummies for spell work. There was also a wine room that Draco had expressed interest in. Harry followed him through the door and watched as Draco took in the huge collection of wine, wizarding spirits and butterbeer. “This is bloody amazing, Potter,” Draco breathed.

Harry shrugged a shoulder, “I wouldn’t know, I’m not exactly old enough to drink and this was all collected by my family.”

“You’ve never had a drink? And here I thought Gryffindors were keen on breaking the rules,” Draco asked mockingly with an aristocratic eyebrow raised.

Harry shook his head, “not really, Seamus smuggled in a bottle of firewhiskey once, didn’t particularly fancy it when I had a hangover in potions the next day.”

Draco shook his head a little in bewilderment, “never had wine? Not even with dinner?” Harry shook his head again, “well, that’s something we’ll need to rectify. A Lord should be able to tell the difference between good and bad wine at the very least.”

Harry snorted, “right, well I can see I won’t be leaving you in here unattended.” Draco gave him a withering look and they exited the room, they entered the potions lab next and had Draco not been raised in high society Harry was pretty sure his jaw would have dropped. As it was his eyes grew impossibly large, Harry tried to hide his smirk, “thought you’d like this.”

They surveyed the room and saw the many cauldrons of varying sizes and metals. There were even a couple of solid gold cauldrons, along with pewter, silver, stone, iron and marble and a one made of glass. Along one side, was a wall of high-quality preservation cabinets filled with various ingredients and there were ventilation shafts cut into the stone with the necessary filtering charms on them. Specialised tables with a low end for the cauldrons and a higher end for preparing ingredients were strewn about the place, as well as a few desks for note taking. Along another wall was a bookshelf filled with books dedicated to potions and potion making.

“This is incredible,” Draco said awed.

Harry grunted in acknowledgement, “it is, pity I’ll never make the best of it.”

Draco looked at him with slight discomfort, “I, uh, I could tutor you in potions if you like? I know your grades aren’t the best and I could help you if you wanted.”

Harry could see how much it had cost Draco to offer so he responded sincerely, “it would be nice not to suck in potions for once,” he returned with a small smile.

He was rewarded with a relieved one from Draco, “right, so when do you want to do it?”

Harry thought it over, “three afternoons a week? Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at four? We can go for an hour or so before dinner.”

Draco nodded, “that should be fine, um, would you mind if I used this more than that though?” he asked as he looked around the room.

Harry shook his head, “as long as I get to keep some of the good potions you make, go nuts. If you need ingredients call for Dobby and he will see about getting you what you need.”

“Thank you Po- Harry, you know this is more than I could have hoped for when we got your letter yesterday.”

Harry grinned, “I was just happy when you didn’t hex me yesterday.”

Draco sniffed, “it would have been the height of bad manners to do so,” he replied haughtily.

“Meaning your mum would have hexed you ?” Harry asked still grinning.

Draco looked at him a moment before chuckling, “yes, you’re right.” Harry laughed in return, “I wouldn’t be laughing if I were you, Harry, you just asked my mum to teach you too you realise. I’ve no doubt she’ll teach you the same way she taught me.”

Harry’s laughter suddenly stopped as he considered this, “ah well, at least I’ll have you and the wine lessons to commiserate with,” he told the blonde as they walked back up the stairs. Draco snorted and they reached the top in silence, Harry stretched his arms above his head as he said, “I should get going, parchmentwork waits for no-one after all.”

“Of course, I’ll see you at lunch,” Draco replied and he moved to walk away.

“Oh, Draco?” Harry called and the blonde turned back to him. “Pansy said she’d get here around nine thirty this morning. She said she wanted to spend the morning with you.”

Draco walked back to Harry, “thank you for telling me, while we’re on the subject though. I’d like to warn you not to hurt her, Pansy puts up a tough front, but.”

“Are you trying to tell me she’s really a big softy?” Harry interrupted sceptically.

“No, but she’s more of a romantic than she lets on,” Draco said uncomfortably, arms crossed over his chest. “I don’t want to see her hurt, and this contract removes any chance she had at finding love.” Harry frowned, “oh don’t give me that look, Potter, you know exactly what I mean. I can’t imagine you were thrilled when you found out you had to marry Pansy. I know her, I know what that knowledge is doing to her. You’ll treat her right Potter, or I’ll make sure she gets out of that contract somehow and if I can’t, I’ll make your life as miserable as you make hers.” And with that Draco turned and walked off.

Right, Harry thought as he walked up the stairs, that was different. He pushed open the door to his study and realised he had just gotten the ‘big brother’ speech from Draco Malfoy, Black he thought belatedly, and he laughed a little. Shaking off Remus’s enquiring look he sat down in the big chair behind the desk and asked, “so... first things first, I want to make you my paid steward,” and that’s when the fight started.

 


 

Harry felt like his ears were going to leak out of his brain, or something to that effect. “No more, Remus!” he moaned putting his head into his hands and massaging his temples. “I need a break!” just as those words left his mouth his stomach gave a loud growl.

Remus chuckled, “well, I think it’s time for lunch anyway. Come on, we’ll come back to this.”

Harry gave a happy sigh and got up, walking very quickly out the door. He wasn’t aware that Dobby had already popped off to alert Narcissa, Draco and Pansy that lunch was now being served. Harry had almost reached the dining room when he saw Pansy for the first time that day. She looked very pretty today, she had a violet dress with a swirling black design printed along the bottom and flat black shoes. Her hair was braided along one side to hang loosely over the opposite shoulder and she had a silver comb pinned in to hold it back from her face. He smiled when he saw her, “you look very nice today Pansy.” He told her as he offered her his arm, nodding a greeting at Draco and Narcissa he led the way into the room. Pulling Pansy’s chair for her with a shared smirk, he sat down at the head of the table again. Once everyone had been seated, Draco this time on Pansy’s right and Remus next to Narcissa. Missy appeared with the food.

Today she had prepared a flavourful chicken soup dish, though it was unlike any chicken soup Harry had seen before. It was a creamy colour and had rice hiding at the bottom of the dish. Pieces of succulent chicken were piled in the middle and the soup had a delicious lemony tang to it. There was crusty bread to go with it and Harry and the others immediately dug in, small noises of appreciation could be heard around the table. Once Harry had finished his bowl he turned to Pansy. “I was going to give Narcissa and Draco a tour of the gardens and grounds after lunch if you would like to accompany us?”

“That would be lovely as I have yet to see the grounds,” Pansy replied.

Harry gave her an apologetic look, “I’m..”

She held up a hand to cut him off, “it’s been a rather turbulent few days, I think I can forgive you not giving me the full tour on day one.”

“Thanks,” Harry replied as their next dish come out. The conversation then centred around what everyone else had been up to this morning, and Harry found that Narcissa had a deep love of music and had been making her way through the instruments in the music room. Apparently, some Potter or another had collected some very valuable pieces that would have made Narcissa drool had she allowed herself to do something so unseemly.

“Quite a few of them needed retuning or some attention. There are a few broken pieces as well that need to be repaired by someone more skilled than myself, it would be a crime to throw away such marvellous musical history.” She told Harry, “I can recommend a tremendous Luthier, that is, if you want them to be reconditioned.”

Harry nodded, “I don’t see why not, though I don’t play myself it would be a shame to lose such important historical pieces, especially if you actually want to play them. If you could let Bosto or Losto know what needs repairing and write down the address of your recommendation I’ll get onto it at some stage.”

Narcissa smiled at him, “I.. thank you, Harry, I was not allowed to indulge my hobby during my marriage,” she said somewhat sadly.

“Just because I can’t do it myself doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it when someone else does. It would be nice to hear some beautiful music around the place, so don’t worry about putting up silencing charms,” Harry replied.

Narcissa seemed to need a moment to compose herself so Harry tactfully turned the conversation to Draco and Pansy. Pansy smiled at Harry and Draco gave him an approving nod. Harry wanted to roll his eyes in return, it’s not like he had done something amazing. But then, he realised Narcissa probably had a very similar living situation with Lucius, as he did with the Dursleys.

 


 

They had finished wandering the gardens and were just now leaving the mews and attached paddocks. The Potters kept and bred many different types of equines, both muggle breeds of Arabians and Friesians as well as a high number of magical breeds such as Abraxians, Aethonans, Granians and Thestrals. They even had a small herd of Hippogriffs. It was a part of why the Potter lands were so large, they needed that space to breed and roam. Nubto had been breeding the herds only as necessary to keep them going for the last twenty years. With the war, there was no –one to direct him to do otherwise. This was another thing Harry realised he was going to have to learn about. Horse-husbandry.

Harry was now directing them towards a small rise, with Pansy on his arm he looked back at Draco, “did you bring your broom, Draco?” he asked casually.

“Of course, Harry, why?” Draco replied.

“Oh, no real reason,” Harry smirked, “just thought perhaps we might be able to play a seeker game or two before we go back to school to keep our skills sharp.” He pulled Pansy to the side a little so Draco could get the full view of the Quidditch Pitch that was nestled in the valley below. His grin widened as Draco’s jaw dropped.

“Bloody hell, Potter, how did you get so lucky?” he said as he stepped past Harry and Pansy.

Harry’s face fell a little, he wasn’t really lucky, sure he had an awesome house, with a Quidditch pitch and he was incredibly rich. But he’d trade it all in a heartbeat to have been able to grow up with his parents, to not have grown up with the Dursleys. He didn’t notice that Pansy was watching him with a small frown. Instead, Harry ignored the question Draco had asked and focused on his own, “so how about it? Care to try and catch the snitch for once?”

“You’re on Potter,” Draco said turning around with a shark-like grin.

“Alright, on the weekend then, I’ve got a few things to do before then. Plus, it’ll give you time to try the pitch out so you can’t moan about home ground advantage.” Draco’s grin got wider. “Would you three mind if Pansy and I excused ourselves for a while? There’s something I want to show her as the future lady of this place.”

“Of course, Harry, I daresay Draco will beat me back to the house in a rush to get back out here,” Narcissa said with a fond smile for her son.

“I will escort you on a more leisurely stroll if you would like the company, Ms Black?” Remus said, “I have no need to rush anywhere at the moment.”

Narcissa nodded at him, “thank you, Mr Lupin.”

Harry smiled and said goodbye, Pansy giving them a small wave as they made their way across the field towards a grove of trees that grew on the property. “Where are we going, Harry?” Pansy asked, “I’m not really wearing the right attire to be traipsing about in the woods you know.”

“It’s a surprise,” replied Harry, “and there’s a path, so don’t worry.”

Pansy huffed, but followed, for now. They had been walking for nearly ten minutes when they approached a small bend in the path. Harry stopped them and turned to her, “would you close your eyes?” Pansy raised an eyebrow at him, “trust me?” her eyes narrowed for a moment before she slid her eyelids completely shut. She rolled her eyes beneath her lids and she would swear she could hear Harry grinning. He dropped her arm and moved to stand behind her, hands on her shoulders they walked the last few steps and Harry turned her around the bend. “Okay, you can open your eyes now.”

When Pansy did she gasped. There right in front of her, was something from a dream or a fairy-tale book. There was a pond that was being fed by a small river on one side, and surrounding the rest of the water was lush soft-looking grass, the trees were filled with pink and purple flowers and overhung the area, letting in only a little light to dapple the ground. There was a large fallen trunk that could easily double as a seat or a backrest, Harry had clearly thought the latter as there was a beautiful rug lain in front of it and a picnic basket to complete the picture. She turned to Harry with confusion showing on her face.

Harry sheepishly ran one hand through the back of his hair, messing it further. “I, well, I remembered this morning how you said the other day that with this contract it took away our options of dating. And I thought that didn’t have to be completely true. So I planned this, is it, well, is it okay?” He asked nervously, he’d never done something like this before there was the failed disaster of a date with Cho last year. But he’d sort of let her take the lead on that one. This was the first thing he had put any effort into.

Pansy looked again to the stunning scene in front of her to view it once more, then turning back to Harry she gave him a large, genuine smile and said, “it’s perfect, Harry. Thank you.”

Harry blushed but smiled back nonetheless, taking her hand he led her over to the blanket and they sat down. Though there was a fair measure of space between them. Pansy had arranged the skirt of her dress so that it fell and covered her legs and Harry reached into the basket and began pulling out various finger sized sweets, as well as a pot of tea that had been charmed to stay hot.

“So, what did you have planned for us while we are here?” Pansy asked after she accepted the cup of tea from Harry, she noted that she didn’t have to remind him how she liked it and was a little impressed.

“Um, well, I thought we could perhaps get to know each other a little better? Find out each other’s interests and hobbies and things?”

Pansy nodded, “alright, Harry, since you came up with this, I’ll let you ask the first question.”

Harry flashed her a grin before asking, “so is it just you and your dad? Or do you have other family as well?”

“There is only my younger brother Aster, my mother died giving birth to him,” Pansy said.

“I’m so sorry,” Harry replied softly, “I didn’t mean..”

Pansy shrugged lightly, “it’s okay I’m used to it, I mean I miss her of course I do, but I feel worse for Aster. At least I knew her, have memories of her, Aster doesn’t even have that.” She looked up from where she had been staring at her tea, “Oh posh, Harry, I’m sorry I didn’t think…”

Harry’s lips twisted into a wry smile, “it’s like you said, I’m used to it. Tell me about Aster? What’s he like?”

Pansy’s smile turned sweet, “he’s like any other eight-year-old boy, I’m sure you know what it’s like.” Harry gave a non-committal grunt, “he’s hyperactive and he loves to collect bugs. Usually, he hides them in my room, though I can’t be very mad at him for it, I perfected the vanishing charm thanks to him.” She said this with a little laugh. “He’s excited to meet you,” at Harry’s enquiring noise she went on ”I haven’t told him about the betrothal, I didn’t want to worry him that I was going to marry someone I didn’t know. I didn’t want him to think I was going to be unhappy in my marriage. So I told him I was going to make a new friend, he got all excited and said he wanted to make a new friend too.”

“We should invite them over here for dinner soon,” Harry told her, “I did say to your dad that I would have them here so we could all get to know each other a little better. Can you organise something?”

Pansy tilted her head at him, “can I organise the meal with Missy?” she asked.

Harry nodded, “of course, you know what they would like to eat better than anyone.”

“Then I’ll organise it for tomorrow night,” Pansy told him. “So it’s fairly obvious that you like to fly, but what else do you like to do in your spare time?” she asked him.

He shrugged and looked at the cupcake in his hands, pulling a piece off he popped it in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully before answering her, “I don’t really get a lot of spare time, but at school, I usually play chess or exploding snap with Ron. Sometimes I help the twins with their pranks or products.” he shrugged again and looked up to meet her eyes, “I haven’t really had a lot of free time to know exactly what I like doing. What about you? What are your hobbies?”

Pansy was giving him a shrewd look but she didn’t voice whatever it was she was thinking, “I quite enjoying swimming, horse-riding, and reading in front of the fire in winter. I have a rather diverse reading taste and enjoy almost anything, from autobiographies to muggle fiction.”

“Horse-riding?” Harry asked.

Pansy nodded, “yes I’ve been riding since I was six, my father brought me my first pony for my birthday that year, I’ve loved it ever since.”

“Maybe you could teach me a few things about it then,” Harry said, “as you saw before the Potters have quite an extensive hand in horses, and breeding from what I was able to make out from the books and Nubto this morning.”

“The Potters have always raised enviable equines,” Pansy agreed. “It is one of the things your family is well known for, before what happened to you and your parents.”

Harry chewed his lip looking thoughtful, “what else do you know about my family? Or what else does wizarding society know?” he asked the brunette girl.

Pansy emptied her tea and when she set it down, Harry refilled it for her, she felt a little bit of pleasure at the thought that he was that attentive. “Well, the Potters are very private, their personal affairs and such are fairly unknown. Mainly people only know about the professional accomplishments of your family, like that your grandfather Fleamont Potter was the maker of Sleakeasy’s Hair Potion, and that one of your ancestors was the creator of Skele-gro. Along with well-bred horses, your family is well known for their potions creativity, nearly every generation of Potters have made an improvement or advancement in the field of potions.”

Harry suddenly felt disappointed in himself, his own potions grades were pretty dismal. He hadn’t gotten his OWL results yet but he didn’t think he’d be able to get into the NEWT class, now he felt like he was letting his family heritage down. Pansy watched as several emotions flickered over Harry’s face. She wondered what it was he was thinking about.

“I asked Draco to tutor me a little this summer,” Harry stated after a moment.

Pansy nodded, “he told me this morning,” she replied a little unsure where he was going with this, especially with the sudden morose tone he was using. Harry sighed and let his head fall into his hands, “what is it?” she questioned, “do you not want Draco to help you? Because he is excellent at potions and really you couldn’t ask for a better tutor. He really is quite patient and helpful.” She said frostily defending her friend.

Harry looked up abruptly, “that’s not it, though Draco helpful and patient? I’ll have to see that before I believe it I’m afraid,” he told her with a grin trying to deflect the question she had asked.

She gave him a look, one that told Harry she saw right through his ploy, and she folded her arms across her chest in a get on with it gesture. Harry’s eyes flicked quickly to her arms and he quickly averted his gaze, with reddening cheeks, from her now much more prominent bust. Not that her assets were inconsiderable before. “Er, well, it’s just that in the last few days I’ve come to realise just how little I know, about the wizarding world and my place in it. I’m really unprepared for this and I sorta feel like I’m letting my family down and I’ve got so many people that I need to think about now that are relying on me to not mess up and well, it’s just a lot of pressure. That’s not even considering the current state of things with Voldemort and the Ministry.”

Pansy let him speak and when he finished she asked, “what have you found out so far this morning?”

Harry let out a long sigh, “I’ve only really looked at the Potter accounts so far, some of the Black and a little of the Peverall, I haven’t even touched the Founder houses yet. But it seems my accounts are in a bit of a shambles apparently with no-one looking after them since before the war. I’ve made Remus my steward and he’s helping me sort them all out. But I’m the CEO of a bunch of companies that are all going to want/need my input soon. Thankfully, none of them have gone bankrupt and have either kept the status quo or gained a little in profitability. So I can leave them be for a little while longer while I sort out exactly what needs doing. There are a couple of stocks that need dumping and others that need reinvesting, though Merlin knows how that works. I also found out that I have around fifty rental houses, those are probably the most urgent as I have no idea what kind of condition those places are in, some of them have come through the Peverell and Black lines and who knows how long those have actually been looked at or maintained, the Potter ones haven’t been looked at for at least twenty-five. I don’t want to have people living in those places if they aren’t up to a certain standard and Remus said the rental rates need to be readjusted as well. Apparently, they are pretty low for most of them and ‘absurdly’ low in others. The rates haven’t been adjusted for modern day wages and stuff.”

“Well, I could definitely help you with that if you like Harry?” Pansy told him, “I’ve been managing the Parkinson business and residential rentals for the last two years.”

Harry looked at her wide-eyed, “really?”

Pansy nodded, “my father wanted me to learn some business acumen and responsibility. It also allowed him to concentrate on other things.”

“That would be really helpful, thank-you Pansy,” Harry said smiling at her.

“How are we going to go to each of the properties though?” asked Pansy, “I mean, it’s like you said, in the current climate we can’t really go out and just start knocking on strangers doors, you need to retain your anonymity.”

Harry thought for a moment, “what if we got the House-elves to go and take pictures of everything? That way we could see the condition they are in and if anything needs fixing or repairing then we can send each occupant a letter from 'the owner’ with a list of what is going to be done. Remus can contact the contractors or I can use the Goblins.”

“Goblin work is expensive Harry,” Pansy warned him.

“I can afford it, and if it keeps us all safe then really the price doesn’t matter,” Harry replied. They were silent for a moment as that settled between them.

“Look, Harry,” Pansy began hesitantly, “I don’t really know what to say to you about feeling like your letting your family down as I didn’t know any of them personally. But I think I can say that as long as you continue to act the way you have been, learning about wizarding society, learning your family history and taking a more active role in your education and your family business dealings, you won’t be. You told me that you only found out about being Lord Potter, let alone the other titles only a week or so ago. You can’t expect to know it all by now and everything you have done since then, including how you’ve treated me when really I have no right to expect you to be so nice, as I have been a terrible person to you these last few years. Well, I think they would have been proud of you.” Pansy told him quietly looking away from him as she finished.

Harry felt a funny sort of warmth spread through him at her words, Pansy made a lot of sense and she was right, there really was no reason for him to feel bad about letting them down especially when he hadn’t really had the chance to yet. “Thank-you,” he said quietly and they sat in silence for a while, listening to the gentle rippling of the stream and the birds in the trees.

Harry was selecting another muffin from the basket when he heard Pansy gasp softly, he looked up at her and seeing her staring at the trees on the opposite side of the pond he followed her gaze. There standing half hidden in the shadow was a young unicorn mare and her foal. The sunlight glinting off their respective silver and gold coats. Harry smiled and looked back at the enraptured look on Pansy’s face, “I hoped they might come, Nubto said they liked this spot. There’s a small herd of unicorns that live on the Potter lands as they are protected here.”

“You planned for this as well?” Pansy asked him softly now staring at him incredulously.

Harry grinned and opened the second basket, showing Pansy that it was full to the brim with alfalfa stalks. “It’s their favourite apparently,” he told her gesturing for her to take the basket.

Pansy stood and timidly approached the pair, the mother tossed her head nervously and pawed the ground, but the foal nickered and ran to the sweet-smelling fodder thrusting its head eagerly into the basket startling a laugh out of the brunette Slytherin.

Harry looked on with a sense of accomplishment and happiness at the scene in front of him, Pansy was completely relaxed and Harry could see how in awe she was of the creatures in front of her. Suddenly a light breeze tossed the leaves above them and sunlight poured through, illuminating golden strands within the girl's hair and causing the unicorns to shine. Harry was suddenly struck by how beautiful his betrothed was. He recalled a comment Hermione had made in their third year about Pansy being pug-faced and thought now that she was entirely wrong and it had rather a mean thing to say for his normally kind friend. Sure back then Pansy had been a little full in the cheeks but now, she had lost that little bit of childhood pudge and her slightly upturned nose was actually quite cute in her now more womanly face. She had rather full lips and striking pale jade eyes. Her eyebrows were well-groomed and arched near the ends, her chin small and cheekbones high and well defined. Harry had of course already noted the generous curves in her hips and her rather endowed bust line. Her penchant for fitted muggle clothing had certainly highlighted that fact to him already. He found himself trying to swallow down the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat at his realisation that his betrothed was one of, if not the best-looking girls in their year.

He jumped a little when he realised the unicorns had left the clearing, having finished the alfalfa Harry had packed. Pansy was twirling in giddiness, her skirt flaring out to give Harry a glimpse of shapely legs. She came to a stop facing him and quickly walked back around to the picnic rug a smile shining on her face. “Thank you, Harry, for doing this.” She said a little breathless as she sat down again, picking up the flask of water and taking a sip.

Harry’s cheeks reddened slightly as he rubbed a hand through his hair, messing it further, “you’re welcome, I remembered how much you liked them in Care of Magical Creatures that time and I thought you might like to see some of the ones here.”

“You remembered something like that about me from two years ago?” she asked him surprised.

Harry shrugged a little embarrassed, “I have a pretty decent memory,” he told her.

“Well, I’m impressed, Harry. You’ve put together a rather lovely date.”

“Er.. thanks,” Harry said with a small smile.

“Oh don’t thank me, Harry. You do realise that this sets a sort of standard now don’t you?” Pansy said her eyes and smile teasing him.

Harry laughed, “well I’m not sure how to top this, but I’ll see what I can do.”

Pansy nodded with fake imperiousness, “see that you do my Lord Potter.”

Harry stood and bowed, returning the fake snobbery he intoned, “as my lady wishes,” as he held out his hand to help her to her feet.

They slowly made their way back to the Manor both walking a little closer to each other than they had previously. Pansy’s arm wrapped a little tighter around Harry’s as they joked and teased one another, trying to best each other with their snootiest voice. Pansy, of course, won, but it made Harry like her a little more to see this entertaining side to his betrothed. It gave him a little hope for the future.

Chapter Text

It was a little after lunch at Grimmauld Place and Ron was in the kitchen looking for a snack when suddenly the twins pounced on him. They apparated him upstairs to the room he used when he stayed at the old Black house. “Oi! What are you doing?” Ron exclaimed at his brothers.

“We want to know,”

“how Harry is,” said the Fred and George.

Ron scowled, “look I already told everyone that I’m not telling you where he is.. wait you said how, not where?”

The Twins nodded, “you said he was safe and that he has people around him that he can trust.” Fred replied.

“and we believe you, especially since Remus disappeared yesterday without so much as a goodbye,” carried on George.

“But you didn’t say how he was,”

“or why he ran away?”

Ron bit his lip, he wasn’t sure how much he should tell the Twins, only because Harry had asked him not to say anything to anyone. Though Ron rather thought that extended more to his Dumbledore and the older members of the Order, finally he settled on an answer. “He’s good, he’s had his life turned upside down by Sirius’s death and he’s trying to deal with all that and you’re right, Remus is there with him.”

The Twins nodded and looked at each other before nodding, George pulled a letter out from inside his robe and handed it to Ron, “will you give him this from us?”

“We want him to know that he has us standing with him if he needs anything,” Fred said.

Ron gingerly took the letter, hoping it wasn’t pranked, “Yeah I can give it to him, Hermione and I were hoping to find a way to visit him tonight.”

“You need a distraction?” Fred guessed.

“It would be helpful,” Ron replied.

George grinned as he rubbed his hands together, “we are very good at distractions little brother.” Ron snorted and they quickly got to plotting.

 


 

Harry, Pansy and Remus were in the Lord’s study, Harry was currently sitting on the floor sorting through various business holdings for the Potter accounts, whilst Pansy sat on a chair next to him looking through the Black books at the same. Remus was sitting quietly at the desk Harry had set up for him (as Remus refused to share the Lord’s desk) and was looking at, and consolidating onto a piece of parchment, the shares Harry owned across the five families.

Harry frowned at a piece of parchment for the rental of a building to Schrivenschafts in Hogsmeade, “Pansy,” Harry said, getting the girls attention.

“Yes, Harry?” she answered after a short pause.

“Doesn’t the Black family own Schrivenschafts?” he asked her.

She flicked through the book she was holding and ran her finger down one page, “yes they do, they are the sole owner, though it has been managed by one family for the last three generations.”

Harry nodded, “well, the Potter family owns the building they rent, could I just transfer the building into the Black family name? It seems silly to be paying myself rent.”

Pansy thought about it for a moment, “it depends mainly on how you plan to divide the family names later. If you name someone your heir who isn’t your blood then you may want to keep it like that so that the Potter family always has an income.”

Harry snorted softly, “I rather doubt I need to worry about income for any of the Houses.” He replied, “besides I can always divvy up the businesses between each House more equally when it comes time to think about that kind of stuff. For now, I’m thinking it is one less piece of parchment and one less line in my account statements to keep track of.”

Pansy nodded, “there is that, I suppose, we best keep it as simple as possible for you Gryffindor types,” she teased.

Harry mock scowled at her and summoned some parchment to himself, as well as some ink and a quill. He wrote another missive to Blunttooth authorising the sale of the property to the Black Family for the price of a galleon and added it to the pile he intended to send to his Account Manager. He then wrote a note for himself to write a letter to the manager of the Schrivenschafts to notify them of the sale and the changes that would bring to the running of the store. Putting that aside he picked up another piece of parchment. They worked steadily through the afternoon making many minor adjustments to the accounts and a few major ones. Harry also had a very long list of correspondence to write the next day. His hand pre-emptively cramped just thinking of it.

Bosto and Losto had been busy popping around to some of the various properties Harry owned and had taken some photos and many notes about the current state and maintenance needs of each property. So far they had managed to fully inform Harry of a half-dozen properties. “What do you think about hiring more house-elves to look after the business and rental properties?” Harry asked the room at large, “I mean, the letters or shop managers can write when they have a problem and we can just send an elf to fix it?”

Remus was thoughtful and even Pansy was considering what he said, “it would mean we could be assured of the quality of work and wouldn’t risk being overcharged for something. Also, the elves could do six monthly inspections of the properties to make sure everything was up to a standard.” Pansy told him.

“The only issue you could run into Harry,” Remus said, “is that there aren’t usually a lot of free house-elves around and what would you do if the elves were busy?”

“Well, if the elves were busy then we hire a contractor on an as-needed basis,” Harry replied, “I suppose you’re right though about elves not growing on trees. Dobby,” Harry called.

“Yes, Master Harry?” Dobby said, popping up beside Harry.

“Dobby, if you ever hear of a house-elf without a family can you please ask them if they would like to bond with me? I think I have work for them.”

“Master Harry is having more work?” Dobby asked eagerly, “Master Harry is needing more elves?” Harry nodded, “Dobby is knowing of some elves that would love to be Master Harry’s! Dobby is going to them right away! Dobby is coming back soon with more elves!” and with that, the exuberant elf popped away.

“Er, right then,” Harry said awkwardly, “I think that’s settled…” Pansy was looking at Harry a little bit stunned and Remus was just trying to hold back his laughter at the absurdity of it. Dobby appeared a little over ten minutes later with no less than fifteen house-elves of varying ages and gender. The humans needed a moment to get over the shock of the amount of house-elves Dobby had managed to round up. Remus’s barely contained chuckles became full-blown laughter. Because, of course, if Harry asked, Dobby would provide. “Er, Dobby?” Harry asked just a little unsure of what was going on.

“Master Harry is asking if Dobby is knowing of elves wanting work! These elvesies are wanting to be bonding to a family!”

Harry nodded slowly, his thoughts racing through his head, “right, er okay.” He looked around at all the hopeful expressions on the faces of the elves below him. “I’m not sure how much work there is exactly, there’s going to be a fair amount, to begin with, but it may taper off, I don’t want any of you to be bored.”

He’d barely finished speaking when he was interrupted by a dozen voices, “we is not minding sir!” said the elf closest to him.

“If there is no work, elves can start their own families!” cried a female elf excitedly to the apparent approval of the rest.

“Elvesies will always find something to do!” said one dressed all in blue.

“We is not lazy!” said another.

Harry held up a hand to stem the flow of voices, “hang on, what do you mean start families?”

All the elves exchanged glances, even Dobby wouldn’t meet Harry’s gaze, “Someone answer me, please.” Harry said commandingly, sensing something was amiss.

The female elf who had mentioned it spoke in a quavering voice, “House-elves is not having families if there is work to be done,” she told Harry.

“What? Why not?” He asked after exchanging a questioning look with Remus and Pansy, apparently, neither of them knew the answer either.

The house-elf he asked winced, “house-elf pregnancies be very delicate, sir. They is not be using their magic or being able to do very much at all when they be making little elves.”

“I see,” said Harry, “is that why there are so few house-elves as a race? Because you are not allowed to.. make little elves?” He asked using her words to try and make her feel more comfortable with the topic. She nodded quickly, ears flapping as she did so. “Right, well, that’s not on,” he replied. “If you want it, I will offer you a place in my household and if any of you at any time wish to have your own families all you have to do is let me know. I would hope that you would all make sure you weren’t putting too much strain on anyone else. But I won’t hold you back if you want a family.” He was surprised when he was suddenly being hugged by many thin arms. Even Dobby had wrapped his arms around Harry’s head. Harry managed to meet Pansy’s eyes and saw open amusement on her features. “Dobby?” said Harry weakly, “bit of help please?”

Just as suddenly as he had been encompassed he was released, and the elves all quickly formed a line in front of Harry. The one in front the female elf who had spoken up about the wish to have a family. She was holding her hands out to Harry with a hopeful look on her face. “Er, so what’s your name? And why don’t you have a family already?” Harry asked her gently.

“My name is being Teely!” she squeaked, “Teely is being a Nanny elf primarily but her old family is not needing her anymore as they is no longer having children of their own. But Teely can do everything any other house elf can! But Teely is liking to look after babies Sir. Is Master Harry be having children for Teely to look after?”

Harry’s cheeks reddened and he quickly cast a look at Pansy who was still looking amused at Harry’s discomfort, “er, not for a while at least Teely. Sorry,” he added at the disappointed look on the house-elf’s face. “If you want babies to look after you might have to make your own,” he told her with a wink. She giggled at him and reoffered her hands out for him to take, they bonded quickly and Harry was surprised when she didn’t pass out like Dobby had. When he questioned his head elf about it later Dobby told him it was because he had been bonded as the Head Elf, there was knowledge that needed to be granted to Dobby, that a general elf did not need. Harry nodded at the explanation and then made his way through bonding the other elves to him. They all had varying specialities and passions.

When he was finished bonding with them all, Harry told them why he had originally asked for them. They quickly agreed to do as Harry asked and soon Harry had files on nearly all of his properties with details on their current states. He and Pansy abandoned their current task of looking at the financials in favour of checking out the properties. Dobby had brought another large work table into the Lord’s study for them to use.

“We or rather you, Harry, should write a standard letter to each tenant and let them know that things have been fixed around the place,” Pansy said as they looked through each one and made notes on what they thought needed fixing or replacing right away.

“But won’t that give away who I am?” Harry asked her.

“Not if you just sign it ‘your landlord’,” Pansy replied, as she grabbed a piece of parchment to draft a letter. She quickly had a usable copy and underneath the signature, she included a spot for the house-elves to write down the tasks they had completed at each location. “They can make a copy of the letter after to put in our records so you always have an up to date file on each property.”

“That’s a really good idea,” Harry told her reading over what she had written, it was a very basic letter that informed whoever was managing/living in the property in question that works had been undertaken to improve the quality and health of the building. There was a parting comment to inform the tenant that an inspection of the property would happen every six months, but should something urgent arise in the meantime they were to ask for a House-Elf by the name of Habrey, he was a male elf that they had decided would be in charge of maintaining the business and rental properties. He had a lot of building experience and magical maintenance experience. “Let’s do it.”

Remus watched the two work efficiently through the pile of parchment work in front of them, drawing up lists and discussing opinions, sending house-elves to each location as they finished. He thought they actually worked quite well together, and they were certainly more relaxed in each other’s presence than they had been the night before. Harry’s date idea seemed to have made them a little more comfortable with one another. Something inside him loosened marginally, maybe the two of them could make this marriage work at least.

 


 

Over at Grimmauld Place, they were all sitting down for dinner when Dumbledore came through the fireplace. He’d been coming around several times a day to talk to Ron and Hermione, trying to get them to tell him where Harry was. So far they had been able to avoid his gaze and his questions. Ron and Hermione shared an exasperated look and Ron dug more determinedly into his mashed potatoes as Hermione opened the book she had brought to the table.

“Ah, Molly,” Dumbledore began genially, “I see you’ve laid out your usual wonderful spread.”

Molly smiled at the old man, “thank you, you’re welcome to join us, Albus,” she said gesturing to a chair. She couldn’t help it, the hostess in her couldn’t resist compliments to her food.

“I believe I will,” replied the Headmaster. A few minutes passed as the Weasley family, Dumbledore and the few members of the Order who were present, namely Kingsley and Tonks ate in relative comfort and spoke about meaningless topics. The Twins had engaged Mundungus in yet another question about sourcing ingredients for their shop. Molly kept giving the thief the stink-eye as they did so.

After dessert had been served, Dumbledore made his move, “Mr Weasley, Miss Granger, Miss Weasley,” he said addressing Ron, Hermione and Ginny. “I have your Hogwarts letters here,” he told them holding up the envelopes in question, “I thought I would deliver them personally as we have been seeing each so often these holidays. I had hoped that perhaps young Harry might be here tonight and I could give him his as well?”

Hermione didn’t look up from her book and so caught everyone by surprise when she quickly summoned the letters from Dumbledore’s hand. “Thank you, Headmaster. That was very thoughtful of you.” She said as she opened her own to look over the book list.

“Yeah,” replied Ron as he shifted closer to Hermione and took his letter from her hand and passed Ginny’s to her. “Don’t worry, we’ll make sure Harry gets his.”

“Ah, yes. How do you propose getting Harry’s to him though? The Hogwarts owls could not find him.” Dumbledore pressed, not wanting to cause a fuss over the summoning as he wanted them on his good side.

“We’ll send it with Hedwig the next time Harry writes to us,” Ron said, privately thinking they should just duplicate what was written in the letter and burn the original. It was obviously loaded with tracking spells.

“I see, you can’t return to Harry’s side as you did the other day?” Dumbledore asked hopefully.

“Nope,” Ron replied shortly.

“It was a one-time thing,” Hermione told him as she reread her Hogwarts letter again.

“Ronald, Hermione,” Molly interrupted, “it’s very careless of you two, not to tell us where Harry is! What if he gets into trouble?” she asked, her eyes brimming slightly, “we are all worried sick about him!” and it was the truth, at least in Molly’s case. She was very fond of Harry and thought of him as one of her own, she hated thinking he was out there all alone, with no-one to look after him or to make sure he was eating enough, he was such a peaky looking thing.

“Mum,” Ron said looking at his mother, “Harry’s fine, he is being looked after and Remus is with him.”

“Remus?” asked Dumbledore sharply, he hadn’t realised the werewolf had gone. “When did he leave?”

“Yesterday,” replied Tonks, “he packed his things and was gone as soon as he could walk after the moon, he didn’t even tell me he was going or where,” the metamorphagus said despondently.

“Why wasn’t I told?” Dumbledore asked, anger sharpening his voice.

“Uh, because Remus is a grown man and you’re not his keeper?” said Ginny sarcastically. She may not be in the loop on what was going on, but she knew whatever Harry was doing it was for the right reasons, he wouldn’t just act out like this. Besides, she wasn’t very impressed with the way the Headmaster had been acting since Harry had disappeared from Gringotts. He was very agitated and cagey like he was hiding something. Ginny often thought about using her bat bogey hex repeatedly on the Headmaster until he told her what was going on, the only reason she didn’t was that she was sure her mother would wash her mouth out with soap.

“Ginerva!” Molly said aghast at her daughter’s irreverence.

Ginny just shrugged and folded her arms across her chest, looking away from the old man. Dumbledore looked thoughtfully at Ginny for a moment and then turned back to Ron and Hermione, “it is imperative that you tell me where he is if you find out, it’s not safe for him to be outside our protection.”

“Uh huh, sure, whatever. Can I please be excused, Mum?” Ron asked, “Hermione said she was going to help me with my charms homework tonight.”

Molly nodded, “yes of course, off you go, all of you may leave. We have other things we need to discuss.” Meaning that there was an Order meeting about to happen.

Ron, Hermione and Ginny stood and walked out the door, once they were out of listening range Ginny arched an eyebrow at Ron. “You did your charms homework already, I heard you muttering about Flitwick the other day. What’s going on?”

Ron looked at Hermione and then back at his sister, “we can’t tell you yet. Harry asked us not to say anything to anyone.”

Ginny frowned, “I’m his friend too Ron, I want to help him too if he needs it.”

Suddenly, there was a commotion from the kitchen, a series of loud bangs and smoke came pouring out the sides of the door, “look, we gotta go, Ginny, that’s our signal. Sorry, we’ll talk later okay?” Ron said hurriedly, Hermione gave Ginny an apologetic look and the two quickly strode to the fireplace, Ron went through first and spoke too quietly for Ginny to hear. She knew Hermione would do the same, so she surreptitiously cast an eavesdropping spell, she cast a moment too late though and missed hearing what Hermione muttered. Sighing heavily, she supposed she would just have to pester them about it when they got back. Deciding to wait for Hermione, Ginny went upstairs and settled onto the other girl’s bed with a Quidditch magazine to pass the time.

 


 

Harry was happy to see the floo light up and stood to greet his friends. He had asked them to come through tonight to meet Pansy. He’d thought it was probably better for them to meet sooner rather than later and so he had asked Ron and Hermione to come around. He pulled Ron into a brief, manly hug and they moved out of the way for Hermione to come through, Hermione’s bushy hair standing even more on end from the whirling of the floo. Harry hid a grin as she launched herself at him and squeezed him tightly. “Need to breathe ‘Mione,” Harry huffed out lightly.

“Oh, sorry, I’ve just so relieved to see you! You have no idea what it’s been like at Headquarters..” Hermione’s speech came to a screeching halt as she suddenly noticed Pansy.

Harry stepped back from Hermione to stand next to Pansy, earning himself an approving look from his betrothed. Though he wasn’t sure Ron and Hermione noticed the small change in her facial expression. “Ron, Hermione, I’d like to formally introduce you to my betrothed, Pansy Parkinson.”

Pansy bobbed a shallow curtsey at Harry’s two best friends and said, “thank you for agreeing to meet me, I am glad for the chance to get to know the two of you better.”

Ron gave her a somewhat jerky bow, clearly unused to having to show off his pureblood etiquette, “thanks for the allowing us the opportunity.” He replied, gently nudging Hermione with his elbow as he straightened.

Hermione glanced at him slightly confused before following Ron’s lead and dipping her own slightly wobbly curtsey, clearly a little put out at the show of courtly manners. She frowned a little as she rose, but Pansy spoke before she could say anything. “Would you join us in the lounge for some tea and cake?”

Ron perked up at the word cake and nodded, “that sounds good.”

Harry grinned at his best mate and gestured for them to follow him. Pansy taking his arm as they left the room, Harry could feel Hermione’s eyes boring into him as they walked. He wondered how long it would take for her lecture to start, Hermione hated anything that displayed inequality between people or beings. They entered the cosy lounge and Harry helped Pansy to sit and then waited as Hermione took her seat, Ron did the same in an unusual display of gentlemanly manners. Hermione gave Ron a mildly shocked look. “Like I said last time, Hermione, just because I don’t normally do it, doesn’t mean I don’t know how.” Ron told her with a grin as he took a seat on the couch once Harry had sat next Pansy.

Missy quickly arrived and placed two serving trays on the coffee table, one for a tea service and one laden with small cakes. Ron’s eyes immediately lit up and he leant forward to grab a napkin and three of the little pink cakes. Pansy busied herself with the tea for a moment, ensuring that everyone had a cup fixed to their liking. Harry noticed Hermione watching Pansy’s movements, he saw the moment Hermione realised that Pansy hadn’t asked Harry how he liked his tea and had simply given him a cup and saucer already mixed to his preference.

“What have you been up to today then, Harry?” Ron asked when no-one spoke as they sipped their tea’s.

“Well, this morning, Remus and I went over a lot of my accounts, just trying to sort everything out. Not a lot has been done to them for a while and they are all a bit of a mess. I made Remus my steward, so he’s getting paid to help me with it all. Hopefully, it will mean I can fob some of it off onto him later as well.” Harry said with a grin, “then this afternoon, I took Pansy, Narcissa and Draco on a tour of the grounds. Oh, yeah, so they are staying here now, they turned up yesterday evening. Neither of them are marked and they both renounced the Malfoy name in favour of the Black one.”

Ron’s eyebrows rose and even Hermione looked a little surprised, “that was quick,” Hermione commented.

Harry shrugged, “apparently living with Voldemort is not as fun as it seems.” He let that conversation rest for now as he continued, “after the tour, Remus, Pansy and I spent the afternoon in my study. Remus was busy looking over all my shares and Pansy and I sorted out some of the business and rental properties.”

“Sorted out?” Hermione asked her eyes darting between the two of them.

“Yes,” Pansy answered before Harry could, “many of them haven’t had any maintenance done for quite a while, we were able to find out their general condition and organised for work to be done on them. It was quite a long task but worth it. As now the businesses will be more profitable and the tenants much happier, we can also now reasonably adjust the prices of the rentals.”

“You’re going to raise the cost of rent on places, Harry?” Hermione asked, her brow doing that furrowing thing she got when she disapproved of something.

“Well, yeah,” Harry replied, “only to reflect the current market, most of the places haven’t seen a rent increase in over fifty years. There are some businesses that have gone even longer than that, namely the ones belonging to the Peverell, Gryffindor and Slytherin assets. There are some paying two galleons a week in rent for a prime location in Hogsmeade, when currently those shops are worth a lot more than that.”

Hermione blew air out her nose, the closest thing she usually came too when she didn’t want to admit someone else was right. “So,” Harry asked, “what’s been happening at Grimmauld? How’s everyone ‘coping’ with my disappearance?”

Ron snorted noisily, “Mum’s hardly coping, she’s torn between being angry at you for running off and crying fits because she’s so worried about you.”

Harry winced, “I’m sorry, but if I knew for sure she wasn’t going to tell Dumbledore, right away, where I was then..”

Ron waved him off as he reached for his tea, “I know, it’s hard for her though, you’re like another son to her.” Harry nodded sadly, he was very fond of the Weasley matriarch himself, he often felt that the unconditional care and love Mrs Weasley showered on him filled a little bit of the hole his parents left. Even when she was being overprotective, like last year, Harry had known it was because of how much she actually cared about him. “Speaking of being an unofficial Weasley, the Twins wanted me to give you this.” He said pulling a crumpled letter from his pocket. “and Ginny wants you to know that she wants to help if you need it. She has no idea what she’s talking about mind, but she cornered us just before we left and reminded us she’s your friend too etc.”

Harry nodded taking the note from Ron, he quickly flicked it open. Scanning it quickly he smiled to himself and pocketed it to read in more detail later. “I trust Fred and George, Ginny as well. If they promise you not to tell anyone, you can bring them with you next time.”

“Are you sure that’s wise Harry?” questioned Hermione, “I mean, the Twins..”

Harry looked at her, “Fred and George are my business partners, remarkably trustworthy individuals and my friends,” he replied. “I don’t want them finding out about all this through someone else, the same goes for Ginny.”

“Yes, all this,” Hermione said her tone suddenly tight, “I’ve been doing some reading in the Black Library at Grimmauld, Harry,” her voice becoming part warning, part reprimand, “some of the stuff the Black family has done and some of the things you have to do as Lord Black is just archaic. This whole pureblood society is beyond backwards. Are you sure you want to be a part of all this?” She asked.

Harry felt Pansy stiffen slightly at his side as Hermione said her piece, “yeah, it’s all a bit different and some things are dated.” Hermione started to look vindicated, “but Hermione, I would have been a part of all this had my parents lived. This is who I am supposed to be. Besides even if I didn’t want to live up to my family name and expectations, I’d still have too, the family magic would push me towards it.”

“But it’s not you,” Hermione started to say, “the bowing and formality and..”

Harry cut her off, “no, but it’s who I want to be. I want to be a Lord Potter my parents could be proud of. I want to eventually use the influence that I now have to change our world for the better. I’ve spent the better part of today realising just how bloody influential I could be in wizarding society. How important I might one day be if I work hard. Hermione, you have no idea the changes I could bring about just by voting.”

Hermione was frowning again, “you sound like you’re talking about getting into politics, Harry. I thought you wanted to be an Auror?”

Harry shrugged, “I’ve had a lot of time to think over these holidays Hermione and with everything I’ve learned over the last week. I want to do more than just be an Auror. Besides, I don’t actually enjoy putting my life on the line, contrary to our adventures.”

“Or the way you fly,” Pansy said with a smirk in his direction.

Harry smirked back at her, “well, I can’t be too boring,” he returned, causing her eyes to dance lightly in amusement.

Hermione’s eyes narrowed as she set her teacup down, “how much of this is you talking, Harry? And how much of it is your betrothed’s,” she said with a bit of venom lacing the last word.

Harry glared at his second best friend, “Pansy has had nothing to do with my decision about this, Hermione, in fact, it’s the first time I’ve voiced it to anyone but Remus and we were only discussing this morning the good I could do.” He snapped at the bookish girl.

Hermione was about to retort when Pansy interrupted her own air frosty, “it’s true, Granger, Harry and I have barely spoken about our pasts let alone our future. I realise this is all very new and different to you, especially since you’re muggleborn and haven’t been raised on our ways, but that does not mean that thousands of years of tradition are bad. I can, however, agree that perhaps some of those customs, especially some that the recent Heads of the Black House followed, are archaic and change would be the best option. But change doesn’t happen just because you want it to.” Pansy said eyeing Hermione’s reaction, when the Gryffindor girl went to speak Pansy quickly stepped in, putting Hermione off balance once again, “That doesn’t mean change can’t happen, but you must realise that it is influential people that cause change. People in positions of power, of authority. Harry is one such person. Or will be, with the Lordships he wields, not to mention his financial status, I agree wholeheartedly that Harry could be the bringer of a great change in our community. Though I also see it will take more than this one conversation to put you at ease with this and myself.”

“Are you insinuating I’m not smart enough because I’m muggleborn?” Hermione asked angrily.

“I said nothing about your intelligence, Granger,” Pansy said, “you are, of course, very knowledgeable in certain areas . What I meant was that you cannot understand the complexities of a society you weren’t raised in simply by reading a few dozen books.”

“Harry was raised in the muggle world too,” Hermione pointed out.

“And yet, Harry is the one trying to understand the world he now lives in by asking questions and taking lessons on things the rest of us learnt when we were still on our parents knees! And he is not spouting half-baked prejudiced notions about things he only partially understands!” Pansy snapped, her patience thinning. She was not going to sit here and be insulted by someone who took a narrow-minded view of her life. “In the very short time we have spent together, I have come to see Harry as a very stubborn and yet compassionate person who looks out for those that society would otherwise shun and someone who actually acts on those feelings. Not someone who merely speaks about poorly researched injustices and rattles a tin menacingly in the library.” Hermione gasped a little Pansy’s cutting tone, “do you really think that learning a few courtly manners and a different way of speaking in public is really going to change your friend? Do you really think that his obstinacy would allow me to dictate who he is and what he does if he really wanted to do so?”

“Isn’t that just a fancy word for stubborn?” Harry asked trying to lighten the mood a little between the two glaring females. He was a little unsure whose side he should take. On one hand, Hermione was his best friend of the last five years, but on the other was Pansy, his soon to be wife. The muggle saying Harry had quoted to Pansy’s father played in his mind.

Thankfully he was saved by Ron, “well you have to admit, Harry. You’ve never stepped down from something you thought was right and you do everything you can to make it better. I mean every time we’ve gotten into trouble it’s because of that, what was it you called it last year,  Hermione? A saving people thing?” Hermione bit her lip gently as she nodded at Ron

“That’s right,” replied Harry with a bit of a smile, turning to Hermione more seriously though, he said, “Hermione, I know you’re just worried about all these changes that are going to be happening and that have happened already, and yeah, how I act sometimes is going to be one of them. But I’m still me, I’m still just Harry. I’m not going to become some snotty, uppity person. You know you could learn with me if you wanted? Narcissa is going to be teaching me every morning after breakfast. That way you can see for yourself exactly what I’m getting into and maybe it won’t all seem so bad.”

Hermione thought the offer over, “okay, I think I will, thank you, Harry. And I.. apologise for jumping to conclusions, I just..”

Surprisingly it was Pansy who finished her sentence, “feel like you’re going to be left out of Harry’s life.”

Hermione frowned a little uncomfortable at the other girl’s perceptiveness, “how did you know that?”

Pansy shrugged, “it’s the main reason why most purebloods avoid marrying muggleborns, most don’t understand the culture and don’t try to, some even,” she looked pointedly at Hermione, “refuse to learn it. Take Weasley’s father for example.” She said nodding at Ron, “he is well known for his love and curiosity about muggles and yet he married a Prewett, another pureblood.”

Hermione bit her lip as she thought about that, “but people do marry muggles, I mean Seamus is a half-blood, Harry is too,” she said after a moment.

Ron answered her, “not as many as you’d think Hermione, and it’s like, really rare for a pureblood too. It’s mostly squibs or muggleborns who do. Seamus is a minority to be honest, and Harry is a pureblood, his mum was a witch. A half-blood is someone who has one fully muggle parent. Someone with no magic. If you had a kid with a wizard they would be a pureblood too.”

Hermione was still looking a little upset, “but what about everyone who has magical parents at school who don’t subscribe to all the pureblood hypocrisy and rant about how ‘magical’ their blood is? And all that stuff Slytherins spout?”

Ron shrugged and looked at Harry and Pansy for an answer, “I think it’s partly to do with family names and the Lordships and stuff.”

Pansy nodded slightly, “that’s hard to answer Granger, I know part of the reason why others in my house look down on muggleborns and those that don’t subscribe to the old ways is because they ridicule our traditions and they have overruled many of our practices, saying they are ‘evil’, ‘dark’, and ‘unnatural’.”

“Like what?” Hermione asked intrigued despite herself.

“Birth Blessings, for example,” Pansy replied.

“What’s that?” Hermione questioned, “I haven’t heard of that before.”

“I’m not surprised, all the books pertaining blood rituals have been removed from Hogwarts,” Pansy said steadily as she refilled her teacup.

“Blood rituals! But that’s barbaric!” Hermione cried out.

“That’s kind of the point we’re making Hermione, Birth Blessings aren’t barbaric and are purely consensual.” Ron said softly, “I had one, so did all my brothers and Ginny.”

“But, but,” Hermione stammered.

“How do they work?” asked Harry instead, maybe if Hermione knew why they were important and how they happened she would be less inclined to object.

“Basically, after a child has reached its first month after the birth, they are blessed by the family. Each participating family member or close friend spills a few drops of blood into a chalice and runes are drawn on the baby. They are usually runes for health and happiness, that sort of thing.” Pansy explained. “Then everyone says a blessing over the baby to help protect or guide them in their life.”

“Well that doesn’t sound so bad,” Harry said, “and the blood is freely given?”

Ron nodded, “it has to be otherwise it won’t work.”

“But you see, it’s reactions like Granger’s just now, that has caused us to hide those practices and many others. We can’t rejoice in the happiness of the occasion because we will be seen as ‘dark’ and ‘evil’ magic users.” Pansy sighed.

Hermione was silent as she thought about what they said, “I’m sorry, I jumped to a conclusion when I didn’t have all the facts. I think there will be a lot I can learn from Mrs Malfoy.”

Harry shook his head, “it’s Ms Narcissa Black now, Hermione. Remember?”

“Oops,” replied the chestnut-haired girl, covering her mouth with her hand, “that will take some getting used to.”

Harry gave her a wry smile, even as Ron shook his head and muttered ‘mental’.

Harry looked over at Pansy and she gave Harry a brief nod and he saw her inhale deeply. “Granger, Weasley. I would like to say something.” When both of Harry’s friends centred their attention on her she continued, “in the interest of forging a cordial relationship with the two of you, I would like to offer my apologies for any ill-spoken words and rumours that I started or shared about the two of you. I have not particularly kind to you these past years and I am sorry for my role in our poor relationship thus far.”

Hermione glanced at Harry and then at Ron, “Parkinson..” she began, “I haven’t been very nice either, and to make this easier on Harry, well, I apologise too. I hope that maybe we can get along better from now on.”

Ron swallowed his most recent cake and rubbed his hands on his thighs, “I never really had any beef with you besides that you hung around with Mal.. Draco and the fact that you’re a Slytherin too I suppose,” said Ron, “and there was that time you teased me about being poor, and when you teased me at the Yule Ball about my robes..” Harry gave Ron a get on with it look, “but, yeah, I can forget all that so long as you try and make Harry happy.” Harry shifted a little in his seat, “I don’t mean!” Ron exclaimed suddenly, realising how his words might be interpreted, “I just mean, there isn’t anything you guys can do about this contract, and I don’t want my best mate to be miserable,” he clarified.

Pansy nodded at Ron, “well I suppose it’s a good thing we already promised we wouldn’t make each other miserable on purpose.” She said to the room at large as she shared a look with Harry.

Ron breathed a sigh of relief and the topic turned to other things, Ron and Hermione were filling Harry in about Dumbledore’s insistence to try and find out where he was when Ron suddenly smacked.his forehead.

“Shit! The letters!” He cried, suddenly digging around in his pockets.

Harry and Pansy exchanged a confused look as Hermione just sighed and summoned the letters from.under Ron's frantically searching hands.

She held up Harry’s, “Dumbledore gave us these before we left, it's your Hogwarts letter.”

Harry reached for it just as Ron yelled out for him to stop. “Wait! It probably has tracking charms or a portkey charm on it or something. We should get it checked before you touch it.”

Hermione's eyes went wide, “oh you right, Ron! I didn't think of that!”

Harry frowned, bloody Dumbledore meddling again.

Pansy was the one who came up with the next idea though, “Tibsy,” she called, her ladies elf popping up next to her within a moment, “can you please ask Remus to join us? Tell him it is rather important and time sensitive.” Tibsy nodded and popped away. Pansy looked at them all with a raised eyebrow, “he is the most competent Dark Arts teacher we have had. He is also familiar with Professor Dumbledore's magic. We should have him check the letter, otherwise we might miss something.”

“Good idea Pansy, thank you, said Harry, his tone implying he was thanking her for more than just the idea, but also for it being her that sent for him, rather than just voicing the idea.

She just gave him a small, slightly smug, smile in return and asked Missy to expand the tea set.

They were soon joined not only by Remus, but by Narcissa and Draco as well.

“I hope it is okay that we join you?” Narcissa asked hesitantly, “when Tibsy said it was time sensitive, I thought perhaps it would be best to offer our support as well?”

Harry nodded his ascent, “that's fine, I would be grateful for any help you can provide.” He gave them a quick rundown of Ron's suspicions before saying, “I'm sure you know my friends by sight, but allow me to do introductions for posterity's sake. Ron Weasley of house Weasley and Hermione Granger, this is Narcissa Druella Black and Draco Corvus Black.”

Ron had stood when he noticed Narcissa walk in and he now gave a short bow in her direction. His jaw twitched slightly as he laid eyes on Draco but he extended his hand nonetheless. “Seeing as you're now formally related to Harry, I hope that going forward we can put any past differences aside, Black.”

Draco nodded and clasped his hand in Ron's, “Weasley, that is my hope too, I see you're finally living up to your name? Giving some good counsel.”

Ron's eyebrow rose, but when he didn't hear any bite, only polite admiration he returned the sentiment, “And I see that your new name suits you better than the old one too, what's inside your head is better than what's on top, I reckon.”

Draco smirked and they let go of the handshake, Harry was looking between them with bewildered amusement and Hermione had that wrinkle between her eyebrows that she got when she was figuring things out. Harry looked at Pansy who for some reason looked vindicated. He sent her a questioning look but she just shook her head at him.

Harry shrugged and Hermione pass the letter to Remus, he took a seat and began casting charms. Harry wasn't entirely sure what he was doing and was confused when Narcissa asked Harry for one of his shirts.

He sent Dobby to grab one of Dudley's old shirts, he had yet to get rid of them, he passed it to her even as he asked her why.

She held it out to Lupin who looked up, slightly startled, but he then thanked her and continued to cast spells, now including Harry's old shirt.

Narcissa explained to them what he was doing, “some of the tracking spells attached to that letter are tied to your magical signature. Whilst they can be undone, it is a lengthy process. It is far easier to transfer the spells onto something you own. Preferably something you have worn and then dispose of them that way.”

Harry nodded his understanding as Hermione peppered the woman for more information. An idea formed in Harry’s mind and a wicked smirk came over his face. When Remus was finished Harry called for Dobby and whispered what he wanted the elf to do. Dobby cackled with glee and quickly left to accomplish the task. He was so excited that he forgot the shirt, he was back within a moment apologising profusely before disappearing again.

“What have you done, Harry?” Hermione asked even though they were all looking at him in curiosity.

Harry grinned again, “well I just thought, if Dumbledore wants to find me so badly, why not waste his time? I have properties all over the world, but quite a few Potter properties are known to be in Australia.”

“So?” asked Draco puzzled.

Harry grinned as Dobby reappeared, the elf was sweaty and dirty and panting slightly. “Dobby did it, Master Harry sir.”

“Did what?” Ron questioned.

Dobby looked at Ron then back at Harry, Harry nodded encouragingly, “Dobby is putting Master Harry's old shirt with nasty tracking charms on the big bouncy grasshopper. It is being very fast and difficult to catch, even for Dobby.”

It took a moment, but very soon the room dissolved into laughter.

Chapter Text

Hermione was packing, and packing quickly. She had returned to Grimmauld Place to get her things, Harry had offered to send some house-elves for them but there was no way Hermione would let anyone other than herself touch her books. The twins were distracting Molly for her and she needed to get her things together and back to Harry’s before anyone noticed she was here.

Narcissa had refused to give her lessons alongside Harry, politely claiming that the pace and level of what Harry was learning would not satisfy the trio’s nominated - and self-appointed - bookworm. Harry was not interested in all the history and why and why not just yet. He simply needed to know how and what to do for now, and Hermione recognised that he would be quite happy with that. Though Hermione had understood she had only then persisted for her own lessons. Narcissa had acquiesced and agreed to tutor Hermione in the afternoon’s.

Hermione had jumped at the chance to learn something new, as well as having access to the Potter library which was far more grandiose, and less dark art inclined, than the Black one. She was beginning to realise, with a little reflection, that to move in certain circles and to make the changes she wanted to affect in the wizarding world. She would need to learn these things, to bend a little. Otherwise she might as well be the hippy who chained themselves to a single tree. Successful in saving that tree perhaps, but unable to do anything to save the forest around her.

She spun around when she heard the scrape of a shoe on the floorboards quickly trying to hide what she was doing. Spotting Ginny, she exhaled in relief and returned to the task of placing all of her precious, precious books into her primary trunk. One her parents had purchased for her the past Christmas, it was specially charmed to be nine times the size and it held her personal collection of books. Her original trunk had been relegated to second and now contained things like clothes and other less important personal items.

“You’re going to stay with Harry aren’t you?” Ginny asked, a hint of hurt and quite a lot of resignation showing through in her voice.

Hermione had to give the girl her due, she was far cleverer than people gave her credit for. “Yes,” said Hermione, as she concentrated on wrapping a couple of delicate volumes in soft cloth before placing them gently in her trunk.

Ginny sighed, “I wish you two, three, could tell me what was going on,” she replied as she came and sat down on the end of Hermione’s bed.

Hermione glanced at her and remembered what Harry had said about Ginny and the twins, “Harry’s been emancipated and is living in his own place. I’m going to go and stay with him and try to help him with a few things in that vein. Also, he has someone staying with him that has offered to teach me more about wizarding society. Besides all that, you should just see the library.” Hermione said suddenly breathless, her eyes shining.

Ginny snorted and Hermione shot her a withering look, “So, how did he get emancipated?” Ginny asked quietly, knowing that they probably shouldn’t be overheard talking about this.

“Sirius left him a letter and told him to. Harry’s been very busy with a lot of things lately, sorting it all out, especially with his betrothed.” She said with a twist in her lips.

“Betrothed?!” Ginny squawked, leaning forward to peer into Hermione’s face, trying to ascertain that she had heard the curly-haired girl correctly.

“Shhhhh!” Hermione frantically signalled, “Yes! Harry came into his Lordships early and with one of them came a betrothal. He’s engaged.”

“Lord ships ?” Ginny squeaked, her own eyes starting to shine brightly.

Hermione narrowed her own in return, “Don’t even think about Ginny, I’ve seen the marriage contract and the fidelity clauses in there are tighter than a Gringotts vault.”

Ginny just flapped her hand at the other girl, “ Tch ! Hermione! I got over Harry ages ago! No, you said Lord ships , as in multiple, do you even know what Harry could do with multiple Lordships?”

Hermione arched an eyebrow, “Well, he will be quite politically powerful.” she said.

Ginny waved that off as well, “Forget politics, Hermione! He could make his own Quidditch team!”

Hermione’s eye twitched.

“He could build his own stadium!”

Her eye spasmed again.

Ginny gasped as another idea came to her, “ He could even design his own line of brooms!”

Hermione threw her hands up in the air, “What IS it with you Weasley’s and bloody Quidditch !” she cried.

Ginny just gave Hermione a sad look and sighed heavily, “I’ll pack your clothes, Merlin knows you won’t give them as much care as your books.”

Hermione grumped and continued to pack her precious babies. With Ginny’s help though, she was done much faster and was soon ready to leave for Harry’s.

 


 

Ginny watched as Hermione furtively checked to make sure no-one was watching them. Before lugging her trunks over to the fireplace. Ginny stood close by and using her Quidditch reflexes, she timed it perfectly, jumping Hermione just as she stepped into the flames. They both spun in a whirlwind of ash and when the floo finally released them, they fell flat on the ground. Ginny smacked the back of her head on the rug as Hermione fell on top of her. The two trunks landing heavily around them, one having bounced off her leg. She sat up rubbing the swelling lump through her muggle jeans as she took in the posh surroundings and the very surprised looks from Ron, Harry and, Pansy Parkinson.

 


 

Harry looked down at the two girls sprawled on the floor with a grin. Laughing lightly he and Ron helped haul them off the floor. “Couldn’t wait for an invite, Ginny?” he asked teasingly.

“Well, you know what they say, sometimes you have to make things happen yourself,” Ginny said smiling at him, though her eyes were fixed on the dark haired girl next to him.

“Ginny, let me introduce my betrothed, Pansy Parkinson, Pansy, this is Ginny Weasley.”

Pansy nodded politely, “Hello, Miss Weasley,”

Ginny sucked in a long breath, looking between Pansy and Harry, before her eyes darted to her brother. Ron gave a jerky nod and Ginny returned her attention to the Slytherin girl, “Hello, Miss Parkinson, it’s a pleasure to meet you properly, perhaps in light of your relationship with Harry, you could call me Ginny.”

“Pansy then,” she replied, her gaze sharp as she watched Ginny greet her brother and Harry sent for some elves to take Hermione’s things to unpack them.

“Not my books! Don’t touch my books!” Hermione called out as Bosto and Losto popped away with her trunks.

“Dobby,” Harry said to his personal elf, “could you please make sure that there are bookcases placed in Hermione’s room?” Dobby nodded and popped away after the other two.

Harry looked back to Hermione and Ginny, “We are just waiting for Pansy’s father and brother to arrive for dinner, do you want to wait for us in the dining room? We should be able to catch up properly after dinner, if that’s okay?”

Ginny promptly looked apologetic, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to interrupt anything, I can go back to..”

“Nonsense,” Pansy replied, cutting in, “there’s no reason for you to do that. This is a family dinner, and I know that Harry counts you as such. Stay.”

Harry shot her a grateful look before backing her up, “Pansy’s right, stay, just um,” he cut a quick glance at the fireplace, he wasn’t sure how to go about filling her in when they were expecting Heathcliff and Aster at any minute.

Ron stepped forward and took Ginny by the elbow, “I’ll fill her in, coming Hermione?”

Hermione nodded and followed them out, Harry could hear Ron lecturing Ginny about being nice because there were people here that Harry needed them to get along with.

Harry looked to Pansy, “thank you for that, for telling Ginny to stay,” he clarified, perhaps unnecessarily.

Pansy lifted a shoulder elegantly, “it’s no bother, and she clearly wanted to see you. Besides I can see how much you miss having them around. Even if they are a bunch of rowdy Gryffindors.” she said with a coy smirk.

Harry snorted, “I’m a Gryffindor too you know, you shouldn’t insult your future husband.”

Pansy just looked at him, her gaze more serious than he had expected due to the previous lightness of their conversation. “No, you’re not all Gryffindor, I can see why the hat wanted you in Slytherin. Though your placement in Gryffindor has given you a rather unique way of looking at things.”

“Is that a compliment?” Harry asked her a little confused.

Pansy just gave him an amused look and refused to answer, Harry wasn’t able to pester her further as the floo lit up again and the rest of the Parkinson family stepped through.

 


 

Pansy watched as her father strode through the swirling green flames, Aster on his hip. Her brother had yet to get a handle on flooing and it really was just safer this way. Heathcliff put Aster on the ground once he had fully appeared in the room.

“Papa,” she said with a smile as she stepped forward.

Heathcliff folded his arms around her and hugged her tightly, “Pansy, my dear.”

She pulled back from him to say hello to her little brother but was stopped short when she saw Harry crouching in front of him and the two of them shaking hands seriously. Harry then whispered something to the young boy that made his face light up with delight. Another whisper and he giggled and nodded vigorously, before he then launched himself at Pansy, wrapping his arms around her waist in greeting.

Harry came out of his crouch and turned to Heathcliff with his hand out, “Good to see you again, si- Heathcliff. I hope you’ve been well?”

Heathcliff nodded politely and shook Harry’s hand in return, “I have, thank you, yourself?”

“Extremely busy,” Harry said with a sardonic roll of his eyes, “I hadn’t realised how exhausting it would be to try and manage all my titles and that’s without going public with them.”

Heathcliff chuckled politely, “Yes, I can imagine the headaches it might have caused you. Just managing the Parkinson title alone can be challenging on some days.”

Harry nodded, “Your daughter is a blessing, between herself and my steward, I’ve actually made progress.” Harry started to lead them out of the room and towards the dining hall. “I hope you don’t mind, but there will be a few more faces than you were probably expecting to see tonight. I have brought a few people back into the Black fold, and my steward of course, but I also have a few unexpected friends visiting today as well.”

Pansy moved to take his arm and spoke before her father could, “tsk tsk, Harry, Ronald, Hermione and Ginerva are much closer to you than mere friends. And Remus is more like an Uncle to you, or so I’ve gathered from what you have told me.” She paused at Harry’s twitch under her hands but when he made no other gesture, she looked at her father, “Harry considers them family, they are as close as siblings.”

Heathcliff processed the information before he spoke, “Then I will be glad to meet those you consider family, blood-related or not,” he said.

Harry jerked his head, thankfully not having to continue the conversation as they walked into the informal dining room. The others were quietly milling around, talking amongst themselves while they waited. Harry led Pansy to her seat and held out her chair, their eyes meeting with a quick glint of mirth before he took his own seat. Heathcliff sat on his left, with Aster moving to sit next to Pansy, and the others arranged themselves down each side. Harry made the necessary formal introductions, reintroducing Narcissa and Draco as Black’s and the others to Heathcliff and Aster.

 


 

Heathcliff spent a lot of the meal watching. Oh, he conversed with everyone, exchanged pleasantries and remarks, engaged Narcissa in conversation about the things that had been keeping her busy. He had spoken with the werewolf that Harry seemed to be rather fond of, pleased to find someone that he could speak to about some of his favourite literary authors with. The amount of his peers who showed an interest in literature, rather than monetary pursuits, were few a far between.

He had spoken to with Harry, about the activities that had kept him occupied since they last spoke, asked how he and Pansy had been getting along, the challenges he had been facing as he came into his Lordships. As the meal wore down, he found his impressions from their first meeting were holding true; and with the revelation that he had rescued Narcissa and her son from the Dark Lord, he wondered if there might be hope for others in similar positions.

Heathcliff began to plan an argument for one such individual, that might sway the young lord, as he watched he and his friends interact. The Granger girl was attempting an awkward, stilted conversation with young Draco, it only lasted for as long as it took the young Weasley girl to bring up Quidditch. Then she was left to insert herself into the conversation between Narcissa and Remus about the lack of music in the education system which soon dissolved into other lacking areas of the institution. The Weasley boy appeared to be engaged in a very animated conversation with Aster, about slugs of all things.

“.. and I had this huge bucket..”

Heathcliff cut back into his beautifully prepared steak and turned his attention to his daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law. Pansy seemed to be educating him on horse-husbandry.

“Do you ride, Harry?” he asked, interrupting them, causing them to pull back from where they had been leaning into one another, so taken by their conversation or their partner, their focus on the rest of the table had slipped away.

“Oh, erm, no Sir. I mean, I’ve ridden a broom, and a hippogriff, also a thestral, but I imagine that it’s quite different on the ground and when you’re not risking your neck. Pansy has offered to teach me the basics though.”

Heathcliff nodded and sipped his wine, “Pansy is an excellent rider, I’m sure she will be able to impart some wisdom to you.”

A small smile graced Harry’s face, “I hope so, I have recently learned it was a passion of my family’s. I would like to be able to uphold their legacy in this at the least.”

Heathcliff leant back in his chair, “and what do you know of the Potter’s legacy? You mentioned once that you were not raised with family’s history, why is that?”

He noticed the muscles in Harry’s shoulders tense and the darting looks between Harry and his two Gryffindor yearmates. He took another sip of his wine to hide his thoughts, such thoughts centred on the fact the young man was hiding something. “I grew up with my mother’s relatives, they knew nothing of my father’s family,” Harry said after a long moment, Heathcliff noted the tight set to his voice and the calculating look on his daughter’s face said she had noticed the distinction Harry had used when describing the difference between his mother’s side and his father’s. “As to the Potter legacy, I’ve found that as well as being noted for equine husbandry, a distinct innovation in potions has been my family’s forte, nearly every generation of Potter’s has made a discovery or invented a new potion.”

“Really?” came Miss Granger’s voice, “like what, Harry?”

Harry smiled at his friend and the topic was soon being discussed across most of the table as people added to and talked about various potions they knew and had used before that had come from Harry’s line.

 


 

Dessert was over and they were moving to a more comfortable setting in the lounge when Harry was stopped by Heathcliff. Looking inquiringly at his betrothed's father he waited for him to speak. “I was wondering if I might be able to have a private word, Harry? There is something of import I must discuss with you.”

Harry quickly noted the reactions of his friends, Ginny was looking worried, evidently still not comfortable with the idea of Slytherin’s around Harry. Ron, as usual, could not hide his emotions and curiosity was evident on his face, Hermione at least tried to disguise her own. Draco looked as though he was paying them no attention with a gibbering Aster in his lap but Harry caught the side eye. Narcissa and Remus were both politely standing by awaiting Harry’s answer as much as Heathcliff was. Harry shared a look with Pansy and only the slight widening of her eyes told him she didn’t know what her father wanted to talk to him about.

Harry turned back to Heathcliff, “of course sir, we’ll be better suited in my study though if you’ll follow me?”

The older man gestured with his hand and Pansy gave his arm a reassuring squeeze before she moved into the lounge proper and called Tibsy for refreshments for herself and the others.

Harry shook his head at Remus’s questioning gaze and led Heathcliff upstairs to his study. Walking into the handsome room, he noted Dobby already waiting to take their orders. He sat in one of the wingback chairs by the fireplace instead of behind his desk and indicated for Heathcliff to take the other. Their drink choices were given to Dobby and the little elf was back within moments with Harry’s stein of warmed butterbeer and a glass of elf wine for Heathcliff.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Harry asked.

Heathcliff was quiet for a moment gathering his thoughts before he spoke, “what do you know of how the Dark Lord gains followers and support for his cause?”

Harry frowned not expecting this topic, “well, there are those like Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle seniors who follow him from before, because they want to. Others like Greyback, I assume because they can do illegal and immoral things in his name. Pansy mentioned something about him extorting money from people too.”

Heathcliff inclined his head, “it’s not just money that he extorts from people though. Sometimes it is their political power, a family heirloom or magical talent.”

Harry jerked his head to show he understood, though the frown on his forehead showed he wasn’t certain where this conversation was going.

“What do you know of a woman named Madam Zabini?”

Harry’s frown deepened as he cast about his memory before he shook his head, “I don’t think I know anything of her, the name is kind of familiar though.”

Heathcliff arched a brow at him, “her son Blaise is in your own year level at Hogwarts.”

Harry tried to place him before a dark-skinned boy in Slytherin colours popped into his mind. “Oh, him, what about him?”

Heathcliff sighed, Harry’s lack of knowledge about the wizarding world was both refreshing and tedious. “His mother is a formidable witch. Voldemort has tried recruiting her to his side many times but she has so far been able to stay out of his reach due to her ‘commitments’ outside of Britain.”

“Commitments?” Harry asked picking up on Heathcliff’s distaste of the word.

“Her husbands,” Heathcliff elaborated.

Husbands? As in more than one?” Harry asked his eyebrows shooting up in surprise.

“Never more than one at once, but yes, she has been married many times, I believe her latest victim was husband number eight.”

Eight? and, why do you call them victims?” Harry probed, astonishment in his eyes.

“I’m sure you’re aware by now that Wizarding marriages don’t allow for divorce?” Heathcliff stated rhetorically and waited for Harry to put the pieces together.

Harry sipped on his butterbeer as he thought over what Heathcliff had told him, He sputtered on the beverage as a conclusion formed, “you mean she killed them?” He gasped once his airway was clear.

Heathcliff nodded grimly, “there’s no proof of course, but it is an open secret that she is a Black Widow.”

Harry just sat silently as he processed the information, “right, so Voldemort wants her because?”

“She’s a skilled killer, she would be able to perform deeds for him that others cannot. She’s also incredibly charming, she has to be, to be able to convince so many to marry her when they have the knowledge of what has happened to her previous spouses. Her charms are a magical talent of her family line, just as the Potters have skill in potions, the Weasleys with, procreation,” he said tactfully, “and the Blacks with transfiguration.”

“Right,” Harry said slowly, “what is it exactly that you want to talk to me about then? As interesting as all this is, what’s your point?”

Heathcliff sighed, “My point is that the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is not going to ask for much longer, she’s been able to keep him at bay until now as the men she has married have been powerful in their own right. Underworld leaders, political bigwigs in other countries. People who he has not wanted to tangle with just yet, not when he doesn’t have a secure footing in Britain.” he paused to make sure Harry understood and then continued, “But now, she is newly single and that leaves her open to vulnerabilities and possible exploitation. Ones the Dark Lord will perceives that she has at least.”

Harry arched an inquisitive brow, “perceives?”

“Caliandra Zabini has no vulnerabilities, she is loyal to herself and no-one else. As she is out of the country she is as yet untouchable by the Dark Lord, her home is a stronghold with wards that have been added to by each of her husbands and their associates. With her as it’s secret keeper.”

Harry was still unsure as to what Heathcliff was getting at, this woman, this - by all he had heard so far - evil woman, was safe from the Dark Lord and obviously had no interest in Britain. He waited for Heathcliff to come to his conclusion.

“The Dark Lord regularly threatens the children of people whom he wants, I am worried that he will target Blaise in an attempt to coerce Caliandra to his side.”

“If that’s the case, surely she will keep him home?” Harry pointed out.

Heathcliff sighed, “if he had plans to follow in his mother’s footsteps, perhaps. But Blaise has made no secret to her of how much he despises what she does. How she uses people for her own financial gain. Blaise has made moves that oppose her and would strip her of her wealth and all that she has once he comes of age. Unfortunately, he was not careful enough and she has found out his plans.”

“You’re worried that she’ll do something to him? Her own son?” Harry near whispered.

Heathcliff shook his head, “no, that’s not her style, I am worried that she will send him back to Hogwarts, to complete his education and that the Dark Lord will take him under the mistaken impression that she will do anything to get him back. However, when she doesn’t..” he trailed off.

“Kill the spare,” Harry murmured as he stared at the flames leaping ominously in the fireplace in front of them.   

“I’m not sure what that means, but yes, I believe he will be killed. Caliandra can then both be rid of Blaise and play the victim at the same time.”

“How do you know so much about this and why do you care about him?” Harry said after several long silent moments between them.

“His father was my best friend,” Heathcliff said simply, “Blaise is my godson, I want to protect him, to the best of my abilities. I cannot simply bring him to my manor, he would be expected there should it be discovered he has disappeared from his mother’s.”

Harry shifted in his seat, bringing one ankle up to sit across his knee, he leant on his chin on his hand and eyed Heathcliff speculatively. “You don’t just want me to offer him sanctuary here, you want me to make him a ward or something of one my titles.

Praesidie - the protected - is the word you’re looking for and I was thinking Peverell, it has the age, power and enough mystique surrounding it that it won’t be connected to you without cause,” Heathcliff told him.

Harry arched a brow as he considered the proposal, “there’s the added bonus that Voldemort may become obsessed with finding out who Lord Peverell is. It will provide some distraction and if he figures out it’s me, well, I’m hardly in any more danger than I was.”

Heathcliff tilted his head in acknowledgement and took a long sip of wine as he waited for Harry’s answer.

Harry was gazing at the flames again, really it wasn’t much more than he had done for Narcissa and Draco, and he was Pansy’s godbrother. Besides all that though, Harry felt a sense of kinship with him, even without having met him. Harry knew what it was like to be unwanted, what it was like to know when your own family couldn’t care less if you lived and would prefer it rather, if you were dead.

When Harry met Heathcliff’s eyes, the older man was taken aback by the hard jewel-like quality they had taken on. He wasn’t sure what had brought about the steely gaze, or that tense set to the younger man’s jaw. But at this moment, with the firelight flickering and casting shadows over his face and glinting off the metal and gemstones of his rings, Heathcliff knew, then and there, that Harry Potter was not a man you crossed without consideration. Lots of consideration. And maybe not even then.

“I’ll need something that will tell him to trust me,” Harry stated his voice firm.

Heathcliff slipped a ring from his little finger and held it out to Harry. “This is my godfather ring, it can only be removed by myself. Send this and he’ll know I’ve arranged this.”

Harry took the ring and made his way to his desk. He sat and quickly wrote a letter, taking care to write neatly as his grandparent's portraits had started to insist upon once they had seen what he had usually passed off as handwriting. Slipping the ring into an envelope along with the letter, he dripped wax and pressed the Peverell stamp to seal it closed. Calling for Dobby, he instructed the elf to have it taken to Blaise immediately. He also instructed the elf to prepare a room for his anticipated guest. Harry’s head elf bowed and quickly set about his tasks.

Harry stood and led Heathcliff from the study, “the letter is a portkey set to return here at 2 pm tomorrow. Your welcome to be here to greet him if you wish.”

Before they could leave the room, however, Heathcliff clasped Harry’s forearm, drawing the younger man to a halt. “You have my most sincerest gratitude, Harry. You are a good man and should you have need of anything, please, do not hesitate to ask it of me.”

Harry ran a perturbed hand through the back of his hair, “I’m only doing what’s right, sir.”

“And there are very few who would,” Heathcliff pointed out.

Harry only nodded and Heathcliff let the subject drop, they made their way to the lounge where Harry was immediately accosted by an excited Aster, “Harry! Harry! Ron was telling me that you fought a dragon! Is that true?”

“Erm,” Harry cast a quick look at the redhead in question, who simply shrugged, “Well, it was for the Tri-Wizard Tournament and I didn’t really fight it so much as fly with it.”

This did not deter Aster however as his eyes went round and he tugged on Harry’s hand, bringing him over to the couch to sit next to Pansy and began begging him for the details. Harry stammered over the beginning and tried to downplay it, but it didn’t seem to faze the lad who looked at Harry as if he was his own personal hero. After a rendition of the first task and twenty questions from Aster which led to Harry telling him about the time they had watched Norbert hatch. As that story wound to a close, Heathcliff declared it was time for the family to leave as it was getting passed the young boy’s bedtime.

Aster tried to protest even through his stifled yawns and he sleepily waved goodbye to everyone from over his father’s shoulder. Harry saw them to floo and made plans to meet Pansy just before lunch the next day.

Returning to the lounge, he spent some time with his friends. Draco also joined them, betting Ron that he couldn’t beat him in chess. Harry listened as Narcissa played softly at the piano and Remus read quietly in the corner while Ron and Draco won a game apiece and then came to three successive stalemates.

Chapter Text

A great horned owl swooped in the room as Harry and the others were having breakfast. Nubto appeared seconds later panting, “Nubto is being sorry, Nubto be trying to-” he broke off to hastily suck in some air, “Nubto trying to get owly to stop so he could take posties hah hah, to give to Master Harry, but hah he is not stopping.”

Harry looked at the owl in question who had landed on the edge of the table. It ruffled its feathers importantly and hooted at him.

“It’s alright, Nubto. He’s not doing any harm, he’s just doing his job.”

Nubto sighed in relief, “Nubto is being glad Master Harry not inheriting Missy Mia’s fear of birds.”

“My grandmother was afraid of birds?” Harry asked intrigued.

Nubto nodded rapidly, “Oh yes!! She always saying about pecky beaks and beady eyes! No respect for where they being leaving their leavings! But Nubto is liking birds, Master Harry! Birds is being soft and sleeky.”

Harry smiled at Nubto, “They are that, but just so we are clear, from now on it’s okay if you let them come see me first.”

Nubto nodded and then popped away to set about his day.

Harry retrieved the letter from the owl and began to read it as it flew off ignoring the offering of bacon.

 

Dear Lord Potter,

In regards to the matter we have previously discussed concerns over. We would like for you to attend the London branch, located in Diagon Alley at your earliest availability.

Respects,

Blunttooth
Senior Account Manager
Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Fortius Quo Fidelius

 

Harry brow furrowed into a frown as his body tensed. The goblins had discovered something to do with the Horcrux inside of him. Muttering absent apologies to Narcissa about missing the morning’s lessons with her, he quickly left the table. Leaving his breakfast half finished and his friends and newly minted family exchanging worried glances amongst themselves.

 


 

Harry flooed back into the Potter Mansion his black mood an almost audible crackle around him. He stalked past a concerned looking Hermione and Ron, and barely glanced at a bewildered Draco. He tore his constricting robes over his head, leaving his torso bare, and threw them on the banister of the patio as he jogged down the stairs and into the garden.

Summoning his broom from the shed by the pitch, he pushed off the compact earth and launched himself into the sky. Instantly, his shoulders lost some of the tension they had been holding ever since he had walked into Blunttooth’s office earlier that morning.

Gritting his teeth, he pressed himself flat against his broom and pushed himself even faster leaving all thoughts of the meeting behind.

 


 

Pansy delicately brushed the lingering soot from her robes and looked around to see if anyone was there to meet her that morning. Usually, Harry made a point of greeting her. Seeing no-one, she called for Tibsy and asked her where she might find her betrothed.

Tibsy immediately adopted a worried expression and began to twist her long knobbly fingers together. “Master Harry being in bad mood. Master Harry is doing unnatural things on a broomstick.”

Pansy arched a perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Is he now? And what is everyone else doing?”

“Master Harry’s Weasley friends in the owlery. Missy Granger is in the library, Mister Draco is be making potions, Missy Cissy playing beautiful music and Mister Remus be working.” Tibsy quickly informed her.

Pansy nodded to herself and thanked her as she moved off to go track down Granger, perhaps she would be able to enlighten her on what Harry was worked up over.

 


 

Hermione looked up from the books she had piled around her to see Pansy Parkinson walk into the library. She had found some excellent texts on Transfiguration and they had been immensely helpful to her holiday essay for Professor McGonagall.

She ran a quick eye over the girl as she approached, the Slytherin was dressed casually today, well, as casual as Hermione assumed she could ever bring herself to be. Dark jeans, heeled ankle boots and a soft looking lilac top which hinted at her generous cleavage. Her long wavy hair was pulled back into a high ponytail and secured with a glittering clip.

“Granger, good morning,” said the other girl.

Hermione nodded at her as she sat down, “Good morning, Parkinson.”

Pansy looked out the window and Hermione followed her gaze in time to see Harry go into a steep, spiralling dive. “Tibsy informed me that Harry is in a bit of an unsettled mood. Are you able to tell me why?”

Hermione pursed her lips, she didn’t know what had gotten Harry so worked up. There had been that letter from Gringotts this morning and Harry had left without saying anything to any of them. She wondered though if she would tell her anything at all, even if she did know.  Even with the betrothal contract in place between Pansy and Harry, it didn’t mean Hermione trusted her at all.

“You don’t know,” Parkinson said after Hermione stayed silent a beat too long.

“Doesn’t know what?” came Ron’s voice as he appeared through the doorway and threw himself into a chair beside them.

Hermione sighed and decided to see what came of including Pansy in their group. For now. “What’s going on with Harry.”

“Ah, yep, I’m not touching that one until he’s calmed down,” Ron replied as he kicked his dangling foot over the side of his chair.

Pansy arched her eyebrow at him as his sister leant on the back of his chair, “Really? Why?”

Ginny snorted, “Quickest way to get your head bitten off isn’t it?”

“It’s usually best to give him some space when gets like this,” Hermione said before flipping over another page in a book and jotting down some more notes.

Pansy just looked between them all for a moment before speaking in a cutting tone, “And here I thought Gryffindor was the home of the brave.” With that parting comment, she swept out of the room, her heels clicking against the marble floor of the hallway.

Ron looked at Hermione and shrugged, “Mental that one.”

 


 

Pansy walked out onto the grounds hand shielding her eyes with her hand as she scanned the sky for Harry. Spotting him, she waved when he noticed her. He waved back and soon came to land on the grass in front of her.

Pansy let her gaze roam unabashedly over the exposed skin of his chest. He flushed slightly as he realised what she was looking at.

“Erm, morning Pansy, you’re early,” Harry said as he ran a hand through his hair.

“Actually, I’m almost late,” replied Pansy.

“Really?” Harry cast a quick wandless tempus charm, “Huh, sorry about that, I guess time does fly when you’re having fun,” he said with a smile at his play on words.

She quirked a corner of her mouth in return “You really love it don’t you?” she asked gesturing to the broom.

“Flying? Yeah, it’s just, freeing, I suppose, when I’m up there it’s like the rest of the world melts away. Plus, I got some pretty nice views here.” he said, deliberately improper to tease her.

“I have," Pansy corrected him absently as she eyed the broom, looking for all the world like it jump up and bite her, “ and I’ve never really seen the point to it, I haven’t exactly had the best experience on a broom,” Pansy told him.

“Oh?” asked Harry letting one leg fall down underneath him, as he hovered in front of her, “Why is that?”

She shrugged “Well, there was our flying lesson at Hogwarts, which as you know was an utter disaster. When Madame Hooch finally came back from dropping Longbottom at the Hospital Wing, she had us fly around in a small circle on the ground and the broom I was on was so shuddery and jerky that I fell off. It wasn’t very high or anything, but I fell on a rock and I had a bruise on my bum for over a week.” She pressed a hand to her behind as if she could still feel it.

“The next time I went flying was with Draco, he pulled me on the back of his broom once when I wasn’t expecting it. We went so fast and he pulled so many stupid stunts, it was terrifying.” She shuddered at the memory.

Harry frowned at her recollection, “Well, it sounds like you need a proper teacher,” he said as he held a hand out to her.

“You can’t be serious.” Pansy said, with her eyebrows raised.

A lightning quick grin spread across Harry’s features, “No, I’m Harry, Sirius was my dogfather.” the joke rolling off his tongue.

“Dogfather?” Pansy asked, her eyebrow still questioning him.

Harry’s face fell along with his outstretched hand, “Yes. Sirius, he was a dog animagus, it was, a bit of a joke between us.”

Pansy let out a breath, “I heard he passed. I am sorry about what happened to him.”

Harry just nodded and extended his hand again, waiting patiently for her to step forward but she stepped back instead, “No Potter, I’ve seen the aerobatics you perform, you’re crazier than Draco on a broom!” she exclaimed.

Harry grinned at that, “I am, but I swear to no shenanigans and I’ll keep you safe, I promise.” Pansy bit her lip for a moment, eyeing the broom warily. She looked up at the soft noise he made to get her attention, his hand was still outstretched as he hovered in front of her. He was looking at her so earnestly as he asked, “Do you trust me?”

She released the hold her teeth had on her lip, as she stepped forward and put her hand in his. “Yes,” she breathed out hesitantly, her eyes meeting his as his tanned hand tightened around her slim fingers.

He pulled her to sit in front of him on the broom. Already this was different to what Draco had done and she was hyper-aware of the warmth of his body against her back. His hands on her waist pulled her hips back a bit further on the broom, towards his own body. He then took her hands and placed them on the handle.

“Here, hold on like this,” he positioned her fingers around the smooth wood. "Just like how you hold your wand." He waited patiently for her to adjust her grip. “Now, when I say go, I want you to pull up very slowly and gently on the handle, only a few inches okay?”

Pansy nodded, suddenly very nervous, his arms were still around her, holding her to the broom. She thought she should feel crowded or maybe caged in, she hadn’t thought she would feel safe, but that feeling was surrounding her now, creating a warmth inside that had nothing to do with the current temperature of this summer’s day.

Taking a deep breath she did as he instructed and the broom rose a few meters off the ground.

“That’s great, Pansy!” Harry said encouragingly into her ear, causing a shiver to run down her spine. “Now, this time I want you to just lean forward, but slowly okay? If you do it too fast we’ll shoot off.” She nodded again, she felt Harry leaning forward with her, copying her movements. The broom slowly gained speed as they flew above the ground.

Harry had his hands over hers, just enough to guide her and they flew a series of snake-like patterns, leaning left and right as they glided along. It was actually fun! She let out a giggle of delight at the sensation. She thought she could feel Harry grin against her, from where his cheek was pressed behind her ear.

“Do you want to try going higher?” he asked. Pansy hesitated and then nodded, realising she trusted Harry to keep her safe on the broom. It was a startling revelation, as she didn’t trust many people, and never as easily as she had come to trust her betrothed. She took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, besides, she told herself, she wanted to see what he saw up here.

She felt Harry smile again as he tightened his fingers slightly on the handle. She felt the shift in his body and moved with it, they started to soar up into the sky. Pansy’s eyes were on the blueness in front of them and the slight wisps of white clouds that dared to mar this perfect summer’s day. After they had climbed for a while, Harry brought them back level once more. Pansy closed her eyes suddenly afraid of how high they might be.

“Look out, not down, okay?” Harry whispered into her ear, “I’ve got you.” He added as he wrapped one arm around her waist. He must have felt the tension in her body she thought absently, as she willed herself to relax. Doing as he suggested, she looked out in front of her and her jaw dropped at the view.

It was breathtaking.

For as far as she could see, there was nothing but rolling green and purple hills. She had never seen anything quite like it and in the distance, you could just make out the sparkling blue of the ocean.

“Told you the view was good.” Harry said, a hint of pride and smugness in his voice.

She laughed, loud and free. Harry was a little startled by the beautiful sound, he hadn’t heard her laugh so openly before. He vowed, then and there, to do what he could to hear more of it.

“You were right, it is beautiful up here. I get it now.” She said as she turned to flash him a smile. She hadn’t realised how close he was and as she turned her head, her lips brushed against his, her eyelids lowered and she lingered there a moment, not quite comprehending what they were doing, just knowing it felt nice.

Jerking quickly when she realised, she caused the broom to wobble, but she didn’t need to worry about falling as Harry steadied them so smoothly, and so quickly, it was like it hadn’t happened.

“Um.. sorry about that,” Pansy mumbled as she turned her face from him, her long ponytail falling forward over her shoulder. She was blushing! Merlin dammit! She hadn’t blushed so hard since before she came to Hogwarts! Schooling her features once more she heard Harry speak.

“Er.. it’s fine, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been so close anyway,” he murmured back.

“Oh, I meant for making the broom wobble, not the kiss.” Pansy said quickly, eyes widening at what she said. Looking back at Harry she went on, “I mean, should I apologise for that? I don’t think I should, I mean it was nice for one thing and for another we are going to be married one day and we’re going to have to do more than that to have children and it would be nice to be comfortable doing things like this with you. Not that comfortable should be a way to describe kissing, I mean, I know it wasn’t much of a kiss or anything, but it was nice and your very nice, quite a lot nicer than I thought actually and oh, Merlin, please shut me up,” she begged, mortified beyond measure to be caught rambling like a fool.

Harry smiled at her, Pansy was cute when she was embarrassed and rambling. Leaning forward he lifted one hand behind her head and pulled her closer, just before their lips touched again he said, “I think I can help with that,” he touched his lips to hers again, more fully this time, and kissed her softly.

Slowly moving his lips over hers in a sensual little dance, he smiled as she gasped again. Not entirely sure of what he was doing but having a vague notion after listening to the upper years talk. He slipped his tongue between her parted lips and he deepened the kiss. Pansy responding to him and kissing him in return.

Bloody hell it was nice, more than nice, brilliant really.

Minutes later they parted, both slightly breathless. Harry had used up his Gryffindor courage for the moment and rubbed the back of his neck bashfully “Er..” he said with a small hopeful smile, he hoped that had been okay, it wasn’t like he had much experience with kissing.

Pansy just stared at him blinking for a moment, that kiss had been astonishing. Chang obviously didn’t know what she was talking about.

“Well said, Harry,” she teased, regaining some of her footing, so to speak, as they were still miles in the sky. He flushed again and she leaned back into him, pressing her body against his chest more snugly. “Perhaps we should go back down?” she suggested.

Harry nodded and wrapped his arms around her again and gripping the handle, he guided them back towards the ground. They landed smoothly and Harry swung off the broom first only to help Pansy dismount. Dobby quickly appearing to take the broom and popping away with it again.

They walked slowly in silence back up to the house. Their hands still entwined from where Harry had helped her off the broom. Climbing up the steps, Pansy pulled him towards a cushioned bench that overlooked the gardens.

Harry followed her and they sat down together, both quiet as they looked out to see Haggy pruning the roses.

“Do you want to talk about whatever it was that had you so upset this morning?” Pansy asked him a short time later.

Harry looked at her sharply, “How do you know about that?”

“Well, usually when I get here you’re waiting to greet me. Not that you need to of course, but you usually do. When I asked Tibsy where you were she told me you were ‘doing unnatural things on a broomstick’.”

Harry couldn’t help but snort at that description.

“I found Granger and Weasley, they told me you were upset, Granger seems to think it was something to do with a letter from Gringotts?”

Harry leant back against the chair an obstructive look on his face, “She’s not wrong, I did get a letter from Gringotts this morning.” He allowed after a few moments.

Pansy’s silence caught Harry by surprise and he looked at her once more. She was looking back out at the garden, but as he turned towards her, she moved back to look at him. It was then her earlier words registered properly.

Do you want to talk about whatever it was that had you so upset this morning?

She had asked if he wanted too. She hadn’t pushed him. She had given him the opening, but he didn’t have to take it. He could answer her as he wanted to.

And he found he did want to talk about it. Desperately. But how did you tell someone you were carrying someone else’s soul inside you? How did you tell them that? Especially when it belonged to someone so evil?

How did you tell them the Goblins had found a way to extract said evil soul? But as the procedure had never been done before, was brand new and untested, there was no guarantee of survival?

How did you tell them that if you didn’t go through with the procedure, possession was almost certain? That if he didn’t, the Dark Lord would never die?

Harry didn’t have the answers and even though he opened his mouth, he didn’t know what to say.

It didn’t matter though, as in that moment, they were interrupted.

Dobby appeared, “Master Harry, your guest has arrived and Dobby has taken him to your private lounge as requested.”

Realising who it must be Harry nodded, “Thanks Dobby, I’ll be up in a minute, would you make sure he has whatever he needs?”

Dobby nodded enthusiastically and was about to disappear with a snap of his fingers when Pansy stopped him.

“A moment please, Dobby.” Harry looked at her questioningly, “you may want to put a shirt on at least, Harry.” She said, a smirk curling on her lips, “I mean, I certainly don’t mind the view, but your guest might.”

Harry looked down and flushed immediately, he’d forgotten his state of undress in the weight of their conversation. “Er, yes please, Dobby.”

Dobby snapped his fingers and was soon holding a pale grey buttoned shirt out to Harry. A casual black robe in his other hand. Harry quickly donned the shirt and robe and Pansy stood to try and neaten his hair.

“It’s a losing battle you know,” Harry told her teasingly, as he gazed at her face. Her lips pursed in concentration at her task. His cheeks started to burn as he remembered what they had been doing earlier, his rampant teenage hormones beginning to rear their head.

Her eyes flicked to his and her lips drew up, “oh, I’ll be victorious one day, if not with style, with potions and product. If that doesn’t work, there’s always the Dark Arts.”

Harry snorted amused at her joke and he rose his eyebrows at her.

She turned her nose up in faux indignation, “if you recall, I never promised not to hex you.”

That earned her a chuckle and Pansy was glad to have brought him out of his funk, even if he hadn’t told her what was bothering him.

“Would you like to meet my new houseguest?” Harry asked her, “I think you might like them.”

“Oh?” She turned and took his arm, “You shall have to introduce me then.”

“Actually,” Harry said as he led her into the house and up the stairs, “I think you’ll need to introduce me.” He refused to say any more on the subject as they walked to the sitting room beside his office.

 


 

Blaise was sitting in a very pleasant room. He wasn’t sure where he was, or who this Lord Peverell might be. But his Godfather seemed to trust him and that was enough for Blaise.

And although he had yet to turn seventeen -that happy event was still six months away- he was out from under his mother. It could not have happened sooner in Blaise’s mind. Things were starting to get a little hot under the collar at home. Mother had been spending quite a bit of time locked away in her ‘visualisation room’, that was hardly out of the ordinary, but she barely used the room when she was she was single. The fact that her last husband had passed away a little over a fortnight ago, combined with the fact that she had been in there every morning and part of the afternoon for the past three days..

Well, Blaise was very happy to be over eighteen thousand kilometres away.

He heard the handle turn and stood up, buttoning the waist of his jacket as he did so.

His eyes widened as a delighted squeal met his ears and he very quickly had an armful of godsister.

 


 

Harry and Pansy entered the room and Harry barely had time to process as Pansy made an excited noise and flew across the room to throw her arms around Zabini’s neck.

The tall Italian laughed and swept her off her feet to send them spinning into a circle and Harry felt himself grin at the sight.

“Oh Iris! How good it is to see you!” Blaise cried in a charming voice as he set her down.

Pansy laughed and thwacked him in the bicep.

“Clematis! How you wound me!” he claimed, pretending to be hurt.

“Prat!” Pansy scoffed lightheartedly, “What are you doing here?” She began to ask before her eyes widened and she turned to Harry. “You-”

Harry shrugged, “Your dad asked me for a favour, I couldn’t turn him down now could I?”

A smile began to spread on Pansy’s face and she returned to Harry’s side. Reaching up to cup one cheek, she pressed her lips to the other.

Harry’s cheeks reddened and his eyes darted to Zabini as Pansy pulled away.

“Someone is really going to need to fill me in here,” the dark-skinned teen said with his eyebrows raised.

“Blaise darling, this is Harry Potter, or as I am assuming, you know him as Lord Peverell?” She asked looking at Harry who nodded at her, “Harry, this is my godbrother, Blaise Zabini.”

Blaise walked forward and held his hand out to Harry, Harry took it in his own to shake, even as he looked up, and even further up at the towering teen.

“This is certainly not something I could have expected,” Blaise remarked, “And where exactly do you fit into all this Catmint?”

Pansy’s wand was in her hand a second later and pointed at a rather private section of Blaise’s anatomy.

“Call me the wrong name one, more, time ,” she dared him.

Zabini raised his hands and a placating smile spread pleadingly over his face.

She huffed smugly and withdrew her wand. Harry made a note never to truly get on Pansy’s bad side.

“Perhaps we should sit down,” Pansy said as she led the two towards the couches. She summoned Tibsy for a tea service as Harry began his tale.

“Well Zabini, the short of it is, Pansy is my betrothed and after a conversation last night with Heathcliff, I thought it might be prudent of me to offer you sanctuary until such a time as you no longer need it,” Harry said casually.

“I see,” replied Blaise his eyebrows shooting into his hairline, “that really is the short of it. How did this happen then exactly?” he gestured between the two of them.

Harry and Pansy shared a look, before Pansy answered, “Our Great-Grandfather’s decided that the Potter and Parkinson lines needed to be joined. The requirements for the betrothal were not met until Harry and I were born.”

Blaise hummed as he rubbed his chin, “I see, so, what is it exactly you propose? Am I to be staying here? Are you staying here?” he asked Pansy.

She shook her head, “Not at present,” she looked to Harry to answer the rest of Blaise’s questions.

“I have a room made up for you. It’s just down from Draco’s,” Zabini’s eyebrows rose again at that statement but he waited for Harry to finish speaking first. “Narcissa is here also, as well as Hermione and Remus Lupin. Ron and Ginny are visiting at the moment. So I do expect you’ll be polite to all my guests, residential or not.”

Blaise inclined his head, “Is there anything else you expect of me?”

Harry frowned a bit and didn’t answer right away, he wasn’t really sure. He had jumped the gun a bit in offering Zabini a place to stay, maybe he should look into exactly what this praetorie stuff meant. “Nothing that needs worrying about now,” he replied instead.

Blaise nodded and the understanding that sparked in his eyes told Harry that he knew Harry had dodged the question.

“Well, come on then, tell me all the juicy stuff. Who hexed who when you first found out?”

Pansy rolled her eyes, “Blaise, really, we are capable of being mature,” she leant forward to pour them all some tea and handed them their cups, slipping a piece of parkin cake onto Harry’s saucer as she passed him his.

Harry peered at the plain looking cake for a moment before watching as she put a sprinkled chocolate confection on Blasie’s and taking a lemon one for herself. Shrugging he picked up the cake, and trying not to spill crumbs everywhere, he dunked it in his tea. Taking a bite, he forcibly held back a moan that would certainly not be well-received in polite company.

The rich treacle flavour coated his tongue and in two bites the morsal was gone and he was reaching for another. His eyes met Pansy’s as he pulled back and her eyes were smiling at him from above her teacup.

“You like it then?” she asked.

Harry swallowed his mouthful and nodded at her, “Yeah, it’s really good.” He cocked his head consideringly, “Did you have something to do with it? Missy hasn’t made it before.”

Pansy nodded and put her cup and saucer in her lap, “It’s a family recipe, I noticed you’re partial to treacle tart. I thought you might enjoy this as well.”

Harry just blinked at her, momentarily stunned that she would notice that about him. That she had even done something about it that she thought he might like. His thanks coming out in a far softer voice than he intended.

Pansy gave him a curious look but the moment was broken by a clearing of Blaise’s throat.

“So, chaps! What is there to do around here?” Blaise asked in a jovial tone.

Harry turned back to him and shrugged, “Well, there’s a potions lab, music room, a library, the Quidditch Pitch,” he trailed off there.

“There are beautiful gardens too, Blaise,” Pansy added.

He raised an eyebrow at her, “Is there now?” he asked interestedly, he turned back to Harry. “Might I be allowed to peruse these wonders?” He asked Harry.

“Er.. sure? I mean, you’re going to be living here for a bit I assume, go nuts.” Harry answered.

“Excellent. So, tell me, tell me, have you two shagged yet?” he asked in a far too interested tone.

Harry sputtered and choked on his tea. He glanced over at Pansy and then back to Blaise quickly, wondering how the bloke didn’t have two smoking holes in him now from her piercing glare. The mischievous look and utter lack of care emanating from the other Slytherin in the room had Harry wondering if he was, in fact, a simpleton.

THAT is none of your business, Blaise,” Pansy said in a withering tone.

“I’ll take that as a no then, you’re far too uptight for it to be any other answer, Anenome.”

“Not everyone is a slut like you, Blaise darling,” Pansy’s affectionate tone quite at odds with her words.

Blaise chuckled, “I prefer to think of myself as overly affectionate.”

Harry snorted and they both looked at him, “Remind me not to get too friendly with you then,” Harry said with a smirk.

Blaise’s answering laugh was loud and rich and Pansy hid a smile behind her teacup.

“You’re not so bad, Potter,” he chuckled.

“Perhaps you should call me Harry,” Harry replied.

Blaise inclined his head, inviting Harry to do the same.

“I’ll have Dobby show you to your room, I am fairly certain Heathcliff will be arriving soon to see you. You should have some time to settle in before he gets here.” Harry said.

Dobby appeared by the door and Zabini stood up, Harry remained seated, even if he did have to crane his neck to maintain eye contact with his new house guest. “All jokes aside, Pott- Harry, thank you.” He said in a tone that belied his gratefulness.

Harry just nodded, “I can sympathise with your situation, you don’t have anything to thank me for.”

Dobby led Blaise away before he could ask Harry what he meant.

Harry set his empty cup aside and saw Pansy do the same. He turned to watch and realised she had copied him again. She was sitting sideways on the couch, one leg drawn up so she could face him.

“Erm-”

“I was wondering if you wanted to continue the conversation we were having earlier,” she said matter-of-factly. Leaning forward slightly, she shifted to sit closer to him, reaching out a hand to rest on his forearm.

Harry looked down at her delicate hand resting there. “Oh, er..”

His mind raced back to the events of the morning and he swallowed the lump of bile that rose in his throat. His hand lifted to rub his scar without thought and he grimaced at his actions.

“Harry,” Pansy said softly, gathering his attention to her once more. “There is something I would like to say to you. Something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately.”

He nodded, eager to put off any conversation about Voldemort and Horcruxes, even if he did feel as though he wanted to tell someone .

Pansy inhaled deeply and squared her shoulders, “I wanted to tell you how much I admire you,” before Harry could start to scowl she hurried on. “Not for those silly reasons that the Prophet says or the empty-headed gossips of Hogwarts like to talk about. But because you always seem like you’re ready to take on any burden all on your own. You are ready to shoulder any responsibility that comes your way. Even if they aren’t yours to trouble yourself with. I have watched you, you know. All these years at Hogwarts, it’s hard not to.”

She smiled inviting him to do the same but when he didn’t respond she kept going.

“Everything you do, you never do it for your own reasons, or never just for your own reasons. You do it because you should. Because you can help. Because it’s right. If everyone was even a quarter as kind as you are, had even a modicum of the sheer decency you do, the world wouldn’t be the disaster that it is. I don’t think you even realise it yourself, just how brave you are for simply being you .”

She sucked in a deep breath, seeming to bolster some courage of her own, “What I am trying to say though, is you don’t need to shoulder them on your own. You have people, friends, family , around you that want to help you. I rather doubt that Hermione spends all that time studying just for herself. I’m not saying she doesn’t enjoy it.” She said when Harry made to say something, “But Harry, she was far more sociable a couple of years ago than she is now. She took Krum to the ball after all, they must have had a few conversations before then. I have seen her talking with Patil and Brown quit a bit. As for Weasley, he made quite nice with Draco the other night. For the fits of immaturity he has possessed in the past, one would have expected quite a bit more reluctance, the Malfoy/Weasley feud is quite well known.”

Harry furrowed his brow as her words sunk in, Hermione’s studying had kicked up a few levels and it was quite focused on defensive magic and concealment. Ron likewise was displaying quite an improvement in maturity. Were both things linked to Harry like Pansy was implying? If Harry wasn’t their friend, if they weren’t going to be caught up in the upcoming fight, would they really be as they were now?

He felt Pansy move closer to him again and he felt her hands slip into his. “I can see you starting to blame yourself, that wasn’t my intention. I’m trying to tell you how amazing you are, and not for your magic or for your circumstance, but just for being who you are. Granger and Weasley are their own people and they would want to help you with any difficulties you face. Just as you would want to help with theirs. Just like you helped Draco and Narcissa. Just as you did for Blaise. Just like you did for my fear of flying.”

Harry was a bit confused, “I only did that because it-”

“It was the right thing to do.” Pansy finished for him.

“Yes, exactly. I could help them, you. So I did. That’s not anything special, Pansy,” he tried to tell her.

She smiled at him, “Yes it is. How many people do you think would do the same? For people they barely know and have no reason to like?”

Harry went to continue arguing with her, but she overrode him, “So, that is why I wanted to tell you this, that I.. would be proud to be your wife. Not because you’re ‘ Harry Potter’ and come with a veritable laundry list of titles. But because you are the kindest, bravest, most selfless person I have ever met, or could ever hope to meet. And if you tell anyone I said that I will completely deny it and make sure that you regret it.”

Harry couldn’t help the snort that escaped him, though he didn’t doubt she would keep her word.

She smirked back at him, “Now, I would also like to remind you that part of a spouse’s duties is to share the burdens and the worries that their other half carries. When you feel like sharing those, I will be here to help, in anyway that you need. Even if just to listen.”

Harry stared at her, saw the resolution set in her face and the truth of her words hidden in the depths of her dark brown eyes. He ached to tell her, to tell someone of the horrors he had been keeping to himself even if only to lighten the weight they pressed into his shoulders. To lessen the terror of his reality and to maybe shed some light into the darkness where his mind dwelled.

“I’m housing part of Voldemort’s soul and the Goblins might have to kill me to get rid of it.” he blurted out.

Pansy’s mouth fell into a perfect ‘o’ as she registered his words.

Chapter Text

After processing what Harry said, Pansy looked at him intently. 

"Harry Potter, I am going to need more information than that. Much more. What do you mean you are housing part of the Dark Lord's soul? Start from the beginning. Leave nothing out." She demanded as she tried to piece together what was going on. 

Harry took a deep breath and began to recant his trip to Gringotts that morning.


FLASHBACK

“Good morning, Lord Potter,” came Blunttooth’s voice as Harry entered his office. 

“Blunttooth, good morning. I came as quickly as I could. You said there was news?”

The goblin nodded as Harry took the open seat in front of the desk, “We have not been able to discover much. So far we have been unable to find any documentation of the transferral of Horcruxes from one container to another. And it is not so easy to get a hold of one to experiment with either.” 

Blunttooth looked quite displeased at that. As if he was personally offended that a witch or wizard would not allow goblins to just experiment on parts of their soul. 

Harry was amused by that thought but could not dwell on it as the goblin began speaking again. 

“Be that as it may, some of our researchers are of the opinion that killing you, momentarily, of course, is the way forward.”

Harry blinked in frozen silence at his account manager, “Erm... Sorry?”

“Some of our research goblins think the best way to be rid of the extra soul piece is to destroy the container. So, in essence, you would need to be dead. They fully intend on bringing you back. You are one of our wealthiest customers after all and if you ceased to exist the Potter accounts, as well as your other accounts would be split amongst lesser relatives.” Blunttooth explained. 

“Well, that’s.. reassuring..” Harry remarked slowly, despite feeling the exact opposite. 

Blunttooth nodded in agreement and Harry decided he really needed a little more clarity on the matter. 

“Erm, so they are still researching though aren’t they?” He asked weakly, “I mean, it's hardly been a week after all.”

“They are still looking yes. But time is of the essence. The longer the soul remains a part of you, the greater the chance of possession. I hardly think I need to detail exactly how bad it would be to have two active Dark Lords with the same agenda.”

Harry privately thought it would be a bad idea to have two Dark Lords of any stripe running about. Regardless if they were the same man or not. But he could see Blunttooth’s point. 

“Just so we are clear on this, Blunttooth, I’m not giving my permission for anything to go ahead just yet. There are people I will need to speak about this with first.” Harry informed the goblin, though who exactly to turn to with this was currently evading his thoughts. 

“Of course, Lord Potter. I am merely keeping you apprised of the events and thought it prudent to discuss them here and not via owl. And if this truly is the only way to go, well then, you will need that time to prepare.” 

“And how exactly is one supposed to do that?” Harry snapped. His temper finally starting to show.

Blunttooth’s response was stopped by the opening of the office door. He and Harry both looked towards it to see another goblin entering. 

This goblin was older than the one that sat in front of Harry. The length of grey hair sprouting from his ears was a testament to that fact. The old goblin had a scroll clutched in one hand and was shaking off the assistance of another younger goblin. 

“Leave me be! Go and do something useful! Try to act as though you actually bring your clan some profit instead of being the useless lump you are.” He snapped. 

The young goblin looked as though he was about to burst into tears and he quickly fled the office. 

Harry felt the beginnings of a scowl etch onto his brow as he watched the elderly goblin take a seat near him. 

“Is this him?” he asked Blunttooth sticking a thumb in Harry’s direction. 

Blunttooth nodded, “Lord Potter, meet the esteemed Cankersore. Cankersore, Lord Potter.” 

The goblin harrumphed and banged his cane on the floor as he looked Harry over. 

“From the looks of him, he’d barely survive being killed, let alone coming back again.” 

Harry’s temper flamed again, “Isn’t that rather the point of dying? To not survive?”

Cankersore sneered at him, “I think I’ll be volunteering for the procedure.” 

Harry’s nostrils flared and Blunttooth stepped in before they could escalate things further. 

“Healer Dagrowth has Lord Potter on a program to restore his health. In the time that will take to reach an acceptable level, we can refine ideas and continue to research others.” 

Cankersore grumbled under his breath but let the point alone for now. “We are looking at many options. But so far the most viable seems to be death induced by poison. Once you have achieved that status we will then use our magic to flush the antidote through your system and then restart your body. So long as we achieve this within the given timeframe, there should be no reason for the death to be permanent.”

“And what would be the timeframe?” Harry managed to ask, his vexation at the new goblin growing further with his indifference to killing Harry. 

Cankersore shrugged, “It would depend on the poison, seconds, perhaps minutes.” 

Harry was really liking this goblin and the poison option less and less. He looked back to Blunttooth. 

“Thank you for informing me, but I think I’ll be taking my leave for now.”

Blunttooth nodded and Harry quickly left, his ire building the more he dwelled on the cantankerous old goblin. 

END FLASHBACK

 

 

Harry finished his retelling of the events of that morning and Pansy sat there, still as a statue. Harry peered at her, she wasn’t even blinking. 

“Uh, Pansy?” 

She snarled silently in response, her upper lip curling to expose her teeth. Harry had hardly blinked before she was suddenly pacing in front of him. 

“I can’t believe that Cankersore! Canker shite more like it! How dare he say something like that! Volunteer indeed! I’ll volunteer him! On the end of my wand!” 

Harry watched as her pacing reached one end of the room, only for her to spin and begin striding back down the length of it again. It was something else to see someone so upset on your behalf; and Harry thought it strange that as her ire - and her ranting - increased, his own seeped away, like water evaporating from a stone. 

“No reason for permanent death? There’s no way you can go through a procedure like this with so little guarantee! We’ll find another way. Isolate it, lock it up so that there’s no chance of possession while we look. You said they haven’t been searching for long, and we’ll look ourselves. Surely there’s something in your vaults. Or Slytherin’s library, or the Black’s. I bet Granger will leap at the chance to help if it means trawling through ol-.”

“NO!” Harry interrupted abruptly getting to his own feet, effectively halting her in her tracks.

“No, I don’t want them to know, I- Pansy, I have a piece of V-Voldemort in me.” Harry stuttered, the only time he had ever stumbled on the name. “Ron, Hermione, I- it’ll destroy them to know that.” He looked down then, saying it all aloud a relief and a burden all at once.

Pansy’s face softened and she stepped in front of him. She placed a hand on his cheek and tilted her face up to better look him in the eye. 

“Harry, they aren’t going to leave you over this.  A fool can see how close you three are. They are more a part of you than any scrap of him.”

Before Harry could say anything, Dobby appeared before them. 

“Lunch waiting for serving, if Master Harry and Missy Pansy be coming?”

Pansy let her hand drop to slide into Harry’s. Squeezing it tightly and waiting for his decision. 

Harry sighed, “Come on then, let’s get lunch over with.” 

He led them from the room. 

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

As they approached the dining room, Harry saw Blaise and Draco both loitering by the door. 

Draco immediately straightened up when he saw them, “Would you mind if I borrowed Pansy for a moment, My Lord? We just want a quick word.”

Harry arched an eyebrow at him, “Promise never to call me that again and sure.” 

“Remember what we talked about,” Pansy whispered to Harry obstinately. 

Harry scowled, not at her, but it was a scowl nonetheless, “Not now, Pansy.” He hissed softly. 

Her eyes narrowed and he sighed softly, “I’ll think about it.” 

“Good,” she squeezed his hand again before letting him go and remaining behind with Draco and Blaise. She folded her arms across her chest and raised her eyebrow at the two of them. 

Draco was the first to crack, he always was. 

“We heard you yelling before, everything all right?” He asked as he stepped forward, worry evident in his eyes. 

She winced, “What did you hear? Who else heard?”

“Just us, we think,” came Blaise’s low voice and she looked at him directly, “We were coming down the stairs, passing by.”

“It’s fine, really.” She said, trying to placate them, “I received some shocking news and I didn’t handle it with the most decorum. We should go in.” She said with a little nod to the door. 

“Pansy,” Draco said, “If Potter-,” 

“I’ll thank you not to finish that sentence, Draco,” Pansy said warningly, “It really is none of your business.”

Draco and Blaise both scowled at that statement and Pansy sighed, exasperated with the two of them. She loved them, she really did, but they could be so Gryffindor in their protectiveness sometimes. 

“That’s not what I meant and you two ought to know that. What I meant was, the reason I was yelling is not something I can tell you about, it’s not for me to say. Of course, if anything even remotely close to what you two have so hastily assumed, that would most certainly be your concern. Though, there certainly wouldn’t be anything left for you to do. Now, can we please go have lunch? There are things I need to do this afternoon.” 

Blaise stepped out of her way and Draco muttered to her as she passed him, “When you can tell us, I want to know everything.” 

She nodded and they filed into the dining room, Harry looked at her quizzically from where he stood by his seat, talking awkwardly to Ron, but she just shook her head and sat down in her chair next to him. Spreading her napkin across her lap as lunch appeared on the table and Missy popped up beside Harry’s elbow. 

The small elf glared at Harry and handed him his potion forcefully. 

Harry sighed and threw it all back before handing it back to her. She left with a huff and a snap of her fingers, the table filling with food automatically. The conversation over lunch was strained and tight. Everybody could sense the tension in Harry and they shot him surreptitious glances throughout the meal, even as they chatted quietly amongst themselves.

“Where’s Remus?” Harry asked abruptly, having just noticed the werewolf was not seated with them. 

Ron cleared his throat and answered, “Said he was gonna take lunch in the office, mate. Said he was caught in a spot of reading.”

Harry nodded curtly and finished his lunch. Sighing as Missy collected his plate and did not return with anything sweet.

“Is everything all right, Harry?” Hermione asked gently after a moment. 

“Everything's fine, Hermione.” 

“Are you sure? You’re very-”

“I said, it’s fine, Hermione.” Harry snapped, he pushed his chair back from the table roughly and strode out of the room. 

They all watched Harry leave and Hermione spun to glare at Pansy. 

“What’s wrong with Harry?” she demanded. 

Pansy huffed snootily, “It’s not my place to tell you what’s wrong with Harry. Perhaps you should try talking to him?”

Hermione opened her mouth, probably to exclaim that she had when Pansy interrupted her. 

Privately.

Hermione’s eyes quickly darted around the table and her mouth gaped in realisation. She stood suddenly and grabbed Ron by the sleeve. Dragging him out of the room behind her, only barely managing to not bowl over Heathcliff as he entered the room. 

Pansy’s father raised an eyebrow as he stepped into the room and both Pansy and Blaise rose from their seats to greet him. 

“Uncle Heath!” exclaimed Blaise.

“Papa,” greeted Pansy, in a much more sedate manner. 

They pulled back from their embrace when they heard the scraping of a chair against the floor. 

“Sorry,” Ginny said, when they all looked to her, “I’m just gonna, go… Seeya!” 

And with a quick wave, she bolted out the door, red hair like a waterfall behind her. 

“Gryffindors,” Draco snarked. 

Pansy cut in before the conversation could dissolve into a comparison of house traits. 

“Papa, something has come up, there are some things I need to do, research mainly. Harry has the books and such here that I will need. I was wondering if I could have your permission to stay the night?”

Heathcliff’s gaze narrowed on his daughter. 

“There won’t be anything inappropriate, Narcissa could act as a chaperone.” Pansy added. 

Pansy watched as her father’s eyebrow raised. 

“Narcissa cannot act as your chaperone against her own Head of House,” Heathcliff replied. 

“Blaise, then,” Pansy countered quickly, “It is not uncommon for god siblings to act as chaperone, neither is it uncommon for a chaperone to be over sixteen and not yet of age.”

Heathcliff looked at Blaise assessingly. Blaise straightened under his eye and nodded seriously. 

“Very well, I’ll allow it. But you’ll not spend every waking minute here. I still want to spend time with you myself these holidays.” 

Pansy nodded, “Of course, Father, thank you.” 

She pressed a kiss to his cheek and went in search of the Golden Trio. 

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

Harry stared broodily out of the window on the second floor of the library. There was no reason to tell Ron and Hermione, they didn’t have to know. He didn’t want them to worry about him. They were always worried about him and maybe this time he could spare them that. 

He turned away from the window when he heard footsteps and Ron’s voice.

“Take it easy, ‘Mione, you’re going to put a hole in my jumper.” 

Harry snorted and watched as his two best friends came into sight. 

“Harry! There you are!” Hermione exclaimed. “I’m sorry, I should have waited to talk to you. I’m just worried about you!” 

She threw her arms around Harry’s shoulders in a tight hug and Harry could just make out a disgruntled Ron straightening his clothes through her bushy hair. 

“Everything’s fine, Hermione. Really.” Harry replied setting her back on her feet.

 “Mate,” said Ron, “You don’t really expect us to believe that do you?”

He fell down into a chair and hooked one leg over the side as he gave a meaningful look at Harry. 

“Harry, talk to us, please. We’re your best friends and we’re worried about you.” Hermione pleaded. 

“It’s nothing-”

“Don’t even try it! Whatever it is, it’s not nothing!” Hermione insisted. 

Harry was about to continue arguing when Pansy walked in the door. Knowing she was about to take Hermione and Ron’s side, Harry scowled at her. 

She simply lifted an unimpressed eyebrow back at him. 

“All I’m going to say,” she said impassively as she took a seat on the loveseat across from Ron, “Is what if the cauldron was on the other fire?”

Harry bit back his retort as he thought it over, if it were Ron or Hermione that had a piece of someone’s soul in them. Wouldn’t he want to know? Wouldn’t he want to help them? Would it make him think any less of them?

Even as he asked himself the questions, he knew the answers. Sighing heavily, he sank into the seat next to Pansy and ran his hands through his hair. Gathering his thoughts as he tried to figure out how to tell them. 

He noticed Hermione quietly take a seat in the armchair next to Pansy and he started to tell them about his first trip to Gringotts, the letter, and his meeting that morning. 

When he was done, he didn’t need to look up to see that Hermione’s hands would be covering her mouth and Ron would look as though he was going to be sick. But when he did, he noticed the things he hadn’t thought would be there. 

Ron, while decidedly green around the gills, looked resolved and Harry could already see Hermione’s thoughts whirling behind her eyes. 

“So, yeah, that’s erm-”

“Mate.” 

Was Ron’s only contribution for the moment and Hermione had risen to fling herself into another hug. 

“I think this calls for some research of our own. Clearly, the goblins can’t be trusted to handle it at all if their only solution is death .” Pansy said derisively. 

Harry felt Hermione nod against his shoulder before she pulled herself back into her seat. Nodding as she reaffirmed herself, wiping a few stray tears from her eyes, as she squared her shoulders and got back to the matter at hand. 

“I agree, the library is quite large, surely there is something here that can help us. We should search the Black library as well. Surely they have books Dark enough to help us.” 

“I know of a few specific bookshops that may be worth checking into,” Pansy added as she nodded at Hermione, “And we have a copy of ‘Rodergarm’s Soul Theories’ at home.”

“Oh!” Hermione exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to read that, but it’s incredibly hard to find!” 

And just like that, the two girls were discussing various theories and books they should start with. 

“Well, they got that bit covered,” Ron said with a shake of his head. Turning to Harry, he asked, “What say you and I look into ways of ‘permanent and immeasurable destruction’?” 

Harry snorted, “What are we starting with? Fiendfyre?”

Starting with Fiendfyre? What the bloody hell are you finishing off with, if you’re starting with FIENDFYRE? ” came Blaise’s deep voice.

Harry jolted in his seat, “Shit.”

Pansy’s hand on his arm steadied him as Blaise and Draco walked around the corner, both wearing incredulous looks. 

“What exactly did you two overhear? You know that eavesdropping isn’t polite.”

“How else are you supposed to learn anything?” said Draco and Ron in unison. 

They stared wide-eyed at each other for a moment. Each as surprised as the other that they had vocalised the same thought. 

“All we heard was the names of a few dark, very dark ,” Blaise shot an impressed glance towards Hermione, “books. And then Harry here, you know, your paramour, your affianced, your old man, talking about Fiendfyre.”

Pansy gave Blaise a withering look but then turned to Harry, lifting her shoulder with an elegant shrug. 

Harry scowled, he did not want to bring more people into this if he could help it. 

“They would be useful.”

Harry turned to Ron, the look on his face clearly saying he thought Ron was high on something. 

“You don’t have to tell them all of it, but it will be useful having another set of hands. Besides that, they’re both sworn to your secrecy.” 

“Well, I’m not yet,” Blaise reminded them cheerfully, he swallowed hard under Pansy’s glare, “but of course, Salvia darling, I’m not going anywhere before I actually take any oaths.” 

“Tibsy,” Pansy called lightly, waiting for the elf to appear before continuing, “Can you please fetch ‘Oaths and Fealty: Volume Three’.”

The elf popped away and when she returned, Pansy thanked her before giving the tome to Harry. 

“I’m assuming you and father talked about Praesidie for Blaise, there should be a chapter on that particular oath in here.”

Harry took the book with a sigh, “Right, well, Ron. In the meantime, you want to take Draco and start looking through the books he stole from Malfoy Manor? Should be something in there that can help. Dobby will show you were to go.”

Ron stood and clapped Draco on the shoulder, “Come on, Blondie, I’ll fill you in,” he said as he steered a sputtering Draco out of the library. 

Pansy stood and smoothed her skirt, “Granger and I will make a start downstairs, once you’ve filled Blaise in, you boys can start up here.” 

“Yes, ma’am!” Blaise saluted lazily as they passed him. 

Harry watched them walk away, heads together and gesticulating wildly as they talked, and if his eyes happened to rest on one pert behind in particular, well, only Blaise saw him. 

Especially if the lascivious eyebrow waggle was anything to go by. 

Harry quickly opened the book he was holding to the index page and started to scan for the chapter he needed. 

“So,” Blaise said, flopping into the seat next to him. 

Harry’s eyes darted to him briefly.

“You and Anemone seem to be getting along.”

Harry ignored him and flicked to chapter seven. 

“You certainly seem to enjoy her ass ets.”

Harry’s cheeks began to flame and he buried his nose deeper into the book. Silence reigned between them for a few moments and Harry was able to ascertain that the act of Praesidie was to make someone a ward of one's house. An unofficial son. Harry grinned, he knew this.

Thank you, muggle primary schooling.

Blaise leaned closer and his voice dropped from the teasing tone to a whispered hiss and it was then Harry realised that Blaise had misinterpreted his grin.

“You won’t get much enjoyment of them if you hurt her.”

Harry dropped the book into his lap and met the serious stare head-on, an eyebrow arching. 

“Yes, because threatening your new Liege Lord is such a smart plan. You know that if you accept this, you’ll still be considered mine, even when you come of age.”

“Regicide was coined for a reason.”

Harry grinned back and leant forward, eyes sparkling with mischief. 

“Haven’t you heard? Even the Dark Lord himself couldn’t kill me.” 

Blaise stared at him impassively for a moment and Harry wondered briefly if he’d cocked it up.

But then, dark lips twitched and Blaise fell back onto the couch laughing. 

“I like you, Potter,” he said after he gathered himself, “You’re not as bad as I thought you were.” 

Harry snorted and went back to his book, skimming for the words that would cement Blaise’s status as an honorary Peverell. He soon found them and quickly had them memorised, though he left the book open when he set it down on the small table by his side.

He turned smoothly to Blaise and drew his wand. 

“Are you sure you want this? Can’t exactly back out if you change your mind.”

Blaise seemed to put aside his normally cheerful demeanour and he straightened his shoulders. 

“I do. I’ve been thinking about this ever since you sent me Uncle Heath’s ring. I didn’t know who he had gotten to take me in, and I admit, I was worried. The options I could think of, while preferable, were still unpleasant. Especially as you said, for a lifetime association.”

Blaise wrapped his hand around his chin as he looked Harry over once more. Clearly debating with himself about what he was about to say. 

“My family, the Zabini family, we have a- knack -for reading people. I know that it won’t be a mistake to hitch my cart to you. Even if I still wonder why you would do this for me. It wasn’t just because Uncle Heath asked, was it?”

Harry shook his head.

“He told me a bit about your mum. That he suspected she wouldn’t care very much if Voldemort took you for leverage against her.”

Blaise snorted, “Try at all.”

Harry bobbed his head. 

“Well, I know what it’s like. The family I grew up with, my Aunt and Uncle, they didn’t want me around, would prefer it if they never saw me again. Voldemort killed Cedric, simply because he showed up where he wasn’t wanted. He would do worse things to you if you were the reason his plan failed.”

“There’s nothing worse than death, Harry.” Blaise said with a little smirk. 

Harry met his gaze with heavy eyes.

“There are plenty of things worse than death.”

Blaise looked at him in confusion, but he didn’t press the matter further.

Harry held his hand out to him, Blaise took hold of it slowly and Harry spoke the words that would bring Blaise into familial custody of the Peverell line. 

“I, Lord Harry James Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin, accept into the Peverell family Blaise-”

“Osiris” 

“-Osiris Zabini, to be family in all but blood. May the strength of the Peverell line support you as you in turn hold up the prestige of this family. Do you hereby swear your allegiance, your loyalty, your fidelity to the House of Peverell?”

“I, Blaise Osiris Zabini, Heir to the Zabini family, do hereby accept entrance into the Peverell line. I pledge my allegiance, my loyalty, and my fidelity to the prestige of the Peverell family. I renounce any ties to the woman, Calliandra Lorelai Zabini, and I accept Harry James Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin, in her stead. Ego meum iurare in magica .”

Harry’s eyes widened as a soft white glow emanated from their joined hands, growing until it reached their chests, where it sank beneath their skin with a warmth Harry hadn’t expected. 

“Erm… Did you just… Did you just make me your mum?”

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

“What the BLOODY HELL , ZABINI!!”

Hermione looked up from the book she was bent over, eyes fixing on the upper floor of the library where they had left Harry and Zabini. Hearing the scrape of furniture, hurried footsteps and rich, velvet laughter, she turned to exchange a baffled look with Pansy. 

The Slytherin girl, Harry’s fiance she reminded herself, seemed to give an exasperated sigh. 

“What’s Blaise done now?” she asked loud enough for Hermione to hear. 

Harry came down the stairs in a hurry, looking thoroughly rattled. A smirking Zabini trailed behind him, hands in his pockets. 

“What’s wrong, Harry?” Hermione asked as he got closer. 

Harry opened his mouth. Closed it again. Gesticulated uselessly, before levelling a glare at Zabini.

“Blaise?” Pansy asked, warning lacing her tones. 

Blaise just shrugged and looked at Harry, “Can I tell them, mother?

Harry jerked and shot back. “I am not your mother.” 

“Whatever you say, mummy dearest,” Blaise said jovially, a twinkle sparkling in his eye. 

“Harry?” Hermione prompted again. 

“He- We-” Harry gestured helplessly again, “He bloody well made me his mum!”

“Don’t be silly, Harry,” Hermione said, “Magic can’t do that.” She paused for a moment, recent events replaying in her mind and she glanced at Pansy again, “Can it?” 

“Well, it’s not unheard of, there’s a lineage spell we could use. They came up with it to test rightful parentage in cases of abuse, disownment and such. What happened?” 

“We did the praesidie oath thing, and then he ,” Harry glared at Blaise again, “renounced his mum and accepted me ‘in her stead’.” 

Hermione watched as Pansy’s lips rolled together and she pulled her wand out to point at Blaise. She muttered a few words and light surrounded Blaise before a scroll of parchment shot out of her wand. She caught it before it fluttered to the ground and Hermione scooted closer to read it over her shoulder. 

 

Blaise Osiris Zabini, son of Marculus Khnum Zabini, and magical son of Harry James Potter-Black-Peverell-Gryffindor-Slytherin

 

Hermione gasped as she read the words and looked up in shock. Harry’s eyes went wide as they met hers. 

“BLOODY FUCK!

Hermione looked over at Zabini, he had noticed their reactions too and had lost that amused and cocky demeanour that he normally wore. 

“Harry- I truly didn’t-” he started to say. 

Harry’s head whipped around and he narrowed his eyes at him. 

Not another word. ” 

Zabini mimed zipping his lips shut. 

Harry looked back and forth between the three of them for a moment, face almost comical in its disbelief. He turned pleading eyes on Hermione, but before she could even attempt to form a sentence, resignation settled over his features and he pinched the bridge of his nose. 

“I’m going to go see Ron,” 

Hermione watched as he spun on his heel and started to walk out, muttering about how Ron and Draco better not be snogging otherwise he was finding a way out of whatever weird alternate reality he had stumbled into. He reached the door and took one last look at them all. Still as statues, as they themselves came to terms with what had just happened.

He opened his mouth as if to say something. Shut it again before looking at Blaise directly, imparting one last comment before he left to find Ron. 

“You’re grounded.”

Chapter Text

Narcissa had always prided herself on being rather good at discerning the undercurrents in a room or conversation. Even as a child, she had been aware of the nuances in a person's tone of voice and the minute differences in a person's facial expression. That ability had only been honed during her marriage to Lucius and she was sure that, on occasion, it had even saved her life. 

Looking around at the faces of the next generation, she saw there was a tension of some kind amongst them, though trying to discern the source, was another matter entirely.

Draco kept shooting cautious glances at their new Lord, his mouth twitching unpleasantly whenever his gaze landed on Harry. Narcissa knew her son well, and knew that whatever it was that had upset him enough to show his emotions unconsciously, it was greatly disturbing to him. 

Blaise was acting his usual jovial self, joking with Pansy and even the Weasley boy, but there was a tense set to his eyes that belied his true emotions when one knew to look for it. 

The Granger girl had her nose buried in a book, this behaviour in and of itself was apparently not unusual for the intellectually voracious young woman, but what gave Narcissa pause was that her eyes could not focus on the title of said book. They kept skipping away whenever she tried to find out what the girl had thought interesting enough to bring to the dinner table. 

Pansy was the epitome of table manners. Everything action perfectly displayed and every word carefully polished. Narcissa knew the girl well enough that such careful attention to her actions was not practised precision and ingrained behaviour as she would have everyone believe, but instead, it was her way of trying to indicate nothing was wrong.  

Weasley was the most relaxed of them all, which surprised her, he was acting if nothing at all was out of the ordinary as if whatever had everyone else so upset was of no consequence, or as if it was an everyday occurrence. Narcissa had thought he might have been the easiest to access to gain information from, given his parents didn’t hold to the more rigid of pureblood upbringings, but he seemed quite present in his conversation with Blaise and Draco. Not distracted at all, unless he was looking for another bread roll. 

The Weasley girl had flooed home to her parents earlier that afternoon, leaving only one left for Narcissa to scrutinise. Her new Lord. 

He sat at the head of the table, Pansy on his right, Weasley on his left, as he stared broodily at his plate, as if it had committed some great offence upon his person. Occasionally, his eyes would lift from his plate and he would look upon those around the table with concern. As if some judgement awaited him. None whatsoever appeared as people conversed. 

There was one particularly odd reaction of Harry’s, Narcissa could not pin down. His gaze would flit to Blaise quite often, upon which a scowl would crease his face, followed by a shudder. Every time.

The few occurrences that Blaise caught him doing so, he would grin and then wink at Harry. Causing the scowl to linger as Harry stabbed at his meal with excess vigour. 

Turning to converse with Remus Lupin, she caught his raised eyebrow. She simply rose one in return, it seemed the strange atmosphere at the table had not gone unnoticed by him either. Remus nodded in regard to her silent query. They would find out what happened between the children. 

Narcissa set her dessert spoon aside. The Australian dessert had been delightful. Crisp and crunchy on the outside. The middle has been almost gooey in places, but light, fluffy and melting on the tongue in others. It had been decorated with fruit, cream and bits of shaved chocolate. Delicious. 

She took a sip of the light white wine in front of her before giving voice to her thoughts. 

“Would someone like to enlighten us unto what has you all in such tumultuous upheaval?”

The reactions she got where almost amusing, they were all set to deny it, but she looked her new lord straight in the eye as she waited. 

His scowl grew more pronounced, but she could see it was not for her. He glanced at Granger, Weasley and then Pansy before settling on her and Lupin and seemingly coming to a decision. 

“I’ll tell you, but not here.”

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

Harry led everyone to the lounge, as he entered the fireplace roared into life. He quickly checked the floo connection, ensuring they were all shut down for the night before. He wasn’t about to let anyone else eavesdrop on him. Blaise and Draco had been enough. 

He had wanted to be mad at the two of them, but there were a few things that stopped him from being so. The first, he really should have put up secrecy spells. Hermione was sure to know some. Probably Pansy too. Second, Draco and Blaise were both sworn to him. They couldn’t tell anyone, even if they wanted and Harry, strangely enough, trusted that they didn’t. Third, well, he would be a huge hypocrite. Had he been in their position, he would have done exactly the same thing. Hell, he had . He didn’t think he could count how many times he had eavesdropped upon people. 

Wizarding and muggle alike. 

So with that, he let the matter slide. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have plenty of other things to worry about. Or to be mad at Blaise for. Merlin’s balls the whole Being-Blaise’s-Mum-Thing was enough.

He scowled into the flames at the thought, he honestly didn’t know what to think about all that. He shook the thoughts from his head, he wouldn’t come up with answers now. Besides, Narcissa and Remus would be waiting for him to tell them about being a Horcrux.

He still felt sick inside every time he thought the word. Shuddering internally, the word gave him the same sick, scared feeling that Voldemort did for the general wizarding populace, he turned to face the so-called music. 

Everyone had come and they were spread about the room in their own fashion. Blaise leant, arms folded, upon the back of the loveseat Pansy had chosen. Ron was sprawled in an armchair, one leg dangling over the side. Hermione had burrowed into a corner of the long couch, a lap rug already pulled about her legs and cushions underneath her side, one finger marking her place in the book she had brought to dinner. 

Narcissa and Remus had taken to another loveseat, both seemingly comfortable sitting so close to one another. 

Draco sat on the couch with Hermione, one leg drawn up, his ankle resting upon his other knee. 

Harry drew a deep breath and began. As he talked, Dobby and Tibsy appeared, placing little tea services within easy reach of people. Harry wondered if Pansy had arranged for them. As he finished his tale with the events of that afternoon, Dobby softly touched his elbow to offer him his own cup of tea. 

Thanking Dobby in a quiet tone but declining it for right now, Harry waited for someone to say something. 

He was suddenly engulfed within two strong arms. Remus had moved before he could even blink and pulled him into a demanding hug. Harry wrapped his own arms and Remus and patted him on the back. 

“Fucking hell, Harry,” he breathed quietly.

Harry froze and then started to chuckle. The normally mild-mannered wolf’s crass language and understatement finally overwhelming him and sending him into a round of unstoppable mirth. 

He broke apart from Remus as Ron started to guffaw. He looked over at his friends and saw Hermione fighting to hold back her own giggles. His grin only grew as their laughter fed each other. Hermione’s giggles escaping into full bouts of laughter as Ron slipped out of his chair and Harry grasped at his stomach, a stitch forming in his side. 

Remus rolled his eyes even as he let out his own snort, whilst the newest members of Harry’s family looked upon them in utter confusion. 

“How is this funny?” demanded Draco. His tone of voice indicating that he had thought they had all rather gone round the twist. 

“Yeah lads, share the joke.” Blaise conjoled. 

Harry wiped a few stray tears from his eyes before he collapsed onto the floor. Legs spread out in front of him as he leant back on his hands. 

“Merlin, I needed that,” he sighed. 

Ron snorted as he pulled himself back into his chair.

“Too right.”

Eventually, everyone was settled and sipping tea in quiet calm, waiting for someone else to break the silence and warm glow left over by the sudden laughter. 

“So, what’s the plan then, Harry?” Remus finally asked. 

Harry sighed and set his half-finished tea aside. 

“Find some way to get this thing out of me that doesn’t involve my death. We’ve just started to look ourselves. The goblins don’t seem to be trying all too hard.” 

This statement was met with derisive snorts from almost every person in the room, only a sarcastic ‘really?’ from Pansy and Hermione punctuating the sounds. 

“Well,” said Narcissa, “I certainly didn’t envision anything like this when I asked after what was going on with you all. But you will have my help and support in this as well, Harry. It is the very least I could do.” 

Harry looked about to protest when he caught himself with a small shake of his head.

“Thank you, Narcissa.”

“And you will have me,” Remus added, “We have got most of the property folders into a semblance of order, they are not as urgent now as this matter is. It will go much better if we all work together. Now, bring us up to speed.”

Pansy and Hermione began with what they had been looking into so far. Listing the books and summoning the notes they had taken throughout the afternoon. Remus had looked interested in what they had found and had begun reading what they had put together already. 

Draco took over then, detailing what he, Ron, and eventually Harry had been looking for. Essentially they had begun searching through the books Draco had taken from Malfoy Manor. Sorting them into different categories, Dobby and Bosto had helped, shelving the books that were not useful, not particularly Dark, and not cursed into the library. Other books had begun to be placed in piles for later inspection. One pile was for specifically Dark books, and another for Cursed books. 

Harry was interested in having those curses removed at some point. Some of the curses made sense to a point, the material inside was sensitive. Others were just plain weird. For instance, why have a curse that would melt the flesh from your hands on a book about Flobberworm care? More bewildering to him though, was why have a book that thick on Flobberworm care at all?

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

It was nearing midnight when Harry finally made the call to send everyone to bed. Yawns had started to punctuate the conversation more than well-formed sentences and Ron was dangerously close to falling asleep in his tea. 

Narcissa and Remus backed up his decision once they noticed the time and everyone agreed to resume their research in the morning.

They all ascended the stairs, with Blaise calling out a ‘goodnight mum!’ once he was out of Harry’s reach. 

Harry only scowled at his retreating back as Blaise jogged up the stairs with a laugh. Only Harry and Pansy were left in the second-floor corridor. 

They stared at each other for a moment, Harry shifting on his feet nervously, unsure how to part when Pansy spoke.

“Are you upset with Blaise for what he did?”

Harry gave the question some thought, not wanting to appear as though it was a trivial matter. “I don’t know,” he admitted finally.

“He didn’t mean for that to happen.” 

He sighed, “I know, and I don’t blame him for wanting to sever ties with her. I- I had a bit of a look through some of the books Draco brought, and I think that Blaise’s magical signature will have changed. It will help him stay out of her reach. She won’t be able to track him anymore.”

Pansy’s shoulders seemed to loosen at this. 

“That’s good, I’m relieved,” she replied. 

“Well, erm- we should probably get some rest,” Harry said.

Pansy nodded, “Yes, um, we should. Good night, Harry,” she said before quickly pressing a kiss to his cheek and slipping into her room. 

“Good night,” Harry replied quietly. 

And holding a hand to his cheek, a small smile creeping over his face, he walked into his own bedroom. 

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

Harry woke gasping in sweaty sheets. The pleasant dreams of Pansy and he in their own sweaty-for-an-entirely-different-reason sheets, had given way to nightmares of possession and fear. 

He scrabbled for his wand. Casting a Lumos to dispel the lingering darkness, he tried to get his breathing back under control. He scrubbed at his eyes and then ran a hand through his hair. 

Sighing he flung the covers back and stumbled into the bathroom, washing his face and the back of his neck to rid himself of the stickiness that came with bad dreams. 

He cast a tempus spell, it was just after three in the morning. Harry sighed, he was too wired to go back to sleep now. Maybe a night fly would help settle him before he tried for a few more hours. 

Decision made, he grabbed a pair of jeans and a jumper, pulling them on as he walked out the door. He paused in the hallway as he freed his head from the wool and hopped for a bit as he struggled to pull his trainers on properly. He headed for the stairs and let himself out of the back door before summoning his broom. 

Catching it on hand, he mounted up and took off. Soaring up, up, up into the night sky. The cold air refreshing him and chasing away the cobwebs of his dreams in a way that nothing else had previously. 

He drifted for a while, letting the light of the moon and quiet of the night fill him with a stillness not found anywhere else. He looked out of the silent moors and just breathed with the night. 

Eventually spurring himself into action, as the cold started to seep into his bones, he began to fly. Lazy loops and graceful dives. Nothing fast, or particularly fancy. Just him and his broom, responding to any unconscious whim as he lost himself in the feeling of flight. Of total freedom. 

One particularly big loop de loop differed. He was facing the manor as he brought himself back up and halted. 

There was a light flickering in the owlery tower.

No, not the owlery tower he realised. That was on the opposite side of the manor. What was this tower? How had Harry not noticed it before? The manor was symmetrical but it had never occurred to him that there was only an entrance for one tower. Even Bosto had not mentioned it that day he had shown Harry around. 

Where was the entrance? How did he get in? 

He flew closer, but he couldn’t see in through the windows. They seemed charmed for privacy. He could only see the soft, pulsing light coming out from the top of the tower, like a beacon just for him. 

He started to circle the tower, starting at the top and flying lower on each pass. Needing to see where it began. It went a floor lower than the owlery, it started somewhere on the second floor. The windows on either side showed the library and his office. But there was nothing separating those rooms except a wall. Or so Harry had thought. 

Unlocking his office window with his wand, Harry hoisted himself over the sill. He grabbed his broom before it could fall and the lights flickered on as he placed his feet on the floor. 

He walked towards the wall he thought was originally shared with the library and started to inspect it. His Grandfather Charlus was asleep in his portrait as Harry looked over the wall with new inquisitive eyes. 

“Please be a secret door, please be a secret door,” he murmured softly under his breath. 

There wasn’t much there really, just stone, the portrait, a small glass-fronted cabinet that held a decanter of scotch and some glasses, and an unlit wall sconce. 

His eyes lit up and he reached for it. Tugging and then twisting it when it wouldn’t budge. He huffed under his breath and stood back. Crossing his arms as he thought. He began to inspect the table, it was immensely heavy, but it pulled away entirely from the wall so he put it back. 

He continued to look around once again, trying to spot any flaws or inconsistencies in the brick. Tapping random bricks with his fingers and then his wand. Finding nothing, he slumped into the comfortable chair at his desk. 

Spinning idly as he mulled over the situation, he caught glimpses of his study. There was paperwork stacked on his desk it neat little files, some coloured the way Pansy had organised with Habrey to denote the urgency of maintenance tasks on the properties he owned. 

Another stack he knew was from Remus, things he would need to look over and approve at some stage. He spun again, eyes on the walls, it was funny how the wall sconces flickered and danced while he spun…

Catching the edge of the desk, Harry brought himself to a stop. The lamp on that section of the wall wasn’t lit. Standing up, he pulled his wand out again, casting a spell to light it as he approached. The sconce lit up, and this time when Harry pressed it, it moved. 

His eyes lit up with success and he grinned gleefully to himself. 

The floor beneath him also started to move, slowly turning and Harry’s face lit with a grin. There was a secret room! He held onto the cabinet, and soon enough, the hidden door stopped spinning.

He was on the other side of the wall. 

There was a long thin flight of stairs and as Harry stepped on the first step, lights illuminated to guide his way. There were a great many portraits on the walls, and his ancestors smiled down at him. Some waving madly, others merely nodding. None tried to halt him. Possibly understanding his innate curiosity, or maybe just knowing that there would be time enough for that later. 

Eventually, he came to a large wooden door. It was intricately carved with runes and pictograms. Unconsciously holding his breath, Harry turned the doorknob.

“Hello, Son. I’ve been wondering when you would find this place.”

 

~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~ Harry&Pansy ~*~*~*~*~

~*~*~*~*~

 

The sun was coming up, Harry had first noticed it when the birds had started singing. But now, the first fingers of light were reaching through the windows. He placed a marker in the book that he had been reading and turned to face the only painting that hung in the circular room. 

The room was set up similarly to the study downstairs, but had far more comfort in mind. There was a long curving couch underneath one window. A comfortable armchair that rocked next to that. There was a desk set at the other window, and a workbench built into the wall opposite. Lastly, there was another small staircase, almost like a ladder really, that led up to a skinny walkway that ran around the entire room a few feet above head height. The walls of that landing were filled with books on a very specific kind of magic. 

Family magic. 

The shelves contained journals and notebooks, scrolls and tomes filled with the handwriting of Harry’s ancestors. Their accounts were on beings, plants and phenomenons they had encountered, potions they had created -or notes they were still yet to try- spells they had devised, from household to battlefield, it was incredible. It was mind-boggling.

It was very, very, secret. 

“I really can’t tell anyone about this place?” he asked the tapestry.

He already knew the answer, but speaking to his father was worth repeating any question ten times over. 

The painting rippled and Harry watched as the little figure of James Potter walked along the branch that stretched toward the viewer. Growing larger and larger until he was big enough to see. The smile on his face told Harry his dad had seen right through his question.

“If you use the old ceremonies to bond with your spouse, you can bring them, as well as any children of your blood. But other than that, no Harry. The family magic will stop you before you can even try. These are our secrets. Our family knowledge and the source of our wealth.” 

Harry nodded and moved closer to the painting, eyes roving over it and taking in all the details of his family tree. The majority of apples on the tree were gold. Signifying their blood relation to the Potter family. His family all waved down at him, all the way from Ignotus Peverell. Who sat right at the top of the tree. 

Each blood member of the Potter line infused their magic with the tapestry when they came of age. Adding their magic to the portrait which served as the basis for the wards around the manor. 

Harry sighed and his eyes flicked to the silver apple that was joined with his fathers. 

“I wish you had been able to convince mum to take the old vows.”

His father’s face twisted into a sad smile, “I do as well, I had hoped to talk her into using them and renewing our vows after we had you. But-” he broke off there. 

“I’ll find the portrait,” Harry said decisively. “Are you sure you don’t know where it is?” 

James had told him of their wedding gift from the Longbottom’s. Frank and Alice had paid for the best portrait artist at the time to paint them in their wedding finery. It had apparently hung in Godric’s Hollow above the fireplace. 

“I’ve been trying, Son. But I can’t leave this frame at all.” 

Harry only nodded, his eyes still roving over the portrait and his father’s face. 

His eyes ran down the tree, taking in all of the Potter characteristics, seeing where the Gryffindor line had married in, those descendants taking on a red hue to their gold. Finally his eyes fell on his apple. Harry had been instructed how to add his own and now his apple portrait moved too. His painted self gaping at everyone around him and occasionally scowling down at the white apple that branched off from his own. 

“Are you going to explain that?” His father asked. 

Harry sighed and filled his Dad in about what had happened with Blaise the day previously. 

“-And then the twat, he bloody well renounced his mum, and made me her instead!” 

His father, and several other family members, were snickering at his retelling of events. Harry folded his arms crossly and waited for them to settle down. 

“What’s going to happen when I have my own kids?” he asked, wanting to needle them a little, as wasn’t that stuff supposed to be important? “What happens to the line succession?”

James was still smiling as he answered, “You don’t need to worry, Harry. You didn’t blood adopt him. His apple is white. He’s more like a step-son.” James snorted again. “He won’t interfere with your own kids. Why? Are you planning on some already? Is this Pansy that much of a looker is she?” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. 

Harry blushed and stared at the carpet, “No!” 

“That means yes!” cried out some great uncle, a few branches above James’ perch. 

“No!”

“Is she ugly then?” asked another, who was promptly smacked by his wife. 

“No!” Harry said again glaring up at them all, “She’s... really pretty. But no, I’m not thinking about that stuff yet…”  he trailed off and looked down at his shoes again. 

“Harry, you’re a bloke, is perfectly fine to entertain certain thoughts, or to have interesting dreams,” James teased with a wink.

Harry cringed in embarrassment, he could feel his cheeks and neck burning with it. His dad couldn’t know about that dream he had earlier. Could he? Although if his laugh was anything to go by. He did. 

“Right, I’m heading down for breakfast!” Harry exclaimed, making his way to the door.” He paused there, his hand on the handle and he looked back to see his dad, “You’ll still be here when I come back won’t you?” 

“Of course, Harry. I’ll always be here for you.” 

Harry gave him a tremulous smile and then hurried down the stairs. 

Charlus was now awake and he ensured that the study was empty before Harry came through. Once he was safely through, Harry fell against the wall needing a moment to collect himself before he headed downstairs to join the others.