Harry James Potter, Lord Potter-Black
MELIORARE LEGEM MELIORARE VITAM EST
To the Head Goblin of Gringotts Wizarding Bank,
My dear sir, it is a matter of great concern to me that relations between goblinkind and wizardkind, particularly in this country, are as poor as they are, as they have been for much of history, and that the lion's share of the blame rests on wizardkind as the self-appointed arbiters of law for the wizarding world.
I am personally not innocent of involvement in this state of affairs, especially during the latter parts of the Second Wizarding War, due to a combination of youthful misjudgements and the pressures of the war itself. However, I do not present these factors as justifications of my actions.
An opportunity has presented itself to me, as provided by the excellent record-keeping services of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, to make some reparations to the goblin people, both on my own behalf and those of wizardkind in general. I do not ask for forgiveness, nor do I expect to undo centuries of mistrust in a single day with this action, but I hope to build a bridge that may begin the process.
I request a meeting with you, at your earliest convenience, to discuss this matter further, and several matters related to the nine House estates of which I have found myself in legal possession.
Your records processing clerk, Ms Tuzva Longfingers, is familiar with my situation, having been the one to reach out to apprise me of it, and may confirm the extent of the opportunity which is before us both through this matter.
With thanks and hopes for future good will,
Harry James Potter
Lord of Nine Houses
The heavy doors of Gringotts swung open, and Harry stepped through, doing his best to seem professional. His hair was slicked back in a somewhat older wizarding fashion, and he wore robes of deep black velvet in one of the traditional business styles. Around the hem was a series of embroidered sigils, in a repeating pattern, each one representing one of the Houses that Harry had found himself owning. Those representing Houses Potter and Black, which he'd decided to consider his primary titles, were in gold thread with small red stones adding highlights, while those of the other houses were in silver.
Entering behind him, Hermione was in navy blue robes, also business-like in their cut, but deliberately chosen to be less impressive than Harry's. She carried a large satchel, made of red leather and embossed with the combined sigil of House Potter-Black.
A pause, as Harry's eyes adjusted after the bright light of outside, and he tried to prepare mentally for what he was about to do. He hoped that the letter requesting an appointment, carefully composed by Hermione under his name, would open the right doors for them, to get everything started. It had certainly looked impressive, at least.
The pair strode towards the grand front counter, Hermione a step behind and to the side. As they approached, the goblin attending the desk peered down at them. "Can I help you?"
Harry smiled back up at him, and after a brief pause (he was too used to being casual with people, and had to get this right) he replied, "I am Lord Potter-Black, I have an appointment to see the Head Goblin."
A curt nod. "Very well." The goblin waved a hand, and another goblin stepped over.
They had a short exchange in Gobbledegook, then the second goblin bowed to Harry. "This way please."
Harry and Hermione followed the goblin through a side door, and this time, instead of an endless corridor of small offices, they found themselves in the lavish office of the Head Goblin. The decor was heavy on mahogany and brass, and where Harry's outfit might be designed to impress and intimidate, this office was designed for the same purpose, but with the weight of centuries behind it instead of one kid who was still actually in his teens, and starting to feel a little small.
A subtle poke in the ribs from Hermione brought him out of his momentary wonder, and he straightened himself out, then strode over to the Head Goblin's desk. He bowed deeply. "Lord Potter-Black, sir." He gestured to Hermione at his side. "My secretary, Ms Granger."
The Head Goblin himself was somewhat different than Harry had expected. His hair was a bright silver, with a crisp centre part, and he wore an impeccably tailored suit which Harry vaguely recognised as being a Muggle style, albeit one from about two hundred years ago.
"Please, take a seat."
As they settled into the pair of soft chairs in front of the ornate desk, Hermione opened her bag and pulled out a small roll of parchment, handing it to Harry. He smiled at the Head Goblin. "I know you're quite busy, so I'll get straight to business. This is a list," he placed the roll of parchment on the desk, making sure it was where the goblin could reach it, "of the goblin-made items in the vaults which I have inherited, which I now immediately return to the ownership of the goblin people under wizarding law, as they are already in goblin law. I entrust them to your keeping, in the trust that you can find the rightful owners."
This was not how the Head Goblin had expected the conversation to go. He picked up the list, and glanced over it briefly. "That... is an unexpected act, Lord Potter-Black. Some of these items have been hoarded by wizarding families for centuries."
"I realise this. But these families have acted foolishly, in a number of ways, and so I have elected to use their holdings as I see fit. I see fit to improve relations with your people, as best as I can." Harry smiled, and Hermione gave him a second, smaller roll of parchment. "This list also contains a number of goblin-made items from those vaults. Between the two lists, you will find a complete reckoning of all the goblin-made items of which I now hold wizard law ownership. However," he paused, and placed the second list on the table, "these items I find myself with a continuing need for. Some for sentimental reasons, some practical."
The Head Goblin seemed startled at this, after the previous list, but before he could say anything, Harry continued, "In respect to goblin laws, I would like to offer to buy these items from their current goblin owners, for a fair price, so that I may keep them in a more moral fashion. And I will leave instructions that, in the event of my death, they are to be returned or repurchased." He paused again, studying the goblin's expression. "Would that be a satisfactory arrangement, sir?"
Slumping back in his seat, the goblin considered for a moment. "We will need to examine the lists more fully, and of course negotiate your purchases with the owners, but I believe you will be somewhat more popular among those goblins who hear of it." He watched Harry intensely with his dark eyes as he asked the next question. "I must know, however, why?"
Harry nodded. "I admit that it's an odd act, coming from a wizard, but I have always been... somewhat odd, as far as wizards go." He took a deep breath, trying to keep up his concentration on the oddly formal language. "During the war, I made enemies, sir. Some unintentionally, from those caught in the mix, such as yourselves. By taking control of nine Houses, and especially given some actions to come, I will be making more. I simply cannot afford to count the goblins amongst them. And on a less mercenary note, I aim to fix a lot of what wizardkind has gotten wrong, and goblin made artifacts are simply the first step." He grinned, then glanced at Hermione for a moment.
After considering this for a moment, the goblin nodded. "A fair point." He was still feeling rather on the back foot in this conversation. He was so used to being the one who knew what was going on, who was holding all the strings, that dealing with a wizard who could put him off balance like this was almost unnerving.
"Now, there is some other business involving these vaults that I believe will be best conducted with yourself. Firstly, I've been informed by your clerk, Ms Longfingers, that there are a number of objects of dark magic stored in the vaults which I have inherited. I can vouch for the House Potter vault, but the others are largely unknown to me."
The Head Goblin nodded again. "Indeed. As the most secure location in the world, we've often been called upon to store things which are dangerous, either to those who interact with them, or those found in possession of them."
"Exactly so. I would like to hire your best team of curse-breakers to examine each vault, and render their contents safe. Exact methods to be left to their expertise, though I would of course ask to be consulted before anything is destroyed. I may consult the Auror Office as to some of the more dangerous artifacts, on their advice."
"If you actually mean to hire the best team at our disposal, I must warn you that their services will not come cheap, and several will need to be recalled from other assignments." The goblin leant forward slightly. "I trust that meets with your approval?"
Harry grinned, mirroring the lean forward. "The vaults I wish examined contain more than gold enough to provide for their own examinations. Given the nature of some of the families involved, to call for any but the best would be an unwise approach."
"As you say."
"If your staff could draw up the arrangements, I would be most appreciative. I'll also include a withdrawal approval for... shall we say ten percent above your team's standard rate?" Harry glanced at Hermione, and tilted his head to the side slightly. She nodded in return. "Oh, and while we're on the subject, I understand that the House vaults in question are currently subject to a standing authorisation for members of the families to access them?"
"That is correct." The goblin sat back in his seat again. "I believe you were mentioning further plans that would make you unpopular in some circles. Have we reached that point of the conversation?"
"The first step, perhaps." Harry was trying very hard to suppress a grin. "I hereby immediately revoke all standing authorisations to access the vaults of Houses Avery, Black, Carrow, Crabbe, Goyle, Macnair, Malfoy, and Mulciber. Members of those families who wish to may apply to me for permission to withdraw a monthly allowance from their former holdings."
The goblin laughed. "That will be a shock to them, I believe." He thought for a moment. "I believe some increased security in the main hall may be necessary, for the safety of my clerks."
Harry sat back, considering for a moment. "I hadn't considered that their reactions might aim towards your people, instead of me." He drummed his fingers on the armrest of his chair. "You know what, the Malfoy vault should have enough to pay for an extra couple of guards for the next few weeks. By then the shock will have worn off and word will have gotten around."
"You are being oddly generous, Mister Potter." He tilted his head to the side, seeming somewhat suspicious about Harry's motivations.
"As I said. I will be making enemies. I need to also make friends in that process."
"Hmm." He seemed unconvinced.
With a shrug, Harry said, "If you think I've an ulterior motive, then all I can tell you is that I've not lied to you, and really, if I am lying? You have the signed authorisation to recover quite a lot of goblin-made items from the vaults, so whatever happens, you come out ahead."
Harry smiled at him. "That is all the business I came to discuss with you today. If you have any further questions, please do get in contact. Once your curse-breakers are available to begin their work, I would appreciate regular reports about their findings." He stood up, smoothing his robes out as he stood, still feeling self-conscious in the ornate dress robes that were fancier than anything he'd worn before (and apparently these were the business ones, he dreaded to see the formal dress robes). He nodded at the Head Goblin. "Thank you for giving us so much of your time, sir."
As Harry turned to leave, the goblin raised a hand. "One moment, before you go. What would you have us say to the people who have just lost the access to their family vaults? Would you have us name you?"
Harry stopped, and thought for a moment, then turned to face him with a grin that reminded the goblin of a shark.. "Tell them, from the Lord of Nine Houses, that oaths are a dangerous thing."
As they stepped out of the office, Harry paused, carefully shutting the door behind him. When it was shut, he slumped against the wall, shaking his head. "So. We're in for it now. No going back."
Hermione smiled at him, putting a hand on his shoulder. "It's going to work."