Chapter 1: A Surprising Opportunity
To Mr Harry James Potter,
Your presence is requested at Gringotts Wizarding Bank at your earliest convenience. There are a number of discrepancies in our records which, being of great concern to our record-keepers, it is hoped you will be able to resolve. The exact details of these discrepancies will not be committed to such insecure means as owl-borne parchment, for reasons which I trust will become clear to you soon.
Yours in the service of finance,
Records Processing Clerk
Gringotts Wizarding Bank
Fortius Quo Fidelius
The odd letter in hand, Harry stepped up to the grand entrance of Gringotts. The war had been over for about a year now, but it seemed like there was another complication that he had to deal with. He supposed he shouldn't really be surprised that he would be hearing from Gringotts sooner or later.
Beside the Potter estate, now fully under his control since he'd turned seventeen — though he hadn't had much chance to do anything with it during the last year of the war — he would also be in control of the Black estate, since Sirius had left everything to him. Who knows how much would be needed to get those two sorted out.
He just hoped there wouldn't be too much paperwork to deal with in getting everything with the two estates sorted out.
He pushed the heavy doors open, and paused again in the entry as his eyes adjusted to the odd combination of shadows and gleaming brass. As he stepped forward, one of the goblins came forward, and bowed to him just deeply enough to not be obviously rude, but not a hair further. Perhaps a hair less.
"Mister Potter, yes? Are you here in relation to our summons, or on your own business?" The usual goblin bluntness. Harry tried not to read too much into it or get offended.
He held up the letter, "The request, yes."
The goblin nodded, and gestured to him to follow. Instead of one of the usual high desks, from which the goblin clerks could look down on visitors as the visitors usually looked down on them, he was led down a corridor and through one of a dozen identical doors. Inside there was a plain desk, with two fairly utilitarian chairs set at it.
"Take a seat, Mister Potter, someone will be with you shortly." The unnamed goblin waited a moment, then turned and hurried off, with all the air of someone who would rather be anywhere else right now, possibly with an extra scent of distate.
Still trying not to take offence at the less-than-ingratiating treatment — he'd had enough dealings with various goblins to know that wizards weren't popular among them, and he might be less so himself — Harry stepped over to the nearest of the chairs, and sat down.
And he waited.
And he waited.
It must have been at least half an hour before the door swung open behind him. He saw three goblins march in, each carrying a heavy parchment tome, which they dumped on the table in front of him. A fourth goblin, a woman this time — Harry tried to think if he'd met a female goblin before, and couldn't come up with an example — who was carrying just a large roll of parchment, along with an ink bottle and quill. The others exited, while she took the seat opposite him.
Harry smiled at her and, trying to make friendly conversation said, "You know, I don't think I've ever actually met a female goblin before. All the staff out in the main hall are always older male goblins."
She sighed, pausing in her preparations. "Yes, that's usually the case. We aren't exactly considered to be equals to the men, especially when it comes to money. But then, most of them consider needing help with your finances, such as you seem to, to be a sign of weakness as well. That, combined with your popularity around here given a ... certain visit of yours ... to be honest, I believe my assignment to this case is meant as an insult."
Harry nodded slowly. "I suppose I can understand that..."
"Anyway, on to business. Thank you for coming today, Mister Potter. As you can see, there's a lot for us to get to grips with. I am Tuzva Longfingers, one of the records processing clerks here." Harry couldn't help but look down at her hands, just for a moment, and could see that she indeed lived up to her name. Even for a goblin, her fingers were rather long and slender.
She unrolled the parchment, revealing that it was blank. As she started to set up her writing supplies, Harry asked, "All of this for a couple of estates? I mean, I knew the Black family had a lot going on, but this seems a bit much."
She froze, staring at him for a moment, then laughed. It wasn't exactly the warmth of genuine laughter that he was used to, more a couple of short noises that showed, if not amusement, then at least bitter irony.
"So, nobody's explained this to you, then? Of course they'd leave that to me."
Harry blinked. "Explained what?"
"How should I put this... Wizard law is, as I'm sure you've noticed, bizarrely reluctant to join in any sort of modernity."
He nodded, "I had gathered that, yes. My friend Hermione is rather keen to see that changed, but everything takes too long."
"Well, in this case, we come across a relic of the law even older than most. I believe the particulars date to 1219, 1344, and 1406. With case law for a hundred years either side of that. I'm afraid that I'm more interested in record keeping than legislative history, though."
Harry's mind raced as he tried to put together the clues about what might be going on. An idea occurred to him. "Don't tell me, the Black estate has a hundred different things of goblin manufacture, that wizarding law says isn't goblin property? I really am sorry about that, but if you'll give me a list of—"
She cut him off with a wave of her hand. "That is undoubtedly the case, but not the current matter of greatest urgency. I do appreciate your willingness to see the true laws in that area, but the laws in question for today are between wizards."
Harry fell silent, and nodded slowly. He hoped that things would make sense soon.
Tuzva opened the first of the enormous books in front of them, heavy parchment bound in rich green leather, and started to glance through it as she spoke. "It is the common belief of wizards that their inheritance laws are simply a matter of blood. This belief is mistaken.
"You have, I understand, already encountered one of the exceptions to this sanguine line, by being designated the heir of House Black." She closed the book with a loud thump. "Had it been a matter of blood alone, I believe that the House Black estates would now reside with the heir to House Malfoy."
Almost choking in surprise, Harry shot to his feet. "MALFOY? THERE'S NO WAY SIRIUS WOULD LET HIM—"
She cut him off again, "Indeed not. But, as I said, this is one area where blood is not, ha, at the heart of the law." As he sat down again, she paused, making sure he was calm enough to hear her. "There are other parts of the inheritance law which are not purely based on bloodlines. The core of the estates is never split, nor truly joined, but sometimes a wizard may find themselves in nominal control of more than one of the great Houses' estates. Such as in your case."
"So, what, I need to work out the way my two estates will work together, is that it? This seems like an awful lot of fuss for all of that..." Harry looked at the huge books on the table, not daring to try looking inside just yet.
Tuzva laughed again, still an unpleasant noise to Harry's ear. "Two estates? Mister Potter, whatever gave you the idea that it was only TWO?"
He could only stare at her in shock.
"Mister Potter, according to our records, which I assure you are of the highest order, you are the current title holder of some nine wizarding estates, of varying levels of antiquity and magnitude."
Harry said nothing. Which was exactly as much as he could think of right now.
She opened the first tome again. "We have you as holding the titles to the Houses Avery, Black, Carrow, Crabbe, Goyle, Macnair, Malfoy, Mulciber, and Potter."
Those names. Harry recognised those names. He hadn't wanted to hear them again. That was enough to break him out of his shock. "WHAT? But those other ones are all Death Eaters! Why would I even want them?"
A big toothy grin, as only a goblin could give, "Yes, exactly. Which is where we return to my point about the stubborn inability of wizards to consider even the slightest changes to their laws."
"I don't understand how I could own a bunch of Death Eater's estates, though. Surely they had family remaining..."
She sighed. "Please do try to pay better attention. Inheritance in wizarding law has almost nothing to do with bloodlines. The law doesn't care for parentage, or for families. It cares for designated heirs. It's just that, usually, the heads of the Houses will designate their eldest son as heir, almost be default."
"But not always?"
"Not always, and heirs can be changed. Which brings us to the recent war, and the one previous." She started to leaf through the book again, trying to find a particular passage. After a moment, she found it. "In wizarding law, specifically of the years 1219 and 1344, the exact laws of inheritance were clarified as regards wizarding duels. As I understand it, the growing violence of that age was causing some lack of clarity as regards the inheritance of those who lost such fights."
"Okay then... and the other year? Fourteen something? I'm pretty sure I didn't beat all of those Death Eaters in duels myself..."
"Ah yes, the relevant law of 1406. A legal clarification as to the nature of fealty oaths." She grinned at him, as though this answered all questions.
Harry, however, was not as swift in following the chain of logic as she perhaps thinks he ought to be. He didn't say anything, just blinking silently as he tried to catch up. After an awkwardly long pause, he asked, "Fealty oaths?"
"Yes. When the various Death Eaters swore themselves to the service of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, he used a very specifically worded oath. Given their adherence to tradition, you'd have thought that some of them might have spotted what was going on, but fear makes fools of many. I believe they thought the ancient flavour of the oath just enhanced the feeling of tradition."
She ran a long finger down the page. "The oath that he made them swore, which we have recorded here, is in fact a form of magical medieval fealty oath, where the servant's claims are passed in full to their liege. So, for those with claims as the head of a House at the time they swore the oath, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named became the actual head of their House."
"But... how did Gringotts get their hands on the oath? Death Eaters were nothing if not secretive..."
She grinned at him, "I've read your history, Mister Potter. I suspect many have, at this point. Surely you're aware of the fickle nature of binding magical contracts? One thing that makes them so tricky is the enchantments surrounding wizarding law. Whenever a magical contract is made, a copy appears in one of our vaults. Even verbal or unintentional contracts."
She looked at the page again, and began to read, " I, Lucius Malfoy, of the House of Malfoy, do solemnly swear and commit myself to the service of my lord and liege, Lord Voldemort. On my life and the honour of my House, I swear to serve him in all things, however he may direct, for as long as he may choose to retain me, for the whole duration of my life. On my life and the honour of my House, I swear all that I am and all that I have to his service. This I do swear. "
"So you see, Mister Potter. They each swore all that they have. Which would be the whole of their House's estates, in some cases. Any matters of active control aside, the moment they swore those oaths, the entirety of each House's estate was the property of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, long may his memory be insulted.
"Now, this is the first time where a single person has been the holder of more than two House titles. Or, you are the second person, but you won the situation in combat from the first, and he thankfully never entered Gringotts after these oaths. The Houses have always been kept separate until now, with any unions by marriage being split in the following generation. That, at least, was unavoidable given the odd proclivity for the pureblood lines to inter-marry."
Harry's mind started to catch up with the situation, and he laughed somewhat louder than was necessary. "So, you're telling me that I'm in control of my parents' vault, Sirius's family vault, and then vaults for seven Death Eater families? Oh the ones who are left aren't going to be happy when they hear that."
"Indeed not. There are currently standing permissions for members of the actual House bloodlines to make transactions as necessary, however you may revoke that at your leisure. So far, that has kept them from finding out the nature of the ownership.
"If you consider owning nine of these titles to be problematic, then perhaps consider yourself lucky that some were more careful in what they swore, and many more were not, in fact, the title holders of their Houses and so had little to transfer into He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's Name-That-Must-Not-Be-Named."
Tuzva leafed through the oversized book some more, pausing on certain pages, but not mentioning their contents to Harry. Then she slammed it shut, and pushed it away. "So, on to the matter of your new property." She pulled the next book towards her.
"I think... at least for now, I'll probably leave things where they are? It's not like I need another seven vaults worth of coins at this point. I might be able to find some good to put all the money to, but that will need working out in detail I think."
She nodded at him, "As you say. There is, however, a number of other items in the vaults, other than money. These two books," she indicated the one in front of her and the one as-yet untouched, "contain a complete inventory of all items, as well as the total of the hard currency now at your disposal."
Harry paused, his face becoming somewhat serious for a moment. "I've seen the inside of a Death Eater's vault before. I'm not sure I want to know some of the things in there..."
"Indeed. But, please do not mention that visit here again, it will... cause friction, shall we say."
She shrugged. "While the effects on me were minimal, in the record-keeping department, and to be honest some of the people most inconvenienced were people who needed a little inconveniencing, you will make nothing but enemies here with talk of it."
"Right..." He squirmed in his seat, glancing at the two huge books he apparently had to come to grips with. You'd think that, not being at Hogwarts anymore, he'd be past the days of struggling to understand things written in books this size. At least they weren't screaming at him.
"You mentioned a desire to see goblin property returned to us. A number of the things in these vaults would come under that description. However, might I recommend that any attempts to retrieve items from these vaults be accompanied by one of our own staff of curse-breakers? While the vaults themselves will respect you as their owner, any extra traps left by the previous owners may not."
Harry grimaced. "Yeah, I think having an expert with me would be a good idea..." He considered for a moment. "I think, without seeing what's there, I can say that I like the principle of returning goblin items, but can't give any firm promises yet."
"We," she gave him a stern look, "are familiar with wizard promises."
"I... that's not what I meant." He bent down and thumped his head against the table in frustration.
"Look." Harry paused, trying to work out how to say it without making her more upset. "The last time I gave something back to the goblins, the deal got all sorts of messed up."
Tuzva looked unimpressed at this line of logic.
Harry thumped his head against the table again. "I really can't afford to have the entire goblin population angry at me. I have enough people who are upset about how the war turned out, without this."
Opening the second book again, the goblin started to run her finger down a list on the first page. "Shall we start with looking at what's actually in your new property?"
He nodded quietly.
"In the Avery vault, total coinage seven thousand, four hundred and six galleons, five hundred and thirty sickles, one thousand, nine hundred and eighty seven knuts. In the Black vault, six thousand, three hundred and twenty galleons, one thousand, five hundred and twenty-two sickles, two thousand and four knuts. In the Ca-"
Harry cut her off, "There's no need to go through the entire list... It's a lot of money, is the point."
"And the rest of these books is all the non-coinage inventory?"
She nodded again.
"This is going to take me forever... Can I at least take them home? Or is there some rule about Gringotts records that they have to be kept on site?"
She considered for a moment. "The books are Gringotts property, however there is some precedent for them being loaned out the the owner of the contents described, for short periods."
Harry sighed with relief. "Good. Because it's going to take a long time to get through all of this. And if I'm at home, I don't need to worry about saying something TOO stupid in front of you while I'm trying to figure it all out."
"Yes. That would be unprecedented." Apparently, dry sarcasm was popular among goblins.
Looking at the books on the table in front of him, Harry wondered for a moment, then asked, "So, if these two books are the contents of the vaults... what's in the other one? It's just as big as the others..."
She pushed the book in front of her away, and brought the one being discussed back to her. "Several things. Partially, it's the records of the transfer of ownership of the estates, going back quite some way. But also, it is the record of the holdings not contained within the vaults, both tangible and intangible.
"For example, there are the deeds to a number of properties, both the Houses' manor estates, and a number of other properties for which rent is being paid to the Houses." She flipped through the pages. "Various other titles of ownership for distributed property, and of course, records of the Wizengamot seat claims of each House."
Harry blinked. "Wizengamot seats?"
She looked at him with an air of 'is this idiot child completely unaware of the world?'.
"Yes, Mister Potter. Surely you're aware of the fact that seats on the Wizengamot are owned by the various wizarding families?"
He shook his head. "Honestly, I just kind of assumed they were elected or appointed somehow?"
Pause. Silence. A harsh goblin laugh. "If only that were the case. No, each family owns and hoards its seats jealously."
"Well... that would explain how slow the wizarding world is to update its laws about anything. And why they're always so conservative."
"Yes." Tuzva didn't seem to see any need to comment further, if Harry was actually going to work things out for himself.
"Tell me, does Gringotts hold the records for absolutely everything about the wizarding world?"
"Mister Potter, please tell me. What was the actual mathematical education you were offered at Hogwarts?"
He thought for a moment. "Well, there was the arithmancy class I could have taken..."
"Exactly." She sighed. "Wizards have no interest in numbers except when they can do strange things to them. Goblins are more realistic, and teach things such as basic maths."
After Harry had considered this for a while, Tuzva continued, "The various Houses have long hoarded their seats, and traded them sparingly for various political favours, or when pushed to extreme need. The sale of a seat has, more than once, saved an old wizarding family from ruin. The previous record for most Wizengamot seats held by any one family was..." here she consulted the book in front of her, "seven."
Harry nodded slowly, considering this. "And, how many do I now have?"
She grinned at him. "Twenty-nine. House Avery holds two, House Black holds five, House Carrow three, House Crabbe and House Goyle each two, House Macnair three, House Malfoy six, House Mulciber four, and House Potter one."
"That's quite a few."
"Indeed it is." She made a few notes on the scroll in front of her, though it was still mostly empty. It seemed they had not made the progress of decisions that she was expecting.
Harry looked at the scroll, then thought for a moment. "I have some ideas of what I'm going to do. But first, I need to think." He smiled at her. "You've been very helpful, and patient. Thank you."
Chapter 2: Plans
I need your brain. Please.
Back at the Burrow, Harry sat at the dining table with the three enormous books laid out in front of him, and many scattered scraps of parchment where he'd been taking notes. He was staying at the Burrow for the moment, since it was home to most of the closest thing to family that he had, and going back to Grimmauld Place at the moment was... not appealing to him.
There were very few things he was sure about with this, but one of those things was that he needed Hermione's help working all of it out. He'd sent an owl to her, asking for help, and while he waited for her, he could at least get things ready for her. A quill and ink, and a stack of bookmarks.
He flicked through the books fairly quickly, only stopping on things that were obviously important, or summaries of the more detailed information. At each of these, he scribbled something on one of the bookmarks (hoping that his writing was slightly less of an illegible scrawl than it had been — but if Hermione couldn't read it, he'd just have to translate).
In some ways, he was actually looking forward to this. He hadn't really enjoyed the long nights at Hogwarts, poring over textbooks and trying to find some obscure fact about goblin rebellions or the nineteenth use of goat's cheese in potion making, at least not exactly. But the company had been good, and the help essential to get him through the work.
It was slow going getting through it, even skipping any big blocks of text. Harry had no idea how long it actually took him, but by the time he was half way through the second book, the fireplace across the room from him flared to bright green, and Hermione stepped out.
He smiled at her, slumping back in his seat. "I'm having flashbacks. It's OWL revision all over again."
Stepping over to the table, Hermione brushed herself off. She was getting pretty good at using the Floo network, but still seemed a little put off by the stepping into a fire. Muggles raise their children to think fire is hot, after all, where wizards raise their children with an odd mix of opinions. Even when she came out clean, she still felt like there must be ash and dust to brush away. "And hello to you too."
"...Sorry. Hi, Hermione." He grinned at her, and waved a hand over the table, "I have a puzzle for you."
Giving the heavy tomes a curious glance, she smirked. "Just a bit of light reading?" She pulled the nearest one over, and opened it, looking over the first page. "Are these Gringotts records? They don't usually let people leave the building with them." She read a little further, then wrinkled her brows angrily, "Harry, have you stolen people's bank records? Why do you have things about Malfoy's vault in here? If you're planning something, then I swear I will-"
"No!" He cut her off before the rant could get too built up, but she was still looking rather upset with him. "I haven't stolen anything, and those aren't about Malfoy's vault, they're about mine."
"Yours? But... it says House Malfoy Vault. If you're going to tell me that's yours, then either you've gotten a very unexpected boyfriend and not told anyone, or you're definitely up to something." She wasn't angry, any more, but seemed to be in no mood to let him get away with anything still.
"Sort of the second one, I think? Apparently, wizarding inheritance law is somewhere between stupid and insane." He made no comment about the prospect of dating Draco Malfoy.
She sat down opposite him, staring in disbelief. "Inheritance law."
Harry grinned, and pulled one of the books towards him. Checking over his bookmarks, he opened it to the page that had the Death Eater fealty oath that the goblin had read out to him, then pushed the book in front of Hermione. "Inheritance law."
She read the oath, slowly and carefully. Then she read it again, muttering to herself under her breath. Then she froze. Apparently, Hermione was (as expected) much quicker on the uptake with this than Harry had been. "Oh lord... tell me they didn't."
He laughed. "Oh Lord is right. Lord Potter, Lord Black, Lord Malfoy..." He checked one of the many pieces of parchment scattered across the desk. "Lord Mulciber, Lord Carrow, Lord Macnair, Lord Avery, and Lord Crabbe and Goyle..."
He shrugged. "From what the goblin at Gringotts was telling me, a combination of fear of Voldemort and an inflated view of tradition made them inadvertently give him their entire Houses. Apparently the laws for this stuff are still in effect, because wizards can't change anything."
She sighed. "You're right about them not changing anything. You know, I've been looking at the laws around House Elves, and there's been no change in two hundred years! Can you believe that laws that old are still controlling people's lives?"
A short pause, then Harry burst out laughing. She looked at him quizzically. "What's so funny? The paper these laws are written on is old even for antiques!"
He grinned at her, then searched through the many notes he'd left all over the table. "Hold on... Ah! Here we are. The newest of the laws that got me into this situation is — I did the maths on it, five hundred and ninety-three years old. Or ninety-four, depending on when in the year it was..."
"...Oh." She just stared at him for a moment.
"Yeah. And it gets worse from there. Wizards. Change. Nothing. So apparently, both fealty oaths and the Right of Conquest are still part of wizard inheritance law, so I now own nine Houses, not the two I thought I did this time last week."
"So what are you going to do?"
He tapped the nearest book. "First step, I need to work out what I'm going to do. Two big books of all the stuff in the vaults, plus another book of miscellaneous property. Apparently, I even get Draco's house." Hermione shuddered, and Harry slapped his hand to his forehead. "Sorry, I probably shouldn't mention that place. Maybe we can burn it down later, or something."
She shook her head. "No... Tempting though it is, I don't think we want to be giving people even more reason to try something against you, right now. All the people you're suddenly Lord over already lost their reputations in the war, and apparently their entire fortunes too. How did it go when they found out?"
"They haven't, yet. Standing orders at Gringotts to let family members access the vaults. I'll have to revoke that, at some stage, especially when I start doing anything dramatic, but so far, they've no idea that anyone but the former heads of their Houses are in charge." He grinned at her. "So, we plan."
Looking over the array of notes, and the huge books, she tilted her head to the side. "So, this is why you said you needed my brain."
"Best person for the job, I thought. If you're up for it."
"I suppose so... I mean, it'll be exchanging one pile of paperwork for another, but I've read enough Ministry documents in the past week that I'm starting to question even joining the Magical Creatures Department. Can you believe that it's all about regulation and control, nothing about actually helping them? And 'magical creatures' is everything from owls to goblins..." She closed her eyes, rubbing at her temples. "I'm trying to do good, it just... sometimes it seems like the whole system is stacked against me. It's like SPEW all over again."
He grinned. "The problem with SPEW was starting off without all the facts, just with passion. You're the best at finding the facts, especially now, so this time, we make sure we do that before any fiery crusades. But I'm all in favour of a good fiery crusade now and then, especially if it means we get something done."
She gave him a puzzled look, trying to work out what he was planning, but he didn't say anything more.
After a few moments of silence, Harry shrugged. "So, apparently there's a bunch of goblin stuff in the vaults, and after how things went with Griphook, and our little... dragon-based withdrawal from Bellatrix's vault, smoothing things over with them will probably save me some headaches."
"Yes..." She looked over the books, pondering for a moment. "We should check there isn't anything we might need, in there, first, and make plans for what to do."
"Agreed. Also, apparently there's probably a bunch of dark magic stuff still in them? We'll want to get some curse-breakers in. Remind me to send an owl to Bill."
Hermione started to check through everything he'd bookmarked. "There's a lot of money in here, too. What are you going to do with it all?"
He looked over at the page she had open. "Well, to start with, nothing. Though if there's anything goblin-made that we decide we actually need, I can probably just straight-up buy it. The real question is what we do with my apparent entry into politics."
"Politics? Since when are you interested in that?"
"Honestly, I'm mostly not, except for all the things you tell me is wrong with it. Though even that's enough to make me not want to touch it." He shrugged. "But, apparently I've inherited some seats on the Wizengamot. I should probably see if I can use that for something? I mean, the court cases could do with some cleaning up, but don't they also pass laws?"
"They do." She tilted her head to the side curiously. "You say some seats? Do you think that you'll have enough to help me get some things changed?"
Shifting the books around, he eventually managed to find the right bookmark. "Honestly, I have no idea." He opened the book to the page that summed up his Wizengamot claims, and pushed it towards her. "You tell me."
She glanced at it. Then she stared at it. Her face started to go pale. Finally she leapt from her seat, sending it crashing to the floor behind her, and stared at him. "WHAT?!"
Harry leant away from her, suddenly slightly scared. "What?"
"Harry... do you not know what you've done?" Hermione seemed genuinely shocked.
"Umm... inherited some seats on the Wizengamot?"
She took a step back.
"Harry... you've got twenty-nine seats listed here."
He nodded. He had decided to just wait for her to spell it out, since he apparently couldn't work out where this was going.
"You don't know why that's so big, do you?"
He shook his head. Still waiting.
She picked up the smallest of the books (which was ... not particularly small), stepped around the table, and whacked him over the head with it. "You should read more!"
He fell out of his chair in the scramble to (unsuccessfully) dodge the book. "What?!"
She slumped down into his now apparently abandoned chair. "Harry... there are currently fifty-seven people on the Wizengamot. You have an absolute majority of seats..."
He stared at her. "Oh."
"This is a bigger deal than I thought."
"Good thing I've got someone who DOES actually read everything."
She raised an eyebrow at him as he picked himself up off the floor. "No, I won't write your potions essay for you. But I will help with this. It's... this is a big opportunity, and we need it to go right."
"So, what do we do?" He picked up Hermione's chair, and waved his wand over a long crack that had apparently happened when she'd exploded out of it.
She stood up again, more gently this time. "I need to get some books. There's a lot of research to be done." And that part, at least, she seemed genuinely enthusiastic about.
Hermione returned about half an hour later, this time emerging from the Floo carrying two bags, one bulging with books, the other with sheets of parchment. She set them both down on the table, which was starting to look a little over-full.
In her absence, Harry had also been busy. He'd finished putting all of his bookmarks into the last book, and also somewhat sorted the scattered notes he'd been making all day.
On one end of the table, there was a steaming teapot, with two mugs sitting next to it, ready to go.
As she started to unpack her books, Hermione also started to run out of space. She thought for a moment, then remembered Molly Weasley's usual adaptation for feeding the entire red-headed horde at the small table. A tap of her wand, and both ends extended away, making for plenty of space.
Once her bags were all unpacked, Hermione sat down, again opposite Harry, and set her writing supplies up for copious note-taking. "So... Twenty-nine seats."
Harry nodded at her.
"I don't think we know enough people to fill all of those, that we could both trust and convince to go along with it."
Harry nodded again, then laughed, "Even stretching out, I could probably only take up four chairs myself."
Hermione stopped, and for a moment it looked like she was going to tell him off. "They're not actual sea-" She blinked. Her eyebrows shot up, and without a word, grabbed one of the books from her pile and started to scan through it quickly.
"Shh." She kept reading, and occasionally jotted down a note on the nearest bit of parchment. Harry sat there for a while, the only sound being the rustling of parchment, the scratching of her quill, and the occasional muttering under her breath.
Confused, Harry decided to just wait. She would explain it sooner or later, he hoped. Or at least pause to catch her breath. To pass the time, he poured the tea into the waiting mugs, putting one near Hermione, just close enough that she would notice it but far enough that it wasn't in her way.
After about five minutes, she stopped, staring at her page of notes a moment longer. "Harry, you're a genius."
"You could take up four chairs by yourself. Or all twenty-nine. I've just read through the entire Wizengamot procedures, and there's NOTHING to say you can't."
He shook his head, "Then why would people not already be doing it?"
Laughing, she closed the book. "Because they're playing a complex web of political favours. You don't need to give away a claim to a seat, just appoint someone to sit in it. Using two seats yourself would be wasting an opportunity. But we're not playing a game of finesse, we can just straight up play political sledgehammer."
Harry rubbed at his temples. "Okay... this just got a lot more dramatic, didn't it." A moment's thought, then he smirked. "Though, the thought of showing up with every Weasley, and every Muggle-born I can find, and just taking up half the room, is rather appealing to me."
She grinned at him. "We'll keep that as a backup plan. I'd love to see the look on their faces if a Muggle-born got in. After all, when the old families hoard the seats like this, it's not like we can get a word in edgewise."
Sitting back in his seat, Harry looked at the array of books and sheets in front of them. "We're really doing this, aren't we?"
"We are." She grabbed one of the nearest books. "But we have a lot of work ahead of us. We have to get this right the first time."
To Madam Malkin, Proprietor, Tailor, and Designer of Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions,
We wish to engage your services for a discreet and private fitting for several sets of dress robes of the highest quality, for immediate completion. Cost is not a significant restricting factor in this.
On behalf of Harry Potter
As they walked down Diagon Alley together, dodging through the early morning traffic, Harry sighed. "Do we really need to get me new dress robes? I'm pretty sure my old ones fit well enough for now."
Hermione shook her head firmly. "No. We're doing this right. You need to not just impress people, but intimidate them." She started to walk a little quicker.
"Why are we starting out so early, anyway, and why are you in such a rush?"
She stopped, and glared at him. "Has it not occurred to you that I have an actual job to do, as well as being your minder?"
He thought about this for a moment. "Sorry. You're being very helpful."
Shaking her head, she rubbed at her temples. "I swear, sometimes it seems like you're going to need to hire an actual secretary to get all of this done."
She blinked. "What?"
"Want the job? You've seen the books I'll have to deal with, and I'm pretty sure I can afford to pay you properly." He grinned.
"Harry, this isn't a joke."
"Hermione, when have I ever been a jokester?"
The look she gave him was an interesting mix of 'are you kidding?' and 'do you want the list?'.
He grinned again. "Okay, okay. But I'm serious this time. You know the system. You can organise things. You have things you want to get done. It's not going to actually work without you. So, why should I not pay you for the help you'll be giving? Let's face it, you're going to want to be involved anyway."
"Well, if you put it like that..."
"We're going to make a difference with this, Hermione."
She smiled at him. "Okay then. I accept. I'll just... put in for a leave of absence at the Ministry. I'm sure they won't miss a junior clerk for a little while." Seeming a bit more relaxed, she changed her course through the street, and soon they were at the owl post.
Hermione bought a basic short letter set (envelope, parchment, and the use of a small owl). While Harry stood nearby, looking into the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies, she scratched out a short note requesting leave of absence, effective immediately, and sent it off to her boss. She had no idea how long it would take them to get it (she'd seen Ministry in-trays), and how long after that it'd take them to actually read it, so she added the date and time, then sent it on its way.
When she joined Harry, he was still looking in the window, eyes locked on one of the racing brooms. He had that 'this plan seems like a good idea' look in his eyes again. "We're here on business, Harry."
"Well, if I'm meant to impress people, won't I need a good broom?"
She shook her head. "No, we're looking to impress them with a politician, not a quidditch player. You don't ride brooms to that sort of thing, you apparate or take the Floo."
Looking a little put out, he sighed. "Alright then... But I'll have to get a new one at some point, if only to relax after all the being responsible that you're apparently signing me up for."
A shrug. "That seems fair, at least." She glanced at her watch. "We're running late for the appointment, we should hurry along."
Stepping through the heavy-curtained door to Madam Malkin's, Harry was immediately reminded of the dramatic events that had somehow managed to happen in this one unassuming shop. He was relieved to see, however, that nobody, especially not a certain Slytherin of about his age, was in to get fitted today.
Apparently noticing his apprehension, Hermione smiled at him. "I wrote ahead to book you a private session. We don't want any of our plans getting out before we're ready, now do we?"
After a moment, Madam Malkin stepped out from the back room, and smiled at them. Hermione smiled back. "Mr. Harry Potter is here for his fitting appointment."
Still smiling, Malkin replied, "Ah, lovely. Would you be his girlfriend? It's so nice when couples take care of each oth-"
Hermione cut her off. "No. I am Mister Potter's secretary, and nothing more." She drew herself up, trying to be haughty in her finest impression of McGonagall's posture.
"Oh! I am sorry, dear. Not many young men employ secretaries these days, it's so nice to see someone who's actually organised." Malkin didn't seem too put off, but was doing her best to smooth ruffled feathers.
Harry stayed silent through the whole affair.
"So, what sort of robes are you here for today? Your letter was a little vague, I'm afraid."
Pulling one of the slips of parchment from her bag, Hermione answered, "We need one set of formal dress robes, one set of business dress robes, and," she paused, "one set of Wizengamot judicial robes." She smiled. "Mister Potter will be taking over the House of Black's estates and the attached seat." Not, technically, a lie. Just incomplete. "He will need to look his best. Good first impressions, and all that."
Leading them back to the fitting room, Malkin waved her wand, and a large book full of glossy illustrations floated over. "I've a number of styles you can choose from for the formal and business robes. Of course, judicial robes tend to be a little more restricted..." Another wave of her wand, and the pages flipped over until they showed the plum-coloured robes of a member of the Wizengamot. "One colour, and only a few variations, usually."
Hermione looked at the pictures thoughtfully, while Harry was just curious to see what he'd be ending up in. After a moment, Hermione looked over at him. "I think traditional, for all three sets but especially the Wizengamot ones. We don't want to rock the boat too early, now do we?"
He grinned at her. "No. Though, perhaps I'll put in for a bit more of the embroidery, make it sparkle nicely." He looked at the book again, then shook his head. "To be honest, you know more about this than I do, how about you pick styles for me?"
"I'll narrow it down to a shortlist for you, but you," she poked him in the chest, "are going to make the actual decisions." Hermione smiled at Madam Malkin. "I'll work on what we'll be ordering, while you get everything else sorted?"
The tailor-witch nodded at her, and gestured to one of the little platforms. "If you'd like to step onto here, Mister Potter, I can start taking some measurements."
As Harry stepped onto the platform, a pair of tape measures slithered out from under his feet, and started positioning themselves all over him, wrapping around arms, stretching across shoulders, lying the length of legs. At each position, Madam Malkin jotted another number down on a piece of parchment.
The process didn't take too long, with two tape measures working, one being read while the other found a new position, but to Harry it seemed like there were more measurements being taken than were normal. "Is this many measurements really necessary?" He yelped as one of the tape measures jabbed him with its cold metal end. "I mean, last time I was in here it was like three measurements and some adjustments later..."
"Mister Potter, the last set of robes I fitted you for were for Hogwarts. Formal robes are a little more... made to fit the wearer. Your school robes were, essentially, made with a year's growth minimum in them, which is why children's robes are always either baggy or too short. You seem to have stopped getting much bigger, by now, unless someone decides to actually start feeding you properly." She smirked.
Once they'd emerged back into daylight after the quiet dark of Madam Malkin's, Harry stretched his arms out and made the sort of quiet creaking groan of someone who was having a really effective stretch but wanted to make a point of it. The robes, which had cost more than Harry had spent on clothes combined in his life to date, would be ready and delivered in a few days.
Hermione checked her watch, then started to lead him down the street again. "Next stop, we need to get you some new stationery."
"Why? I've got plenty of parchment and quills and stuff..." Harry followed along obediently, resigned to the fact that Hermione knew what needed to be done, justifying it with the thought that surely that's why people hired secretaries in the first place.
"You have stuff to write on, yes, but not professional stationery. A good letterhead, and a dictating quill, will get you a lot done." Harry seemed like he was about to object, but she cut him off. "You've seen your handwriting, I'm sure. And no, I'm not the sort of secretary who does your writing for you, I'm the sort who makes sure you're not putting your foot in your mouth."
Harry grinned sheepishly. "I'd never suggest you write everything out, but I've had enough experience with a Quick-Quotes Quill to know I don't want anything to do with them."
She sighed. "Of course we're not getting you a Quick-Quotes, those things are trash only fit for annoying little bugs. But a good self-writing quill will save you a world of effort, and save everyone else from eye strain."
Narrowly avoiding getting distracted by the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies next door (okay, maybe he got a little distracted, but he didn't walk into anything or stop to stare, at least) Harry pushed the door to Scribbulus Writing Instruments open, holding it to let Hermione through.
Inside, there was a wide array of quills, in every colour of the rainbow and a few which were, to be honest, new to Harry. Some even glittered with tiny jewels sewn into the feathers. While Harry marvelled at them, most sitting on their shelves while a select few wrote out lines of poetry in an elegant script on slowly turning drums of parchment, Hermione stepped over and smiled at the witch behind the counter. "Good morning!"
"Hi." The woman behind the counter didn't seem quite as excited about being here this morning as Hermione did.
Not letting herself get discouraged, Hermione pressed on. "We'd like to order a full professional stationery set, including a newly designed letterhead, and a set of three self-writing quills."
A nod. "We can arrange that. The letterhead will take a few days, and you'll need to give us the text to be included. And you'll need to wait until Scribs gets back, he's in Sweden for the next few days."
After a pause to consider, she replied, "We can deal with that. I'll owl through the details, and he can get to it when availability allows?" The witch behind the counter nodded, and Hermione looked over at Harry, "Any preferences on colours, Harry?"
While she had been dealing with the business, Harry had been getting distracted by some of the pens. He held up one in a rich scarlet, with polished gold fittings. "The Gryffindor colours are pretty nice." He swooshed it around a bit, watching the slight iridescence of the feather.
Hermione nodded, and turned back to the counter. "Two of the scarlet and gold, with scarlet ink, and one coal black with matching ink, in self-writing with formal business script."
Turning back to the enticing displays of pretty quills, Harry silently thanked his stars that he had Hermione's competence and confidence on his side. Maybe this would actually work.
Another Gringotts cheque signed, and another delivery expected, they walked down Diagon Alley. Hermione looked Harry over, and seemed to be thinking about something.
She sighed. "If we're going to be making you look professional, there's one more thing we'll need to do, and I'm not sure you'll particularly like it."
He stopped walking. "What?"
Reaching up to tussle his hair, she grinned. "We may need to actually tame your hair. The length doesn't matter, but it seems fairly firm on being an unruly mess."
Harry ducked away from her, batting her hand away. "You know full well it's not going to behave no matter what we do, so unless you've got some new solution that we've not tried before, then we're stuck."
She ran a hand through her own hair, which had been behaving relatively well lately (especially compared to what it used to be like). "I mean, Sleekeazy's has always worked well for me, you remember how it used to get."
"Yes, well, that's you." Harry laughed. "Your hair was just regular messy, not this supernaturally rebellious arrangement." He shook his head vigorously, undoing the tussling she'd done to his hair. It didn't look any different, but was sitting slightly more comfortable.
"Hmm. Regular Sleekeazy's, maybe." Hermione seemed to be thinking again, and leant against a nearby wall. "How much do you know about that stuff?"
He shrugged. "It's what everyone uses, and has been for ages. What's there to know? I've even found tins of it at Grimmauld Place, and not just in Sirius's room. Oh, and I think my grandfather had something to do with it?"
Hermione laughed. "I think, if we can find someone selling the original recipe, you might be in for a shock."
"Why the original recipe?"
"Harry, your grandfather wasn't just involved. I looked it up once, when I was procrastinating on an ancient runes essay. Even the back of a tin of hair potion is fascinating if you have enough work to avoid."
"Fleamont Potter, your grandfather, invented Sleekeazy's."
Harry blinked at her. "Really? I thought someone called Sleekeazy would have invented it."
She thwapped him with her bag. "People aren't usually THAT predictively named, that would be just weird."
"The best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher I ever had had a name you told me translates to Wolf Wolf. Did you know he was a werewolf?"
She glared at him for a moment, then smiled. "Fair point. But still. No, your grandfather invented it, and that's most of what was in your parents' vault when you started at Hogwarts."
"It was mostly hair potion?"
Another glare. "It was mostly money from selling the hair potion company."
"That seems more reasonable."
"Anyway. They changed the recipe a bit not long after he sold it, but if we can find some of the original recipe, it was specifically designed for taming Potter hair." She looked at his hair again, and grinned. "If you actually wanted to look professional, and had a big interest in potions, you'd probably have invented it too."
Harry put his hands up. "Hey, I never said I didn't want to look professional!"
"No, but after all these years, having your hair in a way that your aunt and uncle would hate, but can't do anything about, makes you feel good about things."
"Well." Hermione grinned at him. "You just need to look at this as the other end of things. Even more than they wanted, and as a tool to do things that they'd hate."
He considered this for a moment, then nodded. "So, where do we get this stuff?"
Hermione glanced around at the array of shops lining Diagon Alley. There were still some boarded up, with the world still trying to recover from the war, but there were a few new places, too. She pointed at one of them. "We'll try in here."
It took them the better part of an hour, and searching in seven different shops, each one pungent and weirdly decorated as only a combination of grooming products and the eccentricities of wizarding culture could provide, but eventually they found themselves in possession of two tubs of Sleekeazy's Original Formula Hair Potion.
As they stepped out of the last shop, Harry slumped against a wall, rubbing his hands over his face. "Please tell me we're done now, Hermione."
She pulled a slip of parchment from her bag, reading over it. "Well, we've covered most of the things you'll need to get done here before we actually get started on putting these plans into action. If you're paying me as a secretary, I can do the rest later."
Harry stood up quickly, and grinned. "Well then, there's just one thing left to do." He grabbed her hand, and started to drag her off down the street excitedly.
Trailing behind, she asked, "And just what is that?" She pulled her hand free, but kept following.
Harry said nothing, but soon they stopped outside Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. "I have been acting like an adult all day long. We're getting the most ridiculous ice cream they'll serve us."
"Harry..." She seemed a little uncertain at the sudden shift in tone for the day's events.
"Hermione." He grinned at her. "If we're going to make this work, then we're going to need me to hold on to my sanity. If I'm being Lord Potter-Black and the seven little Lordships all day, I'm going to go absolutely spare. Ice cream now, adulting later."
He led the way inside the little shop. Next to the counter, there was a memorial to Florean himself, yet another casualty of the war. A grinning portrait of the man himself, surrounded by floating ice cream scoops and sprinkles, bumping into each other like fish, and in front of the painting there were two small candles, and a bowl of never-melting ice cream that had a scoop of every flavour they could create, piled in ridiculous and improbable towers. He would have enjoyed being remembered that way, Harry thought.
He stepped up to the counter. "Hi. I'd like a large chocolate, caramel, toffee, strawberry, and pumpkin sundae, with every type of sprinkles and fruit you have. For two. We're celebrating."
A bit of a quieter chapter, as they get everything in place for the storm to come.
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."
That which comes out of the back of a dragon is, as they say, about to hit the fan.
Chapter 5: Consequences
WARNING: This chapter contains a visceral depiction of the feeling of a Complex-PTSD panic attack. If you would like to avoid reading that section, it begins where the paragraphs switch to all single lines, and continues/fades for the rest of the chapter. Plot summary at the end.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You are a thief.
There will be justice.
Outside the Head Goblin's office, a little way down the corridor so it wouldn't seem like they were just loitering at the door, Harry and Hermione stopped to look over one of the pieces of parchment from Hermione's satchel. The list of what they had to get done.
She checked several things off, nodding to herself quietly. "We're off to a good start, at least." She ran her finger down the page, considering some of the things yet to come. "You'll be happy to know I won't need to drag you to do any more shopping. I'll need to pick up a few things, but that's easy enough. Could probably get most of it by owl, anyway."
The parchment went back into her satchel as a young goblin scurried down the corridor past them, back to the main hall, their own slip of parchment held firm in their hands. It struck Harry as slightly odd to see them moving around quite so quickly, given the stately aura that Gringotts usually tried to display, but then, he had just set the kneazle among the pigeons.
"I think," Harry said, "that I just want to get back to the Burrow, and hide from responsibilities under a pile of blankets. Just for a little while." He started off down the corridor towards the main hall.
Hermione smiled as she followed him. "Playing Lord Potter-Black getting a little tiring?" She patted him on the shoulder. "As your secretary, I'll make sure to schedule some down time after each little... performance."
He laughed. "It is a performance, isn't it? I wonder how the others all manage it. I mean, if they're acting too, does that mean they've just been doing it so long that it's not weird anymore?"
"I think some people are just that grumpy." She stopped walking, and suddenly started digging around in her satchel while muttering under her breath quietly.
Harry turned to look at her. "Problem?"
She shrugged. "Just thinking that there must be something we've missed." She pulled out their to-do list again, checking it over, then shrugged. "You know, it feels a bit weird. Usually, with these over-the-top plans we keep finding ourselves in, we're breaking the rules, and I'm the one trying to get you to be more sensible."
"I'm always sensible!" Harry grinned at her. "Being able to get what we want within all the rules is a weird feeling, I agree." He patted her on the shoulder. "Let's get out of here."
As they emerged from the corridor, they could hear the sounds of some sort of argument coming from one of the tellers' stations. Harry did his best to ignore it, his mind already on the mug of hot chocolate that he'd decided was waiting for him at the Burrow, while Hermione seemed to be keeping an eye on it, her walk slowing as Harry pulled ahead.
"Just give me my money!" The shout rang out through the hall, which had now fallen completely silent. The goblin's polite reply was too quiet to hear, but the wizard slammed both fists down on the counter. "My father owns that damn vault!" Another quiet reply. "WHO?!"
Harry stopped in his tracks, silently praying that they wouldn't actually give his name. Goblins were, he remembered, often more honest than he'd have preferred. He started heading to the doors again, faster this time. Apparently not quite fast enough, however. A big hand on his shoulder spun him around, and he found himself looking up at the rather intimidating form of Goyle, Malfoy's former lackey, bodyguard, and all-around goon and thug.
His mind raced.
He'd seen that face before. That anger.
He could feel his hands ball into fists.
Goyle was screaming something at him.
Harry couldn't really make out the words.
What was going to happen?
Wizards. Not Vernon. Wizards don't hit.
The yelling in front of him continued. Angry.
Still couldn't quite work it out.
Goyle had taken a step back.
Harry tried to get his wand.
Hands move so slowly.
A bright red flash. "EXPELLIARMUS!"
Goyle stumbled back. His wand went flying.
Safe? Hands shaking.
He looked to see where the light had come from.
He saw Hermione. Wand aimed at Goyle.
Hand on his shoulder. He flinched. It's just Hermione. His eyes locked on hers.
She looked worried. Harry blinked at her. "Are you okay, Harry?"
He tried to pat her on the arm, to comfort her. His hands were still curled shut.
"Let's go outside." She pressed against him arm gently, trying to guide him out. People were crowding over to where Goyle was. Security?
They started to walk towards the exit, Hermione's hand on his arm. He looked around him quickly, eyes darting, in case someone else tried something.
Deep breath. They were outside now. Still too crowded here. Off to the side, down one of the quieter little side streets.
Not so many people. Still some. He didn't look at them.
Another breath. Harry's face felt ice cold. He leant against the wall, side on, not putting his back against anything. He managed a weak smile at Hermione. "Thank you."
"Are you okay?" She leant against the wall beside him, keeping a little distance.
"I..." He paused, shrugged. "No. But I will be." He shook his head. "He just took me by surprise. I guess I should have been expecting it." Harry looked at his shoulder, where Goyle had grabbed him.
"I've never seen you react like that before."
Another pause, as Harry thought. "He grabbed me. When wizards attack people, they usually just go for their wand."
She blinked, tilting her head to the side slightly. "And that's better?"
Harry nodded, but didn't say anything. Hermione decided not to press the point.
PLOT SUMMARY: While leaving Gringotts, Harry is accosted by Goyle, who has just found out that his accounts are locked. The way it's done gives him a panic attack related to his treatment by his uncle. Hermione disarms Goyle and takes Harry outside to recover.
I definitely share the headcanon that Harry would have Complex-PTSD after his time at Privet Drive. I wasn't originally intending this scene to be an exploration of that, but it's not like I'm 100% in control of what happens.
I'm sorry if it was uncomfortable to read, but that jarring, slightly disjointed style is... honestly what it can feel like to have these panic attacks.
I need your help. Mistakes have been made.
I need your help. Mistakes have been made.
I need your help. Mistakes have been made.
"Excuse me, you did what?!" Professor McGonagall took her glasses off and rubbed at the bridge of her nose as the latest batch of Harry Potter's charging in without thinking started to sink in.
Around the sitting room of the Burrow, were Professor McGonagall, Augusta Longbottom with her grandson Neville, Andromeda Tonks with a (currently black-haired) Teddy asleep on her lap, Molly Weasley, and the stars of the show, Harry and Hermione.
It had been a day since the incident at Gringotts, and Harry was finally starting to relax a little. His panic attack had left him on edge for the rest of the day, but by now, he was mostly just embarrassed about it. He'd fought a war, and with help, he'd won it. So why should one little thing like that shake him so much?
It was stupid of him, he knew. Not that Hermione seemed to agree with that. But his uncle had never needed magic to make his life hell, just his hands, his voice. Goyle was bigger than him, and so close, and he'd just frozen.
"Of all the..." McGonagall shook her head. "I do hope you realise just how foolish you've been, young man. Are you trying to outdo everything you managed while within Hogwarts' walls?"
Harry shrunk back in his seat a bit. "Sorry, Professor McGonagall. I know I've made a mess of this, and I need to make it work. That's... why you're all here, really. I need advice."
Raising her hand meekly, Hermione added, "I think it's my fault as well, Professor. We got so swept up in everything being within the rules that I never stopped to check if it was still a good idea."
A small smile. "Well, getting help is a good start. Perhaps if you'd done so sooner..." She shook her head. "And please, if you keep calling me Professor McGonagall, then I might have to start calling you Lord Potter-Black."
Harry blinked. He honestly wasn't sure which would be worse: her calling him Lord Potter-Black for the whole time, or him calling her Minerva. He decided to stay quiet for the moment.
"Wizarding society is built on traditions. Miss Granger's research skills are, I'm sure we're all well aware, rather plentiful, but having been raised among Muggles, she's clearly rather lacking when it comes to those traditions." McGonagall gave a wry smile. "I believe we should put this on the list, after chess, in places where you should ask the youngest Mister Weasley, in future."
"Look, I think it's clear that we screwed this up." Harry was getting on edge with the pressure. "Can we move on from discussing how badly, and maybe work out how I can fix it?"
Augusta spoke up next. "I think, the first thing to consider is the fact that you've put more than yourself in danger with this, Mister Potter."
Harry paused, then nodded. "That's... a good point." He looked around. "I need to move out of the Burrow, as soon as possible." He smiled at Mrs Weasley. "I'm sorry. I didn't think what living here might mean once this all started."
Smiling back at him, Molly shook her head. "You don't need to, Harry dear, it's nice having the company around."
"No." He shook his head. "The company is nice, but I can't put you in danger. If people want to get back at me for what's going on, they'll come here. So I need to draw that somewhere else."
"The question, of course," commented Augusta, "is where to go. The Burrow is somewhat loaded with protective enchantments, as are all of the old wizarding residences, which would take quite some time to establish at a new place."
After considering this for a moment, Harry replied, "I do have an old wizarding residence, that we used for a base in the war. I'd been hoping to avoid going back there, but... I think I'll need to move into Grimmauld Place." He looked over at Professor McGonagall. "Will the enchantments the Order put in during the war still be there?"
She nodded. "Most of them, though I'd recommend we give them some attention anyway."
"I think you'd know the best people for that. I..." He paused, and shook his head slightly. "I was going to say, I can afford to pay for their help. But for now, I'll do that out of the Black vault. I need to not get carried away with the spending."
"Yes." McGonagall pursed her lips. "Upsetting seven different pureblood families at a stroke was efficient, even if unwise. I believe you will be able to smooth things over somewhat, but tread carefully."
Neville spoke up, "Not enough excitement during the war, eh Harry?" He grinned.
"I mean, I like helping people, so when I suddenly get told that I now own half the Wizengamot, I just sort of... went for it." Harry shrugged.
"Hmm." Augusta tilted her head to the side. "The Longbottom family holds two seats. I believe we should put them to good use. If you're going to make a difference in the Wizengamot, you MUST NOT simply walk in alone, no matter what you may be entitled to." She turned to her grandson. "My dear, I believe it's time for you to take your place as Lord Longbottom, and enter the world of politics."
Neville looked mortified at the concept.
"A little time in the Wizengamot will do you good. And a friendly face and supportive vote will make the work to be done easier."
He nodded meekly.
Turning to Harry, Augusta continued, "I do hope you're not planning on occupying all of the seats yourself, young man. While legal, your voice will carry more weight with people behind it."
He considered this. "Good point..." He looked around the room for a moment. "The trick will be who to get, and how many. I suppose," he sighed, "that if I pick wrong, I'll upset more people?"
"That all depends," replied Augusta, "on just how unexpected your choice is. I don't believe there's been a Muggle-born on the Wizengamot for as long as most will remember," here she glanced at Hermione, "but that could perhaps be changed. I'd recommend against any goblins, of course."
An idea occurred to Harry. He grinned. "Well, I suppose that I shouldn't rock the boat too much. I happen to know of an old pureblood family that seems to like me." He turned to Molly. "Mrs Weasley, how would your entire family like to join me on the Wizengamot?"
She blinked, blushing slightly. "I... well... we haven't had any seats in so long, you know. There used to be a Weasley seat, but it got sold years ago." She smiled at him. "But I think we'll make a good showing. I think Arthur would find it all very exciting, and of course Percy will be over the moon to get a seat on the Wizengamot."
"So that's nine seats for the Weasley family, if we can get Bill and Charlie to stay in one place long enough. Two seats for George, of course, he can cause enough trouble to fill two." Harry grinned, failing to suppress a laugh at himself. "I mean, look at how much trouble I've managed with twenty-nine of them."
Andromeda smiled at Harry, as she gently rocked Teddy to keep him asleep in the occasional noise of the discussion. His hair was slowly turning bright red. "I can help, if you'd like one of the Black seats taken. Assuming, of course, we can find someone to take care of Teddy while I'm at it."
Next to speak up was Hermione. "If you think it's a good first step to get a Muggle-born on the council, then I'll help with that. I look forward to seeing their reactions to that."
Augusta watched Harry curiously during this whole exchange, then commented, "Well, I'm afraid I won't be joining this volunteering frenzy, and Neville has his own seat to take up. However, you must be careful with this. The seats you'll be taking are already filled with people who are, quite outside their seats, rather powerful, politically speaking. How you dismiss them from the council, and who replaces them, will be rather critical."
Harry grimaced. "I hadn't thought of that."
"I think there are quite a few things you hadn't thought of, Mister Potter," interjected McGonagall.
He nodded meekly. "So, I'll need to plan that out..."
"No, WE will need to plan that out. Together." Augusta gave him a stern look. "This is, as you noticed, rather an opportunity, and one which we can't afford to squander."
"Agreed..." A pause to think. "I have to ask." He looked around at the room, at the faces each with decades more experience in the wizarding world than he had. "Is what I did, and what I'm planning... right? I know it wasn't a good idea, but is it the right thing to do?"
There was silence as each thought about the question. McGonagall spoke up first. "Our world is built on traditions. That the way our grandparents did things should be how we do things. That can be good. People know... where they fit. But there are things that need to change about that."
"A LOT needs to change." Neville was surprisingly loud in his reply. "Sure, we know where we fit, but if you don't like where people say you fit, then it's just tough luck. People like the Malfoys want us to know where we belong, and that's underneath them."
Augusta looked rather proud at Neville for standing up for his beliefs. "Well said!"
"So yeah, I think it's not just right, it's overdue. And if some of the old families don't like it, well, we handled their boss and they just scattered like rats." Neville seemed to almost have fire in his eyes as he started to see the possibilities ahead of them.
McGonagall put a hand on his arm gently. "Yes, but since we won't be relying on elaborate quests and people showing themselves true Gryffindors by pulling swords from hats, but instead on legal procedures, then perhaps a calmer approach is necessary."
"I think, in that case, we need one issue to focus on first." Andromeda glanced around the room. "Is there any particular preference? Werewolf rights perhaps? I think we all know someone who would have appreciated that."
There was a quiet moment, as memories of Remus drifted past. Teddy squirmed a bit in his sleep, making a rather cute mnerp noise.
Finally, Hermione spoke up. "I think we need to start with something smaller. There are laws about how House Elves need to be treated, maybe if we start with actually getting those enforced? Then we're not actually trying to make new laws, just get people to pay attention to the old ones. And that'll let them know we mean business."
Harry grinned at her. "You know, when we get you some Wizengamot robes, we might have to get S.P.E.W. badges sewn on somewhere out of the way..."
She rolled her eyes at him. "So much for being done with the shopping. That's a lot of Wizengamot robes we'll be needing to get. We can probably round up a few more people, if we're careful." She glanced at McGonagall for confirmation. "Should I start bringing in some of our old classmates?"
"I believe you would know which ones can be trusted with such an assignment. After all, we want people who will take it seriously, while also sticking to the plan. They must all be of age, of course." Hermione looked like she was about to object, to raise some interesting point of Wizengamot procedures that meant that, technically, they didn't need to. "Hermione, we are going for effect and tradition with this, not technicalities. If we only wanted the technicalities, then we'd just send Harry in alone."
McGonagall coughed. "Excuse me?"
"M-Minerva." It felt very unnatural to be calling her that. Hermione wasn't sure she'd ever actually get used to it.
A new chapter after less than a day? Short answer, the end of chapter 5 is not a place I felt entirely comfortable with leaving things hanging, so got chapter 6 done tout suite.
ᛈᚱᛟᛏᛖᚷᛟ · ᛏᛟᛏᚨᛚᚢᛗ · ᛊᚨᛚᚠᛁᛟ · ᚺᛖᚲᛉᛁᚨ · ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲᚷᚹ · ᚺᚾᛁᛃᛈᛇᛉᛊ · ᛏᛒᛖᛗᛚᛜᛞᛟ · ᚺᚢᛊ · ᛈᛟᛏᛏᛖᚱ · ᛒᛚᚨᚲ · ᚠᛁᚨᚾᛏᛟ · ᛞᚢᚱᛁ
— Excerpt of runic protection inscriptions
In the usually quiet and dusty halls of number twelve, Grimmauld Place, there was a sudden flurry of activity today. It seemed like every other room had at least one thing going on, as a veritable crowd of helpers had descended on the house to get it back up to the standards befitting Harry's new titles and problems.
Roaming the various hallways, rooms, and other miscellaneous spaces that seemed to almost randomly fill the house, Filius Flitwick (away from Hogwarts for the weekend by special request and some pleading) was slowly waving his wand through a long, complicated series of incantations. As he came to each spell in the list, instead of the usual flashy display, full of sound and fury, there was a simple brief glow, which seemed to seep into the very walls around him.
Some of the spells were simple reinforcements of the traditional charms and wards that protected any such house belonging to one of the older noble families, but were now beginning to fade after years with the house lying idle. Other spells were newer, and instead of just fading into the walls, they crept out and entwined themselves around the other enchantments.
It wouldn't quite stand up to the sort of standards he had for Hogwarts' defences, of course. But then, Hogwarts had a thousand years worth of constantly renewed charms, instead of a few hundred years worth now fallen into disrepair. But, for most purposes short of a large-scale attack such as Hogwarts had seen, it should meet their needs.
In the once-magnificent drawing room, Ron looked around at the mess he had apparently been assigned to deal with. He held his wand in one hand, and a list of detailed instructions from his mother in the other. Struggling to see in the gloom, he stepped over to the heavy black velvet curtains and grabbed hold of one.
He tried to pull it open, but between the weight of the curtain and the accumulated filth of years jamming it in place, the window stayed resolutely closed. What made it worse, when Ron pulled his hand away, it was covered in dense, slightly greasy black fluff, and there was a handprint shaped area of the velvet that had crumbled to the base fabric.
"Yeurgh!" Ron was about to wipe his hand off on the curtain, but jerked it away just in time, and wiped it off on his jeans instead.
Giving up on getting some natural light into the room, Ron looked at the list of spells he had to use, and what to use them on. He didn't have Molly's aptitude for these spells, but he'd actually volunteered to handle this job. (He'd never tell anyone, but he could tell that Hermione didn't like the way he usually kept things around his space. Far too messy, and that was putting it lightly. He had decided for himself that, if he could do a good job of this, maybe he'd show her that he was at least trying to get better at such things. But don't tell Hermione.)
So many bits of furniture to be cleaned, checked over, and either repaired or replaced. If Harry was going to do formal Lordly reception things in here, it had to shine.
In the surprisingly capacious attics of the house (she suspected an extension charm was at work), Luna squeezed her way past various bits of discarded furniture and old storage crates. She was on a mission, and she was determined to do it right.
You see, these old houses always tended to accumulate a surprising number of interesting creatures, hiding out of sight. Doxies, pixies, bundimuns, and who knows what else there might be in here. Maybe even nargles, escaped after a particularly festive Christmas. Though, from what she knew of the Black family's history, perhaps festive would be the wrong word to describe their holidays.
She was carrying a large sack, filled with a number of oddly shaped jars. Each one was designed to take some particular creature she expected or hoped to find here. Some had to be shrunk down to fit inside the bag properly. She hadn't found anything yet, though. A lot of wizards would be trying to just get rid of everything, but Luna found that idea both unpleasant and pointless. Much better to rehome them somewhere where they'd be safe and happy.
Her head jerked up, then tilted to the side slightly. That sounded like a ghoul. Time to get to work.
In the grand entrance hall, or what had once been grand and would be again, Hermione stood on a ladder leant against the front door (securely locked to make sure nobody tried to open it and send her flying), a small hammer and chisel in her hands.
Slowly, carefully, she was carving a series of runes into the door frame. There was a mix of enchantments included, both the older types only found in runes, more modern spells recorded and imbued through the words, and a few things imbued with power more by tradition than specific spells. Some would protect the house, especially when she copied them down elsewhere as well, and some would defend the doorway itself (with an anti-apparition spell over the house, the door was one of two obvious entry points, and she'd be putting similar inscriptions over the Floo-connected fireplace next).
Once the carvings were complete, she waved her wand across them slowly, tracing each letter, which glowed a brief fiery orange as the spells took hold. At the same time, she muttered a series of quiet incantations to make sure they worked properly.
A few checks to make sure everything was working properly, then she climbed off the ladder, moved it to one side, and unlocked the door again, which was immediately opened by an exasperated looking Bill Weasley. "I was starting to wonder if I'd gotten the wrong day or something!"
At the other end of the entrance hall, inside a muffliato charm field, wearing enchanted earmuffs, Harry was standing in front of a very large, and very angry portrait. Sirius had long tried to remove this delightful representation of his departed, unlamented mother Walburga, and Hermione had had an idea on how it might finally be achieved.
The earmuffs were for Harry's protection, while the muffliato charm was for everyone else's.
She was doing her usual performance of screaming obscenities against the half-blood son of a blood traitor who was trying to remove her from her place on the wall, and Harry was trying to do his best to ignore her. The earmuffs were helping, at least to take the roaring edge of the sound off.
His wand was tracing a complicated squiggly path around the sides of the frame. Sirius had tried the same combination of spells, a severing charm and a magic dispelling jinx, with no success, but Hermione's theory was that, without the spells being loyally reinforced by Kreacher, their effect would soon be wearing off. When Harry had found out that he was doing that, he put an immediate stop to it. After all, if the permanent sticking charm was so powerful as to be eternal past its caster's death and with no attention, then why was it not used more often? Between being able to make a doorway impervious to any opening as a defence, or to seal someone inside somewhere, surely people would have realised it was a weapon.
There was a brief pause in Walburga's screaming as Harry finished his first circuit around the frame, and it shifted downwards in a tiny but noticeable jolt. Progress. A moment to recover, however, and the screaming resumed, louder and fouler than before. Harry glared at her. "You're coming down, or I'm going to just burn the painting from the wall."
After he'd finally managed to get inside, Bill started to patrol around the house, parchment in hand. He'd also been called in for another job at Gringotts, with a whole slew of old vaults suddenly needing checking for dark objects, but when his mum had told him that Harry needed his help with Grimmauld Place, he'd decided to take a detour via Islington to lend a hand.
On his first pass through the house, he just noted everything down about what he had found, vaguely trying to categorise them into a few categories. Dangerous - Professional Intervention Required. Unpleasant - Careful Handling Required. Odd - Proper Analysis Required.
There weren't too many things that he would qualify as actually Dangerous, since most of it had been cleaned out by the Order of the Phoenix when they took over the house during the war. There were still a few things, where they'd been missed, or dismissed as too hard to deal with under the secrecy of the war.
A few things were definitely in the Unpleasant category. The row of mounted house elf heads, in particular. Hermione would have plans on what she wanted to do with those, he was sure. Probably something about a decent burial. There was also, for some reason, an umbrella stand made from the leg of a troll. It wasn't cursed or bewitched or in any way magical, but it made him nauseous just to look at it, so it went on the list.
Between it being a wizarding house, and an old family house, the largest category by far was the list of Odd things that he'd need to get looked into. A lot of the portraits put him on edge, there was a collection of old rusted daggers that looked more like ritual knives than anything practical, and any number of lightly cursed trinkets that he'd have to deal with at some point.
The list took up several feet of parchment, and he would need to check with Harry about every single item on there. This was not going to be a fast job, by any means.
The kitchen of number twelve, Grimmauld Place had become, at least temporarily, Molly Weasley's domain. She had insisted. If Harry was going to be acting as a Lord, he would be holding dinner parties and receptions and all sorts of things — how Harry himself felt about this was largely irrelevant. He'd gotten himself into quite a mess by ignoring wizarding traditions, and he had to do things right.
By size alone, the kitchen should be up to the task. It had been the seat of the Lords Black for centuries, after all, and they'd all been trained to the duties of the role since birth, and did it well (prejudice and hate crimes notwithstanding). It just needed her particular brand of magical genius to get everything back in working order.
One advantage of the wizarding way of cooking was that there were very few things which weren't solid metal or wood. Arthur had brought home some of the bizarre muggle kitchen gadgets that he'd found, and even without the electrickery to set them moving, Molly found them ridiculous but slightly endearing. Imagine making a device to stir a bowl, just because you couldn't charm the spoon yourself!
Step one: Get everything clean. She opened the cupboard under the sink, and just... stared at it in disbelief for a moment. A single sad-looking cloth, in a mix of colours she immediately resolved not to think about. She closed the door quietly, turned around, and headed straight for the fireplace.
Molly emerged from the Floo about ten minutes later, carrying a very large mop bucket filled with her cleaning supplies from home. She returned to the kitchen, and put the bucket down on the floor.
New step one: Get all her supplies laid out nicely on the table...
New new step one: Get the table clean enough to put her supplies on.
She filled the sink with hot soapy water, pulled two of her own cleaning cloths out, and set them to work on scrubbing the kitchen table clean. She had been sure it was some sort of interesting grey stone, but no, it was in fact a wooden table that had just been left to dust for too long.
Once the table was cleaned and dried, and the sink was looking a murky grey from all the dust rinsed off into it, she let the water drain as she laid all of her supplies out on the now-acceptable table. A small array of cleaning cloths, each charmed for its own jobs. A stiff scourer, for the tough work. Brushes, ranging from soft bristles to actual wire, for getting things clean. Bars of soap and a bag of salt, for when scrubbing wasn't enough. And, of course, a mop and bucket for the floors.
Molly's wandwork in the kitchen was like a composer conducting a symphony, and truly beautiful to behold. The fact that she was working on her own means that nobody but her got to appreciate the effect, but still.
The wire brush started scrubbing years of soot from the stove, still a wood-burner as was traditional for wizards, who had never really caught up to the new technology of coal (wood gave a better flavour anyway). Cleaning cloths attacked every surface, covering them first in bubbles from the newly refilled sink, then wiping and scrubbing them clean. More brushes got into every corner, nook, and cranny to get things out.
She had made some progress on the kitchen a few years back, which made her job easier today, but that had just been getting it together enough to work for a hideout and headquarters, not a Lordly manor.
When Arthur Weasley came by at the end of the day, to see how things were progressing (with so many of his family doing the work, it wasn't like going back to the Burrow would get him any company) he found Molly slumped back in a chair, sitting in a kitchen that was every bit as spotless as her own. There was even a small fire burning in the stove, to make it officially A Working Kitchen again. She looked and felt exhausted, but there was a little smile of victory on her face.
The second day was quieter than the first. Harry and Ron were touring the house together, looking at the furniture of each room. Some of it they managed to repair, by combined efforts of repairing charms. Some of it, they managed to transfigure into something useful. And some of it, which they decided was beyond repair or beyond usefulness, they simply noted down what it was, then hit it with a vanishing spell.
The furniture could have been good for decades, if it had been maintained, but unfortunately with the house having fallen into disrepair it had suffered. So much of it was beyond even what magical repairing charms could achieve, having lost too much of the material to decay and insects rather than than simple breakage. So, to make the house a respectable residence for the Lord of Nine Houses, it would have to be replaced.
Of course, to get replacement furniture delivered, there was still one thing that needed to be done.
The runes at the start of the chapter translate roughly as follows: "Protego Totalum. Salvia Hexia. Abcdefghi jklmnopqr stuvwxyz. House Potter Black. Fianto Duri." The inclusion of the full alphabet (or their equivalent of) is a common part of runic protection inscriptions - I think the logic is "well if the letters have power, then including the full set can only be good, right?" The exact runic text is relatively unimportant to the story, but I thought it would give it a nice flavour.
Once the Fidelius Charm is in place, that which is being hidden will remain so almost indefinitely. It can be dispelled, but as with the revelation of the information contained within, and indeed with establishing the charm in the first place, the process is difficult and must be done willingly by the Secret Keeper.
The exact nature of the method to dispel the Fidelius Charm varies based on the methods used to establish the charm.
It is commonly believed that the secret hidden by the Fidelius Charm is stored in "the soul" of the Secret Keeper. This is a simplified view which doesn't exactly describe how it works — not to mention the ongoing arguments as to the nature of or existence of the soul.
— Excepts from On The Fidelius Charm, from Meditations And Essays On Advanced Charmwork
Flitwick looked around the circle of people filling the drawing room of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. Ron had made a lot of progress getting it cleaned up, and all of the furniture had been removed. There was now just a single small table, on which sat a tiny, solid gold cauldron, with its own small fire underneath. A small silver knife sat next to it, along with a box of potion ingredients.
"Now, this is going to be one of the most complicated spells most of you have been part of." He smiled. "Which should make it rather fun."
Around the room, there were as many members of the old Order of the Phoenix as could be mustered. Several of them, Harry especially, looked rather dubious about the spell being fun, especially with the knife there.
"You all became Secret Keepers for this house on Dumbledore's death. That means, in order to dispel the Fidelius Charm on the house, we need your involvement."
Harry raised his hand, having been so used to being in class. "Professor, we've not got all the Secret Keepers here..."
Flitwick nodded. "Quite so, Mister Potter. The Fidelius Charm is a complicated and, to be frank, poorly understood piece of magic. As this particular secret isn't being kept within a single person, the magic is somewhat... diluted, shall we say?" He shrugged. "That's not to say that having an incomplete group is going to make this easy, but then it was never going to be easy."
He stepped forward to the table, which had been set low enough that he could work at it (since he was going to be doing most of the work for the spell). Everyone else would just have to deal with the height difference, as he usually did. He looked around at the assembled old warriors (not that most of them were old, but the marks of the war were still visible) and asked, "Now, has anyone performed this spell before?"
Arthur and Bill Weasley both raised their hands. They had been looking less unsure, but no less nervous, than everyone else.
"Ah, excellent." Flitwick smiled, then looked around again. "Nothing like a good teaching opportunity for the rest of you, eh?" He opened the box of ingredients and components. "So, this is something like a charm, but given the nature of the magic, involves something resembling potions work as well. Miss Granger, if you'd assist me? I've heard many things about your steady hands at the cauldron."
Hermione looked confused at that.
"You do realise that your teachers at Hogwarts would discuss the students, yes? Why, given how much of our time is taken up with wrangling you all, if we want to discuss our days at all, it ends up being a discussion of the students."
She nodded, and stepped up to the other side of the low table.
Harry thought about that description of the spell, being somewhere between a charm and a potion. He'd never heard about anything crossing the lines like that during his time at Hogwarts, the different departments of magic were always kept very separate. He'd have thought charms and transfiguration might have had crossovers, but charms and potions?
But then he realised. He had seen this sort of combination before. But it hadn't been at Hogwarts. It had been in a graveyard. Bone of the father. Flesh of the servant. Blood of the enemy.
Was this sort of crossover reserved for stronger magic? Perhaps for older magic? Maybe, in the past, they hadn't had such strong lines between the types of spells, and so combined them more freely. He would have to ask Hermione later.
Flitwick took one of the bottles from the box on the table, and poured out its contents into the cauldron. "We start with pure water, taken from the snowmelt of the first snowfall of winter. Getting rather hard to acquire, given the weather lately, and of course the various things which end up in the snow." Hermione wrinkled her nose at that last part.
He took a second bottle, and at the same time he took a silver rod, marked with several runes down the side, which he offered to Hermione. "As I start adding the mercury, I'd like you to stir. Three turns clockwise, one turn back, then four diagonal strokes. Exact one second rhythms, if you please." He unstoppered the bottle, and as Hermione began to stir the complicated pattern, he slowly dribbled the heavy silver liquid into the cauldron.
Once the bottle was empty, he had Hermione switch to diagonal strokes only to stir, as he retrieved a small pouch of dried leaves from the box of ingredients. He held it up for the others to see, still feeling himself to be in teaching mode. Seeing the label, Hermione asked, "Why does this need dittany? I've only seen that in healing potions before..."
"Well reasoned, Miss Granger! Oh my yes, this is a very unusual inclusion in such a situation, isn't it?" Flitwick grinned at her. "Or is it? Consider, the nature of the magic, sealing a secret inside a person which must be pulled out again, and perhaps causing a scar upon the world where the secret had been. Are we not trying to heal this situation?" He shrugged. "But perhaps there are less poetic reasons. The logic of magic is often rather opaque."
After carefully breaking them in half, one by one, he dropped each of the dittany leaves into the cauldron, carefully timed to the stirring. Next, he waved his wand over the top, whispering an incantation, and the leaves dissolved into the mixture, which slowly turned yellow as the mercury and water started to mix instead of staying distinct.
The final ingredient from the box was another small fabric sachet, which Flitwick extracted before closing the box. As he untied the string, he told Hermione to change her stirring again, this time to a series of quick figure-eights. Another wave of his wand, and the churning potion started to glow faintly. As he gradually sprinkled the mustard seeds into the cauldron, there was a green spark as each one hit the surface.
He had an interesting point he was itching to make to them, about how the use of "eye of newt" in many old recipes had actually been from a time when potion books might be more easily found by muggles, and so they had encoded the ingredients to protect against accidents. Eye of newt had been, in fact, simple mustard seeds, whole. Of course, once that had faded from memory, people had found potions uses for actual eye of newt (much to the newts' dismay). However, the spell was getting to a critical phase, so no time for such distractions. He'd have to remember to tell them later.
Once the last seed had hit the surface, the potion was now turning red. Hermione kept stirring, but after a moment she had to fight the urge to stop (she'd seen what could happen if you stop stirring a potion at the wrong moment). "Professor, I think this rod is starting to dissolve!"
Flitwick looked into the cauldron, and nodded with satisfaction. "Good. Silver is, in fact, the next ingredient. Seven more stirs, and then just drop what's left of it in to dissolve." He stepped back slightly. "Without splashing, of course."
Seven more careful figure-eight stirs, then Hermione lowered what was left of the silver rod into the cauldron, making sure to keep her fingers clear of the liquid. She stepped back, watching curiously to see the next stage in the process.
Stepping forward again, Flitwick picked up the silver knife, turning it over several times in his hands. "The next part of the spell is, I am afraid, somewhat less pleasant. I will require three drops of blood from each Secret Keeper present. And it must be taken by yourselves, willingly. Only a small prick will be required, of course, but I'm afraid we can't do anything to close the cut until everything's complete.
He held his hand over the cauldron, and readied the knife, but then he paused, looking around at them. "Oh, and before we begin with that stage, a word of advice. Whenever people want to be dramatic about drawing blood, which of course they do, they draw the knife across their palm. PLEASE don't do that. A small cut somewhere not loaded with nerves and tendons will make the recovery much easier."
His slightly exasperated advice given, he pressed the knife into the tip of one finger, and waited as three glistening red drops fell into the cauldron. As a fourth started to well up on his fingertip, he pulled it away, letting it drip onto the carpet instead. A frown as he looked down, then shrugged. "I'm afraid we shall have to clean your carpets after this exercise, Mister Potter."
He offered the knife to Hermione, because she was still standing closest. "Miss Granger, would you like to go next?"
She nodded slowly, reaching out for the proffered knife, but jerked her hand away. "Um. Maybe someone else." She stepped back a couple of times, trying to be the furthest from the scene.
Arthur stepped forward, taking the knife. "Well, since I've done it before." He very carefully ran the knife along the side of his hand, well away from anything that might be problematic if damaged. His cut was slightly less minimalist than Flitwick's had been, but he still managed to make sure that exactly three drops fell into the cauldron.
He then handed the knife on to Bill, who had moved up to stand next to him. "Better out than in, I always say." The attempt at levity was a little jarring in the sombre, dramatic environment that the rituals around the spell had been casting over the room.
Each of them added their drops of blood, in turn. Most were careful and economical about the cuts they made, not wanting it to hurt any more than absolutely necessary. Watching the whole thing unfold, Harry had a momentary thought of being glad that Mad-Eye Moody wasn't here. His flair for the dramatic would probably have resulted in slightly more blood than the recipe called for, which Harry couldn't picturing turning out well at all.
All that considered, when it came time for Harry to add his own drops of blood, he put the knife across the palm of his hand without thinking, exactly as Flitwick had been describing as what not to do, and it was only Ginny quickly grabbing the wrist of the hand holding the knife that stopped him from causing some damage. He blinked, looked down at what he'd been about to do, and sighed.
The process took some time, as each of them were trying to be careful, and several of them were quite nervous about the process. The fact that they had to draw the blood themselves, with a knife, and willingly, made the whole thing more of an ordeal. Hermione was already starting to come up with plans for a silver magically-valid syringe, given her experience with the sensible nature of muggle medical advances.
Once everyone around the room had made their... contributions, Flitwick put the knife back on the table, and started to wave his wand over the cauldron again. By now, the mixture inside was a deep burgundy colour that almost seemed black, and bubbling quite vigorously despite the relatively small fire.
"Now then, the last stage. We must extract the secret itself." He placed the tip of his wand against his temple, concentrated for a moment, then pulled it away. Hanging from his wand was the wispy silver filaments of a memory, which he carefully deposited into the cauldron. "Much the same process as a pensieve. But remember, concentrate only on the secret itself, rather than anything else about the house. We wouldn't want to have to start again, hmm?"
Ginny raised her hand. "And for those of us who've never used a pensieve?"
"Ah." Flitwick looked around the room. "Who hasn't had to withdraw a memory like this, before?"
Everyone under the age of twenty-five raised their hand.
"Well then! Gather round, gather round. We'll do a practice run first." He stepped off to one side, then looked at the others. "If you could make your contributions, while I'm showing the way? Thank you."
He pulled a small bowl off one of the nearby shelves. "To produce a physical memory like this, there's no incantation, and the wandwork is purely to place the tip of your wand against your head, then pull it away as the memory begins to come through. It's all in the intent."
Nobody raised any objections to this, so he continued, "So, wands out! I want you to concentrate very clearly on the memory of the secret, of the address of this house. Then, push it to the front of your mind, and towards your wand. When it starts to tingle, pull your wand away, and it should come. Now, try!"
None of them managed to pull the memory out on the first try, but after a few attempts, Ron managed to pull the silvery threads out, which dropped neatly into the bowl that Flitwick was holding up for the purpose.
Flitwick swished it around a little, and poked at it with his wand, then nodded with satisfaction. "Very well done, Mister Weasley. Ten poi—" He stopped, and shook his head. "Sorry, force of habit, that." He held the bowl up to Ron, "If you'd like to take it back on your wand, and deposit it in the cauldron?"
Getting everyone's memories into the cauldron took a little longer than expected, with everyone being careful to get exactly the right memory out, and the fact that most wizards don't get much practice with extracting memories for a pensieve, even when they know the theory.
The worst part of how long it was taking was the distraction from the aching cut marks each of them had on their hands, which Flitwick had stopped them from healing away instantly. It would, apparently, interfere with the spell.
Finally, the tiny gold cauldron was about half full, and as Flitwick started one last series of wand movements and whispered incantations, the mixture inside started to shift into a bright golden colour, glowing enough to light the whole room. Tendrils of translucent ... something ... started to emerge from the cauldron, reaching up towards the ceiling and then spreading outwards.
The filaments seemed to fade slightly as they spread, and were wrapping themselves around every part of the building, going beyond just that one room. Soon they had faded from view entirely, but the feeling of powerful magic being done lingered in the air for nearly a full minute afterward.
The cauldron, now empty, rattled slightly as the feeling faded, and Flitwick nodded in satisfaction. "I do believe we now have a house cleared of the Fidelius charm. It would have been easier with a single Secret Keeper, but we make do." With that, he pulled out his wand again, and started to cast a healing charm on his hand. Like a flash, everyone else took that as permission to deal with their own injuries, and the sound of hastily, eagerly shouted healing charms was followed by quiet sighs of relief.
I hope you've enjoyed this delve into the intricacies of magic! There's never enough detail in those chapters for my liking, so enjoy a chapter with too much of it! I figured, the Fidelius has to be dispellable somehow, but that would have to be a rather complicated process.
Next chapter, we return to politics!
The fact about eye of newt being mustard seeds is actually true, as far as real-world history goes. As is the advice about cutting your hand, but better advice might be DON'T CUT YOUR HAND OPEN.
Chapter 9: A New Broom
Unto Peregrine Merriweather, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, does Lord Harry Potter send greetings.
Sir, it is my intention to assume the long-vacant seat on the Wizengamot which has long been held by the Potter family. I hereby appoint myself to that position, and look forward to attending the next session of the Wizengamot as a member of that august body.
With thanks for your time and service,
Harry James Potter
The Wizengamot chamber was full of conversation and chatter. The session had yet to formally start, but all the various members were starting to take their seats on the tiered benches around the central debating floor. The rumour that Harry Potter would be joining them was one of the main topics of discussion, with the conservative faction taking the time to express their dismay that this person, little more than a child, would presume to have a right to sit amongst them, and the progressives simply curious to see what his plans might be.
News of the outcomes of Harry's most recent visit to Gringotts had, of course, spread through the families of the seven Houses affected, but they were trying very hard to keep it from spreading further. That they had been so easily targeted in such an attack was something of a mark of shame for them, and since they would have their revenge soon enough, no need to share the information any further than was absolutely necessary.
Lucius Malfoy, in particular, was sitting on the front bench and quietly stewing in his anger. He had escaped any time in Azkaban, mostly by testifying against every person whose name he could remember, and his late defection during the Battle of Hogwarts. But now, to have Potter, the boy who had caused him so much trouble over the years, to cut off his access to the vault that was his by every right, and then to show his face not just in public, but in the Wizengamot, was a step too far.
The heavy doors swung open, and the buzz of conversation briefly stopped. Harry Potter, in his plum-coloured Wizengamot robes, stepped into the chamber. The decoration on his robes, especially the embroidery, was somewhat less subtle than those around him. Where the usual fashion was to have the silver embroidered W as a relatively small affair on the left chest, just enough to fulfill the formal requirements, Potter had gone for something approximately three times the size, surrounded by filigree containing the joined sigils of Houses Potter and Black. He carried a small leather briefcase, filled with many sheets of parchment, also embossed with that combined sigil.
He glanced around for a moment, and seeing that the Chief Warlock's seat was thus far unoccupied, he stepped over to where Neville Longbottom was sitting, in his own brand new Wizengamot robes, and smiled at his friend, whispering something to him quietly. Neville had gone for a much more understated look, and instead of waiting until the chamber was nearly full to make a grand entrance, had quietly slipped in about half an hour previous.
Unfortunately, one flow-on effect from Harry's late, dramatic arrival is that all of the good seats (being those on the lower benches, right next to the debating floor) were taken, and he had to climb all the way up to the back row, on the narrow steps in between benches. He would get a good view, at least, but it might get harder to make his voice heard from up here.
As he settled onto his place on the benches, the doors of the chamber opened again, and the Chief Warlock, along with several assistants, lackeys, and hangers-on, stepped into the chamber, and immediately took his place at the podium-equipped seat reserved for him.
"I hereby call to order this session of the Honourable and Potent Council of Wizards in Wizengamot Assembled in the name of the Minister of Magic." As he began the formal proclamation of the start of the session, the room quieted again, apart from the usual background hum of people not actually stopping their conversations. "The Council recognises two new members today. First, Neville Longbottom, as de facto Lord Longbottom, has assumed the seat previously occupied by Algernon Longbottom. Secondly, Harry Potter, as Lord Potter-Black, has assumed the long-fallow Potter seat on the Wizengamot. We wish them both well in their new responsibilities and exhort wise caution in all things." This was delivered in something just above a bored monotone, the sound of begrudgingly accepted formalities.
Harry could feel all eyes on him as his introductions were made. He had been planning some big speech at this point, establishing his intentions for his time on the Wizengamot, had even started writing it with Hermione's help, but older and more politically experienced voices had prevailed, and instead he sat quietly, just watching the proceedings for now.
After a pause for the hubbub of conversation about the announcement to die down, the Chief Warlock continued, "Our first order of business is the proposed amendments to the legal definitions surrounding certain classes of Dark Artefacts, as set out in the Dangerous Items Act of 1836. I call on the bill's sponsor, Lucius, Lord Malfoy, to speak on the matter."
Lucius Malfoy stood up, and bowed to the wizard seated at his podium. "My lord Chief Warlock, Witches and Wizards of the Wizengamot, for many years now, the stigma against certain types of magic has been an unfair burden on wizarding society, especially on those older families whose ancestral homes are filled with heirlooms and artefacts of generations past, now deemed to be of the wrong kind of magic. Some have called us callous, dangerous, immoral, simply for wishing to hold onto that which is rightfully ours. This bill would resolve this matter, in a way which I think we can all agree is quite fair."
One of the wizards on Harry's side of the chamber got to his feet, bowing to the Chief Warlock. "My friends, one thing we must remember in all of this is that, with no comment on the qualities of the individuals and families who might possess such items, we still have a great number of items which pose a real danger."
"There is no danger, surely. They're kept securely away in places not generally accessible, and thus unlikely to endanger anyone who wasn't trespassing. Unless you were making insinuations about some of the oldest and most respected families? Why should long-treasured family heirlooms be forfeit, simply because of the magic they were once imbued with?"
Harry couldn't keep silent any longer. He shot to his feet, marching down the stairs to the debating floor. "Mister Malfoy, I think we all know why you want this. Your house is just brimming with dark magic, that you've managed to hide. I'm sure your vault at Gringotts is the same, hmm?" He grinned as he stepped towards the much taller wizard.
"First of all, you impudent child, this is not how debates are done in the Wizengamot, personal attacks are neither permitted nor seemly. Secondly, you will address me as Lord Malfoy. Thirdly, the contents of my house and vault are none of your concern. The Wizengamot has cleared me of any of the crimes of which you seem to think me guilty."
Harry opened his briefcase, talking even as he looked away from Malfoy to find one of the documents inside. "First of all," he imitated, "if personal attacks are not permitted then I'll thank you not to call me an impudent child. Secondly, you will address me as Lord Malfoy, Lucius. Thirdly, the contents of your house and vault are very much my concern." He finally found the parchment he was looking for, which he handed to Malfoy.
Lucius read it. His fealty oath to the Dark Lord. The legal citations of wizarding inheritance and such oaths. His face went pale. After a moment's pause, he threw the page to the ground, and stepped on it. "If you think this disrespect will be tolerated, Potter, then you have a lot to learn."
Turning to the Chief Warlock and ignoring Malfoy, Harry said, "My lord, as the inheritor of the Malfoy estates and titles, I revoke the assignment of the seat currently occupied by Lucius Malfoy." He stepped over, and placed another sheet of parchment on the podium, bearing confirmation of his inheritance of the seat.
He turned back to Malfoy, briefly frozen on the spot. "Now then, Mister Malfoy. It's my understanding that, when the Wizengamot is in session, the chamber is forbidden to everyone but those who hold seats on the Council, yes?" He glanced at the Chief Warlock. "I believe the rules on it are rather strict, in fact."
Snapping out of his shock suddenly, Malfoy stepped towards Harry. "I see. And tell me, who is to take my place on the Council, hm? Are we to see another one of your little friends here, insulting the assembly with their behaviour? Perhaps Miss Granger, with her Muggle blood, would suit your tastes?" He glanced around at his supporters, who seemed to find the ridiculousness of such a suggestion rather amusing.
"Oh, she will be joining us in the Wizengamot, yes, but not for your seat. Out of respect for your views on the nature of magical blood," Harry gave a deep, sarcastic bow, "I will of course be filling your seat with the head of an old and respectable wizarding family." A pause, for effect. "Arthur Weasley. I believe you're familiar with him?"
"Weasley?! He's little better than a Muggle!"
"Perhaps. But when you are standing in this hallowed chamber, to which you no longer have any right, I would thank you not to insult my friends. As he once told you, we have very different ideas of what disgraces the name of wizard." Harry turned to walk away, back to his seat.
"My lord Chief Warlock!" A wizard Harry didn't recognise, who had been sitting next to Lucius, had shot to his feet. "I call for the immediate expulsion of Mister Potter, who is clearly just here just to cause chaos."
"Lord Potter-Black, I believe the right of reply is yours." The Chief Warlock sat back, rubbing at his temples quietly.
Harry looked his accuser over, noting that Lucius Malfoy had yet to actually withdraw from the room. "Well, sir, I must say I'm being rather unfairly misjudged. I have no interest in chaos, I am simply asserting certain rights which are mine, with the goal of ensuring a peaceful and fair world."
"Yes yes, very high-minded, and I'm sure you believe yourself. But that doesn't excuse this ridiculous behaviour. If you have any respect for our traditions, you'll leave before we have you thrown out." The wizard looked to the Chief Warlock for support.
Harry straightened up, staring straight at the wizard. "Your name, sir?"
A dangerous grin appeared on Harry's face. "Ah, a relative of the late Walden Macnair?"
A nod. "My father. I inherited the estate after his passing."
"Hmm." Harry shook his head. "I'm afraid that, by that point, the estate was no longer legally your father's to give. That is to say, he had given it already." He looked through his briefcase again, finding a sheet of parchment much like the one he had given to Malfoy, and this time gave it to Macnair. Then, he turned back to the Chief Warlock. "My lord Chief Warlock, I had hoped to leave this for a little while longer, but it seems my presence is too greatly resented by a certain faction here for any inaction."
As he stepped up to the podium, he placed another sheet of parchment in front of the Chief Warlock. "These are the seats legally under my control, and the assignments I wish to make for them, effective immediately. I request a short recess, so that those who are no longer part of this Council may be removed from the chamber, and the new members brought in."
Reading over the list, the Chief Warlock's eyes went wide. " You control all these seats?"
"Yes, sir." He placed another sheet of parchment next to the first. "The records of transfer, notarised by the Head Goblin of Gringotts himself."
He sighed. "Very well." A finger traced the list as he went through the long array of seats. "All representatives claiming allegiance to Houses Malfoy, Mulciber, Macnair, Carrow, Avery, Crabbe, and Goyle, I am afraid I must inform you that your positions here have been revoked. There will be a one hour pause in this session of the Wizengamot."
As the Chief Warlock rose, and quickly made to leave the chamber, the assembled Council erupted in outraged yelling. Given the amount by which he was outnumbered by people he had just seriously insulted, Harry followed quickly behind.
Outside the chamber, and down a side corridor, Harry leant against a wall, running his hands through his hair. He really had planned to leave all of the big dramatic moves until at least his second session, but seeing Malfoy so smugly self-satisfied with the laws he could get into the Council, he had just gotten so angry, and then one thing had led to another, and now he'd laid half his cards on the table all at once.
Oh well. He'd have to put the call out, he needed reinforcements, and he needed them now.