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Unchained

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Malfoy Manor in Wiltshire, England was a testament to the old Powers. Home of the ever-pure Malfoy family since they had left their native France, it had passed down the line father to son, occasionally father to daughter until it came into the hands of what many purebloods thought was its greatest Lord, Lucius, son of Abraxas. Abraxas had been a powerful old Lord as well, tempered however with signs of madness.

Madness that had restricted the Malfoy line down to one living male heir, not a situation most Lords wished to be in. Most of the Old Blood planned for at least two children (hopefully sons), an heir and a spare, to put it bluntly. Wars, disease or old feuds often claimed the life of an heir before they were able to inherit, if not then the second child was provided for with as much dignity as the first, though not with the same wealth, naturally. Second sons often proved to be a credit to their lines, rising beyond that of the heir through hard work, guile and plenty of motivation.

However, there was only one heir to the Malfoy line, that he was alive at all was a credit to the Lady Malfoy, Narcissa Druella Malfoy nee Black. The loveliest of the late Cygnus Black’s daughters, the match was one that had the Old Blood families salivating as they anticipated the next generation, along with the match of the rich Old Blood Black family to House Lestrange, considered the last of the top tier families, though that had been for naught.

The horror that had run through the Old Blood society at hearing that Bellatrix Black was not only insane due to her Aunt the Lady Walburga but barren as well had nearly been compounded as the elite society held its breath upon hearing rumours that Abraxas Malfoy had hit his daughter-in-law, pregnant no less, with a Cruciatus Curse, starting early labor. The collective sigh of relief when the papers announced the early arrival of a healthy male Heir was complicated with slight fears that perhaps the Malfoy line was going to die out. Whispers had begun to be circulated that according to Healers, Narcissa would not be able to carry another child thanks to her father-in-law.

The Old Blood had celebrated when the Malfoy Heir reached his first year and was introduced to the public, a miniature of his proud sire with the mercurial grey eyes of the Black family. Little Draco was watched and admired from afar even as shrewd Lords only gifted with daughters began to imagine betrothal contracts, ready to offer them to Lucius when Draco was five, as was customary. With the loss of the Lord, Lady and Spare to the Black family Draco became more precious, an Heir to the Blacks as well, the tempestuous Heir Black sentenced to Azkaban for life for some truly heinous crimes.

Draco was watched with pride from afar by the Old Blood society he was born into as he started Hogwarts, sorted into Slytherin naturally like the vast majority of his family. His pride and elegance admired, his composure complimented even as his youthful antics were waved off with indulgent chuckles, for whom among the Old Blood could say that they had not gotten into a few mishaps in their childhood years?

Draco was well known to be the only Heir to two Old Blood lines, thus the confusion when word came that the Malfoys were putting out feelers for marriage contracts. Draco had been betrothed at five as was the norm to either of the Lord Greengrass’ daughters, a coup indeed considering how many of the Old Blood had sent potential contracts to the Lord Malfoy. So, another contract being sought was confusing indeed, polyamorous relationships were not the done thing and the wording of the Malfoy’s missive made clear that it was not for Draco, their son and Heir.

And then word began to spread at the end of Draco’s sixth year. Rumor gained swift wings and spread amongst the Old Blood and hesitant hope began to rise again. A pureblood Heir. A male pureblood heir, rich in family magics. A Black Heir, of the direct line. Legitimate no less, not a bastard. An Old Ways bonding kept private for safety, resulting in a richly gifted, powerful son.

Around the British Isles word spread, whispers reached farther than any paper. Many eyes focused on Malfoy Manor, hope arising once again. Hope and curiosity, centered around one thought. Who?

*

Narcissa Black stood proudly in the public parlor of her elegant old home, hands clasped lightly together in front of her. Her long, fine hair fell over her left shoulder in an elegant twist, appearance as refined as always in a feminine black and silver houndstooth A-line skirt and silver blouse with a tailored black suit jacket. Any member of the Old Blood would immediately recognize the colors alone, for they were the Black Family’s and none but a Black would wear just black and silver. It was just not done.

Her husband stood next to her in cream summer-weight cotton slacks and a blue silk shirt with solitaire diamond cufflinks. As Lord of House Malfoy he would be here to witness the coming meeting, as her husband he wouldn’t have been anywhere else. The barest edge of a faint silvery mark could be seen on her husband’s forearm, causing a triumphant feeling to well up once again in Narcissa’s heart.

The Dark Lord was dead. Against all odds, all expectations to the contrary, Harry Potter had indeed been the one to best the Dark Lord. In front of a crowd of witnesses including the now former Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. The untrained sixteen-year-old wizard had somehow managed to throw the Dark Lord out of his mind and follow him into his own, destroying him from the inside out and reducing him to fragments of pure magic. The sheer power necessary, from one who hadn’t even reached his majority yet!

All of the Old Blood families who had relatives sworn into the madman’s service by their ancestors breathed a great sigh of relief as clean-up began. Restoring family wealth and social status as well as beginning the long haul of repairing their family image in the eyes of the general public. The Old Blood had been dealt a great service by Harry Potter, whether he knew it or not they owed him debts to varying degrees. As he was a half-blood, none were obligated to tell him so.

Their public Floo flared to life, Narcissa flicking her eyes to the massive mahogany grandfather clock ticking in the corner. 5 minutes to the 11th hour, on the dot. Their guests were nothing if not punctual, a tick in their favor. The meeting had been arranged for eleven, but to arrive at the hour would be uncouth, social greetings would take at least five minutes. As their guests were from yet another Old Blood family the social niceties were as ingrained into them as it was into Lucius and Narcissa, they would do nothing less.

First to exit the Floo was a man with rich gold-brown eyes and brown hair, looking much improved over the last time Narcissa had seen him. He had slightly more raw-looking features then the refined elegance of Lucius and Narcissa, his blood full of tribal kings and mingled Roman descendants. He stepped forward without so much as a moment of hesitation from the Floo, reaching out to clasp Lucius’ forearm and greeting him warmly.

He turned to Narcissa, a glimmer of amusement in his eyes and bowed gracefully, taking her proffered hand and kissing the back of it in a refined motion. “Lady Malfoy, thank you for being so gracious as to open your home for our meeting.”

“You are most welcome, Rabastan,” Narcissa replied, remaining as refined and poised as always. For her companion was none other than Rabastan Aurelius Lestrange, younger son of Janus Aurelius Lestrange, peer to the late, unmissed Abraxas Malfoy and still the Lord of House Lestrange, despite his advancing age.

The Floo, still active, flared again, admitting the man Narcissa had just been thinking about. Despite being well past seventy winters, Lord Janus Lestrange was still a distractingly-handsome man, rich gold-brown eyes he shared with his younger son crowned with dark silver hair that had been a rich black in his youth. He, along with his peers Abraxas Malfoy and Orion Black had been the talk of Old Blood society in his youth, many a marriage contract had been sent their way and graciously turned down.

Abraxas Malfoy had settled on refined, beautiful Belladonna Elpis Delacroix as his bride, going back to the Malfoy’s native France for his marriage. Orion Black had been pushed, pulled and finally forced by his controlling sire Antares to take his second cousin, Walburga Black as his bride, a marriage that had not been a pleasant one from the start.

Janus Lestrange had found his bride while serving in the International Confederation of Wizards at nearly age forty, something that had given the Old Blood of England and across the world fits of worry as he was yet another Heir and then Lord without a sibling in case of something happening. That his bride was a beautiful, elegant pureblood woman of Italy named Ceres Alagona was a salve to their anxious nerves that was only calmed with the birth of his Heir as a peer to Orion Black’s eldest son instead of Lucius Malfoy if his father had married younger as expected.

Orion Black’s Heir had been born late in his marriage, a topic of gossip amongst Old Blood families. Gossip had been confirmed by the new Lord Black himself. In revenge for forcing his marriage to a woman he detested, Orion had delayed siring an Heir until his own Sire had died, denying the man the honor of seeing the future generation of the Black line. That he had bothered with lying with the woman again, siring his spare as was expected gained him much respect amongst the Old Blood. Only he and Janus Lestrange had spares in a time which was tempestuous indeed.

Janus had just finished warmly greeting Narcissa when the Floo flared once more and revealed a single figure, the flames dying to regular colors and he exited the Floo, flicking non-existent ash from an open wool outer-robe. Rodolphus Janus Lestrange, Heir to House Lestrange, widowed as of June when Narcissa’s late cousin Sirius Orion had dragged her psychopathic sister through the mysterious Veil in the Department of Mysteries. Narcissa had grieved as expected, but for the girl Bellatrix had once been, not the insane woman she had become. She had breathed a sigh of relief to have Bella away from her son and had held a heartfelt ritual for her late cousin, Heir to House Black.

Rodolphus looked well, healthy even. Narcissa approved of his much-improved body and bearing. Lord Lestrange had spared no expense to make sure both of his sons recovered from their time spent in Azkaban prison. Rodolphus had his sire’s rich black hair which fell in slightly waved strands around his face to just below his ears. His eyes were a rich, unusual violet-blue color gifted by his late mother; Ceres Lestrange having passed soon after the birth of her younger son to a virulent fever.

Rodolphus pressed a kiss to the back of her hand before straightening, the habitual half-smirk falling back onto his generous mouth once social greetings had been observed. He was distractingly good looking and he knew it, taking more of his Italian mother’s aquiline Roman features than Rabastan as well as a more olive skin tone that tanned with ease. Rumor placed the Lestrange’s as heirs to King Arthur and one could believe it looking at the aristocratic features of Rodolphus Lestrange, a clear blend of raw tribal Britannic kings and Roman refinement.

As they all took seats, Narcissa noted how well the three men across from her wore variations of their family colors, peacock blue and bronze. Vaguely reminiscent of the colors Rowena Ravenclaw had used to represent her house, though she had used sky blue and a more golden shade of bronze than the rusty shade of House Lestrange. Hands folded primly in her lap, she let her husband begin the conversation.

“Thank you, gentlemen, for your interest and willingness to meet with us here at House Malfoy, I know the curtains of privacy drawn across this contract search has confused and rebuffed many Houses. We assure you that all the privacy and secrecy predating this meeting has been necessary and are not wasting your time.”

Janus’ shrewd gaze matched Lucius’ level one as he said mildly, “Had it been any other House than Malfoy acting as a go-between for House Black, we would have joined many of our fellow Houses in denying this meeting. However, House Malfoy would have had a vested interest in remaining in control of House Black with your more-than-suitable Heir. So needless to say I am intrigued to hear what and who this Betrothal Contract is about.”

“Accurately summed, Lord Lestrange,” Narcissa replied, not taking offense, “and your honest opinion of such manners is respected and observed. As the Black representative for my cousin’s Contract, I assure you this is worth your time. Before I begin, know that all of this has been proven, no matter how outrageous and impossible it may seem. I wouldn’t have accepted anything less than Gringotts and Old Blood provided proof of my cousin’s claims.”

Rodolphus spoke for the first time outside of the formal greetings. “Certainly not, Narcissa, nor would we have expected anything else of you. For all that you are the Lady Malfoy and an exemplary one at that, you are first and foremost a Black. Considering your birth-family’s heritage, standing and wealth, it is only right that you would have a vested interest in protecting it from any pretenders.”

Narcissa inclined her head elegantly in thanks and took a steadying breath. “With your agreement, I would begin with explaining something of my cousin’s parentage, it is a tale all in its own, one I had not believed for a second until I saw the proof myself.”

“Explain as you see fit, Lady Malfoy,” Janus nodded.

“Even if I should wish for Draco to maintain control over the Black estate, it would be impossible with my cousin alive and now acknowledged. He is from the direct line, the firstborn and only child of my late cousin, Sirius Orion Black, Heir of House Black.”

Rodolphus cocked an eyebrow, both of Rabastan’s shot into his hairline and Janus blinked. Tilting his chin just a bit to the side in his only obvious sign of confusion he said, “That is surprising indeed, Narcissa. From what I remember of my few meetings with your late cousin, he did not strike me as the type to possess such guile as to hide a child from anyone, let alone his family.”

“I do not believe he actually did hide it from his sire, Lord Orion,” Narcissa said softly. “I do not know if any of you remember the memorial service my Lord Uncle held for his younger son Regulus, but Sirius was present. Walburga screamed at him after for defiling her perfect son’s funeral, but Orion cut her off and sent her home.”

“I remember that portion anyway,” Rabastan commented. “It impressed me that he would stand and take that kind of vitriol without losing his temper.”

“Afterwards Orion departed with my cousin, Apparating to some unknown location. They did not go to Grimmauld Place, Walburga was spitting her rages at the idea of Orion deigning to speak with Sirius at all. Orion returned to Grimmauld by himself sometime later, spent a brief moment in the tapestry room and then sequestered himself in his office.”

“Less than a month later, he had restored Sirius Orion Black as Heir to the Lordship of House Black and none of my Lady Aunt’s screaming rages would change his mind.”

Janus contemplated that for a moment and said, “You believe he told his sire about his Heir, perhaps introduced the babe to Orion even.”

“With the knowledge that Sirius had a son at all, that is what makes sense for a series of actions that baffled most of the Black family at the time,” Narcissa nodded. “Orion may have been disappointed in his son for running away, but he never formally disowned his eldest and was first and foremost a member of the Old Blood and the Sacred Twenty-Eight. He realized that Sirius’ son, his grandson, was the only future for a direct line of House Black.”

Rodolphus couldn’t help a slight snigger, which he was swift to explain. “Sirius was considered a blight upon his family by his mother and a giant upset for the Old Blood families for both his Sorting and his famous temper, but it appears he may have been the most cunning Black in his direct family after all.”

“With knowledge of my cousin’s birth and all of the paperwork we have been unearthing from a secret Vault Sirius owned at Gringotts, it can safely be said that Sirius Orion was the most cunning member of the Black Line, no debating necessary. Had he not died just a few weeks ago he would have been a force of magic indeed,” Lucius commented, shaking his head slightly.

At the curious looks from the Lestranges he continued, “I have been sorting through all of the paperwork he left behind in a vault under an alias at Gringotts and the sheer amount of work, foresight and ambition he displays through it all is remarkable. His Heir’s validity can’t be doubted in the slightest, there’s a paper trail going all the way back to when the pregnancy was first confirmed.”

“As well,” Narcissa said, with a voice full of admiration for the sheer cunning of her cousin, “as two witnesses to the legality of his marriage and three living witnesses to the birth and confirmation of his Heir. It’s quite incredible.”

“Sirius Black; the ultimate in pureblood preparation and Old Blood cunning,” Rodolphus quipped, before snorting incredulously. “He played everyone, including that old goat.”

“Indeed,” Lucius replied, giving Narcissa a moment to center herself at the mention of Albus Too-Many-Names Dumbledore. The depths of that man’s depravity weren’t widely known, but they would be soon enough.

“The two witnesses we mentioned previously were present at the formal Old Ways bonding ceremony performed 1st of May, 1979 between Sirius and his beloved, the Heir Consort Black.”

Narcissa dropped that bombshell on the Lestranges without so much as smirk, Lucius’ blue eyes dancing in amusement as he watched them process it and their shock as a result of it. After all, had it been a woman as they were expecting, she would have said Heir Lady Black. As she had said Heir Consort, it meant her cousin Sirius had married another man.

Janus sighed, pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head in rueful amusement. With everything else that had been revealed about Sirius Orion Black, this should not have been a surprise.

“He was bisexual,” Rabastan said, firmly. “That’s the only explanation for it, I remember how much he chased the female populace at Hogwarts, I was two years younger after all.”

Janus sighed. “With everything else we’ve learned about the late Heir Black I would say that was deliberate, throwing suspicion away from him even being attracted to men. Merlin only knows how Walburga and some of the ancient-minded Blacks would have reacted to him finding his own gender attractive. For one of the oldest of the Sacred Twenty-Eight they certainly had their faults, one of which was blatant prejudice, which was rich considering their habit of inbreeding amongst their own family.”

Looking at Narcissa, Janus said shrewdly, “His spouse was not a Black, was it?”

Narcissa smirked. “No, he was not. Pureblood, Old Blood, there is some Black in his line but he wasn’t closely related to Sirius. Apparently, my cousin didn’t just take Muggle Studies to irritate his mother, he was actually paying attention. Muggles have proven amongst dogs, horses and people that close inbreeding amongst related family members weakens future generations, producing less and less talent. He correctly realized that this likely applied to Magic as well and married a man with generous helpings of outside Blood. His Heir as a result was born an exceptionally powerful individual, showing first signs of accidental magic at only several months of age.”

All three Lestrange’s sucked in a breath in surprise as Janus breathed, “The power in that child!”

 “Indeed, and he still is a remarkably powerful individual for all his youth. It will be interesting to see when he reaches his Majority in August,” Lucius commented.

Janus appeared to be thinking, gold-brown eyes dark in concentration. Narcissa watched the brilliant older Lord’s eyes practically whirl with color and intelligence as he sorted through what they had been already told. If in a moment he didn’t outright say the name Narcissa hadn’t mentioned yet she would be very surprised. A bit longer of a pause and a sudden sharp inhale of breath had both Rodolphus and Rabastan turning to look at their father, obviously caught off-guard by the shocked realization in his eyes.

“Harry Potter,” he said, with alarming firmness, “Harry Potter is actually Sirius Orion Black’s son, his spouse was James Charlus Potter.”

Rodolphus and Rabastan’s eyes widened in surprise and they turned to Narcissa, still sitting poised and elegant in her chair. A chuckle caught them off-guard and they looked to their friend, spotting Lucius giving his wife a small smile, rich blue eyes warm with amusement. “It seems, darling, I owe you that dinner and play after all. I had thought it would take Janus a few more hints to get to the truth.”

“Harry Potter, the one who defeated the Dark Lord the same day his Father died, was born Harrigan Orion Black, son of Heir Lord Sirius Orion Black and his much beloved Heir Consort James Charlus Potter-Black on 1st August, 1980,” Narcissa said softly in lieu of agreeing.

“He has been controlled and manipulated most of his life by Albus Dumbledore ever since the original downfall of the Dark Lord in 1981, my cousin illegally and without trial imprisoned in Azkaban and unable to do a thing to protect his son from the manipulations of an old man.”

“He had been communicating with his son for the past two years however, ever since the Dark Lord recovered corporeal form at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. Harrigan is grief-stricken, angry and out for revenge. He wants away from Albus Dumbledore and knows, thanks to his sire’s covert education of the Old Blood and Wizarding Law, that the best option for immediate removal from his current situation is marriage. He requested that I represent his interests and seek out male Old Blood Lords or Heirs that would desire a male Black Consort.”

“He currently is in Muggle London, forced there by Dumbledore for his ‘protection’, despite the fact that he isn’t actually related to Lily Evans’ family. We will be retrieving him soon and escorting him to Gringotts, where he will be able to take control of his estates since he was legally emancipated by our former Minister and the Headmaster as of the Triwizard Tournament. Should you consider the idea of a Black spouse palatable still, it would be ideal for you to meet us at Gringotts,” Lucius said.

“Should you be interested in enacting a formal Betrothal Contract with Heir Lord Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, which of you would be willing to enter the contract?”

There was only a moment’s pause, a couple of heartbeats before Rodolphus’ habitual half-smirk evolved into a full one and his unusual eyes glinted as he said, “I would, and I think I speak for my father as well when we say we are very interested.”

Chapter Text

Two weeks later and approximately 80 miles from Wiltshire, a black-haired teenager sat in a slowly darkening room. He was far thinner than anyone of his 5’ 7” should be, but that had long been his norm and he’d begun to think that people believed he was that way on purpose. Far from the truth, that was how he’d been for a majority of his life and then summers after age eleven due to not receiving three proper meals a day. He didn’t care, not this summer.

Nothing mattered this summer. Not the days full of ridiculous chores, the slow starvation, the denial of basic rights. He’d not counted on the family removing his sole cheap lightbulb, deciding that he was the cause of their enormous power bill and not the brand-new gaming system and enormous TV his cousin had received as a present for good grades. He’d packed a few candles into the emergency pack that had remained on his person when he’d arrived home for the summer, but he’d not anticipated being denied power at all during what had been one of the hottest summers on record.

No, none of this mattered. He sat on the edge of his skinny child-sized bed, normally wild hair lanky due to lack of showers, vibrant green eyes dull as he stared out at the setting sun. In his hands on his lap was a silver hand-mirror the size of a dinner plate with finely gilded edges and a family crest on the back. Without looking down at the mirror his fingers trace a well-worn path over the gilding on the back to the chevron crest framed with a pair of dogs. His fingers traced the entire crest without wavering, dropping lower to run over the calligraphic letters of the motto Toujours Pur.

The child (no, young man) known still publicly as Harry Potter sat holding one of a pair of silver mirrors as if his life depended on it, letting out a wavering sigh as unbidden tears welled in his eyes before spilling over. He stared unseeing out at the sunset as his mind seemed to run and re-run over what had happened just the month before. Closing his eyes Harry bitterly thought, yet again, I am such a fool.

After two years of planning, Voldemort had finally decided to go after the Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries. Harry wasn’t supposed to know about it, but Sirius had realized how foolish the Order was being and thought it better if Harry was informed. None of the Order consciously knew that he didn’t fit the Prophecy anyway, so he was still Dumbledore’s little pawn to their eyes. Harry had known though. He’d been told by Sirius, his father.

When Sirius had carefully taken Harry aside and they’d gone to the attic, Harry hadn’t been expecting much. He certainly hadn’t been expecting for Sirius to claim to be his father. He hadn’t believed him at first, pointing out how much he looked like a mix of James Potter and Lily Evans-Potter. Then Sirius had sat him down, asked for Harry to trust him and performed a spell with Harry’s blood on a piece of spare parchment. Blood magic was illegal in the eyes of the Ministry, Sirius explained, even though it had been part of Pureblood society for longer than there had been a Ministry.

The spell had shown just a portion of his family tree, proving Sirius’ words beyond a doubt. Sirius Orion Black and James Charlus Potter had been linked and a single name below, Harrigan Orion Potter-Black had been listed as his name. Timidly, not wanting to upset Sirius since he hadn’t had the best track record with adults, Harry had asked why he was only telling him now.

Sirius’ answer had been shocking. He’d told Harry honestly that he and James had hidden their marriage in hopes of keeping each other safe and alive through the building darkness of Voldemort’s first campaign. There was a complex paper trail in a secret vault under the name Frances Blanc, covering their marriage and Harry’s pregnancy and birth, but they had been doing their very best to protect each other and then baby Harry. To the point that they’d involved Lily Evans, she’d agreed to a farce marriage certificate and presenting Harry as hers and James’ with Glamorie and a false birth certificate.

Their actual witnesses and Harry’s godparents were Remus Lupin and Andromeda Tonks nee Black, Sirius’ favorite cousin. Sirius theorized that they had been hit with very powerful spells either blocking or erasing their memories of Sirius and James after the night of October 31st, 1981. Two days later, just before Sirius had been taken to Azkaban prison, Dumbledore had done the same thing to him, hitting him with an enormously powerful Obliviate.

Something had happened though, starting in Azkaban prison. While Dumbledore had removed the memories, he’d been unable to remove the powerful emotions that had gone with them and once Sirius had begun building enough of a resistance to the Dementors to transform into his Animagus form in the cell, certain things had started to come back. With the return of certain emotions and fragments of memories had come the Old Ways tattoo of his wedding band, Old Magic that Dumbledore hadn’t been able to prevent.

He’d been able to break out due to the strength of the emotions associated to Harry’s name and photograph in the papers. He’d not figured it out still at the end of Harry’s third year so he hadn’t said anything, trying to break the barriers around his mind had been exhausting, even for one not affected by Dementors it was a difficult branch of magic to work with.

It had all come down in one spectacular moment at the end of Harry’s fourth year, the moment Sirius had stepped into his childhood home. The Black family magics had apparently felt the blocks and modifications on his mind and had brutally torn them down, rendering Sirius temporarily unconscious. Once he’d woken up and dealt with the headache and bloody nose associated with forced Legilimency he’d started to wonder why and the memories had all come flooding back.

His father admitted he hadn’t taken it well, destroying a good portion of the things that had been stored in the sitting room at the time with his still fairly-wild magic outburst. But then logic and ingrained cunning had taken over, reminding him brutally that his son was in a home with Muggles under the control of a manipulative, powerful old wizard and he would need to be cautious. But then, at the beginning of his fifth year when he’d been transferred to Grimmauld Place for his safety had been the best chance Sirius would get.

He’d made discrete overtures to both Remus and Andromeda, confirming that whatever Dumbledore had done to them was still active. He’d told Harry his suspicions as to why Dumbledore had gone after them like that, the only boy who had matched the Prophecy was Neville Longbottom and he hadn’t yet shown any sign of accidental magic, while Harrigan had shown his first signs at four months of age, which was very early by wizarding standards. Sirius theorized that Dumbledore had somehow found out about his and James’ bonding and Harry’s true heritage and somehow manipulated the events of that night, as Peter had been far too cowed by both Sirius and James’ abilities to ever directly go against them.

Once Harry had accepted the fact that he had a living parent and the Prophecy didn’t even refer to him, he had launched with fervor into Sirius’ lessons. His father had been thorough, covering everything from wizarding law and Old Blood traditions to oddball topics like dancing and practical ones in dueling, Occlumency and the useful healing spells Sirius had picked up over the years. Though he’d held some obvious disdain for the subject, Sirius had sat him down with the appropriate materials and spent about a week discussing the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, listed as a member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, the first and most influential families in Wizarding Britain. Theirs was a long and storied history, with Ministers of Magic and the most disliked Headmaster of Hogwarts and everything in between. Sirius was technically Sirius the Third, explaining that while there were many named stars in the skies, most were not very palatable for given names.

With the house elf Winky happily sworn into service of House Black, they’d retrieved the Potter family history from its place in Gringotts and Sirius had also discussed James’ family, with much more enthusiasm than his own. It was Harry’s grandfather Fleamont Potter who had developed the well-known Sleek-eazy Potion for hair, though it rarely worked on the Potter’s untamable mop, Sirius admitted in amusement. It had been fifty-fifty whether it would work or not for James when he’d tried to straighten his hair for official functions.

All of his lessons had been in the few hours a day Sirius and Harry could get to themselves, either secreted away in the Black Library which only family members could access or in his grandsire Orion’s old office. Harry had been introduced to his paternal grandsire in a slightly tense moment, or more re-introduced as he’d met him when he was a little over a month old apparently. Orion Black had been an intimidating man, but his smile was gentle.

They’d continued Harry’s lessons on weekends once he’d returned to Hogwarts for his fifth year, using the pair of gilded silver communication mirrors now in Harry’s possession. They were apparently family heirlooms that Sirius had managed to sneak out of the house in his third year and given one to James so they could communicate when they had separate detentions, usually using the time to plan the next great prank. Sirius had matured quite a bit since that time, using the same mirrors to educate his only child and make sure he knew enough to protect himself in the dangerous world they lived in.                              

It had been a close call when Sirius had contacted him after one of his three-hour detentions with Umbridge and had caught sight of the bleeding words etched into the back of his son’s hand. Harry had managed to convince his dad not to storm up to Hogwarts and give that woman a piece of his mind, but it had been a near thing and Harry had seen up close the famous rages the Blacks were capable of.  

The summer before sixth year had passed much the same, only without being face-to-face as Dumbledore had chosen to leave Harry at Number 4 the entire summer, only fetching him through the Weasleys on August 31st to stay the night at the Leaky Cauldron. The communication mirrors had seen a lot of use that summer as Harry’s book knowledge, etiquette and spell pronunciation had gotten a lot of work, his dueling and practical spells falling behind due to being unable to practice. Once he’d started his sixth year at Hogwarts Sirius had once again risked being caught by the Ministry and travelled to Hogwarts grounds every weekend to see his son and help Harry practice his dueling and spellwork. His marks had steadily improved as a result of the teaching, as had his penmanship, Sirius teaching him the finer points no one had bothered to point out in using a quill and parchment.

And then he’d gotten one of his visions of Voldemort’s activities through his much improved Occlumency shields and he’d panicked. After staying quiet almost his entire fifth and most of his sixth year, Voldemort was active again and finally ready to go after the Prophecy. Harry feared the moment the Dark Lord heard the Prophecy and equated it to Neville instead of himself. Neville, his quiet, unassuming friend who was a marvel with plants and all growing things though he’d recently proven to be no slouch with spells either.

Panicky, he’d contacted his dad and when unable to get a hold of him, even through the communication Mirror, he’d made the rash decision to go to the Ministry himself and smash the Prophecy, negating the problem as a smashed Prophecy wouldn’t reform. He’d made up his reasons to Ron and Hermione, not expecting them to go with him as they’d been angry with him for distancing himself over the past two years. To his private dismay, not only had they agreed to go with him, but so had Luna Lovegood, a sweet and eccentric friend since 5th year, but Neville.

Ginny Weasley had come as well, to his private exasperation. The girl was good with spells, she’d been part of the DA the year previously, (no it did not stand for Dumbledore’s Army, no matter what some thought). Harry had been giving her increasingly blatant hints that he wasn’t interested in her, nor women for that matter. She still seemed to think that one day he’d fall madly in love with her and make her Mrs. Ginny Potter, wife of the famous Boy-Who-Defeated. No thank you.

The first part of his reckless mission had gone better than he’d thought. They’d beaten whatever assigned Death Eaters to the unguarded door of the Department of Mysteries, somehow making their way inside to the Prophecy room. The moment they reached the aisle the Prophecy was on; however, they’d been surrounded by Death Eaters. At the point was Bellatrix Black-Lestrange, her husband and his brother conspicuous in their absence. With the crazy woman had been Rowle, MacNair, Crabbe and Goyle Sr. and the incestuous Carrow twins.

Harry had recognized all of them from his dad’s descriptions and their photos in the Daily Prophet, heart sinking steadily. He’d picked up the Prophecy as directed by Bellatrix, noting both his and Neville’s initials on it. Then Ginny had cast a powerful Reducto at a supporting beam, causing a domino effect on several shelves’ worth of Prophecy orbs. Harry and his group had run as fast as possible away from the Death Eaters, avoiding falling orbs and cascading glass shards.

They had come out in what Harry now knew was called the Death Chamber, with an eerie veil shifting in its own breeze under an archway. Harry had taken aim at one of the stone supports of the archway and had pegged the Prophecy, hard. Several Death Eaters had attempted to summon it, only to be blocked by Harry and his fellow students. The Prophecy had hit the archway and shattered, the sight simultaneous with Bellatrix’s enraged, insane scream.

Taking leave of what little sanity she possessed, Bellatrix had thrown a Killing Curse at Harry, which he’d narrowly dodged. Then he’d put all of his dad’s lessons in dueling to the test. He had been holding his own against the deranged witch despite her experience gained with age and the repertoire of dark spells she’d gained over the years. He’d been doing well too, despite being only sixteen. Furious, she’d thrown another Killing Curse, or started to.

His dad had tackled her, hard, from the left side. They’d both crashed to the ground and lost their wands, separating and retrieving them at near the exact same moment, Bellatrix having to cast a hasty Shield Charm against the hex Sirius had shot at her. He’d swiftly gotten to his feet and moved in front of Harry, smiling grimly and telling him he was proud of Harry for holding his own and he’d handle it now.

Harry had still needed to fight, against Alecto Carrow, but after fighting Bellatrix the crazy twin was far from a difficult fight. He’d been able to watch his father in his element, moving as gracefully as if he were dancing as he dodged and weaved Bellatrix’s spells, not perturbed in the slightest by the witch. He’d been doing fine, fighting without a care and Harry had turned away, paying attention to his own fight for a moment or so. He’d looked at his father again at just the right moment, or the wrong one depending on how one looked at it.

Sirius had been distracted for just one moment, but it had been enough. Bellatrix’s red curse had hit him in the chest, tearing open his shirt and opening a deep, fatal gash from shoulder to hip. His father’s face had paled and he’d staggered back a step, now just in front of the sinister looking archway. He’d looked, just for a moment, to Harry. Regret, love, pride had flashed through his grey eyes and then he’d raised his wand and croaked, “Carpe Retractum!”

The non-combative spell had hit Bellatrix and pulled her across the distance to her cousin. Sirius had wrapped an arm around his cousin’s neck to her shriek of rage and fear and had staggered back, falling through the misty curtains. All of this had happened in just a split moment and Harry had screamed and tried to launch himself to his father, only to be stopped by Lupin. Remus had pulled him out of the Chamber, struggling to keep his arms around the distraught teen. In the Atrium he’d been forced to let Harry go, because Voldemort had chosen to show his face finally.

Harry still wasn’t sure how he’d been able to use his Occlumency lessons from his dad aggressively, but the next thing he knew Voldemort had disintegrated in front of a large audience, including a pale, stuttering Cornelius Fudge. The last days of his sixth year had passed in a daze. So far, his summer had been too, aside from one sneaky trip to send a letter to Narcissa Malfoy, as well as a following visit to Hampton Court to meet Narcissa and her husband Lucius. The pair had promised to get him out of the Dursley household, giving him a two-way journal to communicate. Three weeks after his father had died, Harry snapped out of his haze of grief and anger long enough to communicate his desire to enter a Betrothal Contract. After that and his Majority he would be safe to reveal who he really was to the world, as well as the man Dumbledore was.

But really, none of it mattered yet, it was all just what his father had planned ahead for. Harry was going through with it to honor his father and bearer mainly; he still had no reason to care himself other than to finally be out from under Dumbledore’s thumb. He just wished it hadn’t come at such a high price.

He took another deep shuddering breath as with the setting of the sun he felt the presence of two magical beings. The Black family had always been sensitive to the presence of witches and wizards, they could taste magic of a sort. He listened, hearing the front door open and then close quietly. He didn’t even have his Order guards this year, Dumbledore pulling them for whatever reason. With how cold and pragmatic the man was, it was most likely because Harry had done his job and Dumbledore had no need of him anymore. He would have gone to greet his rescuers, but the Dursleys had resumed locking him in his room when out and about after Dumbledore had informed them that his godfather was dead.

Harry stood, waiting as he heard the rattle of the chains on the door followed by the rhythmic clunk as one by one seven padlocks fell to the floor. The door opened to reveal Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, his rescuers and the only reason for his sanity this summer. They looked out of place in the trashy attempt for class that Petunia had always tried to emulate, radiating true class and aristocratic grace. Narcissa’s blue eyes flashed in subdued anger, no doubt from the stark contrast of his room to the rest of the house as well as the way the door had been locked.

“Are you ready to leave, Harrigan?” She asked softly, “We need to make sure we are gone before the people that live here return.”

“They won’t be back for at least another day,” Harry informed her with a wry smile. “I paid the Goblins to send them a very official looking letter to a non-existing Gala for Influential Members of Surrey Society in Shropshire.”

Harry’s smile was just a bit vindictive, enjoying the mental image of the Dursleys being tricked yet again and the money they’d wasted on gas and a hotel as Shropshire was almost 180 miles from Surrey.

Lucius snorted and said, “Definitely your father’s son, both of them would have gotten a kick out of that.”

Harry just gave a slightly closed-off, sad smile at that and said, “My things are downstairs, locked in the cupboard under the front stairway.”

Lucius gave a nod and turned, making his way back down the stairs to retrieve said items. Narcissa gave him a sympathetic smile and closed the distance between them, drawing Harry into a gentle hug. She kissed his forehead and said softly, “Ready to leave these people behind? We have a meeting at Gringotts.”

Harry nodded, assuming it was about the Betrothal Contract. He grimaced slightly at his appearance and said quietly, “Is there a way I can clean up and get into proper clothes before we go to the meeting?”

She smiled and said, “We’ve arranged a room at the Leaky Cauldron for the next half-hour so that you can make yourself presentable. I know you said they liked to deny you basic things, I didn’t quite realize how awful it was. Now that I have, I’m going to have to insist on that visit to a specialized Healer. Magic can fix many things, but only if it’s done in time.”

Harry nodded, not willing to argue with Narcissa. “Who took the Contract? Was it the Lestrange family as you suspected?”

As they walked down the stairs she said, “Yes, it was. It’s the elder son and Heir as proper. Your father wouldn’t have approved of anything less considering you are the Heir yourself to two Houses. Rodolphus Lestrange, tricked by my conniving father Cygnus and his sister Walburga into an unhappy marriage with Bellatrix who was madly in love with the Dark Lord. He does not hold any resentment towards you and if it were not against proper manners would likely have thanked your father for getting rid of her.”

“The Lestranges have also made headway on their own to repairing their public reputation since it is known that neither of Janus Lestrange’s sons were at the Ministry in June. They both also confessed under Veritaserum to not being involved in the torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom,” Lucius commented, easily guessing their conversation.

“Not to mention that the Lestranges are independently wealthy according to my father’s teachings on the Noble Houses, which means they aren’t after my family wealth. I did not anticipate Betrothal and marriage at seventeen, but at least this sounds like it may be the best of a bad situation. Possibly even tolerable if we can come to respect each other. I know I cannot force anyone to love me, but if he can become at least a companion it would be nice,” Harry sighed.

Lucius shook his head and said with a small chuckle, “I forget that under that brash exterior you actually are a young pureblood Heir who has done very well in a crash course of our lifestyle over a short period of time. It’s amazing really how good of actors you and your father are.”

Were. Harry just gave a tight smile and exited Number 4 for the last time, not even turning around as the door closed behind one of the elder Malfoy’s. He stared around at the Muggle neighborhood that had made his childhood hell for a long moment, staring into the flickering gas lamps as if it held his future. Then he gave a soft sigh and turned to Lucius and Narcissa, who held out a small gold chain, clearly a Portkey. He reached out and grasped it, bidding a silent good riddance to the place that had never felt like home and now never would be.

Chapter Text

Rodolphus Lestrange smoothed down his silk robes over dragonhide leather trousers in his family colors, following his sire and brother into Gringotts. The importance of the following meeting could not be understated and he gave a quiet prayer to the Goddess as they approached an open Goblin and Janus said respectfully, “We are here for a meeting with the Malfoys in another half-hour.”

The Goblin nodded and said in a gravelly voice, “We are aware of the meeting.”

He summoned another Goblin to escort them to a beautiful office of etched stone, a mahogany desk the centerpiece as well as a slim table between six chairs. The Lestranges seated themselves at the table on the left side, Janus closest to the desk and Rabastan farthest. Then they waited, knowing that Malfoys were nothing but prompt and would likely be here soon as well, with the young Heir Potter-Black.

Rodolphus Lestrange had spent the rest of yesterday and this morning marveling at the set of circumstances that led to this upcoming meeting. By the Goddess it would have been interesting if Sirius Orion hadn’t died, he would have enjoyed crossing wits with the man who had deceived almost all the Old Blood families for most of his life! Somehow, he had the feeling they would come across more of the late Heir Black’s preparations today, there was no way a man who had prepared as thoroughly as he apparently had would not have made provisions for what he expected to be in his only child’s Contract.

First to enter the room from the Malfoy party was Lucius, dressed in the violet and silver that was the Malfoy family colors. He greeted the trio and sat himself elegantly in the last chair, across from Rabastan. Nonverbally this let the Lestrange trio know that he was here once again as an observer and impartial witness, not a participant. Narcissa was next, dressed once again in the black and silver of her birth family in a split color gown, an amethyst necklace at her throat set in silver the only nod to her married name and status. She sat closest to the desk across from Janus, hands folded in her lap.

The last figure to enter the room caused a sharp inhale of breath from his brother and a faint noise of surprise from his father, Rodolphus not paying attention enough to note whether the sound of surprised appreciation he made actually was noticeable. Goddess the young man across from them was stunning. He had obviously removed the Glamorie James Potter-Black had placed on him by Lily Evans. Muggleborn though she may have been, if she had not died protecting this young man, she would have been a formidable Charms Mistress.

Under Lily Evans’ complicated spellwork was a vision. Harrigan Potter-Black stood at a respectable 5’ 9”, his body lithe but deceptively strong. Slim shoulders were held elegantly straight, his posture looked effortless. His skin had gone the alabaster shade of the Black family, hair darker than a raven’s wing and falling in soft waves to his shoulders. His very slimness and the shape of his chin, mouth and eyes were Potter features, but the high cheekbones, forehead and sharply arched eyebrows were all Black features.

His eyes though. Somehow, they were just as stunning now as they had been with the fake emerald color the same shade as the Killing Curse. Now Harrigan’s dark, thick lashes framed eyes the same rich dark silver as his father Sirius had possessed, with flecks of rich brown and a ring of the same color around his pupils. He no longer wore his glasses, making his eyes seem all the more stunning. He wore black dragonhide trousers tucked into ankle-high boots, a rich silver silk shirt and a closed black silk robe with the Black family crest finely embossed in silver thread. Over this he’d worn a plain black hooded traveling cloak, which he removed and handed off to a house elf that had appeared to take the garment.

He’d paused just a beat in the doorway, eyes flicking through the room as he clearly took in both his surroundings and companions, the motion done with the ease of ingrained instinct. That he’d had to be so wary all his life caused a pang of sympathy in Rodolphus for the teenager in front of them who clearly had not had the chance to really be a child. Satisfied, he walked over, greeted them quietly and slipped smoothly into his seat.

Rodolphus hesitated a moment, wanting to take the young man’s hand into his own for this small conversation, but he didn’t know if it would be welcome. Instead he placed his hand on the table, a respectable distance across the surface and said quietly, “I want to extend my condolences, Heir Potter-Black. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be to you, to lose someone as important as your father a couple of years after relearning about your relationship.”

Harrigan hesitated and then briefly reached out and touched Rodolphus’ hand, the man savoring the brief feel of soft skin. “Thank you, I know coming from you and your family that it is not false platitudes. It has been difficult, but I will carry on, my father expected me to live my life I know.”

Conversation finished, both males sat back, aware of the eyes on them from both sides of the table. Just in time, as the door swung open once more, admitting a finely dressed goblin with a just-shy of obscene amount of gold adornments and curved claws made of iron over the finger that was the equivalent of a human thumb. He made his way to the desk and sat down, stating, “Lord and Lady Malfoy, you called for this private meeting, requiring the official goblin for both the Black and Potter accounts. That would be myself, my name is Ironclaw. What can I do for you today?”

Narcissa spoke up, “We are here today on the behalf of House Potter-Black to draw a Betrothal Contract between my cousin Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, Heir to House Potter and House Black and Rodolphus Janus Lestrange, Heir to House Lestrange.”

Had the goblin been less restrained, Rodolphus reflected wryly, the creature would likely be salivating at the prospect of joining the three listed Houses (and their accounts). Instead near-black eyes widened slightly and he said, “I see. An auspicious occasion indeed. I shall draw a blank Contract if the pair involved wouldn’t mind placing three drops of blood onto these parchments to confirm their names and status.”

Harrigan had clearly been warned that this would be part of the Contract write-up, as he looked calm despite the fact that blood would be involved. As the older of the pair (and the dominant in the Contract), Rodolphus went first, taking the delicate silver dagger his father produced and pressing it to his thumb with a slight twist. He winced slightly at the blade’s bite and dropped the required amount of blood, handing the blade back to his father.

The three drops glowed on the parchment for a few moments before swiftly writing out:

Name: Rodolphus Janus Lestrange
Birth: 5th May, 1960
Father: Janus Aurelius Lestrange
Mother: Ceres Lamia Alagona
Heir to: Most Noble and Ancient House of Lestrange
Status: Pureblood
Relationship status: Widow (Bellatrix Amalthea Black DOD 12th June 1997)

Despite their small conversation and the fact that the woman was dead, Rodolphus could still see the small tightening of the jaw that gave away Harrigan’s anger spotting Bellatrix’s name.

As a result, when he used the small blade Narcissa offered it bit a touch deeper than it needed to, though it drew no reaction whatsoever from his future Promised. Rodolphus frowned inwardly, wondering at his lack of reaction to the pain. Narcissa made a soft sound and healed his finger once he’d dropped the blood onto his own parchment, finishing just as the results began to display.

Name: Harrigan Orion Potter-Black
Father: Sirius Orion Black
Bearer: James Charlus Potter
Heir to: Noble House of Potter, Most Noble and Ancient House of Black
Status: Pureblood
Relationship status: untouched Single

A charming flush warmed high cheekbone as Harrigan’s eyes found the word untouched. He’d clearly not expected it to go into detail. Private amusement warred with aggressive pride at the idea that his soon-to-be Promised was not the type to sleep around, despite his sire’s reported behavior in school. It boded well for their future Bonding and life together.

Meanwhile, Ironclaw had drawn a piece of faintly golden parchment and a silver-tipped quill, putting in the official birth names listed without paying much attention to the small sparks the quill produced. It was the norm for the quills used for official Contracts, after all. Harrigan’s eyes were faintly surprised and curious as he watched the quill flick small sparks.

Once finished writing their names, Ironclaw looked up and said, “As House Black has called the meeting, would their representative please list terms first?”

Narcissa nodded, tapping the table in front of her to produce, via house-elf, a simple silver folder closed with black wax imprinted with the Black family crest. “Amongst my cousins’ paperwork in his private vault was this folder, containing just a few, non-negotiable items to be added to his Heir’s Contract if he was unable to be here himself."

In front of them she broke the wax seal and opened the heavy parchment folder, revealing a single sheet of parchment with neat calligraphic handwriting suited to an Old Blood Heir. At the base in another blob of black wax was the signet of the Black Heir ring next to the signature, bearing little flourish, of one Sirius Orion Black. Rodolphus almost snickered in amusement at the confirmation of his private theory. His father Janus giving a small shake of his head in wry acknowledgement that yes, Sirius Black had known how to plan. Narcissa politely cleared her throat and read in a firm voice,

I, Sirius Orion Black, Heir to House Black, have written this paper of sound mind and body, listing those qualities that I require to be present on any Contract presented to my son and heir, Harrigan Orion Potter-Black. Should I not be present to list these items myself, I require a member of House Black to represent his interests in my stead with this list of non-negotiable requirements.”

“One, my son will retain the titles of both the Noble House of Potter and the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black. Whether he is granted additional titles by his spouse’s House is up to their discretion, but my son has been educated on both of his family lines and they will remain in his possession until he chooses to pass them on to his own offspring.”

“Two, a fidelity clause will be required. I am not accusing any Noble or Most Noble and Ancient House of loose behavior, but my son is far too trusting on occasion and I will not see him betrayed by his spouse. This should not be unexpected to any other House.”

“Three, as my son inherits two Houses and will be marrying into at least one more, a minimum of three children will be required. Should my son and his Bonded be blessed with more that is up to the Goddess, but three is a minimal amount. House Potter has had female Heads in the past, but the Black Line has always passed through the sons. Should my son bear only one or two sons, it is amicable of House Black to remain conjoined in title with House Potter, so long as the new Heir’s spouse take the name as it is now, Potter-Black, not Black-Potter. My Heir Consort submitted to House Black taking foremost position as it is due through sheer age, it will not be modified.”

“Four, upon completion and signing of the Betrothal Contract, my son shall take up the Lordship of House Potter-Black, assigning proxy at his own discretion. The Houses have languished long enough, though the goblins have had their instructions on how to maintain the two accounts. This shall offer him additional protections against the current Supreme Mugwump, Albus Dumbledore, who is no friend of House Potter-Black.”

“Five, once the Betrothal Contract goes into effect the Bonding between my son and his Promised shall take place no later than seven months after. I do not place any timeline upon the birth of the first Heir, wizards do not dictate when the Goddess chooses to bless a line.”

“Thus have been listed the non-negotiable parts of my son’s Betrothal Contract on his behalf. I list these as Sirius Orion Black, Heir to the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, Officiator of the Noble House of Potter and sire to the listed Heir, Harrigan Orion Potter-Black.”

“Signed into effect at Gringotts Wizarding Bank, London Branch, 1st August 1996, by Sirius Orion Black, Heir to the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black and Officiator of the Noble House of Potter.”

While listening carefully to the words written by the late Heir Black, Rodolphus was watching the current Heir’s reactions to his father’s words. He had opened his mouth briefly to protest the necessity of the fidelity clause, only to blush slightly at his father’s slight chastising that followed. That blush had deepened prettily as it had gone on to list a minimum of three children, unique eyes dropping to the table to avoid catching anyone’s gaze.

His father Janus sighed and smiled, catching Harrigan’s eyes and saying ruefully, “Your father clearly knew how to catch people off guard, as well as plan!”

Turning to Narcissa he said, “All of the late Heir Lord Black’s requirements are more than reasonable and shall be listed verbatim on the Contract as approved by House Lestrange. We have only a few of our own to add to those already listed.”

At her elegant nod he said, “The Most Noble and Ancient House Lestrange offers the use of our solicitor to take control of what the media has the right to print about Heir Lord Potter-Black, we have noticed that the media has had far to free a range to talk about the Heir Lord. House Lestrange requires at least two public joint appearances per six months for the sake of improving the images of both House Lestrange and House Potter-Black. While not required, House Lestrange does request communication on political agendas and campaigns intended by House Potter-Black as to avoid coming into contention with their Bonded House. House Lestrange requires shared bedchambers for the Bonded pair for the first two years, after which split rooms can be discussed.”

“All perfectly understandable and reasonable requests by the Noble and Ancient House of Lestrange,” Narcissa nodded. “As was done with House Potter-Black, list them verbatim as a sign of our agreement.”

Ironclaw finished scripting the two House’s requirements (three actually) and said, “All that is left now to make this official is the two Promised signatures, performed with a blood quill as witnessed by Rabastan Aurelius Lestrange and Lord Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, Lord to the Ancient and Noble House of Malfoy.”

Harrigan gave a distinct grimace at the sight of the Blood Quill, otherwise showing no reaction whatsoever. Rodolphus signed, ignoring the faint sting on the back of his hand as he did so. He passed the quill politely to Harrigan as well as the contract, the teen signing the parchment with every evidence of distaste for the unique Quill evident on his face. He then spun the parchment so the signatures faced the goblin and slid it lightly across the table.

At the nod from Ironclaw Janus produced a small jeweler’s box, handing it to his eldest. Having guessed where this was leading, Harrigan had extended his left hand, resting his wrist and the tips of his fingers in near the exact middle of the table. His fingers were long and slim, nails short and clean. Taking a steadying breath, Rodolphus opened the box and removed the ring with their family crest, sliding it carefully onto Harrigan’s fourth finger. As soon as the ring rested in place and resized to fit his finger, the Betrothal Contract flashed bright gold and sealed itself, a gold wax seal of Gringotts in the middle.

It was done. Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, hidden Heir to two Noble Houses, was now his Promised.

What a day it has been already, Rodolphus reflected.

*

Harry took the items he’d retrieved from his trunk and slipped into a pair of sandals, heading down the main staircase of Malfoy Manor. It had been a long day, after the meeting with the Lestranges he’d taken control of his two titles. He had named Lucius Malfoy as temporary proxy to both House Black and House Potter until it was safe for him to come out as the very young Lord of two Houses. With the information that had been gathered by his father and organized by a team of solicitors Dumbledore would be losing his title as Supreme Mugwump very soon. Harry had vowed to be there on that day to see the look in the man’s eyes as he realized how badly he had underestimated Sirius Orion Black.

He took a deep, calming breath, exiting the staircase and heading for the huge double glass doors that opened onto the gardens. Narcissa and Lucius were still up, he noted with little surprise. Narcissa was studying the social pages of today’s Prophet and Lucius reading some folio or other with a pair of silver reading glasses perched on his nose. The sight of Lucius Malfoy with reading glasses was vaguely amusing, the man admitting that he needed them more and more often with the tiny print on his business paperwork.

Draco had, thankfully, retired to his quarters. He had not initially taken Harry’s revealed heritage or position well; Harry had made sure he was armed whenever around the other teen. He had thawed somewhat, a reaction to Harry looking up and using a formal apology from a Pureblood etiquette pamphlet he’d been given by his father. While Draco’s initial introduction in first year had left much to be desired, Harry’s response very well could have initiated a blood feud.

It was what had happened between the Weasley family and the Malfoys. Almost a hundred years ago a Weasley daughter had broken off her betrothal to a Malfoy second son and had run away with a Muggle man. The second son had been left literally at the altar by his bride, the incident as well as the Weasley position of defending the wayward girl had invoked a blood feud. Their continuing refusal to disown the girl as well as their open hatred for their own culture and beliefs had led most of the Old Blood to declare them blood traitors.

The Black family had not intermarried with the Malfoys before a besotted Lucius had sought Narcissa’s hand and betrothal, but they were a proud family and the Weasley’s behavior had been repugnant. To the day he had died Sirius had not been very fond of most the Weasley family. The only members he’d treated with some respect were those that had tried to repair their family’s standing, not that they could without Old Blood help.

The Weasley family magics had been dying out as a result. Muggle-loving Arthur would deny it to his dying breath, but his family’s defiance was going to cost them their magic and their name if they kept it up. Bill, Charlie and the Twins had decent cores, but the rest were dismal compared to children their age. Ron and Ginevra were smarter about it than the rest, conserving their magics and relying more on stealth and cunning. Ron was a brilliant strategist and an average wizard, if he could put his cunning mind to the problem, he would no doubt come into his own.

Harry’s internal musings on the Weasley family and the intricacies of pureblood culture had carried him to the glass doors. He opened one of them, stepping out onto the patio. It was a late July evening, the weather balmy for England and the skies brilliantly clear. Harry turned to close the patio door to find Narcissa already there, stepping through and closing the door behind her. She stared out at the gardens; eyes distant. After a moment’s contemplation she turned to Harry, blue eyes clear and bright.

“Would you like me to accompany you, Harrigan?”

“Not tonight, cousin,” he said softly, politely. “Thank you for the offer though, I appreciate it. Thank you for offering me the location I needed.”

“Of course,” she answered, a sad smile curving her lips. A little older than his father, Narcissa was still a strikingly beautiful woman. She was so unlike her two sisters that it made Harry marvel sometimes. Pale where her sisters were golden, icy blonde hair a rich contrast to their deep black.

“Perhaps the anniversary?” She ventured; tone hesitant. From such a strong woman it gave him pause, making him feel slightly guilty. Sirius was after all her cousin and they had been close after a sort when younger.

“I would be glad for your company then,” he answered. She smiled in response and then said, “Good evening, Harrigan.”

“Good evening, Narcissa. Pleasant dreams.”

Conversation complete, Harry turned to the patio stairs and descended them rapidly, walking at a steady pace out into the gardens. Pausing as the dark of the trees wrapped around him, he flicked his wand and conjured a small glowing orb of light that bobbed just ahead of him, shining faintly blue in the night. The light glinted off the two rings on his right hand. The Potter signet of yellow gold with an emerald inset with the Potter crest of a leaping stag on his fourth finger matched well with the Black signet on his second finger.

The ring his father had never worn was made of polished titanium, with small princess cut diamonds surrounding an oval onyx the size of his thumb with a filigree letter ‘B’ embossed on the stone. Cut into the inside of the band in a manner that meant Harry could feel it against his skin was the motto ‘Toujours Pur’. Always Pure, the Blacks. To a slightly obsessive and incestuous point at times. His father had admitted more than once that he preferred the Potter’s simple ‘Loyalty, Honor, Bravery’.

Then there was the one he’d been staring at the most recently. The betrothal/engagement ring on his left hand gifted by House Lestrange. It was made of white gold with a yin-yang symbol made up of a sapphire and topaz, the family’s colors being peacock blue and bronze. A single larger diamond sprouted from the middle of the symbol and the delicate band rested easily on his finger, weighing far less than the signets for all it’s weight in his recent thoughts. He’d stared at the ring for a long time, reflecting on the Lestrange Family Motto, ‘Toujours Fidele’ or ‘Always Faithful’. Faithful to what was the question that rang strongest in his mind.

His steady, slow pace brought Harry through the trees to a small clearing. His breath caught in surprise at the perfection of the place Narcissa had suggested. It was a small clearing, open to the moon and stars with a small clear pond. Flowers bloomed in small pots or raised beds the like of which Harry had never seen before in his life. A permanent circle in silver was etched into the grass, surrounding the small pond and a generous portion of the flowers and grass around it. It was perfect.

The very last place he’d wanted to hold his father’s dedication ritual had been Surrey, or Grimmauld Place. He’d wanted to do it in a place of magic, an open place free of boundaries and restrictions that would appeal to his father’s wild spirit. He hadn’t been able to do it at Hogwarts, no one knew that Sirius was his father and he’d been hiding still. Not to mention that at that stage he’d still be lost in numb grief and furious self-deprecation.

Surrey was just no; in any case he’d been confined to his room in Number 4 since Dumbledore had dropped him off and let the Dursleys know his godfather had passed away. On purpose, no doubt. He knew the only reason why the Dursleys had left him alone after third year was the threat of an escaped convict lingering over their heads. Harry shook himself; he was free of that place and soon to be free of all Dumbledore’s manipulations.

He kicked off his sandals and stepped into the circle with just his wand and the tall dark silver pillar candle he’d been carrying the entire time. Dressed in a simple dark silver robe with nothing else on him other than his rings, he made his way to the small pond and set the candle onto a large flat stone placed in front of the water. There was evidence of melted wax from many other candles over the years, in many colors and shades.

Silver for mourning, white for blessing, red for love/marriage, green for fertility, black for initiations. Color had far more impact on ritual Wizarding life than many knew. Harry stared at the silver candle in front of him, square with runes for grief, life, death and release carved along the edges and his father’s name in runes on each side. Narcissa had commissioned it for him at the same time as her own, understanding that Harry would be unable to purchase the specialized candle.

He lit the candle with a whispered spell and then set his wand on the rock as well, folding his hands in his lap and sitting still on his knees. He closed his eyes and reached into his magical core, letting his magic flow outward and touch the silver ring. Eyes closed still, he felt the moment the magic touched the ring and it flared with light and power. Harry took a deep breath and began to speak.

“Goddess, I come before you as a child with your gift of magic, open to your direction and guidance. Please grace me with your presence as I celebrate one who loved you as a Mother, one whom has been taken from this plane of existence and now belongs wholly to you again. Blessed be.”

Harry took a deep breath, swallowing back the lump of emotion in his throat. “Sirius Orion Black was a son of the Goddess, a believer tried and true his entire life. He had a wild spirit and heart but was fiercely loyal and loved without hesitation or reservation. He was a Father as well, beloved and treasured more than he ever realized."

Harry swallowed again, tears gathering in his closed eyes. “Dad, I’m sorry. The guilt I feel for your death weighs heavy on my heart and soul even now, even as I know you are safe with the goddess and my bearer James. You were a constant presence in my life for four years and while we both regretted not having more time together, I know we both cherished what we had. I will do my best to uphold our Family, both of them. I love you, Dad.”

He knelt in silence for what could have been easily a few moments or a few hours, reflecting on the time he had been given with his father. Memories flashed before his eyes, both of them serious and concentrating on one of his lessons. Sirius roaring with laughter as Harry described some of the twins’ antics during school. Waking from one of his horrible visions before he’d learned Occlumency to the sensation of being held, comforted. The raging protectiveness in his father’s eyes and face when he’d seen the words Umbridge had made him carve into his skin. The gentle love and potent grief on his face as he described James to their son, reminiscing about the Potter’s and how welcoming they had always been.

Into the perfectly still night a sudden breeze kicked up, tickling Harry’s skin and whispering through his hair. Harry was suddenly drenched in the presence of his father’s magic, gasping in surprise at the weight of it. It was all sensation, love, pride, forgiveness. Just as it had come the magic left without a trace, only a faint sound that reminded Harry of his father’s warm laughter. Harry opened his eyes, feeling bereft. The candle had blown itself out, reduced to a small square of silver wax.

Harry stood slowly, cautious of the pins and needles feeling in his legs that implied he’d been kneeling for some time. He picked up his wand and the small square of wax, flipping it over. On the bottom of the candle was his father’s name in elegant calligraphy and the Black Family Crest. He would save this part of the candle, putting it away with the one he and Sirius had done for James one summer night.

Harry slipped into his sandals and padded his way back to the Manor, shivering a little in the cool night air. Once back on the patio he turned, eyes tilting back to stare into the night sky. He found the constellation of Orion with ease and then the smaller, brilliant star that was his father’s namesake.

“Good night, Dad.”

With a small smile on his face and the first inklings of peace and hope in his heart, he let himself in through the glass doors and made his way to his bed. He may be on his own far sooner than he had hoped, but at least he now knew his father was at peace.

Chapter Text

 

Harry rose slowly, sleep lingering in his body and mind. At the reminder of what was going to happen today he smiled grimly. Today he was going to go into the public eye for the first time since putting aside the glamours and secrecy that had been his life for the past two years. It was time for the yearly shopping trip in Diagon Alley, the last one where he would be a student. As much as he was looking forward to his seventh year, it was a sad fact that he was looking forward to the end of it more than anything.

He had become disillusioned to the magic of Hogwarts over the years, his gaze steeped in the bitter truth of the school. It had long since stopped being one of the premier schools of magic, now it was an old man’s playground to meddle with and shape future generations according to his ideals. As long as Albus Dumbledore remained Headmaster of Hogwarts, the school was going to continue degrading.

Now that he knew the truth of Albus’ multi-faceted meddling, Harry wasn’t surprised to learn how far magical Britain had fallen in the eyes of the international community. With a twinkly-eyed old man in his garish robes and patronizing behavior as their representative, Harry was surprised some of the other countries hadn’t declared outright war or boycotts against them.

Compared to Britain’s illustrious past under the guidance of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, they were the international court’s jester. As an outsider looking in, Harry hadn’t understood the actions and conduct of the Old Blood, seeing it as superior prejudice and arrogance. He had been so blind. Educated by his father in wizarding history, he now knew why the Old Blood reacted the way they did to Muggleborns who entered their world and promptly ignored all of its rules and history.

They accepted the magic easily enough, it made them special. But the traditions, culture and responsibility that came with it? Pfft. Those raised with magic being a part of everyday life were called backwards, prejudiced, lazy. Granted there were ways the wizarding world could move forward, even replacing quills with fountain pens would be a small enough thing. But thanking magic for Her gift? Celebrating the traditional holidays? Those who had no previous understanding of magic came into their world and spat Dark Arts with pointed fingers.

There were exceptions of course, some Muggleborns came into this world with open eyes and an open heart, willing to listen. Lily Evans had been one such witch. Raised in a very traditional muggle home, she had entered the magical world with wide-eyed wonder, taking in everything that she saw with amazed, thrilled eyes. At Hogwarts she’d befriended two traditionally raised witches, Alice Maddox and Marlene McKinnon. The two girls had introduced wizarding tradition to her in their second year.

Initially Lily hadn’t taken it well, shocked that the two girls she shared a dorm with were pagan basically. Marlene had taken Lily’s hands in hers and said a very basic Blessing, welcoming Lily to magic. According to the journals Lily had left behind, the presence of Her had been shocking to the young witch. The undeniable presence of something old, something sentient had shocked her into silence.

She’d studied magic after that encounter with a tenacity that had shocked her friends, diving into old texts that covered magical faith and history with relish. A constant companion in the library with her had been shy, quiet Remus Lupin. Remus had confused Lily, he was smart and witty, doing well in all of his classes. Yet he was completely self-effacing and reclusive, seemingly dragged into mischievous chaos by his friends, Sirius Black and James Potter.

Lily had recounted each and every one of James Potter’s initial attempts to ask her out with a sort of exasperated amusement, noting how much her other friend ‘Sev’ appeared to dislike Potter’s behavior. The revelation that Severus Snape had been Lily’s childhood friend and likely had wanted to be more than her friend suddenly made the man’s behavior toward Harry blatantly obvious. He resented Harry for being the child another man had with the woman he’d desired, or so he thought.

Eventually, late sixth year Lily and James had begun dating. It was weird reading her journals with the hindsight that she hadn’t ended up with James, wondering at his father’s thoughts through all of this. They had parted amicably in the middle of their seventh year, deciding they were better off friends. Reading Lily’s thoughts and day to day life, Harry had been almost convinced that she had a crush on Remus, she mentioned him a lot.

He’d confirmed it sometime after their graduation, when Lily mentioned off-hand that she was going to dinner with Remus. Harry had marveled at how open-minded Lily had been, reading about how his dads had admitted their relationship to Remus and Lily somewhere in their late teens by the date. It had surprised her, but she had remarked in her journals with a maturity beyond her years that sexuality wasn’t something that could be controlled and she was glad they had found love.

She had been present at their Old Ways bonding, remarking on how stunning it had been to see one of the more intimate ceremonies done according to tradition. Reading third-hand about their announcement of James’ pregnancy with him and his father’s forward-minded planning was a strange experience, but Harry was glad she had documented everything so thoroughly. She had described them falsifying records that she had married James in secret to cover his birth, then with a quiet sort of awe describing meeting a newborn Harry and how happy his parents had been. Remus had apparently cried when his friends asked him to be their son’s godfather, exceptionally touched.

Her journal entries had cut off abruptly just after his first birthday, Harry realizing that it was likely because his parents had gone into hiding at that time and she had put her journals into the vault his father had opened. Harry couldn’t imagine the rest of her life, the cautious hope that everything would be okay and she and Remus could resume what had sounded like a very loving relationship based on mutual respect. He couldn’t imagine the pain one Samhain had wrought upon his father and Remus; the two survivors left of what had been a close-knit group.

As much as Harry knew he wanted to help Remus remember if he could, he could also privately admit that perhaps it was a bit selfish, because remembering Harry for who he was would also mean remembering what the man had and had lost with Lily Evans. The subconscious pain he was probably in was no doubt suffocating. It made Harry incredibly furious, remembering Severus’ snide, hateful behavior towards Remus in his third year. He was pathetic, holding a grudge against a man who couldn’t even remember why.

Someday, perhaps someday soon, Harry was going to stand face to face with Severus Snape and tell him how he felt about the man’s behavior. He was going to throw the man’s bitter grudges and childish sulking in his face, he was going to break him. It was nothing less than he deserved.

Harry’s ruthlessness would have surprised many of his fellow Gryffindors, but those that knew him best… Ron had commented quietly to Harry after the Second Task that he had been surprised to be chosen as Harry’s hostage. When Harry had asked him in curious, injured indignation why, Ron’s reply had surprised him. “I remember how you were when you thought Sirius had actually betrayed your parents. Hermione many not agree with me, but I know you would have killed him. There’s a reason why you were almost sorted into Slytherin, Harry.

Harry had been surprised by Ron’s insight and just a bit wary. After all, he’d just gotten past being on edge with Ron after his betrayal, he still wasn’t entirely trusting him again. “Why aren’t you throwing a fit about me being like a ‘dirty snake’ then? I know how much you hate Slytherin.”

“Because I’m not stupid, if I betray you again, I’ll never get the chance to make it up to you. I’m not about to do the same thing in a couple of months. And maybe I’m ready to admit that Slytherins aren’t all that bad. You don’t think a sixth son gets anywhere in life without a little ambition, right? Besides, I picked you as a friend before I knew you were a shot for Slytherin, I’m not turning my back on you now.

Because of this Harry had hope that his real parentage wouldn’t be such a bad thing to Ron, nor would his attempts to connect to his father’s culture. His marriage? That would take some smoothing over most likely. Harry had requested to Floo into Diagon Alley alone, a little ahead of when the Malfoys would be arriving. He wanted the chance to speak to Ron and Hermione before they began their shopping.

He dressed in crisp black slacks and a deep red sleeveless shirt under an open black robe, making sure his attire was suitable and his hygienic needs taken care of before heading downstairs. With a nervous breath he cast a temporary glamour so he looked like ‘Harry Potter’ before picking up some Floo Powder and saying crisply, “Leaky Cauldron, London!”

He kept his eyes open, taking a step forward as soon as his feet hit the exit grate, staying on his feet with just a bobble. Flooing was still one of the methods of wizarding travel he liked least, but at least now he could stay on his feet. He’d practiced it a few times with Sirius, his father getting a laugh out of his horrible sense of balance when he wasn’t flying. At least until he’d learned there was a medical reason for it, then Sirius had been angry to say the least.

Pushing aside past memories for the moment, Harry looked around the pub as he exited, quickly finding Ron’s ginger hair. He’d gotten even taller over the summer somehow, the top of Harry’s un-glamoured height of 5’9” would reach his shoulders maybe. Honestly though, with the way Ron gorged down food at every meal he wasn’t surprised. Despite all he ate, he never gained so much as a stone, all of his food fueling his rapid height-gain and the beginnings of muscle-mass.

Hermione had matured over the years as well, her bushy hair settling down to merely curly and her warm brown eyes gaining a honey shade. She was a fairly attractive young witch, Harry knew there were probably many more open-minded half-bloods and purebloods that would be interested in a marriage contract with her, especially when paired with her incredible intelligence and thirst for knowledge.

“Harry!” Ron exclaimed, “You finally got here, we’ve been waiting.”

Harry gave his friend a hug and said, “Nice to see you too, Ron.”

Hermione’s eyes were a bit closed-off and she said tightly, “Where have you been, Harry?”

“I’m sorry I’m a bit late, it took a moment to get here,” Harry replied, cautious.

“I mean all summer, Harry. Dumbledore got a really angry letter from your uncle, it said you had tricked them into driving all the way to Shropshire for nothing and when they got back you were gone. It’s been two weeks since then, where have you been?”

“I wasn’t aware that Dumbledore had any control on me during the summers, Hermione,” Harry said evenly, fighting back anger at the man’s name. “He’s just the Headmaster when we’re in school. I’m seventeen, an adult by wizarding standards. Besides, two weeks is hardly all summer.”

Ron snorted. “So you’re not denying sending the Dursleys to Shropshire for some celebratory gala?”

“Paid the goblins to make it look official,” Harry said off-handedly, making Ron burst into roaring guffaws of laughter.

Hermione looked incredibly disapproving. Harry was fighting a growing feeling of dread; he had worried something like this would happen. Despite everything they had been through in the past six years, Hermione still thought that the sun rose and fell at Dumbledore’s command. Harry could feel her sliding through his grasp more with every word he said.

“Dumbledore’s not just the Headmaster,” she answered, once Ron had begun to calm down. “He’s also head of the Order of the Phoenix and as such—”

“Has no control over me, nor either of you since we haven’t been allowed to join the Order,” Harry interrupted.

Hermione’s eyes narrowed. “Since when did you care about your appearance?”

“What?”

“Your clothes,” she said bluntly. “They look expensive, not to mention well-coordinated and you’re wearing traditional wizarding attire outside of school. I mean a robe, Harry? One that has a Twilfit and Tatting’s logo on the inside of the left edge of the collar?”

“What are you on about Hermione? Is it against the rules for Harry to buy himself some new clothes? I mean he’s a skinny shrimp but he had to grow eventually,” Ron teased Harry, earning a huffy laugh from Harry.

“What’s with the interrogation, Hermione? I’m heir to a pureblood family and I’ve got money in my trust vault that’s meant for me to use, so why not use it? Also I don’t like how every retort you’ve given me so far starts with ‘Dumbledore’. After all he’s put us through maybe I don’t trust him as blindly as you seem to.”

“You never cared about being a pureblood heir before, Harry. Besides it makes you a hypocrite, you’re a half-blood. All of this backwards nonsense doesn’t suit you,” Hermione huffed.

“Hey now,” Ron frowned, staring at Hermione. “What are you implying? Besides, you seem to forget that I’m a pureblood and you’ve happily been hanging out with me for the last six years. I know my family is far from the best off or the most highly regarded, but we still care about our blood and our heritage.”

Hermione flushed. “You’ve never cared about it before, Ron. I mean, purebloods are all stuffy and posh in their manners and can practically recite spells by the time they get to Hogwarts. Your manners are atrocious and you didn’t know a thing about magic when I met you. I mean, you thought that joke Fred and George gave you was a real spell!”

“So because I’m a bit lax with table manners and don’t know as much as you I’m not a proper Pureblood? That’s more than a bit insulting, Hermione. I don’t judge you based on your inability to use makeup and control your hair,” Ron responded, making her turn red.

“That’s not what I mean,” she hissed. “I was just giving examples. I mean, you are friends with me, for Pete’s sake.”

Harry frowned, eyes narrowing. “So you’re saying that if Ron was a proper Pureblood he wouldn’t have been friends with you for the past six years? You think all Old Blood believe that Muggleborns are bad? That’s about as prejudiced as anything I’ve heard the Slytherins spout over the years.”

Hermione’s smile was triumphant, vindicated. “Old Blood? Where did that come from, Harry? You’ve never referred to Purebloods as Old Blood before.”

Harry resisted the urge the close his eyes, mentally berating himself. With a sigh he braced himself, saying, “My dad.”

Hermione looked confused, as did Ron. Hermione hissed, “James Potter? He’s dead Harry, you have no way of communicating with him.”

“I’m well aware of that Hermione, thank you,” Harry said sharply. “Besides, I didn’t mean James Potter, I meant Sirius Black.”

“Sirius is your godfather, Harry,” Hermione rolled her eyes. “Besides, he’s dead as well.”

Harry resisted the urge to clench his hands into fists and said coldly, “I’m well aware he was murdered, Hermione, I was there. And just because you don’t know all the facts doesn’t mean you can disrespect him to me. As it turns out, Sirius Black is my father, James Potter was the one who bore me. Lily Evans was my godmother, she agreed to a fake marriage to James to protect me.”

As Ron practically gaped at Harry, Hermione scoffed. “I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but they’re touched in the head and so are you. Dumbledore said your parents were married and Lily Evans was your mother, which is why she sacrificed her life for yours. And basic biology dictates men can’t have kids.”

“You’re being really rude, Hermione,” Ron frowned. “Plus you’re actually wrong. Men can have kids in the magical world, it’s why we don’t have any problems with homosexual relationships. I think I have a relative somewhere in my ancestry that was gay, he’s like my third-removed uncle or something.”

Hermione looked aghast. She turned to Harry and demanded, “Who did you talk to that told you this? Some Death Eater? Who has turned you against us over one summer?”

Harry let his anger seep into his voice, “Sirius did, actually. I’ve been learning about my family for the past two years, since I first arrived at Grimmauld Place after fourth year. I’d think you’d be happy for me, Hermione, I had a parent that I could actually talk to for a while. I’m a pureblood, Lily Evans is not my mother. My name is Harrigan Orion Black, I was put under a glamour to protect me from people that would hurt me.”

He took his wand out and flicked it, more of a jerk since he was angry with Hermione. The expressions on their faces were amusing, really. Especially at the change in his eyes, the dark rich grey of Sirius’ combining with flecks of James’ gold-brown. He tucked some of his tamer locks behind his ear, realizing as Hermione’s eyes narrowed on his hands that he’d accidentally revealed his rings. Crap.

“What are those?” She demanded.

“Lordship rings,” Harry answered coolly, “for the Noble House of Potter and the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black. I am Lord Potter-Black, after all.”

Hermione’s eyes had narrowed onto his left hand though and the betrothal/engagement ring on that finger.

“That’s the finger an engagement ring goes on,” she said huffily. “You might want to remove it; it gives people the wrong impression.”

“As that is a betrothal ring, it’s in the right spot then,” Harry said, sounding sarcastic.

“You’re not betrothed,” Hermione demanded, “that’s Pureblood crap hardly anyone follows anymore. Besides, Dumbledore didn’t sign off on one, certainly not one where it implies you’re the bride.

Harry’s hands clenched in anger, his magic leaking out from under his tight control. Eyes going cold and voice hard, he said, “I am betrothed, to another man no less as I happen to be gay. I am a Pureblood and I follow many of our traditions by choice, something you don’t seem to understand. More than that, Hermione, Sirius is my father and Dumbledore has nothing to do with my life and happiness. The official term for a male spouse, by the way, is Consort Lord, not a bride.”

“I don’t like what you’re becoming, Harry,” Hermione spat. “What you have become over one summer. Next thing you’re going to do is tell me you’re marrying a Death Eater. You’ve gone Dark.

A closed-off, sad expression crossed Harry’s face. He stepped back, away from Hermione and said, “Mother Magic, bind this woman’s tongue to the facts I have told her today. Keep her from giving the word by any means from those that would do me harm. I ask this as a Child of Magic. So mote it be.”

A swirl of magic curled in front of the trio, in front of a rapidly retreating Hermione. Before she could react, it struck her in the chest and she gasped, glaring at Harry.

“Goodbye Hermione Jean Granger,” Harry whispered, a tear tracking down his face. “I’m sorry it came to this, I had hoped after six years of friendship you would choose me, not the Headmaster. Have a good life, but you are no longer my friend.”

Hermione glared at Harry and Ron, anger in her eyes. When Ron remained standing next to Harry, she swirled on her heel and ran back out the door onto Charing Cross Road. Harry let out a shaky breath and turned to Ron, his face guarded. The confrontation with Hermione had hurt, he didn’t want to have to do it again.

“Who’d have thought that Hermione would be so closed-minded? It’s weird, I know I’m not as smart as her but I can’t connect the jump from you having Sirius and James as parents and being a pureblood to suddenly being Dark. She’s bloody insane,” Ron said.

Seeing the open, relaxed and friendly expression on Ron’s face gave Harry more relief than he cared to admit. “This wasn’t how I wanted to tell you about my parents and everything,” he said.

“I guessed not,” Ron said. “That’s insane, Sirius was your dad? Why’d you hide it?”

Taking a deep breath, Harry said, “Let me tell you something about Dumbledore…”        

Chapter Text

 

Talking with Ron had gone better than Harry could have ever hoped. He hadn’t revealed everything, his betrothal to Rodolphus Lestrange for one, but what he had revealed had gone fairly well. Ron, Fred, George and Bill had been taking steps over the past couple of years trying to repair the Weasley name in the eyes of the Old Blood. When they had finally found out why there was such intense hate and loathing between the Malfoy’s and the Weasley’s, they had been shocked. After the shock had worn off, they were absolutely disgusted. A great deal of the Old Blood were married in arranged marriages, some didn’t go well and ended in mutual separation. Those that actually tried to make it work often ended up doing well, lasting far longer than ones based on a fickle emotion like love or more likely lust.

The fact that the Weasley family had stood behind Seraphina Weasley and supported her marriage to a boy who professed love over a well-matched setting like Aurelius Malfoy, well it made the Malfoy’s point of view suddenly far more understandable. They had been doing their best to repair the family’s name and reputation, but it was far too damaged. With Harry’s new knowledge of the situation and his father’s teachings, he planned to advise them to take steps to leave the name Weasley behind, perhaps appealing to the Prewetts.

After shopping for his school supplies Harry had gone back to Malfoy Manor to drop them off and have lunch with the Malfoys, ignoring Draco’s frigid behavior. Now he was back in Diagon, waiting. He was tense, this upcoming meeting was far more important to him than even meeting with Ron. He was meeting Remus and Andromeda at Gringotts, hoping that Goblin magic would undo the bonds on their memories. He felt selfish, especially with Remus’ relationship with Lily, but he wanted his godparents to remember him.

Especially after losing his dad. It had been painful before, yes, but his father’s presence mitigated the hurt of being seen but not recognized by those his parents had entrusted him to. Now that his father was gone, he wanted them back. He wanted someone else that knew his grief, someone who knew his dad and could tell him stories about him. There was so much of his father’s life he didn’t know. What had he been like as an eleven-year-old boy, attending Hogwarts the first time? Or as a teenager, pulling pranks on fellow students and teachers alike?

And Andromeda had known him growing up, she’d known him far longer than Remus. What had he been like as a child, growing up in the House of Black? What had his grandsire been like, or goddess forbid, his granddam? He didn’t think Walburga had changed much over the years, but you never know. Or his uncle, Regulus, who had died at nineteen?

He wanted to know, he wanted to share. That’s ultimately why he was here, really. He wanted to experience what it was like to have a family who loved him without reservations. He’d had stolen glimpses of it with his father, moments that he held close and treasured when things got rough, but he wanted more.

“Harry?” A low, warm voice said. He looked up, once again wearing his glamour. Remus stood in front of him, warm amber eyes concerned and relieved to see him. “How are you, we’ve been worried?”

“I’m fine Remus,” Harry said, smiling. “Really. I wanted to see you, that’s why I had Ron ask you to meet me here. There’s something I wanted to talk to you about actually, that’s why we’re meeting here,” he gestured to their surroundings, the massive marble lobby of Gringotts.

He stood. “Andromeda Tonks is waiting for us,” Harry explained, walking forward.

He passed the goblins, turning left. He entered the second office to the right, smiling at Andromeda. “I hope you haven’t been waiting long,” Harry said, “I was making sure Remus found us, this place is a bit of a maze.”

The woman smiled at him. She was much prettier than her late sister Bellatrix, her hair fell in organized waves and not a tangled, curly mess. Her eyes weren’t as heavily-lidded nor as dark, her smile warm. She reminded him in small, fundamental ways of his father so much his heart temporarily seized in agony. He took a deep breath and said to them both, “I’m glad you came. There’s a reason why we are in Gringotts you see. The Goblin Nation has some of the best people in ritual magics and undoing damage caused by wizards. I know it’s hard to believe, but both of you have had your minds messed with, rather extensively.”

Both looked surprised, but it was Andromeda who spoke up first, voice sharp. “I don’t know where you got your information from, young man, but that’s very unlikely. I’m not only a trained Healer but a Black, we’re drummed in how to protect our minds extensively from childhood.”

Harry ignored her sharp voice and tone towards him. He knew she had no idea who he was, he wouldn’t hold it against her. Still, seeing the suspicion in the eyes of a woman who could have raised him did hurt a bit. Instead he took a calming breath and said logically,

“I know, it’s also unlikely because Remus is a werewolf, his Alpha would be throwing fits at the idea of someone messing with his mind. But there is this, Andromeda, both of you know who I am, not just Harry James Potter. Both of you know me far better, more extensively. And why would I say something like this without knowing it to be true?”

“Harry, I don’t know what you mean, but I trust you. If it is as you say and there’s something I’m missing, I want to know,” Remus’ warm amber eyes locked on Harry’s, truth radiating from him.

“I don’t know how what you speak of could be possible, but I’ll agree to it as well. It won’t harm us if there’s nothing to remove, will it?” Andromeda flicked sharp eyes at the waiting goblin.

“No, nothing the Goblin Nation does is permanently harmful. This is benign if there is nothing to remove.”

Both Andromeda and Remus were directed to sit in chairs surrounded by a runic circle. The goblin gave them both something to drink and then began to chant in their native language, phrases falling swiftly from his tongue. The runes briefly lit up and then there was a flash of blinding light and both Andromeda and Remus cried out, before falling unconscious.

Harry freed his wand from the holster on his arm and directed them both to a pair of couches, then turned to the goblin. “They are unharmed?”

“They are,” the goblin confirmed. “The blocks removed were extensive, that’s why they passed out. They should be fine, expect them both to wake in a few minutes at the most. There are headache potions and pain potions for them both, included in the cost of the ritual.”

“My thanks, may the rest of your day be profitable.”

“And yours,” the goblin bowed and then left the office.

Andromeda stirred first, waking with a groan. She sat up, taking the potions Harry proffered with his explanations as to what they were. She looked at him, likely to berate him and gasped. He had taken his glamour down, revealing his birth features to them both. The sight of him apparently unlocked the memories for Andromeda, she rocked forward and whispered, “Sirius.”

Harry swallowed softly, understanding her pain. That was her cousin, she’d seen his wedding and been the one to take care of James through his pregnancy and the delivery of Harry. She’d seen so much of her cousin’s life, only to have it locked away. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “Harrigan? Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry.”

He smiled, shakily. “It’s okay, Aunt. I mean, not really, but it’s getting better.”

“Did your father know before he died?” She whispered.

“He did,” Harry smiled. “Grimmauld brought down his blocks pretty violently at the end of my fourth year, we’d been in touch since then. He was teaching me about the Old Blood and my family history, I learned a lot in two years.”

“You’re so handsome,” she said with a smile, raising a hand to cup his face. “Course you were a stunning little baby too, but to see you grown,” she shook her head, “your dad had reason to be so smug.”

Harry rolled his eyes, “That sounds like dad.”

She laughed softly, sadly. Looking at Remus she went a bit pale and breathed, “Oh no, Lily.”

Harry shakily breathed out, drawing her gaze. “I know,” he said guiltily. “It was selfish of me maybe to drop that on him again, but I wanted you guys back.”

“Never be sorry about undoing Dumbledore’s meddling, sweetheart. It’s just going to be a bit of a severe shock for him.”

Remus woke slowly, groaning in pain. He’d been out longer, Dumbledore had to meddle with memories going way back, to when he’d begun dating Lily after her and James had split up. Harry hesitated, letting Andromeda go to him with the potions. He fiddled with his fingers, waiting for the first sign that he was remembering. It reached him a moment later, a shocked sob of grief and a breathless sound that may have been a name.

Harry cringed, hearing the blatant grief in the man’s voice. He felt horrible for restoring Remus’ memories, maybe ignorance had been kinder? Clearly by the way he was reacting the pair had been very much in love. He looked up, almost at the same moment that Remus did. Amber eyes met silvery ones and Remus froze. Breathing hard, he said after a moment, “Harrigan? Cub?”

Harry gave a weak smile. “That’s me,” he tried for cheery, but his voice was a bit strained.

He was suddenly wrapped in a strong embrace that smelled of parchment and something wild, pine maybe. He froze a brief minute before wrapping his own arms desperately around his godfather’s waist, stunned and relieved at the man’s reaction.

I can’t believe, I’m so sorry…” Remus’ whisper reached his ears.

“Don’t,” Harry said firmly, his voice muffled. “You haven’t even known who I was for the past 16 or so years, don’t apologize Remus. If anything, I should be, you lost more than me after all.”

Remus snorted, the sound a bit choked with emotion. “Lily would smack me for saying that ignorance was better, cub. Besides, I’d rather remember her and who you are to me than go the rest of my life wondering why I feel so empty, like I did before that ritual.”

“So you’re not angry at me for being selfish?” Harry said softly.

Remus glowered at him, arms simultaneously tightening around his waist. “Don’t you dare say you’re selfish, cub. I don’t regret it, I swear.”

“However,” he said, a deep growl rumbling in his voice, “I am having to convince my Alpha that it’s a bad idea to tear that fucker Dumbledore to shreds.”

Andromeda snorted in laughter at Harry’s surprised expression. “It always sounds so weird when you swear, Remus. You’re far too proper, you enunciate too clearly.”

Remus loosened his grip slightly on Harry, rolling his eyes at Andromeda. “Sirius always got a laugh out it as well,” he said, voice a bit strained.

“He discreetly tried talking to both of you, Remus,” Harry said. “Dad, I mean. He realized your blocks were still in place and didn’t want to do anything until we’d made certain moves. I think he was hoping to tell you this summer, actually.”

Remus smiled sadly. “That must have been hard on him. He knew though? About you and what happened to us?”

“Azkaban prison started loosening his blocks and the outright chunks Dumbledore tried to Obliviate,” Harry explained. “When he entered Grimmauld the family magics ripped it all down pretty violently. He said he didn’t react very well.”

Remus snorted. “I bet not.”

“I take it moves have been made to ensure your safety and getting you out from under Dumbledore’s control?” Andromeda asked.

Harry nodded. “I learned a lot my fifth and sixth years from Dad, I know the best way for me to get out from under his thumb is marriage. I’ve been betrothed to a pureblood Heir Lord and as a result of my Dad’s requirements on a Contract I’ve taken control of the family estates and Lordships. I’m currently living with the Malfoys.”

Remus snorted. “Sounds like more of Sirius’ planning. Honestly his brain for planning and contingency plans was rather scary. He was great at chess too, unsurprisingly. He acted like a goofball in school, but he was very smart. Lily, James and I all had to study somewhat for tests, he just skated through, the jerk.”

Harry snickered at the mental image. “I’m looking forward to the expression on Dumbledore’s face when we confront him in the Wizengamot.”

Remus growled, “So am I.”

Harry suddenly smirked and said slyly, “How would you like to teach Defense again? Lucius is on the Board of Governors and he has two more seats thanks to me, I’m sure we could get you back in Hogwarts with some safety provisions.”

Remus gave a vicious grin. “Seems like your Dad wasn’t the only clever one, cub.”

They spent the rest of the afternoon plotting. Or bonding, if you prefer. But definitely plotting. Harry smiled to himself, it had been a good afternoon. Dumbledore’s days however, were about to go sharply downhill.

Harry couldn’t wait.

Chapter Text

 

At the conclusion of his meeting with Andromeda and Remus, Harry had told them both who his betrothed was. He wasn’t going to hold that kind of information from them, they were the ones his father would have trusted to raise him if things had gone even more south than they had and Sirius had died as well as James. While obviously concerned about the identity of his betrothed, both had admitted there were few that would be able to protect him from Dumbledore and support him against the old man like one of the other foremost Old Blood families.

Both Rabastan and Rodolphus had confessed under Veritaserum to not even being present at the Ministry in June. They had also confessed to not being involved in the torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom, apparently dear old Bella had convinced two of the lower ranked Death Eaters to Polyjuice as the pair, she had argued with Rodolphus over her infidelity and wanted revenge. They had been Death Eaters, they weren’t denying that, but they hadn’t done the thing that put them in Azkaban, much like Harry’s father.

Today he was at the Manor, sitting with Narcissa and Lucius as he worked on his last summer assignments. The Lestranges were here as well, Rodolphus offering helpful pointers on his Ancient Runes assignment. He anticipated a fierce argument with Hermione over this subject, after all he hadn’t taken it for three years previously like her. Still, he had sat testing a week ago on Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, being placed into the seventh-year curriculum despite having only self-study in the past.

It had been one of Sirius’ things that he’d taken care of once he’d revealed his status to Harry. He’d looked over Harry’s marks from years previous and his chosen electives. While very appreciative of the marks Harry had received despite how difficult his school life had been, he was firm on a few things. History of Magic, he’d told Harry, he was better off self-study. Binns was ancient, he’d been teaching when Harry’s grandsire Orion had been in school. He hadn’t budged off of the goblin wars since his death, since at that time it had been a fairly recent event.

He’d been quietly blunt about Harry’s chosen electives as well, pointing out that with Divinations and Care of Magical Creatures his field of study after school would be severely limited. Even if he wanted to just be a pureblood spouse and raise his children, he would be better off with Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. That way he could make sure his children’s educations were well-rounded before they attended school themselves. There was no such thing as a primary school for wizarding children, all their basic education came from their parents.

Sirius had been very angry to notice the distinct lack of one class. Tightly he’d explained that for all students who were raised by or in the Muggle world there was a semester-long class in first year on Wizarding Culture, a way to introduce students to the world they were now part of. It was supposed to be mandatory. As well as the wizarding version of sexual education in third year, which Harry had no clue of either.

It had made his father very angry to see how blatantly Dumbledore had tried to keep him ignorant of his rights and heritage. He would have learned in his first year of the Noble Houses, for instance. Even not knowing that he was part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight, the Potters still would have been mentioned as a Noble House. It wouldn’t have suited Dumbledore for Harry to learn that he was heir to an estate and family heritage that was part of the magical world, he’d wanted Harry to remain sympathetic to the Muggleborn side of the blood conflict only.

As for the sexual education bit… They could only guess, but Sirius was pretty sure that Dumbledore wanted him to remain ignorant to how meaningful sex was in the wizarding world, or to the idea that homosexuality was openly accepted and that gay/lesbian couples could have children. One’s magic literally joined briefly with their partner’s during intercourse, it was a very intimate thing and often left traces of the other’s magic behind, it was why those in the magical world were so careful about their partners. Most of those who were even vaguely sensitive to magical traces could tell if their partner had cheated, for example.  And of course Dumbledore would have wanted to steer Harry clear of the idea that children between gays were even possible, just in case he had doubts about his own parentage somewhere down the line.

 It had been a fairly embarrassing conversation on both their parts, but his father had made sure to rectify his ignorance on the subject and then started tutoring him in both Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. He’d told Harry that he’d taken Muggle Studies for two years, before adding on Arithmancy in his fifth year, having self-studied and tested at the Ministry to join his classmates. He’d already learned everything he wanted to know about the Muggle world, much of it had been severely outdated and he’d learned a bit more from Lily.

Harry had spoken to Lucius on getting Remus reinstated as the Defense Professor, the man was all but certain he could do it, making sure there were a few extra provisions in place to prevent any accidents. Looking at his third year objectively made Harry realize that they hadn’t really been ‘accidents’ after all, that had been the first year Dumbledore had been more blatant about his manipulations. After all, he’d sent two thirteen-year-old students into the past to rescue a hippogriff and a wrongly convicted man he himself easily could have freed.

How easily Dumbledore could have freed his father if he’d wanted to was still a source of immense anger and rage in Harry. With everything he’d read about wizarding law, he knew now that as Supreme Mugwump of the Wizengamot Dumbledore could have called for a re-trial for his father at any time due to circumstantial evidence. Aside from the Minister of Magic, the Supreme Mugwump was the elected official with the most power in the Wizengamot. The helpless rage his father had felt at his own circumstances was only too understandable. At the same time that he’d seemed so concerned about Sirius’ safety, he’d never done a thing to get him freed.

He set aside his Ancient Runes assignment and said politely to Lucius, “Lucius, if you wouldn’t mind, when you get the chance would you please look over my Potions essay? It’s sitting on the top of the pile of my completed summer work.”

Lucius looked up, surprised. He was deep in business portfolios, the only sound disturbing his intense reading over the past couple of hours had been the gentle scratch of a quill as he’d made notes for later. After he registered Harry’s request he smiled and said, “I’ll look over it now if that’s all right with you. I could use a break from business finances. May I ask why you want someone else to look over it?”

“That’s fine,” Harry replied. “As for why I want you to look it over, Potions has never been my strongest suit and I always ask for a second pair of eyes. Also, I like a second pair of eyes to look over my work since my Potions essays will never rate me above an ‘Acceptable’ to Professor Snape. I want to backup my work with another so that when I pass my NEWTs and he accuses me of cheating I have a record. I’ve kept every essay I’ve written for potions since fourth year on my father’s suggestion.”

Lucius frowned. “Is he really that blatantly prejudiced against you?”

Harry arched an eyebrow. “I was once deducted 50 points in the hallway for breathing too loudly. He has let Slytherin students actively sabotage my potions for the past six years, giving me negative marks for the day and vanishing my potions instead of letting me try and salvage it. He has actively tried to get me expelled from the school or thrown out of his classes every chance he gets. He threatened me with Veritaserum when I was fourteen because he thought I was getting into his potions stores. He repeated invaded my mind in the guise of teaching me Occlumency, leaving me with pounding migraines and shattered defenses. I believe it is safe to say that he really is that blatantly prejudiced against me.”

What?” snarled Janus Lestrange, looking infuriated. “It is illegal to use Veritaserum on a student without parental permission. Not to mention it’s illegal to use Legilimency on a student at all.

“Dumbledore gave him permission to do it to try and teach me how to block visions from him. He never explained what Occlumency even was or how to ‘clear my mind’. Thankfully I was already learning it from my father and I was able to block him from reaching my lessons. The number of migraines and nosebleeds I still suffered from his attacks over one term were excessive.”

“Tell me that is documented for your eventual suit against Dumbledore,” Rodolphus said, gritting his teeth. “As my father said, it’s illegal to use on a student, permission or no.”

“It is,” Harry said softly. “My father was thorough, he got me to a specialist Healer the last time I left school grounds and she inspected my shields. She was horrified at the damage he’d caused. It’s in the suit against Dumbledore and the smaller one against Severus Snape himself for his abusive behavior towards a minor.”

“Good,” Lucius said, looking angry himself. “I wouldn’t have thought Severus capable of that kind of behavior, he was bullied himself I know, but taking it out on an innocent child is pathetic.”

“That was amongst the choice words my father had once he realized how bad Snape’s behavior toward me is. Most are not repeatable in polite company,” Harry said wryly.

Narcissa gave a small snort. She’d been reading an issue of one of her magazines, it was now sitting on her lap. Her grip on it had been a bit tight as Harry had been recounting Snape’s behavior over the past six years. “I imagine not,” she said with a small smile. “Sirius had a problem with remaining polite when he was angry about anything. His language was usually creative to say the least.”

“That sounds like my dad,” Harry said, smiling. He pulled a small file towards him, staring at his dad’s familiar handwriting in contemplation.

“What file is that to get such a thoughtful expression from you?” Rodolphus asked, tone politely curious. “It’s got your father’s handwriting, so I take it it’s more of his preparations, but not one that others could have done for you, which is why your name is on the cover.”

Looking at his betrothed in amusement Harry said lightly, “You wouldn’t happen to have been a Ravenclaw, would you?”

Rabastan laughed as a spot of color appeared on Rodolphus’ cheeks. “He was a Slytherin like most of us in this room, but he could have been in Ravenclaw. That was his other choice as well as mine.”

Harry smiled at the little insight into the powerful Pureblood he was betrothed to. “My first shot was actually Slytherin, but the first person I’d met was Draco Malfoy and his horrid behavior made me argue with the hat. I couldn’t imagine spending seven years in his presence. That and my escort was Rubeus Hagrid, more of Dumbledore’s manipulations at work since he was blatantly anti-Slytherin. It’s not his fault, when the Dark Lord was at Hogwarts he got Hagrid expelled for something he had done.”

“You could have been in Slytherin?” Lucius said curiously.

Harry nodded. “I told my father about it and he was fine, because of course the majority of the Blacks for the past hundred years or so were Slytherins. It just made him upset that I’d been manipulated even at eleven to fit Dumbledore’s image of his precious little Savior.”

“Would you like to be re-Sorted? Since you are going back to Hogwarts as Harrigan Potter-Black it’s within your rights to Sort as a new student,” Lucius said.

Harry didn’t immediately speak. He hadn’t realized that by going to Hogwarts under his birth name it wiped his records clear, so to speak. It would mean putting himself under Severus Snape as a Head of House and dealing with Draco for an entire term, but it appealed to him. He’d been hiding core parts of himself for so long, it would be nice to let them out to play. And he was a Pureblood so he wouldn’t be putting himself at risk in his new House.

“Please,” he finally said, very softly. Lucius still heard him and nodded.

“So what is that paper?” Narcissa asked.

“It’s the document to reinstate Andromeda Tonks nee Black as a daughter of the Black line and release her dowry from Walburga Black’s accounts as well as a dowry for her daughter Nymphadora. There’s also one to strike Bellatrix Druella from the Black line,” Harry said quietly, matter-of-fact.

“Ah,” Narcissa said. “I knew Sirius always intended to bring Andromeda back into the fold, it was one of his more well-known goals. I think Uncle Orion was thinking about it, he heard that Andromeda’s daughter was a Metamorphagus. It’s a Black trait but it hasn’t shown up in generations. I didn’t know he intended to release Andromeda’s dowry and give her daughter one from Walburga’s accounts, but it suits the contentious relationship he had with his mother.”

“Why was she so foul? Her portrait is in Grimmauld still and she’s a horrible old harridan.” Harry frowned.

“I’m not surprised. Walburga was never the most stable member of the Black family,” Narcissa said wryly. “As for why she’s such a foul old woman, it’s an old story in the Blacks, your father probably never got around to telling you. You see, Walburga Black was the sister of my father Cygnus. Even though my father was younger than Orion, he always felt that he would be better off as Lord Black, Orion had a contentious relationship with his parents and fought with them over numerous things. When Arcturus named Orion as Heir, he was very angry, he got even more so when my grandsire Pollux and Arcturus got together and betrothed Walburga to Orion. Walburga was the elder of the two but we are pretty sure there was a borderline incestuous relationship going on between them. That’s one of the reasons why the betrothal and marriage happened so fast, Arcturus and Pollux didn’t want any rumors going around.”

“So Walburga still thought her brother deserved to be Lord Black and resented her parents for forcing her to marry him?”

“Pretty much,” Narcissa said. “She was a foul woman all her life, my father was so disappointed he only had daughters. We hardly ever saw our mother, but he gave Walburga free rein over us. I’m pretty sure that’s why Bella deteriorated so quickly, Walburga was pretty curse happy with all of us but she was always especially rough on Bella.”

Harry crinkled his nose. “No wonder my father ran away as a teenager.”

“He and Andromeda were the bravest and boldest of us, for sure,” Narcissa said softly. “No matter how bad it got none of the rest of us ever tried to leave. The day Sirius ran from Grimmauld was terrible. I’d never heard anyone talk to her that way before or since.”

Harry looked back to his papers. With no remaining hesitation he authorized both. Andromeda Tonks was once again a member of the Blacks and the late Bellatrix was no longer a Black. She was just a foul, mentally unstable woman who had gone the same way as her precious Lord.

Fitting.

Chapter Text

In what Harry realized was a very outreaching gesture from the Malfoy Lord, Lucius had invited Andromeda and Remus into his home, inviting them to spend the day with Harrigan and themselves. Realizing the offer for what it was, both had gratefully accepted, suggesting that perhaps they should invite the Lestranges as well so that they as Harry’s godparents could get to know the family that would be his in-laws and future husband.

To say initial introductions had been awkward would be understating the matter, but all of the people involved were rational, reasonable adults so after a few stiff moments they were enjoying what was a fine late July afternoon. For the first time, Harrigan was openly celebrating his actual birthday of August 1st, a novelty. It pleased him that it would be his seventeenth that would be celebrated properly, due to it being the wizarding coming of age. He would not need to worry about Dumbledore forcing him back to the Dursleys or with anyone else after his birthday, a great relief.

The most awkward interaction at first had been Narcissa and her older sister Andromeda, the one to run away from her family and openly marry a Muggleborn. However, the obvious emotion on Narcissa’s face and in her voice had thawed Andromeda’s nervous defensive behavior and the two sisters were soon chatting amicably. While he was currently talking with Remus, Harrigan could feel his fiancé’s careful gaze on him. Rodolphus seemed troubled, uncertain. It was so unlike the proud man he had interacted with so far that Harry was intrigued.

Turning to face the striking face and blue-violet eyes, he said, “I can feel your gaze from across the room, you seem troubled. If you are worried about offending me, don’t be. I am not easily offended.”

Rodolphus looked moderately embarrassed at being caught staring, but he seemed to get over his inner battle easily enough, cautiously flicking his eyes to Remus and Andromeda. “I admit that I do have something I wish to ask you, but it is very private and I am not wanting to offend either you or your godparents. It has to do with the Ministry incident.”

Harrigan unconsciously tensed at the thought of the night his father had died, wondering what Rodolphus wanted to ask that could be considered so personal. Next to him Remus was beginning to produce a low rumbling sound in his throat, his amber eyes gaining a faint golden tint. Without looking at his godfather, Harry reached over and placed a hand on his forearm, not seeing the startled, grateful expression Remus gave him.

Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly and said, “What is it you wish to ask?”

“I was wondering if you would consent to let me, us, see it? Lucius, Rabastan and I weren’t present and I am very curious. The fact that a group of teenagers held off a group of his Inner Circle is an impressive feat. Not to mention the fact that I am very curious to know how my late, unlamented wife met her deserving end.”

Harry tensed up, closing his eyes. His instinctive reaction was to snap No! and leave the room, but instead, he forced himself to remain in his seat. His hand tightened slightly on Remus’ arm and he inhaled sharply through his nose, remembering his father’s lectures on Occlumency and meditation, using it to control his temper. Rodolphus had every right to be curious, the whole night had been shrouded in mystery and the Ministry had released few details, being very tight-lipped on what had happened.

He opened his eyes to realize that he’d somehow blanked out the fact that Remus was speaking, sounding fairly angry. “-you’d dare ask him that! You do realize that you’re sounding curious about his memory of the night his father died, something he’s not anywhere close to being okay with?”

“Stop,” Harry said, his ears ringing. His voice sounded unnaturally loud in his ears.

Remus froze, as did Rodolphus, his unique eyes still flashing slightly. He locked them on Harry instead, his handsome face unreadable as he took in the expression on Harry’s face. Janus Lestrange hadn’t spoken during the entire exchange, instead watching Harry with what he thought was a quiet sort of approval. Andromeda, who had opened her mouth to speak, closed it instead and stood, moving to his other side and taking one of his hands in hers.

He squeezed it slightly and then took a deep breath, speaking. “I admit your request has caught me off-guard, Rodolphus. If it were anyone else asking I would think it was for idle curiosity, or to see the boy-who-lived in action. I’ll admit now that even the Ministry doesn’t have a copy of the events from my point of view, I refuse to let outsiders see the night I cost myself the one person who cared without restrictions. But for you, for the Malfoys who have hosted me and backed me without fault, for my godparents who knew my father even better than I, I will agree. I don’t know how to extract the memory, however.”

Remus looked at him, startled. “Are you sure, cub?” His voice was soft, his amber eyes concerned.

“Yes,” Harry said softly. “It will be hard for me to see again, but perhaps I will be able to process it better. I haven’t thought of that night for a long time, I’ve been afraid to remember. But now I’m not afraid, I know my father is in a better place and he won’t care.”

Lucius entered the room, having left at some time to retrieve a Pensieve, which he laid on the shallow coffee table that lay between Harry and Rodolphus. “Close your eyes,” the man directed Harry, “and think about that night. Start with the earliest thing you want us to see and go through where you want to stop.”

Harry nodded, closing his eyes. The slight tugging feeling of the memory being extracted was an odd sensation, to say the least, but it was over swiftly. He opened his eyes in time to watch Lucius flick a gossamer of silvery thread into the Pensieve, which briefly glowed white before returning to its normal silvery sheen. “The bowl is made of titanium, the least reactive metal to magical influence,” Lucius explained. “Highest quality potions tools are made of titanium as well.”

“Draco can see it if he wishes,” Harry said softly. “I won’t make him watch it with us, nor around me if he still holds his animosity towards me. Just make sure he knows he has the option.”

Lucius looked surprised. “I will make sure to tell him.”

Harry stared at the bowl of shimmering fluid with mild apprehension. His hand shook slightly as he reached out and touched the edge of the bowl, though no one present commented on it. Remus placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder, explaining, “we don’t have to physically touch it ourselves. If we are touching you when you enter, we’ll be pulled in as well.”

Janus moved to stand behind his son, placing a hand on Rodolphus’ shoulder. Rabastan reached out and took his brother’s hand. Lucius touched the edge of the bowl as well and joined hands with Narcissa. Harry took a deep breath and touched the liquid.

The unique sensation of falling/floating into the memory lasted all too briefly, depositing them on the dark paved street outside the Ministry of Magic. Harry oriented himself swiftly and gestured to several dark spots in the sky. “We chose to come via Thestrals, they live in the Forbidden Forest and have a powerful sense of direction.”

In front of them, several of the skeletal horses landed, folding their large wings. Past Harry jumped nimbly off his mount, moving to help the others down. With him was Hermione, Ron, Luna Lovegood, Ginevra Weasley, and Neville Longbottom. Harry pointed out each of them to his companions, aware that the Malfoy’s and Lestrange’s likely didn’t know them.

“Loyal friends,” Rabastan commented.

“So I thought,” Harry said quietly, remembering his last conversation with Hermione.

As the teens swiftly entered the telephone box and began their descent into the Ministry, Lucius asked curiously, “Why did you go in the first place?”

“My father had been teaching me Occlumency, my shields while far from the best will keep out the average Legilimens. Voldemort had been quiet my entire fifth year, but the day before this during my History of Magic O.W.L. I got a vision of him coming here to retrieve a prophecy. The prophecy foretold the one to defeat Voldemort would be born at the close of the seventh month to parents who had thrice defied the Dark Lord. While I met the first criteria since August first technically closes the seventh month, only the lie Dumbledore built filled the second. While my bearer James had faced Voldemort three times and lived, Sirius had only come face to face with him once.”

“I knew the moment Voldemort set eyes on the prophecy it would reveal the true target to be Neville Longbottom. Neville is my friend and while he is a passable duelist when forced, he’s very gentle and prefers the company of plants to people. I panicked, not wanting him to be forced into fighting. I tried to contact my father via the communication mirror he gave me, but he didn’t respond. So, I came up with the plan to come here first and smash the prophecy so Voldemort couldn’t hear it.”

“Crazy,” Andromeda commented, “but technically sound. Smashed prophecies won’t reform. However, they can only be picked up by the ones they refer to. How did you get around that?”

“Dumbledore changed my birth records at the Ministry, setting a complicated glamour over them that can only be seen through if you already know the truth. One of Voldemort’s followers found the record and reported it to Voldemort, which is what set him after me in the first place even though I didn’t qualify. However, the records at the Ministry are set by people, not Magic. Thus, when I ‘defeated’ Voldemort as a baby, the Ministry recorded me as the target instead of Neville, since he’d gone after me.”

Harry noticed with some surprise that none of these individuals flinched at hearing the Dark Lord’s name spoken aloud. But then it made sense that none of them feared the name, they’d been around Dumbledore at some point, and Dumbledore preached often on not fearing the name. For Lucius, Narcissa and the Lestranges, they’d served Voldemort, it made sense that those in his Inner Circle wouldn’t flinch every time his name was mentioned, it was a bit of a giveaway.

Andromeda’s dark blue eyes flashed in understanding and she muttered, “That old man has a lot to answer for.”

In front of them, the teenagers had exited the booth and were near the Fountain of Good Fortune. Past Hermione hissed, “Which way?”

This way, into the elevators,” Harry replied. He led the way, noting the empty Atrium.

Ginny commented, “Shouldn’t there be guards?”

“Smart girl,” commented Rabastan. “There usually is a night shift at the Ministry.”

“I think there should be,” Harry whispered. “They may already be here. Be on your guard, wands out.”

They descended on the elevator and the golden grills slid open, the cool female voice announcing that they were at the courtrooms and the Department of Mysteries.

“This way,” Harry said, leading them forward. He turned the golden knob at the end of the long corridor and opened it, revealing a room full of doors. As the door began to shut behind the last teen someone hissed “Wait!” but it was too late. The door shut and the room began to spin.

Now we don’t know the way out,” Neville whispered, his voice shaking slightly.

“It doesn’t matter,” Harry said sharply, “we can’t leave until the prophecy is broken. We’re looking for a room that glitters.” He opened the door and shook his head. “This isn’t it.”

Hermione stopped him from shutting the door and hissed ‘Flagrate’, marking the door with a flaming ‘x’.

“Smart girl,” Narcissa commented, “otherwise you could have spent ages in there opening the same door.”

Two doors later Harry hissed, “This is it!”

The room in front of them shimmered with an eerie blue light. In front of them were the tanks of brains with long tentacles floating in liquid and an egg that shifted endlessly from chick to egg again, caught in time. They passed it, entering a dark area of shelf upon shelf of prophecies. The teens moved slowly and cautiously, Harry in the lead, looking for the right shelf. They found it, revealing a small glass orb with the initials S.T. to A. P. W. B. D. on D.L. and Harry Potter.

Past Harry picked it up, hardly larger than a snitch. They could hear a whispery voice coming from it but it was indistinct. Harry whirled around, hearing sounds. He pointed his wand dead ahead and then sharply flicked it up with a hissed, “Lumos Maxima!”

In front of them in the darkness came a sharp, pitchy giggle, more of a cackle. It made all of the teenagers raise their wands and those watching hissed, hair standing on end on their arms. Looking like some kind of wraith in her torn black dress with hair standing on end and heavily-lidded eyes, Bellatrix sauntered out of the dark, four other masked Death Eaters appearing with her.

“Little Potty’s as gullible as the Dark Lord says he is,” she cooed, lips twisting in a mockery of a smile. “Why doesn’t the baby hand over the prophecy?”

“I don’t think so, Bellatrix,” Past Harry said steadily, keeping his wand pointed at her. “This is what your precious half-blood Lord wants so badly? I think I’ll just smash it.”

“DON’T” she shrieked, voice like a banshee’s “don’t you dare talk about my Lord like that! You are so inferior to him it is as if you are a speck of dirt under his feet! You should be falling on your face begging him for mercy.”

Harry snorted. “Is that why he doesn’t have a nose? He’s always tripping on his own feet?”

Several of the current Harry’s companions snorted, Remus laughing softly under his breath. Bellatrix shrieked in rage, lunging for Harry. He backed up, raising the prophecy in his tightly-clenched fist like a weapon. Under his breath, he breathed to his friends, “Target the shelves, shatter the orbs. Aim for as much damage as possible.”

Listen to him!” shrieked one of Bella’s followers, revealing the Carrow sister Alecto. “Giving orders like he has the right! And they jump to follow like obedient sheep!”

Looking directly at Alecto Harry smirked and said, “What does that make you for following this lunatic?” Nodding at Bellatrix.

When Bella lunged for him again he yelled, “Now!”

They all cast Reducto at the shelves, turning and running for the door. The first person opened the door and they all went through, falling for what seemed like an endless amount of time before hitting stone and sand. Harry scrambled to his feet, panting. In front of him was Bellatrix while all around his friends were at the mercy of Death Eaters.

Give me the prophecy, Potter. Then you and your friends can die merciful, swift deaths. I won’t make them suffer like the Longbottom boy’s parents,” Bellatrix cooed.

Never,” Harry spat, turning and throwing the orb. Bellatrix tried to summon it, as did several other Death Eaters. Ron, Luna, and Ginny used the distraction to break free, stopping them from summoning the orb. It shattered against the base of a stone archway with a soft tinkling sound.

Bellatrix screamed in rage. “Avada Kedavra!”

Harry dodged, bringing up a shield to block her next spell. They dueled for a few minutes, Bellatrix throwing increasingly darker and darker curses. By now all of his friends had broken free and were defending themselves as well. Harry dodged wrong, putting himself in the line of fire again. Bellatrix raised her wand.

“Avad-“

Sprinting in from the side, unnoticed by either the teenagers or the watchers, Sirius leaped forward, slamming his shoulder and full weight into Bellatrix’s ribs and throwing her a good couple of feet. Both hit the stone at the same time, Sirius throwing his body into a roll and recovering his wand, which had gone flying a bit further than Bellatrix’s.

A curse flew from his wand before he was even on his feet. “No you don’t Bella,” he spat, a bit of a growl in his voice.

Bellatrix barely got her shield up in time, face twisting in rage at the sight of him. Sirius moved swiftly while she was getting to her feet, putting himself in front of Harry.

I am proud of you for handling her on your own,” he said seriously to Harry, his grey eyes momentarily flashing as he added, “and not pleased you came in the first place. But that’s later. I’ll handle her now.”

Harry nodded, jumping off the elevated rock to go defend Ron from Alecto Carrow.

The observers watched him for a few moments before their eyes were drawn back to Sirius and Bella, full out dueling in the middle of the room. Bellatrix was wild and erratic, throwing her spells with more ferocity than finesse. Meanwhile, Sirius looked like he was dancing, moving lightly on the balls of his feet and exuding minimal physical effort. His spells were thrown with light flicks and snaps, simple chains causing a devastating effect.

“Sirius was always the better duelist,” Narcissa said softly. “Bellatrix hated him for it. She worked and studied and was pushed to perfection, it just came to him naturally.”

Rabastan nodded in agreement. “I’d faced him in duels a couple of times and watched him duel other Death Eaters, he was graceful and surprisingly vicious. Most tried to avoid him. I was honestly surprised to hear that it was Bellatrix on her own that had gotten the better of him.”

The rest of the Order had poured in, joining the fight. Remus jumped in to help Harry with the Carrow twins, Tonks and Kingsley teamed up to take on McNair. Harry’s eyes narrowed. He’d spotted someone that shouldn’t be there yet.

“What’s he doing here?” he said softly, staring.

Rodolphus turned to look where he was staring and said in surprise, “That’s Dumbledore. He was here, wasn’t he?”

“What?” Remus sounded confused, whipping his head around to look. “He shouldn’t be there, he only showed up in the Atrium.”

Janus Lestrange’s aged but sharp eyes narrowed on the Headmaster’s shape and he said, “Look at that shimmer on him. He’s wearing a Notice-Me-Not or Disillusionment Charm.”

“How are we able to see him then?” Lucius mused.

“It’s because we’re in Harry’s memory,” Andromeda said. “It affected Harry during the fight but his brain subconsciously realized the man was there.”

“Why isn’t he joining the fight?” Rabastan said, sounding confused.

“He’s waiting,” Harry said. “He’s letting the Order whittle things down and take most of the damage, then when hope seems lost he’ll show up,” the teen sounded disgusted.

“You’re most likely spot on,” Narcissa said, sniffing.

The old man circled the fighting, half-moon glasses glinting in the light of the archway as he studied the activity. Eventually, he ended up on the side of the archway where Bellatrix and Sirius were still fighting, Sirius winning. Bellatrix’s curses were getting more and more desperate, a fierce snarl fixed on her face. The aged blue eyes narrowed, studying the pair. Slowly he moved, pulling his wand from the sleeve of his gaudy robes.

“What is he doing?” Harry hissed, hands clenching into fists.

Dumbledore raised his wand, pointing it at the dueling pair of cousins. Unwaveringly he pointed it at Sirius and whispered, to the observer’s dawning realization and horror, “Confundus.”

The spell struck Sirius directly. He staggered a step, looking confused. His eyes were clearing rapidly.

“He’s too strong mentally for it to hold long,” Janus said tightly.

It was long enough. Bellatrix flung a spell at Sirius and he regained full conscious control just too late. It struck him full on in the chest, ripping open his shirt and a deep gash that sliced through flesh and bone to his heart. He staggered, bleeding profusely. He looked up, past Bellatrix and saw Dumbledore. A snarl of helpless rage crossed his face.

His grey eyes locked with Harry’s green, full of love, regret, and pride. I’m proud of you, he mouthed, before grimly facing Bellatrix.

Staggering backward, holding on to consciousness and life with a swiftly loosening grasp he looked at Bellatrix and hissed, “Carpe Retractum!”

A flick of scarlet magic lashed out, wrapped around the witch’s wrist and dragged her to Sirius, screaming the whole way.

If I’m going out,” he hissed in her ear, “you’re coming with me.”

He staggered backward once more, arm locked around Bellatrix’s throat, and fell through the veil, disappearing.

Past Harry screamed, the sound so full of raw anguish and grief that the observers flinched. Current Harry did not, his breath was shallow and he was shaking in rage. I want out! He thought.

They all staggered at the sudden contact with solid ground, panting. Harry pushed his way out onto the grounds, sight hazy around him. Dumbledore killed my dad, he killed my dad… kept repeating in his head, his hands clenched into fists. He threw back his head and let out a raw visceral scream of rage and grief. His magic swirled around him, tearing at his hair and robes. He fell to his knees, panting in rage. Whirling to look at the others, eyes almost black with rage he snarled, voice full of magic.

He will pay for this with his life.”

Chapter Text

 

Ever since he’d watched Dumbledore manipulate his father’s fight so that he would lose, Harry had been going around Malfoy Manor with a nearly visible bristling tension. His magic was raging, prone to outbursts beyond his control. Or at least it had been, until two days ago. Two days ago, he’d woken up with a clear mind, rage banked. Dumbledore would pay, Harry would see him executed for assisting in the murder of a Lord of an Ancient and Noble House. But it would not do for him to continue going around with his magic raging like a typical Gryffindor with his heart on his sleeve.

His father had educated him to be better than that. So, despite the fact that all he wanted to do was scream and cry and destroy everything in sight with his magic, he reined all of his emotions in and exerted the fierce, cold control over his emotions that was the mask of nobility all the Old Blood used. Today was the third of August, his birthday had been two days ago. Despite the shocking events that had been the review of the Ministry fight, the party had been a good one. Limited to family and the Lestranges only, Harry had been ecstatic to celebrate with his godparents for the first time since learning his true parentage.

He’d retested his OWLs at Narcissa’s insistence and had received his results just as the party was wrapping up. All EE’s and three O’s, in Defense, Charms and of all the shocking things, Potions. Turns out that when Severus Snape wasn’t breathing down his neck and Slytherin’s weren’t sabotaging his work he was fairly proficient in Potions. Who’d have thought. Harry was looking forward to the first day of term when he served his restraining order to Severus, with memories to back it up the Board of Governors had been horrified at the man’s behavior and promised they would send him papers that told him he was on strict probation for his ‘antagonistic bullying behavior’ that ‘bordered on assault’ towards the students in his care.

Harry looked forward with sort of a vindictive pleasure to how many shades of color he could make the man’s face turn as he tested Severus’ patience and control over his volatile temper. It was maybe a bit petty, but he was going to enjoy a little payback after six years of undue torment at the man’s hands. At the start of the summer he would have said for sure that Draco was going to warn him, but now he wasn’t so sure.

Draco had been quiet and reflective over the summer, no doubt mulling things over. Harry knew from Lucius that he’d accessed the Pensieve that contained both his treatment at the hands of the Dursleys (which an enraged Lucius was using to procure a trial against all three) and the events that had led to his father’s death. Harry had been reluctant at first to give them the memories of the Dursleys, his father’s reaction had been potent enough. He was lucky that he’d been able to talk the man out of going to Number 4 then and there to ‘discuss matters’ with the Dursleys.

Remus was still prone to going golden-eyed in anger if he thought about it for too long while Andromeda’s spitting temper had reminded Harry quite reminiscently of his father. Both had controlled themselves and argued forcefully for Harry to submit to a full medical exam by a qualified Healer, something Narcissa had been pushing for. His father had wanted it as well, but they had to wait until Gringotts had his forged papers ready so that they could travel to France for it.

Now that he was out from under Dumbledore’s thumb and staying with the Malfoy family, there was no need for the subterfuge nor the travel out of the country to have a qualified Healer look him over. Harry didn’t trust Madam Pomphrey any more, he hadn’t since he learned about his true heritage. There was no way she wouldn’t have had something come up on her scans that would have pointed to a different story than what Dumbledore gave, not to mention the lack of reaction to what Harry was sure was blatant evidence of abuse to trained eyes.

So that’s what he was doing today, sitting on a couch in the Malfoy’s private parlor with his godparents and the Malfoy family. Draco was present, he’d already given his word that he wouldn’t tell anyone what he heard today. The Lestranges were absent, betrothed or no it wasn’t proper for them to be here for a medical examination when he and Rodolphus weren’t married. The betrothal counted as an engagement amongst the Old Blood, which was why Harry had a ring with their colors on his finger.

The Healer who was going to examine him had just Floo’d in and was being greeted by Lucius as the Head of his House. Dressed in soft white cotton robes trimmed in the vivid lime-green of a fully-trained Healer, the woman speaking to Lucius was quiet but composed, a consummate professional in everything from her voice to her mannerisms. The only thing she carried with her was a wand, strapped to her left forearm. Tight, frothy brown curls clung to her neck and cheekbones; her eyes were a warm shade of blue-brown.

“Harry,” Lucius said, walking over to them with the Healer, “this is Giselle Clearwater, the Healer Narcissa has been in contact with.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Potter-Black,” she dipped her head politely, a warm smile on her face.

Harry was still not used to being addressed as such, that was his father in his mind. He stood, nodded back and offered a hand, “Please, it’s Harry in such an informal setting. I’m still not used to being addressed so formally.”

“Giselle has taken the Oath of Confidentiality as all fully-qualified Healers do. It makes it physically impossible for her to speak or write anything about a patient to another without their express permission. As an additional sign that you may have confidence in her, she had signed an additional contract for her services here,” Lucius explained.

“I appreciate your willingness to undergo the extra measures taken to protect me. I know they seem excessive but sadly there are those that would either take advantage of me or wish me harm, so I have to be careful,” Harry said, sitting back down.

“I fully understand,” Giselle said. “I know I was shocked when I first heard your actual name, there are many who fully believe Harry Potter is the son of James and Lily Potter.”

“The public will willingly believe what the media tells them, I’m sorry to say it but a great deal of the wizarding world is as blind as sheep, or worse a group of lemmings. Individual thinking seems to go out the window as soon as the Prophet prints something.”

“Sadly I would have to agree with you,” Giselle answered, sitting in a chair across from him and procuring a set of parchment along with a quill. She touched just the tip of it to her wand and then set it on the parchment where it hovered upright, waiting.

“That is not a Quick Quotes Quill, is it?” Harry said, going rather stiff.

“No, it most definitely is not. This one links to my wand and when I cast the diagnostic spells it will begin writing the readings down so that we have a tangible copy. I am aware you have come into contact with reporters such as that blight Rita Skeeter, but this is not anything near the same as her special brand of poison.”

Harry smirked. “I take it you aren’t fond of the resident gossip columnist either?”

“She regularly comes in to Saint Mungo’s and attempts to get into our records room where we keep patient files, looking for her newest scoop or scandal on the health of one of our more well-known patients. She fails every time, but she’s become a real nuisance to the smooth running of the hospital.”

“Hmm,” was all Harry replied, debating internally as to whether or not he should give up Rita’s ‘bugging’ habits. She could be useful in the future if he wanted to poison public opinion against the Headmaster.

“I am about to cast a very broad diagnostic spell,” Giselle said, becoming very professional. “It is considered very intrusive as it pulls all information about a witch or wizard from birth to current age. I have not been told anything about your past prior to this scan, so my interpretations are without previous knowledge or bias. This spell can only be performed with your express permission. So, Harry Potter-Black, do I have your permission to cast the spell?”

Harry considered her words carefully before nodding permission, seeing the approval on the adults’ faces around him. He knew from lessons with his father that nothing should be taken at face value and before giving permission for anything it should be carefully thought over. Too many witches and wizards every year were tricked into false contracts or binding oaths because they willingly gave permission without considering all the options. As the young Lord of two Houses, he couldn’t afford to be so gullible.

Giselle cast the spell; a very long incantation murmured with a sing-song quality under her breath that he only caught part of. The light that covered his body was a rich blue, darker in some places than others. It felt very tight on his body for lack of better words, constricting his magic and aura to force information from his magical core. It was very invasive, penetrating and clinging to his body. He shuddered a little, not liking the feeling much. His magic didn’t either, bristling at what it perceived to be a threat.

Finally, Giselle cancelled the incantation, the quill which had been zipping along almost faster than the naked eye could follow finally coming to a halt. The parchment was nearly four feet long, Giselle’s eyes clearly widening in surprise as Harry watched her. So, it wasn’t normal for it to be that long. Harry wasn’t surprised. If it had as much information as Giselle had been implying, just his years with the Dursleys would have added a few feet worth of injuries.

She cast another spell directly at the parchment, one meant to organize the information into a more readable format. Picking it up, she began to look it over, her trained eyes quickly picking out bits and pieces of information. Watching her face and body language, he could tell when she got to his years with the Dursleys. Her face whitened a little and her grip on the parchment became more vise-like.

It took her a few minutes to process the information, after which she set the parchment next to her for reference and looked at Harry. There was a serious but compassionate look in her eyes, one that put him at ease despite knowing the question she was going to ask.

“Were you abused by your guardians, Lord Potter-Black?”

“I was,” he said, remaining fairly calm. “I take it the information is blatantly obvious for one such as yourself?”

“It is,” Giselle said, remaining professional.

“The Mediwitch at Hogwarts has never said a word to me about it, despite being in there almost yearly since my first term.”

“What is her name?”

“Madam Poppy Pomphrey,” Lucius supplied.

Giselle expelled a slow, controlled breath. Despite the woman’s control, they could all clearly hear the anger in her voice.

“That would be why. I doubt that she doesn’t know there are signs, but she wouldn’t be able to put the full picture together. She is not a fully trained nor qualified Healer, otherwise she would have to be addressed as Healer Pomphrey. She’s basically a Healer’s assistant and should not be in place at a school. She’s had maybe three years of apprenticeship as a Healer and either couldn’t continue or wouldn’t. It takes another three to four years to become a fully qualified Healer.”

“She’s been there a long time,” Lucius commented, “since at least just before I graduated.”

“I’ll be taking this to the Board at the hospital and the Board of Governors at the school, they should know that they’re risking the student’s health keeping her there.”

A cold sense of amusement had a rictus of a smile on Harry’s mouth at her words. “Who wants to bet that Dumbledore was the one who hired her in the first place, along with his sherry-soaked charlatan of a Divination professor?”

Nobody answered him, clearly sensing it was a rhetorical question.

Instead Giselle cleared her throat and began to speak.

“For the first fourteen months of your life the file is normal. You were born 1 August 1980 at 3:54 am, weighing exactly seven pounds and measuring 23 inches in length.”

Andromeda smiled, “That you were, long and slim with that alabaster Black complexion and a dark, wavy mop of hair. You had a lot of it for a newborn, it stuck up a couple inches.”

Harry smiled at the image, glad to hear something of what he was like as a baby.

Giselle continued, smiling as were the rest of his companions, even Draco was smirking slightly. “Your weight and height measurements at each check were average or slightly above average and all of your inoculations rigorously according to schedule. It’s clear you were a very healthy child and well cared for.”

Remus gave a small snort. “Doted on, more like. You hardly slept in your bed for the first few months and after that Sirius set an alarm to go check on you every few hours until James finally put his foot down because Sirius was wearing himself out.”

That sounded like his Dad, Harry mused, devoted and overprotecting from the start.

“At almost fifteen months is the first strange bit, a powerful, Dark spell cast which left behind a scar on the forehead. This would be your first encounter with You-Know-Who. The next bit that registers is an overview check-up and then a small cold.”

“The overview check-up was probably Madam Pomphrey; Dumbledore probably had her check me over after they found me in the ruins of the house. The small cold was the result of leaving me on a doorstep of a Muggle household on 1 November in a blanket with a note,” Harry said bitterly.

“Hold on,” Remus said, a slight growl in his voice. “They left you on the Dursley’s doorstep in November with a note?”

“Dumbledore didn’t want them to reject me, so he left a letter addressed to Petunia. I only found out about it later, until I was eleven and learned about magic I was told that I was ‘dumped on my hard-working relatives’ by someone.”

“After that the next several years read like an antithesis of your first year with your parents. I’m seeing multiple cases of rashes, colds, severe hunger and dehydration. The first injury listed is a laceration at a little over three years old to your right hand.”

“I cut myself when Dudley shoved me into a figurine of Petunia’s and broke it,” Harry said quietly. “I was thrown into my cupboard and left to cry it out on my own. The other things are easily explained. They shoved me into the cupboard and forgot about me until my crying bothered them enough. I received scraps of food twice a day with a half-cup of water.”

Everyone’s jaws had locked and Draco Malfoy looked horrified. Being the only one who wasn’t really angry yet, he said, “Cupboard?”

Harry cringed, starting to try and curl in on himself. He really didn’t want to say it, his father’s helplessly outraged expression had been hard enough to take. Before he could really curl in on himself Remus had gotten up and moved to sit with him, wrapping an arm around his waist and tucking Harry’s head under his chin.

“It’s okay,” the warm voice rumbled in his ear. “We’re angry, but it’s for you, never ever against you. You don’t need to be ashamed of what you’ve been through, pup. We’re proud you’re such a survivor. It just upsets us all that you’ve had to survive on your own in the first place.”

So with a fortifying breath Harry sat back up, straight-backed and proud. His hand curled in Remus’ for support, they talked through the rest of his medical history, the rest of the Dursleys blatant abuse in the form of bruises and broken bones, the cuts from being hit and broken glass and other things, the severe starvation and dehydration that left him with a cramped stomach still if he at or drank too much in one sitting.

The medical results from his schooling so far, with stuff like magical exhaustion in his first year from Quirrell, broken (and vanished) arm, basilisk poison and phoenix tear remnants from their second year. The added age of his internal organs from going into the past a few hours to save his father (Dumbledore hadn’t mentioned that would happen when he sent two teens into the past on an ‘adventure’ which could have gotten them killed). The deep gouges from the Horntail, inhaled water in his lungs and near hypothermia, spider bite and laceration to his arm that had been the horrendous Triwizard Tournament he’d been forced to compete in.

His fifth and sixth years had been mercifully accident and incident-free thanks to the fact he had his father guiding him and keeping a stricter eye on his activities, keeping him safe from any school shenanigans and rather blatantly threatening the Dursleys to keep their hands off his son or else.

Feeling a bit vulnerable and tired, Harry left the parlor and went back to his rooms. Giselle was prescribing a whole set of potions for him, everything from strengthening his bones to fortifying internal organs and correcting broken bones that were badly healed. The thing that made him really angry, though he was too worn out to do anything about it, was the fact that she was pretty sure his scar could be healed, at least to the point where it was far less visible if not entirely. She could correct his eye damage too, and heal the lingering bits of damage from being incorrectly treated for the bouts of Cruciatus he’d undergone at Voldemort’s hands in his fourth year.

He was glad he had done it, even with his moment where he wanted to just curl in on himself in lingering shame for the sheer amount of damage three Muggles and a manipulative Headmaster had caused. He would see it through, if only to shove his healthier, fitter and more resilient body in Dumbledore’s resenting face.

With all this done, he mused, he could really do some damage to a certain pair of crooked noses if he wanted.

Chapter Text

Draco Malfoy sat in his usual compartment on the Hogwarts Express, waiting for the whistle that sounded the five-minute warning for students to board the train. The Head Boy and Girl for their seventh year had been announced when they received their supply letters for the term. Head Boy was Terry Boot of Ravenclaw, a decent enough student with a level head who didn’t wander around getting into altercations with students. Head Girl, to his annoyed disbelief, was Hermione Granger of Gryffindor. The little know-it-all had done it again, usurping the position that better students deserved.

Draco’s enemies amongst the students would say that of course he would say that, he’d made his opinion of her blood and kind clear back in second year when he’d called her a Mudblood to her face in front of his Quidditch team. No Muggle-born girl was going to be good enough in his eyes. It was laughable how much they didn’t know about him. Draco didn’t care about her blood, that was the least of his concerns. No, what concerned him was her rote recitation of magical laws and spells and her lack of people skills. She judged everyone the moment she met them, sometimes with extreme bias. He’d overheard the conversation that Harry had with his godparents regarding Granger and the youngest male Weasley.

No, she was not the best choice on anything but academics and in seventh year even Granger with her vaunted intelligence was going to struggle a bit. They were all over seventeen or nearly there now, they would be expected to think for themselves and not just remotely copy information from a textbook. They had the basis of their education, now they would be expected to apply it. Considering who the Deputy Head of the school was, Draco wasn’t surprised that Granger had gotten the position. McGonagall was about as approachable as her prized student; Draco wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she was grooming Granger to replace her.

Aside from the unpleasantness that had been the reveal of the Head students for the year Draco had another puzzle to think over. One that was sitting across from him reading a book on Advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts that would be considered over most students’ heads with unfettered eagerness. The boy who had been the focus of most of his irritation over the years since he’d first rejected the hand of friendship he, Draco Malfoy had offered. The boy who was apparently his cousin.

If Fate picked certain people to mess with as often as many of the Old Blood believed, then over the past sixteen years Harrigan Orion Black had been her favorite chew toy. He’d been with his birth parents for just over a year before going into hiding as the nondescript Harry James Potter, a half-blood. Then he’d been targeted by the Dark Lord and had survived, only to lose one parent to death and the other to false imprisonment. Abandoned with abusive Muggles, finding his second parent again at fourteen only to lose him at sixteen. Now, due to the manipulations and controlling behavior of one far-reaching Headmaster, he was betrothed and set to marry a man near the same age as his deceased father for his own safety.

Draco took a moment to heartily thank Magic for not messing with his life as badly as it had Harrigan. He had been furious at first to see Harry bloody Potter in his home, resentful at a past slight. Then he’d been allowed to see what had happened the night Harrigan’s father had died and sat in on his appointment with a certified Healer. To say that the pair of events had been an eye-opening experience would be an understatement. Combined with the formally-worded apology to Draco for his atrocious manners in rejecting the hand of friendship offered, his attitude had softened considerably towards the wayward Old Blood heir.

Plus he had to admit it was nice to have a cousin who was only a couple of months younger than himself. He wondered what their childhood could have been like if Dumbledore hadn’t gotten his hands on Harrigan. He liked to think they would have gotten along well, that the late Heir Lord Black would have repaired relationships with his mother Narcissa and they would have visited often, Harrigan even possibly ending up with a couple of younger siblings. Draco had wanted a sibling himself for a very long time, until he was old enough to understand the damage his grandsire Abraxas had done to his own daughter-in-law. He was grateful that neither he nor his newly-discovered cousin showed signs of the ‘Black Family Madness’ as it was referred to, nor the imbalance that had characterized his grandsire Abraxas’ violent mood swings.

Both families had married outside of closest relations, Draco mused, remembering what he’d heard his father say about the late Heir Lord Black’s Muggle Studies course and the advice the late Lily Evans had given him. Something about how marrying close to family lines increased the possible instability of the blood and the risk of issues. It was in the old royal families, she’d pointed out, like the famous hemophiliacs that had ruled Russia. The worst of the Black family in current memory had been the late Bellatrix followed by her notorious Aunt, Walburga. Both women had come from family ties that had never married more than one or two relations out, Walburga exacerbating Bellatrix’s instability with her ‘training’ of her nieces.

Draco knew his mother had vivid memories from those sessions, occasionally still showing up in her dreams or her subconscious actions. She had survived, coming through it poised and controlled, an enduring and graceful example of Old Blood beauty. Bellatrix hadn’t had the same resilience as her older sister, a bit unbalanced and ‘strange’ to begin with. Andromeda and Sirius had rebelled, Andromeda marrying a Muggleborn wizard instead of waiting for a betrothal and Sirius outright running away after a fight that was still legendary over thirty years later.

Sirius had taken the warnings of his friend to heart, looking away from his closest relations for a spouse still suitable for an admittedly proud and slightly vain Pureblood heir. He’d found not only a Pureblood spouse of good blood but genuine love in someone he’d near enough grown up with. His son as a result was a stable Pureblood heir and now Lord with a powerful magical signature and the level head needed to take the Blacks forward into the future.

Even after everything he had been through, Harrigan maintained an admirable level of control over his emotions, demeanor and magic. The only time Draco had seen him lose control was in the first couple of weeks after they had learned how much Dumbledore was involved in his father’s death. He didn’t complain about the series of potions he was now required to take daily for the next couple of months, nor the amount of summer work he’d had to do to switch electives in seventh year. He wasn’t even complaining about the fact that he would be married by the time they came back after the winter holidays.

With the stipulations of the late Heir Lord Black’s contract in place, a date had been set for Harrigan’s bonding to Rodolphus Lestrange. Draco’s former uncle-by-marriage was now going to be his cousin-by-marriage. Weird. With a soft sigh, the object of Draco’s curious attentions stopped reading his book, marked the page with a thin piece of paper and set it aside. When he caught Draco’s solid gray eyes he smirked a bit and said, “See something interesting, Malfoy?”

“Call me Draco,” Draco said after a moment.

Dark silver eyes with flecks of brown blinked at him in surprise. “Very well, you can call me Harry or Harrigan in return, whichever you prefer. May I ask what brought this on?”

“You’ve given me a lot to think about this summer,” Draco mused.

Harrigan gave a soft snort. “That’s a bit of an understatement. My life has been something of a roller coaster so far, I can only imagine what this year will bring?”

“Roller coaster?” Draco said curiously.

Harrigan shook his head and said, “Muggle thing. Basically means everything has been a series of ups and downs.”

Draco hummed noncommittally, not really interested in the Muggle thing. Instead he spoke again, carefully weighing each word as he said it, “I accept your apology, the one you offered earlier this summer. You had been raised in the Muggle world; it couldn’t be expected for you to know much if anything about our customs. I do have one question; my father said you were re-Sorting and were pretty certain you’d end up in Slytherin. How is that?”

Harrigan stiffened a bit and then sighed. “I told your father so I will go ahead and tell you, there’s no point in keeping secrets. I was originally supposed to be Sorted into Slytherin in first year, but my escort was Hagrid, who had been wronged by a Slytherin, leading to his expulsion. As a result, he’s very biased against them and his bias rubbed off on me. Also, I had met you in Diagon Alley and on the train, your behavior was off-putting and made me want to go anywhere but where you went.”

Draco wanted to be angry but with a bit of reflection found that he could not. “That’s fair,” he admitted, “my behavior for most of our schooling has been unacceptable, I enjoyed pushing my limits away from my parents. Everything I did was reported back to them however, I got in trouble almost every summer. Does that mean the Hat actually let you choose? It’s exceptionally rare. There’s probably only a couple of wizards and witches in history so far that have been allowed to choose their houses.”

Harry nodded. “I was allowed to choose between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Based on what I just told you, I went with Gryffindor, which was a mistake.”

“How so?” Draco asked, curious.

“I’ve never been allowed to be myself,” Harry said, his voice soft. “Being raised by those people, I’ve never been one to easily trust people, nor have I ever been able to really rush into something. I’ve had to rely on myself, to be able to choose on the run which option was best and would lead to more positive consequences, things like avoiding a beating from Vernon or getting food for the day. Looking out for myself above all, planning instead of rushing into things, all of these qualities are directly against what Gryffindor stands for. I’m not brave, I’m just putting on a façade to be the little hero people have wanted to see since I set foot in this world.”

“The ultimate mask,” Draco said quietly, understanding. “Hiding everything you are behind what is expected of you. No wonder I never suspected how well suited for our House you really are.”

“Our?” Harry said, arching a brow at him.

“Now that I know who and how you really are, do you think I’m going to let you go anywhere else?” Draco replied in slow drawl.

“I guess not,” Harry said softly, a smile crossing his lips.

“Of course not,” Draco sniffed. He smirked, earning a slightly wary glance from his cousin. “I’m looking forward to seeing how your addition changes the balance of power within our House.”

Harrigan groaned and Draco laughed.

*

Harry held his breath when Ron entered the compartment he was sharing with Draco. So far Ron had been very understanding of his situation. Would his new calm extend to Draco Malfoy, their school nemesis? To his relief, it would apparently. Ron’s shoulders tensed when he spotted Draco and the tips of his ears started to change color, but then he spotted Harry and visibly forced himself to exhale, walking into the compartment with forced ease.

He sat down next to Harry and said, “Hey. How was the rest of your summer?”

Harry smiled, taking what he could with his temperamental friend and counting his blessings at the so-far quiet observation from Draco. “It was good, I enjoyed being able to celebrate my real birthday for once, having Andromeda and Remus there made it even better.”

Ron’s smile became more genuine. “I’m glad, it was quite a shock for me when you told me about all of that stuff, I can’t imagine how it’s been for you to hide it all for two years. Did Sirius celebrate your real birthdays with you after you two connected?”

Harry’s smile became a bit wistful. “He did, it was very quiet since only the two of us knew, but he made sure I knew he was happy and thinking of me on those days. He had to call me via mirror before sixth year since Dumbledore decided to leave me at the Dursleys all summer that year. It was nice though, being able to celebrate with a parent. Being recognized,” he finished softly, remembering second year when he was told to stay in his room and pretend he didn’t exist for Vernon’s meeting with Grunnings.

Ron snorted. “Those people don’t even qualify as human beings. Honestly, locking you in your room with bars on your window at twelve!”

“Hold on,” Draco said slowly, starting to sound a bit angry. “You knew about the bars and some of this stuff and didn’t do anything?”

Ron locked Draco’s gray eyes with his blue ones and snapped, “I don’t think you have a right to judge me, considering you’ve only wizened up to what his life was like in the past couple of months. For your information, both myself and my older twin brothers knew, we even told our mother. She never did anything about it though, thought we were exaggerating things.”

“I don’t trust your mother,” Harry said, his voice quiet and almost apologetic. “Nor will I forgive her anytime soon for how she treated my father, in his own home no less. She was a guest, something she seems to continually forget.”

“I know,” Ron grimaced. “I don’t blame you. Dad tried to talk to her a couple of times, he was shocked about how she treated Sirius. She never listened, had some sort of grudge against him. With what we know now about the Weasleys, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because the Blacks rightly supported the Malfoys on the whole Seraphina incident. Mum may be a Prewett by birth, but she seems to enjoy ignoring that when it comes to that stupid feud.”

“I thought the Weasleys had all but forgotten the cause of our ‘arguments’,” Draco said, his cool voice emphasizing the term.

“We mostly had, but then Harry found out about it in a book on Pureblood families and showed it to me, the twins and my oldest brother Bill, who showed it to Percy at the Ministry. Percy was able to investigate it in Ministry records and find the official copy of the original betrothal between Aurelius Malfoy and Seraphina Weasley, which was struck through showing that she not only married her ‘love’ but she’d also already slept with him and was pregnant with what otherwise would have been a bastard child,” Ron looked mightily disgusted.

“We’d already been making steps trying to improve our image with the Old Blood families, but with that knowledge it’s gotten us stuck in a bit of a rut. Now that we know the why and the extent of it, we’re not sure we want to improve the name Weasley. It’s repulsive that my dad’s family still supports her even after everything she caused for their family.”

“You might want to look into appealing to the Head of the Prewett line,” Harry suggested to his friend. “I’d been looking into it myself and asked my dad a few things, it seems to support the idea that it would be easier to remove yourselves from the Weasley line and let them deal with the consequences than improve a Line that is rightly suffering for what they’ve done and approved.”

Ron sighed. “I’ll mention it to Bill, send him a letter. As much as it hurts to think of leaving my dad and the others to deal with it, I think you might be right. I’m tired of trying to improve a Line that doesn’t show any appreciation for what we’ve already achieved.”

“Why do I get the impression that you’re not quite what you’ve appeared to be either, Weasley?”

“Because I’m not,” Ron answered evenly, “and it’s Ronald or Ron, please. Let’s see if we can get away from surnames.”

“Why are you giving me that privilege? I’ve done nothing to earn it nor have I made overtures to show I want it,” Draco looked genuinely puzzled.

“Because of Harry,” Ron said, which caused a warm feeling in Harry’s chest to expand as he looked at his hot-headed friend. “You’re his cousin and I know he’s going to try and get along with you, even be friends since you’re his family and all. I also have the strong suspicion he’s not going back to Gryffindor and I want to know there’s someone in your House that has his back.”

Ron’s words were almost but not quite a demand or threat, but Draco remained unruffled. “Of course I have his back, family doesn’t turn on one another in the Den, even if past examples haven’t shown that.”

“The Den?” Ron asked.

“Someone once called the Slytherin Common Room the ‘Snake’s Den’ generations ago, it stuck,” Draco explained.

“Don’t lions have dens too?” Ron asked, his lips quirking into a half-smile.

“They do,” Harry mused, struck by sudden humor. “Apparently I’m just moving from one Den to another.”

It would be interesting, to say the least.

Chapter Text

 

 

Remus Lupin sat in a familiar seat, staring out at the sight of the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It was just beginning to fill with students, trickling in in small groups and chatting excitedly, all looking forward to a new term and for Harry’s year, their last at the famous school. He smiled a bit in reminiscence, remembering what it had been like to be a student in these halls. From his right and left side, he could feel venomous glares, which he was doing his best to ignore.

Albus Dumbledore had been less than happy to see him, surprising considering the old wizard had always been genial towards him. He was matched in his lack of enthusiasm only by one individual, who very well might outstrip his lack of welcome. Severus Snape. It had been three years since they had last seen each other at the school, at the conclusion of his teaching when the other had slipped and mentioned that he was a werewolf in a student’s hearing range. The pair were both glaring at him where he sat firmly ensconced in the Defense professor’s position at the table.

With the knowledge of all Albus had done and would have continued to do, it had been very hard for Remus to keep his cool. All he wanted to do was unleash his wolf and let the enraged Alpha extract his pound of flesh for both their dead mate and dead pack. Instead he exerted all the control he’d learned over the years and smugly handed Albus the letter from the Board of Governors, stating that he was reinstated as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts for the next term at least and that all parents would be notified that no amount of whinging, raging or angry letters would get him thrown out.

He’d taken a great deal of pleasure out of Albus’ unhappy resignation to the fact, the old man having not been notified about who the Ministry was appointing this term. The man was good at controlling his emotions, but Remus was better at seeing and interpreting them, not to mention scenting them. He’d seen the clear anger in the man’s face and the shocked surprise at the name at the bottom of the letter. Lucius had no doubt taken great pleasure in signing his full name and title with such elaborate flourish, making it impossible to miss.

He’d also affably turned down Albus’ offer for Severus to make the Wolfsbane Potion again, citing that the man was busy enough brewing for the Hospital Wing and teaching students and he’d ‘lined up other sources’. Truthfully Remus had it pointed out to him, rather bluntly, by the purebloods he’d been staying with and his godson that what he was doing was slowly killing himself. There was a reason the potion was called Wolfsbane after all. At his godson’s insistence and the encouragement of the Malfoys and Lestranges, not to mention Andromeda, he wasn’t going to take it, taking a purging potion to get it out of his system. Instead, he was working on his meditation and calming practices, seeking to get more in touch with ‘Moony’ and raise his control that way.

The hardest thing in the last couple of hours had been not giving away the fact that the complicated memory blocks were now gone. With his memories restored, especially those of his dedicated relationship with Lily, Severus’ vitriol in particular took on a new meaning. The man always had been one to hold a grudge. Remus resisted a small snort; it was pathetic really how much he held on to a friendship that he had destroyed. It was an obsession, nothing more or less. He remembered how much it had annoyed her.

Hermione Granger strolled in, robes and tie perfectly neat and straight, Head Girl badge pinned smartly to her breast at eye-level. Remus barely resisted the small shake of his head at the sight of her. She reminded him of Lily in so many small ways, but none of the essential ones. Smart, yes. Book-smart, yes. Loyal, world-wise, no. Open-minded, heck no. Harrigan had told him how she had reacted to his real parentage and the fact that he was homosexual. Likely if someone attempted to tell her about wizarding religion and culture she would be as close-minded.

She would not be very comforting to young students away from home for the first time in their lives. Sometimes Remus wondered about Minerva’s thought processes, none more so than right now. Surely she realized that Hermione wouldn’t be the most relatable student, even if she had the grades that suited a Head? After all she had appointed James Head Boy in their last year and he hadn’t even been a Prefect. But he was relatable and charming and had gotten over his immaturity and bullying behavior impressively in two years.

Ron Weasley walked in, sitting down across from Neville Longbottom rather than next to or across from Hermione, earning whispers from the students quick or observant enough to notice. Neville himself looked a little startled, but readily engaged Ron in conversation. The whispers gained a bit of volume as the students noted the prominent absence of Harry Potter, Gryffindor’s most famous inhabitant in recent years.

Sneaking a look at Dumbledore’s face, Remus noticed the way his skin paled a bit and then his eyes lost a bit of their sparkle, annoyance taking over. No doubt he thought Harry was going to make an appearance, a la his second year. Remus had laughed himself silly along with Sirius when Harry and Ron had told the tale of their arrival via flying car and the Whomping Willow, after reassuring himself that the pair were okay. Of course Remus was privy to the fact that Harry wasn’t in fact making an entrance that way, though his was going to be no less dramatic. In anticipation, he turned his head as the Great Hall doors swung open again.

Minerva walked in, trailed by a small group of first years that followed along like frightened chicks. They were clustered together, looking around nervously. They seemed to get smaller with every passing year. Remus frowned a bit to himself as he realized there were no more than a dozen students, the smallest amount he’d ever seen. He knew some of the other staff members had noticed it too, their faces were vaguely concerned.

The Sorting Hat sang it’s song and finished to a round of applause from the students and staff, many of the first years looking relieved. Minerva looked confused by something, though she stepped up and cleared her face admirably, starting the Sort. Remus shook his head when some of the students actually ‘booed’ those going into Slytherin, how frightening would that be at eleven, to have students actively show how much they now hated you because of something so simple as a House?

Minerva didn’t pick up the Hat or stool as the last student left, gaining a rustle of whispers from the students. Remus, knowing what was coming, leaned forward in anticipation. “For the first time in almost seventy years,” she began, the students falling silent, “we are taking a part in history. A student has applied for, and been granted, a re-Sort.”

As the whispers rose, Remus snuck a quick look at Albus, noting the look of horrified comprehension that took over the man’s face. Better yet, there was nothing he could do to stop it. Re-sorts were granted by the Board, not the Head of the school.

“Harry Potter!” she called, to the rampant whispers of the students.

“Actually, Professor, my name is Harrigan Potter-Black, Black if you prefer,” a voice answered her coolly, all eyes turning to the doors.

Remus barely resisted a smirk. His godson stood there impressively still, shoulders thrown back proud and straight, posture regal and composed even as the whispers gained in number and volume. His wavy black hair, so like Sirius’, was tied back with a simple silver-colored cord, leaving his alabaster features and unusual eyes on prominent display. His clothing was expensive and exquisitely tailored.

Albus Dumbledore’s expression was both shaken and thunderous. It was more than clear to anyone looking at him that he had known who Harry was, but was furious and afraid that Harry now knew himself. His godson’s eyes barely linked with the old man’s; face regally composed in contrast to the emotion written all over the other’s face.

“Mr. Potter-Black,” Minerva corrected herself, a bit shakily.

Remus snuck a look to his other side, taking in the rage and pure loathing that was lacing Severus Snape’s face. No surprise here either, which meant he too had known who Harry really was. After Albus had gotten some sort of oath no doubt, otherwise he would have gladly plotted the demise of Sirius and James’ son. Remus barely resisted a growl, instead turning his eyes back to Harry, who strolled easily up to McGonagall and sat down, letting her place the hat once again on his head.

There was a brief pause, no more than a couple minutes. Likely his godson and the Hat were once again having a small chat. Remus had been surprised when his godson had told him about his first Sorting and the conversation he’d had with the Hat. The Hat had only spoken to a chosen few over the many centuries of Sorting, none in recent memory to Remus’ knowledge.

Then came the cry of “SLYTHERIN!”

---

After the uproar that had been Harrigan’s re-sort and the unsettled meal that had followed, Remus found himself in the Headmaster’s office by his godson’s request. “I would like a witness to this conversation as allowed by the Charter. I do not trust you, Headmaster, for what should be obvious reasons.”

“Witnesses can only be guardians, Harry, of which you have none,” Albus chided gently. “I was your guardian until you came of age, remember?”

“I request you not use my personal name, Headmaster. It makes me uncomfortable considering all I have learned. I am not your personal protégé, nor did you raise me. The familiarity is unnecessary and untoward.”

Before Albus could protest, Harry continued. “You are also wrong on both counts, sir. I do have a guardian, my godfather Remus Lupin or my godmother Andromeda Tonks as appointed at birth by my fathers. Also, to clear the record, you were never my guardian. You stole me from the rightful individuals and Obliviated them both. If it were myself, I would press charges, but that is up to them.”

“As of this moment,” Remus said, eyes flashing, “I’m still deciding whether it’s worth the headache it would cause to try and press charges. I know Andromeda favors it heavily however.”

Remus was privy to watching the man’s eyes as he came to the realization that Remus did in fact remember that he was Harry’s godfather. Anger once again flashed through blue eyes before the man exerted almost physically tangible control. “Re-sorts are almost unfathomably rare, Harry,” he began instead, blatantly ignoring Harry’s request. “I am sure you will come to regret having it done, I can undo it for you easily.”

“I dislike you ignoring my request to not use my given name, Headmaster,” Harry snapped. “Also, you are once again either lying or circumventing the truth. While re-sorts are rare, I will certainly not regret going into the House I was meant for from the beginning, nor are you able to undo the Hat’s decision. It’s been tried before and it is impossible to undo the Hat’s magic, granted by the Founders themselves and enforced by the Charter. Suggesting doing so is a violation of the Charter in and of itself.”

So there, Remus added in private amusement at the blunt verbal smack his godson had just offered. Better yet, he’d done it in the presence of all the Heads of Houses, so Dumbledore couldn’t give him detention just because he was offended. He noticed the flicker of amusement in Filius’ eyes at Harry’s verbal play. The diminutive professor was Head of Ravenclaw, a house that valued both wit and intelligence. He no doubt was appreciating Harry’s display of both.

“You are no more meant for Slytherin than either of your spoiled parents, Potter. I will make sure you want to go back to your former House by the end of the week,” Severus spat, about as close to an outright threat as Remus had ever heard. The man was pale, his fists clenched in anger.

Remus growled lowly at the threat to his cub, earning a slightly frightened look from the man. Harry gave him a small look and brushed his fingers against Remus’ hand, calming the agitated wolf.

He looked at Severus, smirked and said coolly, “Threatening a student, how unbecoming of a professor, especially a Head of House. On that note, I have this letter from the Ministry for you, sir. It firstly acts as a restraining warrant on my behalf, restricting you to teaching-related conversations and actions only. It secondly is a notice that you are on review with the Board of Governors, who are very unimpressed with your “antagonistic, bullying and threatening behavior towards minor students that borders on verbal and emotional assault.” They are watching you closely this term, so if you wish to retain your job…” Harrigan trailed off, shrugging his shoulders.

The glare aimed at Harrigan by obsidian orbs was near-lethal. The man looked a bit pale as well, clearly a little cowed by the threat from both the Auror Department and Board of Governors to ‘toe the line’ so to speak, on his behavior with students.

“I don’t need to do anything,” Severus scoffed, trying to get the reaction he desired. “If you think you’re going to gain welcome amongst the Slytherins with Draco Malfoy in control—”

“Clearly,” Harry interrupted, the man’s face turning slightly red on the cheekbones, “you don’t know your godson or my cousin very well. I will be fine amongst the Slytherins, I am a pureblood from an old and wealthy family and as Draco’s first cousin, his status within the structure of the House will grant me a boost so to speak in gaining a foothold of respect from other students.”

“I am done with this conversation,” Harry said, standing. “I am not going to undo my re-Sort, I have served Severus his papers and let you all know what my expectations are for this, my final and graduating term. It is late, I am going to bed. Good evening.”

Remus escorted his godson out, privately laughing at how much he had controlled the conversation. Sirius and James would be very proud. Remembering Severus’ face, he snickered. Very proud indeed.  

Chapter Text

It had been almost a week since Harrigan was back at Hogwarts, a week since he’d been put into his proper House. He was starting to realize why the House was so important and it gave him another reason to be furious at the manipulations of the Headmaster. If not for the prodding by Hagrid and Ron on how awful the Slytherins were, and that first interaction with Draco, he would have gladly gone into the house of snakes the first time.

In Gryffindor, Harry had been required to hide everything that was his core characteristics, acting brave and courageous. He’d forced himself to be brash, haphazard, shoving himself into a role like an ill-fitting glove. He’d survived in Gryffindor, playing his part so well that he’d fooled even himself at times. There had been moments in private where he’d been able to be himself for a bit longer, cautious moments behind locked doors when he knew he was alone.


Quidditch had really been his sole outlet, he could be cunning and intelligent, using his opponent’s qualities against them. They didn’t care if he used tactics and sneaky actions in a game, so long as he caught the Snitch. As long as he’d been their star Seeker, the Quidditch-obsessed House had been relatively safe. So long as he wasn’t making too large of waves outside the pitch. He still vividly remembered how the whole House had turned on him when they’d lost 150 points in his first year.


In Slytherin, Harrigan not only survived, he was thriving. Slytherin didn’t boast of their intelligence like Ravenclaw, they expected it. That’s why most of Slytherin wasn’t very impressed by Hermione Granger. Sure she was smart, she didn’t have to shove it in everyone’s faces. In a House where grade averages were at mid EE’s, she was nothing special. Certainly there were those of the pureblood families that looked down on her because of her Muggle heritage, but for the most part they just didn’t like her personality.


The intrigue and politics of the real world ruled Slytherin, social niceties were practiced as carefully as if they were adults running their familial House, not just students. First years were looked after by all students, shepherded around the school for the first month or so by older students. There were only a few official Rules in Slytherin, but everyone knew them by heart. First years recited it by memory after the first few days.


The first Rule of Slytherin house was: show a united front. Slytherin was like any other House, there were constantly arguments and bickering going on, plus at any given time a student could be making a power play, seeking to up themselves in the Hierarchy. You could be moments from declaring a blood feud with another student’s familial House, but as soon as they exited the Common Room, they were each other’s staunchest supporters.


The second Rule was; behave as if you belong here. Slytherins were not like the common rabble, they were expected to behave accordingly. While there were in fact Muggleborn students in Slytherin, you would never realize it looking at the House from the outside. They were educated from the beginning on how to dress properly, how to act in the wizarding world and things like elocution and dining etiquette.


Slytherin also ran a semester long class for first years from the Muggle world. It was mandatory, taught by two sixth-year students in one of the large spare rooms off the common room. It taught them the basics of wizarding history, etiquette, religion and health differences between Muggles and the average wizard or witch, such as the fact that male pregnancies were well-known, if not common.


The last and most important Rule was; keep the secrets. Slytherin was something of a mystery to the other Houses, they knew little of how it worked. While this had its downside, their reputation had sunk as a whole during the rise of Voldemort, for example, it worked in Slytherin’s favor to be underestimated.

They would rather keep their reputation with the outside world the way it was than let it be known how Slytherin really worked. While this initially baffled Harrigan, he soon realized that they were right. If the other Houses knew how Slytherin worked, they would find new ways to torment what was undeservedly the least popular House in Hogwarts.


Of course the official Rules weren’t the only structure that existed within Slytherin. The other, far more important one was the Hierarchy. It gave every student within Slytherin a defined role and placement in the House, a status they guarded jealously and worked to improve upon.


A portion of one’s hierarchy was their blood, but not as large as those from other Houses might think. While blood was important and those of the Old Blood gained a bit of a boost from it, one’s name could only carry so far. Another portion was their marks, after all it was hard to respect someone who’s work didn’t show their intelligence. To that end was a posted chart with every student’s marks in each of their classes and their grade average.

Magical talent and strength also made up a good portion of the ranking. According to what Harrigan had learned of Voldemort’s time in Hogwarts, that was how he had gained such influence with the students. He hadn’t known he was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin until late in his schooling. He’d worked his way through the Hierarchy using his intelligence and magical strength, along with just a tad of intimidation tactics.

The first years were the lowest in the Hierarchy, naturally. Not only were they the youngest, they had not been able to prove themselves before now to their House. Second years were in the next tier, followed by third. It wasn’t until fifth year that things really became interesting. Starting in fifth year it was possible for a student to have enough prestige to skip tiers in the ranking and enter the highest level of the Hierarchy.

That was how Draco had become the highest ranked student despite only being fifteen. Once the seventh years of the previous year had graduated it had left a power vacuum, one that he’d taken advantage of. An Old Blood heir, at that time to two of the oldest Houses, charismatic and magically powerful, Draco had been able to gather his allies and take control of the House.


His word was Law in Slytherin. His Circle were those students that were his staunchest supporters and allies, students with high ranks in the Hierarchy themselves before he’d taken over. It had been considered quite the coup and for a while Draco had faced fierce opposition and frequent Challenges to his position. He’d easily defended it and earned himself even more respect in his House in the process.


Challenges were the formal title for duels in Slytherin house, usually between two students vying for the same place in the Hierarchy. One was the student defending their place in the House, the other sought to take it from them. Challenges were rare and it was humiliating for the defending student to lose and drop in the Hierarchy. Considering how badly they lost, some students would fall quite far in the rank, not just a single tier.


Harrigan anticipated a Challenge to come his way. He knew his cousin had ruffled more than a few feathers when he’d put Harrigan in his Circle. He knew a few in the Circle doubted his elevation so far in the Hierarchy without having to prove himself. That was fine, he’d prove he belonged here. It would be his pleasure.


Currently he was sitting in one of the comfortable chairs around the main fireplace in the common room, chatting with his cousin and a few of his Circle. With them were Pansy Parkinson, Blaise Zabini, Daphne Greengrass and Tracy Davis. Harrigan had been surprised to find that Theodore Nott, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were not part of Draco’s Circle.

Draco had explained that Crabbe and Goyle had never really been his friends, they were his ‘minders’ so to speak, putting pressure on his family to support the Dark Lord. Theodore Nott had once had a high placement in the Hierarchy, but his father had been one of Voldemort’s ardent supporters and had lost standing spectacularly when Voldemort was defeated.


It gave a new, creepy meaning to the way Crabbe and Goyle had never left Draco alone, always following him throughout the school. Harry shuddered slightly, wondering what may have happened if the Malfoy’s had shown the slightest hint they weren’t truly loyal to the sociopath. He wondered if the two would have been capable of the murders their fathers had committed so easily, or if Draco would have simply ‘disappeared’ on holiday.


He had been explaining some of his history to the Circle, ruminating on Slytherin in the contemplative silence that followed. Blaise finally spoke up, sounding incredulous.


“So the entire time you were Harry Potter was actually a lie? You’d been manipulated into the House and your role as ‘savior’ because of that old man?”


“Yes,” Harry answered simply. “My father entered the Black house after the end of the Triwizard Tournament and it ripped down the memory charm Dumbledore had put on him. He was not happy in the slightest to realize how his family had been manipulated so far.”


“I doubt he was,” Tracy commented. “The gall of that old man, to risk an Old Blood heir and attempt to mess with the memory of the Patriarch of a Line. You could no doubt add a charge of attempted Line Theft to the case you’re building against him. It would easily stick with the Wizengamot or even the International Confederation of Wizards.”


“I will make a note of it,” Harry mused. “Thank you, Davis, I appreciate it. I hadn’t considered it from that angle, I admit anything to do with the old man tends to make me lose my temper right now.”


Tracy inclined her head. “You’re most welcome, Black, and it’s Tracy, please.”


“Then you must call me Harrigan, or Harry if you prefer,” he responded, mind whirling. He hadn’t anticipated being given first-name basis with one of the Circle already.


“While your anger at the old man is justified, why are you so furious with him, Black?” Pansy asked.


He paused, considering. Would any of them be the type to tip off the Headmaster? He scoffed at the very idea, they were all Old Blood, there was no love lost between the Headmaster and the Old Blood families. Most loathed him or actively plotted to take him out politically.


“Amongst the charges I am bringing against the old coot eventually is the aiding and abetting of the Murder of a Lord and Patriarch of an Old Blood family,” Harrigan said softly.

“While Bellatrix was the one to actually kill my father, Dumbledore helped her by attempting to confund him in the middle of the fight.” He fell silent, fighting back the rage that always filled him at just the memory of that shocking revelation.


The looks on the student’s faces were almost humorous. They were all identical masks of shocked horror and dawning anger.

“He assisted in the murder of a Lord of one of the first and foremost of the Sacred Twenty-Eight?!” Pansy spat, eyes glowing in anger.


“He did,” Harrigan said, his voice soft but hard as steel. “I think he realized my father had overcome the Obliviate and wished to remove an obstacle. He didn’t realize that it was already too late until I showed up at the school for the term.”


“He will be executed for it,” Tracy said finally, her face a mask of anger. Her father was a premier Arguer, the wizarding version of a barrister. “The Old Blood will be calling for his head, as well as most of the other pureblood families. He may think he has a sterling reputation with the Wizarding world, but the Old Blood families are untouchable.”


“I look forward to the day it’s done,” Harrigan said coolly. “But first we are going to take him down a bit politically, damage his reputation a bit.”


Daphne gave a small smirk. “Take him down so he’s not a martyr when the deed is done. No wonder you’re meant for Slytherin, Black.”


Pansy looked a bit concerned. “You will need to be exceptionally careful as you make these plays Black. You may be over your majority, but you’re still vulnerable as long as he’s here. As much as I hate to say it since we’re only seventeen, a marriage Contract would help.”


“You plan almost as well as my father, Parkinson,” Harrigan said softly. He took a chance and removed the small Glamour he’d put on his betrothal ring, revealing it to his companions. While most of the students in Slytherin would recognize where the ring came from, none of them would go running to the Headmaster.


Blaise Zabini gave a small laugh. “House Lestrange, you certainly did aim high, didn’t you? They’ve become one of the main Voices for the Old Blood over the past several decades. That will give you the extra protection and backing you need, most Old Blood would back your cause by default even if they didn’t agree.”


Pansy smirked. “Blaise, you’re missing an even more interesting tidbit. The Lestrange’s Word became so respected in the Old Blood because of the fall of the Black family. Our young companion here is the new Lord Black, he’s also far more stable than the generation that lost their standing. You’ll want to be careful Black; your Word will have hold with the Old Blood and there will be those that resent it.”


“I appreciate the warning, Parkinson.” Harrigan responded.


Looking at the clock Daphne sighed and said quietly, “It’s time to head out amongst the masses. What is the first class for us today.”


Draco looked at Harry and smirked. Before he could even be confused, the other said, “Potions.”


Harrigan looked back at him and gave an answering smirk.



Being the first Potions class since their return to Hogwarts, Harrigan felt he had the right to feel a bit of anticipation. After all, he had Snape’s expected ‘O’ for the class, so the other couldn’t refuse him entry. Thanks to Draco, he even had the five-foot long essay done for the start of term. They showed up outside the door to the classroom in neat order, Harrigan standing between his cousin and Pansy. He couldn’t deny the fact that he was looking forward to this, the man would be incapacitated with rage at having him for another term. Even worse, he could do nothing about it due to the restraining order.

The arrival of Gryffindor was heralded with a cacophony of noise when they were still halfway down the corridor. Harrigan sighed, more relieved than ever that he wasn’t expected to be part of that anymore. The Gryffindor contingent for their N.E.W.T. year consisted of Ron, Hermione, Neville, Dean, Lavender and Parvati.

Harry was surprised but pleased to see Ron and Neville had gotten to attend the class, though he knew Ron hadn’t gotten an O in Potions. Dumbledore had probably forced him to accept EE as well.

Hermione’s jaw dropped in unflattering surprise when she spotted him amongst the Slytherin contingent. Then her eyes hardened and sparked with annoyance, obviously thinking that Slytherin favoritism was coming into play for him. He could see the same conclusion play across Dean and Lavender’s faces as well. Neville gave a small smile and Ron grinned at him.


He stepped forward and said, “Hey, glad to see a familiar face. I thought you didn’t want to continue with Potions though?”


Harrigan shrugged. “While I no longer want to be an Auror, it’s still important for me to learn Potions. I may need them in the future if I try for almost any worthwhile wizarding career.”


“What are you doing Ron?” Hermione demanded.


“Talking to my friend, isn’t it obvious?” Ron answered coldly, leveling a glare at Hermione.


It clearly surprised some of Harry’s fellow Slytherins, not to mention the Gryffindors.

“He’s a Slytherin Ron, he doesn’t care about you!” Lavender said angrily.


“Says you,” Harrigan said coolly. Lavender’s cheeks turned pink, but he continued before she could say anything else. “Ron is my friend and I value my friendships, Lavender. I’m not a wannabe socialite who drops people like trash because they’re not in the same House.”


Her eyes began to film with tears, but Harry found he didn’t care. He could easily recall how many times she’d dropped him like a hot coal because it was the ‘popular’ opinion at the time. Hermione eyes narrowed at his lack of reaction, mouth thinning into a narrow line. “I see you’ve adopted your new House policies already, Potter. I know for a fact you never got an O in your Potions OWL.”


Harry’s voice dropped a few degrees in temperature as he replied, “Neither did Ron or Neville, which makes me think your beloved Headmaster forced Professor Snape to accept EE students. But that’s not the point you’re making, is it? You think simply because I’ve sorted into my proper House that I’m suddenly bosom buddies with Snape and will get away with anything.”


He continued, voice frigid but full of anger. “Well let me tell you otherwise, Granger. Severus Snape still loathes the very sight of me, probably even more so now. I was always intelligent, I just hid it well. Why you ask? Because Snape would fail me anyway out of spite. That and I was friends with a fair-weather girl who can’t stand the idea that there are people who are smarter than her. Whose deeply afraid of what she knows to be the truth, that here in the Wizarding world she’s average.”


“My name,” he finished coldly, “is Potter-Black if you insist on using the old address, or simply Black.”


Severus Snape chose that moment to show up, his usual billowing robes failing to so much as impress Harrigan now. He spotted Harry standing next to Draco and spits, “Potter! What do you think you’re doing here?”


Harrigan merely raises an eyebrow and says, “I retested my OWLs at my father’s insistence once he realized I was holding back in classes. Here is the Ministry paperwork stating my true OWL results, please note the O in Potions.”


Severus glared at him, loathing clear in his sallow features. So was a bit of fear, interestingly enough. The man had clearly forgotten the sway Harrigan held over him this year. Without a word he spun around to open the door to the classroom.


Offhandedly Harrigan remarked to the empty air, “I do wonder how many times I will have to remind people my name is Black, or Potter-Black at least.”


Only a few of the students registered the sudden tension in Snape’s shoulders, or the slightly loud bang of the door hitting the cobbled wall. Harrigan smirked. This was going to be fun.

Chapter Text

Harry’s first two weeks back at Hogwarts had passed fairly uneventful, aside from having to remind most of his instructors that his name was either Potter-Black or Black. He hadn’t taken Arithmancy and Ancient Runes before, so he had a fresh start with Professors Vector and Sinastra. Professor Flitwick had also caught on without having to be reminded, earning him a tick in favor in Harry’s mind. In fact, the affable Charms professor never seemed to have an issue with him at all, seeming more curious about the changes that followed in his wake than anything else.

It was, refreshing, especially after the blatant prejudice Severus Snape still showed against him whenever possible and the affronted behavior McGonagall adopted whenever she saw him now. Harry was offered endless amusement in watching Snape pale or otherwise minutely lose his composure when Harry reminded him about the Ministry, discreetly of course. He wanted more respect in Slytherin before he revealed that he was keeping their Head of House to heel like a stray dog. The sweet humiliation that would offer the sallow man…

Remus’ Defense classes were very popular, likely to the Headmaster’s ire. He was furious that he’d been unable to remove Remus from his post, throwing an impressive hissy fit in his office according to the portrait of Harrigan’s ancestor, Phineas Nigellus. The least popular Headmaster of Hogwarts had sought him out in the Slytherin dorms after witnessing his confrontation after the re-Sort, offering his descendant tidbits of useful information and warnings when possible about the old man’s next moves.

On the student level, Hermione’s unflattering shock had been very annoying when he’d shown up in both the N.E.W.T. classes for Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, having never taken them in person with her before. She hadn’t made another of her rude accusations about how he’d managed to get the grades and enter the classes, but he knew she would. The last time he’d spoken with Ron, the other had rolled his eyes and said that she was becoming near intolerable in the common room, irritating all the other seventh years by harping on about Harry.

While there were a few holdouts, it seemed most the Gryffindors had finally grown up and were at least neutral in their opinions of him now, not outright hating him. It was a relief to Harry, not to be faced with the entirety of his old house hating him on sight because his robes had a different trim. He had turned down Draco’s offer to join the Slytherin Quidditch team for his final year, while he loved to play, it was the flying more than anything he enjoyed and with this being his last year, he wanted to concentrate on his academics. Besides, he would have enough on his plate with the Wizengamot and careful maneuvering around the Headmaster.

As a seventh year he was allowed to leave the grounds on weekends, so the last one he’d gone to Diagon Alley and met Lucius before venturing out into the Muggle world. He was rather surprised that Lucius knew his way around, having believed the man hated Muggles and anything to do with them. As the man had explained, his family business worked on both sides, magical and Muggle, and when he’d begun taking over the company from his father, he was required to venture out into the Muggle world and learn enough not to stick out like a sore thumb.

Still, it was interesting to watch the elegant Lord Malfoy negotiate public streets and use a paging device to call the chauffer that drove a private business limousine. It was certainly a contrast from Arthur’s loud, excited babbling about the different currency and how perfectly ordinary things like subway ticket stands worked. The jaunt had not just been for fun or anything like that, the pair had chosen to meet a private wizarding barrister or Arguer at a fancy Muggle restaurant to avoid being overheard by any stray magicals.

It turned out that the Arguer Lord Malfoy had hired for their case was none other than Lord Nigel Davis, Tracy’s father. The man seemed pleased that Harrigan knew his daughter on a first name basis, though he was well aware that Harrigan was betrothed to Rodolphus Lestrange. Once they had given the man their initial details on Albus Dumbledore as well as his father’s carefully gathered files, he had seemed incredibly eager to get into the case. Harrigan had found the fairly open reactions on his face reassuring, it backed up what he’d heard about the Old Blood and their likely outrage at Albus’ actions against a fellow Old Blood family.

He'd faced an exceptionally hostile Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape when he’d returned to the school. He’d been a bit curt at reminding them he was allowed to leave premises without needing permission, his father would have disapproved of his manners. He’d privately cringed but not apologized, doing so to either professor would make them feel as if they had been in the right to scold him. He was no child, no ignorant pawn of the Headmaster’s anymore. Truthfully their continuing aggression towards him was both unwanted and irritating.

He’d gained first name basis with not only Tracy Davis but Blaise and Pansy as well, leaving Daphne Greengrass as the only holdout. The Greengrass’ were famously neutral in both wars against Voldemort, like the Zabinis. However, unlike the Zabinis, they continued to maintain their stalwart neutrality, leaving the betrothal contract with the Malfoys in place only because to withdraw it now would be a huge insult. Daphne was openly disdainful of the idea of marrying Draco, which meant the most likely candidate was Astoria unless their parents forced otherwise.

It was unlikely, Daphne would need to marry a male capable of carrying the title of Lord Greengrass until she bore a son. That meant she would likely marry a second son of a family that was less, objectionable to her own’s personal standards. Possibly the younger Pucey boy, Adrian. He’d graduated a few years prior, the Pucey family hadn’t supported Voldemort in the wars either, nor had they supported Dumbledore and his ilk.

All of this had been in Harry’s crash course on the pureblood families over the past two years, generations of knowledge crammed into a few hectic sessions. His father had been very impressed with his knowledge retention and memory, it was incredibly dull and complex material for the most part. Still essential to know as to ignore part of a family’s history could mean unintentional insult.

Harry was currently in the common room with his fellow students, studying for the quiz that had been announced in Defense that afternoon. Remus usually announced his quizzes, admitting to Harry that he disliked springing them on students unexpectedly. The only one he didn’t announce was at the start of term, which assessed a student’s current skill and understanding in Defense. It made him a general favorite with the student populace, especially the seventh years, who were tense enough about passing their N.E.W.T.s without having to deal with unnecessary surprises.

A shadow fell over his book as he was turning the page and he looked up. There was so much ambient magic in the common room his family ability to sense magic was always tingling at the back of his mind, so he hadn’t noticed the other approaching. In front of him was Theodore Nott, an ugly sneer crossing otherwise fairly attractive features. Harry neatly marked his page, closed his book and put it away, aware that his lack of concern would rile the other even more. By the time he’d finished, several others in the common room had noticed the brewing confrontation and watched with well-disguised curiosity.

“Is there something I can do for you, Nott?” he said mildly.

The other’s expression seemed to get uglier if possible, color bleeding into high cheekbones. The Nott’s were normally a fairly attractive family, though not very personable. It was a Nott that had come up with the Sacred Twenty-Eight, pompously naming it as such and pointing out that they were in the top ten oldest families. The Blacks were one of the oldest, if not the oldest that still remained in the male line. Harry’s family were practically wizarding royalty just by their sheer age.

“I challenge you, Potter-Black. I don’t believe you belong here, in this House. You’re an upstart and a fake, I doubt you’re a Black at all. You don’t belong in the Circle or even in the Prince’s presence. You’re worth less than the scum under my feet, the Headmaster’s little pet. How a piece of dirt like you defeated the Dark Lord I don’t know. In my opinion and many of your better’s it was a fluke, you should have died along with your Mudblood mother.”

Harry stood up slowly, allowing his magic to swirl around him and become tangible to others. His eyes darkened in color, going silvery-black. His already controlled expression was frigid. Then he smiled, enjoying the way Nott’s face paled. There were several in the room whose breath audibly hitched, recognizing the pissed expression of a member of the Black family. In a very level, cool voice, not giving away how he was raging inside at the insults this little shit had offered his family, he said,

“I accept your Challenge and offer you one in return for the insult you have dealt my family and myself tonight. Be lucky that I am not initiating a blood feud against your family as is my right as Lord of House Black,” revealing with a little flick the Lordship ring on his finger.

If anything, Nott paled further, recognizing the ring as the official Signet of the Black family. Controlled and maintained by blood magic and the Goblins, Signets were an unchallenged way of identifying the Lords and Heirs of Noble families for centuries. Fooling the Goblins? Not likely but possible with very Dark magic. Fooling the blood of Old Blood families? Not possible. Some Signet rings were known to maim or kill those who tried to put them on undeservedly. The Peverells were a famous one, their black stone would poison the unworthy. The poison would kill you exactly one year from the attempt, blackening the arm of the one who tried. The poison had no known antidote, many wizards had tried to come up with one, desperate to undo their foolish greed.

Draco stepped forward, having been watching from the sidelines. “Both parties have half an hour to prepare for the Challenge. Those that wish to observe may head there now.”

The common room emptied and Nott shot one last sallow look at him and left. Harry reeled in his magic with effort, still seething with anger at the insults Nott had offered. Maintaining his control by a thread he turned to Draco and said, “Nott can’t back out of it once the Challenge has been accepted, can he?”

“No,” Draco replied, looking wary at the sudden Cheshire grin on Harry’s face.

“Good,” he purred. “I’d hate to be denied my chance at putting him in his place.”

He left the common room with his bookbag, headed for his quarters. He wanted to laugh, musing on if it would be rude to thank Nott for the opportunity to relieve some of his tension at the Headmaster and his situation on the poor, poor idiot. Probably.

*

Off the main chambers in the common room was a large, plain stone chamber with large pillars and a vaulted ceiling. Tiered benches lined one wall for observation of a standard dueling ring, shimmering faintly in the light of the massive chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Studying the floor under the circle, Harrigan could see the runes carved into the stone floor, marking the dueling ring as a permanent one.

The entirety of Slytherin house appeared to be here which pleased him. He would have no others that doubted his blood and birth, no others that insulted his family and those who had died protecting him. He was going to make an example of Nott. Was he out for blood? Absolutely. But that little idiot deserved it, the insolent claims he’d made were as degrading as they were false.

He strolled into the light, his casual appearance making Nott’s face flush red in anger. He was not concerned in the slightest about Nott’s abilities as a duelist, his attire showed it. All he’d done was remove his cloak and switch to his dueling boots rather than school shoes. Oh, Nott’s father had been a Death Eater, he was sure he’d taught his son a few things. But after facing Voldemort, the Carrows and fighting Bellatrix Lestrange on his own for several minutes he was less than concerned about the threat Nott presented.

Nott would go for an impressive, flashy performance, throwing spells designed to show how superior he was to Harry. Harry would wait him out and then show him what real power and dueling superiority was. He was aware his own mental dialog sounded a bit arrogant but he didn’t care. Nott was little more than a fly on the wall, he’d swat him and move on.

Draco raised his wand and quickly flashed a 'Lumos Maxima' over the crowd, gathering their quiet attention.  "Today we witness a formal duel between the parties of Theodore Nott, Heir to House Nott and Lord Harrigan Potter-Black, Lord of House Potter and House Black. The initial Challenge was raised by Nott against Potter-Black questioning his suitability for our House and the legitimacy of his birth."

The noise level rose a bit with his final words as students discussed the Challenge with each other. They fell silent again as Draco spoke, listening carefully. "Terms are as follows: no Unforgivables or illegal spells will be used, fight is until one opponent is disabled and unable to continue. The Champion can choose to back out in the face of superior skill and abilities. To do so they need to vocally surrender."

"Are both Champions clear on the terms?" Draco called, to which both Harry and Nott answered an affirmative. "Then enter the dueling ring."

Harry made sure his expression was carefully blank, stepping into the circle. He felt a buzz of magic along his skin as he stepped inside, setting both feet firmly to balance his weight and drawing his wand, holding it loosely in his right hand. Across the way, Not mirrored his actions but instead of standing steady he moved into an aggressive beginning stance.

"Begin!" Draco called firmly.

As Harry had predicted, Nott aggressively threw a Blasting Hex at him, which he chose to simply dodge. The next spell was an Entrails-Expelling Curse, up a few ranks power-wise from her hex. Harry dodged this one as well, staying on the balls of his feet and using an economy of motion, not wasting time in elaborate flourishes.

By using such powerful spells right off he was putting himself at a considerable disadvantage. As the fight wore on he would not only tire quickly as Harry knew, but he would eventually be unable to power the stronger spells at all and would be forced to fall back on the simplest of jinxes and hexes. It was one of the things Harry had been taught by his father in their dueling lessons. A former Auror, Harry had paid close attention to his father’s words.

"Start small, finish strong," Sirius had advised. "You can have the best physical endurance in the world but your magic has only the capacity to handle a limited amount of constant use. Don't be flashy, stick with what is small and works well. Chain your spells when possible, eliminate flourishes in your casting and you will stay alive."

He used his advice now, dodging gracefully and chaining progressively more powerful Shielding Charms. Nott was becoming cocky and even more aggressive, thus not noticing when his shields went from passive to the more aggressive type, not only stopping spells from hitting him but rebounding them back against the barrier ring.

Sensing the opportunity for his first hit against the other he moved left and carefully angled his shield. As he had hoped, Theodore’s Blasting Hex backfired and struck him in the knee, earning a hoarse yell of pain as it broke his leg. His spells were already losing power, normally a correctly cast Blasting Hex would have shattered his kneecap.

Harry used Nott’s temporary incapacitation to smoothly switch from defensive to aggressive, throwing a 'Diffindo' in his direction. The spell sliced open Nott’s left cheek, earning a gasp of pain and a wildly thrown 'Expelliarmus' which he easily dodged.

Harry had decided enough was enough. It was time to humiliate this stupid little idiot and remind people that he had been the one to face Voldemort four times and live. He threw one of his most complicated spell chains in Nott’s direction, watching in amused satisfaction. The first was an Expelliarmus which he didn't manage to dodge, throwing his wand across the dueling ring into the disqualifying space beyond. Second was an overpowered Petrificus Totalus, which bound the body entirely. Last but certainly not least was a normal Knockback Jinx, which threw Nott’s bound body out of the ring before he even lost his balance, slamming him into the floor a good five feet out of the circle.

The Slytherins around them were quiet, absorbing short and brutally mismatched duel. There were quiet murmurs in the crowd as they looked at him, several almost visibly reconsidering their opinions of him as he stood there, staring with cold indifference at Theodore’s bound body.

"The duel has finished, Potter-Black has won the Challenge. What price do you lay against House Nott, Potter-Black?" Draco asked formally.

“He is to be demoted,” Harry said, his voice carrying. “He will drop to the prestige and respect of a third-year student and have to work his way back up the tiers. Let the outcome of this duel serve as warning for the entire House: I am the Lord of House Potter and the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black, I will not stand for any other crude accusations about my family. I defeated the Dark Lord and fought Bellatrix Lestrange single-handedly for over five minutes, I am done playing around. Lastly, to any of you who doubt my loyalty, I am nobody’s pet, and certainly not the manipulative old coot’s.”

There was a respectful silence aside from the group of students who were trying to treat Nott. Harry snorted as he realized they had yet to be able to bring down his Body-Bind, flicking his wand in their direction. Theodore’s body relaxed and several students shot him wary, respectful looks. He turned around and walked out of the room, headed for his quarters. Nobody followed him.

Chapter Text

Like clockwork, once every two weeks, a letter would wing it’s way by morning owl into Rodolphus’ private suite of rooms at his family manor. The addressee always hidden under a complex bit of charm work that never failed to impress him, especially as the one casting it was a seventeen-year-old. Rodolphus Lestrange was very impressed by his betrothed the more he got to know him. The letters had been his idea, a way to get to know each other since the teenager was currently confined to Hogwarts aside from a few escorted jaunts to speak with Arguers and such, not that the Headmaster was ever privy to where he was going.

The Lestrange heir snickered, well able to imagine how outraged the old man was at the turn of events. Of course it wasn’t all humorous, the possibility of attempted retaliatory behavior was high. His young betrothed was on his guard and aware of the tension-fraught situation. Rodolphus was highly impressed with his maturity and quiet strength. There were many teenagers, including his cousin Draco Malfoy, who likely wouldn’t have been able to hold up as well under his circumstances. Perhaps the Headmaster had forged something after all with those Muggles.

Rodolphus’ hands clenched into fists at the very thought of the Muggles that his betrothed had been left with. They’d been informed about the results of Harry’s medical scan; one his father had been anxious to have him undergo as well. The very idea of a family of Muggles treating the Heir to an Old Blood family that way… Lucius was working on a court case for the Muggles, adding charges of complicit aid and negligence to the complex case they were building against Dumbledore himself.

The case against Dumbledore had to wait until after their bonding ceremony this winter, young Harrigan wanted to be there. After their marriage it would be safe for him to come out as the Lord of two Noble Houses, one an Ancient and Noble House. Harrigan had been firm, he would be there to stare Dumbledore in the eye as he realized how much a fool he had been to underestimate one Sirius Orion Black. Rodolphus looked forward to it as well, not just for the old man’s face. He was going to enjoy watching the faces of others as they realized what a match the young man was and that he was already off-limits.

The marriage coup of the decade, Rodolphus knew. He was glad his father had decided to take a chance on the curious meeting the Malfoy’s were setting up. It would have been easy for him to take offense at the secrecy and lack of communication regarding the whole thing. But the whispers of a Black heir being represented by the Malfoy house had been too great to ignore. Those whispers had been right, in one of the most surprising ways possible.

He turned to the waiting letter and opened it. On the heavy, expensive parchment inside was a fair-length letter from his betrothed, written in his elegant if simple handwriting. Embossed into the parchment itself in the top right corner was an imprint of the crest of House Black, marking it as a Lord or Heir’s private correspondence.

 

To Rodolphus Lestrange;

Greetings;

Considering how much I have been told about these classes by my late father and the little amount they have changed in that time period, I will spare you details. I’m sure you took the same classes I am now, perhaps from the same instructors and even the same materials. The only one that usually differs is Defense Against the Dark Arts, which as you know is being taught by my godfather, Remus Lupin.

Dumbledore’s ire on that subject and his personage hasn’t waned since the beginning of term, according to my godfather. He is still trying to get him removed, or to make life as uncomfortable as possible to make him want to leave. My godfather was one of his supposed ‘favorite’ individuals for years, if he already didn’t want to tear the Headmaster in twain the man’s behavior would be ensuring that now.

I have settled well into my House; I was originally meant for Slytherin and now I understand why that is so important. Oh well, yet another thing to curse a meddling old man for. I have been granted first name terms for all of Draco’s Inner Circle now, including Heiress Daphne Greengrass, the last holdout as of our last correspondence. I defended her sister from some boorish Ravenclaw boys, it earned me her gratitude and seemingly, her respect as well.

The greatest thing of note was receiving my first Challenge last week, from Heir Theodore Nott of House Nott. I had been waiting for such a thing to happen. I know there were many that were displeased by my elevation through the House for being nothing more than a Black. That it was Nott that finally came after me about it was unexpected, but not much of an issue.

It wouldn’t have been as terrible of consequences for him if he hadn’t chosen to use the Challenge as a platform by which to doubt the validity of my birth. Between that and the insults he slurred myself and my departed family members with, well. He had already lost standing in the House after his father was caught and executed with the death of the Dark Lord. While his father was a marked follower of the man, I was less than worried about the actual challenge itself.

The little popinjay learned the error of his was in a most humiliating manner, I assure you. The little twit has been demoted back to a third-year’s prestige ranking and his respect within the House is in tatters. I doubt he will repair it by the end of this, our final year. More importantly, by making an example of him, the rest of the House knows better than to Challenge me idly nor make any more remarks about my family or legitimacy.

You were telling me about a runic project you were working on and it sounds most intriguing. Would you mind telling me a bit more about it? Runes is a fascinating subject; I’ve been enjoying it most highly. Plus, it speaks to your control over your magic and your skill in the subject to attempt what you are doing. I would like to hear more about it.

Fond Regards,

Harrigan Orion Potter-Black

Lord of the Noble House Potter

Lord of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black

 

All correspondences between Noble Houses were written so formally, even between betrothed individuals or family members. Their critics in the Half-Blood and Muggleborn families pointed out this as examples of the fact that the Noble families lacked true love or affection. They were wrong of course. The subtle nuances of a letter could provide much of a voice for the writer, a skilled writer could convey more affection with a masterful phrase than with flowery, overbearing love letters.

Rodolphus studied the letter again, reading with amusement about Heir Nott’s foolishness. The boy must not have much sense in him. Taking on the son of one of the most naturally gifted duelists Rodolphus had the pleasure to fight against. If Harrigan fought anything like his father, which from the Pensieve incident he certainly did, the fight would have been short and brutal. He would have to ask Draco for the memory when they came to Malfoy Manor for the holiday.

The interest in his private project and small bit of flattery made him smile. Rodolphus had been studying Runes for years, devouring texts outside of the required ones for Hogwarts with ferocious focus. By this point in time he could very well apply for a Runic mastery. However, he wished to keep his skill a secret, used only to benefit his family and closest allies. Runes were devilishly tricky and fiddly things; it was an art not many had the patience for. If keeping his skill and aptitude for such things private benefited or saved his family in the future, it was a price he was more than willing to pay.

The young Lord’s dry sense of humor was no doubt curated by circumstances. He knew for a fact that the Heir Lord Black had a much more trickery-based sense of humor, having come on the wrong end of the ‘Marauders’ a time our two himself in school. Come to think of it, those were things he could share with his young betrothed, he no doubt would like to hear something of what his parents had been like.

Rodolphus set his betrothed’s letter aside for reference and to be kept in a special case, pulling a clean, unmarred set of his own private paper towards him as well as a sharp quill and full ink pot. Carefully he began to draft his reply to his betrothed, a small smile working it’s way onto his face. He had a feeling the young Lord could make near anyone fall in love with him. While not quite there yet, he certainly held a high affection for the young man.

They were fortunate indeed that circumstances had brought them to each other.

Chapter Text

For the past forty or so years, everything had been under control. Generations had been successfully shaped, placed on the paths predetermined for them. He’d trimmed, encouraged and formed them into shape, like the most delicate of sculptures. The occasional careful pruning had been performed as well, always with the utmost discretion. It was a delicate operation that had required the utmost patience and planning. A house of cards, the most careful game of wizarding chess.

Now it was falling apart around him, all because of a single, errant pawn. Blue eyes flashing, Albus Dumbledore looked around his office. He’d been Headmaster of Hogwarts for an unprecedented amount of time, ever since Dippet’s passing. He’d shaped generations of families into his most loyal of followers. He’d ensured that those in power would turn to him for their answers. He was the power behind the Ministry, even if the idiocy that was Cornelius Fudge held the vaunted title of Minister. A figurehead, nothing more or less.

Glaring at the ornate desk in front of him, Albus Dumbledore was currently cursing the stubborn, interfering and dead Sirius Orion Black. How the man had managed to undo his Obliviate was currently beyond him, but it was something he now regretted daily. Ever since the Heir to House Black had entered Hogwarts, he’d been a thorn in Albus’ side. Somehow circumventing the Sorting Hat and going into Gryffindor, befriending the carefully cultivated Potter Heir.

Granted he’d had some use over the years, it was partially because of Black that he had his ready-made spy Severus after all. He’d wanted the sullen teen bitten of course, because then he would be reliant on Albus’ benevolence to continue his schooling and get his Mastery. It had worked out in the end, though Albus occasionally privately cursed James Potter’s sense of honor.

That Prophecy though… that silly thing. It was an insult to his magical power and reputation! To imply that someone besides he, Albus Dumbledore, would be responsible for the death of Voldemort – preposterous! Still the fact remained, he was not born at the conclusion of July. He’d faced Voldemort more than thrice, but he had no direct offspring with which to defeat the insolent brat formerly known as Riddle. He should have left the whelp back in the orphanage where he’d been found.

Neville Longbottom had been born on the 31st of July. Through careful investigation and a judicious Imperio upon a few people, he’d found out that the Potter heir, born on August 3rd, was actually a Potter-Black heir, the son of the bane of his existence and James Potter. Not only that, but the brat was legally the heir to both houses, James being Sirius Black’s consort. To add insult to injury, the infant was powerful, possibly even more so than himself.

He’d done what he had to in order to craft the child of prophecy to his standards. Neville was his backup only, even more so after the child had grown older and shown not a drop of magic. He’d ensured none of those involved would remember the truth, who young ‘Harry’ actually was. He was proudest of his Obliviate of Remus Lupin, werewolves’ minds were notoriously difficult to mess with. Only somehow, he’d failed. Black had remembered, not only remembered but actively plotted against him, informing his child.

The mixture of trepidation and rage he’d felt upon seeing ‘Harry Potter’ with his powerful glamours removed had been a fragile yet potent thing. Realizing that the child had somehow undone his other Obliviates and gotten the assistance of the Malfoy family as well… It couldn’t possibly be going worse. He needed to control the boy somehow. The youngest male Weasley’s support of his errant pawn had been an unexpected, unpleasant surprise as well. His jealousy and envy of ‘Harry’ had been an easy way to keep the boy undereducated in the past.

Joining up with his father had been precisely what he’d been trying to avoid. Sirius Black had always been annoyingly difficult to deal with. Proud and defiant, from a magical family that was practically royalty amongst the so-called ‘Old Blood’. Albus snorted, they were remnants of a time long past. As long as his plans continued mostly uninterrupted, they would see their influence reduced to nothing. Their precious ‘Lines’ as well, if he could manage it.

Their refusal to acknowledge the age of the Dumbledore line infuriated him, as it had his father and mother. They were nobler than most of those lines, they deserved the respect and dedication of a title. But no, because they weren’t stupidly old like most of the Old Blood, they were considered unworthy of such an honor. Now a mere child had what he did not and it infuriated him. He’d hoped with the death of his father he’d retreat back to being his meek, biddable hero.

Still, the boy could only make accusations. Unfounded cries of an emotional adolescent. It would be all too easy for Albus to avoid any type of persecution the young Heir made now. After all, he’d made sure over the years that any of his less than savory actions couldn’t be traced back to him. He had a little line of scapegoats he could offer up in his place. Fingers tapping on his desk, Albus plotted. His next move would have to be made with exquisite care.


Remus Lupin had just finished up his latest class, a group of fifth year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. He stood from behind his desk where he’d been organizing papers and flicked his wand, tucking in chairs and returning a few errant books to the case in the back corner. He picked up the stack of papers and put them in his briefcase, closing it with a quiet ‘click’.

Teaching again at Hogwarts was something of a dream come true. He’d thoroughly enjoyed the first round, teaching Harry and his friends during their third year. Even with the tension that surrounded the year, he’d settled into his niche with frightening ease. Sirius and James had always teased that he should teach, he should have realized his friends would know his best fit before he ever would. Teaching the bright young boy who’d been part of his pack since his birth had just been a bonus.

Even with the powerful memory charms in place, Harry had still been important to him. The only child in his group of close friends, family really, Harry had been precious to them ever since he was born. Really before then, they’d all highly anticipated his arrival. With the worry that Sirius had been after him and his apparent connection to the child, the year had been fraught with tension. His protective instinct of the only pup had been on high, warring with his pride in the child’s abilities.

With the memory charms gone, well, the whole thing reeked of manipulation. Allowing Dementors on the grounds, making an exception for Remus to teach. Sending two thirteen-year-old students back in time illegally. Hermione Granger’s allowance of a Time-Turner in the first place was suspicious, the objects were highly regulated by the Ministry. Remus shook his head, wondering if there was a year of his godson’s education that hadn’t been manipulated in some way, shape or form. This year would be free of the old man’s manipulation, Remus could guarantee that.

He started to pick up his briefcase, intending to head into his office to study. A whisper of sound caught his attention and he looked up. Severus Snape stood just inside the doorway to his classroom, staring at him with a disdainful sneer. “You’re wanted in the Headmaster’s office, Lupin. Before you ask, no, I don’t know why he wants to see you.”

A low, deep growl started in Remus throat unbidden. Severus’ cold, sneering behavior had been annoying enough the last term he’d taught. The revelation to students that he was a werewolf had been petty. Now, with his memories restored and the real reason for Severus’ pathetic behavior once again known… He put the briefcase with his grading into a drawer and slid it shut, using the motion to make sure his wand was close to hand if he needed it.

Straightening, he closed the drawer and moved around his desk, heading for the door. Near-black eyes watched him with a dismissive arrogance. That was his first mistake. His second was forgetting just what Remus was, and how it affected his reflexes. Standing almost in front of Severus he suddenly shot out his right hand and grabbed the other by the throat, pinning him to the classroom wall. Sensing more than seeing the other go for his wand, Remus ripped it out of his feeble grasp and flung it across the classroom. It clattered to the floor a satisfying distance away.

Without even looking in a mirror he could tell his eyes had gone purely golden, he could feel it in how his other senses were far more enhanced. His ears caught the reedy, frightened pulse of the other in his throat, his hands could feel the slight beading of sweat on the pallid skin. Remus caught the frightened dark eyes of an old childhood nemesis and smirked.

“You’re such a coward, Severus,” he said finally, almost conversationally. “Loathing even the sight of me for being with Lily when I didn’t even remember it. So petty, so childish. Have you even grown past seventeen? Or twenty? Let me remind you, your anger is misplaced. You drove her away; you called her a Mudblood. Did you really expect the fierce girl you knew from a young age to ever forgive you for such a thing? You know what she is like, as well as I do. Her anger was as fiery as her hair.”

“Or do you have some weird fantasy that she would have forgiven you and fallen into your arms? Let me enlighten you. She loathed you. You disgusted her; she was contemplating a restraining order for your stalking behavior. She only told me about it later, I think she knew my reaction wouldn’t be so… lenient.”

“Stay away from me, Severus. I’m not the quiet student who chose to avoid conflict when possible. I’m a pissed off Alpha werewolf that knows you and your precious Albus are responsible for the death of my mate and almost all of my pack. I would remind you to stay well away from my godson, but from what I hear he has that well in hand.”

Severus’ sallow features flushed at the last in anger, breathing becoming elevated. Remus was quietly amused and proud of his godson, using his restraining order and Severus’ review by the Board against him. It must grate at the man, having to play nice with a teenager he’d bullied for years.

Remus let his smile become friendly, allowing his pissed off wolf to pull back a bit. He opened his hand, dropping Severus to his feet. He didn’t withhold the small smirk when the other’s knees nearly crumpled on him and he forced himself to stand with wobbly control. Severus was breathing hard, staring at him with narrowed eyes, but he didn’t say a word.

Remus turned around and left, not worried in the slightest. He dared Severus to try cursing him when his back was turned, he really did. To his mild disappointment, the other didn’t do anything.

Behind him, Severus Snape watched the retreating back of someone he’d always considered a pushover. He walked over and picked up his wand, trying to ignore his shaking fingers. With a last rattled breath he left the Defense classroom, retreating back to his dungeons and his lab. He’d had enough socializing for today.

Chapter Text

When Harrigan received word that his godfather wished to speak with him, he was surprised. Remus had not yet made it a point to seek him out during the school week, he often visited him on the weekends. They were reconnecting, slowly and surely, as they should have been over the past sixteen years. Events outside of their control had dictated their previous interactions, but now both wanted the strained bond to reform, tight and protective as it always should have been.

It was difficult for Harry; he had gone fourteen years without anyone seeming to want to care about him. At first his relationship with his father had been strained, he was unsure of how to even act with an actual parental influence. Luckily, if a bit unfortunately, his father had been through a family life that was abusive in its own way and knew how to approach his son. That was not to say that Sirius hadn’t been furious and heartbroken that his son had lived that kind of life, but at least they had found common ground.

He strolled easily along the corridor outside the Defense classroom on the third floor, wand close at hand in case he needed it. He’d been horrified to experience the prejudice against Slytherin house first-hand, guilt-ridden for days at his own actions when he’d been part of Gryffindor. Was it any wonder that Slytherins remained so closed-off and defensive when almost the entirety of the school was ready to stab them in the back?

Luckily, he reached the classroom without any incident, opening the heavy wood door and letting himself inside. He walked past the empty desks and the teacher’s desk, headed for the curved staircase at the back of the room that led to the Professor’s private quarters. He’d been in this office before with Lockhart, Remus, the fake Moody and Dolores Umbridge. The last had made the papers recently, Lucius viciously seeking revenge for the Blood Quill incident. She was being indicted on a number of charges of child endangerment, using a Blood Quill too frequently could drain the magical core, rendering a child a Squib.

The grindylow tank was absent this year, most of the main office space taken up with a massive desk. One wall consisted mainly of pinned Defense articles that Remus had found interesting or informative and a few photos, yellowed with age. His parents were in a lot of them while Lily had a section seemingly dedicated to her. Harry studied them for long moments, savoring photos old and new of his family as it had been.

Eventually he tore his gaze away, only to find Remus looking at him with an expression of understanding written on his face. “I miss them as well,” he said softly. “Every day. Some are better than others, but the grief is always there.”

“Does it ever leave?” Harry asked quietly.

“It lessens,” Remus says, “or more accurately it waxes and wanes, like the moon. Some days are worse than others. Grief is different for everybody, there’s no set timeline. It can be something you’re acutely aware of, or just one day you can wake up and think of them and the pain isn’t quite so sharp. But no, it never really leaves, not so long as we have our memories of them.”

Harry sighed. He sat down, staring at Remus’ desk. “I miss them,” he finally whispered. “I’m glad that I have you and Andromeda, I’m even thankful for the Malfoys. But in a way it seems like knowing I had a parent and then losing them is worse than not knowing at all.”

“It may feel that way now, but I know you don’t really believe that. Sirius’ loss is sharper because it’s more recent, so it’s fresh and lingers on your mind. But I know you treasure the time you had with him, the memories you shared and built together. It’s just harder today for whatever reason, and that’s okay.”

Harry smiled. It felt false, plastic. But doing it made him feel better, oddly. “Thank you,” he said.

“I know we usually meet up on weekends and this is a bit oddball,” Remus said, smiling back. “Not that we’re on a schedule or anything, you’re welcome here anytime. But I wanted to give you a bit of a head’s up. I had a meeting with Dumbledore yesterday.”

Harry’s eyes locked with Remus’. “You didn’t go alone, did you? I know you’re more than capable of defending yourself, but he’s probably getting desperate as he loses more control over us.”

“I had not initially thought of that,” Remus admitted sheepishly. “Filius was outside the Headmaster’s office, he said he would stay with me. He’s not impressed with Dumbledore’s actions or behavior. I haven’t told him anything important, but he has contacts and he’s Head of Ravenclaw for a reason.”

Harry gave a sigh of relief. “I would have gone with you, but he could have said it was an issue for adults or about another student and kicked me out.”

“He wanted to interrogate me about you,” Remus said, a bit of a growl in his voice. “I think there was more to his reasoning initially, but Filius threw him off. He asked a lot of questions about you, fishing for information. In order to keep your status as Lord of your family secret, I had to imply that you weren’t in a marriage contract. That’s why I wanted to see you, I wanted to warn you that he may be trying to throw potential lovers at you in an attempt to discredit you or force you into a marriage and back under his control.”

Harry groaned. “Now I’m glad my dad explained to me the importance of sexual contact and marriages in the magical world. Will that man stop at nothing in order to control me? Voldemort is gone, he should be pleased! I killed him when his bloody prophecy wasn’t even about me!”

“He’s mad,” Remus said, shaking his head. “He’s been playing at control and being the benevolent Headmaster for years, your dad and now you are unraveling all of his work. It’s like he sees you as an errant toddler not behaving as the teacher wants.”

“Or he’s worried about the rest of his house of cards falling down,” Harry mused. “Think about it, he’s always denied wanting the position of Minister, says he prefers students. But who really influences the Minister? Hagrid said it himself, ‘pelts the Headmaster daily with owls asking for his advice’. How much control does he really have, or think he has?”

Remus sighed, rubbing his temples. “Just thinking about it is giving me a headache,” he grumbled.

“So much worse than grading, don’t you think?” Harry asked impishly.

Remus just glowered at him.

*

His conversation with Remus weighing heavily on his mind, Harry left the Defense classroom and headed down to the Great Hall for lunch. He could have stayed and eaten with Remus, but they both agreed it was probably best that he made a public appearance for meals during the week. It likely made Dumbledore edgy enough that they spent weekends together. Doing so during the week would only make him more desperate, possibly enough to do something stupid.

So instead he went to the Great Hall and sought out Ron, sitting near enough the end of the Gryffindor table where Harry wouldn’t feel surrounded by the suddenly hostile majority of his old house. He put his bookbag on his left and took a seat, smiling at the redhead. Ron was more of a loyal friend than he ever could have hoped, taking the majority of the recent changes in stride with admirable aplomb.

“I wrote Bill about the recent information you found,” the other began, smiling at him. “He’s beginning to think that your idea about approaching the Prewett family would be the best option. Great Aunt Muriel is an… interesting character to say the least, but there’s a reason why even Mum won’t push her.”

“I’m sorry you guys are having to go through all of this,” Harry grimaced. “It can’t be easy for Bill to go from being oldest son to de facto Head of your family if you leave the Weasley name.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Ron said earnestly. “All of us that are making this change are those that broke away from the family anyway. Bill and Charlie left to make names for themselves elsewhere and get away from Mum’s smothering. Then Percy went into the Ministry and rightfully told Mum and Dad that their situation was entirely their own fault. The twins have always been underestimated and nagged at by Mum for their jokes and they’re going to make millions with it.”

“And you?”

Ron’s smile became a bit bitter. “Me. I was always going to be the sixth son, the one who would never be able to do anything original because it had all been done before. The one that disappointed Mum the most because I wasn’t born a girl. But you have been my friend through thick and thin and have clued me in on my greatest strength, my ability to strategize. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but it is going to be something that fits me, not their plans for me.”

“I’m glad,” Harry said softly. “You always seemed to be walking around with this great weight on your shoulders and now it’s gone. I’m glad to see some of the pressure has left because of your decision. I was worried when I brought the information about Seraphina to you that you would be angry with me.”

“Really it’s been freeing,” Ron admitted. “The information about her and the disgusting refusal of the Weasley family patriarch at the time to disown her. It’s a really reasonable request from a family as powerful as the Malfoys. The Old Blood families could have demanded much more from us. The fact that they continue to snub the Old Blood like they do, well it’s no wonder the Weasley family has fallen so far.”

“So you’re the one that sent the information on her to us,” mused a voice to Harry’s left.

He turned his head and spotted Ginevra. Recalling his recent conversation with Remus he stiffened slightly. Ginny had always seemed to have an obsession with him; could she be one of the ones Remus warned him about?

“I was,” Harry replied warily. “Your brother is my best friend and the twins are not far behind. I wanted them to be aware of what the ‘feud’ was about.”

“It’s disgusting,” Ginny grumbled, stabbing a potato off of a nearby platter. “I don’t know why one girl is worth the reputation of an entire family.”

“So I take it you don’t agree with their decision either? Are you joining your brothers?”

“No,” Ginny muttered. At Harry’s look she extrapolated, “Someone’s got to drag the Weasley name out of the muck and I’m the only one left to do it. You can bet as soon as I have control over the Weasley name I’m disowning that bitch.”

Harry coughed out a surprised laugh. He wasn’t surprised by Ginny’s declaration so much as just her irascible personality about the entire thing.

“By the way,” Ginny said, “you should be aware that Mummy dearest and the Headmaster are none too subtly trying to shove me in your direction romantically. I mean Mum’s been trying to groom me towards it for years, but they just started pushing really hard about it a few days ago.”

Harry froze. “And what do you intend to do about it?”

“Nothing,” she said bluntly. “Ron got me to swear an oath and told me you’re betrothed and Head of your two families. Plus I think I figured out you were gay before you did. That kiss with Cho? No guy who likes girls would describe a first kiss as ‘wet’.”

Ron burst out laughing as Harry’s cheeks reddened in embarrassment. “That’s pretty much what my dad said,” he muttered.

“That is awesome, by the way. The fact that Sirius was your dad. I liked him a lot. He always took me seriously, never treated my opinion like that of a child. It always pissed me off how Mum treated him in his own house. That and the fact that Dumbledore never said anything about it, he always made us treat Snape like he was made of pure gold or something.”

“Just a few of the injustices he dealt my father over the years,” Harry said curtly, the subject was one that could rightly make him furious at the moment.

A flash of pale blonde caught his eye and he turned toward Ron, just in time to watch Luna Lovegood plop herself neatly onto the bench next to him. “Hello Ron,” she said cheerfully.

“H-hello,” he mumbled, ears reddening slightly. Harry shot a grin at him, getting a slight glare back. Ron had told him this summer that he had a crush on Luna, only to be surprised when Harry said he thought they would be good together.

“Congratulations on your titles and betrothals, Harry,” Luna said, slightly large blue eyes appearing larger than normal. “Know that when you make your move to squish the bumblebee that House Lovegood will stand with you.”

Harry stared at her. First of all, how did she know about his titles? Secondly, what the heck did she mean. He thought about it for a few moments and then abruptly got it. He couldn’t resist the grin that crossed his features as he restrained the urge to break into hysterical laughter. Dumbledore was French for ‘bumblebee’.

“I don’t know how you get your information, Heiress Lovegood,” he began sternly, “but you are a true gem. Don’t spread any of that about though, please?”

Luna looked almost indignant in response. “What do you take me for, one of them?” and she jerked her head in the direction of Parvati and Lavender.

“Never my dear, never,” he reassured her solemnly.

“Good,” she said with a huff.

He smiled and resumed eating his lunch. He was glad he hadn’t lost all of his friends and that the ones he had kept were such good people. He was lucky and he knew it.  

Chapter Text

William Weasley approached Gringotts Bank with the closest thing to trepidation he’d felt in years. At his side were his brothers Charlie, Percival and the twins Fred and George. He had wanted Ron here as well but that proved to be impossible, Dumbledore was keeping far too close an eye on the student populace this year. Bill’s lips twitched in an amused smile as he contemplated the reason why.

It seemed change was bound to follow ‘Harry James Potter’ all his life. Bill had first met the teenager under that moniker at his family home prior to Harry’s tumultuous fourth year. The year his name had been drawn in a dangerous tournament, the year Cedric Diggory had been murdered, the year Voldemort had risen again. The teen’s quiet strength and courage had impressed him even then, Charlie still crowed in delight as he recounted the tail of Harry facing off against an angry mother Horntail dragon.

At that point in time his middle brother Percival had become lost in the maze that was the Ministry, following the first man to show him any sort of attention with a sort of blind devotion. Percy had always been mocked for his ambition by their younger siblings, Bill had just thought he took things a bit too seriously. ‘Harry’ had forgiven him for the letter he wrote Ron, recommending their younger sibling stay away from someone that was ‘touched in the head’.

Now Percy was on track to a career where he didn’t need to worry about impressing anyone but his superior. He was training to become an Arguer, the wizarding version of a Muggle barrister. He studied wizarding law and law history with unfettered eagerness, devouring the old texts like the finest chocolate. What Bill had been bored to tears by excited his younger brother. He was glad to see it.

The twins, meanwhile, were fast becoming some of the youngest entrepreneurs that the wizarding world had ever seen. They always had been pranksters, named fondly by their mother after their maternal uncles, a pair of renowned pranksters themselves. They had Harry’s support as well, the teen giving them the winnings from the tournament to jumpstart their prank business.

Bill entered the bank, nodding at one of the goblins standing guard at the door. He’d worked for the bank long enough to know many of the goblins by name. After walking up to the teller and giving their names and business here, he waited, thoughts wandering back to Harry. It seemed, according to letters from Ron, that ‘Harry’ had been undergoing significant upheavals of his own. He was not even technically ‘Harry’, but Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, the pureblood son of two Noble families.

Bill did not envy him the sudden workload, though Ron implied that he had known about it for some time. He also implied, very cautiously, that the Headmaster was to blame for much of his problems. Though a part of him wanted to defend the aged wizard, Bill knew that there was evidence of Dumbledore’s manipulations on several levels. For that reason, and realizing the fallout over this with his parents would be of epic proportions, Bill was choosing to act on Ron’s behalf without him being here.

They were here to meet with a relative of theirs, specifically their Great-Aunt Muriel Prewett. When Ron had sent them the initial information about the Weasley feud with the Malfoy family, Bill had been horrified. He’d always been told that the feud was a long-standing thing and that nobody remembered specifically why it had begun. His own father had dismissed it as something that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. Percy had gone in to work the next few days and dug viciously through old case files, hoping to prove the information wrong.

Instead, everything he had found validated it. Seraphina Weasley had been the youngest daughter of the Weasley patriarch at the time and was both very plain and very spoiled. She had apparently had something of a reputation for hanging out with the local village boys, which had horrified her mother. The matriarch had sought out suitable contracts for her daughter and found her a very auspicious one with the youngest Malfoy heir, Aurelius.

One of the village boys had set sights on Seraphina however, because even though she was very plain, she was from a wealthy family. He had convinced the girl to sleep with him and then stand up her fiancée at the altar. Her father had let her go because the patriarch had a soft spot for his youngest daughter. The mother had been furious and tracked them down, only to find her daughter several months swollen with her ‘love’s’ child and a wife through elopement.

The Malfoys had been furious. They had demanded several things in reparations for the offense Seraphina offered their youngest, including a large dowry, splitting the costs of the wedding (expensive, since the Weasley matriarch had been working with a Malfoy budget), and last but not least they had wanted the girl disowned as a sign of solidarity from the family.

However, Seraphina’s father had not only refused to disown his daughter, but refused to repay the dowry the Malfoys had given for her. It was a substantial sum of money even in those times. The Malfoy family had tried twice more to get the Weasley patriarch to disown her, but he refused each time. After the third, they had formally declared a blood feud against the family, setting out to ruin the Weasley family. They were convinced that as the family’s fortunes and life degraded further and further, they would finally do the decent thing and disown the girl.

They never had, to Bill’s outrage the Malfoys had even dropped the repayment of the dowry, simply requesting that the Weasleys disown the girl, long dead by the time the amendment was made. However, down through the line right up to and including their own father, the Weasley patriarchs had refused to disown Seraphina Weasley for the degradation she offered not only the Malfoys but her own family as well.

So, absolutely disgusted and heartbroken, the Weasley sons were standing as a group and meeting with Muriel Prewett. They were hoping to leave the name Weasley behind for one that wasn’t destined for ruin. Their little sister was staying behind, hoping to repair the family name. Bill was immensely proud of Ginevra; she had always been tucked under their mother’s apron from birth. He was proud of her for the nerve, determination and courage she was showing. None of them would have faulted her for wanting to join them as Prewetts and take the easy road.

 When prompted, Bill and his brothers followed a goblin into the heart of the bank, headed for one of the spacious offices. The goblin opened one of the double doors, revealing an office that was empty of any person besides one, a formidable looking woman in deep purple robes and tightly coiffed light-grey hair sprinkled with white, looking at them with eyes as sharp a blue as Bill had ever remembered.

Muriel did not stand, gazing at each of them with calculating eyes. Instead she gestured for them to sit, nodding sharply at the goblin, who retreated with a sort of grudging respect in his beetle-black eyes. Most of the goblins weren’t willing to cross the formidable Muriel Prewett.

“I was surprised to receive the request for a meeting,” she began frankly, looking at Bill. “More so the location for said meeting. None of you have ever seemed that pleased to see me on my visits to the abode you call a home.”

Bill had a feeling he was being tested, so he remained unruffled at the jab towards the Burrow. Quite frankly his family home had embarrassed him a bit over the years, it needed a lot of work and some reconstruction to feasibly hold all of them. Calmly he responded, “I’m aware it was unusual, ma’am, so I am glad you decided to meet us after all. It is good to see you, the years seem to have treated you well.”

Muriel snorted, but Bill sensed a sort of fragile approval at his actions and words. “Pretty words, suitable to a politician, not family. Introduce yourselves again please, I feel my memory has slipped on the matter.”

Bill highly doubted it, exchanging a quick glance with his brothers. Muriel was up to something, but he wasn’t quite sure yet. So, he began with himself, as was proper. “I am William Arthur Weasley, the eldest child. I’m a curse-breaker for Gringotts, normally stationed overseas.”

“I am Charles Martin Weasley, the second oldest. I am a dragon tamer, I work in Wales at the Reserve,” Charlie said, nodding.

Percy was next. “I am Percival Gawain Weasley, the third oldest. I am training to become an Arguer through the Ministry of Magic. I hope to work freelance.”

The twins exchanged a quick glance. “I am Fredrick Gideon Weasley, the fourth-oldest.”

“I am George Fabian Weasley, the fifth oldest. We are entrepreneurs in the world of pranks and jokes, hoping to take on and surpass Zonko’s.”

“Absent from this meeting but also represented is my youngest brother Ronald Bilius Weasley. He’s a chess master in his own right and has a wide-open career in front of him with his strategic abilities,” Bill finished.

Muriel hummed but said nothing. Looking at Bill after a moment she said sharply, “Young William, you may have come here expecting to give me pretty words and a flowery story, but I will tell you now that I have neither the time nor the patience for it any more. So spare yourself and me and get to the point of this meeting. These chairs are uncomfortable for one with old bones, I wish to go home.”

Bill held back a grin with effort, her irascible nature reminded him of Ginny, in a good way. Their mother and her Aunt had never gotten along, he was beginning to understand why.

“Very well,” he said, letting some of his amusement creep into his voice. “We have recently learned the truth of the Malfoy-Weasley feud. To put it bluntly, the actions of our ancestors and our current family detest us. All of us, including Ron and my sister Ginevra, also chafe under the restrictions placed by our mother and her expectations to lift her from her self-chosen poverty. For some reason, despite being a Prewett and having knowledge of the feud, our mother has always supported the Weasley side of the matter.”

“To us this is unforgivable, something that we cannot reconcile ourselves with. We are all successful young men in our own rights, but due to our association with the name Weasley, we will never rise above an old feud until after our father is dead and our paths locked into place.”

“To that end we come to you and ask, no beg, for you to consider taking us in as Prewetts, forsaking the name Weasley and letting it fall or rise on the shoulders of my more than able sister, who is determined to try and set the name to rights. Will you take us into your family, or are we to suffer for the actions of ancestors we don’t agree with?”

Muriel stared back at them, not saying a word. Sometime later, leaving the bank, Bill felt as though a great load had been lifted from his shoulders. The decision had been made, now they would have to deal with the consequences.

Looking at the grinning twins, he said cautiously, “What has you two looking so pleased?”

Fred and George exchanged a look and then cheerfully, in unison as they often did, they said, “What do you think of the name Prewett Pranking Proprietors?”

Chapter Text

Lucius Malfoy stared at the missive in his hand in contemplation. As the Lord of House Malfoy his day was naturally full of paperwork and political mingling. When he’d entered his office and begun sorting the stack of unopened letters and missives the owls dropped off, he’d thought nothing unusual of this one letter other than the fact that it was addressed to him in the young Lord Potter-Black’s hand.

His easy acceptance of the young Lord would have baffled many of their society if they had been in on all the drama that had occurred between the two over the years. From the moment he’d first met the then messy-haired young man after his tumultuous second-year, he and ‘Harry Potter’ had been at odds. Stuck serving a psychotic megalomaniac by his parents, Lucius had been trying to make the best of the situation with his desperate actions.

He’d never thought that the youngest Weasley would actually use the strange book in her cauldron. No, his plan had been to discreetly put it in her belongings during the fight brought on by Arthur’s atrocious lack of manners, thinking the girl would bring the strange object to her father’s attention. The book had been placed in his keeping by the Dark Lord before his first fall at the strange circumstances of the 31st October 1981. He’d investigated the object himself, discreetly of course. All he could find was that the thing reeked of Dark Arts and malicious intent.

He’d certainly never thought it would be used by the girl, ensnaring her and causing havoc at the school as a result. Confused, angry, he’d found out only later what had happened. The Chamber of Secrets, of all things! Not to mention a bloody Basilisk lurking in the school, petrifying students and the old caretaker’s cat. He’d never been more worried in his life than he was that year, terrified that he would hear the creature had been set on his beloved only son.

His interactions with the shrewd young Potter had only gotten more contentious over the years, though he had truly regretted being unable to do anything for the boy in the graveyard. His distaste with the man he was forced to call ‘Lord’ only increased, tormenting and playing with a child before killing them was low, even for a Dark Lord. Listening to the boy’s screams as he was put under the Cruciatus Curse had been painful. He could only too easily put his son in Potter’s place.

But once again the boy had managed to hold his own against the Dark Lord and escape, netting an increasing obsessive rage from the wizard as a result. Lucius could only imagine how that must have bothered him, to be beaten not once but twice by a slip of a boy more than forty years his junior. In the end, it would appear that his inability to respect Potter’s abilities and strengths had been what led to his defeat. The sheer relief Lucius had felt when his Mark had faded to a faint scar on his arm could not be expressed.

This summer, when the first similar missive had arrived bearing the young Lord’s handwriting, he had been with his wife as she received the shock of a lifetime. The young Potter, newly minted a hero amongst magical society, was claiming to be her relative, the son of her impulsive cousin, Sirius Orion. Lucius had met the man a few times over the years as part of pureblood society, at least before he had so spectacularly given his mother the proverbial finger and run away. Lucius had privately envied his courage, wondering if he had done the same thing years ago if he could have spared himself and his family the torment of being a Dark Lord’s servant.

It had been Lucius who had insisted they meet the young man at Gringotts and get his claims verified through blood. At the time Draco had been both the Black and Malfoy heir, he was far more suitable for it than Potter, or so Lucius had thought. Potter had agreed readily enough, as if he had expected the demand. When the pair had met him at Gringotts, his correct mannerisms and address had caught them off-guard, more reminiscent of a young Heir than the defiant child he had been before.

After having his claims verified, Harrigan had departed Gringotts with Narcissa, giving Lucius access to the vault that had proved his claims. It had been set up by his sire years ago to keep record of his marriage and the birth of his son. Just taking in an overview of the records contained there had left Lucius stunned. The sheer amount of planning and control Sirius Orion had maintained over his lifetime was incredible. It was a vault of the likes he had never seen before, carefully organized and detailed down to the most miniscule of points.

Standing there amongst the late wizard’s planning and careful detail of his family was the first time Lucius truly felt regret and grief for his loss. It was clear that he had a brilliant mind, a savvy one for what was necessary, one Lucius would have enjoyed to know more. From what the man had left behind, he sometimes thought that he and the late Heir Black would have gotten along, once certain choices had been put aside. Then and there, he’d vowed to himself and to Magic to do whatever necessary to support the young Heir and help him become free of any outside influences. It was all he would have wanted for his son, after all.

Further interaction with young Harrigan had resulted in their current state of interactions, where he found himself to be actually fond of the young man and regarding him as family. Now he wanted Harrigan to be happy as well, not just free of a certain old coot. Though the old man was certainly prominent in his thoughts, especially with the startling revelation that he was responsible for the death of an Old Blood heir. The old families were going to be furious when they started carefully spreading that little tidbit.

The current missive in his hand was another surprise, though not as unpleasant a one as he’d gotten before. It seemed that Harrigan was going to be something of a harbinger for change. Of all the surprising news he could have gotten today, the knowledge that some of the Weasleys didn’t agree with the Seraphina incident was not what he’d expected. All of the Weasley sons had appealed to the matriarch of the Prewett family and had denounced the name Weasley, leaving the main branch in possession of a sole inheritor, the daughter.

Lucius had begun to think that the only reason why Arthur held onto his family’s choice to support that bint had been sheer stubbornness. Her branch had long since died out, the last descendant dying unmarried and childless of Dragon Pox more than thirty years prior. Disowning her, as the Malfoys had reasonably requested for the slight, wouldn’t affect Arthur’s family whatsoever. The only other reason other than sheer stubbornness would be because it was an issue of pride and Arthur knew how much the incident bothered the Malfoy family.

Other than the stance of the Weasley family on that incident, Lucius would have had no issues with Arthur himself. The man worked hard, too hard in Lucius’ eyes. He’d envied the man privately for many years with how many children Magic had blessed him with, though he felt they had gone a bit above and beyond their means. How they could stand raising their children, their blessings from Magic, in such a state was beyond him. It was as if Arthur had no ambition to provide for his family with a better-paying job that wasn’t so hard on him physically.

But now it seems the man would have quite a few less offspring to deal with and provide for. According to Harrigan’s missive, the daughter intended to disown Seraphina and was working on a strategy to improve her degraded family name already. He was impressed, most of the young girls he knew through his connections or remembered from his own youth were less than concerned with the work the young Weasley female was contemplating. He wished her the best, though until she made formal moves to disown Seraphina he would not offer her so much as a Knut in assistance.

There was a knock on the door and he looked up, surprised. It was a few hours until dinner in their household and Narcissa rarely ventured into his office other than to check on him if he had gone past their meal. She let herself in, leaving the door open a crack behind her. As she gathered her thoughts Lucius studied her, warmth in his heart.

She was as beautiful and refined now as she had been when he had first met her. When his father had betrothed him to a member of the Black family he had felt dismayed, the only member of the family that was an unattached female at the time was Bellatrix and she had already shown signs of the ‘Black Madness’ as it was called in hushed whispers. Then he had met Narcissa, two years younger than him and at the time in her sixth year at Hogwarts.

She had been beautiful, clever and witty, everything he could have hoped for. He had been dreading his betrothal, his father’s actions had already seen him promised to serve a madman for life. He had not been expecting the jewel that was Narcissa. She had been subjected to her Aunt’s ‘teachings’ just like Bellatrix and Andromeda, coming through them with admirable grace and a honed strength of character that he could easily admire.

Theirs had been an instant connection, though it had not been without strife. Narcissa was a Black after all, they were famous for their tempers. Luckily, he had managed to avoid getting into any truly awful rows with his betrothed and now wife over their marriage. She had not approved of their state of affairs with the Dark Lord, refusing to take the Mark herself as a show of loyalty. She had always walked a thin line with the Dark Lord over that, but Lucius had gotten the vaguest impression that the man respected her for her cold form of courage.

“Draco just Floo-called us from the Slytherin dormitories,” she said worriedly. “You may need to go to Hogwarts. Apparently, Dumbledore tried to force Harrigan to attend the Samhain feast and he’s furious.”

Lucius cursed. “Doesn’t the man realize that’s the day his ‘parents’ died and he may wish to mourn, not feast and make merry with his classmates?”

“Dear,” Narcissa said patiently and a little acerbically, “you just put Dumbledore in the same sentence with any sort of emotion or compassion.”

Lucius winced. He had deserved that. He stood, sliding in his chair behind the desk. They walked briskly from his office to the front rooms. Taking a traveling cloak from a house elf that appeared as they entered the Floo room, he put it on, smoothing out the fabric and making sure it wasn’t wrinkled. It wouldn’t do to appear to be in a haste.

He took a deep breath and called, “Hogwarts, Slytherin dormitory!”


Remus Lupin sat in his normal spot at the staff table in the Great Hall, staring down at his plate and not being able to taste a bite of the delicious food. It felt like ash in his mouth, his wolf stuck in a deep state of mournful grief. He was putting in an appearance tonight because it was required of the staff, then he would retreat to his quarters and try to spend the evening in quiet, looking at photos of his friends and his beloved Lily. Their cub had skipped the meal, Remus did not blame him in the slightest.

Even before Harry had known about his true parentage this was never the best of nights for him. He admitted that he attended the feasts because of his friends, but he had never really wanted to. Before he had known the truth, the reality behind the lies Dumbledore had projected, he had no reason to celebrate this night. It was because of Dumbledore and his manipulations that he had lost what family he had on this exact night. Now that he did know, he refused to attend Dumbledore’s little ‘party’ and give the man the satisfaction of seeing the results of his plans.

He could see Dumbledore sitting in the central chair (his throne really). The man was discreetly frowning, looking around the room. Remus couldn’t see what was bothering him; there were children chattering excitedly to each other, pointing at the decorations around the hall, eating a truly obnoxious amount of sugar. It should be the night that would make the old man the happiest of any. But instead he rose, nodding to Severus on Remus’ other side, who stood abruptly with an expression of annoyance on his face.

They left the hall, generating a few whispers from the students. Remus could see Minerva frowning, staring after the departing Headmaster with confusion written all over her face. There were few things that Dumbledore did without informing her, her feathers were likely ruffled. She was rather like her prized student that way, insisting on knowing everything and anything that others were doing. Hermione Granger had not seen much welcome amongst the Gryffindors this year, without Harry and Ron as buffers her mannerisms were driving several students up the wall.

About ten minutes passed and Dumbledore returned, looking pleased. Severus had not returned, which caused Remus to frown. Voldemort was gone, so he hadn’t been summoned. Nor had he left the feast for the night; Dumbledore wouldn’t seem so happy about it. No, there was something else going on behind the scenes. Remus felt a sense of unease rising in him.

His wolf’s ears were far more sensitive to noise than any other in the room, he heard the rising volume behind the doors long before anyone else registered it. Eventually a few students heard it, falling silent in curiosity. Curiosity turned into shock and just a little bit of fear when the Great Hall doors swung open, smacking into the walls with a loud bang! in a way that couldn’t be anything other than magical. Striding through the open doorway, eyes almost black with rage, was his godson.

Remus heart sank in sudden realization, simultaneous with a rising fury. That was why Dumbledore was so smug, he’d thought to force Harry into attending the feast. He took in his godson’s face and winced. He’d seen that expression only a few times before on Sirius’ face, none of them had ended well. Then he snorted, quietly. Dumbledore was going to get a bit more of a spectacle than he’d thought. Out of the corner of his eyes he watched Draco Malfoy take one look at his cousins’ face and then bolt for the door. Remus would bet his last bit of pocket change that the boy had gone to get his father. Good. Initial worries settled, Remus sat back and prepared to enjoy the show.

One did not mess with a Black. Not without consequences.


Harrigan had passed the day in a sort of quiet daze. His companions and friends had known the reason, remaining quiet. None of them expected him to be chipper company today of all days. In fact, he had a feeling he’d impressed the Slytherins by attending classes in the first place. Despite today being a day of mourning for him, he would not shirk his education. He’d informed them that he would not be attending the feast, reasonable enough. He told his godfather as well, who had looked at him with a sort of mutual understanding. He doubted the man wanted to go himself, but he would have to thanks to Albus Dumbledore’s rules.

Under no sort of compunctions, Harrigan had retreated to his quarters after the last class of the day, politely declining the offer of food. With how nauseous he felt, he knew it wouldn’t stay in his stomach long if he chose to try and eat. With Draco’s worried nagging in his ear, he’d downed a Nutritional Potion instead with a stomach soother for good measure. Dressed in comfortable soft cotton lounging trousers and a warm, worn jumper that had belonged to Sirius, he sat in his bed cross-legged and stared at photo after photo, eyes brimming with tears.

A rough knock on the door startled him several hours later and he picked up his wand, staring at the door. Seconds later the door banged open, his detested Head of House and Potions professor standing in the doorway. Severus Snape glared at him with disdainful sneer and said, “Think you’re too good for the rest of us, Potter? All students and staff are required to attend the Feast, I’m sure you’ve learned that much over your education at least!”

At first Harry didn’t absorb what the man had said, staring at him quietly. Then his words began to sink in and Harrigan felt a boiling rage rising in him. Dumbledore was trying to force him to attend the feast? He didn’t want to be denied the sight of his little trophy? He could hear a ringing beginning in his ears and his sight began to go fuzzy. Clenching his wand in his fist he got up off the bed, carefully securing the album in his trunk in an attempt to regain some control. Eyeing his shaking fingers, he realized he was too far gone to worry about that.

“Actually, Professor,” he said in a scathing tone of voice, “students are not required to attend any of the feasts aside from the Welcoming and Leaving feasts, as outlined in both the Charter and the Board’s rules. But, of course, I’m not supposed to know that because I’m the lazy little ‘hero’ you’ve seen for the past six years. Rest assured, Snape, I do know the Charter, probably better than you do. And the Board will be informed about your behavior connected to tonight’s little power play by your precious Headmaster. My name, finally, is Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, I hope you’ve learned at least that much over the past few years!”

The entire time he’d been verbally flaying the Potions Master, Harrigan had been striding swiftly and angrily in the direction of the Great Hall. By the time he reached the massive wooden doors, he was so furious that his magic swirled around him. He flicked just a finger at the doors and they sprang open, slamming against the walls to the shrieks of the students and some of the staff. His eyes immediately found the perpetrator of this little stunt, sitting on his golden throne with his obnoxious twinkling eyes.

Though, Harry was pleased to note, the majority of the twinkle was dying by the second as he took in exactly how wroth with him Harry really was. He stopped halfway, standing on the stone effigy of the Hogwarts crest.

“I’m pleased to see you, Harry my boy. Please come and join us, I assumed you’d just fallen asleep in the dorms. Boys will be boys and all of that,” Dumbledore chuckled.

The very last of Harry’s frayed temper snapped. “First of all, you stupid old coot, my name is Harrigan Orion Potter-Black and I have told you more than once that I dislike your familiarity with me. Both you and your Potions Master seem to have memory problems, I have to correct his form of address at least once a week as well.”

Several of the students choked, trying desperately not to laugh at his irreverence and the words themselves. A few members of the staff had twitching lips as well. Filius in particularly looked highly entertained.

“Secondly, I was not asleep! I had chosen not to attend your little party, since as you seem to forget, my parents died for me on this day! And as your Potions Master seems to have forgotten the Hogwarts Charter as well as the Board of Governors’ operating instructions for the school, let me educate you, seeing as we are in a school. Neither of these bodies require students to attend all feasts for the school to function properly! The only one we have to attend is the one at the beginning and end of the year. So for all of my fellow students who celebrate the holidays traditionally, you are free to leave whenever you please, or omit the feast altogether. The only ones required to attend the feast are the staff, and that is only for an hour or two to supervise the students, they are not required to participate!”

Several of the students looked much happier after this portion of his impromptu lecture, standing and making preparations to leave. Some of the staff looked a mite bit happier as well, though several glares were being sent the Headmaster’s way. No doubt he had omitted the fact they could leave in order to force them to stay for his own amusement, or however his mind worked. The old man’s face meanwhile was getting paler by the moment, his blue eyes flashing in anger.

“Lastly, old man, if I want to mourn my family in private, that is my decision! I am not here for your amusement, nor your satisfaction. I am not your little trophy anymore and will soon be in possession of my own titles and family inheritances, well out of your grubby reach. I am not your ‘hero’, your publicity stunt nor your little pawn in your games of chess. This is the last time I will verbally warn you on this, your memory may be waning but it is not that far gone yet!”

Dumbledore looked furious and had stood to confront Harry, embarrassment lighting his cheeks a warm cherry red. However, before he could do more than draw his breath, a cool voice said softly behind Harry, “Restrain yourself Harrigan, I will handle this from here.”

At the sound of his formal full name Harry closed his eyes, struggling to regain his calm. He felt relief and a little bit of shame, his father would not have been pleased at him for losing his temper in that manner. Though he would have likely understood the reason why, and possibly taken amusement out of Harry’s sharp tongue when directed at the Headmaster.

“You will not exert any form of punishment against him for his words nor actions tonight, Albus. Nor will Severus, I believe I do not have to explain why antagonizing Harrigan is a bad idea? His reaction to your poorly-thought plans and orders is justifiable, no student here would want to have their grief made into mockery. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to escort Harrigan out of here and back to his quarters. Perhaps Mr. Lupin would like to accompany us, as he has the same reasons for wishing to avoid this little—” Lucius looked around and then back to Dumbledore, as if he found his surroundings lacking, “-party?”

Albus spluttered for a moment and said, “Now see here, Lucius! I am Headmaster of this school and I have the right to have that young man punished for his insolence and the insults he has offered me here tonight. I understand he has lost a father-figure and is in grief, but that does not give him the right to address me in such a manner.”

Harry’s eyes flashed and he had to visibly work to restrain his desire to speak. Instead, Lucius spoke cuttingly. “I heard most of his little speech to you, Albus, there was no untoward insult or accusation offered. And though you may wish it were otherwise, Sirius Black was not just his father figure but his actual sire, proven by Gringotts and legally accepted by the courts. As he has told you and your Potions Master many times, his name is officially Harrigan Orion Potter-Black and he prefers to be addressed as such. Refusing to do so is not only condescending and in poor taste, but could be seen as you seeking an unwelcome familiarity with a student. Lastly, you may be Headmaster but you are not infallible, nor irreplaceable. The Board of Governors is becoming increasingly displeased with your actions as of late. As a member of the Board, I have the right to tell you and your staff that no punishments will be leveled against Potter-Black for his actions.”

Dumbledore looked even more embarrassed and furious as Lucius finished, both at the words spoken and the undertones of the conversation. He sat down, looking sulky and defeated. As Lucius’ conversation wore down, the students and staff that wished to leave made their quiet exit. They were confident that they would not be stopped by the Headmaster, but none wished to draw his attention.

Remus reached Lucius, Harrigan and Draco, who had stayed quiet at his cousin’s side as Lucius corrected the Headmaster. The four of them left the Great Hall, pausing only when they reached the privacy of the corridor near the Slytherin dorms. Harrigan gave a soft sigh and said, “Thank you for fetching your father, Draco. I had not thought of the consequences of my verbal spar with the Headmaster. I was avoiding the feast for the exact reason to avoid being a spectacle, instead I made one of myself anyway.”

“No one would blame you for the way you acted tonight, Harrigan,” Lucius was quick to reassure him. “I was quite entertained by your education of the Headmaster and Severus on their actual duties according to the Charter. That temper of yours is one of the very reasons that I am so careful not to incite my dear wife’s anger.”

Remus snorted. “It is definitely a Black trait, along with the looks and a tad bit of arrogance. I always get a laugh out of watching the blowout, as long as I am not the one it’s at! Cub, would you like to join me in my quarters for the rest of the evening? I would like to show you some things I have of your parents and Lily.”

“I would like that,” Harrigan said quietly, smiling.

They bid farewell to the Malfoys and set off toward Remus’ quarters, an easy silence between them. The rest of the night was spent as they had originally wished, in love and remembrance of family.

Chapter Text

 

 

It started out a fairly normal day at the Weasley household, Arthur would later recall. He woke early in the morning, heading out for an hour or so in his shed working with his Muggle objects before heading in to shower and get ready for work. Molly would frown at his grease-stained hands, pretending at being disapproving. He knew she really didn’t mind him messing around in his shed, ‘tinkering’ as she called it. It kept him out of her hair and allowed her to run their household pretty much as she willed it. In exchange he’d been well cared for and never worried about the technicalities of being ‘Lord Weasley’, letting her manage their finances, meager as they were.

Then he would tread off to work, tolling away in the Ministry in a job that paid him a pittance compared to most of his fellow workers. He managed a department that they considered a chore quite happily, never really having had any higher ambition. He knew he was a bit of a joke behind closed doors, working amongst the well-dressed and wealthy in his tattered second-hand robes and Muggle-style briefcase. But he had his head on straight, not like most of those popinjays. He had instilled in his children a work ethic and pride in a job well done. He never thought they would have wanted anything more. Perhaps that had been part of the problem.

When he got home from work and was settling in for the evening, he heard a shriek of surprise and dismay from his wife. It startled him into dropping his briefcase on the floor, which popped open to reveal his latest Muggle treasures confiscated at work. Not paying attention to his precious trinkets, Arthur rushed into the family room, finding his wife staring at the ancient grandfather clock. His heart sank. The unusual clock had been in the family for decades, tracking each member of the family throughout their day and lives, showing such things as work, school, traveling, asleep or mortal peril. Arthur had never been more relieved in his life than when Harry Potter had destroyed Voldemort once and for all, all the Weasley family members had moved off of ‘mortal peril’ for the first time in almost a year.

Looking at the clock, his eyes widened in shock. Instead of the normal nine hands, there were only three. One each for him, his wife and their daughter Ginevra. All of the boys’ hands had disappeared, as if they never existed. Panicky, he moved over to the fireplace, reaching for the Floo powder on the mantle. In his haste he knocked over the pot, spilling some of the precious (expensive) powder on the floor. He threw it into the flames, barked his eldest’s address and stuck his head through.

After the disorienting and nauseating feeling of Floo faded, he looked around, spotting an empty and fairly clean living room, sparsely decorated. “Bill!” he called urgently.

No response.

Not wanting to worry Molly, he called a few more times, then exited, grabbing more of the powder and Flooing the twins’ shop instead. “Fred, George!”

It took two more calls before he heard footsteps announcing someone coming down the stairs. To his great relief, he spotted his younger twin son, George. “George, can we come through and see you? Something’s happened and it’s made your mother and I quite worried.”

A spark of something flickered in his son’s eyes for a long moment before he finally said, “Yeah, you might as well come through. We needed to speak with you anyway.”

Arthur pulled back, a feeling of concern thrumming through him. The look on George’s face and his tone of voice worried him. Trying not to jump at shadows, he gave some powder to Molly and said “George is at their shop, go on through. I’ll follow.”

Molly disappeared in emerald flames, Arthur following her quite closely. Closely enough, in fact, to see George step back when Molly went to hug him. His wife subtly flinched, pained that one of her children would snub her in that manner. Before Arthur could call him out on his rudeness, he said curtly, “Follow me.”

Concern now fighting equally with trepidation, Arthur followed after his son. Eyeing George’s back, he wondered how he had missed the twin becoming so tall and broad, his hair now a richer red, more auburn than orange. George led them into what was clearly a meeting room of sorts for the business, revealing not only Fred but Bill, Charlie and Percy as well. Molly gasped, tears of relief flooding her eyes as she stepped forward, reaching for one of her sons, the closest being Charles. But their second eldest son stepped back in the same manner as George, watching with a straight face and blanked expression as Molly’s hands fell to her side, a few tears spilling over.

“I think you should sit,” Bill said seriously, gesturing to the chairs on their side of the table.

Arthur pulled out a chair and sat, the dread rising like a lump in his throat with every passing second. He was starting to think that the answer they were going to get about their misbehaving clock wasn’t the one they wanted. He had never seen the five eldest of his sons like this, acting so serious and stern with their parents of all people.

“The family clock,” Molly whimpered. “Your names are all gone. I thought you were all dead.” Tears spilled down her cheeks at the very thought.

Arthur was able to see a subtle widening in a few of his sons’ eyes. Percy turned to Bill and said, “I had actually forgotten about that blasted clock.”

“The hands are added automatically,” Bill mused, nodding to himself. “That would make sense, rather than being able to manually add hands or having to remove them. Tricky spot of magic that, lost now probably with all the restrictions on Magic. Blasted politics always have to get in the way.”

“The clock is not malfunctioning is it?” Arthur whispered, staring at his sons forlornly.

“Of course it is, Arthur!” Molly cried. “Their names are gone and they’re sitting right in front of us! What else would you call that but a malfunction?”

Looking his father in the eye, Bill said firmly, “Disown Seraphina Weasley. End the feud with the Malfoy family.”

Arthur was by turns shocked and infuriated. “Never! Is that what this is about? Some show of strength so that you can force me to do this? I will never disown her, never! The Malfoys are one of the wealthiest families in magical Britain, they don’t need that dowry repaid! As for disowning the poor girl, she fell in love, what’s wrong with that?!”

Bill nodded in resignation, as if he’d expected his father to say that but hoped otherwise. “Then our actions stand. We have renounced the name Weasley, taking the surname Prewett with Muriel’s blessing. You may have been the ones to give us life and we may hold some love for you for that, but we are no longer Weasleys. The only child who remains a Weasley is Ginevra, perhaps a sort of comeuppance for refusing to disown another Weasley female.”

“WHAT?!” Molly shrieked, going from teary to furious in a split second. “You can’t do that!”

“We can and have, legally and by blood,” Percy said firmly, staring down Molly in his glasses. His tone was almost arrogant. “We refuse to be dragged down in the mud with you, not when each of us have promising career potentials or established jobs. The only thing that mars our future is being associated with a family that refused to comply with the very reasonable demands of an Old Blood family. As for Seraphina being ‘in love’, she slept with a village boy while betrothed to a Malfoy heir, that smacks more of lust to me. We never understood why people looked down on us and called us ‘blood traitors’ but now we do and we refuse to remain that way.”

“Ronald’s in school,” Arthur tried, “you can’t do that to him, he has to want it himself.”

“He does, and he is seventeen, legally an adult as are each of us. It was his decision as communicated to me in person and through letters the past month or so,” Bill said coolly. “His friendship with Potter-Black has been showing him the way for some time now.”

“Potter-Black?” Arthur frowned. “Did Harry take on the Black Lordship after his godfather died?”

“No,” Fred answered. “It turns out he’s actually the son of Sirius Black and his consort James Potter, originally hidden with Lily Evans’ help for his safety. Harrigan Orion Potter-Black, not Dumbledore’s precious Prophecy child. But perhaps that’s something you should ask Dumbledore, considering how close you are to him? Ask him why he never grew up with his father, why Sirius had to teach Harry about his heritage and family titles in secret?”

“That means Ginny will be Lady Potter-Black,” Molly beamed.

George barked out an angry laugh, which confused and annoyed Molly. Turning to his brothers he said, “I told you, but none of you believed me.”

Looking at Molly he said coldly, “Ginny will not be a Lady Potter-Black. One, she sees Harry as a good friend and brother, secondly I believe Harry is gay. She’s entirely the wrong gender to be of interest to him.”

Molly’s face reddened in anger. Before she could do anything more than inhale a deep breath, Bill flicked his wand at her, silencing her.

“Bill!” Arthur barked, angry. “Undo that now, she deserves better than that. She’s your mother after all!”

“Actually,” Bill said sharply, standing up and placing a hand on the table, “she’s not. Nor are you our father, Arthur. Kindly take your spouse and leave my brother’s private premises and facility, before we call the Aurors on you for trespassing.”

Molly swayed a little in shock as Bill’s words struck her with the strength of something physical. Arthur’s face paled and his jaw firmed a little. He took Molly by the hand and led her out of the meeting room, to the front of the store, which was thankfully closed. At the door he turned, looked at the five of them and said angrily, “I thought I’d raised you boys better than this.”

“You did,” Charles spoke up, “that’s how come we have the strength now to leave you behind. Have a good life, Arthur.”

Arthur did the best to hide the flinch hearing his name from the second of his sons caused. By the almost pitying expressions on their faces, he failed miserably. “Ron’s final year?” he asked, unable to hold back.

“Fully paid for, with spending money to boot and a new wardrobe on the way,” Fred said bitterly. “Which is more than you gave most of us.”

Arthur closed his eyes, turned the handle on the door and pulled his still silent wife out, unable to look back at the stern, solemn faces of the boys he had raised. It was only once they were home, his wife steaming silently in the living room and out in his precious shed, that Arthur let the tears he’d been holding back fall. Rage followed hot on the heels of his grief, aimed squarely at the Malfoy family that had cost him his sons.

They would pay for it somehow. He wasn’t sure yet, but they would pay.